The young stag and his guitar
Zipping into and out of the speed camera’s all seeing eyes on the A92 is now a routine for me on my regular trips to the other family bases in Aberdeen and McDuff. We had a couple of days there mooning around shops, watching DVDs and “Heroes” and playing with various grandchildren whilst the seagulls squabbled in the background.
The journey home focused on the search for a Forfar bridie, would this mythical food be better than the local Stephen’s steak bridie or a Gregg’s steak bake? Eventually after fathoming the Forfar one-ways system and high street glaze of charity shops and building society’s I found a baker. I ordered two of the mighty beasts (Joe and I were to partake but Liv only wanted a muffin): the result, not so good, dry short crust pastry and a pleasant but hardly world beating mince filling. The last time I was in Forfar, in the mid eighties at a football match, the bakers had all run out of bridies so I got nothing and have been wondering about them since. The subsequent twenty year wait was not worth it but it reminded me how good our own local baker is.
Friday saw me heading for that unfamiliar form of transport, the train. The goal was to meet up with sixteen other souls, most a lot younger than me for Guy, my future son-in law’s stag weekend in Newcastle. I was apprehensive to say the least but decided to enter into the spirit early on by clattering my bottle of whisky onto the rail carriage table at two o’clock and inviting those there to participate in its demise. Of course they already had a healthy supply of beer and the journey south became pretty pleasant and relaxed. Virgin trains (well this one) are good.
The “Toon” was jumping when we set out for the evening after experiencing a very generous couple of happy hours in a bar near our hotel, every pub and club was jammed and sweaty with various groups all desperate to revel for whatever reason. To be honest I felt like and alien intruder who was using a non-scientific method to study some new life forms, all of whom became steadily blurrier as things progressed.
Next day it was karting and paintball. The karting was manic and painful, 60mph karts on a 1.2km track racing for half and hour. The paintball was painful and manic. Bullets of paint slicing into heads, ears and mouths, incomprehensible games that ended in carnage and an unforgiving surface on which to fall when the bumble bee of paint bearing your name struck home.
After a shower and a decent Italian meal we were back into the “Toon” for more of the previous night’s random exploration and body limits testing. This time a few of our young soldiers were a little wounded from the previous 24 hour’s excesses and manoeuvres so the mood was calmer and the drinking a bit more controlled. The stag himself avoided any real torture, tattoos or ritual humiliation (apart from a ceremonial shooting at the paint ball venue) and once we’d picked up the pieces the next morning we agreed that the weekend had been a great success.
GNER trains took us back to Scotland in what can only be described as an appalling standard of accommodation. Crowded carriages, no seats, and toilets awash, no air-con working and the bar closed for stocktaking (?). Quite what tourists heading for the festival in Edinburgh think of this beats me, I’m sure the Soviet railways in the sixties couldn’t have been much worse.