The Scottish Saltire

The Scottish Saltire

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Wild Weekend In London!

The boys were invited to play at Hootananny in London this past weekend in honor of Burns' Day (today Jan. 25th). So a few of us decided to go along for the fun. Rory and Kelly offered to drive down so they could haul the band equipment and Sandra, Gordy, Ursula and I flew with the guys. Round trip flight was less than £50 and the hostel above the pub was only £14 a night. What a deal!

Dougie played taxi with a 9 passenger van and came round to pick each of us up on Friday morning and shuttle us out to the Inverness airport. Flight was, of course, delayed but only about 30 minutes, so not too bad. Unfortunately, sitting at the Inverness airport was the last time poor Sean ever saw his iPhone! Never figured out exactly how he lost it but nevertheless it was no where to found the next time he reached for it.

After landing at Luton airport just outside of London we took the airport shuttle bus to the train station, and from there the train into London's Victoria Station. Hootananny is located in Brixton just a few stops on the underground from there. Gordy and Ursula left us at Victoria as they had accommodations elsewhere. We arrived at the pub late in the afternoon and after getting settled in we took off to explore the city after dark. The guys ended up at the Duke of Argyll pub in Soho (of course!) and Sandra and I went to Trafalger Square and Tower Bridge. It was after 11pm when we got back so we didn't stay up much later as she and I planned to get up early to see the sights. I've been to London before but that was a few years ago. Sandra has also been to London several times but always for work and never really had time to play tourist. Although we were in bed just after midnight there was a band on downstairs and the music didn't stop until 3am! Not exactly a good night's sleep since we had our alarms set for 7.

We meant to be on our way the next morning by 9:30am but waited for the guys to get their butts in gear. After an hour we decided to leave without them. We walked to the underground, boarded the train and waited...and waited some more. Finally the announcement came informing us that the station was being completely closed. So everybody streamed off the trains and outside to find bus transportation. We emerged from the underground to find that the whole street had been blocked off with police lights flashing at either end of couple of blocks each side of the station! Never did find out just what had happened. As we were deciding which bus to take Kenny called to say that he and Stuart were on their way to catch up with us. So we waited...again. With all the delays it was 12:30 before Sandra and I got to Westminster Abbey (Kenny and Stuart headed for the Duke of Argyll again)! The Abbey and the Tower of London were the two places I really wanted to revisit on this trip. After the Abbey we headed for the Tower of London...which unfortunately was closing 35 minutes after we arrived so we decided to do the 30 minute river cruise down the Thames instead. We hadn't taken time to eat all day so by the time we got back to Hootananny we both really hungry. They have 'not too bad' Mexican food there (I had the chimichanga the night before) so we decided on burritos and Copperberg cider for dinner and then it was upstairs to get ready for the evening. Schiehallion was the headliner so there were two bands on before them. We didn't hear the first band but the second one was called Stax Dempsey...kind of Indy Rock. I really really liked their music (was talking to Stax, the singer, at the end of the night and he said I can find their music online). After Stax Dempsey we were treated to a, shall we say, burlesque dancer. She was pretty good and needless to say the guys paid VERY close attention!

The crowd was well warmed up when our boys took the stage and they received a resounding welcome. A bit of trouble with the sound equipment on the first couple of songs but once that was worked out they set the place on fire! Of course, everyone went wild for the piper! Callum said he felt like a rock star. You would have thought they were by the way the crowd reacted during and after every song! LOL...although there was one girl behind my on the floor who didn't look too pleased when the guys launched into '1320' (a very patriotic Scottish song that is not too flattering to the English) but everyone else just ate it up. Schiehallion always has been able to fire up a crowd but there was something magical about this night. The small town boys go to London and rock the house! It's wonderful to see your friends up on the stage in a strange town and getting such an electrifying reaction from a really big audience. The smiles on Kenny, Stuart, Callum and Sean's faces said it all. We were all on quite a high by the end of the night.

Of course, the night didn't end with the end of the music. After the gig Sandra and the boys and I all collected in the common room of the hostel upstairs to continue the party with 'refreshments'. There were already some other hostelers in the lounge enjoying their own 'refreshments' when we got there and we had quite the
after-party. At about 5am Lex, the manager of the hostel, came in to tell us all that we really had to keep the noise down. LOL! She ended up just joining the party! Evidently a hostel above a pub is used to a bit of noise! Sandra and I finally went to bed at 7am (Kenny had disappeared some time earlier) but Callum, Sean and Stuart stayed up for another hour with Tess (a cute young girl from New Zeland).

We were determined to see at least some of the sights so Sandra and I were up at 10am. One of the other girls in our room came into the bathroom while I was getting ready and said to me, "Connie, there's a guy in a kilt asleep on one of the couches in the lounge." "That's Callum" I said, "our piper." She nodded and said, "Yeah, I thought he probably belonged to you." I went in to check on Callum to be sure that he hadn't compromised his dignity but his kilt was modestly in place so I left him to sleep. Sandra and I were finally out the door at about a quarter past 11. We didn't make it to the Tower of London until 1pm because of all the maintenance work that is done on the weekends on the different Tube lines. We had to go "all the way around Robin Hood's barn" as my grandmother used to say, just to get to where we were going. After a tour of the fortress by one of the resident Yeomen Warders and some wandering on our own for pictures we left to catch the 'Jack the Ripper' walking tour (I love local walking tours!). When the walking tour was over we decided to go join the guys, who, of course, had found their way to the Duke of Argyll in Soho again! Rory, Kelly, Gordy and Ursula had also arrived and by the time we all left everybody was well buzzed (some more than others)! A quick stop for food and then back to Hootananny for an 8:45pm start. Schiehallion was the only band playing that night. A much smaller crowd because it was Sunday but I think we were all OK with that.

It was a nice night for things to be not quite so crazy too because I was looking forward to seeing a friend who happened to be in London at the same time and was coming to the pub that night. As some my friends will remember, I spent a month in Berlin a couple of years ago on a teacher training program (in fact, I just checked back through my blog and I was there exactly two years ago. I posted about Burns' Day from Berlin). Although everyone on the course got along very well, there were a few with whom I really bonded. Chad, my fellow American from Tennessee, and Charlie, Daniel and Tom...three young English lads. When the program was over and I returned to Mannheim, where I was living that year, I really missed these guys a lot. We've stayed in touch (hooray for FB!) over the last couple of years and I was very excited to learn that Tom is currently in London while he waits for his new teaching job in Vietnam to begin in March. That will put all of my Berlin boys in the same part of the world. Chad is in China, Charlie is in Thailand and Daniel is in Japan. But this weekend Tom was in London! So we planned to meet at Hootananny on Sunday night. There are some people who come into your life for only a brief time but you just know that you will always be friends. That's how I feel about these guys and I can't express how wonderful it was to see Tom again!

After the gig Sandra and the guys and I ended up back upstairs in the lounge again. Except somehow we never seemed to get around to going to bed at all that night! We needed to be packed and out the door by 7am to get to the airport the next morning so, at around 4am, we just decided to stay up. The disadvantage of that decision was that no one had the chance to sleep off the drink! Sandra and I were tired but sober as we all headed for the tube station but our guys were a little worse for wear. LOL! It was a very entertaining trip to the airport, to say the least! It wasn't until we got to the airport and all got some breakfast that everybody really sobered up. Good thing, too. I was afraid that Kenny and Callum might be denied boarding!

We were caught off guard by how long the line was to go through security. After a mad dash from there to our gate we were a bit frazzled but relieved when we were finally all on board. A few minutes later a family just sorted of strolled onto the plane. They didn't run(?) Then the pilot made an announcement to inform us that they were holding the flight because there was a long line at security and they wanted to give folks time to get to the plane! We killed ourselves running through the airport for nothing. And not exactly in our best form either! Ah well...

Dougie was waiting for us with the van when we landed in Inverness. As tired as we all were Kenny talked (almost) everyone into going to the Gellions for a few before going home! After a couple of hours I came home and finally fell into bed about 6:30. Slept until 10 this morning! There was a fair bit of sleep to catch up on considering I got a total of only 7 hours on Friday and Saturday nights combined and then, well, nothing on Sunday night. But what a weekend! We all had such a good time.

Some memorable quotes from the weekend that I'm sure no one who wasn't there will understand or think funny...

Kenny:"Sean, it's good that you've come out of the closet this weekend."

Kenny: "Look at my face." Everyone else: "Priceless!"

Callum and Sean: "POTATO!"

Callum to me: "We've had way too much physical contact this weekend not to have bonded."

Kenny to Sandra and me: "Did you enjoy the weekend?" Sandra and me: "Yeah, it was great!" Kenny: "It was (throws up jazz hands) fabulous!!"

Kenny: "The ankle is quicker than the elbow."

Me to Sean: "Sean, baby!"
Sean to me: "Connie, baby!"

Sandra: "There has been a lot of 'inappropriate' going on this weekend."

And remember everyone...You can lead a horse to a trough but you can't make toast in a washing machine!

1 comment:

Nikki said...

Next time I'll have to know far enough in advance, so I can fly over and join you! Sounds like a BLAST!!!