Up until now our weekends with Quinn have been split between our home in London and family in Essex, and before this one we’d not spent one completely on our own. So on Friday Quinn, Sian and I packed our bags (lots of them) and headed for the beautiful town of Rochester.
Living in London Quinn has spent a considerable amount of time on trains, tubes and buses but very little in a car. It’s something she’s not used to and we didn’t get off to the best start. At the time of leaving Quinn was tired and due a nap, and was not pleased to be strapped into her car seat when she would normally have been being held.
What followed was a 90 minute juggling act of trying to both obey the rules of the road and to keep Quinn from melting down. You see it turns out Quinn hates red lights, and traffic, and roadworks… in fact anything that resulted in the car stopping and sitting stationary for any period of time, also resulted in Quinn crying. Sian sat in the back with her to try comfort her but we weren’t helped by the lady directing us on Google Maps who took us on the most complicated route possible, directing us through every set of traffic lights central and east London had to offer. Its my new opinion that you haven’t experienced real pressure from a back seat driver until you’ve driven your baby screaming through central London. Google if you’re listening, as well as a quickest or shortest route options a baby friendly route would have been helpful!
On the plus side, through her tears, Quinn did see all the main tourist attractions including Big Ben, Buckingham Palace and the London Eye. Thankfully once we got onto the motorway she slept peacefully.
We stayed in a Holiday Inn not far outside of Rochester and our room had a travel cot waiting for Quinn. This was a real unknown for us. In nearly four months Quinn has only ever slept in her moses basket or the carry cot part of her travel system (the technical name now used for buggy to make it sound posher). She’s been sleeping really well in both so Sian and I were a little nervous about what affect the different bed and surroundings may have. This wasn’t helped by the fact there was no mattress provided with the travel cot. The base of the cot appeared to be a sort of cardboard that had been covered in a sheet and blanket. On asking the hotel staff told us they were not allowed to provide mattresses which seems odd to me but I assume there must be a good reason for this. With a few extra blankets we were able to make a suitably cushioned bed for Quinn and made it safe with her cuddle company blanket.
To our delight and surprise the travel cot made no difference to our clever little girl, in fact she took advantage of the extra space to spread out more than normally and slept right through on both nights, missing the first snowflakes of her first winter.
One of the main reasons we chose this hotel was that it had a swimming pool. Even before Quinn was born swimming classes had been recommended to us as a good way for me to bond with her. It’s something that Sian and I have talked a lot about doing and if it wasn’t so expensive to use the pools local to us we probably would have started already. But we hadn’t and the closest Quinn had come was in the bath tub at home, which she absolutely loves splashing around in. So we were really excited and nervous to see what she would think when we took her for her first ever swim on Saturday morning.
Like anybody would be, she was a little unsure to begin with trying to work out her new surroundings. There was lots to take in, the noise of the other swimmers, the lights above the pool and their many reflections on the surface as the water rippled. She clung to her mummy to begin with and wasn’t too keen on lying on her back or front. But after a few minutes of holding her upright it was clear she was excited. First she started by kicking her legs which I hadn’t expected, I thought she’d kind of just float there. Then it didn’t take her long to work out how to splash the water, first using one hand and then both. The first time she did this splashed herself in the face but this didn’t deter her if anything she seemed to like it. Soon she was splashing and shouting and smiling in equal measure, she absolutely loved it. We were conscious about keeping her warm so we kept her moving, by the end I was walking laps of the pool with Quinn as she smiled and cooed all the way round.
After a short nap we spent the afternoon in Rochester having a look around. We managed to pick the coldest weekend of the year so far to do this but that did mean we were able to put Quinn in her bear suit and pink bobble hat which is one of my favourite things in the world.
And so continued Quinn’s weekends of firsts…
Her first visit to a cathedral (her first nap in a cathedral, next to the Magna Carta), the first Father Christmas she’s seen, and the second, third, fourth, and hundredth one as the Santa parade went through the high street. Her first ever visit to an old fashioned sweet shop (her first poo in an old fashioned sweet shop), her and my first afternoon tea at Tiny Tims (her first nap during afternoon tea). Her first second time in a swimming pool, her first shower, her first time in a castle (her first nap in a castle), and her first time on the M25 (and thankfully her first nap on the M25).
Of all of Quinn’s firsts will she remember any of them, no, she’s too young… but that doesn’t matter because we will.
Yes this weekend was Quinn’s first holiday, but as much as it was for her, it was for us too. The things we we did weren’t just firsts for Quinn, they were firsts for us as well as it was the the first time we’d done them with our little girl. We’ll always remember Rochester as the first place we took Quinn away and how proud we were when she slept through the night in a new room and new bed. We’ll always smile thinking about the look on her face when she splashed water on herself and the squeals of excited during her first swims. I’ll remember the way she buried her face in my jumper to protect it from the cold and how she could and did sleep absolutely anywhere. We’ll always talk about how inquisitive and nosy she was looking around and taking everything in, including the tower of food in the tea rooms and although I’d like to it’ll take a long time to forget the cries that were the soundtrack to much of our journey there.
But more than anything I’ll remember this weekend as the first time the three of us went on our own little family adventure, the first of many more to come…