Monday, 23 July 2012

What We Saw On Our Holidays: Forbidden Fruit

So we’re back from our Grand Days Out To See The Grandparents.

My mum’s fine, thanks for asking. I did all the things a good grown up son should when visiting - fixed her TV aerial, raided her kitchen cupboards and threw out jars and packets with three year old use-by dates, and retuned her stereo to Radio 4.

We also took Wife-features’ dad on outings with Toddler to the Floral Hall and Bellfield Park, surely two of Inverness’s greatest public assets.
The prospect of a three and a half hour train journey to Inverness with a Toddler - and a similar trek back - had filled the missus and I with a certain amount of unease but in the end it was fine.

We packed plenty of books, games and crayons for entertainment. We even packed sandwiches so we could have a family picnic on the train. Just thinking about it makes me dizzy with excitement.

Toddler (her full title is now Toddler In Pants) also kept us busy with repeated requests to go to the loo, only for nothing to emerge. (She still gets a nappy at night but for a couple of weeks now it’s been dry in the morning so perhaps this week we’ll take the, er, plunge and go for a 24 hour Toddler In Pants. Wish us luck.)

The journey up to our old Highland haunts and the one back to our new digs in the Honest Toun were notably different thanks to Scotrail‘s discretionary catering. On the way north the trolley came along and the grown ups had coffee. The lad pushing the trolley (Trolley Pusher Lad sounds rather demeaning, sorry; I’m sure the role has a grand title such as Hospitality Co-ordinator) on a whim gave Toddler a pack of colouring pencils and a wee bag of chocolate eggs. Aww. That’s service!

In contrast the journey down featured a jaw-dropping moment of jobsworthery. The WH Smith at Inverness station (the only shop selling food close to the trains) had a broken fridge so was only selling crisps and sweets. We figured a less evil snack would be available on the trolley and when it hoved into view we spied little pots of fruit pieces. Perfect for a three year old! But when we asked for one we were told they were freebies for first class passengers only.

Um. Okay. But this is a long train journey on a hot day leaving from a station that had no food so surely you’d make an exception for our toddler? We’re offering you money and everything. Apparently that wasn’t good enough. We could have bought Jaffa Cakes and a can of Tennents for our three year old. Just not some pineapple chunks. For they are the Forbidden Fruit oiks like us can only dream of.

In fact I’m waiting for the new Scotrail marketing campaign to incorporate this. You’ll be at the ticket office on the verge of buying your standard class off peak return when the teller points out: “If you upgrade you might get some peaches in juice. How about it?”

A well placed source at the nation‘s rail franchisee tells me a new menu is coming soon featuring - brace yourself - small boxes of raisins! My faith in public transport is hereby restored.

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