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.