Today is the day. We are off on our long drive to head up North(ish) and go to Birmingham. My friend Leanne and I have been planning this for months. We went to Birmingham about 6 years ago for a cheerleading competition and on our way home we stopped in Warwick as we were close by. We really wanted to do the castle but we didn’t have the time or money. This time however we’ve made the time and saved up the money.
I woke up early this morning to find Bella was already awake. She was happily playing in her room like normal and didn’t even realise I’d gone in to her until I was well and truly inside the room. Obviously her Paw Patrol cars are far more interesting than mummy. We gathered her blanket, baby and juice and headed downstairs to get ready to hit the road.
I popped the TV on for Bella while I packed the car and she ate breakfast. It didn’t take long to pack where I had already been so organised the night before. For some reason my make up bag had been in the car so I pulled that out so I could transfer just the essentials into my bag for the trip.
Once the car was packed it was time to get dressed. Yes I am one of those people you see out on the drive faffing with their car with a messy bun stuck on top of their head, half asleep and still in their PJs. If they were designed to be worn all the time they shouldn’t be so comfy. Bella was a bit of a wriggle bum this morning, trying to crawl away from me but I eventually managed to get her dressed. Then it was time to make myself look more alive. Leanne had messaged me to say she was on the train on her way down to me. We used to live in the same town but since she moved in with her partner she now lives a 45 minute drive away. To save me driving the opposite way to Birmingham to pick her up she was getting the train to me and we were going from there.
Just as she messaged me to tell me she was one town away we had got in the car ready to pick her up from the station. Bella and I set off, leaving Daly in bed who was still on nights, and went to find Leanne.
We arrived at the station a little bit before Leanne’s train pulled in which gave me an opportunity to sort out the DVD player for Bella. We have a fancy DVD player in the roof of the car. It isn’t brilliant but it’s an absolute lifesaver on long journeys. I had already popped a range of DVD’s in the car for Bella to choose from. She had a choice of Sing!, Peter Rabbit, a Go Jetters DVD, an In the Night Garden DVD, Alice in Wonderland or Treasure Planet. She had asked for Sleeping Beauty but we seem to have misplaced the DVD. Bella settled on watching Treasure Planet.
Now the woes of a modern day baby. This Disney DVD didn’t have fast play which I didn’t realise. So Leanne appears from the station with her little suitcase and was completely thrown when I opened the boot from the drivers seat. I love my fancy door opening buttons. I’ll have to do a car tour at some point lol. So in goes Leanne’s suitcase in the boot and she jumps in the front with me. We had already decided we were going to Costa Drive-Thru before we did anything else. So we’re on our way to Costa Drive-Thru when the little person in the back starts complaining. The DVD had gone through all the adverts and was now stuck on the menu page. It also doesn’t help that I very rarely put the sound from the DVD player through the speakers so unless Bella tells me what’s happening I have no idea what the DVD is doing. As we drove round into Costa, Leanne is trying to lean back to see the DVD and I’m trying to instruct her which button to press. This bodes well for the trip.
We headed into the Drive-Thru. We bought Bella her normal gingerbread man – who are currently little mummy gingerbread men. Leanne and I both order lattes. Leanne has a skinny latte while I have just a regular latte. Although we both had tons of sugar.
I parked up in the car park so we could add our sugars. I had my good old brown sugar while Leanne had normal person white sugar. Bella had almost eaten her whole gingerbread man by the time we finished adding our sugar and we ready to ship out. I swear she must inhale her gingerbread men. Maybe I need to learn how to bake them myself.
The drive wasn’t too bad for the first part of the trip. I don’t get to do long drives very often. Daly likes to drive instead so this was a bit of a mission for me today but we’re up for it. Leanne and I caught up on all the latest gossip as we drove. I had my good old Waze app telling me my route even through I knew where I was going.
I had a little bit of a freak out as we came off the M2 and joined the M25 for the Dartford crossing. I couldn’t remember if I had added my car to my Dart Tag. I thought we’d added my car when we visited my uncle during the summer but I couldn’t quite remember. Luckily you have until the end of the day to pay the Dart charge so I knew I could check when we were settled at the hotel later and pay it if needs be.
Leanne and I had a full conversation about the MCU not that she was very thrilled about that, she’s not a huge fan but I’m so excited Spiderman is back in the MCU and poor Leanne knew about that.
We carried on along the M25 which seemed to be flowing nicely. As I wasn’t extremely confident with my driving I hadn’t been bombing it along the motorway, I was sticking to a nice steady pace of between 60 – 65mph. That seemed to be the speed of the motorway today.
Leanne had asked if we were going to stop on the route at some point. After starting our day with a coffee there was no way I was going to be able to do a 3 hour drive without stopping. We made our way on to the M1 and then I was happy to find somewhere to stop.
After a little while on the M1 we came across Newport Pagnell. We pulled in but it was a little confusing as we came off the motorway. I swear the road markings are not as clear as they should be. It makes it so hard to know where your going until the last minute which stresses everyone else out.
As we pulled in to Newport Pagnell the heavens opened. We’d been so lucky with just the odd splatted of rain but now it was an actual rain shower. We popped inside to quickly use the facilities but then we were back on the road. The aim was to get to Birmingham at lunchtime and at the moment we were on route to do that. Bella was luckily still in a good mood and didn’t seem to bothered about sitting in the car so long.
We were off on our last leg of the drive. And the further we got toward Birmingham the worse the weather got. By the time we got on to the M6 the rain was a torrential downpour. Now I hate driving in rain and with the nervousness of driving on motorways my anxiety was starting to go up. I could feel myself starting to shake but Leanne was keeping me grounded by talking to me and telling me I was doing well.
It’s friends like that you need in your life. Leanne might not be physically be around much but she’s always at the end of the phone for me and she knows how to help me. She knows my anxiety is bad and I’m struggling with things all the time but she knows how to keep me focused. She’s definitely my best friend for that reason. I mean with been through so much crap over the course of our friendship but we’ve always come out stronger and better.
I managed to make it through the rain and off the motorway into the city centre. I was trying to follow the SAT NAV but because of all these road works in city that was not helpful. I did follow my own advice from Wednesday though, I followed the brown signs that were directing you to the Sealife centre – our first location and activity for our girls weekend. However because of these stupid roadworks every now and then the brown signs would disappear. I ended up getting so confused.
After a few wrong turns and Leanne laughing at me, we found the brown signs again. I got quite annoyed though because these brown signs were sending me into one of those old tiny multi story car parks. I have a big car so didn’t really want to take it in there.
I thought the signs were off slightly and I didn’t realise that the final brown sign was to this car park which was the car park for the Sealife centre. We ended up going round the block until I ended up back at the car park and thought I was just going to have to bite the bullet.
We made our way up into the multi story and I found a space I would be able to reverse into. I was so grateful when I parked. My nerves were through the roof and I have no idea how I managed it in one piece. I honestly wanted to cry but nope we needed to carry on. No point sitting there and crying we had things to do.
We’ve finally made it to Birmingham, let’s see what fun we get up to. I apologise for the lack of photos but it’s a bit illegal to take photos while driving. More in the next one.
Until the next Travel Blog
Love CiCi x