Up early to pack and prepare for Glasgow. Woke the still jet lagged from flying back from Australia, Mirinda at 7:30 as we have to take the puppies to The Forge – they were NOT impressed. On GMTV this morning, for the first time, Haslemere was mentioned – Lower Street was flooded. When the taxi came (at 10) and dropped us at the station, it had unflooded. The taxi was, in fact, a tad late but my gigantic buffer meant we were well within acceptable parameters.
We caught the lovely (444) 10:32 South West Trains train up to Waterloo then crossed to a hot and smelly tube train to Euston.
While standing on the forecourt at Euston, waiting for our platform to be announced, we were informed that reserved seating was NOT in operation and it was every passenger for him/herself. We found out later that it is due to Virgin not being able to download information into the train. So how come you can ring up and reserve seats? Does this mean that if a lot of people just turn up to catch the train then we may not get our ‘booked’ seats even though we paid for them? Where is the incentive to pre-book? Boy, was it easy when all they had to do was ‘download’ the little bits of paper in the back of the seats. I presume they can’t go backwards in order to give good customer service. And I’m not alone! Plenty of other passengers were pretty pissed off at not being able to sit together when they’d actually booked seats, or facing the wrong direction.
Still, the train WAS very comfortable, though not enough leg room. But at least you can get up and walk around.
The train stopped at Penrith…which is only relevant to people who know me well. We left Euston at 12:30, due to arrive in Glasgow Central around 18:00. The further north we went, the more beautifully bleak the views out the windows became.
At the ‘buffet’ hatch, two Scots were complaining about paying £2.60 for a can of Strongbow cider (tea & coffee was £1.20) and then paid it anyway. As Mary (the woman behind the hatch) countered in her strongest and broadest Scottish accent: “I don’t make the prices, I just collect them.”
The countryside post-Oxenholme suddenly became very hilly and misty with lots of beckoning paths over large green humps, dotted with occasional sheep. As we got closer to Motherwell (‘yes she is, thank you’) the houses became predominantly old grey featureless rows of tiny tenements. Interestingly the new ones are very similar, except for being brown. Do I assume the old ones were not originally grey but have been darkened and neutralised by smoke and ash? Interestingly, and all joking aside, the name of Motherwell comes from the name of an old healing well in Ladywell Road.
The Quality Hotel at Glasgow Central station, is an interesting experience. Dave informed us that it used to be the favoured rendezvous of businessmen and their mistresses during their fumbly lunch-breaks. Seedy is a word that Mirinda used to describe it. One thing it does have going for it is how close it is to the train. Actually our room was twice as far from reception as reception was from the train. Oh, it IS big!
Our room had twin beds and the aroma of boiled cabbage floating in through the window, once I managed to open it. The fact that I had to pull the nails out with my teeth, may indicate the degree of difficulty involved. The cabbage smell increased and I quickly wished my success had not been so.
Mirinda abused the guy who let us into our room – they didn’t have a key for our room because the guy who ‘does’ the keys wasn’t there – until he agreed to change us to a double room which was ‘nicer’. He rang down to reception and, in a very forceful voice, demanded we be changed! Then his tone softened as he was told there were no nicer double rooms. He then assured us it would be fixed up the next day and to check with reception.
Mirinda crashed onto one of the beds and snoozed – still jetlagged and now pissed off as well – and I watched the Olympics until 7:15. We then left to meet Adele and Dave at the Buttery, Glasgow’s best restaurant or so our Rough Guide claims.
After walking along Argyle Street and under the spaghetti strands of the M8, we eventually found it, standing alone, opposite a council estate and a line of crow-like jeering kids. Things didn’t look good. But, quelle surprise! the food was excellent and served with panache. The wine list was very good and we indulged in a delicious Chianti Classico which we all agreed was perfect.
I haven’t seen Adele & Dave since we moved to the UK and they haven’t changed a bit. Apparently, however, I have and Adele called me a hippy. Apart from this insult we had a lovely night and finally walked back to the misnamed Quality Hotel. Outside the building the sign has been badly miss-painted – the words ‘Lack Of’ have been left off.
Arriving back at the hotel, we had to go to reception and find someone to let us back into our room due to not having a key yet. A guy, just back from Benidorm, came up with us. The ‘keys’ are those little strips of punctured plastic you sometimes find and this guy sets them. I reckon he should be a dentist! The way he pulled and yanked the other end of this poor piece of plastic with his chunky pliers would have put Doc Holliday in the shade. Mind you, he had to have a few goes at it before he managed to produce a working key. It was very funny. And meant we went to sleep happy and smiling.