Family Days Out Are a Bad Idea #4: The (Aborted) Shopping Trip

Now, contrary to the nature of my ‘Bad Idea’ posts, family days out aren’t always a hideous experience. Yesterday, for example, we had a glorious day out courtesy of the Fairyland Trust, with Boo prancing around as a fairy, particularly vile pirate tales, Noodles getting his groove on to some live music and thanks to a lot of help from some woodsmen we even made a passable fairy den in the woods. And the sun shone. What a day!

Fairy den construction.

Fairy house.

Noodles Bug gets to grip with the ribbons…

…And, err, plays around the portaloos, because we are the Gluestick family and so can never have a 100% normal day out.

But the the thing is, with nearly 20 years of parenting experience I know when a day out is a VERY BAD IDEA. I knew a shopping trip to Norwich was going to be a bad idea. I even tried to rope Husband in to share the pain. And when that failed, tried to get out of it myself.

What I didn’t predict was how much of an epic fail of a day out today would be. Or how little shopping would be involved in a shopping trip.

My sister needed a dress to wear (as a teacher) to her school’s prom. I had visions of her taking an eternity to find anything and Noodles having his usual allergic reaction to shopping, the symptoms of which manifest themselves in a loud and persistent shriek and a lot of thrashing in the buggy. Still, if I could put up with the dirty looks of total strangers I could justify buying a new lipstick.

My sister has no prom dress and I have no lipstick. Although, fortunately for them, the shoppers of Chapelfield still have their ear drums in tact.

As we headed for Norwich the heavens opened. The rain we avoided yesterday settled in for the journey. On the bright side, my new windscreen wipers work like a charm. But it was a deluge. Driving over the speed bumps in the park and ride car park felt more akin to riding the world’s smallest log flume.

We parked up side by side. Hairy jumped into my car to discuss tactics.

Hairy: I wish we had Walkie-talkies. I’d have aborted our mission and turned around well before here.

Me: I told you it was a bad idea. If I’d stayed at home there’d have only been one car and you’d have been able to turn around whenever you wanted. But what do we do now? I’m wearing Fit Flops.

Hairy: I don’t want to get wet.

Me: Me either. How about we head right into the city, see if we can park at the mall car park? And if we can’t we turn around and get some lunch?

We hadn’t failed. We only needed 2 car parking spaces in the dry of Chapelfield mall. How many people would be out on a miserable day like today? Surely they’d all be at home uploading yesterday’s sunny bank holiday pictures onto Facebook and reminiscing about happier times?


First we sat in lakes where the road used to be.


Then we sat in traffic at roadworks.


Chapelfield car park was full.

After a quick phonecall (on speaker – no laws being broken here, officer, honest) we agreed to rendezvous at the always salubrious surroundings of KFC on the outskirts of the city. Yes, I know, but we were hungry and desperate. Don’t judge us.

Judge all the people in front of us in the queue. Despite having gone 2 o’clock, it was heaving. Perfect timing then for Noodles to have his obligatory meltdown. Marvellous.

To be fair, if I could have pulled off the streaming nostrils look I would have. I’d pretty much had enough too. We’d just travelled 45 miles (and 2 hours) for cheap chicken that we could have got 10 minutes down the road at home.

Needless to say, we stuffed ourselves silly. Poor Teddy could only look on and watch the carnage.


And to top it all, only a month after the MOT, the engine warning light is back on and the bulb has gone in the passenger-side headlight.


And thanks to a packet of chocolate buttons (thanks, Hairy) I now have to clean the inside of the car too.

Butter wouldn’t melt. But chocolate certainly does.

I swear, next time I’m staying in bed.


8 thoughts on “Family Days Out Are a Bad Idea #4: The (Aborted) Shopping Trip”

  1. Hah. This is the kind of day I have! Wrote a little journal note to my parents when we were in Paris last year and still not sure I believe it all happened and I lived it! Must say though….I know I’m not the one that had to clean up the car or the boy, but that little chocolate face is adorable! Anywhere around there where you could shop at midnight?

    1. Paris is always a nightmare. I love it there, but it must be a city of disasters. My mum spent a summer there as a teenager, so thought, 20-odd years later, she still knew her way round. She didn’t. I swear we should be dead.
      I think I’m best off sticking to internet shopping. 1) No screaming. 2) I can pretend I’d look just like the model in that dress. 3) Purchases arrive in the post like a present, which means I can deny that anything cost any money. And they wonder why the high street’s dying.

      1. Hah! Am glad it wasn’t just us with Paris…honestly, I was SO disappointed in Paris. Thank heaven Versailles was better! Agreed on the online shopping. Is so nice when you get to open “gifts” isn’t it?

  2. Noodle’s “chocolate in the car seat” picture looks just like Liam’s “chocolate in the car seat” picture. Glad I’m not the only one with bad parenting ideas! 😉

    1. LOL, I thought exactly the same when I saw your pic.
      This time it was my (childless) sister’s fault. But I have done exactly the same thing more than once. Better to suffer the chocolate mess than the screaming ab-dabs in a traffic jam.

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