Initially, I felt quite positive about the journey... it started well, with no lane closures on the Motorway Of Eternal Roadworks. We bombed down as far as Southampton. We paused, briefly, to purchase coffee for the driver, but no food as LittleBear insisted he wasn't hungry. Perhaps warning bells should have rung?
On we went, the roads reducing from motorway, to dual-carriageway, to single-carriageway, the speed dropping inexorably, the queues growing depressingly. When we still had fifty miles and an estimated hour and a half left to travel, LittleBear informed me he felt sick. As this is a semi-regular announcement in the car, I was perhaps not as sympathetic as I should have been. To be honest, "I'm turning round and going home if you whinge again" was perhaps not a justified response, not least because I had no intention of attemping another 150 miles in the opposite direction at that point.
A few deep breathes later and I cheerfully suggested eye-spy to take his mind off it. I was turned down.
A few more deep breathes later, as we joined a particularly tedious stretch of road, nose-to-tail in both directions and with no laybys, there was an ominous burping, gurgling noise from the back seat, as LittleBear's breakfast overflowed all over his front*.
It was several noxious-smelling miles before we found a garage to stop at. And LittleBear sat calmly in the effluent, commenting only with delightful understatement, "this is NOT a good start to the holiday. But I do feel a lot better now."
The lady in the petrol station who served me as I purchased bin bags, baby wipes and dettol wipes enquired only, "Sicky child? Has to be with that collection." But I got my moppet cleaned up, in clean clothes and his seat (mostly) clean, and covered in a plastic bin liner, and on we went. Lunch did not seem like a sensible option at this point.
As we proceeded to fight our way through ever more traffic, my ray of sunshine cheerfully pointed out that he hadn't been sick on his socks or his nanoos, so it wasn't all bad. And after a while we began to drive past fantastic place names - not just Tolpuddle, but the less-well-known Affpuddle, and Puddletown. Not to mention Piddletrenthithe and Piddlehinton. And then we began to get glimpses of the sea, and drove past a sign saying "Eype, 1/2 mile" which is where I used to holiday as a child, and where I used to find fossils. We may make a detour on our way home, for old times' sake. It is a road trip after all.
Finally we made it, and are now ensconced in a 17th century inn in Lyme Regis. We arrived in time for a trip to the shore, and LittleBear is over the moon to have found his first ammonites already (that he could take home with him) as well as some fossils that were embedded in rocks rather too large to remove. And we dibbled in the sea, and made a sandcastle, and ate chocolate chip cookies at 4:30 instead of having lunch. And had sausage and mash for dinner.
That's right. Our bed. It was supposed to be a twin room, but it's a double. Which was so much fun last time we did this.
The only thing I'm looking forward to less than sharing a bed with my son is getting back in the car again in two days time. I had to go and get the bag of cuddly penguins before bed, and the sensory assault from his rather unpleasant car seat after it had sat in a hot car for several hours was quite extraordinary. I can only begin to imagine how that aroma will mature over the next few days...
* One of these days I'll learn my lesson and not let my boy over-eat soft fruit before putting him in a car. We've managed the same feat three times now.