Taking Stock - February 25, 2013

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Are we nearly there yet?

Five words and a punctuation mark every parent dreads – but one of those phrases you know you’re inevitably going to hear at some point in your life.

Now, I’ve always reckoned on my kids being fairly patient travellers.

They’ve had to get used to it from an early age, the twins flying for the first time when they were just six months old.

And, to be fair to them, generally they are.

Boy twin will quite happily play a two hour game of spot the car – in which he will attempt to tell you about every other car, bus, lorry or pushbike going the other way.

His holy grail is a tractor – guaranteed to summon up just as much excitement for him as it does frustration for the drivers stuck behind it.

Girl twin, well, she’ll just sleep – a jolly handy thing to be able to do and something I’ve never mastered, even on the longest of long haul journeys.

But The Munchkin is at that age now where she needs constant entertainment – something in short supply on a dark motorway.

Even so, on a trip south to see relatives this weekend, I had expected the question every parent dreads to come much later than, say, Chorley.

“It’s a long way yet,” said My Good Wife, subtly cranking up the stereo and the heat in the hope of inducing sleep.

It certainly made me yawn but had no impact whatsoever on the occupant of the back seat.

She’s got her dad’s journalistic tenacity and wouldn’t give up on the line of questioning, which continued unabated until Wolverhampton.

Of course anyone who knows me will tell you I’d much rather have been on the train – not a tricky journey given that the brother in law in question, who celebrates his 30 plus 10 birthday today, lives in Rugby.

And they’d have a point. I’m on one as I write this, racing to Fleetwood Town’s away game at Aldershot.

I love the fact I can work, or read a book or fall asleep safe in the knowledge I’m not about to cause a huge pile up.

And that’s all well and good when you’re a grown up.

When you’re five the train is a proper adventure.

It’s fast, it banks round corners like a fighter plane, there’s a shop, it makes funny noises and occasionally grinds to a halt for no reason whatsoever.

Not all positives, I know, but exciting nonetheless when you’re in reception class.

Of course, when travelling with the family, there are down sides – not least the cost.

Luggage is another one, not to mention keeping the brood in order on busy stations and the constant worry somebody’s going to be sitting in your seat.

It’s just simpler to take the car which is why, last night, I spent two and a half hours on the M6 listening to the same question.

Eventually our mini Paxman in the back relented and nodded off – which I suppose bodes well for the summer.

Then we’re off on a much bigger adventure – in the car of course.

It’s six hours down to the south coast to catch the ferry.

I wonder how long it’ll take me to start asking ‘are we nearly there yet?’.