3 Jun 2012
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Saturday 2nd June
We are catching the bus to Glasgow at noon, so it is a leisurely breakfast looking out over Oban Harbour. Tony spots a steam ship in port, and we watch it leave. It has quite a crowd on board, and we wonder how we missed finding out about that. We find out that the Waverley is the world’s last ocean going paddlesteamer. It is in the area for a few days running trips from Glasgow to Syke with a stop at Oban. It is registered in Glasgow, but runs from a number of ports around the country, so we may get the chance later on.
After breakfast we check out of the hostel and walk to the bus depot. Lack of bloody signs again, they all say “local bus only”, and it takes some time to find the Glasgow stop, hidden amongst the local buses. We have about an hour sitting in the sun waiting, and there are a lot of people around the harbour area. It turns out there was a duck race on, hundreds of locals turned out to see hundreds of ducks float down the river to the harbour.
We catch the bus at midday, it is a beautiful, scenic drive through to Loch Lomond, and reminds us so much of home (even if the mountains are much smaller here!). From Loch Lomond the traffic builds up, a combination of the holiday weekend traffic and the roads narrowing to form a bottleneck as vehicles leave the dual carriageway. Those heading to Oban are luckier than those heading up to Fort William. The traffic is at a crawl, if not a stand still, for a good five miles north out of Dumbarton. We are pleased we are not caught up in that lot.
Tony notices a bit of water on the floor, looks like someone lost a water bottle, but then there is more, and he lifts Cynthea’s pack off the floor onto the seat. More water appears, and it is obvious something more serious is up, and suspicions point to the onboard toilet (ewwww!). He alerts the driver, who pulls the bus over at the next opportunity, and as he does so a wave of water washes through the bus. The driver checks the toilet, and finds that the flusher had jammed on. Yuck! We try not to think about our daypacks that were on the floor, and are now rather damp...
We arrive in Glasgow around 3pm, and find that the leaky loo flooded some of the luggage compartment below as well. We try not to think too much about that either. We decide to get a taxi to the hostel rather than haul wet packs down the street. At least the packs had been waterproofed, so they were not too badly affected. Even so, it was not a pleasant thought, and we know we will cringe (much like you are now!) every time we are reminded of this.
We didn’t do too much in Glasgow today, it was too late to visit any sites, so we settled for a beer or two in the bar of the hostel. One of the staff at the bar remembered Tony from a previous visit, at the time he (barman) had been sharing a dorm with Tony, and had since got a job there.
Sunday 3rd June
It is a cool and dull day today, and we have a long wait until the bus for London leaves at 9pm.
We store our bags and head out into the cold to take a walk in the park, Tony “thinks” Glasgow Green is just along the way… It is a bit further than he thought, but we get there eventually, and sit in the sun – and a chill wind – to eat lunch. The People’s Palace and Winter Gardens are in the Green, and both are something Tony has wanted to see, but missed it previous visits, so we head along for a look. It is free to enter, and the Winter Gardens have a tropical feel about them (there is even a pigmy banana growing, in flower and fruit). We walk around the garden and then take a seat to eat the last of our lunch and read. It is so cosy here, and we are in no hurry to go back outside. Cynthea reads, Tony wanders about taking photos. We stay here until closing time, with a brief visit to the People’s Palace museum (also free entry).
Outside the chilly wind has dropped a little and the clouds have cleared a bit too. We stop outside People’s Palace and admire the Doulton Fountain. First unveiled at the Empire Exhibition held at Kelvingrove Park in 1888, the fountain was then moved to Glasgow Green in 1890.
The fountain was designed to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Golden Jubilee of 1887, and celebrate Britain’s Imperial achievements - the fountain is crowded with groups representing Australia, Canada, India and South Africa (what about the Kiwis??!).
The largest terracotta fountain in the world and the best surviving example of its kind, it has five tiers, is 14m high and 21m across the base – the third of the width of a football pitch.
We head back through town (seems a long way getting there), and call in to a supermarket for supplies for tea, and the bus ride tonight. We have a snack and a beer at the hostel bar, and get a taxi to the bus station just after 8pm. The bus for London is due to leave at 9pm, so we head along to the stance – it would be at the far end of the station!
While waiting to check in Cynthea asks for her neck pillow, Tony says he hasn’t got it and assumes she took it while he was off checking where the bus left from. Tony rushes back to where the taxi dropped them off, but no pillow. As he heads back to the bus he thinks maybe it fell off at the seat where he stopped and waited for Cynthea. No pillow there, but he checks the rubbish bins next to it, and there it is! He plucks it out, and has a quick check to see that it wasn’t sitting in anything gross or smelly, but it was a new liner in there, and not much rubbish.
The bus driver seems to fluff around for ages before allowing us to board. We wonder why he has to keep us all waiting out in the cold, surely he can start us boarding. There is probably some stupid rule that wont allow boarding before a certain time, despite the thirty-something people now waiting.
We are only about a minute or two late getting away, and Tony settles in to get as much sleep as possible, despite the daylight. There is a full moon coming up, but there is not much success getting a good photo in a bouncing bus. We use the facilities at the first stop (have no idea where it was, but it was dark by the time we got there). At the second stop only two passengers get off, and there is some confusion about the right number of passengers… the bus leaves and it seems someone was left behind at one stop or another. It all seemed a bit casual, and we have to wonder how one would get on if you did find yourself in that situation, especially if you had an onward journey. Around 4.30am Cynthea wakes Tony up, we are in London. Tony tells her to be quiet and leave him to sleep until we get to the coach station, but we are at Hyde Park already.