I imagine many of you think that a) you've clicked on an old link or b) I've gone mad.
Whilst certainly the latter is nearer to the truth, I am aware that it is only September, and the beginning bit of it at that. I am however in the full festive spirit because on Wednesday I bought tickets to see Father Christmas.
Now this is not just any Father Christmas. This is Brookside Garden Centre. This is Grotto of the freaking YEAR. It's superb, like every childhood dream you had come true, complete with the real Father Christmas and a decent present.
We've been twice so far; once when the big one was a little one, she had her first winter cold and could not have given fewer shits...
...And last year when she was two and just a little bit dubious about the whole thing, and the baby was just under six months old and mainly cried his way through the whole thing.
This year, she is turning the magical age of three.
She knows what Christmas is, she knows there are presents involved, she will be in her element. 'We have to go back!' we decided 'She will have a magical Christmas or we will die trying'. So I found out when the tickets went on sale and set a reminder on my phone. When it went off at 6.30pm we were in the midst of getting the children to bed, and smugly thinking I was getting away with slacking a bit, I decamped to the front room, switched on my laptop and retrieved my credit card ready for the onslaught.
I did NOT pour myself a glass of wine, as we had chosen this week to put into action our 'no drinking in the week' plan. It didn't include Monday because that was a bank holiday and there was already a bottle open from the weekend, so basically we were planning on four days without a post-bedtime glass of wine. Easy right?
I logged on to Facebook. The local mum's network were poised and ready, waiting for 7pm. Some were very angry that others had taken steps to remind others, increasing the competition. It made me feel slightly saner for refreshing the page like I was trying to buy Beyonce tickets.
They're on sale! They're on sale! QUICK!
But wait, I can't click - this bloody website - nothing is working - I can't F*CKING CLICK - I'll refresh... page not available - oh for CRAP'S SAKE.
I flick over to Facebook. It's not just me. The mum's network is becoming increasingly unhinged; mums across Kent are spilling over with rage and reaching for the gin. It is still August, and grown women are being brought to tears by Father Christmas. Something is not right about this.
Meanwhile, I can hear the small one screaming his little fluffy head off upstairs. He's teething, so it has not been a good day for naps and now he's overtired and acting like a little toddler jerk. My sympathy for daddy is escalating, but I still feel he has the better deal.
I carry on, clicking, refreshing, swearing. Wait - I have managed to put one child ticket into the basket! Four times. But no one else. Maybe I can send him on his own? At this rate I'll be sectioned by Christmas anyway.
Hold on - Someone in the mum's group has a booking confirmation!
And I was just about to give up. It is possible! Maybe it's quicker using the iPad? I can't get it on my mobile... That's three devices trying to score tickets. And NONE of them working. I swear it used to be easier when you had to book Glastonbury tickets on the phone. The child is still fighting sleep like a crazed demon so I can't summon my husband to provide his devices too.
It's sodding Bake Off in ten minutes. Surely I'm not going to miss the start?!
I can hear the small one upstairs, still screaming. Daddy is probably feeling about as harassed as me. Nothing is going well tonight.
At ten-to-Bake-Off, Daddy comes downstairs with the still-screaming child. He's been medicated, he's been rocked, he's just being a pain in the arse. A quick cuddle with mummy and he goes quiet but Daddy is pissed off and takes him out for a drive in order to force sleep. It's not often we have to resort to this level.
I'm hungry. The dog is pissed off as he hasn't been walked. I still have no tickets.
I'll just give it ten more minutes...
I have more tickets in the basket! OK, we are all in there multiple times, it's going to cost hundreds at this rate... but it looks like the slot is reserved. Can't quit now... Ah, crap. I've missed the first ten minutes of Bake Off. That's the best bit! I can't miss Sue's innuendos. I'll have to wait until 9 and watch it on iPlayer.
And so it continued.
By the time my husband arrived home with a sleeping baby, I had got the tickets. One per person, bought and paid for. An hour and a half of my life I'd never get back, but I sodding did it. Will my kids be happy? Will they be grateful? Of course they bloody won't.
Fortuitous timing meant that it was also my Secret Summer Santa present opening at 9pm*; my Secret Santa got me a Mum's Emergency kit. With wine. I drank the wine.
|Before and after: It qualified as an emergency for sure.|
*You mean you don't do this too? I'd explain but, you know, word count... and it seems more fun not to.