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Holidaying with a spirited toddler in tow…

by | Oct 14, 2016 | Blog

After a long summer of not much downtime we decided to attempt a VERY last minute break to the South of France to catch the last of the summer sun. And I mean VERY last minute; we actually booked the flights and hotel in Nice the night before travelling. There’s nothing like adding a little stress to the start of your holiday.

We have a two-and-a-half year old little boy who has just discovered the word ‘No!’ and is not quite toilet-trained. This makes day-to-day life very interesting  –  so imagine what it does to a holiday. We arrived at Gatwick already checked-in with only hand luggage and a buggy and sailed through the much appreciated separate security queue for families. Even with the whole family setting off the security scanners, it only took a matter of minutes.

What with all the rushing around in the morning to get to the airport, I have to say, we were feeling quite smug that we’d pulled it off and now had plenty of time to grab some food in Starbucks before taking a leisurely stroll down to the gate. Ha! That feeling didn’t last for long. We took our time having a coffee and bite to eat and then I said let’s go now and pop to the toilet and grab some water and a book in Smiths.

My son said  –  no, shouted  –  ‘NO TOILET!’ when my husband asked him if he needed to go. Ok fine, I thought, he can go on the plane if need be. We carried on to Smiths and I quickly saw the book I wanted and left my husband perusing whilst I grabbed a couple of bottles of water. Then my son decided he DID need a wee and was so desperate he was threatening to go there and then.

I scooped him up, shouted to my husband and made a mad dash out of the shop, up the escalators and sprinted the last 200m to the nearest toilets shouting ‘Excuse me’ in an increasingly shrill voice. Luckily we made it in time … but on our way back down the escalators I glanced at the departures screen. To my horror, our departure gate was about to close!

How could this be?! I ran back to my husband in the shop who still hadn’t bought the books and was helpfully just manning the buggy. Panicking, I demanded we abandon everything (I was even tempted to leave the buggy) and run. My husband said he really wanted his book and told me he’d catch up  –  !!!

Amazingly, although the very last passengers to get to the gate, we made it by the skin of our teeth and we trundled on to the plane, heads down in shame…and exhaustion.

Arriving in Nice to brilliant, warm sunshine, blue skies and swaying palm trees immediately had the desired calming effect.  Three days flew by and although it wasn’t exactly the relaxing break I’d dreamed of, we still had a wonderful time having lots of fun with our son who is growing into a very comical character.

The pebble beaches were a surprise – probably should have done my homework  –  but we found a man-made sandy section my boy absolutely loved to roll around in.  We had a very enjoyable day trip to Monaco to see an old friend and take a dip at Larvotto Beach with its crystal clear waters and fish of all sizes swimming around us. We also had fun pretending to be millionaires, sheepishly taking selfies outside the famous Monte Carlo Casino and Hotel de Paris before their surly security men could tell us we had no right being anywhere near these iconic buildings.

All was going well until our return to Monaco train station where we had arrived in plenty of time for our train home. Again, after asking my son if he needed to make a visit to the toilet before we left, he waited until we had walked the entire length of the platform to find a bit of space before screaming he needed to go right NOW!! I must have looked completely ridiculous running back up the platform in and out of the crowds with the buggy trailing behind the boys.

I waited for them at the top of the stairs but after a few minutes the train pulled up and my phone was flashing up with a call. I didn’t answer it in time and then had a message from my husband asking where I was. Panic set in once again and I started fighting my way up to the train desperately searching for them. As the doors were just about to close I got through to my husband’s phone and in the split second I had to make a decision jumped on the train and dragged the buggy on board.

As the doors came to a close I asked my husband if he was on the train.  And of course, no, he was still on the platform. Nightmare! Like a lunatic I punched the button to open the door but it was too late and the train pulled away. The French commuters were giving me very strange looks for the completely hysterical phone conversation that ensued and then we spent the next 20 minutes of my train journey in an angry exchange of texts blaming each other for the absolute cock-up that had just happened.

Cutting a long story short, there was another way back up to the platform via some escalators which they had taken, hence us missing each other and resulting in me leaving my family behind in Monaco. They managed to get on another train 15 minutes later and we reunited at Nice station relieved that I hadn’t been fined by train guards for not having a ticket or knowing a single useful word of French to explain myself.

Oh how we laughed.