Yesterday we spent Bank Holiday Monday in Aberdeen on a quest to purchase a stroller for the impending August arrival. As I have mentioned in an earlier post, my plan was to buy something cheap and compact to compliment the great hulk of metal that is the vintage Silver Cross pram.
My apathy towards shopping is such that I would have been quite happy to read a few reviews, make the purchase online and live with the consequences, but I am married to a man who is 6ft 4in and living in a world where baby equipment is on the whole, designed for people nearly a foot shorter, so we were going to need to inspect our options in the flesh.
We set off for the Aberdeen branch of John Lewis with two very different agendas for our stroller. Mine could roughly be summed up as (1) Cheap (2) Compact (3) In stock. Whilst husband's read (1) High handlebars (2) Not easy to kick (3) Nice tyres.
We arrived at the shop not entirely unprepared. I had made the husband do his own research, and I had done a recce of the John Lewis store in Southampton, where they had narrowed our choices to two very nice sub-£250 strollers.
Presenting our dilemma to the Scottish shop assistant, she brought out these same two pushchairs for consideration. I was delighted, in theory all I had to do was wait while husband pushed them round the store, made his choice, and we could be out of the department in 20 minutes.
First up for a test drive was the Maclaren Techno XT, whose handles extended by about 4 inches. He surveyed its wheels suspiciously before declaring it unsuitable for walks in the wood, but nonetheless obligingly set off on a circuit of the department. A couple of minutes later the Maclaren returned to its space on the shop floor, its wheels now bearing the scars of repeated contact with husband's shoes.We shifted our focus to the second stroller...
Option two was the Baby Jogger. Three wheeled, with proper off-roading tyres and a really nifty one-handed folding mechanism. Husband looked impressed and declared the stroller's designer "a genius". He set off again around the department, and the assistant and I waited with baited breath, but his face when he returned rapidly deflated my optimism. Once again it was getting in the way when he walked, but he hadn't entirely written it off.
He asked the assistant how to lay the seat flat. She obligingly sprung into action releasing a fabric cord which projected the top of the seat a foot backwards towards husband's knees. He looked worried. "How often do babies lie flat?" he asked. "When they're sleeping!" I said hopefully. Assistant and I exchanged looks. "Most of the time when they are young." She replied more honestly.
Absorbing this, husband took off again on a more determined lap of the shop floor, now rhythmically pummeling the area where the baby's head would be with his knees. It was clear, this wasn't going to work...
Then slowly and almost imperceptibly the shop assistant moved in, leading husband away from the compact strollers and towards designer pram territory. Briefly I saw his hand linger on the handles of the £800 Bugaboo, as he pushed it backwards and forwards in its parking space. I held my breath, but before I could squeal "It's the price of a car!" he moved on.
Eventually they stopped at an area of the shop floor reserved for mid-price baby carriages, a big leap from our Maclaren stroller, but distant cousins of their designer friends. From the melee of hoods and wheels the shop assistant pulled out a Quinny Buzz 3. Out of the clutter I could see now a minimalistic baby seat perched on top of a tri-wheeled metal frame, with excellent ground clearance and a luxurious handlebar extension. With obvious glee, husband eased it out to its maximum height. Like
I looked back at the Baby Jogger, so neat, so cheap, so compact, and realised it was designed perfectly for my life, but not for ours. Best laid plans were crumbling...
An hour later we left the store, the new owners of a stroller the wrong side of the practical and cheap divide, a car seat (discounted by 40%) some monstrous car seat base, and a bottle warmer. Somewhere along the way our intended spend had doubled and the first shock to the system of parenthood was complete.
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