If you’re planning a family escape on wheels this spring, Simon Hacker considers games to keep everyone snap happy.
Those escaping Stroud this Easter will, of course, be familiar with the words of Japanese haiku poet and traveller Matuo Basho – he, of course, who wrote: “the journey itself is my home”. No? Mr Basho contended that the joy of travel is all about getting there, not arriving. We’ll assume he never tried six hours on the M5 with several children on board.
As anyone blessed with parenthood knows, family journeys are less Basho and more bashing the dashboard. Yet with a little pre-planning, it is conceivable to engage even the toughest audience. Try this easy trio of engaging games to help the journey fly by…
Best of ten: I devised this as the ideal way of appealing to badge snobbery and greed, an ugly juvenile tendency that can only be explained by your own guiding example. Method: Best played on a quieter road, each person must clock ten cars that pass by on the opposite carriageway. As the models count down to zero, they must opt for one of the ten to ‘keep’. The joy lies in the rule that you can’t back-track: turn your nose up at nine Focuses, old Golfs and a Mk III Astra and that tenth beige Citroen Berlingo trundling into view is your default, forever car. It’s a long game: experience suggests players can be so dejected about their choice that they insist on an umpteenth go. Before you know it, you’re in Barnstaple and thirty miles have flown by. Hopefully Barnstaple’s where you wanted to be.
Citizen’s arrest: If, like me, you’re regularly accused of tutting about other drivers, now’s your chance to release your inner policeman. Get booking and enjoy. Method: During the entire journey, your social responsibility is to detect and make known to other witnesses (ie passengers) perceived violations of the Highway Code, the Road Traffic Act 1983, Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984, et al. In other words, you see someone doing something wrong, you point at them, declare “Citizen’s arrest!”, cite the offence and thereby bag a point. The highest tally wins. Tip: look out for drivers not wearing seatbelts (1 point), using mobile phones (2), sporting dead headlamp bulbs (3) or unfunny misconfigured number plates (3)… it’s fast and furious. Just don’t try to involve actual police officers.
I-Spy deluxe: Numbed by the traditional I-Spy? Panic not, this version relies upon points being scored by participants who spot the hit-list item first. Common (and less common) sightings are valued accordingly. Should you be set free in Europe, you can also customise to match pleasurable stereotypes: eg, windmills, people carrying baguettes, grown men in lederhösen. Method: One point: a classic BT phone box, a caravan, a motorbike, a gold car, a roadside pylon, a cat, a rabbit. Three: police/fire/ambulance, an Eddie Stobart lorry, a broken-down vehicle, a wind turbine, horse in a field/being ridden, a hang glider/parascender. Five: cyclists on a tandem, a passing train, a hot air balloon, a classic car, a motorbike with sidecar, a fox/hare/owl. Feel free to modify.
BONUS GAME: pub cricket. If you’ve yet to try it, this cross-country challenge endures as a classic. The rules are simple: occupants on the left of the cabin watch their side of the road, those on the right the other. By the end of the journey, the team with the most ‘runs’ wins. A run is counted as any human or animal leg. So, the coach and horses, as a single coach pulled by two horses, scores eight runs plus the coachman’s two (unless the pub sign shows more people). Ye Olde Centipede is, naturally, a pub to dream for, unless it’s on the other team’s side. And if the pub name includes a head in its name, you’re bowled out and have to start again. Play it while country pubs remain a thing. And if it all gets too much, stop at one.
For full details of Vauxhall’s sensational new Mokka range, including the all-electric e, call Baylis Stroud direct on 01453 765522 or visit the dealer online here.