This summer our planned expedition to deepest darkest France, meant to be like last year, was cancelled. Instead, we headed to bonny Scotland where we learned many things about travelling with kids in bad weather. When I say bad I mean it poured. We were soaked to the skin on more than one occasion. Sure there were brighter days too, but sometimes it was really wet.
1. Don’t gamble, pick up your coat
As parents we’re often very good at packing to leave the house and including everything the kids could need for a day out. Picnic with all their favourite treats, water bottles, picnic blanket, strong bag for collected stones, waterproofs, wellies, spare clothes, towels. Yep, excellent job.
The key lies in also removing these things from your car when you head out for a walk.
Don’t look at the sky, see a bit of blue and decide to leave the coats in the car. You will inevitably make it half a mile down the beach, with another half mile remaining before you arrive in town, only for the heavens to open. You’ll all get drenched, soaked to the skin and spend 20 minutes trudging through puddles and another 20 minutes sheltering in a bus stop.
At least back at the car, the kids have a change of clothes while their parents squelch in sodden jeans and trainers for the rest of the day.
2. Run when you can, it’ll rain later
The key to getting some aerobic exercise on a rainy holiday is to either take every chance you can get or expect to get wet. Honestly, I’ll do either myself.
During our rainy trip away, I ran in the rain and I ran early in the morning. Part of getting away, isn’t only the change in location but its also about getting some time out, some head space, just some time to be alone. So grab those opportunities with both hands whenever possible, even if they come with the discomfort of wet squishy feet, muddy paths or early starts.
3. Yes, 10°C in August is perfectly reasonable
I guess we asked for it. Travelling to the far reaches of Scotland’s East coast and then trekking a bit further North brought us to Lossiemouth and its beach – apparently beautiful on a sunny day, like the one some friends experienced a week after we were there.
Instead, we got the drizzle that goes on for hours and seems to seep into your bones. So in the middle of August we were all wrapped up in long sleeved tops, hoodies, and waterproof coats (lesson 1 having already been learned) and still kind of chilly.
4. Want a peaceful beach? Pick a rainy day
It was almost deserted. There were a couple of dog walkers, a very ambitious family setting up camping chairs and picnic blankets all set to spend the afternoon, and us. Oh and the Typhoons taking off from the RAF base behind the dunes.
We didn’t spot any special creatures in the quiet but we drew in the sand, threw rocks in the sea without fearing for anyone else’s safety from the boys’ wayward lobs.
5. Skin is waterproof
Here’s the thing with rainy holidays and trying to spend them out in the fresh air. Its kind of obvious, but I’m going to say it anyway. You’re going to get wet.
Now my mum is a marvellous woman, very wise and she’s been telling me for years: “skin is waterproof”. Turns out she’s right.
Getting wet doesn’t do anyone much harm – so long as you can warm up and dry off later of course. Even better, teaching the boys my mum’s excellent lesson early will hopefully set them up for a life of adventure.
6. The monster truck makes a good clothes line
Having failed to bring your waterproofs or umbrella, or if you just had a long walk in the rain, you will definitely need to dry things off. But, who wants to go home at lunch time and miss out on the rest of the day just because you’re a bit bedraggled by mid-morning?
Turns out, the little hinged windows and the upper part of the tailgate on the monster truck make excellent spots for hanging jumpers and coats to dry off in a break between the clouds.
(Himself is rather smug as I have accepted yet another benefit of the ridiculous truck that I was so sceptical about buying).
7. … and an excellent picnic location
But, if those cloud breaks and rain showers haven’t aligned themselves quite right with your need for sustenance the back of the truck makes a great place to have lunch without the sandwiches getting soggy.
All four of use can fit quite comfortably, along with a cool box and space to share the food, without anyone getting wet.
Think you’re getting photographic proof and I’m going to reveal the identities of himself, large boy and small boy? Sorry, not a chance. Not today.
8. Those black clouds can be beautiful
Once you’ve got over the inconvenience of the rain and remembering to pack all the gear you need every time you go out, and you’re accustomed to the sensation of being slightly damp much of the time, look up.
Don’t regard those gloomy clouds as a portent of a dismal day.
Look up and enjoy their beauty. Because they are beautiful. There are subtle colours and intriguing shapes to be spotted and appreciated. We don’t need sunshine to call it a beautiful day.
9. Its bound to brighten up eventually
Of course, the rain and the threatening skies won’t last for ever either. At some point, the weather will break. The sun will come out and shine, dry up the puddles, warm up the chilly fingers and take the damp out of those clothes.
Then all the colours will seem brighter, the clouds will be forgotten and coats abandoned. You’ll set out on adventures packing plenty of water, since the sky won’t be providing any, wearing shorts and ready to spend the whole day outside with no moaning about the cold.
And you’ll all get sunburnt instead.