As you will have seen from my Facebook status messages and tweets, we had a busy holiday, but enjoyable.
Friday 14th May – we got a taxi to Royston Station, FCC train to Cambridge, Crosscountry train to Peterborough via March (a lovely run!) before changing onto an East Coast train onwards to Edinburgh. Cab to the Learmonth Travelodge and we stayed there the night. We had, for some reason, been given a family room – very big, almost like two rooms in one! No snaps on Friday.
Saturday 15th May – from the hotel with the German-accented lift (you may recall I mentioned this when I stayed here in early 2009), we got a cab to Haymarket for the hire car company Thrifty, before picking up EY 10 OAP, an automatic Ford Fiesta Titanium. The choice of letters was pointed out frequently! Anyway, from there, quick stop at Ferrytoll Park & Ride (snapped my first Nordi Travel bus on the 651, as well as a chance find of the new Fife bus map – first one in ages!) before continuing via the A92 and across the Tay Road Bridge to Dundee. As we arrived with plenty of time before our next event (at 15.00) we stopped briefly for a few things in town – I got some coffee beans and syrups from Braithwaite’s, as well as catching up on bus timetables! We then drove from Gellatly Street car park to Riverside, at a place called the Bridgeview Station Restaurant. This fairly new place was to be the location of Caroline’s mothers 90th birthday celebration. Actually, her birthday was on Monday 17th, but it was probably easier to bring everyone together at the weekend. Some more of C’s family met, and we finished just before 17.00. Turned the radio on to hear the result of the Scottish Cup final, before we drove up to Sainsbury’s Claypotts to stock up on food (including Free From/gluten free stuff for me), and we then went through Wellbank/Kellas and then back roads to Farnell, Angus, where we were staying with C’s brother Gordon, and sister-in-law Lynda. You can see the Saturday pictures here – didn’t take too many in Edinburgh due to the sun glare, but tried a couple as I waited for C to get the hire car.
Sunday 16th May – we left Farnell, and drove through Dundee and the A90/M90 to the Kelty Interchange, before going via a back-road to the Scottish Vintage Bus Museum. Caroline did ask me if there were any bus museums or similar that I’d like to go, and we had this day free! So, this event was their annual May running day, which started back five years ago for their 20th. Now, they are celebrating their 25th year (across various locations). We met up with Alex Cunningham for the first time, before snapping a few pictures around the site. After that, I fancied a run somewhere, ideally Dunfermline so I could have another look at the newish bus station. Completely by chance (honest!), former Eastern Scottish Volvo Ailsa VV773 pulled up. Now, you may recall I have a soft spot for these buses, after riding them quite a lot in Dundee. We went into Dunfermline, with quite a nice “thrash” to the engine sounds. I was already happy, but this was certainly the icing on the cake! After a handful of snaps from Dunfermline, back to the Fire Station bus stop, for the bus back to the Museum. A former Western PD3 turned up, driven by Sholto T (former Commercial Director at Strathtay) so a catch-up with him was well in order! We returned to the Museum, and we decided to head back to the car. From there, we ended up stopping at Hamish Gordon’s yard in Leslie, Glenrothes bus station, and Moffat & Williamson’s yard at St Fort (no sign of the ex-Wootten’s Volvo B7 coach, so it must be at Glenrothes). We entered Dundee via the A92 and Tay Road Bridge again, and back to Farnell. You can see all my pictures from the Sunday here, which include some extra bonus material from Alex, including some snaps of us. Enjoy!
Monday 17th May – we left Farnell via Forfar, A94 to Coupar Angus, back roads through Lethendy and Spittalfield to Birnam, then onto the road through Dalguise to Aberfeldy. After filling up the car with fuel, we parked it up, and prepared to sample Caber Coaches Service 91. This is essentially a beginners guide to Highland Perthshire, taking in some streets around town, before heading up for a loop around Coshieville and Kenmore. While I’d done the Kenmore bit before on the Saturday Service 93, I’d never done the rest – remember this route only started in early 1999, and had a very good load! Our bus was a newish Ford Transit, BJ 59 CWM. We then got a few things in Aberfeldy, before proceeding via Amulree to Crieff. We parked the car, before ending up at Gordon & Durward’s sweet shop! From there, onto Crieff Travel’s yard at South Bridgend. After this, we popped into the adjacent Crieff Visitor Centre, including the glass-making at Caithness Glass, before continuing via Gleneagles and Auchterarder to Perth, stopping near The Capital Asset pub for dinner. We then drove back via the A94 to Forfar, then onto Farnell. You can see the pictures that we took here.
Tuesday 18th May – we left Farnell returning via the road that we came back on the night before, the A94 to Scone Park + Ride. We left the car there, and I dubbed it at the time as “My Little Park + Ride”, as it has just over 50 car paring spaces. It was my first time on Service 7 since the Goldline upgrade, and we got the “prototype” refurbished Dart 33434 on the first run. Caroline liked the leather seats and high quality interiors! From there, various shops in Perth, before we chanced upon an Indian Buffet called Maza. We went in "on spec", to ask if there was anything gluten free. “Yes, everything’s gluten free!” came the welcome response – well, the vast majority of it was. After getting a lot of good stuff to eat, we walked from there across the Tay via Queens Bridge to Branklyn Garden. I’d not been here for an good three and a half years, and we both enjoyed walking through the vast gardens. As the staff member said, they are at their best at this time of year. From there, we walked back over the bridge via Moncrieffe Island onto Tay Street, back to The Capital Asset for a couple of drinks, before we went to Perth High Street for a bus back to the Park + Ride, Goldline spec Enviro300 27528. Back to Farnell after a lot of eating and walking! You can see all the pictures that we took here.
Wednesday 19th May – we needed a rest from the day before, but agreed to do a handful of things that we had planned for Thursday, to spread the load. With the latter start, we met a colleague of Lynda’s for lunch at Brechin Castle Centre. L suggested meeting, largely as the colleague is about to go walking the Camino… From there, we drove through Brechin, Aberlemno, Lunanhead and Forfar, then onto Dundee city centre for a bit (stopped at Taste Fresh to buy a haggis for Michael Wootten, and post it, as well as get one, and a spicy Spanish sauce, for C, and then went a few doors down to post it to MJW!)! From there, we drove through Carnoustie to C’s mother’s care home. We took her out, at her request, to the nearby Station Hotel. After chatting, we took her back, before driving back to Farnell. No pictures this day, for whatever reason.
Thursday 20th May – bit of a star-shaped day. Started from Farnell, driving direct into Montrose, stopping for some pictures and coffee. We drove back the way we came to Farnell Crossroads but then continuing to Forfar West i.e. Orchardbank. This included a quick stop for lunch, then onto JP Coaches yard for some photos. From there, back to Forfar, cross-country to Barry Mill. C had never been here, despite living more than once in Carnoustie. We happened to walk in at the start of a tour, so joined in for the look. Took the car back to Sainsbury’s Claypotts for fuel, before driving to Linlathen (the scheme) where my mum, sister Ruth and new nephew Jonah live. We arrived to find Ruth was on the way home with Jonah. Shortly after their return, we went off to see my dad, back in the car past Claypotts then onto Clearwater Park for Linlathen Neurodisability Centre. He is certainly looking looked after in this new location, they had them all out in the sun earlier in the day! We drove back to Linlathen (scheme) – still with me? – before picking up Ruth & Jonah, then off to City Quay Shopping Outlet, to take them to dinner at Indian buffet Taza. This was somewhere that the rest of the family had not been before – but they liked it! Apparently, the owner of Taza now also owns Maza in Perth… Afterwards we drove them all back to Linlathen (scheme) before continuing onto Farnell via Burnside of Duntrune, and other back roads. That was a worthwhile day, and you can see all the pictures we took here.
Friday 21st May – trimmed this back a little, so I could get some duties done for Tiger Line early morning. Got those done quickly by mid-morning, we left, and started heading north on the A90 towards Aberdeen. This was my first visit for many years. On the way in, we stopped at Ghillies Lair, Harvester at Bridge of Dee for lunch, before driving the car into Union Square, a new shopping development adjacent to the bus and rail stations, which had been in construction on previous visits. This incorporates a new bus station and shopping facilities. I went first to browse the timetables at the bus station, and offered C the chance to have her eyebrows done at a Brow Bar. When I returned, C said “you’re next!”, and I thought “why not”? It was using a more traditional string method. Anyway, from there, into The Mall Trinity, stopping there for coffee (and another loyalty card for the collection!) at Costa, before onto Union Street. We got as far as the TIC at the end of Union Street, coming across a new edition of the Aberdeenshire bus map in the process!, before going down Market Street to get back to the car. We drove down the A92 to Montrose, then onto Farnell. We went out in the evening to drop off some things that we saw for Jonah (hats going cheap in a sale) as well as dropping off a bag to Gareth C. From there, stopped at Tesco Extra at Kingsway West Retail Park, so I could get Gordon and Lynda some wine, as well as one for C, before continuing via Downfield back to Farnell. You can see all the pictures that we took here.
Saturday 22nd May – we both needed to get our breath back! So, walk around Farnell village early afternoon, before we went out in the evening to Glasgow. We took the car to Montrose Station for the Scotrail train to Glasgow. After parking the car (free parking!), we got tickets for Glasgow. As we were coming back the same day, the woman behind the counter automatically sold us split tickets – an Anytime Day Return between Montrose and Perth, and a Off-peak Day Return between Perth and Glasgow. (There are no peak restrictions on Saturdays, in any case.) This saved us £10 – there is no day return from Montrose to Glasgow, so an open return was what I was expecting, thus pleasantly surprised when the split was offered, without me having to ask! Met up with Bobby B at The Counting House, Glasgow, with an exchange of timetables and dinner, before we took the train back to Montrose, for the car. A hen night party was somewhat loud on our return trip! You can see the pictures that I took here.
Sunday 23rd May – a quiet-ish one, but we drove through Forfar, Newtyle (quick stop to nab a pic of my dad’s old care home, now boarded up and for sale as homes), then onto Errol, Cairn O’ Mohr Winery. After drinks, stocking up on fruit wine and Arran cheese again, we proceeded to go back to Maza at Perth for early dinner. From there, back to Farnell. I was somewhat tired by this point, so went for a lie on the bed, dozing off almost right away! You can see the pictures we took here.
Monday 24th May – we finished packing up, and got back in the car. Drove via Forfar into Dundee to send a parcel to thebustocrookes, and we both bought a few items across the road in Disc Depot! Also, chanced upon a snap of the National Express Dundee 23/24 (the 23/24 is about to become the 23, with the rest part of the new 3/3A), and one of their yet-to-enter-service Scania Omnilink single deck buses. We drove out of Dundee via Riverside Drive and Riverside Avenue, passing the call centre I used to work at. It’s now closed up, boarded up, for lease! From there, direct via the A90 and M90 into Edinburgh, filling up the car at Sainsbury’s Craigleith, before taking the car back to the hire place in Haymarket. We then got a cab to Waverly train station, and we had some time before our train (did I mention that by booking online, with Railcard and online discount, we got Royston – Edinburgh for £15.85 each, per direction?), so I went for a browse around Waverly Bridge and the Edinburgh bus station at St Andrew Square. From there, back to the train station for our East Coast train back to Stevenage. We decided to bail out and get a taxi (with all the bags – I think we had 12!) back to Royston. It was a nice end to a lovely, wonderful holiday. You can see Monday 24th’s pictures here.
That was it… C liked the hire car, better than the Mazda we have! We got to meet new and old family members, and we both did a fair bit of mileage and shopping. Thanks to everyone who helped somehow with this!
Tuesday 25th May – was meant to be at PFH, but tired the day before, so decided to stay home. Wednesday 26th May – got a bit upset on the way to work at Switchboard, so back home. Despite these two days, I did get out to work at Woottens on Thursday 27th and Friday 28th May. We are now having a very quiet three day weekend to relax, and get back to normal, whatever that might be!