Travelling With Small People

I’ve become slightly obsessed with how quickly my children are growing, and on a bad day can convince myself that they will be leaving home in what I feel, will be next week. They are 9 on Sunday. They are not leaving home. They are however growing up so quickly that I feel I need to capture as much of it as possible. I want to do this without being a parent that is permanently recording the moment instead of being in it. In fairness thats never been me – always too involved and in the thick of it, but I was reminded of this at the weekend as I scrolled through my iPad and came across some seriously cute videos of the boys when they were about 4.

It also brought back a memory, way back when they were in a pram still, I was advised by another Mum to take more videos, I wish I had taken more videos, especially when they were little and their words were sometime a little jumbled. I totally understand what she meant. I also worry that digital stuff can ‘disappear’, and have several boxes at home with their homemade pictures, Mother’s Day cards, nursery and school stuff.

We also have a memory box from our first real adventure….


Last summer we ventured off on a mini tour of France, it was the first time we had been adventurers with the kids and frankly I can’t bloody wait to set off again. It was, hands down, THE BEST holiday ever. We didn’t spend a lot of money, in fact it was inspired by the fact that we didn’t have a lot to spend! We set off from home, and stopped at a Travel Lodge overnight near Dover, which suggested a guaranteed nights sleep. Long story short, I didn’t get that promised mecca of sleep I didn’t even get a crappy nights sleep, there was no sleep. This was due to the heat being cranked up to Old Peoples Home levels. In fairness though, I did get a refund on the room so when we set off to France, it was still in high spirits, that we heading over the Channel to Calais.

Making friends in Tours

France (my husband tells me) is a dream to drive in. I abstain from driving abroad, I am often designated driver here, which I don’t mind, and whilst technically I’m sure I’d be fine abroad, once I offer and am a success….I won’t catch a break! So I refuse, on grounds of fear and insurance claims. It has worked so far. So we had a long drive to our first stop, past Paris and down past Le Mans and into Tours. This was a stop over for a couple of days, and what a find. It’s a jewel of a spot alog the River Loire, and has bags of history, beautifully clean, amazing cafes and beach picnic area along the river. The boys still rave about this couple of days and in reality this was only ever booked as a stop over on our way to the campsite that were stopping at for a week. Tours is undoubtedly somewhere we will head to again if we travel down that way.

SAY CHEESE!! (River Loire)

From here we were travelling further down south towards Montignac, and the campsite we had booked. The week we had there was a mixture of sightseeing (family activity that we all enjoyed) and activities for the kids at the site itself. This was less appealing but they had SUCH a good time making a zillion friends and dancing to Venga boys, I couldn’t refuse! To tolerate the Venga Boys I did need a certain alcohol blood level.

The area has an abundance of sights, caves, historical buildings, kayaking, markets and towns to explore and enjoy. There literally is something around every corner.

Kayaking down the Vézère

That is why each morning my husband (the bike lunatic) would head out for a couple of hours (whilst I emerged from bed) to find us an adventure for the day. He was happy as he got “some miles in his legs” and I was happy as I got “some hours in bed”. The boys were happy as they had a card for the shop and would go and get Pain au Chocolate and French bread for us to much on until Daddy got home.

After a week here we set off travelling home, always a stressful time, packing. I tend to take responsibility and Rob gets the van organised. I had everything packed up, checked under the beds, checked cupboards, checked bathrooms. Have you got everything? he asks. YES!! I say with confidence – BUT, you go and check (one word of advise – always share this responsibility, it is genuinely a relationship saving tip). He dutifully took a tour around the apartment, you forgot something, and I found it!!! You missed 2 euros. Phew thank god I asked you to check the apartment you life saving hero….where would I be without you?!?! Yep all clear. Off we go.

We are heading back towards the port of Calais and have selected a stop of point of no real importance on the way back – just a night stop over to get back towards Calais and hopefully spend a day in a town nearby and enjoy ourselves. This pleasure however was cut very short when we arrived at the hotel, and I offered to get the booking details for our stay and the receptionist very politely said “No need Madam, just your passports will do” WHHHHAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTTT!!! FUCCCCKKKKK! screamed internally (I never swear in front of the children, always under my breath or in my head, well mostly) PASSPORTS!!!! Yes you guessed it – we had hidden the passports on our arrival, together thankfully, under a pile of wool blankets that in the heat of last years summer we knew wouldn’t be used.

This question actually knocked me sick as we had left our passports tucked up in the bed covers. How the hell neither of us managed to think that we would need a passport to get home is a little beyond me – but none the less it happened. Now you see why the sharing of responsibility of checking the packing up is so important (as is hiding the passports) – we were both equally to blame.

At this point however, after an 8.5 hr drive, it was down to me to try and figure out what the hell we were going to do. Husband took boys to the only place he knew how to fix things – the hotel bar. Whilst I took myself to only place I knew how to fix things – Google.

Thank the Lord! We’re on our way

After some furious searching, it was apparent there was naff all I could do apart from go the port and take our chances. The saving grace was that I had copies of our passports on my laptop, which I emailed to my phone to be able to show at check in onto the ferry.

Thankfully, as we were heading home, it actually wasn’t too big a deal. We got there early, I explained the situation, we filled in a few forms and our passports were cancelled. Hopped onto an earlier ferry than we had booked, and sailed across the channel towards those white cliffs.

Despite the drama, this holiday was undoubtedly the best we have ever had. We’ll definitely be repeating a trip to France this summer. We will not be repeating the return version of events, but you can be sure we will have made some more amazing memories that I will want to keep safe forever, and I’ll no doubt need another box to house all the goodies ;).

Any suggestions for places to visit greatly appreciated.



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