We spent last weekend in Provence for a friend’s baby’s Christening.
I had been dreading it.
Waking my daughter up in the middle of the night to travel to the airport for a 7.30am flight was actually one of the least of my worries, far down the list below the stress of knowing what to pack, remembering to pack it and then stressing it would be lost en route.
I don’t enjoy travelling. I’m alright when I reach my destination, it’s the getting there that bothers me. So many connections to miss, so many things to forget and go wrong.
Only this time, because we had a baby in tow, we booked a taxi to take us to the airport. And it was worth every penny.
My daughter was not too pleased about being woken up at 4.30am but as soon as she was offered some banana she sat back and enjoyed the ride.
I felt positively zen as we rocked up at baggage drop with hours to spare and were told that now our buggy had been tagged we could keep it until we boarded the plane.
I had thought I would have to lug my baby through security and around Duty Free until take off. But I was able to whizz her around in a pushchair that seemed light as a feather, since I had emptied out all the toys, wet wipes, stale rice cakes and general junk.
They even have a special security section for people with babies. You’re allowed to take as much food and liquid through as you need, and the staff are understanding and sympathetic to the difficulties of unloading a buggy, juggling a baby, and why you might need an excessive number of purée pouches and bananas.
Our flight was delayed by an hour, but the novelty of all the new faces at the airport kept my daughter amused. She waved at all the security guards, tried to grab scarves off racks in Duty Free, and gazed in wonder at all the bright, flashing screens.
She was even more excited by the time we boarded the plane, and was delighted to see the woman sitting in front had long curly hair just waiting to be pulled… But I breastfed her for take off to stop her ears popping and she dropped off for most of the flight, while I actually managed to read more than half a page of my book.
The house where we were staying was amazing. I only wish we’d taken them at their word when they said, “Come and stay for as long as you like.”
By 1pm we were cooling off from the blazing sunshine with a dip in the pool, before we were called to lunch.
Bowls of salad, plates of roast chicken legs and baskets of bread were laid out on a long table outside the back of the house, flanked on either side by several generations of a huge French family and their guests.
As I sat down someone poured me a glass of iced rosé that never seemed to get empty.
I felt like I was in a Woody Allen film, one of his later works, painting an impossibly idealistic view of life in a European country.
After splashing away happily in the pool and rolling about on the grass in her nappy all afternoon, my daughter went to bed with no fuss.
As I descended the stone stairs from our top floor room, I fleetingly thought maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to have travelled so light and left the baby alarm at home.
But as I stepped back outside and saw the long table all laid out for another spectacular feast and was handed a glass of champagne, I decided she would probably be fine.
When she did wake up in the morning we joined in the walk to the Boulangerie to buy fresh croissants and baguettes for breakfast, stopping to pick fresh figs from the tree on the way back.
The long days eating far too much bread and cheese, and then wallowing beside the pool, seemed to last forever. And yet, at the same time, the hours disappeared all too fast.
After three blissful days in paradise we said our goodbyes and were dropped off at the airport.
As we checked in our luggage we were told our flight was already delayed by an hour and a half.
When we landed in Gatwick at 1am, over three hours late, I found myself swinging my hyped-up child from hip to hip as the back-breaking Passport Control queue in front of me seemed to get longer and longer.
The dream was over. C’est la vie.