For our first weekend away with Daniel, we took a train ride which was a great way to break back into our travels. My university has a castle in the UK and they were hosting an alumni weekend. I really wanted Pete to experience it, and we booked it well in advance. It was a risk with Daniel being so young, but the school assured me that we could cancel a few days ahead of time, in case we discovered it wasn’t feasible with Daniel. Luckily, when the time came to make the decision, he was relatively well settled and we felt comfortable trying a weekend away. We were also comforted that we were staying in the same country, we were starting out on a train, and it would be easy to pull the plug if things started to go sideways.
I have a friend who moved continents mere weeks after having a baby – and another who bravely brought their 3 month old on an epic 24+ hour flight to make it to our wedding in Canada from Australia – so have no fear – it is possible to jump right in. It just happened that Pete and I had activities planned that facilitated a gradual progression of increasingly more adventurous trips.
Incidentally, it was the stories from these very adventurous friends that gave us the confidence to bring Daniel along on our travels.
We couldn’t believe how much equipment we needed to bring for Daniel. The image on the homepage of this website was taken outside of the train station. Only the small black carry-on and half of the green carry-on were filled with our clothes. Our days of packing light were apparently over.
We took the train from Victoria to Polegate. At Polegate, we jumped into a cab that we had ordered ahead of time. We had asked about a car seat but we we’re told we could hold the baby in the backseat. It was a short drive (less than 20 minutes) and the driver was very careful. We were on tiny village roads and we felt very safe.
We arrived at the castle and booked into the dormitories. They upgraded us to an apartment suite designed for students with families which was a great way to start the weekend. The staff set up a cot for Daniel – it would be his first time not in a side-crib and in the end it was harder for Pete and I than it was for Daniel. We felt like he was so small and so far away. The feeling didn’t last and it was not too different having Daniel a few steps away. At six weeks he was still on a three-hour EPS cycle (Eat. Poop. Sleep).
Because Daniel was a good sleeper and fairly easy to calm down, we rarely had a crying baby on our hands and we were able to participate in a lot of the weekend activities. We were also amazed by how receptive our fellow guests were and how much attention they gave him.
The first event was archery. We parked Daniel in the shade under a tent and took turns trying our hand at shooting. It turns out to be much harder than it looks!
Other weekend activities included a bus and boat ride (Daniel’s first) to Bodiam Castle which has a most impressive moat.
The artists in residence gave a demonstration of their stone carving techniques, the musicians in residence have a recital, which was interrupted by a murder mystery event! (It turns out we would not make good detectives despite my hours of research with Agatha Christie).
At this time Daniel was very good at sleeping during his ‘cycle’ which we could augment by 30 minutes or so each way. This flexibility enabled us to participate in many events although we did miss most of the morning sessions. Also, being able to carry him in a sling gave us greater freedom for travelling (on the boat for instance).
We did take downtime as well. We really wanted to go inside the science center and the observatory while we were there, but it would have been too hectic.
We returned energized by an incredible weekend and encouraged by the relative ease of it.
Have you had a great weekend away with the little one? Or alternatively has your weekend away been a disaster? We’d love to hear it, or be a guest blogger.