Yesterday was a very long one. The big concern had been getting my clothes dried overnight, and because they are made out of space fabrics, a dryer (or tumbler as the Brits call it) was out of the question.
But dry they were and it was off to Oxford to see the Andy Warhol exhibit at the Ashmolean Museum. What better memory to carry across the Scotish Highlands, then the silkscreens of his urine.
Belinda was off to have lunch with visiting relatives so we said our goodbyes and Nick and I went off on our own for lunch.
We had parked near the train station to make it convenient for me to leave and having finished lunch, walked there in pouring rain. Walking across the parking lot I realized I had left my hiking boots at Nick and Belinda’s, a 30 minute drive away.
Yes, Mr. Sandberg, world traveler, holder of five patents, husband to a brilliant woman, father to the greatest girl on earth, had fucked up big time.
I was set to drive the car back to pick them up but Boydy insisted that I was not insured, so that was a no go. And Nick, being the Brit he is, does not drive. Never has. Never will. He thinks a clutch is some sort of purse a woman carries. And we couldn’t roust Belinda, I believe seeing that it was Nick and I calling her repeatedly, decided to enjoy her lunch rather than help a couple of old geezers.
We finally agreed that Nick would ship them overnight to Shiel Bridge, where I will be leaving for my trek. If they don’t show up, my hiking boots will probably be these very smart camp side shoes.
I took the Oxford train to Paddington and then walked to a camping store, The Brokedown Palace, East London, near the Liverpool Street Station to have my jacket and pants waxed. That’s a sentence with words I never thought I would have to write. But there it is. East London!
While shoeless, I am at least waterproof.
Task finished, I took the underground to Euston station, a brief wait in the Caledonian Sleeper Lounge and then onboard.
As a traveler who has been in his share of sleeper cars, this rates at the top. After a brief repack it was down to the club car where I met the first TGOC travelers of the trip, Victor and Nicole Slawski, a couple of Brits on their 10th crossing, with an enormous amount of years between the first and this one.
We talked and I gathered Intel for the trip. I mentioned a couple of British characters, with great blogs, who have made the crossing more times than most, Alan Sloman and Lord Elgin (real name Phillip Something or something, and not actually a real Lord, like our dear friend Bullet Head, Lord Raglan).
Victor says, “Why that’s them right over there.” Behind me in the club car are the two of them, enjoying in no modest measure the free Scotch tasting.
Conversation was great, the food mediocre, and the night was delightful. We arrived at Inverness in the morning, from where I took a bus to Shiel Bridge, hiked a mile to the hotel and here I am, staring out my hotel window, on the western shore of Scotland.