Like most parents with young children I can easily recall some horrendous car journeys. The time we foolishly decided to travel back from London to Devon on the day after Boxing Day and got stuck on the M25 for six hours was one of the worst. Or the time we travelled back from Birmingham at night expecting all three of our children to fall asleep and none of them did. They just spent the journey getting grumpier and grumpier – like me and my wife! Worst of all are the times when our middle child gets car sick. We hang empty bags on the back of our chairs now before we set off. They are rarely used but well worth the small effort of putting them there. Some of the best car journeys have been the ones when we’ve planned ahead and researched child-friendly pubs just off the main routes. These stopovers are so much nicer than motorway services and provide a proper break for everyone so you can arrive at your holiday cottage in a good mood.
What really make car journeys nicer for everyone are a few good car games. My children can’t pass a yellow mini without shouting ‘Mini Cheddar!’ In this game a Mini is worth two points to the first person who shouts ‘Mini’, a yellow car is a ‘Cheddar’ worth five, and a yellow mini is a ‘Mini Cheddar’ worth ten points.
We also play Cow Cricket, with one side of the car versus the other. A cow passed on the left side of the car gives this side a run, a field of cows is a boundary worth four, while a field of horses is a six. Scores are accumulated by each side until the car passes a church. A church is a catch and wipes out all that side’s points!
The number plate game
A game we play in traffic jams is to try to create a sentence from the letters of the car registration in front of you. So if we spend some time stuck behind DY06 WMB someone might come up with ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby’ from the letters in the registration. Before we set off on a long journey we also guess the number of bridges the car will go under on the journey – it’s nearly always more than we guess.
What with bags on the chairs, a good stock of drinks and fruit at my wife’s feet, some well-planned pub breaks, and games of Cow Cricket and Mini Cheddars to entertain us, sometimes the travelling really is nearly as good as the arriving.