Sunday, 5 July 2009

Saturday 27 June

Started the day by rising at 5.30 am, which is unusually early for me. However, I had a ferry to catch at 7 am, so after some bacon and eggs, I set forth at 6.20. It was pretty busy on board the Isle of Lewis, with cars and foot passengers. The ferry set sail at 7 o’clock sharp, and made the crossing in good time. There was only a moderate northeasterly breeze, so no swell to speak of. Had a cup of coffee, then sat in the observation lounge for most of the passage. Many passengers slept their way across the Minch, and we docked at Ullapool at 9.45. The bus was ready to take those with tickets to Inverness; the second coach took those without reservations – until it was full. Reached Inverness at 11.30. Collected my train tickets from the ticket office. I split my journey to Darlington between Scotrail, which charged me £40.50 for the journey to Edinburgh and Cross Country, which charged me £16.50 for the last leg. Total £57. Had I booked with Scotrail, the journey would have cost me £97. After buying some food at M&S I returned to the station to wait for my train. At 12.30, we were allowed on board, and I went to my seat. Nicely booked on-line as well. Inverness was busy as per usual. The train departed on time at 12.47, and we headed south through the Highlands. It was bright and fairly sunny, a contrast to the cloudy skies and occasional rain of the far northwest. At Aviemore a party of pensioners joined the train. Opposite me sat a language student and a man who was building a house. At Perth, we headed southeast into Fife, with the Tay estuary to the left for the first few miles. More of interest was the party of ‘girls’ who were going to a hen party in Edinburgh, drinking Magners at 3.30pm and chatting up all the blokes in the carriage. It was as well we reached Edinburgh when we did, as one of the ladies was proposing to get her ***s out. The weather changed past Perth, turning grey and misty / foggy. Visibility was poor, even more so when we reached the Firth of Forth at Kirkcaldy. Crossed the Forth railway bridge, which is being painted. The thing is always being painted. The road bridge can be seen a few hundred yards to the west. Reached Edinburgh Waverley at 4.23, and I had 45 minutes to catch my connection. That train, final destination Birmingham New Street, was already in position along platform 7, so I went on board to claim my seat. The journey south, starting at 5.05, was not interesting at all, due to the continuing low cloud and fog that plagued the North Sea coast. On arrival at Darlington, at 7.10, it was raining quite steadily. Dad was there and he drove me the 20 miles to Hurst. Which was wreathed in thick fog, it being located 1200 feet above sealevel. The cottage had been modernised, but otherwise not much had changed.

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