Yes, yes, Saturday morning. The kids and I have been up for a while and Annmarie is trying to have a bit more of a sleep (well as much of a sleep as you can with a couple of kids playing in the lounge). Now that the excitement of Paul and Joe arriving has subsided somewhat (hope you guys are enjoying London) I thought that I’d actually try to write some more updates.
The last real update I put up was about going to the Edinburgh festival and seeing the jazz band there as well as meeting the new class for Willow’s kindergarten (or nursery school as they call it here, I think).
The next weekend we went to Edinburgh and met up with one of my cousins, Kate. This begins the second terrible train experience in the UK (I’ll get around to writing up the first terrible train ride soon, I think).
So we arrived at Queen Street Station in Glasgow around quarter to ten to catch the ten o’clock train. It was a bit crowded (no surprise due to the festival and all) and Annmarie was a bit apprehensive as she doesn’t hold the public transport system here in terribly high regard. Anyway I got some money out at an ATM and bought two tickets to Edinburgh. Getting back just in time for the train. The platform was announced at the last minute (as is the norm in the UK) and a huge crowd surged out to the train. The train was absolutely packed and as we didn’t want to stand for almost a whole hour we thought that we’d wait till the next one (they run every quarter hour).
The next train is cancelled at the last minute (ten fourteen). OK, we thought, that’s not too unusual. Then, suddenly it’s reinstated at ten sixteen on platform six. Fine then, we rush over with the rest of the crowd and manage to find a table quickly get the pram and bags stowed and settle in. Some of the people across the aisle from us were joking about the mad rush and Annmarie joked that they would probably send us back over to a different train. Which they did (tempting fate me thinks). So everybody has to head over to platform three. By this point it is about ten twenty five and so this is basically the ten thirty train and so there is the crowd from the ten fifteen and the ten thirty all pouring onto the same train. It is absolutely packed and no seats whatsoever, so we decide to once more wait for another train.
Annmarie is rather annoyed by this entire debacle and decides to make a complaint. She heads over to a group of what look like Scotrail workers (they had ID badges) and some of then look like they might be more managing types. None of them seemed to want to make eye contact with Annmarie and actually look rather uncomfortable at being asked. They said that there was nothing they could do and it was no use complaining to them and to go to the ticket office instead. The queue at the ticket office was huge and we couldn’t be bothered waiting that long. Annmarie found another worker, a younger one, and went to ask him how to go about asking for a refund. He started off by trying to deflect her and to suggest that she “focus on the problem” and how “she can solve it herself”. This of course ignores the fact that our problem is out of our control (they run the trains) and that the solution we were seeking was also for them to produce. I didn’t hear the beginning of the conversation, but when I arrived I heard the guy say “running a railway is very complex and not everything can run smoothly” or something to that effect and Annmarie replied with “have you been on a train in Germany? The Germans CAN run a railway smoothly” once again something like that. I thought at that point that it was probably better to let her get on with it and I went to buy some water for the trip since everyone was getting thirsty. When Annmarie got back we went and caught the 11 o’clock train and finally got to Edinburgh. Annmarie later told me that the conversation stepped through how bad the railways are run, the fact that the company often makes up bogus excuses like switching problems when it’s just that they are disorganised and that he had come back from New Zealand six months ago and now wants to go back.
Once we finally got the Edinburgh, we tracked down Kate and sat outside at a nice Italian cafe down George Street and had a nice catch up chat, which was good. After that we went for another wander around the festival. We walked up the Royal Mile, a particularly nice old street that has historical significance.
Once we got back down to the festival end of the Mile, we wandered up through the crowd and watched some of the performers. We stopped to watch a girl singing songs from musicals. Willow asked her if she could sing something from Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang and she obliged with Doll on a Music Box, which Willow of course loved. After that we wandered up further through the festival and looked for somewhere to have dinner, but everything was VERY booked out and so we trained it back to Glasgow, with a much better train ride that time, and got takeaway pizza from Pizza Express.
Anyway, we are about to head off to find the farmers market in Partick, so I’ll finish this when we get home later tonight.