One of the things I’ve promised myself is that when I get back on my feet and actually have one of those job things I will NO longer travel by coach. I’ll pay the extra (even if this sometimes means the fare is doubled) and take the flipping train. This weekend I travelled back home to Scotland for an important occasion and due to the ever present budget issues that come with long term unemployment. The only way I was going to get up there was buying the budget coach ticket and gritting my teeth for the journey. These are the kinds of things you do for really important people in your life and I don’t regret going one bit, but after this mammoth trip I swear I went to bed that night and I had a dream… a dream of a time when train travel once again became affordable and punctual, a dream where I had a job and could afford to book a train ticket without agonizing over the cost vs. comfort question. Oh boy it was wonderful. Let me explain: the coach trip from Liverpool to my final Scottish destination takes just under 9 hours. Yes, NINE. I could fly to from here to Chicago in that time – I know I’ve done it. Do you know how much it winds me up that what should be a 4-5 hour drive ends up taking up as much of my time as a FLIGHT TO THE USA? Aherm… and I LOVE Scotland and all… I really do… but you know which trip I’d rather be making. Yeah, I love Scotland. NINE HOURS THOUGH!
My train trip fantasies also have the added advantage of more leg room – ability to get up and stretch my legs for even a few minutes because you legally have to be strapped in with a seatbelt the entire time. The entire time… that is unless of course you need to relieve yourself and you find that you’re starting to wonder if they even have a bathroom on this bus. Push that thought out of your mind for God sakes. Cross your legs. Think of desserts and cream crackers and all things dry. Bite your tongue and hold it because, trust me, you do not want to discover the answer to that “do they have bathroom” question unless you REALLY REALLY have NO OTHER OPTION. There’s only one thing worse than seeking out the bathroom and that’s being the poor bugger sat near to the thing because – trust me – the smell finds you in a huge waft every time the door is opened and you start to seriously hate those inconsiderate passengers who might need to pee during the course of nine hours… actually shuddering with fear and trying to brace your nose for the tidal wave type assault you know is coming as soon as that little flimsy door is opened. *gag*
Of course we have to be grateful for small mercies: the rest stop! A twenty minute break at a service station somewhere in the Lake District to grab some cold food (no hot food allowed on board) and a chance to join the stampede towards the Holy Grail: a proper toilet that flushes and everything! On this particular occasion, my rest stop was anything but restful. Having left my bits and bobs including my jacket on board, I wandered over to the service station building and casually remarked to a fellow pilgrim… umm… passenger how glorious the sunshine was today. I mean actually short sleeve t-shirt hot. Big mistake. HUGE MISTAKE. 10 minutes later there I am in the overpriced for a captive audience shop searching for a butter free sandwich (ok butter is a huge phobia of mine. My bad) when I become aware of this noise. It sounds like rain on the roof… but it can’t be. It was sunny not 10 minutes ago… and this is a loud noise deafening. That’s a lot of rain. Yep, I got to the door to discover we’d been lured inside unprotected because of the evil promise of a sunny afternoon and now EVERYONE is crammed into this tiny doorway staring in disbelief at the torrential downpour. I mean, the car park was covered and flooded in minutes. It was a cruel cruel joke and as the clock ticked down towards the immoveable leaving time. I knew I was going to have to get VERY wet or get left behind… RUUUUUUUN !
I got drenched. Wet right through with 4 hours at least left to sit and stew in my sodden clothes, just to ram the point home. When in the Lake District, ALWAYS take your fu**ing jacket. The coach was back on the road and filled with a stream of 50 drying passengers and 5 minutes later the sun is back out shining bright in the sky and laughing at our naivety for presuming it might stick around for 20 minutes to allow us a “comfort” break. Lesson learned.
I’ve said it already: I love Scotland. I’m Scottish. I love Scotland in the unconditional way I love family. Even when the place pisses me off, I still care. Even if we don’t see each other for ages. Even if I have grown up and moved away. I’ll always go back, I have to visit and gawd help you NOBODY gets to dis my Scotland but me and of course the other members of the human race who can proudly claim they come from the land of such culinary icons as haggis, Iron Bru and the deep fried Mars Bar (yes they exist. In my experience only an Englishman actually eats one!) I always forget just how much I miss the place until I cross the border on a return journey. The mountains grow and (usually) the black clouds and the rain rolls in. Welcome to Scotland… oh how I miss thee.
I’d move back tomorrow, but sadly KM being as proudly English as I am Scots (uh huh we bicker a lot) I don’t see it happening anytime soon..
I arrived safely in Perth at the appointed time and as if by magic through the sun and the showers a pretty pretty rainbow to welcome me and I may have just been hallucinating after NINE hours on a bus sat next to a lovely lady dressed head to foot in the brightest pink I have ever seen, but I swear I heard a soundtrack of the Hallelujah Chorus as we pulled in and that bus door opened… Freedom!
Laugh now, but I am determined to see the day when I can afford to take the train is coming… oh yes!