I have done many long journeys with my eldest daughter. For the first two and a half years of her life we lived in Oxfordshire and sometimes it felt like pretty much every month we were making the schlep up the M1.

I’ve done it so many times that the route is now ingrained in my mind and is actually punctuated with (invariably) grim reminders of various instances over the years: Ah yes, the grotty services on the M18 where I stopped to feed my baby. The spot on the M1 where my daughter was car sick for the first time. The exit slip road near Loughborough where pulled off the motorway sobbing (2 screaming children in the back seats, I was momentarily overwhelmed by the fact that I was now a mum of two, driving on the motorway by myself in the middle of the night, tired beyond belief and feeling a bit useless)

These days I do long journeys much less frequently and my girls aged two and four are understandably unimpressed by extensive travel. This week we had to travel to Scotland and the journey should (in theory) take about four and a half hours. Somehow on the way home, the trip took us nine long hours!

We had great intentions on departure day of setting off mid-morning, stopping for a leisurely lunch somewhere and being home for mid-afternoon.

Unfortunately it was gone 11am before we were loaded in the car. A quick trip to a local supermarket to buy a few groceries for home somehow turned into “let’s buy an in-car DVD system for the kids.” In total an hour was wasted fitting the damn things and ensuring a single wire wasn’t visible in my husband’s beloved car. (His issue, not mine!)

By 2pm we had got lost twice whilst trying to navigate around Edinburgh (we couldn’t plug in the sat nav as the kids were watching the stupid DVD player) the kids were starving and my husband and I were barely speaking to each other.

Determined to stick to the plan of a ‘nice’ lunch we tried to hunt out a child friendly pub. Of course there was not a pub to be found and tempers were getting more frayed than ever.

At last we found somewhere; it was pretty nasty but it had food in it so we didn’t care. The only item on the kids menu that my girls could be tempted with was chicken nuggets so I gave in. At least we’d managed to avoid our usual trick of only having the option of a service station MacDonalds.

Back on the road it was 3pm. We had promised some friends in Newcastle that we would pop in to say hello, but inevitably the visit lasted over an hour. On our way again it was getting on for 5pm. We realised with dread that we were never going to make it home in time to give the girls tea. Our cunning idea to stop off near Ripon at the grandparents to feed them there would have been great had we not have got stuck in a contraflow near the Angel of the North for an hour.

By 6.30pm and still over an hour from home the familiar golden arches appeared along the roadside. Hating myself for being a rubbish mum and vowing to have a week of broccoli and spinach as penance the girls couldn’t believe their luck…


Thursday, August 8

Victoria Shopping Centre Street Beach will be outside the centre until August 11, and shoppers are invited to join the summer fun. The beach will be on the centre piazza, complete with deck chairs, buckets, spades and the obligatory beach life ring. Arts and craft entertainment will keep children entertained.

Saturday, August 10

Kettlewell scarecrow festival. (August 10-18) It is a great day out for all the family. Follow the theme of the trail to take you round our idyllic Yorkshire village. Solve the riddles of the trail to find the mystery word – with prizes to be won every day!

Sunday, August 11

2-3.30pm Baby and Child Nearly New Sale at the Cairn Hotel Harrogate. Admission £1. Come along to get everything you need for a new baby or to restock your toy box. From prams to clothes, equipment, books, games and more.

Monday, August 12

2-3.30pm The Little Gym of Harrogate stay and play summer sessions for children three years and under.

Tuesday, August 13

1-4pm Family Time at the Workhouse Museum Make a Rag Rug Heart four to 12 years
Explore the stories of the workhouse children on our family trail and make a rag rug heart to remind you of them. Explorer Toys and Treasure Basket 0-four years.

Wednesday, August 14

10am-noon Painting Detectives Mercer Art Gallery Use your detective skills to explore the art in the gallery before making your own artwork to take home. £3, please book in advance if possible. For children aged six years+, Under eight year-olds must be accompanied by an adult.