“Tell me again – from the start!”
“Car then aeroplane then…no actually, car then bus, then aeroplane, then train, cross the road, then another train and then another train…” The children scooted back up the hall on their Trunkis, whooping with excitement as I asked myself firstly how a cheap flight to visit a friend in Switzerland had morphed into a six vehicle trek across Europe. And secondly how feasible it was to get two mummies, two suitcases, two Trunkis and two toddlers from West Yorkshire to a small village on the outskirts of Lausanne with everyone’s sanity intact.
We knew that helping the children understand what to expect from this new experience would help the travelling day to run smoothly. And it soon became apparent that, after repeated readings of Miffy Goes Flying, Luna imagined aeroplanes to be two-seater and open-top – she was hoping she might get the chance to drive it as well, if possible.
A whole bedroom was designated as the child-free packing room. And when they did manage to break in at one point, with cries of “we’ll help you pack!”, toiletries and underwear were scattered everywhere within seconds, and a random collection of possessions including a small plastic unicorn and a garlic press had found their way into the suitcases.
On the morning of departure, we had to leave the house at 5am. And remarkably, the journey actually went fairly calmly. There were precarious points, notably the Trunki crisis when, at Geneva airport, just as our train was about to leave, Luna realised in horror and fury that Willow was halfway down the platform, riding off on her ladybird, and not the Gruffalo he should have been on. (The ladybird had to be returned promptly to the exact spot from which it had been taken before the journey could continue.)
Then when toddler tiredness and busy city bustle both peaked at the same time, we got the pair of them strapped to our backs in their slings and suddenly everything was easier.
And we made it. And a week later we made it back again – they were pros by then. And a week later still, I was tearing my hair out over getting children plus nappy bag in the car for toddler group round the corner.