Highland Fling (What else was I going to call a blog about going to Scotland?)

So last night I got back from Edinburgh where I went for my first lad’s weekend away with some of my mates. It was a fun, fairly chilled weekend and a great break from work, which has been bumming me out a bit recently.

I’d spent Friday packing and getting ready and was picked up by Mike. My first sight of Mike was of him standing next to his missus’ car with a plastic bag over his foot because as he’d stepped out of the car he’d stood in a massive pile of dog shit. We chose not to see this as an omen and headed over to Llyw’s from where we’d start the trip proper and head to the airport.

At Llyw’s his dog, Alfie, pissed everywhere in excitement. Was the entire weekend going to be accompanied by canine bodily functions, I began to wonder.

Llyw, Mike, Rhod and me all piled into the car and got underway, shooting along the M4 and getting into the slightly laddish state of mind- laughing, chatting and joking with each other. It was exactly what I’d been hoping for and I was feeling upbeat and excited, which was helped by the fact I’d just chugged down a can of Relentless energy drink.

Bristol Airport isn’t actually in Bristol, but a few miles out of town, and when we reached Bristol we got a little lost. Rhod, who was a little bit tense and worried we’d be late for the flight was getting increasingly frazzled in the back but Llyw was pretty chilled behind the wheel and repeated the line that became a kind of mantra/motto for our Sri Lankan trip last year:

It’s the first faff, but its not the last faff.

We got to the airport alright, although it did involve a rather undignified duck under a fence and mad dash for the departure gate, but all was well and we got onto the plane fine.

On the plane I took my seat and settled in to watch the security demonstration. I may have flown before, and it may have just been an hour flight, but I’m kind of a nervous flyer so I pay attention. Plus, they might have changed something. However, my attention wandered due to the air stewardess performing it.

I’ve long come to realize that the image beloved by Busted and porn films of the sexy air hostess is largely unrealistic, and the lady in question didn’t fit it either.

That’s not to say she wasn’t pretty, she was curvier redheaded Scot with quite a pretty face, but the thing that distracted me was the freckles. She had quite a few on her face, which I thought was rather cute and a few on her decolletage (the part between the neck and the breasts, or so I’ve always taken it to mean). So I started wondering how far down her body they went and that was me off on a little perverted mental wander right there.

Unfortunately the stewardess’ freckles were soon forgotten as we were sitting in the row behind the most annoying family in the world.

The family was a mother and her three kids, a girl aged 10-11 and two boys, aged around 8 and 6. The youngest boy became the focus of intense loathing from myself and several other passengers, without actually saying anything or doing much.

The reason for this was that this kid was clearly having a bit of a sulk, and his big sister was trying to engage him, which she did by calling his name. Over and over again. At a rate of about 100 calls a minute for about 5 minutes. In a way you had to admire the kid’s dedication to his sulk, a lot of kids would have got bored or forgotten they were meant to be all moody, but this grumpy little bastard kept it going for the full flight. But a few minutes in I wanted to reach over grab the kid and shake him and say “Oi, for the sake of the sanity of everyone aboard, just answer your sister!”

The situation was made worse by the fact that the whole family were extremely posh and that the kids name was Magnus. Seriously? Magnus? Who the hell calls their kid Magnus in the 21st century? That is a name that should have stopped being handed out at least 40 years ago.

From what I could tell a fair few of the passengers could hear and a woman behind the other guys was struggling to control her laughter at the chorus of “Magnus! Magnus! Magnus!”

At the end of the flight the other boy Alban (seriously, the accent is enough of a clue that they’re posh, the mother was rather overdoing it) started talking in this ridiculous Scottish accent that irritated his sister. Who started telling him to knock it off, speaking as a little brother this is a mistake. If you know something is annoying your big sister you’re not going to stop, you’re going to keep doing it. The girl then said she would “Rip off his jaw” which was a surprisingly violent threat to come from a posh tween.

The mum then got in on the irritating act by stating “I don’t know whether we go fore or aft”. You’re on an EasyJet flight, love, its front or back!

Off the plane we bussed into town where we met up with Dan, who informed us that we wouldn’t have our 6 bed room to ourselves and that we were sharing it with a Spaniard called Jonathan who was in Scotland looking for work. The situation in Spain must be pretty bad if you consider Scotland the land of opportunity.

Almost got lost on the walk to the hostel because I got distracted by a girl walking past in hot pants, and missed the rest of the guys crossing a road. The thing that made the hot pants even more noteworthy was the fact that it was freezing cold and over the course of the weekend we’d come to realize that Scottish women are extremely tough and seem immune to the cold, walking around in mini-skirts while we shivered in our coats.

They even go out in the snow scantily clad

That’s actually kind of unfair as even in the night Edinburgh seemed like a nice city and throughout the weekend we were impressed with the look and vibe of the city and most of the Scots we met were friendly enough.

Not friendly was the guy behind the desk at our hostel, who was rather hostile and unhelpful.

Starving by this point we went in search for food and grabbed a curry, which was lovely. Where I was given grief for ordering a coke and then back to the hostel bar where we grabbed a drink and then hit the sack.

The room was boiling and all of us were reduced to sweating messes by morning. I slept well, if a tad uncomfortably but my sleep was plagued by bizarre feverish dreams including a very postmodern one featuring Blake Lively where we basically watched Gossip Girl together and she slagged off her own performance.

Saturday morning we grabbed a breakfast where we had to debate giving a tip due to the food being a bit crap and the first staff member we spoke to being rude and aggressive because I didn’t see a sign saying wait to be seated, but this undercut by the fact our waitress was lovely and friendly. We left 3 quid in the end.

Wandered up looking at the living statues and street entertainers and walked to the Castle, amazing view but decided dropping around 15 quid a piece was a bit excessive so we checked out the Scottish Whisky Experience. This tour was rather informative and we were shown around by this bonnie wee lass who represented two things we came to notice over the weekend:

  1. In general Scottish women seem to be quite short
  2. The Scottish accent is rather sexy.

As part of the tour we were invited to sample whisky and I chose this very smoky Islay tipple which was quite nice. I realize this was breaking edge but “when in Rome…” and it was only a drop (I did finish off half a pint of cider later, but that was mainly because I’d accepted that the whisky meant I had to start again anyway, but I restarted again on Sunday).

The drink that broke my vow, it just seemed rude not to try it

After this we spent some time wandering around, buying a few bits and bobs and grabbing lunch before we found a little pub to watch the rugby in. The pub was quite nice with a few TVs showing various matches and friendly, pretty barmaids. The only downside was that it was freezing where we were sitting so we watched the Wales game on our feet nearer the bar.

If the bar was cold then the toilets were absolutely freezing, almost like using an outhouse. It was here I also saw that they sold whisky flavoured condoms. Stay classy, Edinburgh.

The second half of the rugby, where Wales improved slightly (we knew we were going to lose to the All Blacks but at least we got on the scoreboard and kept them below 50) was slightly marred by a large group of lads on a stag night who’s theme seemed to be moustaches and being a bellend. They were annoying a fair few of the patrons but thankfully left.

A second stag party came in of loud, friendly Sunderland lads one of whom got talking to us and told us a brilliant story about one of his friends, which I will save for another day.

We then wandered over to find a bar my big sis had recommended to us, the Jekyll and Hyde. Halfway there Llyw misjudged a crossing and missed by inches being creamed by a taxi, showing some rather impressive reaction speed and Matrix-ing out of the way. This scare sobered up the lads a bit and we were seized by a kind of nervous, post-adrenaline rush giggles for a while after.

The Jekyll and Hyde turned out to be a kind of cool goth bar, that reminded me of Nottingham’s the Pit and the Pendulum, with the same look of being designed by Hammer studios. The toilets were stashed behind a fake book case which was a nice touch, if rather confusing and hard to find.

Grabbed food at Subway where Mike, believing the counter girl to have been rude or ignorant hadn’t served him took his bag from the counter and stormed off to eat it. Only it wasn’t his bag, it was the rubbish meaning his was still there, put helpfully within reach by the girl. He realized his error and sheepishly collected his order, while the poor girl seemed torn between wanting to burst out laughing and wondering how the “customer is always right” ethos would work here.

Headed for an indie club where the barman gave me grief, looked at my ID and then asked me what I do for a living. I stammered a response but wish I’d had the presence of mind to fire back with something a bit better:

  • I kill bouncers who ask stupid question
  • I am the law
  • Doormen inspector
  • Porn star
  • International drug smuggler

When we entered a girl was handing out glow-sticks and cards that gave you deals. They also had confessions on the wall, we were invited to jot one down so I did, but then froze. What could I reveal that I didn’t mind my friends knowing that was funny or interesting but didn’t make me look like a douche. I failed in the end and the girl read my confession and called me a dick, but in a fairly lighthearted way. I’m not sharing that here, and hope the boys will remember- what goes on tour, stays on tour.

I chugged down a few energy drinks and hit the floor, where I spent most of the rest of the night throwing shapes with my usual blend of high enthusiasm and little skill. Was kind of cool to just cut loose and the DJ played some quality songs. I danced for hours, burning through most of the caffeine coursing through my veins.

The club was pretty busy and most of the crowd were pretty cool, apart from these idiot chavs in polo shirts, one of whom managed to annoy everyone around him, and so I quite like when one of them went arse-over-tit on the wet dancefloor.

What I found rather sweet was a couple I saw while The Fratellis’ “Chelsea Dagger” played, they were stood in the middle of the floor doing some pretty intense snogging but would pull apart to jump up and down and yell along with the chorus before going right back into snogging again.

Llyw and Rhod left early, but the rest of us stayed until almost closing time then wandered back. Stopping at a corner shop to grab some water to avoid dehydrating in our sweatbox of a room. I got into a little bit of aggro when they told me I’d poured a coffee from the machine and argued that I hadn’t. I had by accident, but was damned if I was going to pay for it. Feared it might get a little heated but luckily they backed down and I left.

The next day we showered and checked out, grabbing the hostel’s cooked breakfast which was rather nice and featured some tasty vegetarian haggis. The enjoyment was slightly marred by these girls who got into a major flap over checking out. Ditched our bags in the secure room and went for a walk to check out the parliament building. Did a bit of shopping and sorted some more Christmas presents before grabbing a Starbucks and checking my e-mails for the first time since Friday.

Sunday had that coming down vibe and we chilled and watched the start of the Swans match before the South Wales contingent caught a bus to the airport, all of us flagging considerably.

My phone got swabbed at customs, for what, I don’t know and Llyw argued with a Chinese woman.

I passed the time on the return flight reading a book I’d pinched from the hostel, Microserfs by Douglas Coupland, which wasn’t brilliant but good enough.

Again our flight was also host to some annoying kids who were kinda posh and the little girl decided to provide commentary. The phrase “We’re approaching the ground very rapidly” did not quell my flying nerves and our landing was a little bouncy and rough. I was glad to get back on terra firma. The drive back was fine, with us all listening to the chart and too tired to talk much as the rain lashed down.

Was a fun trip away and what I needed.

2013: Belgrade?

Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.

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5 Comments on “Highland Fling (What else was I going to call a blog about going to Scotland?)”

  1. Chris H says:

    “As part of the tour we were invited to sample whisky and I chose this very smoky Islay tipple which was quite nice. I realize this was breaking edge but “when in Rome…” and it was only a drop (I did finish off half a pint of cider later, but that was mainly because I’d accepted that the whisky meant I had to start again anyway, but I restarted again on Sunday).”

    No. You don’t “start again” with straight edge. Jesus, I felt kind of bad in the message I posted two minutes ago. “Maybe he’s not a poser” I thought. But then look here.

    You are not straight edge. “If you’re not now, you never were.” Drinking alcohol just because you’re there is not straight edge. Drinking MORE because you will have to “start again”, is not straight edge.

    What a poser, looking to claim a label. You’re a disgrace to anyone that calls themselves “straight edge” because when people see you doing that, they assume others do it too.

    What a joke you are. And not only that, but without the damn willpower to not shove booze in his gob when he’s trying to be “straight edge” because he can’t handle his booze in the first place.

    • chrisebpage says:

      First of all, thanks for the feedback.
      In reference to choosing “straight edge” as something to brag about, the only reasons I chose it over “tee-total” as a term were because I always associate that term more with religious connotations or people who go from cradle to the grave without touching alcohol, neither of which applies to my situation at the time.
      And also I used the term straight edge merely because it’s the only other term I’m aware of, largely due to the wrestler I mentioned.
      I never stated I was joining some sort of “movement” I was just using it as a term for my period of abstinence. I find it a bit interesting that you attack me for being a “poser” when really the whole idea of straight edge seems to be a rather self righteous pose and this is backed up in your reply, which seems to ring with this sense of misplaced superiority.
      I appreciate that I may not use the phrase in the same way that you do, but from what I can see different people have different definitions and rules when it comes to it anyway.
      I chose not to drink and then I chose to change my mind? Is that a lack of willpower? Maybe, or it could just be me changing my mind, which isn’t a bad thing. I’d much rather be someone who’s flexible and open to change than someone who just digs in and refuses to change. I’ve never seen why some see this as a strength, when really it just shows a lack of willing to accept mistakes or attempt to grow as a person.
      Part of the reason that I decided to drink again was because for me avoiding the problem wasn’t solving it, and it would be better for me to learn to drink responsibly as opposed to making a complete ban on the booze, which would be more difficult and potentially more disastrous if there were lapses.
      Again, I thank you for your comment, and advise you to maybe lighten up a bit. Peace and love. C

      • Batman says:

        Don’t use the label then. You can’t just assign a different meaning to terms. It is NOT what you are claiming to be, so don’t use it. Or you look like a moron. You drink alcohol a little bit. That’s it. Simple as that. It’s like “vegetarians” that eat a bit of bacon now and then. That’s not how that works. That you will argue against the facts of the term do that you can continue to use the label proves the point. You want that label to brag about it. Yet edge break often. Poser.

      • chrisebpage says:

        Gay. Hip. Wicked. Punk. Gnarly. Cool.
        All these terms have had different meanings assigned to them.
        Like I’ve already said, I chose to use the term “straight edge” because for me it summed up what I was doing at the time. Strip away all the subculture stuff and at it’s heart the key feature of what’s meant by the phrase is a decision not to drink, do drugs or have promiscuous sex, all of which I kept to during the 5 months or whatever it was (two by my choice, one by the choice of the women of South Wales). I think for most people that’s what they view being “straight edge” as being.
        So, for however long it was I stuck to these rules I’d decided to follow. And then I decided not to anymore.
        See, this is where your vegetarian argument falls apart. If someone is veggie for 10 years and then eats bacon, it means they’re no longer vegetarian but it doesn’t mean they never were. They’d made a decision to not eat meat and then they’d changed their mind. Being vegetarian or straight edge is a choice. And as such, you can make a different one.
        So for a time I chose to be straight edge, as I see the definition of that term, and then I decided to drink again, having used the period of abstinence to think about my drinking and my attitudes towards it.
        The problem with assigning a definition to something as intangible as straight edge is there’s always going to be differing versions. Kind of like with a religion I guess. A quick googling shows that there are different approaches to “being edge” out there- some adopt veganism as well, others lump caffeine in with the banned substances while others don’t, and some don’t see the sex thing as being part of it. That’s the problem with a made up societal thing- people are free to change the rules and the definition as they want.
        I still find it weird that you assume that I see it as something to brag about. I don’t. I see it as a choice, and making that choice at the time didn’t make me better than anyone else. I don’t see vegetarians as being better than us meat eaters, and I don’t see people who have sugar in their tea as inferior to me because I don’t sweeten my cuppa. They’re fairly meaningless choices that we make that effect our day-to-day life but don’t show how good a person we are.
        The only posey thing I think I did was link myself to CM Punk, which I guess was a stretch, but I never saw it as something to brag about. I discussed it on my blog because my behaviour while drunk worried me and so I discussed it on my blog, as that’s what I write it for, to go over stuff that’s on my mind. I wrote about going out and not drinking not to do a “look at me! I didn’t drink, how great am I?!” thing but because it made me think about how I’d changed as a person and become more confident and comfortable with myself and didn’t need Dutch courage in the way I used to.
        However, I’ve clearly hit a nerve with regards to you, and the fact that you see “being edge” as something of value and a lifestyle choice that should be celebrated and taken seriously. I think this says more about your own feelings on the subject than anything else, but I’ll do you a deal. If you re-read my blogs, everytime you see the phrase “straight edge” replace it mentally with “flibbedy-flooboo”, which will be the name I give to deciding not to drink/do drugs for a period of time.
        Unless of course I’m discussing the dimensions of something or razor blades, in which case I mean straight edge. Hmm, it’s almost like that phrase used to mean something else and was then assigned a different meaning.
        Anyway, thanks for reading and good to know I’m prompting such an emotional response.
        Peace and love- C

  2. […] I’ve been lucky in my travel experiences, aside from the Magnus incident on the way to Edinburgh last year I’ve never had to deal with annoying kids on flights. […]


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