Friday, 30 September 2011


When your waiter brings one of those spiral mosquito thingies to your table and lights it you think "nice touch" or "good attention to detail" and you sit back in anticipation of the meal to follow. When he returns with a bottle of Deet spray (Tropical strength) rather than the aperitif you ordered, alarm bells begin to ring and you wonder wether it will be you or the local fauna who will be enjoying the evening the most.

On our first night in Torcello, the mozzies came out on top leaving us retreating to our bathroom to inspect the vast assortment of wheals, bumps and lumps that they and their biting pals had left us with. I suppose that if you are dining on an island in a lagoon, at night, in unseasonably high temperatures it's not exactly rocket science to deduct that it's the equivalent of an invite to the ugly bugs ball and to give us our due we did pop into the local pharmacia en route to Torcello to buy some repellent.

So on our second evening we left nothing to chance. No open toed footwear. Sandals out of the question. Thick socks the ultimate fashion statement. Eau de cologne replaced by eau de Deet. Before we went down to eat, Marion sprayed the room with the entire contents of an insecticide spray and as we dressed with a pall of the stuff hanging in the air, my eyes streamed and I sneezed incessantly. At least nothing was going to bite me up my nostrils. Yes, we faced the challenge head on and this time I'm pleased to say that we won.

Don't let that put you off visiting Torcello. Just let it act as a warning to the unaware that no matter who you are even if you are one of the celebrities who love this place, and whose photos hang on every wall, the insects are going to take no prisoners. So take precautions. Once you have done that you can relax in one of the most delightful holiday spots you will ever find. Locanda Cipriani is one of the world's hidden gems. Ok it's packed at lunchtime when the boats and water taxis disgorge their human cargo to sample the delights of the restaurant. But when those tourists and expense account businessmen stagger back to the quayside sated and merry and the souvenir sellers shut up their stalls and head back to Venice and Burano, the island takes on an exclusive tranquility for the lucky few who remain. It has been a privilege to stay here. It surely won't be long before we return. I mentioned the celeb photos. We offered the waiters one of us to hang alongside Kim Novak, Elton John, Princess Di, Hemingway and Orson Welles but they strangely declined. Mind you that puts us in the same boat as Michael Winner. He's always banging on about this being his favourite place but there's no trace of him or his partner, although the Pope (or someone in a very fancy outfit) qualified for hanging space.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

A Postcard From Asolo

Postcards eh! Remember them? We used to buy plenty and send them home to impress our friends with the fact that we had actually been somewhere abroad - somewhere exotic.

In those early years of marriage when package tours were still shrouded in a degree of mystery, we would write home from the faraway beaches of Hvar and Corfu, places that had been out of the reach of all but the wealthiest of our parents' generation and impress upon everyone what an adventurous young pair of travellers we were. And the cards would eventually arrive. Usually when the last touch of brown pigment had faded from our skin, the novelty of ouzou with everything had worn off and everyone had tired of our telling of the encounter with a large, mahogany skinned, naked German on some remote Yugoslavian shore with its hilarious punch line "Guten tag". 

Yes there was something innocent about postcards wasn't there? They belonged in the days of kiss me quick hats and rock with Blackpool running right through it. And yet if you look in most news kiosks or tobacconists in resorts throughout the world you'll still see them today, usually fading or starting to curl up at the edges in some carousel gathering dust in a corner awaiting a trip to the tip, a trip that's being saved for when all the cards have been sold- a trip that will never come. 

We haven't received a post card for years, so I'm sending this one to blog readers to remind you of what a marvellous institution they were. 

Writing this from Locanda Cipriani on the tiny Venetian island of Torcello. Just spent a wonderful five days relaxing in the beautiful little town of Asolo. Weather perfect, food and wine delicious. Wish you were all here.

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Recession? What Recession?

I subscribe to Jon Snow's daily email newsletter Snowmail. It's very good and tends to sum up most of what is going to feature on the Channel 4 News each evening. But (and sorry for banging on about this yet again) the negative spin on news stories affecting the economy is driving me mad. Tonight Jon headlines more dire news with a report that someone high up in the IMF has given the UK a one in six chance of slipping back into recession. Now I don't know about you but I reckon that's a 16% chance. So that implies that there is an almost 84% chance of us not doing so and in view of all the negative talk of late I would have expected it to be at least a 50/50 chance. Which would have looked better on the news to you? "The IMF says that there's an 84% chance that the UK won't return to recession" or the doom and gloom that we got.

Whilst on the subject of recession, with the nights drawing in we settled down on Sunday night in front of the telly for a few hours. Starting with Josephine's Holding Out For A Hero (another great show this week) we stayed with ITV1HD for the X Factor and Downton Abbey. During the X Factor there were a few ads for luxury goods with hefty price tags. None more so than the Omega Ladymaker watch advertised by mega film star Nicole Kidman. I'm sure that Nicole's time doesn't come cheap and neither does a thirty second slot in X Factor which led me to wonder how much the watch costs and how many need to be sold to pay for the advertising. It was hard to pin down the price but I think I found the one she wears advertised on the internet at $33,000. I appreciate that Omega have less expensive watches in their range and it's all about getting brand awareness but if Omega is confident of selling these there must be plenty of people with a hell of a lot of spare cash.

People like Kweku Adobli perhaps. As soon as I heard about Kweku's allegedly fraudulent loss of over $1 billion for his bank I thought that, on the basis that when you lose your bet somebody else wins, another bank somewhere must have made the same sum. So in reality, the banking system as a whole is no better or worse off than it was before the fraud. Wouldn't it be wonderful if the "winner" put its hands up and said "hey we made nearly $2 billion from trading with Adoboli. Let's give some of it back". But it's banks were talking about and I reckon there's less than a one in six chance of that happening.

Enjoyed Downton Abbey on Sunday. It's even better watching it with Twitter running in the background with the views of some of the best (mostly female) columnists like Grace Dent, Caitlin Moran, Kath Flett and India Knight popping up with brilliant comments including a fabulous debate on whether the love struck couple would find time for a quickie in a cloud of steam before the train pulled out of the station. It's great television but it really is cliched and at times you know exactly what is going to happen, squaddie gets bullet through helmet, cook feeds crepe suzette to the dogs and the sanctimonious Mr (surely that should be Master) Bates falls on his sword yet again. But I wouldn't miss it and it's on series link both here and in the caravan.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy which we saw on Saturday morning is as good as expected. So many great performances, so evocative of its time, beautifully filmed and thought provoking it's definitely one of the films of 2011.

I haven't had much time for blogging this week as Marion's mum isn't in the best of ways at the moment and we've been doing a lot of running around to help her. It certainly makes us very aware of the effects of growing old and concentrates the mind on living life to the full while we are both fit and healthy. We've managed to find some carers to help her out while we are away in Asolo and Torcello next week but I think we'll be busy for some time sorting out the most appropriate care for her when we get back.

Friday, 16 September 2011

New Specs Same Old Decorators And Roller Coaster Real Estate

A busy day today. Fresh back from Scotland we had some catching up to do and a fair bit of tidying up too as our hall landings and stairs were being decorated while we were away. Its not finished (surprise) but we are assured that it will be when we get back from Italy (I won't hold my breath). As they are doing it for free I can't complain too much although I would rather that the massively expensive decorating job hadn't gone wrong in the first place. First job today was to pick up my new specs from David Myers. They're quite fancy don't you think? Although the same make as my last two pairs, they are a lot different with much wider frames than before. I had my hair cut too this morning. It's a worrying aspect of getting older that every hair cut seems to take a little less time.

I phoned my 85 year old mum to wish her well before she heads off to Spain for a month or two. She tells me that she was a victim of those strong winds that hit the country on Tuesday and Wednesday. The wind blew the money that she was withdrawing from a cash machine out of her hands and in an attempt to catch it she fell and now has a humdinger of a black eye. Mum is notorious for wearing inappropriate heels but she assures me that she was wearing flat soles. I suppose that falls, along with fast haircuts are another symptom of ageing. At least a black eye will heal a lot easier than a fractured bone.

There are so many films that we want to see out on release at the moment. We only managed one trip to the cinema while in St Andrews as they don't have a huge choice of films there but tomorrow we are going to the local Vue to see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy. An extremely rare five star rating from The Guardian today means we've got very high expectations. Hope we aren't disappointed. Looking forward to it.

The news has all been economics for the past couple of months. I've said on here before that I'm fed up with all the negativity in reporting. The stock market has gained a fair few percentage points this week but there have been none of the banner headlines that would have accompanied an equivalent drop so no surprise there. 

House prices seem to be out of the news here compared to how they were in the past but in the USA they are still big news and someone put together this fascinating way of illustrating how they have gone over the past hundred plus years.

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Farewell St Andrews. It's been good.

It's time to say goodbye to St Andrews again. It only seems five minutes since we arrived here for Rose's party but two weeks have flown past. We're going to miss our caravan and our family.We had a little dryer weather than we had in August but gale force winds prevented it from being a perfect fortnight and we weren't able to get out and about as much as we would have liked and the bikes and metal detector did not get the use that we had hoped - maybe next time (in November). Knowing the British weather this year that's not as daft as it sounds.

At least the sun shone today and allowed us to cycle the four miles up hill to the Michelin starred The Peat Inn for lunch. With both the gradients and the wind against us we really earned that lunch. The restaurant certainly lived up to expectations. The food was beautifully presented (how's that for the crackers to go with the cheese?) and quite delicious. Portions were small but packed more taste than a plateful of most restaurant offerings in every morsel. I said to Marion that a yellow vegetable tasted like beetroot and wondered what it was. Golden beetroot was the answer. You don't get that every day. My meal was wood pigeon, followed by rump of lamb and a fabulous chocolate and pear dessert. Marion had a cheese starter, pork loin and rice pudding. We shared a cheese selection to end with. You might think that sounds a lot for lunch but each course was extremely light and there was no question of us over indulging. If you get to Fife do try and give it a look.

Here's a smile that we're going to miss. As I said last week on the blog, Rose is a very happy little soul. She has an infectious chuckle and I think she's going to have a wonderful sense of humour. I wonder how she will have changed the next time we see her in six weeks.

I'm certainly enjoying grandparenthood and can't wait to be able to read to my grandchildren. Perhaps when my novel has been rewritten I'll start on some stories for kids. Trouble is time. I can't understand how little time we have. Seeing that we were both working a thirty five hour week this time last year, the lack of free time is one of life's mysteries. But it's not one that I'm going to worry about.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Shake Rattle But No Roll (Yet)

The tail end of Hurricane Katia hit Scotland yesterday evening and we battened down the hatches here in the caravan in preparation for a stormy night. And boy did it blow. Considering we are in the east of the country and not in the eye of the storm on the west, that was one hell of a wind. Our caravan is right next to a small wood and to say that the wind roared would be an understatement. Throughout the night it sounded like every lion in Africa had camped out there and did their thing incessantly for hours on end. We felt the caravan rattle and one or two gusts were strong enough to move a venetian blind despite the double glazing but a quick check this morning shows everything here intact apart from a few litter bins that aren't where they were this time yesterday - perhaps the lions nicked them.

Before the storm set in we popped into St Andrews to see the early performance of Jane Eyre at the New Picture House. I haven't read the book but I've seen earlier adaptations on TV so I had a good idea of what was going to happen. Marion studied the book in her student days and tells me that the film follows it closely. There are some good performances from leads Mia Waskowska and Michael Fassbender and the sets and locations are superb but, apart from the short scenes on the bleak moors, this is a production that does not need a big screen and would work perfectly well on TV. An enjoyable couple of hours but by no means a blockbuster. When we went into the cinema there were just two people in there. Before the film started perhaps a dozen more came in. I don't understand why, when there was a near empty cinema, all chose to sit either directly in front of us or on the same row. Animal magnetism?

It's almost time to go back to Southport. We'll miss our little retreat here in St Andrews and will miss Sarah, Duncan and Rose who will be a lot different when we are next here in November.  But on the positive side we have got a treat lined up for my birthday. Next Friday we are heading to the Venice region for a week. We've got five nights in Asolo. It was going to be four nights but the plane fare was so much more expensive on the Saturday we decided to go on Friday and spend the money on an extra night in the hotel. We've never been there before but by all accounts it is a lovely place. After that we head towards Venice and are staying on the lovely island of Torcello (above). This tiny island has only a handful of buildings including two spectacular and ancient churches and the Locanda Cipriani where we have booked three nights. I'm looking forward to it once we have got over the hassle of the flight. We haven't flown for over three years and did our best to find another way of getting to Italy but the trains and driving just didn't fit our schedule so unfortunately we'll have to put up with it.

Before we leave Scotland we're treating ourselves to lunch tomorrow at The Peat Inn. This renowned restaurant is only four miles down the road and we are hoping to get there on our bikes. If the wind dies down and the sun comes out we should be able to manage it. We had a look at the menu when we rode past the other day and it sounds delicious. Keep your fingers crossed for the weather for us.

I'll end today with a video sent to me by an ex-colleague. Seems that we Prius drivers are just as much a joke in LA as we are here.

Sunday, 11 September 2011

Having To Hold Out For Holding Out For A Hero

Just as Marion and I were looking forward to watching daughter-in-law Josephine's new show "Holding Out For A Hero" on ITV1 tonight at 7pm we discovered that it's not on in Scotland until Tuesday. So the champagne has to stay on ice. I hope that everyone in England enjoys it. Josephine devised and developed the show and I hope that her name has the prominent place in the credits that she deserves. We saw the trailer on STV last night and there was our son Paul in the front row of the audience.

Yesterday we went to The Duke's Gold Course to watch the Leuchars air show from their viewing terrace they put on a very good buffet but the view of the show (in the far distance) was not particularly good and if we want to see next year's show we'll need to get a lot nearer to the action. Sarah, Rose and Duncan joined us and it was good to be together for a few hours.

I mentioned the hard time I had metal detecting a few weeks ago due to the abundance of tin cans in the field near to the road. I've been doing a lot of cycling this week so I can see the roadside verges clearly as I pedal by and I can't believe the amount of rubbish that people throw out of cars. Every yard of grass has at least one bit of litter in it. I am sure that this is not a problem isolated to Scotland and just wish that people would realise the mess that they are making of the countryside.

Fortunately today's metal detecting field was a long way from the road and consequently I found no beer cans or similar rubbish. I had hoped to find some medieval bits and pieces in this field which is close to an old village but, although there were plenty of signals, most of the finds were from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Nothing very exciting turned up although the military button for the 79th Fifeshire Rifle Volunteers added a bit of local interest. Best finds were a Victorian silver threepence from 1887 and a small silver locket sadly lacking its back and front.

Friday, 9 September 2011

Wii Thick

A bit of bad weather today meant that, after babysitting Rose over a cup of coffee at the Fairmont Hotel (it's a hard life) while Sarah had a well earned half hour at their gym we were confined to the caravan for the afternoon. So we decided to set up the Wii and have an hour or two game playing. We thought that we would try a new game "Create" that was a Christmas gift from son Paul. According to the box it is suitable for ages 5 upwards but after an hour we were tearing our hair out in consternation as we hadn't a clue what we were doing. I think we must just be thick or maybe we are too old. We'll persevere and perhaps the penny will drop tomorrow.

The sun came out again at four so I went off again on the bike and did the same circular route as yesterday. This time I tried to keep in the hardest gear to try and get the most benefit from the exercise and I have to say that I managed pretty well. That's something that I wouldn't have been able to do on our last visit so my fitness must be looking up.

This was the sight that met me when I returned. Marion was still using the Wii. This time she had the Wii Fit board out and was performing aerobics in front of the telly in her pyjamas. According to the Wii she is dead fit (I already knew this) and has a Body Mass Index in the perfect range. I daren't get on it as, although I am over two stone lighter than I was eighteen months ago, my little Wii Mi still blows up like a balloon and makes out that I am some sort of fatty.

With both son Paul and his wife Josephine working in game show development I have been interested in this week's Simon Cowell juggernaut Red Or Black. Hailed as the best thing since sliced bread in the pre show publicity it turned out to be little more than a variation on the game played after the speeches in some of those dreadful black tie dinners we endured while working at Instanta. That game, Heads Or Tails involves all the guests standing up and choosing one or the other while the compere tosses a coin. Losers sit down and the game continues. Last one standing wins the prize. Yawn, hardly inspirational stuff and indeed a pilot was made years ago by ITV with Bran Conley but didn't make production. I see that it is pulling a lower audience share than Paul's "The Colour Of Money" did for its first four shows and yet Cowell claims that it is being sold to the USA and a new series is on the cards. Money breeds money I suppose.

Whilst on the subject of game shows, don't forget to tune in to ITV1 on Sunday evening for Josephine's "Holding Out For A Hero" hosted by Gethin Jones. It promises to be a great show. Don't miss it.

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Just Three Nights Before Holding Out For A Hero

Only three nights now before Holding Out For A Hero airs on ITV1 (and ITV1HD). Excitement is mounting here in St Andrews as this is yet another show created by our daughter in law Josephine who has already had recent success with Nick Knowles' Perfection for BBC and the currently in production Sorority Girls which should be shown in the autumn on  E4. We hope that the show is the huge success that Josephine deserves. I have been reading presenter Gethin Jones' tweets on the show and he is very upbeat about it. We usually have a party to celebrate Paul and Joesphine's show launches but we've got nobody to invite and will have to do with a bottle of champagne and some nibbles in the caravan.

Mind you we are not entirely alone here at Craigtoun Meadows this week. Although none of the caravans in our little corner of the park has been occupied since Sunday, I looked out of the car window as we set off this morning and spotted two small brown creatures. Initially (and inexplicably) I remarked to Marion that there were a couple of wallabies by the trees but on close inspection they turned out to be baby deer. You won't spot them in this photo as it is but if you click to enlarge you should be able to see them. What with the rabbits and all the birds we are living in a veritable wildlife haven. 

We did our own bit of heroics again this morning as we went on a ride as a recce for our planned trip to the famous Michelin starred Peat Inn, Scotland's Restaurant of the Year in 2010. It only took us just over thirty minutes and most of that was up hill but the views were well worth the effort. The food will be just reward for our pedalling when we return next week although I don't know if bicycle clips and helmets will be appropriate wear in such a fine establishment.

I went on another ride this afternoon. Again the scenery was glorious and I discovered a great circular route that is a bit of an effort to start with but ends with about a mile of freewheeling downhill on a very straight road ending up travelling at quite some speed. With all that riding and fresh air I reckon I will sleep extremely well tonight. 

A friend sent me a link to a great Flash Mob video. I won't put it on the blog today as it will be more fitting for another blog. However it got me searching for flash mobs on YouTube and what with today's sightings of deer and bunnies I thought that this might be appropriate.

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

At Last. A Chance To Get On Our Bikes

I'm not one for moaning about the weather but when we bought the caravan here in St Andrews we thought that we would have plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding countryside on our bikes. Sadly this has yet to be the case as drab skies and persistent rain have put something of a dampener on our plans. But not today. No, a patch of blue sky over Craigtoun Meadows was all the encouragement we needed to get the bikes out of storage and get pedaling. We headed down to see the William McTaggart Exhibition at the St Andrews Museum having promised ourselves that we would have a look at it as soon as we got chance. Sadly it finished at the weekend.

Unperturbed by the exhibition's closure we decided to do a coastal ride and headed past the famous Old Course (above) and the lovely Old Course Hotel (where we will be staying in November) down to Guardbridge. We checked out Balgove farm shop on the way and were impressed by both the variety and quality of provisions on display and the bright, airy and reasonably priced cafe.

We returned by the same route and headed for the famous West Sands. In all the years we've been coming to St Andrews we have never been down to the sands. The road behind them runs for about a mile down to the Eden estuary and it was great cycling with wonderful views across the Eden to Tentsmuir Forest and back to St Andrews itself.

We were never more than a few yards from a golf course during our cycle and the beautifully maintained links run impressively for miles. What a pity we are not golfers as it is truly a golfer's paradise. It was good to see so many players out on the courses. They must bring a fortune to the area.

After our ride, which ended with a long slog up the hill to Craigtoun Meadows, we popped in to see Sarah and Rose. It's so good to be close as Rose is developing so quickly. Her latest achievement is laughing (she's got an infectious chuckle) and she is an extremely happy little girl at the moment.

I see that it was a celebration of what would have been Freddie Mercury's 65th birthday this week. I'll close with an appropriate song

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

A Great Welcome For Rose

It was a busy day at Doocot Road here in St Andrews on Saturday when Sarah and Duncan held a celebration party to welcome our granddaughter Rose. Over sixty friends and family came to join the celebrations and Rose behaved impeccably throughout and was awake for much of the proceedings so all the guests had a chance to meet her. Everybody remarked on what a wonderful cake Jan Harbon had made for the occasion, it didn’t only look fabulous but also tasted great too although it looked so good it was a shame to cut into it.

 There was plenty to eat and drink and we only had enough left over for a few snacks on Sunday and Monday.

It was so nice for us to see our son Paul who we hadn't seen for months. He made a flying visit to meet his niece for the first time and they both scored a big hit with each other. He and Josephine (who was sadly unable to make it due to work commitments) bought Rose some fabulous books that she will love as she grows older. (Paul and Sarah did).

My sister Julie flew in from Spain for a couple of nights.

And my mum was able to catch a train up to Leuchars to see her first great grandchild - another is on the way soon.

Sarah, Duncan and Marion worked extremely hard to make sure that everything ran smoothly whilst I felt a bit guilty for escaping most of the hard work by driving backwards and forwards to Edinburgh airport to pick up the family. Marion did manage to get a few moments with Rose.

Now that the celebrations are over, we have time to start relaxing for the rest of our time here in the caravan. I had a couple of hours out with the metal detector yesterday but got bogged down by so much mud that I ended up with my super lightweight detector weighing a ton and my wellies feeling like I was wearing platform soles. The weather is looking changeable so we can't get out on the bikes at the moment but fingers crossed it will pick up soon and we can make the most of our stay.

Friday, 2 September 2011

I'm Shocked

I subscribe to a brilliant Internet service called Front Pages Today. It costs nothing and every day I get an email with a snapshot of all of the major UK newspapers’ front pages together with those of The Wall St Journal and a few regional rags. But this morning saw me spluttering into my Weetabix as I opened the email and saw today's front page news in The Daily Star "B BRO BABES THREE WAY ROMP". The shortening of Big Brother to B Bro in down with the kids text speak was bad enough but it really is coming to something when a supposedly national newspaper fails to use an apostrophe in their headline. How many "babes" were involved in the three way romp. I suppose that the accompanying photo may have held a clue but I was shocked by this terrible grammar. What is the world coming to? 

By the way if you want that daily email simply visit and subscribe.

I was able to read those headlines over breakfast because Caravan Connect have finally beefed up the Wifi at our caravan park and I am able to browse away to my heart's content which, after buying a Toshiba PVR to allow us to pause live TV completes the final piece in the caravan jigsaw puzzle and makes it as well equipped as we could hope. We're here for a couple of weeks again as tomorrow we are having a celebration for granddaughter Rose. It's like a christening but without the christening bit.

Once again we are indebted to our friend Jan Harbon for creating another  magnificent celebration cake for us. Jan pulled out all the stops to make this enormous cake at short notice and even got up at five in the morning to allow us to collect it early yesterday before driving up to St Andrews. This single photo does not do justice to the beautiful cake and I will post some more with the blog on the celebrations.

It's been a busy week on the culture front as Wednesday night saw us at the Echo Arena in Liverpool to see Dolly Parton with her enormous repertoire. Dolly performed for almost three hours with just one short break - not bad at all for a sixty five year old. It was Marion who persuaded me to book for this show and I have to admit that it was a very entertaining evening. One bad note was Salt House Tapas which I have praised on here so many times. I booked a table for a pre show meal but was disappointed to be seated in a cramped upstairs table way away from the bustle of the restaurant. As one of only three couples who bothered to book I would have thought that a decent table would have resulted. Not only was the table poor but the food fell well below the usual high standard. This may have been due to the numbers going to the show but a good restaurant should be able to cope. It won't stop us going back but the halo certainly slipped this time.

The other cultural? event of the week was Final Destination 5 at the local Vue. We've seen most of this franchise and yes they are all the same but I have to say that the 3D opening credits - a sequence of shattering bloodied glass - were quite spectacular and as good a use of the 3D technology as you will ever see. Even arch 3D critic Mark Kermode would find it hard to fault this one. The final credits too used the medium well. As for the bit in between, a hundred and one ways to come to a sticky end,  squelch, yeuch, eurghh, blood, gore all in the best possible taste and with tongue firmly in cheek.

Another regular service I subscribe to is Unruly Medias viral video chart. Here's one from today's list. Have a great weekend.