The end of another half term drew to a close on Sunday as we belted back down the M1 to Hampshire.
I know the M1 fairly intimately, and from, the days when the children were smaller, the service stations. While I'd like to say that I would take breaks from the drudgery of driving with small children in the back of the car in more interesting places off the beaten track, the fact is that when you've got a screaming baby in the back seat, you need to stop. NOW. Blue was the dream baby to travel with. Within 30 seconds of being in the car, he would be asleep, only to wake when the car stopped. We could get all the way from Hampshire to Leeds without incident (I never felt the need to wake a sleeping baby). Pink on the other hand... I remember the alarm I felt as she squawked all the way home from the hospital. A baby that didn't sleep in the car (or as it turned out, the buggy)?
Many journies north in the company of Blue & Pink led me to conclude that the ideal place to stop as a woman travelling in the company of small children was Donnington Park East. For some reason the least stressful of all the service stations that I would pass. Just over half way on our journey, very open with plenty of room for a toddler to run about before reaching the exit. Rather a smart 'family' room. I could run through the detractors for all the other ones, but I will only mention that (1) the muffins at Woolley Edge were a disgrace 6 years ago, and (2) don't get me started on how hideous it is to breastfeed at Leicester Forest East.
Anyway, we ended up stopping at Donnington Park East on our return journey from a week at my parents, and it seemed no less relaxed than I remembered. Over a hideously overpriced coffee and a packet of biscuits provided by my mum, we had one of those conversations that I think I will remember for the rest of my life. "What's for tea?" asked Blue (he is constantly pre-occupied with what his next meal will be, and when). I told him. "Poached heads and toasted dustbins?" squawked Pink, outraged - obviously her mind had been elsewhere at the time.
We got home. Unpacked the car. Sorted things out. Time for poached heads & toasted dustbins...