Christmas, Hogmany and a wee bit of wedding planning.......

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February 4th 2008
Published: February 5th 2008
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The drive up to Scotland was much quicker than usual. Probably due to the fact that we were no longer coming from the very South Coast. Alan's move to Leamington Spa has meant a much closer proximity to home. Which was great for us. It was great to see our Gran and Aunt Lesley when we got up. Alan decided to stay at Gran's house whilst I stayed at Lesley's - with Alfie, the mad ginger tom.

The next day was Sunday and after going to the cinema we descended on my Aunt Anne and Uncle Ian for dinner. We don't really need an excuse to get our family together. Yummy food, wine and beer kept us all happy and we entertained ourselves with board games and just the general fact that my cousins were there!!!

Then we were onto Christmas Eve - hurrah. I managed to wrap my pressies and Alan and I took all the presents we had as well as my Aunt Lesley's over to Gran's house. We were having Christmas morning there this year as my Gran had her lovely new flat to christen. We arranged all the pressies into piles for the next morning and then went out for a Christmas Eve drink. Whenever we are home, we always go to The Bull for a drink. Alan, Gran and I walked from her flat into Paisley. There we met Lesley who had just finished work and had already enjoyed a wee drink. Cousin Andrew also met us. We had a few hours to enjoy some drinks before last call - it came early being Christmas Eve. Then Lesley and I went back to her house. Her neighbour Diane called by to give Lesley a present and we all enjoyed a nice bottle of red wine before heading off to bed.

Woo hoo, Christmas morning. The whole family trooped round to Gran's. It was a brilliant couple of hours which saw paper fly, smiles erupt and presents galore. Once everyone had opened all the gifts it was time for breakfast!!!!! In our family it's a tradition to have a huge Christmas breakfast and then to save dinner for the next day as we're all usually too full after our brekkie. So, that's what happened - haggis, bacon, sausage, potato scones (homemade by Ian this year), black pudding, Gran's own dumpling, fried eggs and baked beans.... Can you see why we can't eat Christmas dinner after all that lot. So yummy though and made for a lazy afternoon. Later in the day Andrew, Alan, Lesley and I made our way over to Lesley's and she made yummy beef stroganoff for dinner. We were needing some more food after all. On Boxing Day we usually have our Christmas dinner but rather than taking over Anne and Ian's house we broke away from tradition. We went out for a jaunt instead - Aunt Lesley got a big minibus from her work (Thrifty car rental) and we all piled in. Then we headed along the River Clyde towards Greenock and stopped at Langbank for lunch in the Hungry Monk. After yet another meal of lots of drink and food consumption, we piled back into the minibus and made our way back to Paisley. Anne couldn't get out of things that easily and we still descended to carry on the day's fun and had drinks at their house.

The next day, everyone except poor Lesley as she was working, made their way to my Mum and Don's house for dinner. Time was spent in the usual way, a few drinks, making fun of one another and generally having fun! We played silly games like remote control sumo wrestler toys that knock each other over, or hungry frogs - which gobble up as many balls as possible. Then it was more food and then some relaxation. Alan and I stayed overnight and then made our way back to Paisley.

The next day, was Alan's last one before driving back down to Leamington Spa. We decided to go to the Imax theatre up in Glasgow to see a film. We tried to rally up some troops but Steve and Andrew had plans for dinner with friends and Anne and Ian were busy. So, Gran, Lesley, Alan and I went. We watched 'I Am Legend' and then stopped on the way home to have a curry. We walked into the Indian restaurant only to find Steve and Andrew out for some grub with their pals. It was quite funny and after disturbing the rest of the restaurant with our chatter, we sat down and continued to taunt each other's tables for a while. They eventually left..... and we got to finish our meals in peace. He he, only kidding - we're not that disruptive. We then had to say goodbye to Alan as he would be up and away early in the morning. It was brilliant to have had 10 days with him. We don't often get that long to hang out together as he's usually working when I'm over. So it was brilliant and I was sad to see him go.

Although Alan had left, I still had lots to look forward to. I was off to visit my friend Hilary. We always have a rushed visit whenever I'm home as Hilary works as a flight attendant also and works crazy hours like me. It's always hard to time things with her day's off. We were excited as we had all day together and went up to Glasgow to look around the shops. We then stopped at the supermarket on the way home and bought food for dinner. Hilary's Mum and Dad were coming round for dinner as her Dad, Gordon had just celebrated his Birthday - so Hilary was treating him. It was great to see them both and we all enjoyed catching up over our meal. Hilary's next door neighbour and our good friend Morven came round for a drink and a catch up. A very nice evening indeed.

Then it was Hogmany. I went over to my friend Kirsty and her fiancee Roy's for dinner. Then we made our way up to Glasgow to their friend's - Jenny and Martin's house party. It was a murder mystery party. I found out that I'd be going kind of last minute and didn't have time to buy an outfit so my character 'Anita Friske' was undercover. Or should I say, wearing normal clothes. Everyone else managed to make it with a costume and looked great. It was a fairly large group, but we managed to get on with the game and had fun along the way. The bells were drew near before we had solved the mystery, so we took a break to ring in 2008. We had party poppers and bubbly and eventually we got round to discovering who the murderer was. After that, the karaoke was set up and for some unbeknown reason, they got me screeching on the mike. Never a good idea and the scoring chart on the tv certainly let us know - bad, bad, bad it said every time!!!! Never again, that's all I can say.

New Year's Day was a pretty quiet one. Lots of slobbing and watching tv. January 2nd is the family's annual New Year's dinner. Gran usually hosts this event and this year was no exception - although, she did let us know that it'll probably be her last. She feels that the time has come that she just wants to enjoy the meal without all the hard work. Quite right too! Dinner was set for later in the afternoon so I managed to persuade Anne and Ian to come on an exploration trip with me. We went up to Glasgow to visit the Cathedral and Necropolis. The Cathedral is named after St. Mungo who is the Patron Saint of Glasgow. The Cathedral is built on the site of his tomb and it's believed to be the birthplace of the city of Glasgow. The present Cathedral has stood since 1197 and has stayed intact for over 800 years. We got into the Cathedral, but only for a brief minute. We were ushered out due to choir rehearsals. The Necoprolis is a basically a large graveyard, originating from the early 1800's. It's a fascinating place that is built on tiers and has some monuments that are huge and elaborate. To get to Necoprolis, walk over the Bridge of Sighs which you can find at the side of the Cathedral. We wandered around the Necropolis for a while before the chilly weather sent us on our way. We walked down into Merchant City and went to the Babbity Bowster (pub/hotel) for a steaming hot cup of coffee. Once our cockles were warmed, we strolled through the deserted streets of the Merchant City before making our way back to the car. We drove to Gran's flat and the whole family soon arrived. Mum and Don came over from Newton, so we were all there except for Alan.

The run up to going home was spent catching up with my school friend Lindsey over coffee one afternoon. Hilary and I went round to her Mum and Dad's for dinner before going to the cinema to watch P.S - I love you. I had a trip up to Glasgow to return some items and for last minute shopping. I strolled around Paisley and went to visit Paisley Abbey. It's a beautiful building with lots of history. It's construction began in the 1163 and it was built on the site of an old church which was founded in the 6th century. It makes for an interesting visit and the guides inside will walk you around and tell you about it's stories.

After all this, it was time to go home. But wait, I hear you say - what about the wedding planning. Oh, indeed the wedding!!!!! The countdown is certainly on for that. Just over a hundred days to go now till our big day - which is May 17th. I had already planned to make a trip over to Scotland so that I could go over the fundamental aspects of the wedding - that trip was planned for the end of January. I just brought it forward a little bit. It was very exciting to bring my wedding dress over with me - also my shoes. My dress has been amazing as it's traveled from Las Vegas to Calgary, Calgary to Vancouver, Vancouver to London by plane and then by car from Gatwick to Leamington Spa, then up to Scotland - from Paisley to Newton (Mum's house) back to Paisley. All this moving around and it's hardly creased!!!!!! It travels better than Mike 😉 At the moment it's in the safe hands of my Gran who is going to do some minor fixing. Anyway, back to the wedding planning. I did do some, honest.

After New Year's dinner I went back with Mum and Don to their house. They live in the small village of Newton which is on Loch Fyne - the largest sea loch in Scotland. Newton lies on the other side of the Loch from the well known town of Inveraray. After lots of research and with a lot of help from Mum and Don, we choose to have the wedding and reception in the small country hotel called The Creggans Inn. It sits right on the banks of Loch Fyne and has stunning views of the Loch and the surrounding area. We visited The Creggans one evening with our friends Roy and Sweeta who also live in Newton. It was a good excuse to go and sample some of the food that may be on the wedding menu. Gill, the owner then took Mum, Don and I on a tour of the facilities. We went into the restaurant, which will be the function
Family dinner at Mum and Don;sFamily dinner at Mum and Don;sFamily dinner at Mum and Don;s

Gran, Andrew, Ian, Anne, Alan, Claire, Steve, Mum, Don and Lottie
room we use. It's a big room with hardwood floors and windows which look out onto the garden and from there to the Loch. French doors open out onto a terrace and garden area, which will be great if the good old Scottish weather complies on the day. We also saw the sitting rooms which adjoin the restaurant which are great as it will give people a place to sit and relax and have some space if needed. We were pleased with it all and it was great to visualise what we have to work with as so far I've been planning everything without really knowing the actual space. We also saw the guest bedrooms and further sitting areas amongst them.

Mum and I spent some time visiting other accommodations in the area, which isn't too many as this is a fairly rural area. We went to Thistle House Guest House, a five minute drive up the Loch. It's a beautiful property and the owner Yvonne was lovely and very helpful. We also went to a couple of bed and breakfasts that are close to The Creggans. The Old Manse is a great place just up the road and it only does business by word of mouth, so luckily Mum and Don are friends with the owners.

We also spent time visiting Derek Prescott, who is going to be our photographer. He lives in the village of Lochgoilhead and we enjoyed a snowy drive to get there and spent a fair amount of the afternoon chatting with him. We then headed back to Newton to meet up with our Minister Robin. Robin married Mum and Don in 2004 so it's lovely that he's agreed to perform our ceremony.

It was a busy few days but we managed to cover a lot of ground and even managed to sneak in another dinner with Roy and Sweeta. This time at their house. Sweeta if from Sri Lanka and cooked us some rather yummy curries.

Before dropping me back in Paisley, Mum, Don and I spent an afternoon doing some shopping and bought some decorations for the function room. So a very productive time - well it had to be really. The next time I'm in Scotland will be for the big day itself! Can't wait.

That brings me to the end of my trip home. It was wonderful to spend time with my family, to be home for Christmas and to see good friends. Looking forward to seeing you all in May.

Lots of love for now,

Mike and Charlotte.

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