Monday, 28 February 2011

A weekend away (sorry long post!)

This weekend Mrs Stace and I took a trip to the UK.  I had some shopping to do, and as my parents were going down to see family as well I thought it would be nice to try plan my trip coincide so that we could have a family get together.

The trip started interestingly – we got 20 KM’s from home and had to turn around as we had forgotten the car documents.  If we had have been staying in The Netherlands I would have risked the fine of not having them on me.  But with three countries to drive in I thought that I had better get them…

We reached the Euro Tunnel and things started to get boring…  The journey from the French border control to the UK border control (200m or so) took 40-50 minutes…  We wondered if the UK border control agents are completely ashamed working so closely to the French agents who are courteous, pleasant and speedy – as opposed to the UK agents who are slow, grumpy jobsworths.  We were in a Dutch car, with me sitting on the wrong side.  Passed them a Dutch passport for Mrs Stace and a UK passport for me; the first question was ‘Why are you going to the UK?’ This was followed by ‘Oh, I see UK passport you are just going home, where have you been?’  Going home?  In a Dutch car?  ‘No I live in the NL, we are going to the UK to visit family.’  Why you can’t just say ‘I have a UK passport so I am allowed to go there’ I am not sure…
By the time we got to where we were going it was very late and we were exhausted.

The next day we went speaker shopping.  Mrs Stace, my mum and her sister went shopping and my father and I went to demo the speakers I was thinking of buying (expect a review soon).  An hour of listening to all types of music (a nice mix of rock, classical, trance, pop and vocals) and we brought them (along with an extra amp to power the low frequency drivers) – sorry I go into geek mode with the stereo system :)

After meeting up with Mrs Stace and the rest for lunch we went to pick up the speakers.  We piled into the shop and they brought them up from the basement.  Mrs Stace went into shock at the size of the box that came up.  Then I went into shock when I saw that it said 1pc on the side – I started to panic; I may drive a Volvo estate, but it’s only a little V50!  We managed to get the boxes to the car (using a trolley from the shop – at 33kg per box we couldn’t carry them!)  Thankfully with the seats folded down they *just* fit into the car (maybe 10cm to the side and enough room at the ends to fit the box for the amp and our little suitcase.  Phew…

That evening we had a family get together, at my aunt’s house with nearly all the family there (including my cousin who I have not seen in a few years).  It was a great night, a real laugh – going down memory lane and talking about old family holidays.  There were only two spoilers for the evening.  Mrs Stace and I were still shattered from the travelling – it seems that getting up at 4:30 (UK time) driving 60 miles to work and back, doing 4 hours (and forgetting to drink due to trying to get everything in the office completed) and then driving for 9 hours to get to Leicester is not a good idea...

The other was something that I have not had to deal with for some time now…  These days I get warned by my friend who works with me that I let my mannerisms come through too often.  I relax too much and have basically stopped caring about the rumours. Sitting in my aunts living room with everyone there that all came back to me and I spent the night trying to figure out how I should be sitting, talking, what to comment on - what not to comment on.  It was like being back at my parents’ house before telling them last year.  It didn’t spoil the night, but it was exhausting –  and when already shattered it didn’t help.  We left early so that I could drive back to my other aunts safely and slept as soon as my head hit the pillow.

The next morning I woke up with a hangover.  Slightly unfair I thought seeing as I hadn’t drunk for days!  A leftover from the exhaustion and dehydration I think.  A couple cups of tea, and we left for a day’s shopping.

I had arranged to meet up with Lisa this trip, so dropping Mrs Stace off at Waterstones, and after picking up a packet of paracetamol I walked to the Clock Tower of the city I grew up in to meet someone for the first time in about 20 years – when I was young teenager that was always the meeting point…

I met Lisa and her daughters and we went for a drink and chat at Costa (where when they say large cappuccino they mean *large* - I drink large cups of coffee at home, but nothing compared to that!).  We must have spent an hour or so nattering – I hope that it was not too boring for her daughters – and then went to buy a couple of scrap books.   It was great to finally meet up – just a shame that it was on such a rushed weekend!  Hopefully we’ll have a chance to meet up again the next time we are in town.

I met Mrs Stace at Waterstones – with a nice selection of books to add to our collection – we went to pay (picking up along the way a Mouse and Gruffalo soft toys to put on top of the new speakers).  A healthy jacket spud later and we went clothes shopping.  Mrs Stace introduced me to a new brand (well new for me…).  Zara – she likes their clothes and I spotted a nice lilac canvas skirt that I will order online here soon.

A meal with my aunt, her husband and my cousin and his girlfriend (who I haven’t seen for a couple of years) and again a night of chatting, catching up and talking about life the universe and everything.  It got quite late and as we had a lot of driving to do the next day I dropped a hint of how tired I was (felt awful for doing that, but we really needed to be rested before leaving).

The next morning we had a nice cooked breakfast (thanks to my aunt) loaded the car (best bit of 3D puzzling I have done in a long time to get everything in).  The border crossing this time was easy – the French border control saw that we had passports and that was enough (why are the UK agents so useless?).

After we got home we just ate some soup (neither of us wanted anything substantial) and chilled (well I unpacked the speakers, I couldn’t wait :P).  Today has been setting up the stereo, tidying the cables and chilling.  Back to work tomorrow!


  1. It was great to meet you and my daughters enjoyed it to.
    They wrote it up and glued in the train tickets into their scrap books!
    You have now gone down in history lol.

  2. I'm glad that they had a good day :)

    So there is nowhere to hide anymore then, gulp :)