Thursday, 15 September 2016

On the end of my trip

I guess the place to begin is Inverness. I had chosen an earlier train than strictly necessary in order to have time to try and buy a CD or two of Scottish music, most notably a Red Hot Chili Pipers CD so I could give it to Col as a bit of a tease. (He's a rock music aficionado.) I therefore stashed most of my bags in the lovely lockers at the train station and rather foolishly set off on the bike for the shopping centre. This was foolish as it turns out the shopping centre is next to the station. I'd have done better to add my helmet to the the stuff in the locker, secured the bike to a bike rack and walked. Anyway, I found the music I wanted. 

I went back the station to have a shower. I then found supper in a nearby pub which featured a good selection of real ale. As I was eating, some other patrons came in, three ordered wine, whereas the fourth ordered a Budweiser. When I went to order a second pint, I asked the batman if he ever got discouraged by such behaviour? He shrugged and said it was money in his pocket. A little later, two couples of older people came in together. One of them asked if the Supermoose T-shirt I was wearing referred to a bar! I said no, it was just a novelty tourist shirt. One couple was from Vermont, the other from England.

Back to the station to retrieve bike and panniers, then over to the Caledonian Sleeper where I employed a cunning strategy I worked out. Typically the bike-carrying car is located close to the entry to the platform. However, I have come to the conclusion that the best way to proceed is to go to the car containing one's sleeping compartment with the bike, put the bags in the cabin and then bring the bike to its' car thereby saving a bit of lugging of panniers. In other words, I use the bike as a luggage trolley.

The trip South was uneventful. Not having get up at 3:45 AM to move bikes made it much easier get a good night's sleep. (I have learnt that it is only Fort William trains that are so afflicted.) Ironically, I woke up briefly in Waverly Station at about 1 AM. A little after seven, I asked the attendant giving me my morning coffee and shortbread biscuits how close the train was to being on time, thinking that long distance trains often pick up a bit of delay. I was surprised when he said that we were going to arrive a minute ahead of schedule!

In Euston Station, I bought a breakfast roll (i.e. bacon and egg in a bun) and walked over to one of the bike parking areas to eat it. While I munched away, I witnessed at least a couple of businessmen exit the station and proceed to unlock a bicycle from the rack and head off, presumably to their offices. I was a bit surprised to realise that they evidently keep a bike at Euston Station for the station-office segment of their morning commute!  To my mind, this speaks wonders for the state of biking in Britain.  

I spent some more time bumming around Regent's Park, including stopping to have tea by a pond filled with birds. I could look up which pond it was, but I don't feel like it. I was killing time as I didn't wish to have a day in London, but did want to shop at Cadenhead's Whisky Shop which only opened at 10:30. In a sense, I was stuck with Leonardo and bags, but it wasn't that great a hardship. At Cadenhead's, I made a number of purchases, most notably a bottle of the defintive version of the Kilkeran 10-year Single Malt. (Cadenhead's is more or less the retail arm of J.A. Mitchell, makers of Springbank and other fine whiskies.) I also got a bottle of Old Raj Gin for Caddy as I had been informed she is something of a gin fan.

I then caught a train to Didcot from Paddington Station. Caddy's Dan was there to greet me, as was Bella who told me of her tail of woe and of how she had been beaten with rolled up strips of bacon and then not been allowed to eat the bacon or even lick the crumbs off her fur. ;-) 

What next?  My stay with Elly and Collin is now a bit of blur. I told them about my journey and things I had seen. Caddy was happy to get the gin and Collin enjoyed the beer from Orkney I brought with me. The next day was somewhat wet, so I took a train without Leonardo to Oxford, where I saw acres of bike parking at the station and around town. I saw a large number of East Asian tourists, likely Chinese. I nearly went to see the new Swallows and Amazons movie but the timing wasn't right, so I had lunch and the Eagle and Child instead. I spent a shade too much time and money in bookstores, including the surreal Blackwell book store and it's underground Norrington Room.

On the Saturday, I took in a visit to the Didcot Railway Centre which included a ride in a train hauled by the King Edward II steam locomotive. I took a picture of it for Edward's benefit. Then it was time to head to Heathrow and catch a 787 back to Montreal. This involved a somewhat surreal experience as although British Airways has the entirety of Terminal 5 almost exclusively to itself (and the terminal has 3 sub-terminals) getting to my plane involved taking a "mystery bus tour" and walking up a gangway!

The flight was nondescript which is good. The high point was the meal where the choices were between roast beef or chicken tikka Marsala which, as I pointed out before, represents a considerable amount of British cooking, and especially adjusted for the fact that fish and chips doesn't fly as airline food (pun intended). I had chosen the chicken tikka Marsala The real problem came from the fact that the plane landed in Montreal at 8 PM which was sufficiently late that it made jet lag harder to deal with. 

Monday, 5 September 2016

On photographs and issues relating to it

Hi. I tried to upload some photos from my trip tonight and got frickin' nowhere as Google has taken over Picassa and is much less user-friendly, or to be more accurate it seems to assume the users are idiots and therefore doesn't give them tools such as "sort album by date" and the like. I am seriously considering moving my pictures to a better host.