1 x 5 year old, free range
1 x 23 month old, unsweetened
2 parents, slightly crushed
1 change bag, over-stuffed
1/2 an idea that it will all end in tears
A sprinkle of misplaced optimism (optional)
1.The evening before, pack the car with all the non-essential ingredients. Alternatively, this can be done in a flat panic three minutes before departure.
2. On the morning: Prepare main offspring ingredients by stuffing them with Shreddies and not allowing them to talk, move or blink until they have finished. Time is of the essence here.
3. Check temperature by making a wholly inaccurate guess of ‘hot’ as you look out of the window, then add hats and gloves to the sun cream at the last minute.
4. Pour everything into the car. The order in which you do this is not important, but do try to remember to add all main ingredients. Leaving the 23 month old on the drive tends to leave a funny taste in the mouth.
5. Stir everything up by forcing the children make a choice between Finding Nemo or Ice Age 4 DVD in 20 seconds. Insert DVD into player, then remove and swap for the other one, as things already seem to be bubbling over.
6. Let all ingredients settle as the journey progresses, allowing the slightly menopausal sat nav bring your blood to a gentle simmer.
7. Remove family from car on arrival and decorate pram with a fortnight’s worth of baggage and excess clothing.
8. Grease two children with sun cream, forgetting immediately to do the same to yourself. Wipe all excess sun cream from your trousers / top / hair with a wipe.
9. Whisk the children into a frenzy of anticipation by promising a snack in the near future.
10. Leave the children to fizz in a warm place for half an hour until they develop a thick, glossy sheen, at which point remember that you have forgotten to add any liquid whatsoever to proceedings.
11. Allow to rest for 10 minutes whilst you rapidly add caffeine to the adults. Remember to add just one mouthful of hot liquid, then spend the rest of the time separating the two over-excited children to ensure the atmosphere does not curdle, before adding the rest when almost cold. (Note: if curdling occurs, you can salvage the recipe with the last minute addition of a liberal sprinkle of threats for the children and a splash or two of wine for the adults).
12. Toss the children into the next activity and check your timings.
13. Roll out the picnic blanket and divide up the warm, dry sandwiches. Throw in a handful of small flies (optional).
14. Add a drizzle of rain to proceedings to dampen down any sense of enjoyment and discard all further plans. Watch the youngest dissolve into tears.
15. Finally, add all ingredients back into car, which by now should be hot enough to slowly bake all occupants.
16. Baste frequently in the juices of disappointment.
17. Arrive home, drained.