We had a trip up the road to Aberdeen last week, so G could see a couple of friends, including her first meeting with a baby boy over from Australia. It's a long drive even without a recently-potty-trained toddler in the back, so I was prepared for a lengthy and miserable journey. But G's new-found love of Thomas The Tank Engine helped no end.

After a bit of a snooze on the way up, she managed to use the potty at a service station then spent a couple of hours quietly watching Thomas chuff his way about Sodor (the DVD I'd brought was mostly from the Ringo Starr era, obviously). So no trouble at all.

The return journey on Friday evening was even more successful. I hoped a night-time drive would help her sleep, and sure enough she dozed off in front of the DVD before we'd even reached Dundee, not waking up again until we were passing Lancaster. "Where's Thomas?" was the first thing she said, rubbing her eyes, as I'd unplugged it as soon as I'd realised she was asleep. So she got an extra half an hour or so of train-based fun before we finally made it home.

You might consider all this TV to be a bad thing, and I suppose it is, but it's infinitely better than a long drive on your own with a whining toddler. And for that reason, the portable DVD player remains one of the great inventions of mankind.

Our actual stay in Aberdeen, cold and surprisingly snowy even though it's only October, was well worth the trip. G is a couple of years older than the little ones we went to see, but she managed to play nicely and share the toys without too much persuasion. However, as the photo shows, she preferred to get me to join in with even more ludicrous games of hide-and-seek.


G has been through a few favourite TV characters recently. She's had a long-standing interest in In The Night Garden, and was also obsessed for a time with The Adventures of Abney and Teal. But after a weekend away at a wedding, all it took was a small new toy for her to change her affections to a rather older favourite, Thomas the Tank Engine.

G's grandad got her a little battery-powered Thomas to go on her wooden railway set. And the picture shows what she then spent the greater part of the weekend doing. Round and round the track he went, until we rebuilt the track to put some more tunnels in, then round and round he went again. His battery eventually ran out, so I think I'm going to have to stock up on plenty of them to get through the next few weeks.

She's always enjoyed playing with trains, but the Thomas toy may well have taken this to a new level of fascination. On getting home last night, we let her watch a bit of TV as a reward for a well-behaved car journey. "I want to watch Thomas!" she said, excitedly. Our TV's on demand section has a whole load of them, so we're in luck as far as that's concerned. Although it's all the new series, so within two minutes of watching one episode I realised I have no idea who half the characters are. There's even a Thin Controller now, presumably to encourage the Fat Controller to attend his Weight Watchers meetings.

As it finished, G said: "I want to watch Thomas again!" I'm going to have to get used to that, for a while at least.

Potty Training Wallchart

G has been potty training. We've waited longer to do this than we might have done, largely because of our recent move and her change of nursery. But I had a couple of weekdays at home just over a week ago, and thought it was as good a time as any to finally get started.

Being a stubborn sort of girl, G had steadfastly refused to go anywhere near a potty before then (on one occasion at nursery she was shown one, and responded by kicking it across the room, no doubt accompanied by a teenager-style pout), so we agreed that we would resort to bribery from the off. This took the form of giving her a treat every time she sat on the potty, either a biscuit or a chocolate button.

At first, I'd pretend to sit on the potty, then I'd put her favourite Teal doll on it. After a while of cheerily watching me eat biscuits, G got the idea that she could have a biscuit too by doing the same, and we started to get somewhere.

Mrs J then introduced a sticker wallchart, as shown above. G spent last week collecting stickers every day for different achievements. Not just using the potty properly, but also staying in bed all night and eating up all her tea (less challenging for her, admittedly).

G quickly learned to expect not only a chocolate but also a sticker for sitting on the potty. By midweek, she'd become a bit blase about it, so on Thursday morning after sitting on it in the bathroom and coming downstairs, my offer of breakfast was met by an insistent: "No! I want my sticker and my potty treat first!"

By the weekend, G had filled up each row with stickers and qualified for the various rewards shown on the chart. The lesson is: bribery works.


Hide-and-seek is one of G's favourite games. Although she actually insists on calling it "hide peekaboo", and this could offer a clue as to why she is, well, no good at all at it.

The video shows a typical game. I think it's fair to say she needs to work on her tactics a bit.