Our most recent family road-trip was a weekend in St. Andrews. We were up with the birds on all the days.
We actually loaded the car on Friday, after a coffee with my Dad in honor of my Grandma’s birthday, and I (humbly?) shouted from the blog-tops about the Annual Bloggers Bash Awards.
Baked potatoes and cheese for breakfast on the road, which Isla and I actually paraded in front of cheese-phobic Neil. (She may look like him, but she’s a mini-me.)
Now. You might argue that I’m addicted to social media, but before this weekend, I never took my laptop on a family trip. I did have it on our recent trip to New York, but that was two weeks, and I forgot my charger in our car at the airport. A laptop with no juice doesn’t count.
This time I took my laptop and triple checked for my charger. I wanted to experiment with hotel writing, and keep up with the Awards buzz. (Update: I got second best overall blogger, story over here.)
We arrived in St Andrews and Isla asked if the fire alarm would be going off like last time we were in a hotel.
She compared shoes with the very nice lady at Reception who was very surprised to hear that my tall and talkative child is still 3. (But she’s grown out of her 4 – 5 clothes. Hi, Mom.)
We ate a lovely hotel dinner, which was prime for people-watching and great for our really short commute back to our really hot hotel room. With windows you couldn’t open, but an air-conditioner we eventually figured out.
Now. My husband, though I love him with all of my dearlies, is a walker. He is a walker and a computer genius who somehow cannot calculate what ‘within walking distance’ really means (but who the hell am I to complain about that, really?)
One of my favourite things to do is to get lost with Neil. The possibilities are actually endless, the air smells different and anything can happen.
Like an argument.
‘Are we there yet?’ From me, not Isla.
‘It’s just up there.’
We arrive at LOVELY LOOKING CAFE 1. Which would be lovelier if it were OPEN. But it’s CLOSED. Because it’s 7.30 in the morning. Did I mention that?’
‘Dearest husband, why must we be up with the (fucking) birds everywhere we go?’
‘Because we’re on holiday, (gahddamnit).’
‘People on holiday usually get to eat.’
‘I offered you
muesli, trail mix birdseed at the hotel.’
‘That’s not holiday food (absolute greatest love of my life).’
‘HEY YOU GUYS. THAT PLACE IS OPEN!’ says Isla, our darling girl.
And so, we three intrepid travellers found a place where coffee isn’t just for Instagram. Where other people began to wander in for their relaxing weekend brunch. Little did they know.
After Isla Amelie-d her raspberries, she actually ate them.
Now. I know this is honestly a first-world problem. But at one point my cutting skills meant my poached egg fell off my Eggs Benedict.
I looked down at my egg and muffin.
‘Well, shit,’ I mumbled.
‘SHIT. SHIT. SHIT’, yells Isla.
‘Isla, don’t say Mummy words. She has a condition, she can’t help it,’ says Neil.
‘HEY, MY MUVAH HAS A CONDITION. SHE CAN’T HELP IT.’
And yes, people were staring. Hi.
‘I’ve never seen you go that red before, lovely wife.’
‘Well played, clever husband.’
I consoled myself from my motherly embarrassment by upgrading my phone. Because I was due for one.
I then disappeared into a bookshop and made friends with a stranger.
How many books can I fit in my suitcase? She asked her husband.
I have the same question.
I buy books to remind me of where I’ve been.
I think I’ll get this one because of my Italian grandmother.
‘Hi, I’m sorry to interrupt but Iagreewitheverythingyoujustsaid.’
We traded book recommendations, and Italian grandmother stories, but not names. She asked if I was other things as well as Italian. I must have that kind of face.
I’m like an everything bagel.
I debated telling her I’m waiting on one of those family history DNA tests. But that wasn’t bookshop conversation, really.
We said goodbye and I went to find my people in the children’s section.
Neil’s sister came to meet us, and we went to a depressing aquarium and an even more depressing beach.
‘Should your brother be up on those rocks?’
‘Probably not. But they’re having fun.’
Isla chose one toy from the gift shop. A plastic princess with a plastic hairbrush. Yes, really.
On our way out I may have driven over the hairbrush. By accident. Yes, really.
That made my kid cry.
She cried so much that some weird stranger actually said, ‘Don’t cry, little girl.’
Which made her cry harder. And cling to me for 20 minutes. In public. Which rarely happens any more. I kinda liked it. It’s nice to be needed.
But I didn’t like the my kid crying part, so against everything I stand for, except the making my kid happy thing, I bought her another (gahddamn) plastic princess. Because I drove over the first one. Or something.
We then found a pub that I felt underdressed and slightly too feral to spend any time in. But we had a groovy time. And Isla enjoyed taking the dresses off both her dolls. We’re apparently in the naked doll stage of her development.
I had a gin cocktail. Which happens less often than you might think. It was delicious and the gin came from a purple bottle. Kismet. I’ve since bought a bottle of the lovely gin.
The next day, I felt more creaky than usual. It was harder to swing myself around for my various morning transfers. I didn’t particularly know why. Until I looked at the clock. It was 6.30 am. I was half-dressed and already writing words.
‘How is it so early?’
‘We’re still on holiday.’
That day was a butterfly garden and another bookshop. Beautiful.
I had birthday book vouchers to use, and use them I did.
76 bucks worth of books on 75 bucks of vouchers and a stamp card. Do I know how to book-shop, or what? It’s like I made a profit.
We packed the car with my new books, and the books that I brought with us.
‘Mummy, I think you have a book problem,’ says Isla.
‘I HAVE A CONDITION. I CAN’T HELP IT.’
Also published on Medium.