It’s safe to say that we thought taking a 16 month old on a 3 hour car journey and 2 flights including one of 11 hours all on the same day was asking for trouble. However yet again Amber proved that she typically handles things far better than her parents do (see vaccinations, sleep and hot weather for further examples).
After a long stop start journey to Heathrow with Nannie and Papa including an extensive singing session and In The Night Garden (crack for kids) we said our final goodbyes. The commotion of the airport drop off area is hardly the best place to say farewell so we never really got a chance to thank my Mum and Keith properly for all they have done for us – so onwards we went into the terminal to find ourselves alone as the 3 of us for what felt the first time in weeks. With the stress of the flights ahead of us though there was no time for a poignant marking of the occasion we just had to get Amber as well as 2 large rucksacks, 2 smaller rucksacks, a travel cot and an all in one car seat / stroller checked in and through security.
I am always irrationally fearful when going through airport security despite never carrying anything that would be of remote interest to security officials. Claire shares this inherent, unnecessary fear and has previously done great impressions of an incredibly guilty person in front of border guards by struggling to answer basic questions such as “Where have you flown from?”. So when 4 of our 6 trays (we really have not travelled light) set off the alarm and were sent for further inspection I was wondering if our trip was over before it had even started.
However despite carrying a bag with “an inordinate amount of wiring” as well as a shitload of baby milk we were through and the first part of the journey was complete.
Thanks to a well timed late afternoon nap Amber was in great form for the flight to Paris. This was helped enormously by the absolutely charming chap next to us on the flight. I don’t typically speak to people unless I have to (Claire handles comms) but for the duration of the flight all 3 of us had great fun with Sam as he told us about his family in South Africa, we told him about our trip and Amber introduced him to Bunny and her other friends. Maybe we liked him because he said we were amazing but I think there was more to it than that.
(Amber and James looking a bit like thumbs with our friend Sam)
After a brief connection in Paris we were on board the flight to Rio. One of Sam’s parting tips was for Amber to lay across us on blankets for the flight and as it dawned on us that the bassinet we had ordered was going to be far too small for Amber we took his advice. What ensued was an absolutely beautiful moment as Amber, clearly exhausted by this stage (it was now midnight in Paris) gradually drifted off to sleep laying on top of us as we stroked her face while the plane took off. It was as beautiful as it was surprising.
The rest of the flight was a blur of restless limbs and uncomfortable positions (although I yet again surprised myself by having a good chat with the lady next to me who was off to Rio to run a creative education project for the British Consulate). Amber slept for close to 8 hours and woke for the final 2-3 hours of the flight in an exceptionally chirpy mood – she continues to blow us away at every turn.
On arrival at Rio it took under 90 minutes from wheels touching the runway to being outside our AirBnB apartment waiting for our host to arrive with the sun just starting to rise over the city. As far as travel with a baby goes this is marked as a big fat win.