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Life Is Too Short To Drink Bad Wine: Chapter 77 - Some Australian Bird

...A few minutes later, I met Farmer Brown, complete with floppy hat and a piece of corn sticking out from between his lips, coming towards me on his tractor. He didn’t look pleased to see me...

Driving in England's towns and cities was a stressful experience for New Zealander Gayle Woodward.

To read earlier chapters of Gayle's engaging autobiography do visit http://www.openwriting.com/archives/life_is_too_short_to_drink_bad_wine/

Thursday was the day we were to return to London later in the afternoon. I dropped Woody at the guarded entrance to the Thorn factory and set off, with map beside me, for the city of Durham. It was rather a shock to find myself in a large city full of cars with drivers intent on getting there fast. I was so stressed as I found a car parking building, that when I stopped the hire car, I sat there in my seat for a few minutes, shaking and gathering my thoughts.

My map told me the Cathedral was a famous sight I should not miss. I joined onto a group touring the huge and beautiful building and learned much of the history which fascinates me so much. I walked around the city looking into shop windows, which does not fascinate me, found a cup of coffee and lunch in a café and made my way back to the car park.

Car parking buildings never exit in the same direction of the entry. I found myself in unknown territory, shocked again. Pulling over to a safe place, I studied my map and found a road which would take me back to the Spennymoor factory. I was rather proud of myself as I negotiated the city traffic lights and lane changes until I came to the turning for my road. My pride didn’t last long as the ‘road’ turned out to be a tiny picturesque lane serving only, I think, farm gates. Well, I thought, it gets me where I want to go and so I slowly and carefully proceeded.

A few minutes later, I met Farmer Brown, complete with floppy hat and a piece of corn sticking out from between his lips, coming towards me on his tractor. He didn’t look pleased to see me. I backed the car as far as a slight bay and waited there until Farmer Brown, unhappily, had squeezed his tractor past me. Oh, the pleasures of touring!

Soon, thankfully, I could see the factory looming up in front of me. I stopped at the guard house where an employee came out to find my business there. I told him I was collecting my husband who was doing a tour of the Technical centre. I heard him speak into his radio. He said, “There’s some Australian bird here to collect her husband.” Dear Reader, you may not know of the intense distaste this sort of comment brings. The same effect would be seen, I am sure, if an Australian was mistaken for a New Zealander. I am tall and in those days showing only slight effects of the matronliness which has befallen me in later years. I pulled myself to my greatest height and told the guard, in the most defiant voice I could muster, “I am a New Zealander”. When my husband appeared he was grinning. He too had been told of the Australian bird waiting for him outside.

We set off for London at 2pm which our travel instructions informed us, was to get us back to West Hampstead before evening traffic. All was going well as we travelled on a multi lane motorway becoming ever busier as we grew closer. Suddenly, a lorry pulled in front of our car. It was frightening and Woody’s reaction was to sound the car horn at the driver. He reached for what he thought was the horn only to find he had turned the front window washer on as water and bubbles squirted up and over the car, in front of our eyes. “I bet that gave him a fright!” he said. We began to giggle. It got worse. We were gasping for breath as our laughter increased. It made the rest of the trip go very quickly and we were soon upon the exit for West Hampstead.


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