Are We Nearly There Yet?

Mark Travel 4 Comments

A couple of days before our drive up to Edinburgh ‘someone’ left the keys in the car overnight and drained the battery. I’ll not say who, other than to repeat a phrase I overheard Janet say to the AA man,

“… yeah, he’s a tit!”

That same person also reset the code on the car stereo in the process, a code we don’t have, and so it was that we set off on our five-hour drive in silence, but for the enthusiasm of two kids who didn’t appreciate quite how many minutes five hours equated to.

To give Janet her dues she’d convinced the boys that the long drive was part of our adventure, but then why wouldn’t she when we all knew she’d be asleep long before we’d even reached the motorway.

That’s not to say she wouldn’t interact. Oh no, much like when she’s dozing on the sofa in a pool of her own dribble she’d still shout out random answers to questions that hadn’t been asked. It’s like having Father Jack as your co-driver.

As a child of the 70‘s/80‘s the words safety and car only shared a sentence when discussing Formula 1. Seatbelts were there to swing off as you bounced around the back seat, high on Sherbet Dips and Flying Saucers, until your dad lost the plot and expelled expletives we only ever heard between Bedford and Glasgow.

When we upgraded(?) our Fiat 500 to a Morris Ital Estate we were allowed to sit in the boot, staring our impending death in the face as the lorry who’d earlier been happy to honk his horn on request grew ever more impatient at our attempts to climb a hill at barely 20mph. Happy days.

Without the luxury of being able to pack the kids with the suitcases, and needing to limit the incessant ‘are we nearly there yet‘ to a tolerable level, I decided on a list of ways to entertain them. This is that list. The good, the bad, and the ‘for the love of God not again!’

I should probably add that we did borrow my sisters DVD player, which for reasons known only to Janet was to be saved for the latter part of the journey. For that point when my dad would have threatened to leave us on the hard shoulder if we so much as thought about kicking the back of his seat one more time.


The default go-to game for any car journey. Also known as I-despair.

Janet likes to choose something she spotted behind a tree, on a distant hill … in 2007.
Luca hasn’t quite grasped the concept, choosing a letter long before he’s thought of the answer.
And as for Sonny’s “T”, I’m not having it that he saw a three-legged sheep?


Landmark Bingo

Draw up some cards before you leave with landmarks to tick off on the journey. Janet went one better by printing out … Chinese Landmark Bingo!

Turns out there’s fewer Great Walls and Terracotta Warriors on the M6 than you’d expect.

OK, so they were English landmarks written in Chinese. A great way to teach the boys Chinese apparently, had the only Chinese speaker in the car not been snoring away in the passenger seat.

Still, it passed an hour or so, and Luca was only a Forbidden City off a full-house.


Counting Cars

Choose a colour and each one that overtakes wins you a point. We played this a lot, largely due to Sonny’s refusal to accept defeat.

For what it’s worth go for silver or black, and not as Luca gave me, pea green?


Story Telling

Take it in turns to add a sentence, and in the process discover your children are watching far too much TV.

Despite my best efforts to instil a fairytale theme it still finished with a battle to the death between Sooty and Thor. A modern take on David and Goliath I suppose; if David had access to heat-seeking laser-beams of molten lava?


Alphabet Animals

Taking it in turns to come up with an animal for each letter of the alphabet.

Xerus inauris (a type of squirrel). You’re welcome.


I went to the shops …

… but I wish I’d just ordered it online when the kids were in bed.

To be fair, Sonny likes this game if for no other reason than his imaginary supermarket sells packets of poo, buckets of wee and many other things that raise serious questions about my parenting.



One thing you can wear on your head.
Two things that can fly.
Three fruits that are red.
Four characters from CBeebies.
Five reasons why I retain my will to live.

And finally, something I wish I’d known before we left, download programmes on the BBC iPlayer to watch on your phone! Why did no one tell me you can do that? Throw in some apps to play and you could forget everything above and instead just pray your phone battery survives beyond Carlisle.

As it was my patience lasted until the Lake District. From there on it was Wreck It Ralph and Toy Story all the way.

As for the journey home, I was much better prepared. I waved Janet and the boys off on their own and stayed behind to help their Auntie Jackie pack up and move back to Manchester.

My journey home was in a van with their cousin Ben for company, and a thirteen year old is far easier to entertain.

I say entertain, he might argue otherwise as I added my own commentary and backing vocals to the top 100 guitar riffs of all-time on Radio 2. Well, it’s what long journeys are really made for.

{This post was written in association with Parkdean Holidays. All words and opinions are my own.}

Comments 4

  1. This made me laugh rather a lot. All good suggestions on the entertainment front. With a 5yo prone to travel sickness, I also like to play catch the vom in the bag whilst not gagging myself. It’s a treat.

    1. I don’t envy those journeys. My mum and dad ran a scouts group and my only memory of camping was the incessant thrower-upper who shared our car. That and poo’ing in a hole. Neither were desirable.

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