This book, explains the blurb, is not a ‘How To’ guide, but a gathering of twenty tales from around the world, written by people who have tried and survived a journey with a baby.
Sandy Bennett-Haber has gathered an eclectic mix of tales. The book starts on a high with Anne Hamilton’s humorous and vividly-described experience in Bangladesh, in which she finds her son is heavier than a melon and three chickens (I won’t spoil it by revealing what he does weigh).
‘Dear Gus’ by Rick Rutjens is a beautiful, poignant letter from a father to his son, on what it is to be a dad, from those first anxious thoughts (Will I like you? Will I know how to be a dad?), to the cutting of the cord and the honesty of the difficult times following birth. In this moving tale, the author paints a picture not only of his thoughts and feelings, but of his colourful surroundings, and the adventures, sights and sounds he shares with his son in Bali.
Sylvain Morisot reports on a hectic, chaotic journey from Scotland to France and comes to the conclusion that travel is good for children, exhausting for parents.
In First Class Compartment, Sarah Dyer tells not only of her physical travels, but also the emotional journey involved in conceiving her baby via IVF, and the touching moment when, years later, she shares her favourite dish at her favourite Singapore restaurant with her son.
Meghan J. Ward’s story about her travels in New Zealand will resonate with every parent whose child has failed to comprehend time changes, and the joy of attempting to entertain a child for many hours with limited resources.
Fears about unsafe seatbelts and disapproving fellow passengers are covered in Nicky Torode’s ‘The Long Short-Haul’, in which she recollects her baby’s first flight at nine months of age.
Sarah Thewlis’s contribution is written from the perspective of a somewhat precocious six-month-old baby who is taking part in a Spanish baby-jumping ceremony. Hopefully the comments about ‘lesser, crying babies’ and ‘bottle-fed brats’ are tongue-in-cheek…
‘Remember Our DJ?’ will ring true with anyone who has spent time squashed in the back seat of a car with siblings, eating crisps and listening to tunes chosen by the baby of the family.
‘The Puffin, the haunting and the turtle’ will strike a chord with parents craving time alone to fulfil a ling-held dream – in this case a trip to see puffins – only to find that the time is fraught with panic, guilt and missing the baby. We meet the baby of this story – Rafa – again in a story by his father.
‘Eva’s Unexpected Journey’ is unlike the other stories in the collection, and as such warrants an explanatory note from the editor about its inclusion. It is the moving retelling of the author’s mother’s escape from Nazi Germany and is an altogether different journey to those depicted elsewhere in the book.
Jo Smith recalls new-mother anxieties – will the buggy go up? Where can I feed the baby? – as she embarks on a journey to introduce the child to its paternal grandmother. Stacey Campbell writes about her journey through heartache, and Lydia Teychenne recalls the twin agonies of removal of sea urchin shards from her foot and feeling she has failed her son.
The final story in the book is from Erin Mckittrick, and is on the subject of her decision to make a trip to Alaska – a ‘cold, wet, bear-infested wilderness’ – while pregnant and with her small son on her back.
There is also a selection of poetry in the book.
Several pages are given over to biographies of each contributor, and this, together with the introduction and thank you pages, means that the actual ‘story’ part of the book is very short, and as such it seems somewhat overpriced at £8.99 for the paperback. (The Kindle version is a more realistic £2.79). Some of the stories feel a little like fillers, but there are some real gems here too.
‘You Won’t Remember This: Travel with Babies’ is available on Amazon https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01M9DSKUV/
Website at: http://www.travelswithbaby.co.uk/
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