Packing is not my strong point.
It takes me half a day, involves lists, various piles and bags that fill the car to the roof and yet somehow when I arrive at the other end and unpack I’ve always forgotten something.
I know mums who have an amazing knack of being able to pluck whatever you could possibly need from their neat, stylish bags, from a squeaky toy for a crying child, an emergency healthy snack or a full change of clothes. Our recent family trip to Scotland really put me to the test. But a temperature plunge from almost 20 degrees C to zero is just not fair and left me trying to figure out whether my two children’s rosy cheeks were down to sunburn or windburn. Of course heading to Scotland at this time of year I wasn’t banking on it being a scorcher, so was pleasantly surprised when as we crossed the border and seemed to hit a mini bank holiday heat wave. But it was all just a ploy. After enjoying a picnic and game of cricket in the park in t-shirts, two days later we were shivering in almost sub zero temperatures. We persevered anyway and the sun did come back out. The girls sported their matching snowsuits, waddling round like pink ETs. I did feel a bit guilty as we sat on a hill eating a picnic and they could hardly get their sandwiches to their mouth because of the shivering. But they took it pretty well. And overall we had a good time. I say overall as I think with toddler holidays you have to look at the bigger picture, as with us the days can quickly turn from the idyllic to a total nightmare. One minute you can be sitting having a picnic by a beautiful loch, not a soul in sight, the children getting back to nature happily throwing stones into the water, no need for toys or TV. Then bam, the child is in the water, and all hell breaks loose and you realise that you are 45 minutes from base-camp and have a serious session of screaming and whining ahead of you. Walking up the hill we were like the von Trapp family in the Sound of Music, singing songs, the kids laughing as we hiked through glens and over streams. Coming back down we were like the Adams family. Noone was speaking, faces like thunder and we’d vowed never to go on holiday ever again. Since the trip I am now armed with a weather app on my phone with three-hourly location forecasts. Surely I can’t go wrong?
With the mother-in-law visiting this weekend I have been researching a few trips to show off the North East. Here a few ideas I came up with.
1. I’m drooling already thinking about the Tynemouth Food Festival http://www.tynemouthfoodfestival.co.uk/
2. Reptile weekend at Kirkley Hall Zoo http://kirkleyhallzoo.co.uk/
3. See the cherry blossom in bloom at Alnwick Garden http://www.alnwickgarden.com/
4. In honour of National Donkey Week half price rides for 50p at Hall Hill Farm http://www.hallhillfarm.co.uk/
5. Join the Colliery Carnival at Beamish Museum to mark the opening of the new exhibition: the Hetton Silver Band Hall. http://www.beamish.org.uk/
6. Relive your childhood memories at the Enid Blyton exhibition at Seven Stories http://www.sevenstories.org.uk/
7. Take a train ride on the Tanfield Railway – the world’s oldest no less http://www.tanfield-railway.co.uk/
8. Make your own Georgian Mask at Seaton Delaval Hall http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/seaton-delaval-hall/
9. Check out some natural and roman history at The Great North Museum http://www.twmuseums.org.uk/great-north-museum.html
10. Test your map reading skills on a Treasure Hunt at Wallington Hall http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wallington/