brave enough to start

family of five who can, should and definitely will, see more of the world


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Day 9 – Rodin, The Gates of Hell and The Franklin Institute

We caught the bus early to the Rodin Museum where the boys gave us their interpretation of the Thinker and we admired The Gates of Hell.  According to our tour guide the previous day, couples queue up on their wedding day to have their pictures taken outside the gates throughout the Summer; an idea which apparently has the happily married amongst us smiling in amusement whilst the less blissfully entwined tend to grimace in discomfort…

After lunch we headed into The Franklin Institute. I have already lost count of the number of museums we have visited so far but if I ask the boys which ones they’ve enjoyed the most, this one comes at the top of the list for John. Predominately a science and technology museum, most of the exhibits are hands on and very interactive. P1080381

We walked inside the Giant Heart taking the route that blood flows through the atriums and ventricles, watched open heart surgery in an operating theatre and diagnosed a heart attack following critical heart emergency response training.

Teddy and Alex enjoyed the KidScience zone, using magnets, mirrors and water to explore different materials and I loved the interactive mystery in the Train Factory that had me listening to clues and concocting theories like a big kid, whilst the boys climbed onto the Baldwin 60000. P1080431 P1080433Over in the IMAX we listed to Ewan McGregor telling us about the plight of the humpback whale and in the planetarium we experienced views of the Earth from outer space.

The bus back took us past the Philadelphia Museum of Art, famous for its now iconic “Rocky Steps” where in 1976 Sylvester Stallone’s character trained for his match with Apollo Creed.  The film makers donated the statue of Rocky to the City after the third film in the series and it now stands just adjacent to the staircase.  P1080273 Tempted as I was to run up and down the stairs like so many others, I settled for a photo and resolved to find the film on Netflix for the boys. After all, you can’t come to Philadelphia and not know who Rocky Balboa is. P1080217 It’ll come as no surprise that the quote that all 4 boys love most is:

“You’re gonna eat lightnin’ and you’re gonna crap thunder…”

Great film.


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Day 8 – Philadelphia

It is fair to say that prior to visiting, almost everything I knew (or thought I knew) about Philadelphia came from films, most recently Nicolas Cage’s National Treasure. Consequently I expected to find a lot of history in Philly and I wasn’t disappointed. I also expected a lot of cream cheese but that turned out to be a common misconception.

HeadHouseThe forecast for the week had the best of the weather at the beginning so we walked from our new Airbnb in the south to the city centre.
Like any city there is a vast range of affluence and poverty evident as you walk around and the closer we got to Independence Hall the less rubbish we saw on the streets, each block slightly more gentrified than the last. South Street, with its vast range of quirky shops and restaurants is a big draw and Head House Square reminded us of a lovely old English market town; even the weather was dreary!

We debated buying CityPASSes which give heavily discounted entry to some of Philadelphia’s best known attractions. The mooted disadvantage of such passes is that they tend to be limited to the most popular places and once you buy them you feel obliged to visit them all at the expense of other hidden treasures you might uncover if you were to wander off the well beaten tourist track. I suppose at this point in our journey we still feel very much like “tourists” as opposed to “travellers” in the conventional sense but sometimes the reason that a place is popular is because it truly is world class and worth a look. The Franklin Institute, for example, falls very definitely in that category and we didn’t feel that its popularity was a reason to give it a miss. Thankfully we have found that the advantage of travelling in the Autumn is that most places (the Papal visit aside!) have been much quieter than expected.

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Philadelphia City Hall

In the end we couldn’t resist a bargain and invested in the CityPASSes which meant that I would finally get my coveted bus tour (2 days of hop-on, hop-off bus tours are included with the Philadelphia ticket). Jumping on just outside the Independence Visitor Center, we stayed on the bus for the whole route, listening to our tour guide Mike’s fascinating insight into the locality. There are two things that Philadelphia has in huge abundance; history and street art. Mike spoke at length about the places and people that forged Philly’s history: About the English Quaker William Penn who founded the city and established the grid system now so common in the US; about the meetings between John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and George Washington that led to the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights; all signed in Philadelphia.

We learned about City Hall, the largest masonry building in the world, it has no steel structure and was built one stone at a time taking over 30 years to complete. A 27 tonne bronze statue of William Penn stands on the tower – the tallest statue on top of a building anywhere in the world.

P1080468Mike was less enthusiastic about the street art. Under Philadephia’s Redevelopment Authority charter developers who build in the city are required to set aside 1% of their budget for street art, which means there is a great deal to see here.  Mike was pretty scathing about the 1976 Clothespin, for example, which he feels adds little to the area. Jess, our guide the following day, was far more appreciative of the sculpture, pointing out the couple embracing and the numerals “76” formed by the pin’s spring, a coincidental nod to the bicentennial.

There are more than 3800 murals spread over the city’s walls, part of a programme that has been running since the mid 1980s to engage graffiti artists in constructive public art projects. In truth none of our family could really be described as appreciative of traditional art but these murals do capture the imagination and I could quite happily have spent several hours admiring many more than the handful we managed to see. P1080341P1080586P1080262

If I’m honest, before taking the tour, the real attraction of the bus ride for me was being able to see a greater area of the city without any more walking! I think cynically, I had expected some kind of cheesy, low budget commentary that encouraged us all to spend our money wherever the guides’ friends and relatives worked. Instead what we got from the three guides we met on the Philadelphia Big Bus tour was their unique insights into various parts of the city. They were all engaging, entertaining and above all very interesting and I’m so so glad we did it.

Oh and by the way, Philadelphia cream cheese – it comes from New York!


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Day 7 – Baltimore

P1080124We decided to stop in Baltimore en route to Philadelphia and the National Aquarium came highly recommended. All the kids enjoy zoos and aquariums, especially Alex who has an unbelievable knowledge of sea and river dwelling creatures thanks to CBeebies’ Octonauts. He was in his element.

Highlights include Blacktip Reef where Calypso, a Green Sea Turtle can be seen playfully diving.  She was rescued 15 years ago after being stranded in Long Island Sound with an infected flipper; the infection so bad that only amputation could save her.  At that time she weighed just 6lbs and now she is an impressive 500.

Shark Alley, a vast ring-shaped exhibit designed so that the visitors walk in the centre while the fish swim all the way around, is filled with rays and sharks such as the Sand Tiger Shark, who to your average Jones could pass for a small Great White. With three rows of sharp, pointed teeth on display as the Sand Tiger Shark swims towards you it’s hard not to be impressed and a little bit fearful.

P1080171Over in Australia: Wild Extremes guests are immersed in a mock Australian river gorge: Lorikeets and brightly colour finches fly overhead and if you listen carefully you’ll hear the laughing Kookaburra. We all particularly enjoyed watching the archer fish hunting for insects: As a member of staff extends a cane over their pool, the archer fish work together to shoot water up to the cane to knock off the insects.

The older boys had the chance to see a Horseshoe Crab close up; these armour plated animals are prehistoric and although they are called “crabs” they are in fact more closely related to spiders. Eugh!

It really was a fabulous aquarium with so much to see, we would definitely go back.

Outside in the Baltimore Inner Harbor there are numerous museums, restaurants and other visitor attractions; Nick would have loved to have spent more time exploring the USS Torsk and I know the boys would have enjoyed the Port Discovery Children’s Museum but time ran out and we left Baltimore wishing that we had scheduled at least one night there. Another time hopefully.

Back on the road again and heading into Philadelphia the weather turned, and as we got our first glimpse of the city the Rascal Flatts’ “Life is a Highway” started on the radio. Alex has to be the worlds’ greatest Lightening McQueen fan so we all know this one well.  Volume up until the windows rattled:

“Life is a highway, I wanna ride it all night long….If you’re going my way, I wanna drive it, all night long…”


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Day 6 – Lake Accotink Park and the Washington night tour.

Our last full day in DC started with a relaxed morning before we picked up our hire car and drove out to Lake Accotink in Virginia to meet our friend Lisa and her lovely family; after days in the city, it was great to get out into the open countryside. The boys played mini golf and Nick took them out on the lake in a pedal boat. It was decided that Alex needed to stay next to Nick but since his legs were too short to pedal, the older boys would have to do the work at the front, ensuring that they were worn out by they time they returned.

As evening approached Nick and I foolishly mistook the boys’ languor as an opportunity to see the sites of DC by night. Regular readers will know that I am not particularly keen on driving overseas and in all likelihood Nick will do most, if not all of the driving this year which leaves me the position of co-pilot/navigator/on-road photographer. Thankfully, the car we have hired has a satnav since the one we brought with us doesn’t seem to cope in areas with more than one tall building and doesn’t help with lane suggestions when the roads are wide, which has proved very useful. So, satnav programmed, we headed back into DC.

It turns out that rush hour in DC isn’t really the ideal time to go for a nice drive. Poor Nick was still getting used to which side the instruments were on and, though the windscreen wipers were automatic, it took until the following Friday to figure out how to speed them up. So there we were, ignoring the exasperated instructions of the satnav trying to get us directly back to the apartment, driving in circles, looking out for the many famous landmarks that were “around here somewhere,” cursing the one way streets and apologising to the other cars for the odd driving miscalculation. Armed with a long lens camera in my hand, it was clear to the irate motorists around us that we were from out of town. I must have taken dozens of photos before Nick pointed out to me that they might come out a bit better if I’d just wind the window down. Really though, it was very difficult to concentrate on the business of taking well composed pictures when every turn felt like a white knuckle ride and every manoeuvre had me apologising in that most self deprecating way that us Brits can’t help. By the time he suggested I use the zoom on the lens I was losing my sense of humour and praying for the whole thing to end but, no, we were going to drive past the White House at night even if it killed us and, more than once, I thought it might come to that.

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There are not many roundabouts in Washington but we found one next to the Lincoln Memorial and circled it many times until the traffic lights allowed me to get the photograph Nick wanted.

This was the night of the latest super moon/lunar eclipse/blood moon/whatever you want to call it, which meant that this photo opportunity wasn’t likely to arise again for a ridiculously long time, like forever or even longer, and consequently there were lines of professional photographers with their tripods set up for the perfect shot of the moon over the Washington Monument. No pressure then.

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We pulled up alongside a number of other opportunists in a no stopping zone, wound down the window, and at that moment Alex awoke earlier than he was ready to and immediately started sobbing loudly. As I tried to calm him, Nick pointed the camera in the right general direction and hoped for the best before speeding off again to the barking commands of the satnav. That’s right, by this time, he was doing the driving and taking the photographs.

Finally, we went for the money shot; the White House lit up at night in all its glory. Sadly there was no stopping on the road this time so it was down to me to do the business and I’m thrilled to report that I got it!  Taking our lives into our hands, this is it:

Wait for it…

Wait…

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I know; we should have stumped up for that bus tour!


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Day 5 – The bus tour that didn’t happen and the baseball match that did.

After 4 days of almost constant walking we decided that our feet needed a break and the kids could do with a lie in. I fancied a bus tour of the city on one of those open top style buses you see in London on a dry day but on further investigation we decided the £100+ cost of the tickets for the day and poor reviews on tripadvisor meant it probably wasn’t worth the bother. Instead, the boys relaxed with their electronics and Nick and I got some chores done. I sent Nick off in search of a laundromat and many hours later he returned, a little aggrieved that Google had let him down with locations of the first two, but with clean clothes nevertheless.  My experience at the grocery store was soo much better.

At the checkout I was asked for ID.

I know, I was confused at first too. Baffled,  I looked at the checkout guy for an explanation and realised that, because I was attempting to buy a bottle of wine, he wanted evidence that I am over 21. Trying not to laugh, but secretly over the moon, I handed him my driving licence and asked if he really thought there was any possibility that I looked under 25. Now he was confused. I watched him do the maths as he studied my UK driving licence and then, feeling pity, I whispered: “I’m almost 40!” We both laughed and I left the store feeling like the proverbial million dollars. When I mentioned it later to Nick (who, I might add, has never been asked for ID here) I think he muttered something about a new scheme to give the visually impaired more work experience but I couldn’t hear him properly because I think I’m going deaf…

As well as the sauvignon blanc, (almost as expensive, but worth every penny) what I did manage to buy, was this:IMG_2508
I’m all for trying the local cuisine but without a proper cup of tea… well, my dad will understand.

As he would say; it was like a small win on the lottery.

Chores all done, we caught the metro over to the Nationals’ new stadium to watch them beat the Phillies in the second of a three day series. I’d like to say it was an exciting, action-packed thriller of a game. I’d like to. The truth is though, that for the first 5 innings almost nothing happened at all. Batters came in, the pitcher threw the ball, the batters were caught or run out and the cycle repeats. By comparison, test match cricket seems pacey.

During the fourth inning, and breaking the  tedium nail biting tension, the President’s Race took place. Giant foam caricatures of six former presidents race around the field to the delight of the crowd. P1070837 P1070880

The winner on this occasion, with the help of his four-legged friend, was Teddy Roosevelt – hooray!

In the sixth innings the Nationals scored and the place erupted! Whitney Houston’s I wanna dance blasted out around the stadium and we all felt like world peace was just around the corner.


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Day 4 – The White House and surrounding monuments, aka “my feet hurt!”

By Day 4, his Holiness had had the good grace to move along to New York so that walking around the National Mall and White House surrounds was at last achievable. The barricades and portaloos were still in evidence but the checkpoints had been removed and we could move freely between the monuments without constant baggage checks.  I was determined to see the White House so we jumped on the metro and made our way, first to the White House Visitor Centre and then to the real thing. At the Visitor Centre you can see all sorts of impressive artefacts, gifts to previous presidents and an interactive scale model of the house itself. These days, celebrities and sports personalities aside, it is almost impossible for visitors from outside the United States to get a tour of the White House; despite the website’s assertion that tickets can be obtained through one’s embassy.

Nevertheless a walk by was on the agenda so after lunch we made our way, first to the North front, and then the South. What we hadn’t taken into account was that whilst President Obama was done with Pope Francis for the week, his attention was now focussed on President Xi Jinping and, with their respective wives over at the zoo naming the new panda, they were deep in discussions at the White House; P1070480P1070652which meant that outside the protests were as loud as they were large. At this point we were able to give the kids an unintended lesson in the meaning of the First Amendment.

Never had I imagined it would be so easy to explain the words “the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances” but there it was…

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So, the obligatory photograph outside the White House with Alex covering his ears from the noise of the various groups of protesters and John still clutching a pamphlet from the New York Tibetans: A history lesson like no other.

From the White House we walked south west towards the Lincoln Memorial, stopping outside the National Academy of Sciences to admire the statue of Albert Einstein.  Visitors are encouraged to have their pictures taken here and to share them on social media ready for the NAS annual meeting next April where they will be shared in Einstein’s honour.

The boys were already familiar with the Lincoln Memorial, thanks to the Hollywood film Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, so it was something of a disappointment to them when Lincoln did not stand up and stroll across the Reflecting Pool.  Undeterred, Teddy and Alex made their own entertainment.

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At the far end of the Reflecting Pool is the National World War II Memorial and then the Washington Monument. Looking north from the Washington Monument you can see the White House and looking south, the Thomas Jefferson Memorial. By now it was threatening to rain and time to get indoors so we continued east to the Air and Space Museum for it’s final hour before closing and then caught the metro back to our apartment.

I have no idea how far we walked that day, nor how Alex managed, given the blisters on my feet, but we all slept well that night and the kids were promised a relaxed day to follow.

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National WWII Memorial

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Washington Monument


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Day 3 – The National Zoo

If you Google “Washington with kids” one attraction that will invariably come at the top of the recommended list is the National Zoological Park – part of the Smithsonian Institution; this is another world class attraction that is free of charge. Whilst there are over 400 different species here, the Giant Pandas are the biggest draw and just a few weeks ago on August 22nd the zoo made international headlines when Mei Xiang gave birth to twins.  Sadly one of the cubs died a few days later but the other is both healthy and thriving.

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The new cub, a male, was named Bei Bei the day after our visit by Michelle Obama and First Lady of the People’s Republic of China, Peng Liyuan.  He joins his sister Bao Bao, born at the zoo two years ago, to form a new family of four – eventually they will all return to China. Bei Bei is yet to make his outdoor debut and currently can only be viewed on the 24 hour panda cam as the panda house is closed to give Mei Xiang and Bei Bei some privacy but Tian Tian and Bao Bao can be seen outside when they choose to come out.

Aside from the pandas, we also enjoyed the Small Mammal House, where at one point a rather ugly looking, cricket-like insect landed on Alex’s arm, giving him a bit of a shock. A member of staff in the building said she thought it might have been an escaped entree for one of the small mammals, but I’m sorry to say that Alex didn’t take any chances and crushed it underfoot before there was any further discussion!  He was much more enthusiastic about the Amazonia exhibit where at least the Tarantula and his lunch were safely behind glass.

John and Teddy enjoyed the Reptile Discovery Centre with its snakes, alligators and Komodo Dragon and John is keen to get a reptile, preferably a snake, as a pet one day to which the answer will be a rearrangement of the words: “dead over body my”…


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Day 2 – Washington, DC

Even by DC standards this was a big week for the capital’s residents with the state visits of both the Pope and China’s President Xi Jinping, not to mention the arrival of the Jones family.  Having checked in to our first Airbnb residence, about which I’ll say more in a later post, we settled the boys in for a quiet night in anticipation of another early start.

On Wednesday morning we wandered Downtown, via the Kennedy Recreation Ground where Teddy managed to split his trousers (one third of his trouser wardrobe!) necessitating a return to the apartment and quick change. Back on track we found ourselves in the National Building Museum on the recommendation of one of the locals. P1070449 Externally the building is not wildly impressive but once inside, the Great Hall, with its 8 Corinthian Columns each around 75 feet high, takes your breath away. The columns, though painted to look like marble, were actually each built with 70,000 bricks and are believed to be among the tallest interior columns in the world.

Of the six main galleries inside the museum, two are aimed at children: Play Work Build which encourages imaginative play with blocks of all kinds – large foam blocks, small plastic blocks, even virtual blocks and the Building Zone, where kids of all ages can explore different materials in a very hands on way.

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Taking our home education responsibilities seriously, we figured that the morning’s activities ticked off a bit of maths, science, engineering, even some physical education and after a really enjoyable couple of hours watching where the boys’ imaginations took them, we headed off to the Natural History Museum for a bit more…erm… learning!

We could have spent a week in the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and still not seen it all but for this first visit we focussed on the Ocean Hall, Geology, Gems and Minerals (including the Hope Diamond) and the Dinosaurs, walking until our feet were as tired as our minds and then heading back via the grocery store.

For me the highlight wasn’t the 45 carat Hope Diamond, nor even the Interstella diamond dust, older than the solar system itself, nope, for me it was this:P1070512

All three boys looking at the camera together at the same time! Don’t get me wrong, the interstellar star dust is pretty amazing but, once more, all three boys, at the same time AND smiling – it may never happen again!

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Day One – Chantilly, Virginia

16 hours after leaving for the airport we arrived at the Springhill Suites just minutes from Dulles Airport in Virginia, around 5pm local time.  The hotel has a small swimming pool and spa area, and despite our bodies telling us it was late at night, Teddy and John were keen to try out the facilities.  The only problem was finding the trunks – I’d packed swimming gear but where, oh where, in amongst our 10 items of luggage, was anyone’s guess.  “Packing cubes” I hear you say, oh voice of all knowing hindsight, as usual just a little too late.

Eventually the trunks turned up and I left Nick to look after a sleeping Alex (and to repack said 10 items of luggage, now strewn haphazardly across the floor) so that the boys could burn off all that pent up energy from 8 hours stuck in a metal tube. An hour later we were all back in our room and fast asleep (except for Nick, who I believe was still repacking…).

Predictably, jet lag had us all wide awake by 4:30 the following morning and first in the line for breakfast when it opened at 6am, and we were starving. We all then made use of the pool and by 9.30am we were ready for another breakfast – we can’t be the only family that does that…it was nearly lunchtime for us, after all?!

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SR71A Blackbird, Discovery in the background

A few miles up the road from the airport is the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Centre, part of the National Air and Space Museum and like all the Smithsonian museums, entry is free.  The Centre is huge and is home to the Space Shuttle Discovery, a Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird, an Air France Concorde and hundreds of other assorted aircraft.  Nick and the boys were in heaven; okay, mostly Nick.

The Blackbird – the world’s fastest jet aircraft, stands magnificently in the first hall with the Space Shuttle Discovery visible through the doors behind her. This aircraft could travel from London to Los Angeles and arrive 4 hours before she left!

Alex loved seeing all the planes, although he was convinced that every plane sporting an American air force or navy badge belonged to the Jolly Wrenches squadron from Planes. Indeed the very first plane you see on entering is Skipper – a WW2 fighter plane, the Vought Corsair.

Alex is convinced this is Bravo from Disney's Planes

3 boys & F14 Tomcat

Skipper from Planes

Vought Cors

The collection includes Steve Fossett’s Global Flyer which flew round the world non-stop, a collection of ultralight aircraft, many weighing less than John and the microjet from James Bond’s Octopussy.

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Octopussy Bede BD-5

The Space Shuttle Discovery

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Concorde – they really do pack a lot of aircraft into the space

I remember as a child witnessing the majestic Concorde pass over our house regularly on a Saturday afternoon.  The distinctive sound of the Concorde engine was unmistakable and had you looking to the skies to see her passing through – it never got tired.  I find it strange that something that was such a futuristic part of my childhood is completely unknown to the boys and whilst they can see her in museums today, or watch her fly on YouTube, it is just not the same as feeling her as she flew past.  When I was 27 and working in London, I remember ducking out of the office with a colleague to climb to the top of the Barbican to watch her final flight across the city.  I do hope they bring her back someday.

Adjacent to the main hangars an observation tower provides 360 degree viewing of aircraft coming in to land at Dulles International Airport with a live feed to the local air traffic control. On the floor below there is an air traffic control mock workstation to explore.  All the boys agreed they would prefer to fly the planes than sit in the air traffic control centre.

Finally, before we left, the older boys enjoyed a flight simulator experience; John as the senior pilot and Teddy, the gunner. A short training video laterIMG_250620150922_190342650_iOS and they were flying.  What none of us realised was that the simulator would complete a 180 degree inversion; if I had known that, I’d have made sure that Teddy fastened his seatbelt a little more tightly…

Once Teddy’s usual colour returned, we headed back to the hotel, exhausted, ready to collect our luggage and make our way into Washington DC for the next few days…


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Flying with 3 children

I may have mentioned before that one of the reasons for the name of this blog is as a reference to the response we often get from others when they first hear of our plans: “Oh, you’re brave” being most common. Nick and I have never really considered what we are doing as particularly brave – we have travelled with the boys a fair bit already and, generally it’s been fine.

John took his first flight when he was 6 months old, travelling from Japan to Iceland via London.  I might be looking back with slightly skewed vision but that flight was pretty easy.  In fact, I would say that flying with babies is really not that bad.  Okay, you have to put up with the filthy looks from the odd fellow passenger who arrives for the flight to find themselves a row or two away from your precious infant and imagines the next several consecutive hours filled with howling and screaming.  I am making a sweeping overstatement here, but in our experience, those looks are mostly from young, often single, travellers who have not had children themselves.  If you are lucky enough to be seated near a family with slightly older children, what you get is lots of smiles, sympathetic nods and words of encouragement about how well you are all doing. Our family falls into that category now and so I know that what I’m thinking when I see a baby or two in the cabin is, “Oh thank goodness, mine might not be the only ones to irritate the other passengers…”  I think many airlines do try to seat families together now, for this reason and it really is a good idea.  The truth is, of course, that babies almost never cry for the entire flight and those that do aren’t choosing to do so just to ruin your day – they are most likely struggling with either the changes in pressure in their ears or perhaps there was some mild illness that only became apparent once in the air. However bad it is for the other passengers, you can be sure it is worse for the parents.  For the most part though, we have found that infants are usually a bit grisly on take off and landing and the occasional ten minute bursts every few hours as they struggle to get off to sleep but otherwise the white noise in the cabin helps them drift off to sleep.

Toddlers and preschoolers though – they have a whole lot more stamina,

Our flight to Washington went a bit like this:

Nick: There are no sections of 5 seats together so we’ve got a set of 4 and then a single across the aisle. Don’t worry, I’ll sit next to a stranger….

Me: (thick with irony) Oh, that’s good of you.  I’ll really enjoy trying to keep Alex’s voice below 100 decibels for 8 hours, whilst pinning his legs to his seat because the urge to kick the seat in front non stop is too great, not to mention the joy of refastening the seat back tray every 45 seconds.  I will ask him a hundred times before take off if he needs the toilet and remain sympathetic when, as we are take off, he tearfully tells the entire plane that his poos are coming.  When he drops his chocolate biscuit (the only part of his in-flight meal that he feels able to eat) on the floor, I’ll be happy to give him mine, and when he drops that too, I’ll gladly choose that moment to teach him not to be spoilt and demand his brothers’.

Maybe the blog should have been called “Foolhardy enough to start!”

The good news is that we arrived safely and I now have a flight in hand because it is only fair that Nick gets to experience the magic of in flight bonding with our youngest.

The older two thankfully, have reached an age where they are able to entertain themselves in a quiet and, generally motionless, fashion and, for the most part, that is all we really want.  I am choosing to overlook the fact that John found the on board virtual poker room, mostly because he won; the man from seat 54C did a double take as he left the plane and saw the size of his opponent!

Good times!