Thursday, 6 June 2013

Road Trip 1

As promised here is the delayed post about our lovely road trip last week. Its the first of three parts.. the Road Trip Trilogy!

To recap we had Papa's sister and nephew staying with us (The Singaporean Queen (SQ) and her little Prince) and it was lovely getting to know them both so much better.

Prior to their visit and after the nephew's 'misdemeanours' at his fancy public school - which left him suspended for a week and us with an unexpected house guest (as his UK guardians), SQ had made a reservation at Heston Bloomingheck's restaurant The Fat Duck over in Bray. Very nice - we obviously accepted straight away - or at least Papa did. When he came home and told me I was very excited and then a sudden thought struck me - I quickly pulled out the AA Routefinder and found out where Bray is... Berk 'bloody' shire.

Now I have nothing against the inhabitants of Berkshire, or indeed Bray - I'm pretty sure I have a cousin or two over there... but thats the point. Berkshire is 'over there'... way, over there! I looked up form the laptop and told Papa we couldn't go.

He was incandescant with rage. 'What do you mean we can't go?" he yelled, "Do you know how hard my sister worked to get this reservation (we later discovered it was the nephew who had worked hard), Do you know how disappointed she will be if we say we are not going? She has gone to a lot of trouble! Make it work!" Papa is a huge Trekkie and often quotes Patrick Stewart... or whichever of the captain's it is..... (I put that in just to annoy him...)

"But what about the kids?" I asked, "They can't go, what will we do with them?"
"You can get the babysitter in."
"The meal takes over 4 hours, the table is booked at 7. That means we won't finish until 11pm at the earliest, Its a four hour drive there and a four hour drive back - we will be getting home at around 3am - I don't think the babysitter (we use our mad Turkish cleaner with a penchant for European house music) will be willing to stay for that long."
"Call your Mother, then."
"Ok, but she has to come down from Cheshire and we can't put her up."
"Why not?"
"Because your sister and nephew are staying."

Yes, the conversation was really that nonsensical.

Papa was about to go into his "I don't know why we ever had kids" routine (I get that a lot when he can't do what he wants) when I had a brainwave. "I'll ask the children's' Godparents if they can have them for the night," I said.

'You do that, " he replied, "Because I am not telling my sister to cancel this trip, she's gone to a lot of trouble and she will be very offended." It's wierd, as the eldest sibling I'm not usually scared of my younger brothers and sisters (although my brother has had a few moments) but there is quite a large age gap between Papa and his older sister - so I saw a side of him I hadn't before - he was actually scared of her.

So phone calls were made and it was arranged that on the way to Bray we would take an hour long detour down to East Sussex and drop the boys off before heading back up to the joy that is the M25.

Papa then went ahead and made reservations for us to stay the night at The Compleat Angler in lovely Marlow - as we were going to spend all day driving it was only fitting that we should get to sleep over as well - and I was making sure that he paid for that! (Did I mention that Papa doesn't drive - apparently some people are born to drive and others to be driven - he falls into the latter catagory)

So the big day came and the nephew was very excited about his culinary trip (he's a big fan of Heston's) and after I had explained the journey he suddenly said, "Oh I also had a reservation for the Mandarin Oriental (another of Heston's restaurants) for the same night, but I gave it away when you said we could do the Fat Duck."

I stared at him with a stunned look.... the Mandarin Oriental would have been infinately easier - a trip on the high speed train into town, a lovely meal and home again before midnight. Why, dear nephew, had you not mentioned this before?

I glanced at Papa, who simply shrugged his shoulders. As he later pointed out when you come from a country as small as Singapore, where you can drive from one side of the island to the other in roughly half an hour, the concept of 5 hours in a small compact car really doesn't compute. Let alone the amount of traffic we were going to meet on the motorway.

With that in mind, I wanted to leave as early as possible to get ahead of the traffic on the 'Road to Hell', as Chris 'whatshisface' called it, but Papa and his Sis were adamant that we couldn't check into the hotel before 3, so to leave before 10 was foolish... It's funny how someone who doesn't drive knows how long it will take to get around London so much better than someone who used to have to commute to Ealing once a week to teach in a Catholic School. But I was talked out of leaving early and we eventually left at 11.30 with an overloaded car, packed with four adults, two children and enough luggage to fill a truck. "Why is the car so full?" the nephew asked innocently, he had obviously never travelled with children before - they take a lot. It's strange that the younger the child the more luggage they need - newborns practically fill the car!

We were just about to leave when I spotted the dog... The dog!!!!!!! I had forgotten to book her into the kennels!!!!!! The bloody dog! I gave the kennel a call - they were booked out as it was half term but because they love our dog (who doesn't?) they agreed to take her into their home for the night. I rushed off to the kennel with her...

So we loaded everyone into the car... again... and set off on the first leg of our long journey to Bray...

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