Are we nearly there yet?

For those of us with children (and even we who still can't quite blot out the memories) we all agree that car travel with the kid's is no picnic. A few days on the road can take on mythic proportions, requiring a lengthy recovery period.

Consider then, this family's 8000-mile car journey around Britain, working as they go researching family-friendly accommodation and attractions for a guide book. Now, factor in that their youngsters are preschool (one just a toddler) and that the trip will take five months! The true drama begins.

Armed largely with their unquenchable spirit of discovery and an industrial supply of baby wipes this book could have turned out to be as boring as a kid's lunch, but it's not. Hatch is a gifted and very funny writer. While he drives, wife Dinah keeps the organisational fabric of the trip from unravelling. Their love for each other, their (mostly) patient takes on whatever the day holds, and their general optimism stays pretty much on track. The kids..... well, they are kids; kept entertained on long stretches, bribed with chocolate in an emergency. We've all been there.

Where we haven't been brave enough to go though, yet, until now, is to strap in and join a family on a crazy-fun tour like this. It's all go for the parents with the aim to tick off several atrractions, a hotel at night and somewhere to eat each day, take the pictures, get the notes, and still keep the littlies fed and bathed - and happy.

If this sounds sugar-coated, trust me it's not. Along the way Hatch has to deal with the serious illness of his father, which brings up some heavy stuff of his early relationship with the man, himself a prominent person in the BBC. So Ben's working through issues as he goes. This would, of course, never have been the plan for this book, but it shows his skill as a writer, in that you can be hooting with laughter on one page and quietly wiping tears on the next. And vice versa.

Undeterred, the Hatches turned around soon after this book was finished and explored France in the same way. Road to Rouen is now on sale in bookshops and online.

Did I like the book? Unreservedly. Did it inspire me to do likewise? You're kidding, right?

Are we nearly there yet? by Ben Hatch, published April 30th 2012 by Summersdale (first published August 1st 2011) Paperback, 345 pages, ISBN 1849531552 (ISBN13: 9781849531559).

 - reviewed by Sally Hammond

 

 

 

 

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