Thursday, 3 July 2014

Had my fill of travel

Let me very briefly sum up the last five days:
Saturday: Flight to Glasgow
Bus to centre
Mad dash across city when we realised we had the wrong Glasgow station
Train to Edinburgh
Train to Peterborough (didn't cost us any extra as we did our best "we're lost idiots" and got moved to the next train)
Sat evening, Sunday and Monday in Spalding with the in-laws
Tuesday:  Train to place I can't remember the name of
Train to Leeds
Train to Lancaster
Mooch and shop around Lancaster, dinner in favourite restaurant with the parents
Wednesday: Funeral
Train to Lancaster from Morecambe
Train to Glasgow
Walk across Glasgow with time to spare this time!
Train to Oban
Night in Oban
Thursday: walk to ferry
Ferry to Tiree
Bus home

Got into house
Unpacked our luggage and now have 3.5 loads of laundry
Have new yarns and new pillows
Unpacked 6 boxes of stuff we ordered.  Turned out a technical glitch meant husband ordered twice but we've kept the stuff.
Said hello to ferret and had cuddles and a bit of fun before the rain set in.
Finally sat down!

Now, to extrapolate.

On Sunday it was my father in law's 30th anniversary of his ordination.  Mother in law had rung very early in the year to see if she could get all the family there for it.  We'd booked the tickets.  Between then and last weekend I'd gotten an appointment in Glasgow for the following Wednesday and then a family issue had come up needing me to go home that day.  Jo was my knight in shining internet and sorted out all the tickets and the details and the hotels and rearranging.

So, Saturday came.  The morning was spent making sure we had everything, doing the last tiny bit of laundry and having a bit of a relax.  We got ready in the afternoon and saw the Saab come in just as we were to set off.  We walk into the front garden, I hop through the fence and the postie opposite pulls in with his van.  He hopped out and offered us a lift as he was going to collect the post from the plane.  So we stick the bags in the back and I get in the front while Jo pretends to be post.  As we pull out the drive we pass two more people with luggage and they get in the back too.  Great way to get to the airport!

We checked in, I managed to set off the detector by walking through quickly enough that the air I moved set off the sensors and Jo set it off with his phone that he had forgotten about.  This was my first time in "the big plane".  I'm used to the little Twin Otter, this thing was HUGE!

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As we walked out to it Jo said it looked like it had "pupped" the little one that was in.  It's certainly roomy.  I can stand upright and it seats 13 more people than the otter.  It also has full height seats and is slightly less noisy.

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Sorry to all those who disagree, but I prefer the otter.  The Saab does only take 30-45 minutes depending on wind, but it feels less...friendly than the otter.  Coming in to Glasgow we were reminded that while it's a big plane for Tiree, it was still small for a plane.

Photos from the flight out:
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There are habits you develop living in a small community and one of those is recognising cars.  I recognise a lot of "Tiree cars" as local and I even know who's in some of them.  On the mainland, in a big city like Glasgow this can cause a few minutes of utter bewilderment as you see (or think you see) the same person drive past three times in a minute and then you adjust and start to think of them as just cars rather than so-and-so's car.

So we were in Glasgow, our first time there together.  Jo knew which bus to get and my bus pass meant we saved £6.  Turns out the buses now have wi-fi:
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Yes, really.  You cannot escape for even the 20 minutes it takes to get in to town.  We got off near Glasgow Central and spent a little time in the Co-op food getting some bits for lunch.  We then trotted to the station, found some seating, made and ate lunch and sat for a bit, confident we were in the right station.

We weren't.  You see, Glasgow has two train stations, about six minutes' walk apart.  With all the last minute rebooking Jo's memory had gotten a little scrambled and he thought the train we needed to get to Edinburgh to rendevous with our Peterborough train left from Glasgow Central at 16:00.  At 15:50 we went to check the departure boards.  "Next train to Edinburgh: 16:06".  We went to the printed boards, sure enough it was 16:06, arriving 17:17 or something similar.  Our train from Edinburgh was leaving at 17:00.

Cue mad panic, talking to ticket staff and then a Very Brisk Walk across Glasgow to Queen Street station and onto a train that got us to Edinburgh for 17:07.  We then found the East Coast trains office and explained that, basically, "we are poor lost numptys that missed our train".  The lady at the desk took pity on us and stamped our cards so that we could get on the 17:30 but would have to find our own seats.  We thanked her muchly and found our platform and got on the train.

East Coast do a nice offer at the weekend where you can pay extra to upgrade to First Class if you can find a seat that's unoccupied and unreserved.  We were still able to do that and so we rode down in style.  From Newcastle to Peterborough we had full First Class service, no need for dinner and lovely wide seats.  We even had actual mugs:
 photo FirstMugs_zps9955b866.jpg

When I tapped the mug to check and exclaimed about it the man opposite said "this is first class, we get real cups" and we both laughed.  We arrived in Peterborough only 20 minutes later than expected and were met by Jo's father who drove us back to their house in Spalding.  We even had a police escort along the way.  Not blue lights flashing style, we were just going the same way!

Sunday was Father-in-law's anniversary.  We all dressed smart and went to church for the service.  It was very nice if a bit scary for those of us who don't worship.  On our way out of the pews at the end of the service our family group was suddenly met by a very enthusiastic woman who knew who we all were and left most of us at a complete loss.  Jo found it strange to be in a big crowd of people and not knowing any of them.

After a little drinky in the church most of us trotted over to the hall for a lunch.  Local butchers had provided some amazingly delicious pies and various folk had done veg and puddings (not in the same dish!).  We sat as a family at one table and enjoyed catching up and delicious food.  Seconds and even thirds were enjoyed and people were met.

We all walked back to the parsonage to play Mario Kart 8.  It only allows 4 racers at a time but that suited me as I thoroughly enjoyed watching people drive off the track or into trees or each other.  We spent the rest of Sunday playing games and generally having a nice day.  I popped into the garden for a bit to admire Mother in law's well kept garden and to discuss what kind of plants might survive in the Tiree climate.  Also to talk to the chickens.

Monday saw Jo's sisters leaving at different points and one set of grandparents popping in briefly to say hello on their way to lunch out.  We passed the morning playing more games and enjoying some time sitting in the sun in the back garden.  Once folk were gone Jo's Mum drove us to the local shopping centre and we spent two hours looking at shirts and jackets for Jo.  It seems that when it comes to short sleeved shirts the trend at the moment is pale colours and/or plaid.  This didn't go down well.  But we did find two new long sleeve shirts and a new jacket for school that should wake the kids up a bit!

We also went for a walk around a garden centre where they sold demon statues:
Tortoises that wanted to eat you:
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And lambs that were going to eat your soul in the dead of night:
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Tuesday was more travelling.  We didn't cock up anything this time and had a smooth transition from Spalding via trains to Lancaster.  We met up with my parents, dumped our luggage in the car boot and went for a bit of a shop around town.  I had two yarn shops to visit so Jo popped down to Sainsbury's and got us a nice chorizo while I bought some nice choccies, some essentials and more yarn!

On the way to Lancaster I had finished a sock for Jo and hadn't managed to locate the ball for its partner before we left so I had no knitting to do on the journey home.  That's my excuse anyway ;)  We had a wonderful dinner at the Moghuls and then a nice evening chatting and agreeing plans for Wednesday.

Wednesday was an emotional day.  We saw family, we shared memories and we celebrated a life.

That afternoon the journey home began.
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I started a new pair of socks for Jo before realising that I had packed the completed one and didn't know if I wanted 64 or 68 stitches for the foot.  So I fell to my backup plan of hexipufffs and knit one between staring out the window and dozing.

It was strange to see mountains again:
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We also passed Kilchurn Castle:

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More trains, sitting in the right station this time, more train and finally we were in Oban.  We'd been told about a nice B&B near the harbour that did breakfast early enough for the ferry so we decided to try it.  Not only was it very reasonable it had a great view and was just far enough out of Oban that the drunken rabbles didn't go past.

When we arrived we saw LOTI (Lord Of The Isles) in and thought we were to have her on Thursday:
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But Thursday is the Barra boat and so we had the Clansman:
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We had a delicious breakfast, packed our bags one last time and trotted to the pier.  I used my ferry card and the two of us got on Clansman.  We had a nice sail over, they put out the "wings" as I call them (stabilisers) and I didn't even feel queasy all journey.  I knit another puff and a bit and snoozed.

Finally we were back on Tiree!  I'd rung for the bus but I think I gave the wrong mobile number, luckily they were there and happy to take us home.

We were barely through the door when Pippa had to come and greet us.  She slipped through the dog gate past Jo and was so excited to see me that she headbutted me in the mouth.  I'm missing a bit of lip but have a happy dog.

So that was our time away.  I've missed bits, like the gentleman we moved our bags for who said "oh, you're letting me sit there.  I shall include it in my memoirs!" to which his wife said "I think she's going to slap you in a minute".  I didn't.  I've missed more, I'm sure, but hey, we were busy enjoying ourselves!

I'll leave you with a few more photos.

Fish farm possibly?  outside Oban:
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Strange little signs on train platforms:
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Silage bales in England:
 photo TreesandBales_zpsd05e89ae.jpg

(Tiree farmers aren't even thinking of this yet!)

Fallen tree at Spalding that looks like it was aimed to replace the missing handrail of an unused set of steps:
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LOTI's (I think) back end:
 photo LOTIBum_zps5e83fa76.jpg

Isle of Mull coming in:
 photo MullComingIn_zpsee47fbb8.jpg

Pharos and Pole Star, lighthouse service boats, docked at Oban:
 photo PharosPoleStar_zps64e847ba.jpg

 photo EiggIn_zps8ca9505e.jpg

The foot passenger route at Oban inlcuding hydraulic system to compensate for ship height and tides:
 photo PassengerLift_zps2f46e0da.jpg

So, yes, busy few days and now I can relax at home.  It's meant to pee it down again tomorrow so I have an excuse to ignore that laundry we brought home and the lawn that's unmown.


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