Sunday, July 11, 2021

We’re all going on a summer helliday

Last year when trying to organise summer holiday plans with Mrs AC we had a few conditions that needed to be met: good weather; good local food and drink; a bit of culture and the ability to communicate with the locals - if there's one thing I do around the world is ensure I know how to order beer even if I can understand nothing else!

We ended up on a driving tour of France and Italy and we had a lovely time in the European sunshine, visited a couple of vineyards in the famous Champagne area and soaked up some culture on our trip to the Uffizi gallery in Florence (less famous than Paris's Louvre but definitely worth a visit if you're ever in the area).

This year we had the same conditions but also had a couple of extra passengers to cater for - the cost centres. Now if I'd given them the choice of destinations the only prerequisite would have been the ability to eat their own weight in ice cream on a daily basis. But anyway, I'm rambling. 

Unfortunately we had to add a couple of extra conditions ourselves: country on the green list (amber means 10 days home quarantine upon return whilst red means 10 days hotel quarantine) and we had to be able to drive there again (the boys' mother has decided to not let them fly, trying to make my life as hard as possible as usual!)

Having studied the list of available destinations we were left with one choice - a staycation. But having looked at prices and availability we were stumped - anything near decent was either ridiculously or fully booked. 

Then one of the cost centres uttered the most scary 5 words I've heard in my life "We could go to Nanna's" (if you're new here that's in the Highlands of Scotland whereas we live in the suburbs of London). I swear I heard the Psycho shower scene music. 

Dear lord no, it doesn't even get a point on the original holiday criteria does it?

Weather: could be ok, could be shit. Probably the latter but the problem is that it's not consistent - it could be freezing one day and mildly warm the next. A hot day is barely into the mid 60s - any warmer and the entire population will either explode or shout at the sun and start sacrificing goats or virgins to make it go away again. 

Food and drink: the country's main contribution to world cuisine consists of a dish made of a sheep's heart and lungs served up inside the sheep's own stomach lining. I think it was invented as a joke to stop the English from stealing it and it's been banned from the USA since the 1970s. Their other contributions include the deep fried mars bar - a candy bar coated in the same batter you'd cover fish in then deep fried until crispy, disgusting and the precursor to having a heart attack and an unintelligible conversation with a paramedic (see point 4). If you survive your heart attack you'll get to sample the local favourite drink as well - Irn-Bru (again banned in the USA) which is a sickly sweet bright orange soda with more sugar in a can than should be consumed in a lifetime. Don't be fooled that because of its colour it might actually taste of orange - it's fucking vile and makes you want to spit it out, but if you do the orange colouring will instantly stain anything it touches (I think that's why it's banned in the USA and I think His Donaldness wanted it banned in his U.K. golf resorts). They do have whisky though and there are a few local distilleries within an hour so they get half a point. But even I can't survive a whole holiday on whisky can I? I'm not even attempting it. 

Culture: there's some old castles and historic battlefields but nothing that we haven't been to before. 

Language: whilst the official language is English I'm not overly convinced. Some of the locals have such a heavy accent that I just smile and nod politely. They could be asking to sacrifice the cost centres to appease the angry sun god and make the weather return to constant drizzle for all I know. There's also a sizeable group that don't particularly like the English - a stranger in a pub drunkenly barking "Are you English pal?" is usually a precursor to a fight. Mrs AC is ok though as she's American so she'll answer for me and I'll do the heroic thing and stand behind her if things turn nasty. Some locals are intelligible though but that's no better, they are usually insane and have invented their own language - wittering. My mother for example. 

So no. If I have one ounce of sway in this decision we are not going to stay at my mum's in Scotland. The boys and Mrs AC are adamant that they want to go but I'm standing firm - no amount of pestering will get me up there. 

We're going to Scotland then! Fuck. Maybe I was really nasty in a previous life and this is my punishment. It's a summer helliday. 

But anyway - I'm not one to mope around when I don't get my own way so after the boys finished school for the summer on Friday we set off on the 650 mile journey early on Saturday morning. It's pretty plain sailing most of the way but it's an all day journey with only a stop for coffee mid morning and a late lunch before arriving just in time for the football at 8pm and I'm gasping for a beer. Then the insanity started - if you're a regular reader you'll know that my mother is completely bonkers. 

My mother brings me a beer - a warm one. What am I? A heathen? She'd texted one of the boys whilst we were travelling and asked if we wanted anything when she popped to the shop and my only request was for beer. I obviously hadn't stated that they needed to be cold because anyone that's not completely bonkers would understand that. Not my mother though - she'd actually bought them cold from the shop's fridge then put them into a cupboard to warm. FFS! At least she waits until half time before inflicting us with her next portion of lunacy. 

She then announces that because the next day is 4th July she's got a treat for Mrs AC - a turkey. Err ok! Why in utter bejesus has she got a turkey I hear you ask - turns out she's mixed up her holidays and as she'd defrosted it we had to cook it. My mother is not good in the kitchen and as we don't fancy eating turkey that's rare or has been nuked we end up spending nearly all of Sunday sorting out a turkey dinner.

But anyway - we've been here a week now and have walked, biked, golfed and fished. Mrs AC is still determined she's going to see a live haggis this time but we have seen otters, seals, deer and an eagle (U.K. wildlife is a bit tame in comparison to the US - we don't have anything overly interesting but the most dangerous thing we have is an adder although I've never even seen one). 

It's now Sunday and we're all looking forward to tonight's game - if England win then the boys and I have said we'll wear our England shirts for the rest of the week. This will probably end up with us being hunted down by a local posse as if you ask a Scottish football fan who he supports he'll declare he has 2 teams - Scotland and anyone playing England. Again I'll be hiding behind Mrs AC if things turn nasty. 

We are travelling back at the end of next week but here are some photos (I'm the world's most useless photographer so I'm more amazed that any of them are actually in focus)

Dog - useful as a sundial for the 8 days per year you can see a shadow

Seals - just fat, wet dogs really

Links golf - hard. Even harder when there's a 60mph wind blowing across the course

Scenery - nice view and I couldn't think of anything witty to put here 

More scenery- still can't think of anything witty to write

Mother - batshit insane (yes she really is vacuuming her patio - no, I have no idea either)

Neighbour - another tick in the insane column as they have what appears to be a missile outside their house

Beer - wet and cold. It's a local beer and not actually available in England. I read a review that described it as "tasting more of tomorrow's hangover than yesterday's hops",  maybe the US will ban it but it's not like they have an aversion to bland, tasteless lagers is it? 

Have a great summer all - hopefully I'll get up to some drunken shenanigans fairly soon as I'm starting to get tired of this boring version of life!