The motherland

There is no better sleep than that in your own bed. Yes, the parental unit still keep a room for me at the ranch; what of it? It is mostly my storage facility.

No time for slouching on this trip. The terms of my bizarre travel insurance policy only allow me one trip back to the UK for a maximum of two weeks so I had to get the Tour of Duty underway, and fast. Not before tipping the whole contents of the bag into the washing machine.

Kicked off with a trip down to the Wrinklies. Delivered them some spangly snifter glasses that Pop had got them in Finland – a glass with a silver reindeer head/stem at the bottom. Pretty tasteful, let me tell you. Grandma gently and laughingly chided me for my bad language in this here blog while Grandad, in the same conversation, told me that I’ll ‘never get those whites white again, not as long as your arse points downwards’. We don’t always talk about laundry. Gert lush day, as we say in the West Country.

Next was family fun day. Big Len initiated an annual family reunion a few years back that is supposed to take place on the first weekend of June every year but has tended for the past few years to tie in with weddings, what with us all being so busy, farflung and important. And what is the most fun way to reunite? That’s right! A hike in the Brecon Beacons followed by a meat-sweats barbeque. I swear Ma had been down the abbatoir leading them two by two like Noah on his way to the Arc.

A picnic in amongst the sheep shit. Later found a bit of dead sheep too, so chucked that at Sar.

Family fun day. Enter the rain.

As I mentioned, these fun days have been tied in with weddings for the last couple of years and this time it was the turn of cousin Richie to make an honest woman of the lovely Tanya.

The lovely couple. Surprised that Rich even made it after his six-week (count 'em) stag do

Here's Team Collacott, scrubbed up n'respectable for a day

Beautiful day with the sun shining and an appropriately good crowd and shindig. Particularly enjoyed the addition of a photobooth – next big thing for parties for shizzle. What with Mum being one of eleven, these and Christmas are an excellent opportunity to catch up and get drunk with the wider family. Everyone entered commendably into the spirit, though I’m clearly getting old cos I remember getting home. Luisa imported a bottle of Killer Pisch from Germany, which was the almost certain demise of Christmas 2009. Need to get her married in next. My favourite exchange of the afternoon? (Not naming names…)

Uncle: [to aunt, upon being served brownie dessert] These are good, but they’re not as good as yours.

My cousin, his daughter: You just want a blow job tonight.

Piling in the photo booth with some lady cousins

Continued the merriment at a barbeque lunch afternoon the next day where we found Tan still wearing the dress having taken it off only to have a bath. That is why she is welcomed readily into the family.

Yeeeeah, pints, trilbies and barbeques.

Alas, quaffing wine again after a three month stint on beers and vods has revealed an ugly, loathesome fact. I fear that I am allergic to it. Brings me out in face AIDS (not the official medical term). A sad day. The drinking habits must be re-calibrated. Made one last exception for the nuptials…

Wedding in the bag, I headed Northward to see the Hodge. It’s been over year so high time. Only one major change: a baby. Insane in the membrane but little Haribo is in good hands. Mark of a good friend if you can tune back into conversation after any amount of time as if you saw each other yesterday.

Smiler and absolute flirt. Should set him up well for life.

Current Dodge neighbourhood. None too shabby.

Spent a few days kicking around with Hodge and the bairn. Took in the sights of Glasgee which has been turned on it’s head by Brad Pitt filming a zombie movie in what will appear in the movie as Philadelphia. Cheats, but with vodkas at just 90p, I can see that it makes financial sense to put a film crew up here instead of the USofA for a couple of weeks. Caught a glimpse of the man himself while bumbling around town – yeah, he’s ok. Bit gnarly these days.

Glasgow, aka Philadelphia

Elsewhere in Glasgow. I know! It's actually quite pretty.

But what are they saying?

It wouldn’t be fitting if we didn’t fit a few drinks in for old time’s. Checked out the bar scene, starting with the amusing cheap ones on and around Sauciehall Street – Rockie B and Long’s Bar equivalents, our old haunts – and ending with a bit more sophistication at the Bunker and Hummingbird on Bath Street. We’ll save Frankenstein’s and The Garage for another day.

Like Long's, right down to the oval bar and dodgy gentlemen clientele

Yeah, we're not as photogenic as Haribo but this at least proves that we were there.

Dragged Lisa to the Robert Burns museum for a bit of culture, seeing as Burns is the feted Scottish national poet. Ok, there are the famous ones like Auld Lang Syne and ‘My love is like a red red rose’, but have any of them ever read any more of Burns’ stuff? It’s tripe. I didn’t realise before quite what a schlag the man was either. Illegitimate bastards all over the shop, presumably under the guise of artistic romantic temperament. Mind, he was a vicar’s son and everyone knows that they’re the worst. These days there is still a Robert Burns Bachelors Club. Sounds suspiciously like a cover for lady killing to me.

A bit of Robert Burns vocab. What?

The natural way to display the birth dates of Burns and his siblings

With the wee timr'ous beastie from one of his poems. Not so wee or timorous.

Hodge time over, I disappeared back South to welcome a batch of old pals to the mothership for a weekend. See above for a mark of good friends. I have an unwarranted reputation amongst them for being a troublemaker but the night did go off in style: Mongolian vodka plus a Bristolian street party equals a recipe for mischief. No beer scooters were required for the return journey so it can’t have been that bad.

The civilised start to the day. An afternoon at the street art launch.

Good, ain't it?

In motion

Some time later...

The poorly tummy the next day would suggest otherwise but there ain’t no better way to soothe a hangover than by lying on the sofa with the Sunday paper being brought iced drinks and sandwiches by Mummy. “But it tastes better when it’s made with love.” You’d think she’d tell me where to go by now but no. Maternal love runs deep. Back during revision days at school, I’d call the house phone from my mobile and demand coffee be brought to my boudoir. And she would, love ‘er. What a brat.

Fattened and deep cleansed, I bid Bristol farewell for the foreseeable future and toddled off to see the London gang. Lovely, eclectic gang they are too. Godbold hosted in his brand new flat and I spent the day times and evenings with too many marvellous people to mention. And Nationwide, since I had to cancel my card with and report a number of dodgy Filipino transactions. Swines, cloning the card. I guess there is a lesson in there somewhere about checking your online statement more than once every couple of months. And in not going to Manila. Once again, I declare it’s a dive. Now it’s back to old-fashioned cash for a while. They managed in olden times I suppose.

But the UK time-deadline approaches. As you can imagine, it doesn’t bother me much. Being in amongst friends and family with proper jobs and proper homes makes me feel like a waster, in way that is difficult to feel when you’re in a whole hostel of wasters. I’m invoking a theory known as Neugarten’s Clock that a friend recently told me about to explain away my social mistimings on the growing-up front.

Where next? Munich. Why? Cos that was the only ticket available to leave on my absolute last day in the UK and I was headed vaguely towards Tuscany to see if I could get some twin time in. The lady at the bus station said Munich was as close as I could get and had good connections before she began counting down how many tickets were still left as I stood at the counter. Made a panic purchase. Munich it is.

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