There's only 2 real occasions each year that I'm officially off work - whilst I get plenty of time between meeting clients or having any real work to do I'm nearly always on call to answer e-mails or phone calls. I've been sat on beaches or at airports with a phone and laptop in hand numerous times but there are 2 weeks per year that I barely even carry a phone. One is the week after Christmas, the other is my week (sometimes longer but usually around a week) away with my cost centres (children for those that aren't familiar with the phrase - both pre-teenage boys). For the last few years we've always visited family in Scotland but this time we had an extra passenger with us - the new Mrs AC. Whilst I've been seeing new Mrs AC for nearly a year it can often be a couple of weeks between our paths crossing and it's the first time we've spent an extended amount of time together. So the boys know exactly what they want to do whilst away and Mrs AC is visiting the area for the first time.
Now Mrs AC is very bright, but at her own admission she's not worldly wise and is quite easily fooled. She's a city girl and was quite shocked at the ruralness of our location whilst we were away. There are farm fields at the end of the garden of the cottage we've rented and I'm pretty sure it was her first time in the countryside so we (the boys and I) decided to tease her with some countryside facts. Well, by facts I mean stuff that we make up.
Now for years the boys have known about haggis. It's a Scottish "delicacy" consisting of sheep's offal with oatmeal traditionally encased within a sheep's stomach. But since we've been coming to this part of the world we've always pretended that haggis are animals that live in the area and whenever we go out walking or biking in the countryside we refer to it as "haggis hunting".
So on our first day away my eldest cost centre said we should walk the dog through some woods and go haggis hunting. Mrs AC asked what we were talking about and we proceeded to tell her about these little animals living in the woods called haggises. Whilst they live in the woods they are notoriously hard to find but farmers put traps for them and that's why you can find haggis meat at the local butcher. We described them as looking like miniature ewoks and to get the meat they have to shave them before mincing them up in a big block - she hasn't doubted a word we've said and I'm pretty sure she's convinced we're going to see some so she's quite disappointed that after 2 days she's not actually seen one. I tell her not to worry as it's pretty rare to actually see one. When we're in the supermarket she sees haggis being sold so there's no reason for her to believe that we're only teasing her.
Half way through our trip and we're driving next to a farm and they've got sheep, cows and, quite rare for the area, alpacas (or maybe llamas but the rest of this story that's irrelevant). "Why have those sheep got really long necks?" enquires Mrs AC. Without a moment's hesitation the oldest cost centre answers. "They're a special breed of Scottish long necked sheep. It's useful when it snows a lot so the sheep can keep their heads above the snow so the farmer knows where they are". I've laughed so much that I've almost driven the car into a hedge but Mrs AC seems convinced. I may have told him this story years ago and I'm surprised he even remembers it.
So now we're nearly at the end of our trip and there's some nature program on the TV as we're cooking dinner - something about the Andes and they just happen to be showing alpacas which Mrs AC can see and gives the cost centres a friendly ribbing for teasing her to which the youngest cost centre replies "we were only joking - there's no such thing as Scottish long necked sheep. But haggises are real - we definitely haven't made those up to confuse you".
Writing this up from the Eurostar train between London and Paris. Back working this week but we're having a quick tour around a couple of European cities without the cost centres who are now back to school - it's Mrs AC's first trip over to Europe so I've promised to show her some culture. She's going to need some guide books though as I'm not sure how much of that I can deliver on my own!
If anyone wants to make up some "facts" about Paris or Amsterdam please comment below and I'll see if I can get Mrs AC to believe them.
Normal poker based drunken idiocy will resume shortly!