From St Kilda to Stuttgart – final part
AFTER an energising and enjoyable voyage to Cushendall in Northern Ireland, with Murdo MacLeod and family, we arrived back at the Achnaba pontoon on Thursday evening, having departed from there 12 hours previously.
Whether somebody is a school teacher, a chef, a circus juggler or, like the MacLeods, running a multi-million-pound construction company, if you love what you do, and concentrate your energy on it, you will excel at it.
Finding that occupation and having the drive to get rid of the clutter and keep focused, is not easy, but people like the MacLeods, who run one of the most successful companies in Argyll, show it can be done.
So I headed off down to Glasgow with increased vigour, and a strong reminder to keep working on what brings satisfaction and fulfilment.
The gig we performed at in Yorkshire the next night was just one of these satisfying experiences – great audience, lovely organisers and the novelty of our songs being belted out in the accent of Compo from Last of the Summer Wine.
The next night it was the accents of south-west Germany that were giving Western Ocean a good blast, but what a carry on to get there.
Having departed from our hotel at 3am with plenty time to spare, a long diversion because of road-works meant we arrived at Humberside Airport at 5.15am for a 6am departure, so we were all running to the check-in desks like Usain Bolt.
We then discovered that Royal Dutch Airlines (KLM) had made a brochan of our bookings and out of eight of us, only Andrew was actually booked on. Because of the imminent departure there wasn’t time to rebook and, according to the check-in staff, there were no other available flights that day so this was a total disaster.
By hook or by crook we had to make the gig so some of us began looking at alternative airports, different routes and different modes of transport, while Andrew went to KLM customer-services to kick up a stink.
Eventually because of a very amazing and determined customer services lady, after three hours on the phone to different KLM departments and juggling flights about, she managed, just in the nick of time to get us all onto a later flight. What relief! But it was the flight from hell. Directly in front of us were two overly-refreshed women heading for a weekend in Amsterdam, and a few seats up from there, a group of similarly drunken body-builder types on a stag weekend.
We were all in dire need of sleep, or at least a bit of peace and quiet, but the girl who was directly in front of us proceeded to sing loudly and astoundingly badly. Egged on by the rabble of increasingly rowdy stag-trippers, as the flight progressed, the lassie got louder and alarmingly even less in tune.
With a few celebratory trips under my belt this year, I shouldn’t be too hard on the overly jolly passengers but it was with great thanks we finally escaped her singing when we arrived in Stuttgart.
The Germans went surprisingly wild for the music and the trip home was hassle-free for all of us except poor Andrew, who, because of knockon effects from the previous day’s debacle, had been booked on the wrong flight home. KLM are off his Christmas card list.
Variety is the spice of life and those six days delivered great contrasts of travel, occupation, people and place.