“Daddy, I’m going to Scotland.”

So piped up a excited voice from the car seat behind me.

It was 2pm, Sophie had just woken up after her afternoon nap and we were four hours into our five hour car journey to Port William, a tiny hamlet in South West Scotland. Miles from anywhere.

It hadn’t been a journey I was looking forward to. Indeed, I’d put a plea out on Facebook for advice from other parents who’d done similar. I wouldn’t have minded but, without my wife for company, it was me and Sophie, caged inside a metal box and unable to move.

As it was, it’s remarkable how far a lot of food (I’m talking brioche, banana bread, rice cakes, oat bars on top of her lunch!), an hour’s break at a soft play centre and the comfort of a favourite soft toy can get you.

20160823_110313 I only had to listen to one of her CDs once and the rest of the time was plain sailing. It was so cute when I turned back to check on her at one point and she was happily reading one of her stories to herself!

Once arrived, we were absolutely able to enjoy the time away. We were staying with my parents and because it was so remote, there was no phone signal, no wifi, no emails. And it was bliss. (Although when you’ve got a wife who is 32 weeks pregnant and 200 miles away, that’s a slight drawback! Still, she was joining us the following day so that was fine. She was able to enjoy a peaceful train ride!)

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There were so many things to savour. Highlights included

  • Sophie arranging herself and Baby Annabell a tea party in the coffee shop on the first day. After initially refusing to sit with us, she started gathering chairs and duly plonked her doll next to her in this space and started sipping pretend tea from the toy cups and saucers.
  • Ball games. Is it wrong to invent a game where you score points for “megging” your daughter with a tennis ball?! Still, she absolutely loved chasing the tennis ball around. She has also developed a passion for (her words) “collecting” boules. It takes a careful reminder to stop her gathering them up before the round is finished! 20160824_154303
  • Playing on the beach. We’ve managed to get her on a beach every year since she was born which has been amazing to watch the progression. Pre 1 year old she was eating sand. Then, at 1, she enjoyed smashing down the sandcastles we built and now she has reached building sandcastle stage. So cute! She’s not sure about the sea yet though…
  • Going to a farm. Trying to teach Sophie that animals are OK and can be touched. 20160824_104523She does get a bit nervous sometimes and bless her, she’d psyched herself up to touch a beautiful owl and was leaning in for a stroke only for it to readjust its position and flap its wings ferociously. Poor girl shied away then!
  • Time with grandparents. She is so blessed to have such involved and keen grandparents who will play with her, talk to her, sing with her, go on playpark apparatus with her, love her. And we are so lucky to have that support. Sophie learned magic, throwing and catching, about animals, cooking…the list goes on.20160825_111850

It was only four days away but it was a real break and very refreshing.

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Once we returned, it was back to reality as emails/WhatsApps/responsibilities all flooded back as soon as we hit civilisation. Still, it was nice while it lasted.