From St Kilda to Stuttgart – fi­nal part

The Oban Times - - LETTERS - AN­GUS MACPHAIL an­gus­macphail@ya­

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.

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