The main benefits of being in an ‘International’ relationship is that every trip home involves two locations – two families and particularly at Christmas – two dinners 🙂
This year would be no exception.
The next morning we went a walk to dust the cobwebs from the night before up around Pollokshaws and into the Pollok Country Park – the largest public park within Glasgow. On the way we passed Pollokshaws Burgh Hall – a municipal building designed by Robert Rowand Anderson. The park itself is home to a few ‘Coos’ that were grazing in the park land*.
While in the park we popped into the grounds of Pollok House – a large country house and ancestral home of the Stirling Maxwell Family. An interesting bit of trivia is that it is within the cedar-panelled smoking room of this house that the initial discussions for the founding of the National Trust of Scotland in 1931. It is a grand example of Georgian architecture and the nineteenth century formal garden was great to walk around.
That afternoon the show moved down the coast to Ayr and that second Christmas dinner I was talking about, including some Haggis.
We also had a couple of days to catch up with family and friends over cups of tea. It is funny how John drinks coffee all the time in Australia but as soon as he is back in Europe he switches to Tea. And there was the now obligatory visit to Dumfries House. – It really is something special.
How many Filippis can you fit in a castle?
Bernadette was turning the big 60 later in January but with Karen and John back for Christmas a conspiracy formed to do something special for Hogmanay and have a pre-Birthday celebration for Bernadette. Secret correspondence was sent to the rest of the Fillippi Clan and plans were drawn to spend a few days away as a group.
The official line was that we had booked a couple of cottages for Karen, Laura, Dan, John and Iain and Bernadette for Hogmanay and that was it. While Bernadette and Iain worked in the shop it was like ready steady cook as pots of curry and trays of lasagne were made to feed the secret army that would eventually show up at the “cottages”. When the amount of food was queried later the refrain was that “those boys will need feeding!” – and that seemed to wash.
And as to that destination – well sandwiched between the River Tay to the north and the village of Auchtermuchty (say that fast 10x) to the south and located deep in the Kingdom of Fife – is a 16th Century Manor house called Pitcairlie House. Originally it was owned and built by the Leslie Family – the Earl of Rothes before changing hands a few times to its present day role as holiday accommodation.
And what a place it was, we had booked most of the cottages and the main house so had the run of the place to ourselves, a huge kitchen and dining area, massive lounges, a hidden cave bar, a hot tub and all the atmosphere a country manor in Scotland in Winter can provide.
We got there around midday to pick up the keys and begin the transformation of an empty house into a party pad./ The rest of the Fillippi caravan drifted in during the afternoon on New Years Eve – bit like the Dwarves arriving at Bilbo’s house in The Hobbit. But unlike those dwarves they came bearing food and drink. Soon enough all the fridges and freezers, nooks and cranny’s were bursting with enough food to feed this army. As soon as enough had gathered the prosecco was opened and everyone enjoyed a moments piece before Bernadette and Iain arrived and the madness would kick off.
The next two days were a whirlwind, Birthday Cakes, Birthday Trivia, plenty of food and desserts. Champagne Pong on a large dining table, a session in the cave bar (more than one person would be barred that evening 🙂 ), games (including the infamous pie-face) and much more.
Oh and Hogmanay as well. Singing, dancing, Jules Holland (tradition!) on the telly and plenty of Prosecco.
We made the most of our location in Fife for the few days. You can read more about what we saw in our next post.
And the answer to the question posed above – a lot. You can fit a lot of Filippi’s in a castle!
Glasgow ya beauty!
After our trip to Fife it was back up to Glasgow for a special night out as we had gotten tickets to the Star Sixes Football Tournament at the SSE Hydro.
It is a special tournament for ex-International Football players to show that still got it. Stars such as Michael Owen, Emile Heskey, Robert Pires, Pierre van Hooijdonk and even a spot for Owen Coyle were taking part.
The Republic of Ireland Team was a real blast from the past – Niall Quinn and his disco pants, Jason McAteer, Phil Babb, Stephen Hunt, Ian Harte.
It was a fantastic evening of football with the roof of the Hydro lifting off its seams when Scotland smashed England 4-1. A personal highlight was the usher giving out to me for bringing a ‘commerical camera’ into the stadium. It is a Nikon D700 pal – 280 zoom max on this baby – I think the tournament is safe from rogue photos getting out. A real highlight was the half time show of the Red Hot Chili Pipers.
We caught up with the girls again afterwards and had a night out involving Live Music and a white Russians (Dan!). By the way – Glasgow is thriving – so many bars, restaurants and things happening.
The next morning we enjoyed our final breakfast at the Singl-End. cafe in the Merchant City for some brunch and cakes.
And since we were in that neck of the woods it was remiss of us not to pay the Big Yin ( Billy Connolly) a respectful visit. One of his murals, by artist John Byrne is located on Osborne Street. You can locate them all using this guide from the BBC here. And of course no trip to Glasgow would be complete with a snap of the Duke of Wellington Statue outside the Gallery of Modern Art.
The Last Laugh
We had one last night in Scotland, and thanks to the competitiveness of Edinburgh Airport for routes we would need to spend it in the Capital city. Good thing we know people we can stay with – Laura and Colin.
An evening of too much red wine, the best pizzas consumed yet, live music from Eddie Sheehan (not Ed Sheeran!) in a pub in Leith* and an early morning taxi that almost did not arrive was the perfect cap to a great trip.
*We had gone for a wee walk around the town and ended up in this pub 100% completely by accident 🙂