Traffic Jams, Luxury Hotels and Beanie Hats
Half term always involves plate spinning. We usually try to do something interesting each weekend so the children don't realise they are in fact spending the week at school (albeit holiday club) as usual. The first weekend saw us heading down the A1 to visit the grandparents in Derbyshire. As a special treat my husband had taken a half day off work which ensured that we left Edinburgh with everyone else going away for half term and hit Newcastle at rush hour. A journey which would normally take five hours took eight so on our return I plugged Edinburgh via M6 into the Sat Nav and it was looking good. A shorter journey time, faster roads and a refreshing new route. I waxed lyrical to the children about the joys of travelling through the stunning scenery of the Lake District, visiting the award winning Westmorland service station and going cross country through the beautiful Market Town of Moffat. In fact we travelled in driving rain obscuring any view of the Lake District, the loos at Westmorland were closed entailing a portaloo experience I normally reserve for music festivals. We got stuck in an hour long tail back of traffic meaning that instead of going cross country we followed the instructions of the sat nav dominatrix and stuck to the motorway meaning that we reached Glasgow at rush hour and crawled for the remainder of our journey home.
The following weekend I was well aware that I had to pull out the stops if the girls were to have anything positive to write about their half term break and so, as last year, booked a night at the lavish Old Course Hotel in St Andrews. The difference this year was that we were paying full price and were also taking my mother with us but the eye watering prices were more than compensated by exquisite service and utter luxury. I had booked my mother a single room overlooking the old course and ourselves a family room overlooking the car park but we were upgraded to a suite overlooking the course with adjoining door to my mothers room. The children were delighted to have fast track access to Granny. My husband less so. I don't think he has ever slept in such close proximity to her.
However the rooms themselves were outstanding. My mother languished in an armchair surrounded by 360 degree views of the sea and the famous golf course whereas our highlight was a jacuzzi in our bathroom complete with light therapy which it has to be said with the children in it was less relaxation and more mobile disco. We were only there for 24 hours but came away feeling more refreshed than we would had we spent three days at a lesser establishment. It was all in the detail. The children were thrilled with their complimentary teddies and personalised cookies and the adults were equally delighted by the champagne and canapes which appeared at our door at 6pm. The following morning was reminiscent of Alan Partridge with his extra large plate as we attempted to get our moneys worth out of the lavish breakfast, hissing at the children that they weren't getting lunch or tea so had better eat it all up as they began to look green around the gills.
It was my mothers first birthday since my fathers death so we wanted to make it memorable and didn't begrudge a penny. However it became more memorable than we had anticipated when I received a phonecall from a distant relative we have been dining out on for the last six months. It was from the mother of Danny Macaskill, world famous stunt cyclist and star of the YouTube sensation Inspired Bicycles, inviting me to a screening of his latest film. I promptly accepted on behalf of myself, my husband, my two young children and my elderly mother which I'm not entirely sure had been the intention and 7pm on Sunday night found us queuing outside the fashionable venue of Hawke and Hunter in the city centre accepting wrist bands to prove we were old enough to drink. Flattering but entirely unnecessary.
I had envisaged a small screening room for about 50 people but as the crowd surged forward we found ourselves in a massive dark room filled with nearly 400, most of whom were wearing beanie hats. I thought we'd made a massive mistake but thankfully we were rescued by Danny's mother who dragged us to the VIP area reserved for family and soon my mother was happily wedged between two relatives she hadn't seen for years and the children (who fitted in better than any of us) were perched above the mixing desk. As soon as the film started Danny himself meandered over, signing autographs for them and plying them with soft drinks. I don't think they watched the film itself, they were far too preoccupied gazing at him and his girlfriend and were delighted to have their photograph taken with them as we left.
As we emerged back into the cold Edinburgh night air a TV crew was outside, presumably waiting to film world famous riders or at the very least some D list local celebs. I doubt they'd anticipated filming two small children munching free popcorn and a distinguished old lady in a cashmere coat but I'm pretty sure that our motley crew derived more pleasure from the evening than the other 395 party goers for whom an event like that is all part of their usual social calendar.