Coventry Chronicles: Have children, will travel |

Coventry Chronicles: Have children, will travel

A few weeks ago, we had a second large snow storm — large for the UK, meaning that we got about 3 inches of snow, two of which stuck, and everything ground to a halt. It coincided with a few days of bitter cold — again, cold for the UK, as temperatures hovered just below freezing.

Kenilworth Castle in Kenilworth, England.

One afternoon, when I woke the boys up from their naps, I turned on the lights and realized that our power had gone out. And our heat. And our hot water.

To make a long dilemma short, I will tell you that our power came back on a few hours later, but not in the kitchen, the most important room in the house. The heat came on again that night. And the hot water returned three days later – but not before we lost the cold water upstairs as well. We resorted to boiling pots full of water and hauling them upstairs to give the boys their nightly bath, a process that we began approximately two hours before actual bath time.

It was reminiscent of the time we lost power for three days when we lived in Italy. It was right after Christmas and we had hosted Christmas dinner at our house and our refrigerator was packed with leftovers and extra bottles of Prosecco.

A huge snowstorm came through the Dolomites and wiped out all the power lines for miles — and when I say huge, I mean actual huge, Steamboat-huge.

In Italy, things tend to move at a glacial pace anyway, so we were correct in assuming that the power would return when it returned and there was nothing to do about it. We hunkered down and played Monopoly by candlelight.

Since it was right in the middle of winter, it got dark near 4 p.m. every day, at which point, we turned head lamps on. We put all the Christmas leftovers outside on the deck to stay fresh in the snow. And since we had no heat either, we got in bed early every night and snuggled up under all of our scratchy wool blankets.

So this year, when virtually the same thing happened, we exclaimed “it’s just like Italy!” Except for the kids. Pre-kids, three days without power, heat and water is an adventure. Post-kids, it’s a disaster.

Two kids later, our life abroad has changed quite a bit from those Italian days. When I was pregnant with my first son, I read an article in the New York Times about a family who spent several months traveling the world with their two small boys. An avid traveler myself, it was encouraging to think things wouldn’t have to change just because we would have children.

Like most ideas one has pre-children — no iPads, no sugar, no noisy plastic toys — my visions of gallivanting around the globe with kids began to dissipate.

We did a few trips here and there, scheduling all of our activities around nap time, and we worked lots of park time into our itineraries. But when one child turned into two children, my visions of travel turned into visions of airport temper tantrums.

Now we make sure our adventures are mostly by car, include lots of snacks and are no farther than an hour away from home.

Because having children changes the way you travel. Instead of sipping wine at sidewalk cafes in Prague, we’ll be puddle jumping in the Cotswolds and rushing through lunch before a meltdown occurs. It’s just the newest kind of adventure travel.

Sophie Dingle is a freelance writer currently living in England. Dingle’s husband, Ryan, is a Steamboat Springs native and professional hockey player; you can follow their adventures online at

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