View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Monday, 2 February 2009

The epic journey - part 1

All seemed well this morning, when I left at 7.45 to go to the railwaystation at Arnhem. Schoolkids rode the bus 1 stop (quarter of a mile) to school - no, five minutes' walk really is too far today. Left Arnhem on the train at 8.46, as per schedule, but things started to go awry when we stopped at Amsterdam's Bijlmer station. Normally, the service would branch off direct to Schiphol Airport, but due to a points failure, we had to go straight ahead to Amsterdam Central Station, thence back south to the airport. This took rather long, and we arrived 25 minutes late. No problem, I had planned to arrive 2 hours ahead of schedule. Not knowing I'd depart 2 hours behind of schedule.

Heavy snow had closed Heathrow, and Gatwick was the only airport open around London. So, boarded the plane and it set off at 2pm - to arrive into Gatwick at 2pm. Don't forget about the hour's time difference between the continent and the UK. It was murky and snowy out there, but the runway was clear. I hared through the airport towards the departures lounge - to be met by a scene of mayhem. All domestic flights were cancelled - including my onward connection to Edinburgh. That put a serious spanner in the works. It meant an extra overnight stay. But my baggage was put through to Stornoway, so I had to go and salvage that. Thanks, Gatwick luggage staff: it worked. Next step, a bed for the night. From there, I hoped to get some internet access (which I'm using to type this), and by 4.30pm, I was on my way to a rather expensive little hotel at the back of beyond. All as a result of a foot of snow in southern England. It did look very pretty by the way.

Meanwhile at the airport, dozens of people were sitting in a colossal queue at the enquiries desk, waiting to reschedule their flights. This queue meant a 5 hour wait. No thanks. I rang the travel agent who had booked this flight (on the web), and they rebooked me on the 8.25 to Glasgow, which (combined with a 5 hour wait at Glasgow) will put me into Stornoway at 4pm tomorrow. Well, seeing is believing.

Thanks to some sandwiches from my dad, I had not quite starved, but I was hungry by 6 o'clock. Food wasn't served till 7, and when I did order it took 45 minutes to arrive. Because the place was bombed out. Tomorrow, a taxi will pick me up at 7 am to return me to the paradise called Gatwick Airport.

Those on Facebook are already aware of this odyssee - I'm taking the opportunity to give further details.

Remembering Today - 2 February

On this day in the First World War, this man from the Isle of Lewis lost his life in the service of King & Country. RIP.

Regiment or division: 6th Cameron Highlanders
Service number: 5362
Date of death: 2 February 1919
Interred: Barvas Cemetery

Last address in Lewis: 16 Knock, Point
Son of Malcolm and Christina Murray, of 16, Knock, Point, Stornoway.
Regiment or division: Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, 2nd Reserve Battallion Royal Naval Division
Service number: R/2220
Date of death: 2 February 1920 at the age of 22
Interred: Eye / Aignish Cemetery
Memorial reference: E. 4. 27


Last address in Lewis: 19 Knock, Point,
Regiment or division: Royal Naval Reserve, HMS President III
Service number: 5415/A
Date of death: 2 February 1919 at the age of 28
Died of pneumonia in Glasgow
Interred: Aignish / Eye Cemetery, Lewis
Memorial reference: E. 3. 30
Lewis Memorial: Point (Garrabost)