Tuesday, 31 May 2011

The Sainsburys entertainment aisle

I’ve not written on here in what feels like weeks. In fact, it has been weeks. After arriving back from sunny Ibiza, Ka and myself immediately went back to work, straight back to normality with an almighty thump. The last blog I wrote was by the side of a pool, both Ka and myself lying with Carte D’Or ice cream cones. Gawd, even that phrase ‘by the pool’ seems so alien now after 2 weeks being back at work.
We were at the side of the pool last weekend, mind you, but that was in the Hamilton Water Palace with our niece, Morgan.
Morgan had stayed the night on the Friday and after a night of cocktails, bow ties, iCarly and painting (Morgan always paints at Uncle Michael’s house) she was particularly keen to try out her new tankini and bright pink goggles. During the swimming in the Water Palace I kept throwing the goggles further into the pool in an effort to get Morgan to swim out and retrieve them, an effort to try and get her to show me her advancing swimming skills.
Unfortunately she didn’t put up with this for long, only carrying out the task once, before continually shouting at me and going in a huff, accusing me of mistreating her new pink goggles. Apparently she’d only got them the day before. I was merely trying to get her to show us her fantastic swimming abilities, it had not actually occurred to me until afterwards that I was treating her like a water bound dog with a game of fetch.
Anyway, after delivering, sorry, dropping Morgan off home to her Mum and Dad, we escaped home and collapsed once more of exhaustion. Morgan staying a mere one night usually always leaves us exhausted.
Ka was off out with Pauline for yet another girls night out so Chaz and myself went for another carry out in Giffnock. For some reason we’ve got to go all the way to Giffnock for a curry. Chaz insists upon it. I’m not sure what is exactly wrong with the countless curry shops in EK but they are all apparently not good enough for Chaz’s advanced tastebuds. Anyway, we returned to the flat with a a Hot Wheels toy Delorean, a fair number of carrier bags filled with beer offers from Giffnock’s Sainsburys and a cold curry to watch a couple of movies.
Sainsburys. A supermarket not particularly known for it’s special offers but one which has gone up considerably in my estimations after walking in the other day and finding a veritable feast of special offers in the entertainment section. My Dad’s Father’s day present, my Dad’s birthday present, a couple of Cds for myself and a present for Ka were all purchased. Great for the old Nectar card.
Ka was delighted with her gift from the Sainsburys entertainment aisle.
John Barrowman’s latest album.
A whole pound, it cost me. A quid. Unbelievable value for money.
Some might claim, certainly the more cynical of you, that John Barrowman’s latest album wouldn’t be worth a pound.
Of course, I would have to argue.
After the hard week she’d had, Ka’s smile that night was more than a pound’s worth. In fact it was the best quid I’ve ever spent… well, since that Carte D’Or ice cream cone at the side of the pool anyway.
In fact, the cone was dearer than the John Barrowman album!

Friday, 13 May 2011

Birds, breakfast and beaches

With justy over 24 hours to go now until Ka and myself start our journey back to good old Scotland we are back relaxing by the pool with the Cocoon elite. Although this Cocoon elite are not as lively as the movie characters. In fact, Ka and myself are worried that some of them may not be just lying sunbathing...
Captain Birdseye is here in the hotel too. He was lying with his Captain's hat on when we arrived around two hours ago. We know he was the real deal too as he had the white beard with the slightly crooked smile and the fact that all the waiters were saluting him put the nail in the coffin. The proverbial coffin, of course. He didn't actually die. He just sauntered off a while back, perhaps to wrestle a squid or something, as Ka and myself licked our carte d'or cones.
Last night Ka and myself boarded the Captain Nemo II, a large glass bottom ferry boat which took us a two hour cruise around the surrounding north west coastline of Ibiza, taking in the sights, including a smugglers cave, a large cliff where people get naked, a Batman logo shaped rock formation, a chance to feed the seagulls (which started following us after only ten minutes at sea and then commencing to try and shit on us after feeding - great idea Mr Tourist guide!) and, of course, the Ibiza sunset. Although cloudier than the first sunsets of the week, last nights was still great to watch from the bow of a boat, glass of 'champagne' in hand.
Afterwards we went to a local Dutch bar for dinner and after a thoroughly impressive meal there, went out for a few cocktails and then bed.
This morning we were once more rudely awoken. All through the week we've been rather rudely awoken by a villainous little bird that likes to perch on the head of the palm tree outside out balcony and tweet away like an unpleasant, highly shrill, alarm signal. The kind of noises R2-D2 would make, if on drugs. He, or she, (it may be a she for all I know, I've no idea when it comes to birds) sits on the palm tree and without fail, tweets away (no, it's not on twitter!), loudly, constantly and without fail every morning and even has the cheek to sit and look at you, if you venture out on to the balcony to confront it. He, or she, even turns up if Ka and myself decide to sit and relax on the balcony, late afternoon, and tweets away, blatantly in our faces.
On our way round a local touristy shop yesterday i spotted a rail of Ibiza sling shots that would be ideal for silencing our little friend. Of course, I abandoned the idea as we fly home tomorrow. If I'd been staying 2 weeks, it may have been a different story.
This morning it wasn't the bird that woke us up though, it was the maids. On a few morning the bird was almost drowned out by the hotel maids who seem to gather around our apartment door every morning with their mops and brushes and debate loudly, in their native spanish, about potatoes. Or at least that's what it sounds like to my untrained ears (I never took Spanish at school). They shout at each other like Spanish Speedy Gonzalezs (plural, Gonzalei?). Ka snapped this morning and shouted a grumpy "Shut up!" from her bed. Unfortunately I don't think they heard as they continued with thier noisy bustling.
I'll miss the breakfast in the hotel. Hot plate upon hot plate of sausage, egg, boiled and fried, bacon, tomatoes, fried bread, hash browns, croissants, pastries, cereals, jams, juices, fruit and crackers. Not to mention one of those cool toasters with the conveyer belts. All fantastic. The only niggly thing being that you're in constant competition with the other residents to get the best looking sausage or the last fried egg on the hot tray. If you miss the last fried egg or tomato you have to wait for the slightly scarey Head Waiter to replace the empty tray with a fully loaded version of breakfasty goodness while newly woken guests mill around you, huffing, puffing and generally moaning as to why you are holding up the queue.
The buffet dinner is even worse. the old folk are all circling the restaurant doors before they're even opened at half seven and if you turn up even five minutes later your waiting ages to get any dinner. Ka and myself have been amazed at the speed some of these pensioners eat. Some of them are diving into their ice cream before Ka and myself have even managed to pick up a fork.
I've missed out on a few puddings thanks to the elderly queue jumpers, the pudding hoggers and the guests who take a slice of the best pudding before they've even had a nibble on their main course. On Tuesday night I had my eye on the last two slices of chocolate cheesecake for Ka and myself and was making my way over to the dessert counter when I heard two women conversing loudly behind me.
"Oh, that cheesecake looks lovely"
"Only two bits left too. Count me in, hold on, I'll get a plate"
By this point I'd had enough of missing out and witha thought along the lines of "not on your nelly!", I raced up to the dessert counter and quickly cakesliced the two last peices on to my plate. With a smug look on my face, and a mental victory dance going on in my head, I turned to face the two hopefuls as I heard them come up behind me. My smug look melted as I looked round at their glaring looks of sad annoyance. One of them looking up grimly from her wheelchair. Her friend glowering at me with complete hatred.
Stuff it. I'm on holiday. I can eat whatever puddings I want. Even if I don't look quite as good on the beach as a result. Unlike the inhabitants of Cala Bassa, a beach, reached by ferry boat, which Ka and myself visited during the week. We were lying sunbathing, when I suddenly happened to notice we were surrounded by naked people.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

Too old for Ibiza

According to the digital clock display on the harbour side, it's 25 degrees celcius in San Antonio today. It seems far warmer even though there is a strong breeze flowing in from the ocean, stirring the giant palm trees which line the colourful streets of fountains, cafes and shops.
Ka and myself arrived on Saturday night, leaving behind the Scottish sunshine and looking forward to an early, sunny summer holiday. A chilled week in sunny Ibiza before it's June/July busy season begins.
The plane descended into Ibiza airport around 8 o'clock in the evening, shrouded in grey cloud and as we left the airport, the rain and thunderstorm began. Almighty, jagged lines of lightening ripped through the black skies and around the mountainous hills around us, the coach full of Scots tourists (two of which were seeing lightening for the first time), as it made it's way through Ibiza's main roads to drop us all at our various hotels.
Instead of the warm, humid, foreign conditions we had all imagined ourselves to be arriving in, Ka and myself disembarked from our coach in the rain, our driver quickly ducking down into the coach's luggage compartment and chucking our cases out at us, into the puddles as ominous palm trees swung threateningly overhead, framing the front of our hotel, its entrance looming over us through the rain and wind, like the beginnings of a scarey murder mystery rather than a holiday in the sun.
Thankfully the rain quickly petered out (thanks Peter!) and after being served some, dried up remains for that night's buffet dinner, which Ka and myself politely received and politely refused the majority of, we ventured out for a short walk to check out the area and maybe partake in a wee drink to start our holiday.
We sauntered up the Promenade, home to our hotel, at five the next morning, drunk but happy. We had walked along the Promenade directly outside the hotel, which stretches the length of the beach and the harbour and inadvertantly walked straight up into the busy, hectic main bar area of San Antonio, locally named Cami de Santa Agnes or what clubbing tourists know it as, "the westend", or "the strip". Upon entering the strip we were immediately accosted by club touts of all nationalities, shapes and sizes. We ended up perched in a supposedly Scottish bar named, The Highlander were we enjoyed a few drinks with various folk including a friendly bunch of London lads over for a 21st, boviously sozzled but still a good laugh, and a hen party from Livingston, from which the chief bridesmaid happily chatted away with us. Whilst she chatted, one of her party, a slightly older memeber of the 'mutton dressed as lamb' variety, got amorous with one of the London blokes, the two of them disappearing up an alley for half an hour after claiming they were going home and appearing a little disshevlled looking not long afterwards.
Although the whole street of bars seemed lively enough you couldn't help but feel it was all a precursor for what's to come in the June July months for the strip's nightlife and the town as touts for the varrious bars bounced around the cobbled street looking a little at a loss as they struggled for pedestrians to shout at with offers of free shots, or glasses of supposed champagne.
Needless to say, the following morning, Ka and myself missed our welcome meeting and our breakfast not opening our eyes till well past the last serving at 10.
We staying half board which gives us the luxury of breakfast and dinner in the hotel as long as we eat between certain times, sit where they want us to sit, don't ask for glasses of ice and just generally behave ourselves, avoiding any battles with any other guests, including buffet battles.
Baefore we got to this sunny climate, fellow work colleagues and friends had taken great smugness in telling me I was too old for Ibiza. Well, after the first morning in this hotel, I could quite rightly say that I'd never seen so many old people under one roof. The hotel is full of old folk! I've never seen so many hearing aids.
"Perfect for couples", the brochure said. It never mentioned anything about "your last holiday EVER".
Though it did certainly feel like that as I headed down to relax at the poolside on the Sunday morning, to try and get a plastic sunbed under the suspicious gazes the gathered pensioners who had already claimed their places there. Thankfully the thunder and rain had now dispersed revealing a blistering blue sky. Even the lizards were running for cover as I took my place alongside Ka on one of the ever so comfortable plastic beds at the poolside, beside the pool's cafe and toilet hut. So comfortable in fact that after approximately twenty seconds of lying a queer feeling did come over my body. Within moments I was rushing, as subtley as I could, into the toilet hut and puking down one of the pans. Not the greatest start to the holiday but after a small portion of a toastie from the pool's cafe we were off once more to take a long walk along the , thankfully, long pier. Sunday was our first full day in Ibiza and in the evening we were to experience our first half board dinner and that's when the battles with the hearing aids almost began, Ka and myself bought the worst bottle of wine known to man and we met Ashley (no, not him from Coronation Street!).
Minor battles also commenced with small chirping birds, the lady in the wheel chair, the Head Waiter, the Hitler Ice Waiter and the wee Ice cream nicking little old lady.
But they're all other stories for another time. I'm off to get ready for a sunset cruise.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

We're packing

Ka and myself are hurriedly putting the last few things in our cases. We're leaving the country. Alex Salmond's in charge!
Alex Salmond has been all over the news and the tv for the past few days thanks to the election results so it'll make our short holiday away all the more worthwhile.
If the coalition government has done one thing for Britain so far it's help push the Scottish people over the edge. The SNPs have won a majority government in Scotland thanks to the disillusionment of Labour supporters, not to mention the removal of any support of the Lib Dems and Tories. Then again with that bloke in charge of Labour, Iain Gray, Gray with a capital GRAY, they never really stood much of a chance. I think I actually nodded off the few times I seen him speaking on the news, inadvertently dropping my biscuit in my tea.
Hate it when that happens. Soggy biscuit lying in a pile of mush at the bottom of your cup as you finish. Must be even worse for muffins. Jillian managed to drop a muffin in her tea the other day?! It was a mini muffin to be fair, not one of the mother muffins you get out of the supermarket bakeries or Starbucks shops. Jillian was not listening to Iain Gray though.
I wonder how many perfectly good cups of tea Iain Gray has ruined? Maybe that's why he's quitting? Gray had wanted 'root and branch reform'. So he was blaming the tea.
Anyway, that's reminded me. Teabags. Must remember to take some good British tea to Ibiza with us (who says I'm too old for Ibiza?!). Good British Nambarrie tea.
Whilst writing this, I have just received an email from Kenny in Oz, ordering me to visit a bar in San Antonio, named Kilty's. Apparently it sells bottles of buckie. I've only had one gulp of buckie in my whole life but hey, you never know.
I'd better go and weigh these cases again. We've borrowed a luggage weighing device from my Mum and Dad in order to ensure we come within the correct weights specified for our flights. When I say 'we' I mean of course, Ka's case. I'm fine. 10 and a half kg. Easy.
Ka is coming in at just under 15. For a moment we were almost taking her big Revlon hair dryer. Ka made me phone Ibiza to make sure the hotel rooms have hair dryers. Then, after I had come off the phone, she realised she had to know whether there were ironing facilities. Ironing facilities? Just hang your clothes up, I said. But no, we need an iron. Our clothes have to be neatly pressed. Even in Ibiza. So a second phonecall to the same hotel receptionist was made. The Spanish lady sniggered slightly on the other end of the line and politely brushed my apologies aside. She'll no doubt be a little puzzled when a balding man in a creased t-shirt turns up tonight at her reception booking in under the same name.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Who would live in a house like this?

So, Osama Bin Laden is dead. About time too. It's only been at least nine and a half years since he was put at the top of the World's Most Wanted list after killing thousands. Apparently he wasn't even holed up in some cave, hidden away, somewhere in the Afghan or Pakistan mountains either. He was living it up in a mansion with his four wives, his maids and a couple of buddies, getting his papers delivered everyday, probably having a great time. All the while, just around the corner, the Pakistan Military Academy stood, it's recruits and generals toiling away in their fight against terror.
Did nobody in that Academy know that they were living next door to the World's Most Wanted? Very suspicious. Even more embarrassing is the fact that a bunch of American troops were in the Academy, on a training program, as little as two years ago.
Would one of the troops or recruits not have thought to say anything, after dodging out the back for a sneaky cigarette, after spotting Bin Laden playing swing ball in his backyard or hanging his y-fronts on the washing line?
An American General probably stood out on a balcony on the back of the Military Academy late one night, munching a fat cigar, glaring out over the Pakistan town. As he looked out over the darkening desert landscape he'd be grimly muttering, "Where could he be?", failing to notice the one house surrounded by 12ft walls not 1km away from him.
No doubt there'll be a statement from the Americans saying they knew he was there all along and were simply carrying out a secret mission, of some sort, to confirm the Al Qaeda leader's whereabouts.
The 12ft walls surrounding Bin Laden's compound must have been great for keeping out the neighbours though.
But this also begs the question of, did nobody think it was suspicious that this one mansion, the biggest residence in the whole of the town, had 12ft walls surrounding it complete with a lining of silvery, glinting barbed wire, large security gates and a small collection of satellite dishes and CCTV cameras, whirring around? Was nobody even curious as to who lived there? Nobody thought to go round for a cup of sugar or with a basket of muffins?
And why are people calling it a mansion? It looks abysmal. There's not even a swimming pool and it's in serious need of a good coat of paint at the very least. Perhaps the word mansion has a different meaning over there?
Apparently it was valued at $1 million. Who the hell was the estate agent? Doctor Evil?

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Did Boba Fett brush his teeth?

Another Sunday night dinner at the McGarva's tonight. We all arrived. We all ate Dougie and Grace's food. We wrecked the place. And then we left.
Okay we didn't literally wreck the place, as such, but thanks to us and the kids, the place was left in a bit of a state as we all said our goodbyes. Colin and jillian were the first to escape, using that old excuse of having to catch a train, and then the rest of us followed. Morgan and Joshua were piled into the car by Angela and Ka and myself grabbed our various belongings including slippers, sunglasses and Boba Fett helmets, jumped in the car and were off home. Yep, a Boba Fett helmet. They always come in handy when you need a spot of Bounty Hunting done.
A genius birthday present from Colin and Jillian, which I only just unwrapped today. Ah, geek mode once more as I spend the next ten minutes trying to get the electronic helmet out from it's box. It's even got Boba Fett voice recordings which you can activate by pressing some disguised buttons on the helmet's side. "I am the hunter. You are the prey" is one of the quotes that emit from the helmet as it's antenna lights up. You never know, it may come in handy?
Of course, my only problem now is, where the hell do I keep it? Probably the first thing that popped into Ka's head, groaning inwardly, as I unwrapped it. I did suggest that I simply wear it all the time, thus eliminating the need to even find a place for it in our wee one bedroom flat. But that would probably not work so well. Living my day to day life with a Boba Fett helmet on would probably freak a few people out and as Jillian pointed out tonight, how would you brush your teeth with it on? I suppose Boba himself must have taken his helmet off occasionally to brush his teeth. Assuming he had teeth, of course. Perhaps the helmet he wore had a tooth brushing app installed in it's casing? Did Boba Fett even have teeth? Or hair? Or even a face to speak of? Who knows? Maybe he lived his entire life, up until the unfortunate incident with the sarlacc pit, without taking his helmet off. He was a hardened, universally feared bounty hunter after all. Surely he didn't really give a damn if his prey gave his breath a sniff before they were disintegrated or encased in carbonite?
Did Stormtroopers and Darth Vader still brush their teeth, come to think of it?
Before such questions arose in Uddingston, we were in Chapelton seeing my folks and Uncle Jim, who had travelled up from London on business, in possibly the biggest car I've ever sat in. A beautiful Bentley which, whilst sitting in, felt like travelling in some kind of supercar. A giant black beast of a car which you could only dream of tearing the roads up in. Jim also collected his DVD of his 50th Birthday weekend which I'd put together for him, a short film made up from the clips and footage I took on our trip to Banstead in March. Jim and Dad were off to play a few holes round at the local golf course after we left, enjoying the brilliant Scottish sunshine while we have it.
Later in the evening Dad, Mum and Jim sent a picture back to us in reply to a phone picture taken in the McGarva household of me, trying to look threatening in a Boba Fett helmet. Their picture, after at least ten minutes of squinting, turned out to be my mother in some kind of ice hockey mask, complete with clenched fists pointed threateningly at the camera.
The last time I seen a hockey mask that scary was watching Friday the 13th. Jason Voorhees came back from the dead with a hockey mask on, in no less than twelve movies, and slaughtered many a screaming teenager in many a wild, imaginative and gory way.
Who needs Boba Fett, the universally feared Bounty Hunter, when you've got Betty in a hockey mask? Scarier than any horror movie, surely?