Lighting up for Christmas (with Billy Ocean and Showaddywaddy!)

Matilda already for the Christmas season!

Matilda already for the Christmas season!

When the going gets tough … there really is only one thing to do! Have a Christmas lights celebration – involving decorating a tandem for the festive season ahead, a ride out and Billy Ocean … oh and Showaddywaddy as well!

Yes I know you don’t get many blog posts which have an intro like that … so let me explain.

As some of you will know the “old git” is a bit of a Christmas zealot so there was much excitement in Matilda’s Rest this weekend as Saturday night was the big Christmas lights switch on in nearby Perth – with some golden oldie pop stars topping the bill.

But before that  the “old git” decided he would decorate this “old lady” with some fancy Christmas lights for the festive season ahead – despite the deep reservations held by the “old gal” as to whether this was actually a good idea.

But when the “old git” gets an idea into his head – there is no stopping him! So one day when out for his lunchtime walk from his office in Glasgow he discovered that the nearby Poundland store was selling strings of battery operated led Christmas lights and small fibre optic trees. (and yes, they were priced at £1 incidentally!)

He invested a few pounds on a collection and returned to Matildas Rest to show off his purchases – with the idea of decorating my ageing frame. As I say the “old gal” was somewhat less enthusiastic – but knew that total resistance was futile!

So she humoured him instead telling him it was a great idea and to “go for it”! Well the “old git” likes a bit of encouragement so on Saturday morning he spent several hours attaching these battery operated lights to my frame.

But I have to say he actually made a good job of it – believe it or not – and I now look extremely festive sporting a set of ice blue led lights along my top bar, and two sets of multi-coloured led lights to my z frame. The finishing tough was a “classy” red fibre optic mini Christmas tree for the handlebars!

And it would have to be said that when the “old gal” saw the finished result – she changed her tune and was actually quite impressed! Yes, really!

The "old git" actually did a reasonable job of my decorations and I am feeling all Christmasy now!

The “old git” actually did a reasonable job of my decorations and I am feeling all Christmassy now!

Now there is no point in decorating for Christmas if you are kept in the garage, so the “old git” promised me  that we are going out for a ride-out on Sunday to show off my new lights – despite the forecast of near zero temperatures. The plan is to go out in the afternoon so it will be dusky by the time we return to show off the lights to best effect!

But before that my dynamic duo had the mega excitement of the Christmas light switch on event in Perth – about 12 miles from Matilda’s Rest.

The city was absolutely buzzing when the “old git” and the “old gal” arrived early evening – enjoying a walk through the Chocolate Festival on the way to the main stage.

This was effectively a Farmers Market style event of local chocolatiers selling everything from tasty and unusual chocolate flavourings, wonderful hot chocolate drinks and even a chocolate gin!

The “old git” had to pull the “old gal” away – but only after a few purchases were made – so they could get to the main stage as believe it or not this year’s switch on event took the form of a mini music festival.

First up my dynamic duo enjoyed bopping away and singing along to an hour-long set from Showaddywaddy – including their Three Steps to Heaven hit.

The "old git" and the "old gal" watching Showaddywaddy!

The “old git” and the “old gal” watching Showaddywaddy!

Then there was the countdown to the light switch on – with a wonderful firework display magically lighting up the River Tay.

Fireworks over the River Tay at the switch-on.

Fireworks over the River Tay at the switch-on.

Next on stage was a trendy boy band, apparently called Lawson. Seems they are quite famous among the screaming youngsters – but not the music for my dynamic duo so they retreated to a local hostelry for a small beverage!

And then to finish it was time for an amazing performance from Billy Ocean – quite incongruous really! The hits kept coming from Love Really Hurts Without You, Red Light and Caribbean Queen.

Billy Ocean - belting out the hits - live in Perth.

Billy Ocean – belting out the hits – live in Perth.

But the biggest cheer was saved for his signature song – When The Going Gets Tough – which had the many thousands in the audience singing along.

In previous years the local organisers have kind of messed up the event but all credit to them, this year they got it spot on. Something for all ages to enjoy. Check out more details of their related Winter Festival events here.

So after a good blast back in time with the retro pop acts, it was time to head home to the warmth of Matilda’s Rest and get some zzzs for the tandem ride – with the official unveiling of my festive lights!

Sunday dawned with the day frosty and chilly as had been forecast so wrapping up warm was essential with temperatures hovering around zero. My dynamic duo donned multiple layers – with the “old git” even managing to wear his day-glo t-shirt over his cycling jacket!

We all waited till after lunchtime to head off, hoping the temperature would rise. But it was stuck at frozen so any plans for a long ride were curtailed. But we headed off in good spirits through the cold air on the country back roads towards Dunning.

And it was cold! Very cold! And the cold air was playing havoc with the breathing of the “old git” and the “old gal” – and thus restricting the speed we could ride at, especially on the inclines!

Just outside Dunning we stopped (briefly) to take in the magnificent Perthshire countryside – complete with snow-capped hills – and a quick photo opportunity.

The "old gal" with snow-capped hills behind her.

The “old gal” with snow-capped hills behind her.

We were keen to get going again and soon made it to Dunning just as the sun started to fall behind the  hills.

The “old git” was in his element as he got to switch on my new light display for the journey back. It maybe wasn’t in the same league as the gala switch-on in Perth the night before, but it was just as exciting (for him at least!)

The “old gal” was starting to feel the cold by the time we got to Dunning and even turned down the chance of a g&t in the local pub – saying she didn’t want to stop in case she froze (literally) up!

So we headed back to Auchterarder – somewhat slower than our usual pace due to the coldness. The “old gal” was complaining she couldn’t feel her toes any more and even the “old git” – who claims not to feel the cold – admitted his hands were freezing!

I must admit even I was quite glad to be back at Matilda’s Rest as it was a tad on the chilly side – and you know us “old ladies” don’t really do cold weather. Both me and the “old gal” were dreaming of being back in the sun-kissed French countryside, tandeming through a vineyard track, going from tasting to tasting, before one of our wonderful Team Tandem Ecosse picnics!

And then we wakened up and realised we were still in Scotland! But before a welcoming hot cup of coffee and some shortbread for my dynamic duo, we had to get a few photos of my new festive decorations as darkness beckoned.

I hope you agree I look rather attractive with my Christmas lights. And if you agree please leave a comment for me and I will promise to get back to you!

So do I look festive with my Christmas lights? Leave a comment and let me know!

So do I look festive with my Christmas lights? Leave a comment and let me know!

Two other things before I go! Firstly the “old gal” has promised that next Sunday I can be part of the Christmas lights switch-on celebration in our home town of Auchterarder. It seems I can be parked outside the “old gal’s” hair salon to add a festive touch. I don’t know if I’ll be able to sleep all week for the excitement! And I know the “old git” will be equally excited. He is even trying to persuade the “old gal” that a quick ride up and down the high street complete with Christmas jumpers and Santa hats would be a fab idea! Watch this space! Ho! ho! ho!

And finally, I am rather chuffed as the “old git” received an email recently inviting him to enter Matildas Musings for the UK Blog Awards 2016! What an honour! More of that as the weeks go on – including how you can vote for us!

Matildas Musings has been entered in the UK Blog Awards 2016.

Matildas Musings has been entered in the UK Blog Awards 2016.


Halloween weekend scary surprises in the woods and a ride out in fantastic sunshine

Fabulous autumn sunshine for Halloween weekend.

Fabulous autumn sunshine for Halloween weekend.

So it is a month since Team Tandem Ecosse returned from their highly successful tour of the vineyards and beaches of the Medoc region of Bordeaux in southern France.

And I have been champing at my chain to get the “old git” and the “old gal” back on my saddles to get back out on the open road before they lost all their new found fitness they achieved in France.

But it would need to be said they have had a fairly hectic schedule since we all got back to Matilda’s Rest here in Auchterarder – with simply no time to fit in a quick ride out.

But on Saturday morning, I was delighted when the “old git” came out to the garage and started to give me the once-over – checking out my bits – to see if everything was still ship-shape, or at least tandem-shape!

Despite the long trip back home in Matilda Transporter I was feeling in great shape and was ecstatic when the “old git” said that we were going out on Sunday morning – and that the forecast was for some nice Autumn sunshine.

I couldn’t wait to feel the wind between my spokes again and was raring to go! But first my dynamic duo had a Halloween night visit to the Enchanted Forest at Pitlochry  to fit in to their schedule.

The “old git” and the “old gal” have been regular visitors to the event over the last four years – which is effectively a sound and light show in the forest.

Or as the blurb for the event says: “With dazzling visuals and innovative design set against an original music score, including a new orchestral piece, you explore the stunning autumn woodland setting of Faskally Wood near Pitlochry. Using the forest as a natural backdrop, you will experience a lighting show that is, quite simply, out of this world.”

And they told me this year’s show – called Flux – was the best one yet. And because it was Halloween, the dynamic duo decided to wear silly light-up cowboy hats!

The "old gal" and "old git" with their Halloween hats!

The “old gal” and “old git” with their Halloween hats!

It seems it was perfect conditions for the light show – with a clear starry sky allowing for perfect viewing. The lighting also created some interesting effects!

A pink effect shot of the "old gal".

A pink effect shot of the “old gal”.

And a blue effect shot of the "old gal".

And a blue effect shot of the “old git”.

And since it was Halloween – my duo decided to scare a few people with some horror faces!

Scary faces! Surprised the camera didn't break!

Scary faces! Surprised the camera didn’t break!

It seems a great night was had by my dynamic duo – and they returned not too late, so we were on for tomorrow!

Sunday dawned and the sun was splitting the sky – as had been forecast – a perfect Autumn day. And as soon as I heard rumblings in the house, I knew we would be off soon.

A quick bacon buttie – a specialty of the “old gal’s” and then we were ready to go – with the “old git” bedecked in his t-shirt, shorts and sunglasses as if it was the middle of summer! Had no one told him that while it was sunny, it was a bit chilly?

Anyway we were soon heading towards the village of Dunning along the quiet back roads of Perthshire. And what a treat it was for all three of us to be back out! The “old gal” was even heard to say: “I’ve missed this!”

Amazingly we were fair cantering along – and I am most impressed to report that my dynamic duo’s fitness had held up to the standards achieved in France. With a bit of light breeze at our backs we were whizzing along with what seemed like very little effort.

And in the sunshine, the air actually felt warm. And the “old git” and the “old gal” were having fun being back on my saddles – proving it really is better fun together on a tandem! The “old gal” even managed to take a shadow selfie to give an impression of how sunny it was!

A shadow selfie - showing how bright the sunshine was.

A shadow selfie – showing the bright sunshine.

After the French trip – and the amazing visits to the area’s vineyards – there was much joking about which chateau we would stop at, and which wines we would taste on today’s trip!

But unfortunately the climate in Perthshire doesn’t exactly lend itself to growing grapes and wine making.

This was the closest we could get to a chateau - the gate!

This was the closest we could get to a chateau – the gatehouse!

We did find one or two big houses along the way, but the closest we could get to the actual chateau was the gatehouse at the end of the driveway!

And no caves either to sample the local wines, so my dynamic duo had to make do with their water bottles, or bidons! But what was in them? Well, under pain of death from the “old git” my lips are sealed! I cannot reveal their secret contents!

Cheers! But what was in those water bottles to make the dynamic duo smile so much?!

Cheers! But what was in those water bottles to make my dynamic duo smile so much?

In no time at all we were in the village of Dunning and decided to pedal out towards Bridge of Earn, before turning about half way along and heading back for Dunning.

Turning into the breeze, the “old git” suddenly remembered what cycling into wind felt like – and also realised why wearing a t-shirt and shorts without any under layers wasn’t perhaps the best idea! But of course, the “old gal” was well wrapped up – as she doesn’t like getting cold!

Back through Dunning, and the “old gal” put (another) smile on the “old gal’s” face when he decided that a stop for the obligatory gin and tonic was required to fuel them up for the journey home. After all, it would have been rude just to cycle past the door.

And as the sun was at its brightest, the dynamic duo decided to sit outside in the picturesque beer garden of the Kirkstyle Inn. It really was a lovely spot to while away 20 minutes basking in the unseasonable weather.

Time for tea - well a g & t anyway!

Time for tea – well a g & t anyway!

Refreshed it was time for to head back to Matilda’s Rest – but the wind had got up a bit and it was a bit tougher on the return journey heading into the wind.

And to underline it was Halloween weekend, we had a quick stop at Maggie Wall’s Memorial – which is a monument to what is reputed to be the last witch burned at the stake in Scotland. Dating back to 1657 it is rather a haunting spot – and someone had left a pumpkin lantern to add to the eeriness of it!

The "old gal" was "spooked" at Maggie Wall's Memorial!

The “old gal” was “spooked” at Maggie Wall’s Memorial!

Another half hour pedal and we were all back at Matilda’s Rest – euphoric after a highly successful first post-holiday outing.

After a quick rub down – and that was just the “old gal” – I was safely tucked up in the garage while the dynamic due brewed up a welcoming pot of coffee!

And the good news for me is that both the “old git” and the “old gal” are keen to get out for more rides over the Autumn and winter months ahead!

Just a small matter of making life less busy to find time for it!