View across the Outer Harbour of Stornoway

Friday, 1 July 2011

Death of shampoo

When I unpacked my case upon returning to Stornoway, I found a disaster lurking in my toiletbag. The shampoo bottle (300 ml) had emptied itself into the bag, flooding everything with sticky goo. This included my poor wee alarmclock, which had stopped at 6.47. It is an analogue one, so it was hard to tell whether it had given up the ghost as I walked to the bus early in the morning, or on the flight to Inverness in the evening. Changing the battery and cleaning the poles did not help.

After walking in and out of all the shops in Stornoway (caution: exaggeration), I found myself a new clock for a few quid, so I can be up and about on time. Did I ever tell you that is usually around the 10am mark?

Thursday 30 June

Today, I travelled back to Stornoway from Holland, after an absence of 3½ weeks. The journey went fine, although I nearly went cross-eyed with boredom as I had to wait for four hours at Edinburgh.

Let me start at the beginning though. At 6.52 am, I caught the first bus to Arnhem station, using the new chip-card which is being phased in across most parts of Holland today. You can 'check in' at the commencement of your journey on bus or train, and 'check out' again at the end. An amount of money that has been loaded onto the card is used to pay for the journey, prices depend on the distance travelled.

I joined the 7.30 Intercity to Utrecht, where I had to sit on the balcony because of my large case. That was fine. Things deteriorated on the train to Schiphol Airport, which was packed and I had to stand all the way (30 miles) to the airport.

Got there at 8.45, and found myself a tad pressed for time to get myself checked in and to the gate. Fortunately, I was in good time and so was the plane: we took off after a 4½ mile run along Schiphol's taxiways and got ourselves into Gatwick at 10.20 local time. Whizzed myself across to the departures lounge for a cup of coffee, then to gate 55C to join the very full flight to Edinburgh. I use a GPS device to track my journey, but was asked to switch it off as it might interfere with the aircraft's systems. Well, it doesn't, it's a receiver, i.e. it does not transmit. Hmpf. On subsequent flights, I kept it in my pocket, where it still worked.

Arrived into Edinburgh just after 1pm and on entering the airport building, I turned left into the departures lounge. I could have gone into Arrivals, but that would have been a pointless exercise - going through the entire security rigmarole whilst I already had been checked twice that day. Settled down for an excruciatingly boring four hours. Except for the group of teenage school girls who were headed for Boston - better referred to as a chicken coop in action.

The Stornoway flight took off at 5.15 and landed at Inverness half an hour later. It was fairly cloudy over the Highlands, and also the onward flight to Stornoway. On the latter leg, we got no coffee. Wish the dishwater on the Edinburgh leg had been at least hot. Anyway, got into SY just before 7pm on a bright and fairly sunny evening. I was given a lift into town and was back on post by 7.30pm.