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June 10th 2008
Published: June 10th 2008
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Having just made a solo trip to visit my long-lost husband in Berlin, I find myself writing about air travel yet again! You’d think that getting to and from Berlin from here should be a piece of cake after my trips across the Atlantic with The Toddler, but travelling with easyJet always adds the element of unknown - including mysterious delays and the strangest noise on arrival at Gatwick, like someone was sawing off a wing.

EasyJet’s boarding policy is basically a free-for-all with no assigned seats - like going to the cinema - and this, I decided, brings out the worst in everyone. With no jet bridge at the low-cost airport in former East Germany, passengers simply peg it to the airplane and scramble up the steps. People who’ve paid extra for speedy boarding can’t waste a moment as passengers in the next group to board leg it to the steps at the back of the plane. Along with finding it all very amusing, I was also plain relieved to be allowed on board - several airline staff asked me how pregnant I was and whether I was feeling okay. Funny how so many of my fellow passengers failed to notice when we were all crammed into a very hot room with inadequate seating at Schoenefeld airport. Still, I can’t complain; it was very cheap and wonderful to see my husband (who’s been training in Berlin for six weeks) for two whole days!

En route to the Holocaust Memorial and Brandenburg Gate, we found ourselves standing in a car park surrounded by blocks of apartments built by the former East German government. Unmarked for years, this site wasn’t demystified until 2006, when an information panel was erected to officially identify the site of the bunker where Hitler committed suicide at the end of World War II. The car park looked innocuous enough, with a Mercedes parked over the spot where the Nazi Führer and his wife killed themselves, but it felt sinister and I couldn’t help wondering if the bald patch where the grass wouldn’t grow was due to the evil emanating from the remains of the grisly labyrinth below. Actually, it was because so many tourists had stood on the spot - where the bodies were burned - and while we were there, a tour bus drew up with more on-lookers.

The next day was air show day. Taking place right over the roof of our airport hotel was the Berlin air show - the highlight of which was seeing the Airbus A380, the largest passenger airliner in the world, seating in economy class configuration up to 853 people. With all that space, you’d think they could fit a crèche on board. Sooner or later, The Toddler, Zygote and I will probably be travelling by Superjumbo to Dubai. Thanks to the jet planes screeching overhead, it wasn’t exactly a peaceful break, but with The Toddler safely ensconced at home with Mum and Dad, the fact that we didn’t have to react or do anything about strange noises was blissful in itself - and we enjoyed some good German cuisine too, including currywurst (hot pork sausage seasoned with curry sauce), washed down with German beer - easier to find than a bottle of water!

Back in Blighty...
We’re off to the gym. Not a health club with hot tub type gym (sigh, in my dreams), but a proper, professional gym with beams, ropes, equipment and thick, padded mats. Ignoring a nagging feeling that this may not work out (school gyms always made me shudder), The Toddler and I make our way to a highly rated facility in Woking that other mums rave about. Budding gymnasts are spawned at Woking Gymnastics, and the other kids all love it (maybe their mums actually learnt to climb a rope at school), but The Toddler - strong willed at the best of times - decided it would be more fun to put me through my paces.

The first sign that I should have listened to my nagging doubts came as I filled out the paperwork and paid for a year’s worth of insurance. The Toddler threw a tantrum at having to wait. Perhaps this is a good sign, I kid myself - he can’t wait to get in and start jumping and vaulting (my mind racing ahead and thinking that, maybe just maybe, he’ll wear himself out so much that he’ll be easy to put to bed tonight). Once inside the vast gym, there’s no turning back. The warm-up starts, and all the kids jump in and out of hoops - not just any old hoop but whichever colour hoop the coach calls out. The Toddler, at this point, is running round the periphery of the gym, prompting the coach (very nice but firm) to call out to me, ‘Keep him off the equipment’. Shortly after, she comes over to pleasantly explain that this ‘isn’t a soft play, we’re a proper gym with structured classes for toddlers over 18 months.’ Alarm bells start screeching in my head - The Toddler doesn’t do structure.

Our pay-as-you-go class is - I thank my lucky stars - unstructured but things still go from bad to worse. I quickly notice that all the other kids are doing what they’re told - staying off the higher beams, taking turns at the trampoline and only jumping when it’s safe. The Toddler, on the other hand, has different ideas. While the other kids hang from a beam and make starfish shapes with their legs before jumping into a foam pit, The Toddler decides to get comfy in the foam. ‘Mum, get him out of there’ yells the coach. Flashbacks of gym teachers past race through my head and I realise that the only way The Toddler will leave the pit is if I climb in and pull him out. At this point, half-way through my pregnancy, I’m already not feeling very agile. A few moments of respite come when the coach takes The Toddler over to the trampoline and he gleefully starts bouncing - but it’s over all too soon as only one kid is allowed on at a time and a line of patiently waiting toddlers quickly forms (how they learnt to be so patient, I have no idea). Again, he has to be pulled off, as I desperately try to ignore the dirty looks from the line of waiting mums and nannies, who, somehow, have trained their kids to limit their trampoline time to five bounces.

The Toddler’s second tantrum of the morning takes hold (thank goodness for the padded mats), but time is on my side as the class is nearing an end and the coach gets out the parachute for the final activity. Ah-ah, I think, The Toddler loves the parachute; we’ll end on a high note. But he gets distracted by some balls and refuses to join in, only going over to stand on the parachute as the coach tries to put it away. As we leave the facility, I wonder if all the other children were better behaved because they’re older (a flawed theory, The Toddler was not the youngest by any means) and resolve to try again another week. It wasn’t all bad, after all - The Toddler spent a happy 10 minutes on the swing - something we could have done in the park for free.

From the mouths of babes
The Toddler has started talking. My initial astonishment is yet to wear off, though I must say his utterances are causing a few embarrassing moments that I feel I should record for prosperity. While walking in the park on a hot day recently, a young, 20-something girl walked by, wearing - how should I put it - very skimpy clothing. The Toddler yells from his stroller, ‘NO CLOTHES’. Another embarrassing stroller heckle came a few days later as we passed a rather masculine-looking lady. ‘MAN,’ calls out The Toddler, to which I should have replied ‘Where?’ and pretended to spot a man in the distance, but I didn’t think fast enough.

It’s hilarious when he mispronounces things - our family friend Hazel is now known as Diesel, but his fast-growing vocabulary does mean he can boss us around even more! (Commands being far more effective and efficient than his two-pronged pointing and tantrum approach). ‘THIS way, NOT that way’ is a favourite - and just as I’m getting into a really good conversation with someone, ‘NO talk’. The other day, after an attempt at potty training, he ordered me to ‘go toilet NOW.’ But there’s no doubt that toddlers say the cutest things too. My friend has a lovely example. Mum to two boys, her Littleboy 1 has got it into his head that all insects are called ladybirds. So when they actually see some ladybirds, my friend excitedly points them out. “Look darling, what’s that?” And after some consideration he replies: “A turtle!”

Read my friend’s brilliant blog about raising children in London’s Nappy Valley at:

I have to admit that The Toddler is addicted to YouTube, so we thought it was time he should appear in person.
Watch DJ Max at:
YouTube/DJ Max


11th June 2008

max on tube
I saw the litte guy on u tube. I can sing better and that icecream was mine.
15th June 2008

Hello there
Can't believe you're pregnant! Congratulations!!!!! You look wonderful and happy! Cindy

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