The Old Course – the truth

Okay, you read my last blog (DBB at the Old Course). You want to know the truth?

Well yeah it was all good and that but the people that stay in these hotels are faking it and brilliant people watching.

The sommelier talked to us for a good 10 minutes about wines from Aldi – he totally recommended wines and whisky from the cheap supermarket and I think because we were chatty (and knew about Aldi wines) he outstayed his welcome enjoying the relaxed chat.

When we went to the bar at night it was full of amazing sights. A family of Asians all sat in silence welded to their phones/ipads. An Indian family all loudly falling out with each other and another family from (maybe) Hull who were their for New Year but trying even harder than me to fit in. The woman in her tin foil dress spent all her time trying not to show her knickers.

When we went back to our room I was mortified to find that the maids had been in cleaning up and had ‘fixed’ the room by remaking the bed, removing our empty wine bottle and washing the glasses, emptying the bins of our crisp packets and even putting the body lotion back in to the bog.

The next morning at breakfast I saw a man in a gawd awful turquoise and white trackie top trying to shoogle a piece of Italian meat from the fork on to his plate at the buffet and when he couldn’t he just ate it and put the fork back on the table!

Another women had a pair of hotel slippers on and they weren’t even from the Old Course hotel.

The women that was trying harder than me the previous night had on a black sweatshirt with the word Love written over it. Did you see King Gary on the telly recently? Well that. This women was the female version of Tom Davis in the sitcom.

So what I am trying to say is that visiting posh hotels aint all that and there is a funny side but me, like many others, are totally faking it.

Gleddoch – Hotel, Spa & Golf

So last weekend, for the want of anything better to do, OH and I headed to the west coast. We booked a night in the Gleddoch Golf and Spa Hotel, a dog friendly hotel not far from Greenock.

On parking we could see from outside what had been an old, secluded, country house had now been extended up the hill with a new build. Not that you could see the modern extension in any of the hotel’s online pics, of course.

We wandered into reception, which was full of Chesterfield couches and club chairs. Obviously, I looked just like the kind of customer they would roll out the red carpet for carrying a bulging, well used, Asda bag full of dog food, chews, a water bowl and blanket. Classy. However, the receptionist was warm and friendly as she booked us in. She gave us our key and advised us that although we were more than welcome to go up to the room via the inside of the hotel it was recommended to take the car up to the car park as it was a bit of a trek and there were a lot of stairs.

So OH, the dog and me humphing my Asda bag, all went back out to the car and drove up to the first car park and looked around for an entrance. Nope. We drove up to the next car park. There were no signs but there was an open fire door so I checked it out and right enough found No.5. The room was fantastic. Concealed lighting, huge comfy bed, all the bits and bobs you could ask for (my favourites – free bottled water and biscuits) and a large walk in shower with multiple settings.  2016-07-02 18.28.21Not long after we took the dog out for a walk around the side of the golf course and explored the hotel grounds. The view from the hotel was stunning – right over the Clyde to Dumbarton.

Later we then tried to find the hotel bar, which OH had spotted next to reception. Remember we were now 2 carparks up from there? First off we walked along the first corridor. Nope. Dead end. Next we found the restaurant. Looked around there. Nope no sign of the way to reception. Back tracked. Started again. Another dead end. Back to the restaurant and through it to the pre-dinner sitting area where we were stared at. We persevered and walked through the on-lookers. We found another corridor and walked slowly along it looking for signs. There were none for reception but we did find the pool. We then met a waiter who pointed us in the right direction down stairs, then more stairs and another corridor. We eventually emerged into the reception area. It was only at this point I thought about leaving breadcrumbs…

…too much wine later and high heels in hand it was like a scene from the Crystal Maze as we tried to retrace our steps. Giggling and using stage whispers we found our way along corridors containing wheelbarrows, found numerous dead ends and eventually, and thankfully, found our room again.

It felt like no sooner had our heads hit the pillow than the fire alarm was going off. Oh yeah, suddenly I was wide awake. Good Morning Dumbarrrrrton! To be honest, it was after 9 but that’s not really the point.  I gingerly made my way out to  the car park wearing sunglasses even though it was dreich. The only one delighted with the rapid exit was the dog who darted off to the golf course to help with watering the fairway. It turned out the alarm was down to an electrical fault and the ongoing building work. I was just glad the alarm stopped when I nipped back to the room to take my phone off of charge. 2016-07-03 09.14.16.jpg

Not long later, showered and dressed in clean clothes this time, we left our room and went for breakfast. It was chaotic. I’m hoping it was due to the fire alarm and this was not the norm. Dirty plates were on the cold buffet table – probably dumped when the alarm went off and forgotten. Serving dishes were empty, juice jugs were lacking and there were tables needing re-set with people waiting.  One waiter – actually the one that showed us how to get to reception the night before – was sprinting between tables trying to meet everyone’s needs. White sugar here, more butter there, here a jam, there a  knife, everywhere some toast toast.

One chap who had been helping himself from the hot buffet returned and sat at the wrong table, which was completely cluttered. Surprised that he had no clean cutlery he asked for some without questioning it. His wife joined him and looked around confused as he wolfed down his bacon and sausage. She lifted a cup that was in her way and asked if it was his. With bean juice running down his chin he shook his head. She struggled to find a clear place to put the cup down again. She then asked if he had seen her phone. More head shaking. It was only when the wife spotted her phone on the other table that she realised they were at the wrong table. Oh the hilarity as they got up and moved. The man quipped, “I wondered why I could no longer see the Clyde”  as he returned to his own table not worrying about his faux pas. Other diners laughed along with him. I’d have been mortified and would have had to leave my breakfast as I allowed the ground to swallow me up.

To be fair we enjoyed our stay. I found the scene at breakfast hilarious – even when my toast turned up only toasted on one side. The trek from room to reception was a highlight and the surrounding scenery and room were brilliant. The staff were friendly and helpful and if it weren’t for the fire alarm turning breakfast into a comedy sketch it would have received high marks. Well, apart from the fact that there was no tv in the bar so we couldn’t watch the footy and had to speak to one another.
To recap – bits were so bad it was great ūüôā 

I’m on my way

I wrote this blog after being at Hampden in March for the Hibernian v Ross County League Cup Final when Hibs got beat 2-1 ūüė¶¬†

I used to go see Hibs home and away as a teenager. Then I met a man who wasn’t interested in football and he got me pregnant. Therefore, Easter Road was forgotten about until my son was at an age I could take him. We then started going to all the home games. Then he met a woman who wasn’t interested in football and got her pregnant. Now my son and I are just ‘allowed’ to go to the big games. It’s our day out together and we both look forward to them. Him because Hibs have a chance of lifting a cup. Me? Because I get to spend time with my son, drink Guinness and forget I’m a feckin’ Gran now.

So Scottish League cup final weekend and we had tickets for Hampden. *excited face*

Although the old Famous Fife supporters bus no longer runs, 2 big Hibs fan had taken on the thankless task of running a minibus. Imagine the widest assortment of Hibs fans you can – that was our bus load! The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, the 3 Musketeers, long suffering partners, lone wolves, well meaning parents, the guy that has been drinking for 3 days solid and the loveable rogue.

We were picked up outside Wetherspoons at 10.30am all resplendent in different shades of green. Apparently the carryout de jour was bottles of rose wine and Mad Dog 20/20. Of course, as a grandmother, I was a lot more sophisticated and had a floral design hipflask full of Jack Daniels secreted about my person.

As we made our way towards Glasgow the CD player, at full blast, played every Hibs song imaginable and then when they ran out Bobby Nicholson came on singing Go and See the Pandas (honestly You Tube it).

3 toilet stops later (lay-bys) and all bottles disposed of pre Harthill (to avoid the police) we were almost at the rugby club in Giffnock we had booked into for some (more) pre match drinks. It was at this point in the journey it came to everyone’s attention that there was an almost overflowing cardboard pisspot on board the bus. Yes – the ones you get in hospital – someone had come prepared! However, they hadn’t thought through the emptying of it. Every corner the minibus took became dicey as it sloshed about. The singing then restarted, ‘Your pissssss is stinking’ to the Proclaimers tune Sunshine On Leith. I deliberately looked away at the next red traffic light.

The rugby club was great – how/why they put up with us all (we weren’t the only bus load in town) gawd only knows – yes I know money over the bar BUT…(that was a big but btw)

Then it was time for Hampden *excited face* We got off the bus near the ground and was told Purple Zone carpark for pick up. Whatever. *runs off with excited face*

So then there was some football stuff. The guy who had the seat next to us (who I’ve met before) appeared at half time. Turns out his flight from London had been cancelled and he’d had to fly from Gatwick/Heathrow instead (I forget which one because JD and Guinness) and his flight didn’t get in until 2.30pm. He had managed to share a taxi with other Hibees he’d met on the flight and had just caught the equaliser at the top of the stairs. Unfortunately, he had to change his flight home too because of course his car was now parked at Heathrow/Gatwick. Therefore, he had to head straight back to the airport after the match. I don’t need to spell it out to you what this means but incase I do

D E D I C A T I O N!

Full-time whistle blows. Bugger.

So dejectedly we head back to the bus. Purple zone?? Excuse me Mr Policeman…. He directed us to Aitkenhead Road. What’s that word that rhymes with tanker? Long story short we got to the bus 40 mins later – it was parked right next to the stadium and I was the colour purple!

The best bit though (apart from the fact the bus had waited!) was one of the long suffering partners had made everyone on the bus a ham salad roll – yippee!!


4 hotels and a holiday

As you may have noticed I have been on holiday for the last fortnight. If you haven’t, you really need to go back and read about Me, my mum and Amsterdam¬†to catch up ;p

Over the last couple of weeks I have managed to check into 4 different hotels. This isn’t my norm – I usually book a self-catering apartment for the duration but as I spent my first week with my mum, my second with OH and the weekend in the middle with both of them, my brother and his wife, it just kind of happened that I became a hotel bed hopper.

I view myself as pretty easy pleased. I don’t need fancy stuff to keep me happy or so I thought. Surprisingly, it didn’t take long to turn me into a hotel room snob. Previously, I’d have maintained, a hotel room is solely a place to sleep in between wining and dining. That was was no longer true!¬†I was running¬†around like a demented sniffer dog, checking out if there was hand lotion, a sachet of hot chocolate, a complimentary biscuit and a mini-bar. If there was a free sewing kit I¬†was¬†ecstatic.

On one occasion it was “hurrah” there’s free biscuits – swiftly followed by “lemon f’ing curd biscuits?!?” On another it was¬†“I can’t believe there’s no mini-bar!” This is highly telling of my new found hotel room pretentiousness as, of course, I’d never purchase¬†anything from a mini-bar anyway. I’m far more inclined to smuggle in a packet of jelly beans, a tube of Pringles or a bottle of wine (I say inclined, I mean always) rather than paying¬†something silly like¬†‚ā¨2.50 for a Mars Bar. By the way, who does pay that for a Mars Bar?? I mean, I totally get that someone might in Amsterdam but no stoner with the munchies is going to be staying in a hotel with a mini-bar…see told you I was utterly pompous.

So, I was in 4 hotels and they were the NH Amsterdam Schiller, the Malmaison Edinburgh, a big old country house in Co Durham and Aldwark Manor Golf and Spa Hotel near York.

You may wonder what one was the best but really they all had their own idiosyncrasies. The hotel in Amsterdam had all the toiletries (and a free toothbrush from reception because like a total twat I had forgotten mine). It was original Art Deco and it’s bonus ball was Tom Jones live in the brasserie (if you don’t already know this you didn’t click on the link above – go back! ;)).

The Malmaison lost points due to¬†the lemon curd biscuits but it did have a lovely large room and the Rangers squad staying overnight prior to the Hibs match. I like to think my loud snoring kept them up all night and my¬†intimidating chat in the lift with the RFC suit lead to Hibs beating their asses 2-1 the following day. This stay also followed on from an eating experience at The Kitchin where I was able to watch Tom Kitchin in the kitchen so, as you’d expect, most things fall into insignificance after that and sadly, the Mal’s breakfast did just that.

The hotel in Co Durham’s jacuzzi wasn’t working but it’s redeeming feature was Scarlett from Gogglebox was in the pool when OH and I tried to lose some wine pounds in the spa. She’s a lovely girl and even though OH had a million questions for her (thankfully he only asked about 100) she was adorable and chatted away with a genuineness that made her even more appealing that she already is. As soon as I got back to the room I messaged Mini-me to let her know who I’d been swimming with. She was extremely impressed (she didn’t rate Tom Jones and was only mildly amused by the Rangers squad) She immediately asked if I told her she was my favourite (because she is – closely followed by Gyles). I admitted I hadn’t because I didn’t want to be gushy or impose on her. However, OH did and her stories in the sauna of Jonathon Ross’s Halloween party were great.

Finally, the hotel near York, as well as the toiletries, huge bedroom and working jacuzzi also had a golf course. Fortunately, the kind chap in the golf shop let me borrow a golf bag he brought in specially from home for me. Due to golf etiquette I wasn’t allowed to share one (and I thought I was posh). This enabled OH and I to have a round of golf. Well, it enabled us to start a round of golf…turns out my brand new pair of golf shoes started to rub around the 2nd…by the 6th I couldn’t bare to walk any further and I made poor OH take me back to the 19th hole.

So to summarise – it doesn’t matter if you have hand lotion, a shower cap or a lemon curd biscuit in your room. What really makes a holiday is the people you meet on it and we met quite a few special people. What was even better was being able to spend some real quality time with my family, which can’t be beat.

Incidentally, on the way home we decided to take a detour and visit Staithes – a small, picturesque coastal village in North Yorkshire. I didn’t know before we got there that Old Jack’s Boat was filmed there (for those of you that aren’t grandparents it’s a kids program with Bernard Cribbins in it) OH took a pic of me there claiming it was yet another star spot…¬†Staithes

For more pics of my holiday you can check them out on¬†instagram here¬†ūüėČ

Me, my mum and Amsterdam.

I took my mum to Amsterdam last week. To be honest, I used emotional blackmail to get her to come on holiday with me. OH had no holidays left, Mini-me now has Teeny Mini-him to look after and I didn’t fancy toddling off on my own so I managed to get her to agree to chum me on the promise of a cultural city break. Her friends thought it was great her daughter still wanted to go on holiday with her but she was quick to disagree with them and told them I was only taking her because she was fourth reserve. Not true really (second maybe :p). We’ve been on holiday a few times before, just me and mum. We’ve been to Rome and Dublin and both times were a good laugh. Dublin especially as we managed to pick up a random Irish guy who took us out for the day in his bright red sports car. What a hoot that was!

To me, mum is ageless. In my head I’m still in my twenties so obviously she has to be in her forties. The only thing that IMG_20151029_170344gives away her age is her inability to cross a road. In Rome she was horrendous and kept dithering in the middle of the road – mopeds darting either side of her. Before we left for Amsterdam we were well warned (by my brother) to watch out for cyclists. Beware the silent traffic – look in every direct three times before you cross!

So heeding all warnings we arrived safely in Amsterdam¬†and checked into our hotel. It turned out that a famous Dutch chat show was filmed in the hotel and they were expecting Tom Jones that week ¬†(RTL Late Night). Surprisingly, Mum wasn’t impressed and didn’t jump at the chance to thrown her knickers at him. A whole host of famous people were in and out of the hotel – not that we knew any of them apart from Tom.
imageWhen we weren’t waiting to cross a road, we spent our time wandering around canals, visiting art galleries and museums, drinking wine and spending our euros in beautifully quaint shops. The restaurants we visited all had their good points and we didn’t have a bad meal. Mum’s favourite meal was in De Duvel in the Pipj district where she had belgisch vispotje. When it was described to us the waitress said it was fish something – it sounded like buttz. I asked if it was fish pie. Nope but this time it sounded like fish puttz. I asked if it was fish cakes. Again nope. Mum ordered it anyway and when it arrived she decided it was fish bits the girl had been saying as it was crammed full of different bits of fish. Mum loved it. Now that I am home and have just looked it up I have discovered that it was Belgian Fish Stew.

My preferred dish was duck with honey and apricots, which we had in a french restaurant called Restaurant Bonjour. It had a cinnamon pear and chestnut flavoured mashed potatoes to accompany it and it was heaven.

We both loved the ambiance and service in Van Kerkwijk where there were no menus just a cute waiter to describe the dishes, making them all sound fantastic.

IMG_20151026_192603One evening we did a candlelight canal tour and on our way back I insisted that we walk through the red light district -assuring my mum it was one of the must do things in Amsterdam and any cultural visit wouldn’t be complete without it. Initially she said that it wasn’t too bad. We were walking past windows full of sex toys and saucy outfits at the time. I therefore,¬†veered her down a side street where I could see red lights above some of the windows. She didn’t like that bit at all. She was surprised at how good looking the girls were and thought it was sad they had to be selling themselves. No amount of explanations around free choice, licences and the girls being in control dissuaded her. To her it was still someone’s daughter. And at that point her own daughter was dragging her 71 year old mum around the red light district. Needless to say, we went back straight back to the hotel.

I forget how old she is. To me she is just my mum. I don’t see her getting older.

I’m glad she came with me to Amsterdam. We had a great time. Even if she wasn’t impressed with what her daughter was doing in the Red Light district (dragging her around – not working!)

The Edinburgh Fringe – Darren Walsh

The Edinburgh Festival is the world’s biggest arts festival where thousands of artists from all over the world perform on hundreds of stages across Edinburgh.¬†OH and I always try to have at least one day in Edinburgh during the Festival as I love the free shows, which highlight new comedians and musicians. ¬†I always keep an eye out on Twitter for recommpunderboltendations as I have discovered some wonderful acts this way. This year, prior to the Fringe, I had been bantering with a comedian on Twitter. Well, I say bantering, I think what I actually done was bully him into giving me a free ticket for his show, which is on most evenings at the Pleasance Courtyard at 8.30pm.¬†Darren Walsh – Punderbolt¬†(¬£9).¬†Therefore, this year that became my focus and everything else had to fit around it.

OH and I set off nice and early to the train station and waited patiently for the train to arrive. We both had that sinking feeling as the train drew up next to the platform as we could see it was already packed. With standing room only we pushed ourselves on to the train and leaned against an out-of-order toilet for the hour-long journey. Normally the train ride up the Fife coast and over the Forth Rail Bridge is one of the most scenic and interesting rail routes to be had but today it was difficult to enjoy as, like animals being transported, we were penned in with all notion of maintaining personal space forgotten.

We spilled out on to the platform at Waverley glad to be out of the claustrophobic carriages. From there it obviously didn’t take us long to find out first pub.

2015-08-15 13.05.21

Matt in the Tron

2015-08-15 12.47.44As the day wore on we manged to see a few street performers and free acts, Freddy Quine and Benji Waterstones were 2 that stood out. Music in the Tron was also a hit and it was really interesting watching artist Louise Giblin make a plaster cast of a hand.  The bronze torso of Dame Kelly Holmes she has sculpted and is on show at Urbane Art Gallery is a must see!

35 Louise Giblin Olympian Series IV Dame Kelly Holmes Cold Cast Brass 1MB

Bronze torso of Dame Kelly Holmes

Deciding we should add some food¬†to our diet of cider and ale, OH and I started to argue about where we could eat. I wanted somewhere to sit down whilst OH preferred something from a stall. We then both had the idea of going to The Potting Shed. Unfortunately it was fully booked all evening, which although was disappointing is a good sign so it is still on the list. We then decided to go to Usher’s just round the corner. Although we hadn’t ate there before, it’s a favourite of ours for Craft Beers. We went in, ordered our drinks and sat down and perused the menu. Having made our decisions I ordered at the bar and sat back down. As we had both nearly finished our drinks and there was still no sign of our food I went up to the bar to query it. The barman said he’d check. He returned and asked if it was 2 burgers we had ordered. Nope, lamb curry and chicken with noodles. Oh. Who did you order from? I told him. His face said it all. He left and came back and said the chef hadn’t received the order but if we wanted to wait he would make it as there was no other food orders in. We told him to forget it, annoyed at the poor service. The barman then looked at our drinks and asked us what we had been drinking. I thought he was going to buy us a free round but no, he was asking if we had already paid for our drinks. Even more annoyed and now very hungry, we left Usher’s, which is no longer on the list.

After that OH got a hog roast roll (£4.50) from a stall and I sat at a picnic table in the Pleasance Gardens and ate Pad Thai (£6).   2015-08-15 18.39.47Both filled a hole. Enough said.

Shortly after that we headed to the Pleasance Courtyard and picked up the tickets for Darren Walsh. The courtyard was buzzing and within 5 minutes of arriving we saw John Hannah, Hal Cruttenden and Carl Donnelly (go on, google them then).

The queue to see Punderbolt was a good laugh as we chatted to others also waiting for the show. It was funnier than some of the shows we had seen earlier! Eventually the doors opened and in we went. The show was puntastic! Darren obviously has a quick wit and had put a lot of effort into the show – preparing photographs, drawing pics, making videos and recording voices. ¬†There were visual jokes, audience participation and obviously, puns galore. OH and I laughed (and groaned) from start to finish. One example was when he gave a large photo of an elevator to a woman in the front row because he thought she could do with a lift. ¬†OH said it was the best show of the day and he’s hard to please when it comes to comedy.

If plays on words and puns are your thing, then Darren is your man. Be sure to check him out if you’re at the Fringe or if you see him advertised elsewhere for that matter.

Obviously we couldn’t end on a high…the train on the way home was just as packed so, yet again, it was standing room only. It’s a pity that the train operators can’t get their acts together for the month of August. It’s not like they’re taken by surprise with the festival now being in its 68th year.

MCN Scottish Motorcycle show, Edinburgh

So it was OH’s biannual turn to chose something to do this weekend and it just so happened that the¬†MCN Scottish Motorcycle show¬†was on at Edinburgh‚Äôs Royal Highland Centre so off we went. We had to drive there with 4 wheels¬†as OH sold his Aprilia Tuono last year. I think he must be missing the feeling of cool, black leather next to his skin as there seemed to be more stalls selling clothes and accessories than there were bikes.

There was an outside arena where stunt man¬†Kevin Carmichael showed some amazing skills as he 2015-03-08 13.21.07wheelied at seemingly impossible angles and¬†burnt¬†loads of rubber as he spun 360¬į over and over again creating more smoke than a hippy at Woodstock.¬†2015-03-08 11.02.31-1¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† Indoors there were some new bikes. OH liked this Yamaha R1. It’s red and white and goes fast, probably. 2015-03-08 13.01.24-1¬†There was also one called a Ninja but somehow I missed it, although a couple of times I thought I caught a glimpse of something moving ;p My favourite was this lovely chequered¬†one, which proves there is such a thing as tartan paint.¬†2015-03-08 12.51.39-1There was loads of old bikes too which are now called Classics. Their owners were all classics too. They were all in clubs (and their elements) and were wandering around trying to trick people into talking about their bikes.

Of course I had to have something to eat. There were loads of burger vans to chose from but by this time I needed a seat so we went into the bar in the Classic bike section. OH had fish and chips, I had a burger and we shared a bottle of diet coke.

I asked OH how his meal was and he said it filled a hole.2015-03-08 14.05.29 When I asked him to elaborate he said the sachet of tartare sauce was crap. Jay Rayner eat your heart out ūüôā ¬†My burger was very juicey and ran right down my arm to prove it. The scalding wasn’t too bad. Thankfully the classic biker we were sharing a table with had more than enough napkins to go round.

Car parking £5

2 adult entries to the bike show £32

2 main meals and a diet coke £14.50

The sight of hundreds of fat, bald men in leather being very happy – priceless.