Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

The quiet family dinner out

Picture the scene; we’re driving back from a busy day out at the Lost gardens of Heligan (great family day out BTW), the boys are asleep in the back and Matilda is chatting away to herself. The lady of the manor and I are discussing dinner plans for the evening, we’ve had a good day but any day out with 3 children under 5 cannot be described as relaxing. Unless of course relaxing means feeling like you’ve run a marathon while shouting 10 times every mile “don’t touch that” “stay away from the edge” “that’s not for climbing on” “what do you mean you’re hungry again” “you’ll just have to wee in a bush”.

The thought of dinner out sounds very attractive, we talk ourselves into it; the boys have napped so will be in a good mood, the pub is on the way home anyway and it means no washing up (as the lady of the manor keeps telling me, it’s not a holiday if there’s washing up). Maybe it was the day in the sun, maybe we just had low sugar levels, whatever the reason we take the plunge and pull into the car park. Miraculously they are serving food all day (anyone else find it a nightmare with small children finding somewhere to eat before 5pm?) and we find a corner in a large and quite empty restaurant.

It’s at this point we realise 2 things; first Rupert is very VERY loud (ok we may have known that already having travelled in a car with him) but the 2 couples sat having quiet romantic early dinners, sharing a platter of fresh seafood on the other side of the restaurant were very quickly educated in exactly how loud an 18 month old can shout, he shouts when he’s happy/sad/wants something/doesn’t want something. The second thing we realised is that a child may say they want pasta in a tomato sauce but what they really mean is that they want fish fingers and chips and as I’m sure you all know you can’t reason with a 4 year old who has changed their mind.

What then proceeded was a game of musical chairs where everyone, including Rupert in his high chair, changed positions interspersed with some eating. The lady of the manor and I managed to eat our whole prawns for starter in the time it took Rupert to stuff fists of pasta into his mouth, Matilda to decide she doesn’t like pasta in tomato sauce Henry to ever so carefully cut the yolks out of his 2 fried eggs because he didn’t want to eat the white.

We then scoffed our main courses (I had the most amazing cod curry) while helping the big ones do colouring and a word search and trying to appease Rupert for long enough that his shouting didn’t turn into screaming. We’ve discovered on this holiday that Rupert is obsessed with dogs and this being North Cornwall there are dogs everywhere including in most of the pubs so I spent half the meal wandering around the pub pointing out all the dogs for him while he shouting “dog dog, oof oof”. Very cute but a little tiring.

The idea of a holiday dinner out with the kids is so idyllic, something different and exciting for them, a chance not to have to slave over a hot stove for us a nice break. But it’s not easy is it? Our 3 are actually pretty good when it comes to eating and being out but even so it’s hard. The lady of the manor and I have come to the conclusion that the hardest thing with having children the age of ours is you can never mentally relax. You can go on a nice day out but you’re always alert to what they’re doing and where they are, thinking ahead to when you might need a food stop or a toilet stop and making sure you have everything you need with you.

Good job they’re cute.

Kids on wooden tractor at Eden project


  1. Yep, there’s no such thing as a relaxing family day out. It’s no coincidence that I always buy a bottle of wine on the way home!

    • I keep telling myself it’ll get easier when they’re older but we’ll see. Right now Rupert is at that fun stage of being extremely mobile and good at climbing but no awareness.

  2. Are those like moving toy vehicles? Looks fun.

  3. Oh bless, I am sure it will all settle down – only 10 years to go 😉

  4. Really enjoyed reading this. We’ve also been on a family trip to the Lost Gardens of Heligan, admittedly when our son was in a sling and not running around. It’s a great place and I’m sure we’ll go back there.

    • thanks and agree, was a really great day out. They also did a really good job of engaging the kids in what was there and fabulous easter craft activities

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.