Last weekend stormsearch and I went to Linlithgow. It's twenty minutes on the train, a pleasant walk around the loch, feed the swans, pub lunch, buy interesting foodstuffs, and come back home in time for tea.
(Plus Jehane got savaged by coots. It's worth the price of admission simply for that.)
For one thing, this was the first time in living memory that I got a Saturday and Sunday off work together, like normal people do, and I was somewhat concerned about what to do with it. So, on Saturday, J & I went to Largs for the day. It's two and a half hours on the train, but we'd factored this into the schedule well in advance, and allocated plenty of time for me to acquire the necessary baguette and mocha latte before the train left. What we did not factor in was that Equal Opportunities Legislation apparently allows the afterbirth to apply for jobs serving sandwiches in Upper Crust.
Cumberland Sausage Baguette and a cinnamon danish, please.Yer wha'?Cumberland... sausage... baguette... and... a... cinnamon... danish... please.Wass sossbagget?You see there, on the label, where it saysCumberland Sausage Baguette, Served Hot? That there, next to it, would be a Cumberland sausage baguette. I'd like one of those, and—
I had a paper bag perfunctorily thrust at me.Now, the next thing it said on the label was,Served hot... do you think you could manage that?
At some point I had to cut my losses and run for the train, which led to my declaring, somewhat breathlessly, just as we passed the two useless armed policemen standing on the concourse:
...and if I stamped on the fucker's head until nothing was left but a thin red smear, I would be the one who went to jail.... We arrived at the train in enough time to press the
DOOR OPEN button but not soon enough to prevent it pulling away.
Since we now had to wait for the next train, I had enough time to go back and say
I'd like the sauce you forgot to offer me, and the cinnamon danish I already ordered, Thank You.
Subsequently, overheard in Waverley station yesterday morning was the following exchange:
Bing bong. In order to comply with recent legislation, and for your comfort and safety, smoking is not permitted in this station.Comfort?! Whose FUCKING COMFORT?!...Paul, I think you should go and have a cigarette.Fine. We're in a train station. Let's go and have a cigarette in a CIVILIZED FUCKING COUNTRY!
By the time we got to Glasgow Queen Street I had a splitting headache from all the teeth-clenching and jaw-grinding I'd been doing. We left Glasgow Central an hour later than planned, but I had Jehane's industrial-strength prescription painkillers and I was doing okay.
We had fish and chips in Largs, met lots of dogs, and then took the ferry over to the Isle of Cumbrae. The CalMac Ro-Ros are some sort of major iconic feature of Scotland, but this was the first time I'd ever been on one. It's odd how much better I feel, instantly, the moment I'm standing on something that floats.
We had a poke around the Isle of Cumbrae and wandered around Millport. J & I had been here before on Alba, but we hadn't gone ashore: having actually stood on the pier, I was a little disturbed to realize that not only had I been here on Royalist twelve years previously, it was in fact the place (and not Campbeltown as I'd half-remembered) where the Last Great Tall-Ship Battle had taken place. Subsequently it turned out that I knew the entire street pattern, having been here once on shore leave in 1995.
We looked at a rather nice hotel and drooled over their dinner menu. I picked up a copy of their brochure for future reference. J got some good photos of the sunset over Arran. Some time later, wandering back through the town, J said:
Wouldn't it be nice if we...?
Yes, it would, I said,
but we shouldn't.
The mental faculty that went first, when I had my nervous breakdown some time ago, was the ability to make a decision. Since then I've been surviving by outsourcing many decisions to Jehane and not changing anything about my life. Recently I've been complaining that I'm in the same place that I was years ago and that nothing ever changes.
When I was last here, twelve years ago, I spent most of my time planning how to run away from home. Change was the part of life that made life worth living. My fifteen-year-old self took a good look at my twenty-seven-year-old self and turned up his perfectly formed little nose.
I stamped over to a nearby cashpoint and checked my bank balance. Then I Made A Decision.
Give me the brochure, I said,
and your phone.
Thirty seconds later we had a deluxe bedroom booked in a three-star hotel on Cumbrae. The return train tickets were of no use to us now, but we could sort that out in the morning. And the rest of the glorious evening was ours to spend on an island off the West Coast.
The all-consuming feeling of ohshitohshitohshitwhatthefuckhaveIjustdo
In one brief moment of residual panic I asked to use the Hotel's internet connection, only to be told that the Internet shuts down on the island at 5pm. We were in uncharted territory now, making up history as we went along. I had nothing much to do on the internet anyway, except cancel a lunch appointment with spudtater —which is what phones are for—and possibly make an LJ post that said
Hi, I'm on an island. It was only much later, in conversation with scotm , that I realized I'd completely missed my chance to use the line
We've gone on holiday by mistake.
Dinner was sumptuous—all local produce, so I had sirloin of Named Cow and I even ate the vegetables. Then a couple of Arran malts and a late-night walk along the beach. I've never seen so many stars.
Breakfast was similarly spectacular. The leisurely walk back to the ferry slip took longer than expected because of all the shopping, birdwatching, picnicking and boat-ogling that happened along the way. We got talking to a cheery West-Coast chap in the boatyard who pointed out a gorgeous, slightly storm-damaged, 22-foot yacht that was being sold at a bargain price.
People on the west coast seem to talk to people. Moreover they seem to be friendly and helpful when they do so, even when they find out one comes from Edinburgh. I might just retire over here.
The ferry came up to meet us just as we arrived at the slip. Back on the mainland, we had just enough time to pick up an excellent mocha latte and head for the train. With perfect timing, as we found seats and sat down, the train pulled away.
Forty seconds later, the rain came down. It had been glorious weather all weekend.
 There appears to be a general impression that I exaggerate certain events on my LJ. Not so. I swear I am not making any of this up.
 She's the voice of reason.
 This is a euphemism.
 We tied up in the harbour overnight and left first thing in the morning. I was on galley duty that night and sent one of the staff ashore to get some cream. Apparently the town shuts down at half past four and no cream was to be had anywhere. It was a somewhat runny sausage casserole, but it seemed to do the trick.
 Not to mention the traditional `this is going to make for a fantastic LJ entry'. I don't know about that one. You be the judge.