Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Holidays. Planes, trains and hurricanes.

Recently, in-between work, birthdays and everything else we've been trying to organise this years family holiday.
It's generally pretty simple nowadays; we rent a villa in the same part of Spain we've been visiting since Seren was very little. My Mum and Brother tend to join us and it's become a real home from home. With Mark in particular working very hard, and us both working every other weekend it's nice to just relax, swim, eat, drink a lot of wine and generally spend some much needed time together. We like the familiarity of it all, and it's a pretty easy kind of holiday, well as easy as holidaying with extended family and kids can get! It is pretty much exactly the kind of holiday we vowed we'd never have pre-kids. But then we also said we'd never let our baby have a dummy, or watch TV. God we were a pair of smug arses.

We always said that if we had children we were still going to be able to jet off on last minute city breaks, or exotic far flung locations. We'd stay in boutique hotels, and eat in fabulous restaurants (with our infant sleeping peacefully throughout the entire meal of course) We would take our baby around art galleries and museums immersing them in culture but most importantly our baby would never ever cry during take off or landing. It would never kick the back of someone else's seat, throw up on a fellow passenger or have a mid air poo explosion, Never.
Obviously you can still do exotic trips and city breaks with a baby, I'm not for one second suggesting you can't and indeed we have. We've been on city breaks; we've 'flung' as far as Southern Spain, and done 'exotic' if you count the Blue Lagoon restaurant in Disneyland Paris. What we should have done though is lowered our expectations slightly, OK  massively because anyone who has holidayed with a baby, especially a very young baby will know it’s pretty much the same shit, different location. Babies are beautiful, they smell amazing and I could stare at them for hours but in general? Let's be honest, they are pretty boring they sleep, eat, poo and repeat.

We went to London when Seren was just three months old and I had it all planned perfectly, 
I'd booked tickets on the London Eye and Madame Tussuad's. I made sure the hotel had a travel cot and bottle warmer, and I packed enough clothes, bottles and dummies to last us several weeks never mind 2 nights. I thought we had this travelling with a baby lark down, bring it on! 
However, the minute we stepped onto the train with our massive suitcase; and tried to shoehorn the 2 parts of the stupid Bugaboo (which is a pain in arse to breakdown anyway) into the crammed luggage area we knew that maybe, just maybe we had set our expectations too high.
Poor Seren just screamed during the journey, she had a mid air poo explosion on the London Eye (I'm pretty sure at least three fellow passengers considered breaking the glass and making a break for freedom, I know I did.) She did not give a shit with regards to being immersed in culture, and what actually happens when you go to eat in a nice restaurant with a baby is that they will cry. You will take it turns to hold the baby whilst the other eats their food so quickly they'll get indigestion, fellow diners will not gaze adoringly at your baby they will simply tut loudly and make you feel uncomfortable.
Oh and a baby isn't interested in wax dummies of Beyonce or Brad Pitt. Shocker. Besides I spent the entire tour of Madame Tussuad's panicking as it was so busy in case someone got too close to the baby Bjorn and squashed her.
Literally, that one short trip dispelled all those well thought out myths.

We're heeeeeerrreeee! If you see us board your train, plane or boat then run, run and hide!

I had so wanted to be the Mum who breezed along to catch a flight or a train. looking like a celebrity from the pages of Heat magazine, holding a baby in her arms and a small clutch across her shoulder (which somehow contains a nappy, mini sized pack of wipes, lip gloss and organic snack of some sort) and these woman do exist! I witnessed this with my own eyes on our flight back from Alicante last year, I watched her board the flight exactly like that, and her baby was so good, and she stayed so clean! I went to the toilet so many times to look at her to check she must have thought I had a UTI
Nope instead I was the Mum who always had the mahoosive baby bag, with about three changes of clothes, spare bottles, organic snacks quavers who usually got something spilt on her. I want to find my 20 year old self and slap her, she always was a smug cow.

See look how together we had it! Thank to Mr O for taking this pic as I was pleading him not to, in my head I was the 'together glam Mum from Heat magazine' not flustered, stressy, Ribena stain on my jeans Mum*

Well they say karma's a bitch don't they? It's not as if we haven't had our share of payback since.
Literally if something is going to go wrong, it'll probably happen to us! Take Seren's first flight for instance, we'd just been to Disneyland Paris she was also 17 months old, it was a great trip and she was a dream on the flight going there. Flight back was a whole different story. As we boarded she was tired and a bit cranky, we were sat behind a teenage girl and her Mum and as I caught their eye when we sat down the Mum gave me a sympathetic smile, that's Mum code we have a connection now. Not long after take off Seren put her hand through the seats and grabs the girls hair, I apologised quickly, few laughs and all was ok. Phew.
That is until my Mum joked "I think she likes the look of your daughters lovely curls" Turns out  She is isn't a she but a he and he's not happy, he's pretty cross actually and now he wants to move seats, and the Mum does not respond to the Mum code smile at all. I literally wanted the ground to pen up and swallow me, if we weren't 17,000ft in the air.
My Mum got all defensive because obviously it's not her fault, oh no it's mine for taking the window seat! Mark looks like he wants to throw himself out of the emergency exit, it was an awkward 40 minutes to say the least. I felt awful....he did have lovely curls though. The Mum even at baggage collection refused to meet my eye, I tried to catch it several times to apologise, I felt shit.

Then there was the year Seren broke her leg, the poor thing had to have her 5th birthday party cancelled, (as it's not a good idea to have a go carting party in a cast although she wanted to have a go) She was so disappointed and it was altogether a really crappy few weeks to be honest. She'd been so brave and my Mum decided to book us all a trip to the villa in Spain after her cast was due to come off,. We all needed the break and we were really looking forward to it.Two weeks before we are due to fly and Seren caught chicken pox, obviously.
After almost two weeks of debating and stress as to if we could even go, we decided to take her to a doctor to see if she's fit to fly and thankfully? He gave us the all clear and a letter. However, it is apparently at the discretion of the airline to decide if they will allow us to board, so we would have to turn up on the day and see what they said.
Disclaimer **I am really fussy about bugs and incubation periods etc so believe me I would never have flown if I didn't think she was 100 per cent OK to fly **

Now, Seren was quite shy around new people back then and normally when we are at the airport so early she's pretty tired and cranky, but this time? Oh wasn't she little Miss Sunshine! Hi everyone, lets just stand as close to the nice check in lady as we possibly can. Want to see my tummy here it is "I'VE HAD CHICKEN POX" I want to chat to the already nervous couple behind us and discuss my spots! "LOOK AT MY SCABBY SPOTS" I swear I must have looked like I was smuggling cocaine in my rectum the amount of sweating and nervous twitching I did. 
Anyway we boarded the plane and My Mum. Brother, Seren. Mark and I physically breathed a sigh of relief. We should have waited a bit longer.
Not long after Mark had ordered a cup of tea Seren got a serious case of ants in her pants, can I move seats, can I have my bag, can I go to see Grandma and this resulted in the cup of tea getting spilled, all over Seren and Mark. Seren screamed loudly, I screamed louder and I'm not sure what happened next as we were surrounded by the flight attendants who quickly plucked Seren from her seat and rushed her to the back of the plane.
It seemed like hours but it probably wasn't, all I can say with certainty is that the Easyjet crew were quite simply amazing. And I did tell them that, in the several grovelling letters and emails we sent afterwards.

They stripped her leggings off and applied a soothing gel to her leg, it seemed to ease it for her instantly and I calmly hysterically asked that they continue this, Seren had already calmed down and despite the discovery of the chicken pox scabs (which they didn't bat an eyelid at) all was going well. After returning to our seats with lots of sympathetic smiles and nods from people, we all settled down to enjoy the rest of the flight. Then, sooner than we expected it felt as if we were descending, Turns out we were.
The flight attendant tells us with a smile and a gentle whisper they'd used all the gel on Seren's leg and they couldn't restock at Alicante, so they needed to land in Madrid. It was a health and safety issue it needed to be done.
I swear to god I understand what the phrase "wanting the to ground to open up and swallow me" REALLY feels like as they announced it to the rest of the flight, I felt awful. The sympathetic nods and smiles soon turned to dark mutterings, and most of those dark mutterings came from my Mum and Brother to be honest. I asked Mark to buy everyone a drink but he baulked and instead we tried to keep a low profile.
(Until Seren needed a wee and literally skipped down the aisle, I asked her if she could at least do it with a limp ffs)

So there we were sat on the runway of Madrid, with an entire emergency crew entering the plane to check on the patient, who apart from a few chicken pox scabs was now absolutely fine. Luckily everyone from the Captain to the rest the crew were lovely. My Mum eventually admitted to knowing us again and discussed with the lady behind her that it was all a ruse "as the plane didn't have enough petrol perhaps " I calmly suggested this couldn't possibly be the case but was met with a steely glare, I decided it wasn't really the time to argue with them, you know with grounding an entire plane of holidymakers.

I'd say 90% of the passengers were great. The Captain and crew were super lovely, explaining how many times they need to do this, mainly for drunks more than hot tea spillers! However, the professionalism, kindness, patience and care they they gav us is well worth recognition.
We apolgised to as many passengers as we could, and Seren even got a collection of euros from the stag do behind us for being brave !And she was brave bless her; broken leg, chicken pox and then getting a hot cup of tea spilt on you? What a few weeks.

So I say in all honestly if you ever board an Easyjet flight and we are on it? Buddy turn around and run. Every time we book with Easyjet we expect to find out we're on the no fly list,

But thanks Easyjet, you get a hard time of it in the press some time but we think you are marvelous! Super efficent, kind and handled our situation very well.  So please let us fly with you again!

Rachel x

1 comment:

  1. The stress of just even getting to the airport on time is enough for any family with small children...and people wonder why everyone is in wetherspoons drinking a pint and eating a bacon butty at 7 in the morning to calm their nerves!...or is that just me?...