A toy saxophone, two rag dolls, three cuddly toys and a life-sized toy border collie: these are my daughter’s ideas of essential items for in-flight hand luggage.
We’re supposedly travelling light, flying to meet my husband in Inverness where we will begin our Scottish holiday.
He’s joining us from Durham, where he’s been attending a week-long residential course in geology. He’s travelling in our camper van, which we packed before his course with our main holiday luggage. This included Laura’s complete collection of Barbies and their clothes and other essential toys.
Eventually I negotiate her hand luggage down to a harmonica, a meerkat keyring and her iPod, with the rag dolls tagging along on condition that she carries one in each hand.
My husband, despite being several hundred miles distant, manages to swell our streamlined hand luggage with a few last-minute requests.
“Can you bring my kilt in case we go to a ceilidh?” he drops casually into a brief phone call, conveniently forgetting the weight and bulk of his authentic Scottish woollen plaid. “Oh, and my waterproof.”
This from the man who has just spent a week on a field study course in the north of England.
“How did you cope in Durham without your waterproof?” I enquire.
“Oh, don’t worry, I went through all your things in the van and found yours – I’ve been using that.”
I dread to think what state my neatly packed bag will now be in.
My own essentials for travelling light are more obvious than Laura’s, though the list has been reduced by the latest anti-terrorist restrictions. I reluctantly set aside my tiny Swiss Army knife, hardly a lethal weapon. I pack lipsalve, moisturiser, iPod stuffed with podcasts and, most important of all, the notebook and pen with which to while away any delays. Travelling alone, I’ll happily scribble for hours for my own amusement, but with my daughter in tow, it’s more likely to be used for her current favourite game: Consequences.
If you’ve never played Consequences, it’s a great game with which to fill any idle moments. Each player takes a sheet of paper and writes, in order, an item from the following list: boy’s name, girl’s name, where they met, what he said, what she said, and what happened next. After each entry, you fold the paper over to conceal what you’ve written, and pass the sheet to the next player. After writing the final item, you pass it on once more. Then each player unfolds their strip of paper and reads the resulting story.
It’s a delightfully silly game, suitable for all ages. Children soon fall in with it and write entries that appeal to their age and sense of humour. When playing with a seven year old, toilets, kisses and vulgar noises feature frequently. It’s guaranteed to stave off cries of “Are we nearly there yet?” on any journey, and I’m hoping that our flight to Inverness will be no exception.
But, thanks to Laura’s packing, if Consequences fails to keep us amused, there is an alternative – she can always get out her harmonica.