Thursday 6 December 2012

Dolly on tour

When I gaily accepted an invitation for Dolly and I to visit the Nickelodeon studios in Camden, I didn't consider for a second the implications of taking a three-year-old to London and back in one day.  A ten hour round trip, door to door.

It wasn't until the night before that mild panic began to set in.  Dolly, the girl I have been too scared to take to the supermarket at times, can be a stroppy and wayward little madam.  And taking her on four different trains, six different tubes, and a lot of standing around on cold platforms suddenly seemed like a recipe for disaster.

I downloaded a load of child-friendly apps onto my phone, removing most of my own apps in order to make room.  I even considered taking along my beloved iPad.  But having the responsibility of a child and an iPad at once on a long journey was too much for me to bear.

So at 7.30am yesterday morning, having had several drops of Rescue Remedy, and armed with snacks, sweets, chocolate, stickers, colouring books, stories, and my phone, Dolly and I headed for the train station.

Five hours and an oddly painless train ride later, we made it to the studios.  Dolly was in her element chatting with worm puppets, Arnie and Barnie, on their Bedtime Story TV set, and eating chocolate cupcakes, taking it all in her stride.  And I had the pleasure of meeting the gorgeous Konnie Huq (former Blue Peter presenter) who was reading the story for that particular episode.

Dolly didn't complain once for the entire day, and at times she had  serious reason to.  She was dragged along crowded platforms, thrown through closing tube doors, bashed in the face with handbags,  and had to sit next to a very drunk and angry man who was on the wrong train.

But the thing that really touched me, was the amount of people she made laugh or smile on our travels, with her honest and very loud opinions on everyone around us.  And while strangers chatted and laughed with her, I sat there terrified about what might come out of her mouth next. Luckily she only mentioned my 'boobies' three times between London and Reading.

She kept the entire platform at Newport entertained, while we waited for our connecting train, in the icy snow - singing Christmas carols in her new outlandish rabbit hat that she had chosen from a stall in Camden (for which she had managed to negotiate a huge discount  for being 'cute').

Dolly was a delightful travelling companion, and I was blown away by her stamina and joyous spirit.  I could perhaps have done with a sleep during the train journey back, but Dolly was too busy telling me 'jokes' and covering my boobs with stickers.