This morning was a first. Don got pulled aside going through security. They swabbed his hands (backs and palms) and his shoes before placing the swab in the machine to be analyzed. An episode of Border Security played out before my eyes. Me, I passed through with no problems at all.
We stopped at Beardmore for breakfast. We’ve eaten here before. It seems our flights always leave from gates beyond this point so when you’re lugging a heavy pack on your back, it’s a welcome stop – not to mention, the food is good.
On our walk to our departure gate, we got a good look back at the hotel. We’d intentionally left our curtains open so we could see our room when we were out and about. This was the first chance I had to get a photo.
My plan was to read on the plane on our return flight. Not to be. My iPad was SO dead, even plugged in, it wouldn’t turn on. The seats in the departure lounge weren’t the best for plane watching but fantastic for charging devices. I had my phone and my iPad both plugged in.
While they charged, I took my Canon DSLR for a walk.
Enough charge now in the phone to take selfies. We’re not looking overly happy here, but then the vacation was well and truly over by now and by the end of the day, we’d be back to reality.
Albeit blurry, we’re finally looking happy. A glass of champagne in hand!
Since I couldn’t read on my iPad, I watched movies instead.
When we landed in Montreal, I had the opportunity to get a picture or two out of the plane window. This Air Canada was at the gate next to us.
It seemed to take forever to get the headcount of the remaining passengers correct. Only those deplaning in Montreal were allowed off. People stretching their legs and milling in the aisles made it impossible for the flight attendants to get an accurate count.
In Toronto, we couldn’t get off the plane straight away because of the bag log in the customs hall. It was still bad when we arrived but when we finally got to the checkpoint, like good Canadians, we declared our 100 gms of fudge we purchased on the Royal Yacht Britannia (indicated on our landing card), the remaining tin of Pringles we’d purchased so we could use the toilet at one of the roadside services, and our bottle of whisky each.
Usually, we have to wait for our luggage at the carousel. Not this time. It waited for us… and had been removed and placed on the floor. That was a first.
Cleared past the last checkpoint and out into the arrivals hall where we made our way to the post where we phoned for the hotel shuttle to come and collect us.
I had a gift card for Montanas, so after we checked into the hotel, we walked over there for supper. They had a large group in so we’d have a wait for our meal. I wasn’t super hungry after everything they fed us on the plane. We had drinks and waited for them to take our food order. Even though it took them longer to do that than we wanted, our meals were brought to us before the estimated time. Amazing what can happen when you get into the queue.
I can’t wait to go back to the UK. Now the question remains… what time of year? Next year? What part(s) do we want to visit?
Our last full day in Scotland… 🙁 So sad. After we checked out of the hotel and packing our suitcases so we thought they were of reasonably equal weight, and as few packages as possible once we dropped off the rental car, we struck out.
I knew we’d forfeit some diesel but we’d be between a quarter tank and empty if we took the most direct route. With our experiences with rental cars on this trip, I didn’t want to run out and be stuck waiting for roadside assistance to come with a jerry can to give us a drop.
I remember seeing this tower on the cliff on my first trip to Scotland in 1993 when I took the bus from Glasgow to Aberdeen. Back then I was petrified to drive so close to a big city on my own.
I stopped at many laybys (parking areas) along the A90 between Dundee and Perth where we switched onto the A9 after a brief stint on the M90.
We were both to the point where we needed toilets so when we saw the signs for Dunblane (which were clearly posted WC – aka water closet) along with the Historic Scotland signage for Dunblane Cathedral, we decided to make that our ‘port of call’.
Following the signs for the “WC” we drove into the village. Said signs became more and more obscure. A public car park was located off a narrow street near the cathedral – still used as a working church. No matter how bad I need the loo, I couldn’t pass up this photo op.
We walked back to where the signs for the public toilets pointed. The council office which was closed on Sundays. ACK! I spotted an older woman across the street so approached her and asked where the public bathrooms were. “There are no public toilets in Dunblane anymore,” she replied.
Panic! We both needed a toilet badly.
“But, go up the street to the cathedral and off to the left. Use the toilets there.”
If I didn’t have to go so bad, I would have hugged and kissed her. We strode up to the hall but chose the wrong entrance so had to navigate through the church crowd who had gathered after Sunday service. We didn’t make the same error when we left.
We dropped Monty off at the convenient Europcar rental return (across the road from the hotel) with his proper paperwork. A bit more complicated than on previous car rental returns but we got through and sent on our way. The collision damage waiver (CDW) and roadside assistance looked after our woes from earlier.
We arrived back at the airport hotel before the 2:00 pm check-in time but our room was ready and off we went. 8th floor and a view of the planes landing on one side and the M8 motorway on the other.
Before we both crashed and burned, we went for a walk around the airport complex past the Holiday Inn Express, the Europcar rental return (no sign of Monty) and back to the hotel.
We had a meal in the bar at the hotel where we’ve had excellent service in the past. This time not so much but the food was good.
After returning to our room, I took advantage of the twilight and got some more photos.
Leaving tomorrow would be hard. Since leaving Broughty Ferry I tried to come up with every excuse I could think of to stay.
We double-checked the weight of our bags so come morning when we had to put our last night/morning things away we knew, what suitcase to put them in.
Breakfast tomorrow at Beardmore (hopefully, still in business) then people and plane watch while we wait to board.
Checked out of the hotel, we were in Terminal 2 before the Air Transat counter even opened. Flying Option Plus gave us priority check-in, boarding and luggage handling so we would be looked after before the minions. And speaking of minions, one of them (and his wife) stood where the line would begin until they were told to go sit down because it would be another half an hour or so before check-in would be open. So what did they do then? They left their luggage carts (hers with all the luggage – his with his golf clubs only) behind saving their places so that they would be at the head of the queue. That didn’t last long. Someone came along and told them if they didn’t move the bags, they would be considered unattended luggage and destroyed. And wouldn’t you know, they moved the bags… drat.
One thing I’d not seen in the airport was a clock. Neither one of us wears a watch. Both my phones (unlocked iPhone and Blackberry) were in our soon-to-be checked in large bags, and hubby’s Blackberry was turned off because it needed to be charged at the first opportunity.
There was a girl at the Air Transat information desk so he walked over there to find out what time it was. While there, he asked if there were any seats remaining in Club Class. It was supposed to be a surprise but since I had the tickets and our passports in my bought-in-Edinburgh handbag, the surprise was no more. Rather than leave our stuff unattended, I loaded up and wheeled our large bags over. Thankfully, it wasn’t far.
Two seats were left in Club but they weren’t together. But with only six seats up there, we wouldn’t be far apart. Upgrade paid for (this morning hubby’s MasterCard wouldn’t work – mine hadn’t worked the entire trip) on a different credit card, the young lady from here walked over to check-in with us. And we did get two seats together!
Checked in, and through security, we stopped at Beardmore for breakfast. We’ve eaten here in the past and it’s good food and good value for the money.
When we reached the departure lounge at gate 29, there were electrical outlets on the wall by the end of the row of seats. Adapter pulled out of the CPAP machine bag, charger cable out of hubby’s computer backpack, his Blackberry was plugged in. It wouldn’t get a full charge but at least it would have enough to be able to phone/text my cousin when we landed and when we got to the post outside where she would meet us.
I took a few pictures of planes taking off through the window directly in front of our seats before hubby took the camera and said ‘pretend you’re sad’. I didn’t have to pretend. I was but pulled a face and he snapped the picture.
An Air Transat plane landed and we assumed it was ours. I followed it to the other side of the departure lounge and got photos of it approaching the gate.
We had decided to leave the Blackberry charging for as long as possible – even if it meant carrying it, cable and adapter plug in hand when we were called to board.
Gradually, the lounge filled up and Mr and Mrs Minion arrived. When the call was made to board, they rushed over even though at that point it was only people travelling with young children under the age of 5 or people who needed assistance. Club and Option Plus were next. Our seats were in the front row of Club Class between the two aisles of the plane.
The look on Mr Minion’s face was priceless when he and the missus boarded. We were long since seated and were sipping champagne when they finally got on.
Our flight director was wonderful. She teased hubby (after telling him he couldn’t use his headphones until we were in the air but he could still hold my hand). He’s not a good flyer.
Once everyone was seated, the safety video started, we taxied out to the runway for takeoff. Well, that was the plan. We accelerated and were just about the point of leaving the ground when the pilot braked hard and put the engines in reverse to stop us. Even though I was firmly strapped into my seat belt, I felt myself slide forward in the seat so put my foot against the bulkhead to keep from going any further forward.
The pilot came on the intercom and told us a warning light had gone off so he aborted the takeoff. We sat on a taxi way while fire engines rushed out to where we sat. We were informed this was standard procedure and we weren’t on fire but they had to check the landing gear and the brakes before they’d let us return to a gate.
The guy who had a window seat on the left side of the plane pulled his phone out and took pictures of the fire engine parked out there.
I turned hubby’s phone back on and texted my cousin telling her our flight was delayed but not the reason behind it and that we would check back with them when we could before turning the phone back off. I didn’t want her to worry needlessly and I didn’t want to run out the bit of charge we’d given the battery.
When we got back to the gate, the flight crew opened the doors on the plane to let in fresh air and to cool things down a bit then brought around water and plastic glasses for anyone who wanted it. Trying to make light of the situation, all I could think of saying was “Honey, I’m home!” and so I did.
One of the employees who we’d met at check-in but wasn’t one of our flight crew boarded during the repairs. Hubby had teased her earlier about being the ‘boss’ because she was at a counter by herself. He asked her if this was the same plane we had flown over on back on 11th September. She wouldn’t say yay or nay, but did say she’d tell him the next time we came over.
About an hour later, we were ready to try the takeoff again. This time it was without incident. The plane landed just before 5:00 pm and by 5:45, we had cleared customs got our bags off the carousel and were waiting by post 42. I don’t think anyone from our flight was pulled into secondary. I figure they thought we were all too traumatized by the aborted takeoff. I know the guy in the baggage hall was freaked out when we told him how our flight started.
After a long and eventful day, we finally arrived home at 10:30 and didn’t even bother to unpack. De-briefed with our son who had looked after the house and dog while we were gone, texted my cousin to say we had arrived safely, spent some time paying attention to the dog before going to bed.
And poor me has to get up to go to work tomorrow morning!
This was our last ‘full’ day in Scotland. The beautiful weather was a direct contrast to how we were feeling. The only thing we knew this morning is that we didn’t want to go to the hotel via the A74(M).
When we were stopped to take photos near Mennock, we decided that we had time to go visit our friends who live at Quarriers Village.
Lucky us, we ended up behind a farm tractor at Lochwinnoch and were stuck behind him the rest of the way to the village. Well, not quite all of the way. We were close enough that the bell tower on the church was visible so the first road to the right, I turned down it. Anything to get away from the tractor.
From this road, we got an excellent view of the three former consumption sanatoria buildings – now converted to luxury flats and surrounded with new housing. Unfortunately, there wasn’t an opportunity to pull over and take photos. But, you can see what we saw from this image from google street views.
We had a lovely surprise visit with our friends. They had things to do later that afternoon so we didn’t get to stay long but it was still great to see them – even for just a short time.
Things in the village have changed considerably since our last visit there. Double yellow lines and speed bumps (I believe they’re called ramps) on the streets. The bridge over the Gotter Water has finally been repaired (gone is the Bailey bridge and traffic lights at either end that had been there for years). The church where we renewed our vows in 2000 for our 25th wedding anniversary has also been converted to flats. The peaceful atmosphere that once enveloped the village is no longer there which is sad.
We said our goodbyes and promised that next time we would ‘warn’ them ahead of our impending visit so they could run off and hide… LOL!
Since we had papers and bags and such loose on the floor in the back seat of the car, we stopped in Bridge of Weir and gathered everything up into a couple of bags, put my cameras back in their case so when we returned the rental car, we wouldn’t have to do it all then.
The only confusion we had when we returned the car, was we were never given an updated rental agreement. We still had the original one for the Ford Focus we were supposed to have. According to the guy there, we shouldn’t have had to pay the extra to upgrade to the larger Vauxhall Astra Estate because it was their idea to give us a bigger vehicle.
We always get the CDW (collision damage waiver) so once we gave him the rental agreement, we didn’t have to stick around. We were free to leave – okay after the aforementioned confusion was cleared up. Hubby got a cart and we loaded our bags onto it and trundled through the carpark and to the hotel.
Because of the convenience of dropping our rented vehicle off and the proximity of the hotel to the airport, we always spend our last night here. In the past, our flights left early in the morning so it was nice to only have to ‘stagger’ across five lanes of traffic to get into the airport terminal.
As has become habit over the years, the first order of business once we’re settled (and me taking pictures), we rearrange the suitcases so that they’re as close to equal weight as we can get and preferably below the limit. We’d booked Option Plus so had an extra 10 kg weight allowance per bag which is a good thing since both were over the 20 kg limit.
Once that chore was completed, we went for a walk through the airport and around the ‘block’ before returning to the hotel where we had supper and drinks in the bar before going back to our room.
My Scottish roots and writing by Melanie Robertson-King