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Road Trip

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My family takes a lot of road trips. We mainly holiday in the UK, driving to our destination and when we moved up north of Aberdeen over 10 years ago, we used to take many trips ‘home’ to visit family and friends. We always have fun on these trips, but they often don’t go exactly as planned. Take the trip we made to Livingston, West Lothian to buy a parrot…

I had wanted a parrot for years. I love birds and the idea of having one in the house, free to fly about while I was home, to come and sit on my shoulder while I wrote, to teach to talk and do ‘tricks’ – I think you get the picture. My husband and daughter, on the other hand, were less than keen on having squawking, flying vermin around. But they love me and, grudgingly, agreed. After a lot of pleading and begging, of course. I searched online and found a breeder who had an egg and we booked the bird that would be born from it, a Sengalese Parrot I named Mika. I followed the development of the chick avidly and was excited to be going down to pick up the bird. Hubby and daughter were less excited, so we were a mixture of happy and grumpy in the car. In case there is any doubt, I was the happy one.

I had copied down directions to the breeder’s house but Livingston is a tricky place to navigate and we were soon lost. I think I should point out here that my hubby doesn’t do lost very well. We drove down to the Cotswolds on holiday one year and had a wee bit of trouble finding the village we were staying in. My husband’s reaction? “We might as well go home!” I laughed so much I almost crashed the car.

Hubby was getting more and more bad tempered. “Why don’t we stop and ask someone?” I suggested. “There’s no point,” he said. “We’d never understand them.” Obviously people from Livingston don’t speak English, but I kept my mouth shut. Eventually he said, “Let’s change places, I’m going to drive and you can try to make sense of these rubbish directions.” I pulled over and got out the car, the paper with our travel instructions clutched in my sweaty fist. In my defence, I must tell you that it was a very windy day and I was trying to avoid the traffic as I nipped out of the driver’s door, and perhaps I didn’t have quite as tight a grip of the paper as I thought… Yup, the directions were whipped out of my hand and blew down the road.

Hubby and I stood there, staring at them disappearing into the traffic. “Shall I run after them?” I asked.  I know I’m no athlete and from his withering look, hubby knew this too.  He opened the rear door where my daughter was sitting, leaned in and said, “The. Directions. Have. BLOWN. Away. WHOOSH. They’re gone.”

At this point I was picturing puppies on a barbeque and kittens in the microwave – ANYTHING to stop me from laughing.

“What are we going to do now?” he asked.

“It’s fine,” I put my hand on his arm. “I’ve memorised them.”

The remarkable thing is, he believed me! I was as lost as a Celtic fan in the Rangers’ end at Ibrox.

We got into the car and drove around, me pointing at various roads and saying “left here” and “right there” occasionally. I glanced at my daughter in the back seat and saw that she was biting her lip, desperate to laugh but not wanting to make things worse. I could hold it in no more and pretty soon I was doubled over, the tears running down my face. Hubby turned to look at me and started laughing too. Pretty soon we had to pull over to compose ourselves before setting off again.

Eventually we came across a road whose name I recognised and found the breeder’s house by sheer, dumb luck. We got Mika and made our way home with no problems. I didn’t tell him for several months that I hadn’t actually memorised the directions though. As for Mika, one of the poodles hated her so much we had to end up rehoming her for her own safety.

If there is a moral to this story, I think it should be never pick up a parrot without a SatNav.

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Writer, photographer, creative fantasist.

4 thoughts on “Road Trip

  1. That was very funny, Nettie! I think your family and mine are rather alike, only I’m the cantankerous one who doesn’t “do” lost and OH is the one who’s begged for years to have a parrot.

    I now feel decidedly better about the fact that I’ve always refused to let him have one. I don’t think my dogs would be any more impressed with a feathered interloper than yours were.

    1. Ack – you’re a hard woman. Mika used to floss my teeth for me. Every time I opened my mouth, in she’d go, looking for luckies! It disgusted my OH and DD. She also insisted on sitting on my glasses so I couldn’t see the screen as I typed 🙂

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