Sept 10 – Glasgow to Bankend
The wait to clear customs hasn’t changed. It still takes forever. And that’s because of the queue to talk to a person. Through there and on to the car rental desk. Another long wait but that was the paperwork. Pre-pay for the tank of fuel because it’s cheaper, roadside assistance, etc. Our little car wasn’t quite so little. We took possession of a Vauxhall Insignia, 6-speed turbo diesel. We headed off to the ASDA store in The Phoenix Retail Park for at least one bottle of distilled/demineralized water for hubby’s CPAP machine.
When in the UK and driving on the ‘wrong’ side of the road, whilst sitting on the ‘wrong’ side of the car, and shifting gears with the ‘wrong’ hand, I am the designated driver. So no drinkies for me if we have to drive to a place for a meal. Besides, my husband hates driving over there. Did it once and that was enough.
I had brought my unlocked Samsung phone with me so I picked up a pay as you go SIM card. Figured, I could use it if we needed a second phone (purchased a plan through Rogers for hubby’s BlackBerry before we left home). After last year’s paying £10 for a SIM card that wouldn’t work, I wasn’t going to spend that much again. So this time I opted for ASDA’s own SIM card which only set me back 50p.
When we were over in 2000 we had seen Dunure Castle from the main A77 road. I had pretty much forgotten about it until seeing one of the BBC Scotland photo galleries in the weeks leading up to the trip. So, we put the location into Satnav Sally and off we went.
Dunure Castle is free but you have to pay to park in their car park because it’s all part of a larger complex with playing fields, playground equipment and public toilets. It cost us £2.50 to be able to wander in the remains of the castle and use the toilets before moving on.
Here’s our pretty blue car, that I named Iain. He’s the same size as a Buick Regal, which is bigger than my Chevy Cobalt that I drive every day.
Despite the beautiful blue sky, the wind blowing in off the water made it cool. Not quite jacket weather but I had a long-sleeved, black (soak in the sun’s rays) top on and even with that, I felt the chill a few times.
Not quite the way we drove from Dunure Castle but you get the idea. We went across the A719, the B7023, B741, A713, A712 to meet up with the A75 near Crocketford. Got my fix of narrow roads with passing places the first day. Add some cattle grids and narrow gates and it made for quite the adventure.
I mentioned earlier our ‘first’ rental car… well, there was a reason for that. Whilst driving across the aforementioned series of roads, we had a flat tyre. Meeting a car on a narrower road and getting over to make room for both of us to pass, some mud sucked me off the edge and into a cleverly disguised pothole. And pothole is being kind. It was a bloody crater! It made for a bump but didn’t give it much thought at the time.
A bit further along the road, the tyre pressure indicator light came on. I pulled off the road but we couldn’t see anything amiss. At least now we were on the main A75. I limped into a lay-by, thanking our lucky stars that we decided to add the roadside assistance package (fix your car or bring you a new one) to our rental package.
I made the first of many phone calls at 3:00 pm. We were still stuck on the side of the road waiting at 6:00 pm! Eventually, the guy came and put the spare tyre on. They wouldn’t authorize us to do that (my husband is a recently retired mechanic) because we could jack the car up in the wrong place, damage the car, it could fall off the jack… yadda, yadda, yadda. They farted around long enough that the tyre company the rental and roadside assistance people use had closed for the day.
Two of the many phone calls were to the B&B where we were staying. The first call, I left a message on the answering machine explaining the situation. Then when 6:00 came and we were still sat there, I called back and spoke to them. At least we had one less worry… our room would be waiting for us no matter the hour we arrived.
See Shawhead on the map above? That’s how close to Dumfries we were. We sat there for 3 hours while the guy sent out to find us and get us mobile again looked for us on the other side of Dumfries!
He assured us that a tyre fitter would be at our B&B before noon to finish the job. He took down the address of where we were staying, and sent us off on our not-so-merry way.
After checking in at Hutton Lodge, getting the same room as we had last year, and our membership material from Historic Scotland waiting for us, we drove over to the Nith Hotel in Glencaple for a late supper. By then, I could have used a stiff drink but since I was driving (and limping around with a wounded car), I couldn’t.
After leaving the restaurant, while turning the car around on one of the narrow streets, I set off someone’s car alarm. I didn’t touch the car but there wasn’t any more than an inch of space on either side of the wing mirrors between the cars parked on both sides of this wee lane.
Not the nicest way to start a trip but with any luck, everything will get fixed in the morning.