Back home. Again.

City of Dundee Arms since 1996

Back in Dundee

The end of another working week in the Alps and I barely stopped. As it happened, things tailed off as I was tidying up on the Saturday so it looks like I timed things well.

Over the week, I spent a couple of nights based over at Belle Plagne in our “flagship” hotel. I have to say I was hugely impressed with the staff while I was there. Not just the way they treated me (great food!) but how they handled all the work and guests. From what I saw, I know I would be happy to holiday there. Well done, crew.

So in with delivering some supplies to a few resorts as I had to borrow one of the catering managers’ vans, what did I achieve? Off the top of my head:

Amongst a huge number of smaller jobs. The only outstanding thing when I left was Jo’s internet that was finally sorted a couple days later. I stepped through the set-up with her via Emilia on Skype acting as middleman.

I borrowed a seat on a coach taking guests back to Geneva and waited an age for my Edinburgh flight while trying to stay awake. Worst was the delay. Ten minutes when we boarded was no problem. But then we sat there for twenty. And were finally told that there would be a further 25 before we took off.

Why don’t they tell you things like this before you board so that you can call/SMS people at the other end to let them know? Once you’re on the plane, you’re not allowed to use your mobile!


Back in the UK and a ton of stuff to organise for the upcoming trip. It never stops!

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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.


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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Back in Blighty

Kicking off with a “thanks” to Janeice who spent a couple of hours of her day off driving me to Geneva Airport so that I didn’t have to get one of the transfer buses.

As ever the airport was heaving and expensive. I was starving, but after over 30 minutes in the queue at Burger King I had to give up and walk off otherwise I risked being late for my flight. I tried to pick up a drink from a shop, but the minimum spend was CHF5 and the bottle was only CHF2.80. No worries, I thought, I’ll get one on the other side of security.

I rattled through the long passport queue and breezed security and then shuddered to a halt at the convenience kiosk by gate 31. The self same bottle of juice was now CHF4.80. If anyone had any complaints before about the whole “no liquids through security” thing being an excuse to rip passengers off, I point the in the direction of Geneva Airport as proof of this. They should change the airport logo to a skull and crossbones.

Still, the flight was only 10 minutes late in departing and fairly smooth. I slept on and off until the high crosswinds at Edinburgh caused a few clenched butt-cheeks as we descended. Kudos to the pilot, though,who set the plan down as gently as I’ve ever had a landing despite the atmospheric conditions working against him.

My dad picked me up and we zoomed across the Forth Road Bridge as all the high-siders had been barred from crossing due to the winds. As a result we made it to Perth a lot sooner than we’d expected. Enough time to say “hello” to my mum, giggle at the two mad dogs, grab some stuff and head up to Leah’s in Dundee.

Now, I’ve spent the better part of 6 weeks in the French Alps. It’s been snowing, icy and generally sub-zero for most of it. I have not fallen once.

Within a dozen steps of the car as I walked out of the car park in Dundee, I was on my arse. Ouch. Somehow I also managed to pull a muscle in my shoulder when I went down. Don’t ask. As promised in another blog post elsewhere, Leah had hot juice and sympathy when I arrived loaded with slightly less cold than I had the day before. Still, I’m male – I can milk sympathy for all I’m worth.

Ah, back in Britain. High winds, lashing rain, and I’ve got a cold. Great stuff.

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A lovely drive to a birthday bash

My drive up from Bradford to Dundee for Leah’s birthday bash was quite enjoyable, especially given the great weather we seemed to luck out with this weekend. This is a good thing as it’s not the shortest drive in the world – around 5 hours. And for the duration you can almost see the pound coins flowing out of the exhaust pipe due to the ridiculous cost of fuel these days. Mind, given that the public transport equivalent would have cost around twice as much and not given me a fraction of the convenience I suppose there’s not much choice.

Now I can’t remember if I’ve written about this before, but if there’s anywhere in the UK that’s worth driving along, it’s the coastal part of the A1. Running roughly from Alnwick past Berwick and onto the Scottish border, it’s fantastic. When you can see the sea, it’s a great view and there are many places to stop and enjoy the scenery. As you zoom through the countryside areas, the first phrase than comes to mind is “green and pleasant land”. A far cry from the filth and depravity in most of our major cities.

Rolling hills, ferns, trees, lush grass. Even the few man-made additions such as the train lines just seem to fit as the trains whoosh by in natural hollows like a well laid-out train set. In one location I almost came a cropper at a speed camera. Although marked in the now legally-required bright yellow and red stripes, this decoration actually helps it blend into the orange shrubbery just past it. Sneaky.

Partway up, there’s a power station overlooking the coast. Obviously, this would be expected to be an eyesore, but it’s been painted a bright powder blue. Yes, it stands out, but it at least looks clean. And the blue helps it blend a little with the sky past it. Thinking back, I don’t ever recall seeing it look particularly filthy though I have only been using the A1 as a main north/south route for a couple of years.

As mentioned above, the only thing to really spoil this drive is the prevalence of speed cameras. One in particular annoyed me as it has been placed around half a mile after a handful of junctions. Surely if they’re genuinely located for safety it should be just before or on the junctions to ensure cars aren’t speeding where other traffic is joining the road? Which just proves that they are there for revenue.

But in a country run by a blinkered nanny state headed by the uncaring, greedy, power-hungry and just plain stupid; with an economy going down the tubes so fast it should consider competing professionally in the toboggan or luge; with scum ruling our streets and the police’ hands tied by ridiculous legislation… There’s still a drive like this to make you realise there are still places in the UK that make you feel proud.

The party itself was a rousing success. With a mandatory fancy dress policy, copious amounts of beer, a chocolate fountain and umpteen Scots in attendance it would have been difficult for it not be. My fancy dress wasn’t my first choice – that would have been my Rocky Horror outfit which actually debuted on Red Nose Day some years ago. Sadly, I couldn’t find it in the cellar – I’m sure it should still be down there but it wasn’t amongst any of the bags I went through. So I improvised. Old lab coat, old shirt, something that looked like intestines and 21p spent on red food colouring.

Not a lot more to tell, really. One person ended up asleep with his head down the loo (there may be a video of this on YouTube…) but a lot of us just headed off to Leah’s house to continue the party into the night. I was exhausted after the long drive and little sleep so I wimped and crashed comparatively early.

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