Well, I’ve been back in Europe for two weeks and so far, I’ve visted all of the constituent parts of the United Kingdom. I started, of course, in the Capital London and met up with some old work colleagues & friends. I got to stay in Club Quarters hotel beside St Paul’s Cathedral… perhaps the best mattresses in any hotel in London. The rest of the hotel is a bit impersonal, but the mattresses are excellent. CQ is a corporate hotel, so if you’re company aren’t a member, I’m afraid it’s no go, however I have discovered that friends and family of Employees of Corporate Members can book in. Apparently it’s not too expensive during weekends… so if you want to stay, let me know & I’ll see what I can do.
After London, I headed for Glasgow for the Scotland v NI friendly international football match. To be honest, apart from purchasing a new camera, and meeting up with family & friends, not such a highlight in my footballing history. A dour 0-0 draw, in which NI had a guy sent off (perhaps harshly) and then NI managed to fail to score a penalty (which would have won us the game) meant there wasn’t much to excite… particularly the tactics employed by the NI manager… it appears he has not learnt the lessons of the last 5 years of watching NI… ‘there may be trouble ahead’.
The highlight of the evening, on reflection, was probably when we were in the queue to the train station after the game (yes, the game was that bad) and being politely funnelled by Strathclyde Mounted Police. Upon sighting their first Mounted Bobby, about a dozen NI supporters (who may have been worse for wear) started singing "My Lovely Horse"… the queue, or at least the portion which could hear it, and the bobbies started doubling over with laughter… on sighting the second horse, probably about 20 people were singing… it was a thing of comic genius.
After Glasgow, it was off to Edinburgh for a few days. Edi is a pretty plesant city, but perhaps that’s just because I spent the previous couple of days in Glasgow, which can be pretty grim. On the Thursday evening I met up with a couple of lassies who I work with (although they’re based in Edinburgh, our virtual team ethos means you get to work with loads of people from around the country) and we headed to see Clive James as part of the Fringe Festival. D’ye remember him?? He was doing a show, of about an hour, where he reflected on some recent news and that. It was pleasantly amusing… much more so that the Scottish Weather, which was awful that evening. The next day, I wandered about town and decided to go & see another show… this time it was Paul Parry, doing show on misuse of the word ‘Literally’. It was a pretty good story and raised several laughs… and I’ve promised not to misuse the word ever again!!
On the Saturday, I decided to head up to Lough Ness on a Day Trip. Leaving from the Royal Mile at 0800 and returning at 2000, we travelled through Stirling, Fort William & on to Fort Agustus (at the southern end of Lough Ness). The journey through the highlands is pretty stunning – I’d never been in them before – and we even had a poignant stop at the memorial to the Commando’s who commenced their unit’s training in the highlands. On the journey I got chatting to an Australian lady who had taken retirement and was journeying about Europe ever since (I think she was on month 4 or 5) and a French girl who was visiting her friend in Edinburgh and was out for the day.
The tour guide, was pretty good, with a great history lesson on the way, however, as I tend to find on these things, the entire story was tainted by a displeasent over play of Anti-Englishness. Why can’t these people promote their own country on the back of the good reasons which exist within it… rather than playing on a downer against their neighbours (who, we should remember pay for alot of the liberties enjoyed in Scotland today).
Having satisfied myself that the highlands were beautiful and taking at least an hour (on a boat) to try & find Nessy, I got myself warm back in Edinburgh and travelled for England in the morning. Another night in London, and then off to Gloucester, in Western England. I was here with work, and was in the C&G offices (Mortgage people) learning about their business as I happen to manage their operation in Kolkata now too. Yippee. Having lived for two days in an industrial park, between the Hotel & the office, I crossed the border to Wales and on to Newport for more work. This time, I was learning about one of our Insurance operations… and another two days living in an industrial park, moving between the hotel and the office.
And they say my life is glamorous?!
Having done a stint in work, I jumped on the plane to travel to the parents house and complete my tour of the UK. And so I am residing in Wonderful Fermanagh… for now. I’m back on a plane tomorrow for the last two weeks, but sure, what doesn’t kill ye…