Sussex columnist: Travelling with children and the joy of meeting old friends

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​We’ve been away for a few nights again, which means I feel like I can get some more column inches out of lamenting road trips with children and packing.

​Actually, ‘lamenting’ is too strong, but I do find it quite exhausting having to answer ‘how many more minutes until we get there?’ almost every minute. When you’re driving all the way to south Wales, that’s a lot of times...

As much as I love getting away, I do find myself dreading packing in the days beforehand. As a natural-born worrier I hate forgetting things and like to pack everything and the kitchen sink, and then a bit more for good measure.

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Katherine met up with her 'Disney friends' on a recent trip to Wales. Photo: Katherine HMKatherine met up with her 'Disney friends' on a recent trip to Wales. Photo: Katherine HM
Katherine met up with her 'Disney friends' on a recent trip to Wales. Photo: Katherine HM

As usual when we loaded up the car with two bulging suitcases (for a three-night trip!), an electric fan (in case our Airbnb was unseasonably hot), our own pillows, changes of shoes and daily fresh clothes for everyone, wellies, blankets for the children in case they’re cold in the car, a bag of snacks, a bulging medicine bag, my running stuff, and, inexplicably, six medium-sizedSquishmallows (clearly my children have caught the overpacking bug), my husband was less-than-thrilled.

But, it mostly all fitted in (bar my children being under a small mountain of coats for most of the journey) and we had a nice time visiting this very pretty part of the world and seeing my husband’s family.

In smug news, the aforementioned running kit was used TWICE to run along the Mumbles coastline. If you’re not familiar with Wales, this is a pretty seaside area in Swansea with a lovely pathway that takes you miles around Swansea Bay.

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It’s a fab place for running, and speeding/going-marginally-faster-than-walking along it made me feel better about my culinary overindulgence while we were away. Plus, the fact I was running in very windy conditions thanks to Storm Kathleen made me feel like a hardened athlete. I might give Worthing’s Hardest Geezer a literal run for his money yet. A couple of seafront gallops is the same as running the length of Africa, right?!

It was also an opportunity to catch up with some of my ‘Disney friends’. Since I started this column a few years ago, I’ve been saying I’ll write about my amazing experience of working at Walt Disney World. But, seeing as I’m halfway through this packing/running/driving commentary now it’ll have to wait for another day. Again.

Anyway, my ‘Disney friends’ are the result of an unforgettable year working at Epcot in Orlando. They live in Wales, and my husband actually knew a couple of them at university before they all set-off to work for The Mouse in 2003 and had the good fortune of meeting me.

And while we don’t get to see them all that often thanks to the four-and-a-half-hour car journey between us, there’s something about old friends that means longer intervals between meetings don’t seem to matter.

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We spent well over three hours gabbing away and only stopped when we realised the restaurant was empty and the staff very much looked like they’d like to go home.

I can only apologise to the team at Harvester Llandarcy (conveniently located just off the M4) on Thursday night if we kept you there too late.

It was so nice to catch up on what’s been happening of late, and to reminisce about a seminal year in our lives which happened (gulp) 20 years ago.

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The only downside to seeing said friends was the reminder that two decades have passed since we first met, in our early 20s, which now places us firmly in the early-40s camp. Perhaps the only thing more terrifying than that is that in the same time period again we’ll be pretty much at pensionable age. Probably best not to pick at that thread…

So, it’s been a busy week and there’s still a few days of the holidays left – and all the snack-giving and days-out planning that goes with it. So, stand-by for more tales from a frazzled Easter holidays mum next week!