My dad liked an adventure. But he wasn’t one for roughing it in the woods or climbing mountains; he liked his comforts too much for that. However he did like discovering things and bringing history to life, especially for his children. My siblings and I had a great childhood, eccentric but great. I was very close to my dad and I always knew we were quite similar in personality. This is only becoming more apparent as I get older and I realised when I became a mum, just how much of an impact he had on me.
There are two stories about my dad which will help lead me to my point. One relates to his reading habits. He was a big reader and always had a book on the go and several on order at the library. He could be quite thoughtful on the completion of a book and would sometimes discuss it with us over dinner. He retained a lot of information and had a great memory for books and their content. It would influence what he read next, what he listened to or watched and of course, where we would visit.
He liked fiction and non-fiction, though his real passion was for history books. He was particularly fond of the Scottish author Nigel Tranter. He loved his books. One of them contained a description of a castle somewhere on the east coast of Scotland and on completion of the book, he became determined that we would find and visit that castle. This was over 30 years ago. There was no internet, Satnav, Historic Scotland signs or even any information to hand. He used only the description in the book to drive us to the borders and walk over fields, climb fences and through gates until after a few hours we found the ruins of the castle from the novel. He was delighted, not to mention knackered (he wasn’t a keen walker!) but I remember him being quite thoughtful about how it matched what was in his head and how it fitted with the story.
My other tale also involves the car. Late one afternoon my dad told me to get in the car and we both went out for a drive together. He was the only driver in our family at the time; I was learning to drive with an instructor. My dad wasn’t the most patient person in the world so it was never an option that he’d teach me. We drove out to the Trossachs; it was just starting to get dark and beginning to rain. He parked up and told me to swap seats. His car was his pride and joy and I was shocked that he was offering it up, but delighted to get a shot! I was a little nervous as it was bigger and faster that what I was learning in and the conditions outside were quite challenging. Once we had swapped seats he said ‘If you’re going to drive, then you need to know how to navigate windy roads in the dark and in wet conditions. I don’t want you to be one of those drivers who can only drive in certain conditions.’ I agreed and asked him to direct me home. ‘Oh, and the biggest skill in driving is in direction. So get lost and find your way home. Use the road signs, landmarks and the map in the glovebox.’ Yep, it took us hours to get home!
Which leads me to my point. This lesson stayed with me. I am still intrigued by maps and am very determined and independent in getting places. I love a road trip and have driven across America and Australia, Sicily and Scotland. I love driving and although I now use Satnav at times, I still tend to go with gut instinct, road signs and sometimes, an actual old school map. You should try it some time. I’ve found some of the best roads ever just by following a different coloured squiggly line on the map. It’s especially good if you’re going to an unfamiliar place or a long trip. Obviously factor in time, fuel stops and plenty of snacks. Oh and make sure the map you’ve got is up to date! Happy driving.
K. K. Hughes
Currently listening to Talking Sopranos Podcast