This morning we went to  the local Second Hand Market. Set in rolling fields and not a lift or DON’T TOUCH sign in sight, it’s my idea of shopping with children heaven. In fact , this morning´s trip was disconcertingly seamless, two absurdly well behaved boys, one in the puschchair , one on the buggy board, (possibly cheating ever so slightly) 2 euros in each of their sticky hands. Forward, one enormous plastic batman and a peppa pig puzzle later, we won’t mention F refusing to move for six minutes because a man wouldn’t lower the price of his guitar from 20 to 2 euros, no matter how many times the 2 sweaty euro coin was thrusted in his hand, we were three happy shoppers. I  also think that the sweltering, claustrophobic, comatosing heat may deserve a mention too.


Before you all start throwing used wetwipes at me for sounding (being) smug, please know this was a freak occurrence.  REWIND to last December in Manchester. We spent a fab morning at MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry), it was ace. The children had the most fun ever, so why oh why en route to the train station did we decide to hit the shops?

S decides that he NEEDS to go to the sales. We haven’t done real people shops for years. We got a bit excited and starstruck by the size and sparkly lights of Selfridges, so nervously went in past the posh bags, trying to blend in with the very fashion savvy and considerably richer than us shoppers. I think we did exceptionally well,  with F screaming, a broken pram, our whopping rucksack and O the escape artist. It took us 5 minutes to find the lift, 1 minute to hoik broken pram out and 3 seconds before S threatened to start hyperventilating. Another 5 minutes later, we are in M&S which is the most whopping one I have ever seen, spread out over five glistening floors. We obediently follow S to Mens, only the boys decide the jumpers look better on the floor and there is a close shave when there isn’t a tissue in sight for their in sync runny noses, and the white silk ties look a bit too appealing.

I tell S that we will go for a wander and head towards the lift. Where F cries because O pressed the button and not him and then refuses point blank to get in the lift. I am clutching my purse, O and trying to grab F whilst five very elegant women look disdainfully at me. We admit defeat and wait for what feels like five days for the lift to return to our floor.

“Do you want sweeties?” I say desperately, “Yesssssss” they cheer triumphantly. “So, please be good…” I plead.

The lift arrives at the ground floor – Children and Food. Perfect combination?  O gets distracted by batman pyjamas and F tries to climb on the cabin bed. I remind them both about the sweets and then they decide to walk like a train .All going well until there is a clank and a wobble and two M & S staff zoom over as I turn around to see that O has crashed into a Bucks Fizz display and MIRACULOUSLY despite the clattering and people shaking their heads, bottles and child are still intact. I say a quick thank you to the God/Goddess of shattered parents and give each child a slightly oversized bag of PERCY PIG AND FRIENDS. There is a moment of peace and contentment.

We go to pay and O decides to hide under my dress. My relief at the fact that I am wearing a million dernier tights is short lived as F decides to whip them and my pants down. Brilliant, not only do the shoppers get to see my manic children, they also get a glimpse of my bottom, three times. As I try to unravel both children from underneath my dress we head for the lift once again, where there is a cry as they both open their Percy Pig bags the wrong way up and Percy’s friends fall out dutifully.


I use two dried and possibly snotty wetwipes as makeshift bags and try to ignore F banging a coathanger really loudly on the floor. O, who hasn’t napped for umpteen months, declares he has had enough and flops in the broken pram and promptly falls asleep. F thinks this is brill, steals the sweets out of O`s hands and we go to pay for S’s new socks (Yes, SOCKS), then wearily follow the Hansel and Gretel trail of Percy Pig and slightly squashed Friends home.


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