Sussex columnist: Easter weekend away and taking a family walk with alpacas

‘​Are we there yet?’ – this staple of long car journeys has to be every parent’s favourite phrase, right?
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WRONG!

Having just got back from a short break in Wales, the dreaded question that was on children’s lips for pretty much every minute of the four-to-five-hour journey is not one I’m keen to hear again any time soon.

We were first asked those four fateful words 12 minutes after we’d left home, at which point I knew we were in for a long ride...

Travelling with children in the car can be quite a journey. Photo by Bruno Vincent/Getty ImagesTravelling with children in the car can be quite a journey. Photo by Bruno Vincent/Getty Images
Travelling with children in the car can be quite a journey. Photo by Bruno Vincent/Getty Images
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In Hollywood movies, road trips are epic. You’re king or queen of the road. Endless, empty highways lay before you, illuminated by glorious sunshine and punctuated by diners offering the kind of delicious fried lunches even your arteries would forgive you for.

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You’re probably driving a convertible, headscarf protecting your hair from the wind and your troubles left behind at your starting destination. But this romanticised ideal I picture in my head when thinking about taking a long journey isn't the reality of a UK car trip.

Head on to any main road, at any time of day, and you’ll probably hit traffic pretty quickly. Let’s face it, I live in Worthing so it’s guaranteed I’m going to be stuck in traffic within minutes, trying to navigate the nightmare that is the A27 through our town.

And then there’s the mode of transport. Our mid-size family vehicle, filled to the brim with outfits for every season (ready for the snow or beach-going weather you could be served up in the UK in springtime) isn't quite as cool as a Cadillac.

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Boot rammed full, the children were nursing and stepping on carrier bags full of an illogical assortment of Easter eggs, cuddly toys, vitamins, wellies and anything else that wouldn’t fit in the suitcases. Every time we rounded a corner or stopped a little suddenly, the whole elaborate game of car Jenga teetered on the brink of falling down.

The sustenance wasn’t quite the American dream, either. No offence to the Welcome Break services at Membury, but mom and pop authentic establishment it is not.

It did, at least, offer five (yes, five!) Starbucks locations, so I was able to get a much-needed hit of caffeine to energise me for the second instalment of the ‘Let’s ask the are we there yet question on a loop to slowly send our parents mad’ game.

Needing a distraction, I decided to try my luck with some music, but as nobody could agree on what to listen to, I decided to play DJ.

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Each person gets to choose a song, and then we go round again, and again, and again, until we get there.

‘What a great idea,’ I smugly thought to myself. And it was, for about one round, where everybody chose relatively normal songs.

And then things got silly.

My son’s turn came around and he asked me to play Avocado. Feeling a sense of dread, I searched it and up came The Avocado Song by Los Avocados.

Nothing good could come of pressing play, of that I was sure, but them’s the rules, so I went with it.

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It was every bit as bad as I’d feared. And of course it was super catchy, so I’ve spent days walking around the house singing ‘bake me like an avocado’.

Buoyed by my distress, my daughter opted for That’s Just my Baby Doge by Chicky Milky. I dare you to play it and see how long you can last.

There was also the trippy Unicorn by Tiny Totz Kidz, and something called the Coffee Shop Bop – its only saving grace being that it was just 56 seconds long.

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And it didn’t stop there. I now know the words to both Corn (It’s Corn) and Dinosaur Stomp.

By the time we arrived in Wales I was a broken woman. The headache of listening to a thousand weird and wonderful songs while batting off repeated requests for how many more minutes of travel time we had left had well and truly set in.

But do you know what, I’d happily do it all again. Yes, my nerves may still be jangling from the overstimulation of endless upbeat kids ‘tunes’, but I can only imagine how boring the journey would have been without our crazy little carmates in the back.

It’s a journey I’ll never forget and that’s just fine with me!