My the week flew by.
I can barely believe that one minute I was boarding a boat on the way to meet the sassenachs, and the next I'm back home.
Travel and WorkThe journey down was uneventful, for a Wednesday. The usual trip to the nearest harbour at 6:30am, followed by a boat journey that lasted nearly three hours (upon which I slept, and then grabbed a breakfast), before a four hour drive down to see my sister. I took a little longer this time as I checked into the hotel, that I would be staying in for a conference, before carrying on down.
My sister was huge, for her slight frame, as might be expected for someone who was due the very next day. She had been told by the midwife that every day was adding an ounce (that cheered her up - LOL) and that the head wasn't yet fully engaged. Other than that, she was her usual cheerful self, and my nephew (Liam - pictured on my avatar) and I messed around while we waited for his dad to come home from work.
Eventually I slipped back to the hotel for the first conference dinner, and make some new acquaintances. Whilst there was one person there from my own patch and another from a previous role, that I recognised at the conference, I wasn't at a loss for company from home. There was a group of nurses and carers, from the island, taking an annual break in the selfsame hotel. This is a common complaint, as it seems that regardless of where you go, be it on vacation or for work, you will bump into someone who has connections with the island of Lewis
The meal was notoriously late, given that we sat at 8pm, and didn't eat for nearly an hour, and waited half an hour between courses. However it was slightly made up for by the humour to be found in the poor wine waiter. Three of us had wine - a Shiraz, a Merlot and a Chardonnay. The lady was having the white, but two of us gents the red. The lady was served a red, and I was proferred the white, to which I made comment that the white was for the lady. She was given the white, and the red that she had been in possession of was promptly put before the other gentleman, to which we asked which was which. I'll give the guy his due, as without flinching he pointed to one and declared it to be the Merlot, and promptly picked up the other, to give to me. Needless to say, it turned out that it was the wrong one.
The conference was for the two days following, and to be concluded by a keynote address by the Scottish Minister Malcolm Chisholm. That meant that we had another night (inbetween) in which to get up to mischief!
And so they threw a Ceilidh dance.
I found myself dancing until about midnight, including with a couple of lassies that looked all forlorn on a table by themselves, before we headed to the cocktail lounge.
After a few hours of laughter and conversation (and the advice that I should shave off my beard, along with an invitation to have it shaved for me!!!) we headed off about 3am.
Travel and Play
Finally I was released from the conference, and charged away to check-in at the hotel I'd be staying in for the Fest.
I gave Robyn's Bed and Breakfast a call, to see if she was around for a spot of dinner, and so they woke her from a nap (the timezone thing can screw with your body-clock, I can tell you!).
So I picked her up a couple of hours later, we ate in a nice little Italian restaurant I know, before hitting "Frankensteins" (I had to get that in, because Scotsman hates it, but every visitor that I've taken there loves it!).
The next day I met FreedomFighter and Robyn in the city, and we took a wander around the fair streets, snaffled some haggis and finally met up with Gadget and Qwerty an hour before the castle closed. So we went for the quick LT version of the tour, which consisted of a quick run along the battlements, threatening to throw FF off the edge, a dive into the chapel at the top, sitting on some big stone balls belonging to "Mons Meg", sheepishly looking at the security guard of the "Stone of Destiny" and "Crown Jewels" because of making rude remarks about them, laughing raucously at the pronunciation of our visitors, dancing around the Great Hall, before sidling off under the portcullis to go and get some food. Oh and Qwerty wore some womens' clothing, and we couldn't get him out of the earring section of the gift store, for all his protestations that it was for his wife...
The next few hours seemed to be consumed with nipping back to the Bed and Breakfast (which Gadget had to resort to, given that he'd completely fogotten to book the hotel - so much for party central!), picking people up and dropping people off. FreedomFighter had to go home, because it was either a) fast approaching her bedtime, or b) her glass slippers were going to turn into banana skins at midnight - I think that's what she said, truly I do
Gadget's cousin joined us, as evidenced by the pics, and was a real doll. She was a little upset that Gadget became a party pooper at about 11pm and wanted to go to bed. But given that he had been working from 4am, we eventually let him off the hook. So the three of us (Qwerty was up for a rave - brave man!) hit the town again and listened to some live music, before finally leaving town some time after 3am. I was pleased to see Qwerty the next day, as we'd left him to find a taxi with two complete strangers. The bus to the hotel, and the general areas that Gadget's cousin lived in, was entirely the other direction.
The day after
Gadget dropped off Robyn at the bus station (did I mention that public transport is a totally acceptable way to get around the country, in Britain?) and then picked me up from the hotel. We dove off to Rosslyn Chapel, for an Episcopalian service. Now I have to admit that I don't particularly enjoy that mode of worship. It's very proscriptive, with quite a few responsive bits that you chant back. I did enjoy singing Plainsong, though, even though my voice was smashed to smithereens by one last rendition of Bohenian Rhapsody, in the bar the night before. Nonetheless, the surroundings were incredible, with a real medieval atmosphere.
We then went for a tour, when many of the pictures were taken.
There's now a roof over the whole thing, which wasn't there last time I toured. Erosion is a real concern, for a 15th century sandstone structure (NB to Valis - yeah, it's older that the USA ).
After that we dashed back into the city to retrieve my car, and then to go for lunch with Gadget's cousin. Allegedly she had a really hot pal, whom he wanted to meet, but she didn't turn up - hehehe. So we ate lunch overlooking the HM Yacht Brittania. I somehow ended up with a huge pile of food on a kiddies plate, whilst everyone else looked on jealously, as I'd paid about half of what they did. I don't know how that happened, as all I'd asked for different was no gravy on my sausages !!?!
Needless to say, they took it as an opportunity to run down the Scots.
Well, the boys bombed off, heading South, so I popped round to see my sister again, who still hadn't popped. She had thought she felt a twinge, but it was gas - LOL. So I spent a pleasant few hours there before heading North for the overnight boat. The seas were choppy enough to wake even me, as I rolled around on the bunk that I'd been offered, but I finally alighted at about 8:30am.
That evening I got a call to say that at 4:00am my sister had gone into labour, at about 7:40pm her waters had broken, and by 8:00pm she was the proud holder of another son, "Kye" (pronounced like Kyle without the "L"), weighing in at 8lbs. Hopefully the picture will attach. He looks great, and I'm looking forward to meeting him next month, when I hope to visit. She left the hospital at noon the next day, to go shopping. Hardy stock
Unfortunately my travels didn't stop there, as after a quick shower and repack, I had to go to work for a couple of meetings before dashing for another boat to some of the Southern Isles. I had meetings there that evening and the next day, but in the meantime managed to squeeze in a visit to some friends down there.
Unfortunately I was now developing a rather heavy cold, the like of which was doing the rounds throughout Scotland. So on my return I decided to sweat it out in a four hour TaiChi session. It helped a lot, but now I ache - LOL.
I can't tell you how glad I was to get back to my own bed, especially since I'm still feeling a little unwell.
Roll on, the weekend...