Prambling on: our journey through Pramsville

This post is about prams and will be arse-achingly boring for anyone who hasn’t been, or is going through, the rigmarole of buying one. If you fall into this category, sorry, I’ve just wasted five seconds of your precious life. I won’t be offended if you stop reading this post now and go and do something more interesting. Like putting your DVDs into genre categories, boiling an egg or trimming your pubic hair.

I really haven’t been looking forward to choosing a pram. It strikes me that it is similar to choosing a mobile phone contract, in that you have to take it seriously and research because once you’ve purchased it, you’re committed to it for two years + and don’t want to be the object of other people’s pity when they realise you are stuck with it – and subject to comments after the fact such as: “ahh well, if you wanted all-you-can-eat data you should have gone for X contract, it’s way cheaper”. Yeah, thanks. Nice of you to pop up with your helpful bloody insights now I’ve signed on the dotted line.

Despite my slightly stressed tone, we have actually made major headway in our journey through Pramsville to the temple of pram ownership.

We started shakily, with me a gnat’s wing away from purchasing one yesterday based on it having pretty colours on it and being funky. To be fair to me, I also tried it out in John Lewis and it was very easy to manoeuvre and was a reasonable price (nb: ‘reasonable price’ in Pramsville means £400. The exchange rate is four pram pounds to every regular pound in Pramsville. I know, it’s not an advantageous exchange rate, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than going to Weddingworld where twenty of your regular pounds only counts for one). Anyway, I digress. After I got home I found it online even cheaper. My finger twitched over the ‘buy’ button, but mercifully, I decided to check the reviews just in case. I had previously been lackadaisical about this because John Lewis only sells things that are proper, right? Turns out the funky prams were on Watchdog last year because the frames kept collapsing with newborns inside them. Also turns out the matching car seat (only £100 as an add on, which is just a meagre £25 in Pramsville) handle had been breaking as mothers carried their newborns, causing one mother to throw herself down a flight of steps to break her newborn’s fall. As a result the purchase was intercepted and we resolved to roll our sleeves up and get involved in some Which? rankings and research – rather than mindlessly steaming in to Pramsville like two clueless Gringos holding a massive map and wearing socks underneath our sandals.

(I add as a side note: the funky watchdog pram brand have now apparently sorted their shit out and released a new, safe batch – but for me, just the thought that it might happen again is enough to cross them off my list).

After reconvening, we embarked on some extensive Googling, drew up the below checklist and headed into Kingston to get hands-on:

Pram / buggy criteria:

1. Is it a 3 in 1 travel system? (does it lie flat for a newborn, sit up for an older baby, and can you reverse it for parent or world facing options?)
2. Detachable carry cot? Good not to have to wake the baby when you get home.
3. Good suspension / smooth ride?
4. Adjustable handlebars so mummy and daddy can both push comfortably?
5. Maxicosi car seat compatible (we are kindly being donated one)?
6. How many years will the baby fit in it?
7. How small and easily will it fold?
8. How nippy and light is it for getting on public transport?
9. Storage space below?
10. Is it safe and trusted?

The list could easily go on, but we’ve had to draw the line.

After two hours hard graft at the showroom coal face, we retreated to Bentalls cafe for a coffee and some carrot cake. As we sat discussing the merits of on vs off road models – the universe delivered us a gift in the shape of a lovely, normal, relaxed couple with a two year old girl who had been sitting behind us. I’d noticed them before as they looked wearied but good humoured while their little girl flung herself on the floor and flapped around, convulsing and shouting: “I’m a fish! I’m a fish!”

The lady leant over and asked if we were talking about prams. We said we were. She’d had four different brands already and gave us a helpful summary. She also told us she’d bought all from a second hand shop down the road for a fraction of the price, and reminded us that a pram is not something you need sitting ready before the birth. She carried her newborn in a sling for the first two months and then they took her into the store and put her into the prams to test them. After they left, we felt relaxed. We have time. Jake has even reduced his criteria to: ‘one with a beer can holder’:

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