Friday, 22 July 2016

Stranded At The Strawberry Fields

On Friday, we decided to make the most of the glorious sunshine we were having here in Devon and head off for an afternoon of strawberry picking.

This was our first time taking the kids strawberry picking and it was something I was really looking forward to. 

I had visions in my mind of lots of lovely photo opportunities, I even took the tripod along with us in the hope of capturing a lovely summery family photo - punnets full of berries, all smiles and sunshine.

I had done my research carefully on the best PYO farms locally, and after much deliberation I'd decided that rather than visit our nearest farm which was a very simple strawberry field and nothing more - we'd travel a little bit to go somewhere better. We chose Lipton Farm Shop - just over an hours drive away from us across Dartmoor (A car journey I always loathe!) - the reviews online spoke of it's fun little park for children, a lovely farm shop and a tempting cafe offering homemade cakes and milkshakes.

So, research done, off we set for a day of family fun on the strawberry fields.

Well...what is it they say about best laid plans?!

Things didn't get off to the best start as I managed to underestimate how much I HATE that drive through Dartmoor - I am probably the worlds most nervous passenger and, as stunning as the Devon countryside is, I simply loathe driving through it - with it's endless up and down hills, impossibly narrow and windy roads barely wide enough for one car (and then the fun of having to reverse around those narrow corners when another car wants to pass!), and horrible sheer drops at the side of the road which make me feel sick every time I glance down (I refer to them as "cliff edges" but Jon tells me I'm being very dramatic and they're little more than hills...well they feel like cliffs to me!).

So, after an hour of hyperventilating and screaming "SLOW DOWN FOR GODS SAKE!" at Jon as he dares to approach 30 mph on a 60 road, we arrived at Lifton Farm Shop.

But as we turned down the road to enter, our car (who we refer to as Suzie, by the way) made a very dramatic, loud and unhealthy sounding noise.

Jon & I looked at each other and grimaced.

That did not sound good.

Jon decided to drive her a little further down the road, just to see if it happened again.

It did. A lot. And then she sputtered to a halt.


So there we hour from home, the wrong side of Dartmoor, 3 babies in tow...stranded at a strawberry field in the middle of nowhere, unsure of whether Suzie would be able to get us home and with no idea what the problem might be! (Really wish we'd invested in a decent car diagnostic tool to help us out!).

Luckily for us, my parents had very kindly taken out breakdown cover for me as a birthday gift (after I had protested that I didn't have any because I didn't need any...#NotTheBrightestSpark) - so we called the RAC who told us not to attempt to drive home, and that they'd be with us in an hour or so to take a look.

By this time it was 4.30 pm and the farm shop was closing in an hour, so we decided to just get on with our strawberry picking.

To be fair, it was lovely - Tyne had an absolute ball running through the fields with his little punnet, picking the brightest plumpest strawberries he could find and sampling far more than he actually put in the basket.

Unfortunately, Noah wasn't quite so enthusiastic about it all and after being set down to run free amongst the strawberry plants he gave the field one look....bent down to touch the grass apprehensively...decided he didn't like it, and SCREAMED bloody murder.

Try as we might to entice him with strawberries (Which he usually can't get enough of..) he was not having any of it. 

He threw a massive wobbler until we put him back into the pram...

At least he sat in there happily until we were finished, which was nice of him, but why does he seem to hate anything fun?!!

His youngest brother didn't get the chance to decide for himself what he thought of the strawberry fields, because as I went to lift him out of his pram I suddenly realised I'd forgotten his sun hat - although it was late in the day the sun was still strong and I wasn't taking any chances with my very fair haired little bub so he was resigned to the pram too - Ah I can almost hear the Mum Of The Year nominations rolling in!! of the 3 children had a good time anyway.

After half an hours strawberry picking, we headed to the shop to pay for our haul and treated ourselves to a massive amount of cake and fizzy pop to console ourselves as we waited for the RAC to arrive.

Noah's mood was turned around by the offering of a rather large gingerbread man, and soon he and his big brother were having a ball running around the park.

Although we waited for about an hour from that point for the RAC to arrive, it was time spent playing with the kids - teaching Tyne how to play hopscotch, and laying in the bucket swing with him & Noah pointing out shapes in the clouds - just the kind of afternoon I'd envisaged really.

When the RAC man arrived, he took a look at Suzie and agreed that she needed to be put into a garage first thing but that he thought we could make it home if we took it easy (little did he know about my Dartmoor phobia and insistence that Jon keeps to a speed that most people could beat on foot).

So we bundled the 3 kids into the car, by this time it was around 7pm and they were starting to complain of being hungry despite all the strawberries and gingerbread folk, and off we set.

It was all going so well...until we were about 20 minutes from home when suddenly at a set of traffic lights, Suzie gave out an almighty CLUNK and puttered to a total stop - the unmistakable whiff of Dead Clutch filled the car and we knew that we were well & truly buggered.

There's little quite as panic inducing as being sat in a completely dead car with your 3 babies, at traffic lights on a dual carriageway with cars whizzing past you at speed. I honestly thought we were going to have a road traffic accident!

Jon got out to push and told me I'd need to steer - cue a lot of squealing as I can't even drive - luckily for us a very helpful pair of teenaged lads pulled up next to us and jumped out to help Jon push us into the nearest car park.

We went to call the RAC again but oh no...both of our phones, completely dead.

After a bit of brainstorming and a lot of swearing we decided that Jon would run to McDonalds (where we happened to be parked up!) to get something for the kids to eat, then he'd run to the nearby Asda and pray they sold in car chargers for our phones.

So that's what we did.

An hour later another RAC man had arrived to help us but he was in a 3 seater van, which meant that all he could do was tow us in our dead car to the nearest garage (which of course, was closed as it was now out of hours.)

So there we were...10.30 at night, stranded in an industrial estate...not quite the lovely family day out I'd planned.

A taxi ride later (And plenty of tears from Tyne who was very concerned about us leaving poor broken Suzie behind at the garage!), we were finally home - knackered, car-less and starving.

At least we had strawberries.

To see our mishap along with the rest of our weekend in video form, please have a look at our first Weekend Vlog below!

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