Friday, February 12, 2010

Going there

Time flies. It's a week ago already that I assumed the vertical at 5.20am, picked up neighbour Christian, dropped the dogs off at kennels and arrived at Limoges airport for the flights to Edinburgh via Stansted for Sunday's Scotland v France wugger match. It's a week that's been all go. And even though we returned to France a couple of days ago, I'm still on the go now due to having a plumber in the house (more of that later).

Took off from Limoges at around 11am last Friday. Christian's first-ever flight and first-ever trip abroad. Very excited. Grinning like a Cheshire cat all the way. Landed Stansted. Three or four hour wait for Edinburgh flight. Linked up with bunch of Frogs who were on our flight from Limoges.

Boarded plane around sixish. Bunch of English stag-do prats (not wugger buggers) on board who felt it necessary to burst into foul-mouthed song deriding the French. Luckily for them Christian doesn't understand English or they'd be seeing stars. Steward appeared minutes before take-off saying that the flight Captain would have them ejected if they didn't button it. What is it about English morons that makes them act this way? Beats moi. Inferiority complexes maybe?

Arrived Edinburgh around 8.30ish. Raining. Checked into hotel. Then headed for the city centre. Had a quick pasta in an Italian restaurant. With Italian wine which Christian hated. The French don't drink Italian. Moved on. Christian was plainly gobsmacked with..., well, everything: cars driving on left, amount of traffic and people, taxis, buses, bright lights, pubs. He especially liked the pubs. And the beer. Took him to the Grand Hotel oyster bar (for beers not oysters) and a couple of boozers down Rose Street. By this time it was about ten or elevenish and I was jet-lagged and knackered. Convinced Christian we should head back to the hotel and get some kip.

Saturday. Woke up at six. Banged on Christian's door at seven. Jumped on a bus and headed for the Leith docks area in search of a proper Scottish greasy spoon breakfast. Found the ideal caff at around 8am. Still pitch black. Christian still half-asleep. He didn't really know what was going on. Had to explain that a Scottish greasy spoon brekkie is one of world's greatest dishes. Didn't seem convinced. An hour later, he'd been converted. Said it was brilliant.

Headed back into town up front on a double decker. Christian like a big kid. All smiles. Edinburgh dull and misty. Shops hadn't really opened yet. Quite a few French wandering around. Had a coffee or six and slowly headed out towards Murrayfield to collect the match tickets. This was our only task for the day. Then had a couple of hours wandering along Princes Street, looking in shop windows. Followed by a tour round Jenners where Mum used to work when a wee lassie. Then headed up the Royal Mile to the swirling mists of The Castle. View? What view? Eleven quid to enter. Decided agin it. That's three pints saved.

Headed back down Rose Street to watch the afternoon's wugger on telly. The place was packed with French. Christian felt quite at home. Eventually headed back to the hotel for a welcome break. Caught the footy results and would have happily had an evening in but Christian banged on my door at around 7.30pm. Here we go again. Rose Street hostelries. Fancied a bite at the seafood restaurant but hadn't made a reservation so we were politely turned away. Eventually settled for haggis, neeps and tatties in one of the bar/dining rooms. Amazingly, Christian liked it. Then more beers. Then back to the hotel for a relatively early night (11ish), stopping off for a final drink on the way. Entered bar and I ordered two large gin and tonics (fed up with beer). Christian downed his in one then rushed for the door beneath a toilet sign, unfortunately without noticing a little arrow pointing to the right. He flung the door open and it slammed shut behind him. People seemed quite shocked. About a minute later he appeared through the front door. Apparently he'd gone out the fire exit and found himself outside at the top of some backstreet stairs. Needless to say, some of the bar staff were having difficulty in keeping straight faces when Christian was eventually pointed in the right direction. Christian blamed his detour entirely on the gin. Won't be touching that stuff again in a hurry.

(Music by Albannach - top bunch of chaps)

Sunday. Match day. Up at nine. Bought Sunday papers at corner shop. Breakfast at hotel. Wandered around city centre at elevenish. Bars open but no alcohol 'til 12.30. Pah! Slowly wandered off in the direction of Murrayfield. Arrived at a hotel with beer tents by Murrayfield's North Gate entrance on the stroke of 12.30. Ordered beers. Place was packed. French band started playing. Jolly time had by all. Moved into Murrayfield at around 2.15. Saw match.

Sauntered back to Edinburgh. Sulking. Hate losing. Had more beers. Wanted to go back to hotel but Christian wouldn't allow it. Latched onto various French gangs. Strange..., I'd been in Edinburgh for a couple of days and had hardly spoken a word of English. Interesting..., there's always a slightly different atmosphere before and after a big game. Sat in a bar on Sunday night and it felt completely different to Saturday night.

Monday. Late afternoon flight to Stansted. Killed time by wandering around Edinburgh. Royal Mile again. And Princes Street. And a few other haunts. Started snowing at around 2.30. Hopped on airport bus. Killed a bit more time wandering around the airport shops and restaurants. Tedious beyond belief. Eventually landed at Stansted early evening. Coach ride to Victoria. Snow in London. Train to Putney via Clapham Junction. Walked the mile to Georgie and Don's. Arrived nineish. Noshed brilliant supper then crashed out.

Tuesday. Tourist day. Today we have to show Christian a few sights of London for very little money and in very little time. Kicked off with Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. Then a walk through Green Park (lovely ducks, swans, other birds and squirrels) to Westminster Abbey and Houses of Parliament. Fourteen quid to enter Abbey!! Stuff that!! Then up Haymarket, saw Downing Street, then Trafalgar Square and a quick bite to eat in the National Gallery caff after drooling over a few van Goghs and Monets. Then over the bridge to Waterloo, quick look at 'The Wheel' and train back to Putney. Four of us then squeezed into Donnie's little Peugeot 107 for a trip into Richmond Park to spot a few deer. This especially impressed Christian 'cos he's a big deer hunter (and big wild boar hunter, and big everything else hunter too). Early night.

Wednesday. Up at 3.30am. Cab at 4. Coach from Victoria to Stansted at 4.30. Stansted at 6. Flight to Limoges at 8. Ooh, it's all go. This jet-set life is definitely over-rated.


  1. Hello my dear,
    I can't believe that you were on my door step almost and I missed you. Next time you are going to be stuck at Stanstead for a few hours let me know and we could meet up. I would love to meet you guys.
    I love the way you saved money for pints, very creative thinking.
    Sounds like you all had a good time and enjoyed the day.
    Much love

  2. Ah yes, thanks for the thought. However much time one spends at Stansted, it always feels like double.

  3. Well, you obviously made one Frenchman very happy. Just as well whatsisname came off so early otherwise poor old Scotland could have been even deeper in the mire.

    Is that a ginger wig you're wearing?

  4. Ah, CB. We didn't play well. And on the few occasions we did, we were in our own half and going sideways. Headgear is one of those ginger wig/tartan caps on sale everywhere in Edinburgh on match days for about a couple of quid. Hang the expense.