View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Wednesday 3 February

Awoke to a cold and icy morning, but for a while, the sun was out. This has now disappeared behind a thickening veil of cloud which is moving up from the southwest. As I was waiting in a shop, I caught sight of a TV screen where a weather forecaster was warning of more of the white stuff. The pavements here are icerinks a lot of the time, and there is no improvement imminent.

Locally, the council have announced they intend to close 18 primary schools over a 7-year period, ending in 1918. No, I'm not joking. The last line in the article on Hebrides News states that "... schools to close in 1918".

Tuesday 2 February

My journey to Stornoway was uneventful, if I'm honest. I managed to catch an earlier train than planned, as the taxi turned up early. The 5.46 am service brought me to Amsterdam's Schiphol Airport in good time for the flight at 9.20 am. I make a point of being there two hours before departure, as you never know how busy it might get. It wasn't busy. The check-in area for my flight was deserted. I proceeded to gate D16 and settled down with a cup of coffee. The plane took off on the dot at 9.20 sharp.

On the way to London Gatwick, I couldn't see a thing, as we cruised through cloud all the way. Landed 15 minutes early, and disembarked at gate 55. Worked my way to the front of the terminal, then back in again through security and that rigmarole. Had to wait until about 11.40 before my onward connection to Edinburgh was posted as departing from (you guessed it): gate 55, door C. Waiting is a major part of airtravel, even when everything runs according to schedule. The plane took off at half past twelve, more or less on time, and this time we ascended to 34,000 feet, above the cloud. There were some chinks in the cloud above England, but I could not see anything until we approached Edinburgh, where the cloud cover disappeared. In a large curve, we swung round to land in a southwesterly direction at Turnhouse Airport.

As I disembarked from the plane, I caught sight of the departures board. This stated that my onward connection to Stornoway would leave from gate 23, which (oddly and erroneously) was marked as closed. Not bothered by that, I proceeded to check in for this flight and had some lunch. After that, I joined the 20 minute queue for security which, like Gatwick, you need to pass through before reaching the gates. At 5.15pm, we were taken outside in the dimming light of dusk and bussed to the aircraft. This was de-iced after passengers boarded, and then it took off. It was a turboprop plane and it flew us northwest at a good rate. Light faded from the sky as we approached Stornoway, and we bumped our way through a few rogue showers. For 20 minutes, we circled around the airport whilst another aircraft landed. Then we were smacked onto the tarmac and hurray, we were there.

Upon leaving the plane, passengers were warned to be careful as there was sheet ice around it. Made the terminal in one piece, then found an empty taxi which took me to Stornoway for £5.60. The fare to the station in Arnhem, which is a similar distance from my father's house, was the equivalent of £15.