Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Day Trip To The Scottish Seaside: 1. Whit's Fur Ye'll No Go By Ye.
I felt this would be the case as I drove obver the fells to the bus depot. It was dreary. The mists swept low over the moors, hiding the tops of the hills. The grouse chicks, who were taking their maiden flights, looked miserable. The only saving grace was that it was relatively mild, a a northern English sort of way.
Today was the ladies club trip to the West of Scotland. To Ayr, to be precise. The weather forecast was iffy. It could be fine or it could be wet and blowy. It was a risky choice as there was a three hour plus drive to do. A nice drive. Beautiful in all weathers.
The group I was taking were my favourites. They were a local ladies' club of veritable age. But they were some of life's great enthusiasts. They would talk and laugh all the way there and all the way back. They would know precisely where they were going and what they wanted to do. Their high standards never wavered. If you did not do something they had asked for, they would be direct and tell you. They were fun to take. I was looking forward to it, and to the chance of going to Scotland, one of the loves of my life. i was salivating at the thought of a Mancini's ice cream in Ayr.
We left on time and stopped at various pick-up points before trundling up to the Old Blacksmith's Shop at Gretna Green. Great choice, I thought. Very sensible to hit one of the biggest tourist destinations in Britain, Popular with the Japanese and the Americans, Gretna had cleverly made the shop look like Fortnum & Mason. There was tartan, whisky, golfing memorabilia emblazoned with the St Andrews logo and Loch Ness Monster furry toys in every nook and crannie. Pipers were playing in different locations. So to arrive there at around 10am should be good enough to beat the rush.
But it wasn't.
I turned into the coach park to see rows of already parked up coaches. Streams of tourists were disembarking. I picked a space close to a Dutch bus, leaving a gap because the entry door was on a different side to British buses and he would need the room for his passengers to board.
As I was sitting on the railings, waiting for the passengers to come back from their tea break, a bus came into the coach park at full speed and headed for the space between the Dutch coach and my bus, also at full speed. The space became narrower and narrower. The red faced driver seemed to be puffing and panting, possible in the alarming realisation that he was not going to make it. And he didn't. The bus only came to a halt when his wing mirror connected with the door of my bus, chipping off a lump of paint.
The driver then had a knock on his door from the driver of the Dutch bus. His passengers could not get into the bus as the gap was too narrow. There was only one thing for it. He had to reverse out and find another space. He did. He inched backwards, gaining in confidence as the millimetres became centimetres and he gathered speed. Unfortunately he reversed straight into the back of another bus which was also reversing at the same time.
When I went to see the driver about the paint chip, he was busy swapping insurance details with the other bus driver who he had rammed.
'I'll be with you in a minute,' he said in a surprisingly cheerful manner.
'Aye. It's been a bad morning,' he said later when he came to examine the damage he had done. He shrugged his shoulders, gave me his details, laughed and walked off.
The day couldn'? get any stranger, could it?