Going Solo

arthur and me

Single-parent travel has been a bumpy learning curve for me. At first I assumed that as I’d been an independent traveller before I had my son, so I would be after – just with a mini-me attachment. But the mini-me attachment has turned out to have some ideas of his own:

‘I like you very much, Mummy,’ he says, ‘but after a while you are very boring!’

I, too, am finding endless conversations on the various powers of Pokemon so tedious I could pass out.

“I know, love,’ I say, ‘let’s go and find some friends for you to talk to instead.’

Its not that I’m particularly unsociable,  it’s just that I don’t want to go onto a specialist holiday for single parents. There’s no appeal for me of a coach tour with lots of people I don’t know and with whom the only thing I’ll have in common is that we’ve all been deserted by our partner. Lovely as they might be, I can’t quite face it.

Holidaying with friends has been one solution – I’ve done a lot of slumping by pools and on the beach as other dads have thrown Arthur around in the water very happily. But it’s not always so easy to arrange so we can’t do it every year and anyway, occasionally I like to go to places that my friends do not.

arthur and campervan

Campervanning has been good – it suits my grumpy, itinerant nature very well, and Arthur can rush around camp sites making friends with other semi-feral children. After being on our own all day slowly bumping through the rain, we are both eager to talk to other people and they find it harder to get away if stuck beside us in a field. There are always interesting people at a camp site (unless you go anywhere run by the Caravan Club), and Arthur has become very good at sidling up to people with a camp fire asking if he can toast some marshmallows he just happens to have on him (we long ago discovered that a child with marshmallows is a popular child).

Having recently returning from four weeks of campervanning, however, the mud of countless camp sites etched into our feet and hair, I realise that there is only so much of it that we can take. Our holidays need refining again. Arthur has existed on a diet of Spar sandwiches and plain pasta (I find it hard enough to cook at home, let alone over the ancient, gas-leaking, weak ring in the campervan) and seems to be losing weight. I have developed the stomach of a long-distance lorry driver and the attitude as well. I have the largest vehicle on the road (at least on most B roads) and will not stop or speed up for anyone (bunnies beware). We also need some sun, please.

Next year I think we might take to France in our campervan. This has the benefit of Sun (if we manage to get far enough south), of new and beautiful countryside to look at, and of a better class of Spar sandwich. But it is risky; I’m not a very capable single parent and, alongside the lack of cooking expertise, I don’t think I could get my campervan up and running if it broke down on a back-road in France. Perhaps I should try to fit in a car-maintenance course between work, housework and childcare?

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  1. Pingback: Working single dad takes pay cut to keep childcare benefits | R.B.Bailey Jr's Space

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