Much to my delight and to the dissaproving, shaking of heads of my friends I recently had three weeks annaual leave from work for the second time in a few months!
On Saturday 4th August I kicked things off by going to see St. Mirren's opening game of the new season against Motherwell at Love Street with Jim, James, Thomas, Del, Hammey, Robert, Jim Muir, Tom and Estelle's Dad (who was over visiting Scotland for a few days).
We met in the Wee Barrell pub however, the guys had been drinking for a couple of hours already and were already being a bit arsey (what else is new?).
After watching a rather drab game we all headed home to get ready for Thomas and Kath's leaving party that night. The venue was Gabriel's in Paisley where their friends and family had gathered to say goodbye and have a drink and a laugh and to wish them well.
There was beer, a buffet and a karaoke so there was something for everyone. The usual suspects went up to sing with Snelling singing Chocolate Salty Balls and Del's crowd pleaser was Bohemian Rhapsody. I even had a shot at my usual numbers and I couldn't have been that bad since the Karaoke host asked me if I would be interested in joining the company and hosting karaoke parties. I politely responded "no thankyou" rather than being honest and telling him that I would rather eat my own pubic hair!
Highlight of the night was when I sneakily put Robert Stevenson's name up to sing Mr Mister's Broken Wings which he had famously murdered in a pub one night several years ago when we were camping/walking along the Fife Coastal Path. As the DJ shouted out his name, he muttered that he hadn't put his name up and Jim Arthur sussed out what I had volunteered him to sing instantly. Fair play to him, he gave it his all and got the biggest round of applause of the night!
After the buffet, the DJ paused proceedings for Susan McKinnon to make a short announcement wishing them well and presenting them with a scrapbook that we had all contributed to by writing a short story or memory about them and also our favourite photograph of them. It was an inspired idea and they looked emotional reading it. Laughing and smiling as they read it with Snelling's mock front page of the Evening Times with the headline about them emigrating to Oz, a smaller story about millions of pounds mysteriously disappearing from RBS (Thomas' former employer) and a small picture of the Portrush Pig with a Pineapple in his gob with the headline, "Handsome Man Eats Pineapple", stealing the show!
After the event at Gabriels, Susan ran Del and Estelle back to where they were staying for the weekend and I found myself hosting an impromtu party at my flat. At 3.00 I decided to be a party pooper and end the night by calling taxis for everyone. I had an early start the next day and I knew it would take a while for taxis to arrive, but by 4.00 they were gone and I was tucked up in bed.
On Sunday Susan woke me from my slumber to make sure I would be ready in time for today's events. Rod and Jacq had kindly asked us along for a champagne cruise on Loch Lomond followed by lunch in the Marina at Cameron House. The rain didn't dampen things at all, but my fuzzy hangover made me forget to take the camera out of my pocket and take some snaps. Lunch was fab and the fresh air and a couple of glasses of wine chased my hangover away.
Then it was back to Dumbarton to pick up the kids and then onto the caravan at Rosneath, where Jacq and Rod had invited Susan, the kids and I to stay with them for a couple of days.
After settling in, we had a fab night of good food and wine and after a battle Craig, Jake and Georgia finally fell asleep leaving us to chat late into the night.
The next day Rod took us out on his yacht, Taeping which is berthed right infront of the caravan. A quick lesson in the basics of sailing was given and off we went down the Clyde Estuary.
I have to admit that I absolutely loved it although we were only out for a couple of hours. Trying to keep your eye on three excitable kids under 8 years of age and an excitable adult aged 38 wasn't easy for Susan, Jacq and Rod!
I hope to do a bit more sailing pretty soon.
Later in the week, with the weather greatly improved, we headed off to Balloch Country Park and spent the day just doing much of nothing with the kids.
Susan and I were delighted to discover two enormous Monkey Puzzle trees in the gardens of the park. These are our favourite type of tree. Sounds bizzare but I am always amazed that more people don't have them in their gardens. They're funky!
That's why I bought one for Susan for her Christmas. It's only two feet tall at the moment and we will be using zimmers and urinating in our underwear before it reaches maturity, but it's the thought that counts!
By Friday we decided that we needed to do something a bit more energetic and since I needed to go to Niche Optical Tailors for the THIRTEENTH time to hopefully collect my new glasses in perfect condition, we decided to walk from Paisley to Glasgow.
A nice stroll for the first couple of hours and a power walk through Pollock had us in Glasgow within three hours! After lunch and a beer in the Merchant City we headed to the opticians where amazingly my glasses were ready and this time were imperfection free.
Susan and I shook our heads in disbelief as we listened to the owner speaking to a couple next to us trying to justify that sometimes when lenses are cut there are "engraving marks" left in the lenses in purpose!
The same bullshit that they hit me with.
Come to think of it I will probably do a blog entry detailing everything that happened so as to put potential customers off of having to deal with their shocking customer service. Hopefully when someone Googles Niche Optical Tailor they will find my blog entry instead. Their website is as pish as their service!
Watch this space.
Saturday arrived and Gingerbaws and the Fizzicks Teacher came round to try and get my pc back on track.
Ever since Virgin Media took over NTL, I have been unable to record live TV on my Media Centre so the two boffins arrived to fix it for me.
Many hours of trial, error, frustration and laughs followed as they tried to rectify the problem. Eventually conceding that the cable box wasn't going to play ball and the way forward was to use the TV's inbuilt Freeview system.
Robert went home and got a small TV arial that he sold to me for £1! However we upped the ante a wee bit and bought a bigger arial from Argos which didn't work as well with the TV as the small arial, but probably would have been able to send signals to Mars. Thomas happily bolted onto my veranda, with Robert filming a video disclaimer on his mobile phone incase it fell off and hit someone on the head!
Jim and Hammey joined us later on and we hit Paisley for a few beers, unfortunately Robert decided not to accompany us, but we partied on without him!
Sunday arrived with a hangover.
However, a trip to the fabulous Kelburne Country Park near Largs with Susan and the Kids blew that away.
It's the first time that I had been there and I can totally recommend it. It's a fabulous place.
So that was my holidays. Had a ball spending it with the people that I care the most about.