Must have been about this time last year. Round at Christian's. Watching the rugby. Dressed in my kilt. France versus Scotland. Said something stupid. Me and my big mouth. Probably had one scotch too many. Suggested to Christian that it'd be a wizard wheeze to fly to Edinburgh next year and watch Scotland against France. Didn't really mean it. Couldn't really afford it. And, next day, I'd forgotten all about it. But, alas, unbeknown to me, Christian hadn't. He didn't mention anything to me but he must have mentioned something to partner Isabelle. Probably last October. That was when Isabelle cornered me in the market and asked if I was planning to go to Edinburgh to watch the match. Suddenly realised Christian hadn't forgotten my stupid suggestion. Wanted to say "no way, far too much trouble and expense," but it came out as "maybe". Things snowballed from there. Tried to put Christian off by saying he didn't have a passport so he couldn't go. "Don't need one" he said, "I've checked with the local council and some mates - I can travel with my French identity card." Drat.
So, last October, a good three months ahead of the match, I set about getting the trip arranged. Bought a couple of seventy quid tickets through the Scottish Rugby Union site. Then booked a couple of Limoges/Edinburgh flights. Only I didn't. They were fully booked already. So I booked Limoges/Stansted, Stansted/Edinburgh returns instead. Then spent ages trying to find hotel rooms. No chance. Rugby week-end. All fully booked. The only rooms available were in the posh hotels. A couple of hundred quid a night, at least. Out of desperation I plumped for a shared room in a scruffy b&b at the edge of town. Wasn't happy about sharing, or the remote location. So kept searching. Eventually found a central hotel with two rooms for just fifty quid a night each. Result! Booked 'em for three nights and cancelled the b&b. At last, we were all set. Had only taken about a fortnight to arrange, sitting at the laptop morning, noon and night.
We're due to fly next Friday the fifth of Feb. So, last week, I set about checking us in online. All was going well 'til the printer ran out of black ink and refused to print out the boarding passes. Rats. Jumped in the car and headed for the computer shop at Aubusson. Parked in the car park and noticed the temperature gauge was going haywire. Lifted the bonnet and checked the water system. Nothing wrong there. Then noticed the hose joining the crankcase breather with the airbox had split. Don't know how that can affect engine temperature but presumably it does. Decided to let it cool down while I visited the computer shop. Left the dogs in the car. Arrived at the shop. Shut. Then noticed a new computery shop just up the street. Entered. Huge queue. Only one person serving. Only he wasn't serving. Seemed to be glued to the phone. Waited about twenty minutes. Had a quick look at the printer inks behind the counter. Every brand except the required Epson range. Gave up waiting and sauntered off for bread and a 2010 calendar. Bought bread but could only find two calendars; one with cats (hate cats) and t'other with flowery gardens (hmm...). The calendar search continues. Returned to the computer shop. Queue hadn't moved, man still on phone. Went back to the car. Slowly drove it to a garage. Two mechanics confirmed the hose was holed (well done Clousseau lads) but didn't have a replacement. Said it should be okay to drive home. So I did. Arrived home and searched the internet for a new hose. None available anywhere. Globally. Signed up to three mk2 Golf GTi internet clubs. Left messages saying 'crankase breather pipe wanted'. Couple of replies said 'no chance - make your own out of similar hoses or tape up the old one'. Brilliant. So that car's out of action. Shall have to drive t'other one to Limoges airport for the trip. Needs oil change and two new tyres. Drat.
Next day (yesterday), I chipped the Citroen dogwagon out of a block of ice and drove it to the Aubusson garage. Fitted two tyres and changed the oil and filter. Was about to head for the computer shop at Ussel (40 miles away) when I thought I'd give the Aubusson computer shop another go, just in case. Amazingly, there wasn't a queue. And even more amazingly, they had the very Epson printer inks I required. Bought a four colour set and headed for home. Unfortunately didn't get around to printing out the boarding passes due to a combination of log getting-in, aiding the plumber man who was connecting up the new water meter, dogwalking, going through a new illustration brief, cooking, downing medicinal scotches and assuming the horizontal on the telly couch. However, I did manage to finally load the new inks and print out the required boarding passes this morning. Also remembered to phone the kennels to book the mutts in for next Friday to Wednesday. So, that's it. We're all set. Come next Friday, all being well, I'll be flying to Edinburgh with a neighbour who drinks like a fish, chops down trees with his bare hands, eats wild boar for breakfast washed down with a bottle of the dreaded Ricard, is built like a bull, fights and punches like a Glaswegian on a Friday night, looks like Bluto out of Popeye, doesn't speak any English, who's never been abroad, who's never flown and who swears blind he doesn't need a passport. Should be interesting. Especially as I gather the UK's on red alert against terrorists and there's snow forecast.
Then I have to go over again a couple of weeks later for my niece's wedding. But that's another story.
4 weeks ago