Limited travel

Again, a quick post so that the blog doesn’t look like it’s completely lying fallow. I had “kind of” plans to travel over xmas, but they fell through for a variety of reasons. One was price, another was that I’ve started seeing someone who lives in Glasgow and I’d much rather spend the holiday season with her and her kids than travelling.

Given the “travel chaos” (i.e. Heathrow being rubbish) that hit around the time I would have been hoping to get a flight, this is perhaps for the best!

I may look at going somewhere for Easter. After watching the Top Gear Christmas special, I’m once again drawn to the Middle East. A shame that, unlike famous people, I ‘d struggle to get into Iraq. On the other hand, I don’t work for the BBC so Iran is permissible. Last year’s plan was for Syria, Lebanon and Jordan – I may resurrect that plan. Kind of apt for Easter.

Summer will be another call. I have “permission” to go away for a long break if I want to. It would be strange, what with the kids, but I do still miss the backpacking and I’m as ever drawn towards Vietnam. Having said that, I’ve still not managed to make it to South America. Or if I fancy staying closer to home, I still want to do Sweden, Norway, Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania and Bulgaria. Oh, and Liechtenstein. And more of Italy. And Germany.

Sometimes it’s a pain living in a world with so many interesting and exciting destinations!

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Insult? Meet Injury.

The following morning I re-checked my new flights. Amusingly, Tenerife South Airport’s website was still listing Globespan‘s two flights as on time. I’d spoken to a couple from Aberdeen who should have been on the other flight to me and they’d coughed up £1000 to get home. Ow.

Another person told me a friend of hers had taken up RyanAir‘s generous “repatriation” offer at £60 all in. Except for the additional fees. After which her flight was then £200. Plus it landed at Prestwick Airport (not Glasgow International) shortly before midnight so she had a costly taxi far to add to that.

Just to make that point there – RyanAir ripping off people stuck in a horrible situation. Absolutely no surprise whatsoever.

We were ushered out of our room so the cleaners could assault it shortly after 10am and jumped into a taxi to the airport. We were very early, so the queues were short although none of the check-in desks were open.

The fastest queue to grow, though, was EasyJet‘s. I think they were the only airline with flights covering routes offered by Globespan and a lot of people had not found out that they didn’t have a valid ticket any more until they arrived to see their flight cancelled.

I had a quick nosey at the board to see that Christina’s flight was on time and mine was… delayed. Oh great. I had 2 hours and 10 minutes’ layover at Belfast International. That gave me around an hour and a bit to get my luggage and check in for the next flight. I was now delayed by an unknown length of time.

Fortunately, it eventually became clear that my delay would be no more than an hour. After no fewer than three gate changes, we finally boarded (Christina and her mum were already on board their flight by this time) and taxi’d for take-off.

Credit to Jet2.com. The flight was delayed due to bad conditions in the UK which caused problems with the plane being able to leave there to get to us. And it was a comfy enough plane for budget. Nice staff, too. And a decent in-flight magazine.

I snoozed and read all the way to Belfast where the couple next to me ushered me off the plane ahead of them as they knew I might be tight for time with my transfer. Fortunately, Belfast is a small airport and my luggage appeared fairly rapidly.

I ran down the corridor, got directions to check-in, ran down another corridor, turned left, spied the EasyJet check-in and gasped my way to it.

“Where are you going tonight, sir?”

“Glasgow.”

“You are aware of the delay to your flight, yes?”

AAAAAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!

At that point it was an hour. Of course, it wouldn’t make a difference to checking in as they always close 40 minutes before the original, scheduled time. But that’s  no consolation. Again, weather was being blamed. And it could have been worse – I’d seen flights from Luton, Stansted and Gatwick cancelled.

I moped my way into the departure lounge and eventually settled down for a panini when my flight was delayed by an extra half hour.

And then bumped up by 15 minutes with a “boarding now” announcement just as I got my food. Typical.

I finally arrived in Glasgow at a little before 11pm. Christina and her mum had waited patiently (in a pub – surprise) for my arrival as I was driving them home. My uncle picked us all up and ferried us to their house where we swapped cars and I began the drive up towards Perth.

We didn’t die. I got everyone home safe. And it made for an interesting though tiring end to the week.

Huge thanks to Christina and Karen for inviting me out there. I really needed the break after my recent placement and other things that were messing with my head. And thanks to my dad for sorting the flights out at the UK end. More thanks to Stuart, my uncle for dropping me off at 5am and picking me up a few days later at 11pm.

Here’s hoping the excitement on my next holiday is all pre-planned.

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Northern England Part 3

Yarm fair 5

Bright spinny thing!

Or part 4 if you include the match at Gateshead Stadium on Saturday.

Not a whole lot to add apart from that I had – as ever – a wonderful relaxing time with the lovely Viv over the weekend. Good grub (KFC and spag bol!), great company, good fun and always a complete chill out. I hope I was as good a guest as she want a host.

On the Friday I popped over and watched a couple of films until Viv was out of work. I helped with a bit of housework before we went out to the fair in nearby Yarm. I was fed candy floss and then KFC on the way home before we opened the wine and watched some telly.

Saturday was match day (Gateshead live then Newcastle on the box) followed by more beer and some coursework for me!

On Sunday I enjoyed the four hour drive up to Perth to see my folks. The A1 is looking nice these days, especially around Berwick. A little mean of the Scots, though, as there’s a speed camera northbound about 200 yards past the border. Right as the dual carriageway shrinks to single lane so there’s every chance you’re trying to get past a slow-moving vehicle.

More ironic is the sign above the road which when I passed it read “Frustration Kills”. Yet the camera stops you getting past the truck you’ll be stuck behind for the next 15 miles, thus creating frustration!

Other than that, still a beautiful drive up through more lovely countryside. Definitely a route I’d recommend to tourists with their own transport. Quite a few things to stop off and see on the way as well – watch out for the big brown “tourist attraction” signs.

Home for food and to drop stuff off, then over to Glasgow to see Kat and catch up on telly.

Overall a pretty relaxed week away, and my last for some time due to university workload.

Again, I’d like to say “thanks” to everyone who gave me a bed/sofa for the night, fed me, watered me and was overall just darn good company! Cheers, people!

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It’s gone quiet here…

Yes, the page is pretty much on hold at the moment barring a few backdated posts I really should be working on. There will be more stuff on here as time goes on and I will be going to new, and returning to old, places.

But right now I’m residing in Scotland as I managed by some miracle to jump onto a PGDE Secondary course at Strathclyde University. It’s a one year course with a one year probationary year immediately afterwards. As a teacher I will get those nice long summer breaks which will allow me to get a decent foreign trip in!

Long term, I don’t know what will happen. I may opt to go straight onto a PGDE Primary course if the job market’s still slack in 2 years. I might get a really good offer and stay in the UK. I might remain here for a year or two working and then use that experience to get myself a job overseas – perhaps Bangkok or Hanoi.

Right now, my priority is to complete the course. Lifewise it’s to meet Ms Right and settle down, wherever that may be. Or to convince a Ms Right I already know that such is her surname and she’s just not realised it yet!

I guess we will see.

But in the meantime, I’d recommend you bookmark the page and check back once in a while; subscribe to my Twitter feed (not always family-friendly but I don’t go too overboard on it); or click on the RSS link and add me to your feed reader. That way when I add something new you won’t miss it.

Thanks for the company over the last 3-and-a-half years, people. It’s been a great ride and I look forward to seeing you all again soon for the next trip. Whenever that may be!

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Silly season at home

Little CuzI just realised it’s been almost 10 days since my last post so I better play catch-up!

First off, I’m over my cold. I pretty much shifted it by Christmas Day which was a good thing. I helped my little cousin put down the magic oats that led from the street to the front door so that Santa‘s reindeer would know how to find it. Then we made sure he had some decent tuck and a drink of milk for when he delivered the copious number of presents she was bound to get.

Her “absolute latest” bedtime of 10pm slipped to 11 until finally my aunt ordered her upstairs. “Bed! Now! And no more coming out of your room!”

Then the crying started. “What’s up?”

“You said to go to my bed and I did, and I’m scared I’ll wet it because I need the toilet and I’m not allowed out of my room in case Santa doesn’t come.”

She was allowed a pottie break and settled back down a little more hapily after that!

I was awoken at 6:50 on Christmas morning to a chorus (and two verses) of We Wish You A Merry Christmas before we all headed downstairs to watch a 7 ¹/² year old tear apart a small deciduous forest in pursuit of the gifts held within.

Awesome.

PoppyI then had to take pictures of her with just about everything she’d god. I’m glad we have digital cameras now, as I’d have run out of film otherwise. While they went to church for Mass, I very generously set up their new Wii. Once they came back, I taught the little one how to play the bowling game which she had told me she was rubbish at. She then hammered me at it. Twice.

My parents arrived around lunchtime and we had another present-opening ceremony before I hopped in the care and drove from Glasgow to Dundee to visit Leah and her family where I was fed and watered (and beered) and got more presents. Seems Santa had decided to scatter my presents over a variety of households this year. Leah’s mum attempted to kill me by passing off “mouldy” cheddar as “mature”. She claims it was an honest mistake as she’d made up my stocking before the best before date, but I have my doubts.

On Boxing Day we had some visitors over and I spent the day nibbling on munchies and getting progressively drunker. Somehow I drank almost an entire bottle of Famous Grouse and woke up the next morning with no hangover. There’s probably some scientific reason for this, but I’m putting it down to the fact I’m a Geordie.

Cheese of DEATH!I’d arranged to go to the football with Malkie and some friends of his, so I set off down to Dundee at lunchtime. Just enough time to catch up on my email then run to the pub to see the tail end of the Old Firm game before we walked to Tannadice for the Dundee United v Falkirk game. My first live football match in almost three years.

I lost Malkie and co as they headed for their season ticket seats, but ended up “attached” to a local who pointed me in the direction of the better “pay on the day” ones. £21 is about half what you pay for an English Premiership game these days, and I was sat on the top tier behind one of the goals for the duration of the match.

The Tangerines won 1-0, though Falkirk gave them a run for their money and the majority of the crowd went home happy. I was on furniture-building duty (who gets flat-pack furniture for Christmas? Really?) so headed back to the flat rather than the pub.

On the 28th, I arranged to meet Adam in town to watch the annual seasonal towelling by Liverpool. Lo and behold, over a rather nice Sunday roast in the Trades, we got hammered 1-5. Ah well. At least it was expected. I also picked up Guitar Hero III for my PS2 while we walked around the sales afterwards. Only it didn’t work. Argh.

Dundee Utd v FalkirkThat evening, we visited my folks where my little cousin was being spoiled rotten (again). Dinner was great, but by mid-evening Leah was absolutely burning up so we left relatively early. By the time I got her home she was definitely running a bonkers temperature as well as feeling dizzy.

Fortunately, by the next morning, the fever had broken and she was back to just feeling crappy. A definite improvement. I walked into town and swapped out my Guitar Hero package. Thankfully, the replacement works but I’ve not been able to play it as Leah’s been lying on the sofa watching crappy Christmas telly all day. The benefits of being ill!

Over the course of the last 10 days I’ve had a mixed bag of emails from work as well. A few genuine problems, some where I’ve wondered “didn’t you think before you bothered me?” and one or two where I wish I was back in France so I could slap someone. Generally it’s going well over there with only one serious issue I can’t deal with right now. Well, if they will drop a PC onto the floor…

Right, that’s about it. Just watching Jurassic Park III before crashing out. And hopefully dragging Leah to the docs in the morning for a quick check over. She’s been ill for 5 weeks now. That can’t be normal. Mind… neither is she 😉

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