If there’s one thing Christmas 2016 taught me (apart from that festive hangovers and babies don’t mix), it’s that it’s finally time to say a tearful farewell to my trusty little hatchback and buy a proper dad’s car.
The combination of parents, baby, dog, luggage – and an obscene collection of presents that ballooned with every house we visited during a 400-mile festive round trip spanning four days – turned our homeward journey into a claustrophobic suffer-fest. And it’s led me to the inevitable conclusion that it’s time to upgrade my cheap little motor for a spacious and tragically practical dad-mobile.
Anyone who’s seen my rather shameful collection of Peugeots over the past 10 years will know cars are pretty low down my priority list. In fact, I’m probably the only person alive who’s gone all the way through the 206, 207 and 208 range (I’m not proud of this). But despite the fact my hat-trick of Peugeots are possibly the least cool cars money can buy, they all have three vital things in common – they’re easy to park, cheap to maintain, and amazingly good on petrol.
Secretly I hoped I might get away with keeping my current rust-bucket until Sonny was at least three or four years old, but the fact I had to balance a flashing spinning top, three tubes of Twiglets and a collapsible ball pool complete with 100 plastic balls on my shoulder while driving down the A1 last week made me realise the game’s up. And that’s without even mentioning the 6-foot stuffed lion I had strapped into the passenger seat for four days before Christmas because he was too big to stuff in the boot!
And if loading the car at Christmas is this bad, what’s a full-on family holiday going to be like? Or our first camping trip? I broke out in a cold seat while just typing that last sentence, so the reality would probably require paramedics on speed dial.
So that’s it. My mind’s made up. We need a bigger car. I’ve got no idea what happens next, or where to start looking, or what to buy. SUV? Estate? People carrier? Camper van? They all sound horrific, and expensive, and I imagine I’m going to spend an unhealthy amount of time over the next few weeks and months Googling them, but there’s a grim inevitability about it.
This time next year I may even be the thing my grandad hated most in the world. A Volvo estate driver. (shudder)