11 Jun 2011
An early start, we are up at 6am to finish packing. Lloyd is also up and cooking scrambled eggs for breakfast to make sure we don’t starve on the bus. We have to be in to check in before boarding at 8.45, so allow about 50 minutes to get to the coach station at Victoria. However the traffic is kind, and we are there in just over half an hour.
We say our goodbyes, it has been so fantastic having a home base to settle in and get things sorted, it made a world of difference having a “proper” address. We thoroughly enjoyed our time with Tina and Lloyd, and look forward to catching up again. Lloyd may need help with the new house (it pretty much needs to be gutted), and all going well Lloyd will put in a loft where we can stay in return for helping out. It would be great if it does work out that way, though Cynthea is not too keen on looking for work in London. Tony thought that London would drive him mad, and perhaps if we had stayed in a hostel or temporary rooms it just might have…
The bus station didn’t have a check in as such. We had been told there was a weight limit on bags of 20kg, and we knew we would be over that. But at the desk they told us just to go to boarding, and put our bags on the bus, so we lined up with everyone else. There is no hassle with talking an extra bag on board either, and the bus leaves on time at 9am. We are told to wear the seat belts, and if we don’t and something happens, then “it’s your own fault, cos you’ve been told, al’right”. The bus is near full, a 67 seater if you don’t count the loos at the back!
The trip will take about 9½ hours, some 400 miles (650km) to Edinburgh. We were surprised that the UK still uses miles/feet as we thought the country had gone metric. Weights and measures, yes, albeit under protest. You will often find imperial measurements still appearing on bottles (there is still milk delivered daily, in glass pint bottles no less!), with the metric equivalent beside it. It is as though the Brits are thumbing their noses to the EU, in much the same was as they defied dropping the pound when they joined the EU. As Tina and Lloyd said, there is a line in the national anthem says they will “never be ruled”, and by hell they mean it! That is why they (and the rest of the Commonwealth), drive on the left, while the rest of Europe drives on the right, sheer bloody-mindedness, haha.
We are soon out of London, reaching Luton in about an hour (much quicker than we expected), and arrive at Sheffield around 12.30. The weather is changeable, and the first couple of hours we doze off an on, catching up on what we missed last night. Sometimes there isn’t a lot to see as we head up the M1, there are a lot of trees along the roadside, but we get occasional glimpses of the countryside and houses along the way. There is a castle on the hill, but we not sure where we are as our seats on the bus don’t allow a view out the front window, and most road signs on the left cannot be seen either. Just before Sheffield there is a nuclear power plant, we haven’t been that close to one before. Just before 1pm we stop again to change drivers, we are just about half way, and time has not dragged as we thought it might. Time enough for a pee and a coffee, and to stretch the legs, we are stopped for less than 15 minutes. Tony’s knee hasn’t been playing up too much, but his back is not coping so well. So far the drive up has been ok, the seats are a bit cramped, but not as bad as a plane.
We arrive at Newcastle just after 3pm, and there is time for a short walk and another pee stop, 30p to pee, again. Seems to be the standard price at stations everywhere, so we duck into the pub instead. They are busy at the bar so we don’t have time for a beer.
Just on 5pm we cross the boarder into Scotland, and arrive in Edinburgh slightly ahead of schedule, just after 6pm. The drive into Edinburgh brings many memories of home. With so many street names and suburbs that are familiar to us, we feel fascinated and also a tinge of homesickness. We are stopped at the lights and Tony sees a sign for Dunedin Physiotherapy, and signs point to Portobello and Musselburgh, it feels… weird, everything is familiar but everything is misplaced too. The architecture is amazing, again it has a familiar feel about it, but it is also many hundreds of years old.
The bus route must have been an express one, we think maybe three stops before Edinburgh (lost count!), still 9 hours was long enough. We find out later that they allow an extra hour in the timetable for delays on this route. It is bloody cold and a bit wet when we arrive, no surprise there as the forecast last night said the weather was going to be rubbish.
We come out of the station, but cannot easily find the bus stop we needed, it looks like it will rain again any minute, and the taxi rank is just along the road, so we opt for that. £8 gets us to the backpackers, it is further away from town than we thought, but we are not planning on going out tonight. There is a couchsurfers meeting tomorrow, so we will try and get to that. They planned a BBQ in the park tonight, “not far” from where we are staying, so that is why the weather is crap! There is a big Couchsurfing meeting on in town, and that is why it was difficult to get somewhere to stay so late. We found out after we booked the backpackers that there were some CS beds available, but by then we had sorted the room.
We rest up for a bit, but as we are some way from the centre of town we stay in the hostel lounge talking to other travellers. The hostel is pretty full this weekend.