There are few modes of travel that fill me with more horror, than this. Trapped on a coach, possibly feeling slightly gip, with no control over any aspect of the journey, and 3 smallish children to keep entertained. The potential for trauma abounds.
But we had signed up for the French twinning trip, and everyone was going by coach. It seemed churlish not to join, and also would have meant a long drive for both of us, to end up in the same place. We weighed it all up, and booked on the coach.
The day dawned and we hustled the kids out of bed, arriving at the bus at 04.50am. And would you believe it, all the ruddy seats appeared to be taken. Apart from 2. And we are 5.
There was whispered consternation among the organisers – had they, perhaps, miscounted? I began to fear I would be travelling for 12 hours with a wriggling 5 year old in my lap. But no. Eventually a couple of people reluctantly revealed that the seats next to them were, actually, unoccupied. There were after all, upon very close inspection, 5 seats. Just not together. I would like to report at this point a multitude of kindly souls spotting our plight and offering up their seats…but alas that would not be an accurate report. I tried to persuade my sleepy 4 year old that it might be fun to sit on the backseat with the teenagers. She was not convinced. Nor was I!
In the end, we settled for a 2 and a 3 at the front and back of the bus respectively. It did not make for straightforward sharing of toys or picnics. But at least we were all seated.
The first leg of the journey was smooth and we arrived in Portsmouth at 06.40. We were not due to sail until 9.00. There was some muted questioning of the need to arise at 4am.
Then the ferry was calm and uneventful. The children were introduced to the joys of top trumps, and did an extensive amount of colouring. It is a point of principle and self torture that we travel without ever plugging them in to an electronic device. (Rosie recently reported that she had a friend, with a real television IN HER CAR!!! ‘In Real Life Mummy, she has!’ Dammit.)
In the end, we reached our destination at 19.00 hours French time, after a pretty thorough exploration of French service stations. Happily the French were ready for us, and eased our trauma with many a carafe of wine. Journey survived. On with the French adventure!