The summer shop

woman, sunset, countryside


This weekend we went on what is referred to in our family as “the summer shop”. I am not sure when buying a swimsuit and a pair of flip flops became elevated to a “summer shop”, but the teenagers among us have firmly planted it on the calendar.

We headed out around 2pm – it takes until 2pm before everyone is ready in our house, despite the fact that the parents and the Energetic One are up at dawn. We rolled up at the shopping centre and everyone was starving. As only son will eat anything, I took him to get some pizza. The two eldest were given some money and departed for some sort of vegetarian, health food centre full of roasted vegetables, but were told they had a very strict budget. Daughter three decided that she needed to be more healthy now she is about to start secondary school and all so went with them.

Around half an hour passed. Daughter two came back with a plate of chips [cooked in olive oil or some such] and bread [dipped in herbs, naturally]. “It was a bargain,” she said triumphantly. Ten more minutes passed. Daughters one and three returned with…nothing. “Daughter three wanted something that was too expensive and I couldn’t be bothered to wait,” said daughter one. Daughter three looked slightly peeved. This healthy eating lark is not what it’s cracked up to be, her face said. She headed off with her dad to get pizza. Before we even started shopping we’d visited the toilets about three times. Each time only son gave a loud commentary on the colour of his wee and interesting fish facts gleaned from Octonauts.

We headed for Primark. The parents were already feeling fairly exhausted by this point. My partner decided to go off and look at the men’s section. Only son started playing hide and seek in the clothes rails while I tried to distract him by showing him Spiderman pants. “I’m very sorry, mum, but I think I need pants,” he had proclaimed earlier. “My pants are so small that I can hardly pull them up my legs.” I checked. The pants he was wearing were aged 2-3. On the plus side, they have some wonderful pictures of pirates, in keeping with the year one curriculum this term. Only son found a magnifying glass on the floor of Primark and started inspecting all the pants up close. Daughter three decided she wanted a bra despite the lack of any noticeable need.

The older two then headed for the women’s section. Only son shouted something about hating New Look, even though we were in Primark. Several hours later, we emerged with a few t-shirts, flip flops, sunglasses and Spiderman pants, most of which we can swap between us [apart from the Spiderman pants]. Daughter two had refused to buy anything because she worries about the budget. While daughter three spends her entire life planning trips to the US and jacuzzis and things that we will never be able to afford, daughter two is the only person who goes on days out with friendsĀ and gives me change back from the small amount of spending money I give her.

Daughter three heely-ed over to Boots. She had been researching dip dyeing – for secondary school. There were no dyes suitable for 11 year olds. Oh dear. Daughter three, who is ever so slightly hormonal at the moment, took off in a grump. The problem is she was in heelies so was soon out of sight. On eventually being tracked down, she was apologetic.

We retired to the car for a session of One Direction and Abba Gold. It had been a long afternoon and some of us were very much in need of a summer holiday.

*Mum on the run is Mandy Garner, editor of

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