Days with the Dougalls

P1030138.JPG Wilma, Colin, Joanna, Jamie and Kirsty have been in St Andrews this week, and we have shared some of their holiday. Last Thursday, we met them at Bo’ness for a steam train trip and a visit to the Scottish National Railway Museum. Not everyone’s cup of tea but part of the DNA of anyone with a drop of Plenderleith blood in them, and not disagreeable to Colin or Dee either.

DSCF2029.JPG We took the 12.15 from Bo’ness to Manuel (a spot in a field alongside the East-West mainline) and back again. We had our own compartment for the short journey, and passed the time taking pictures (this time it was Joanna who was being intrepid reporter, mostly) and eating lunch. Dee of course would not sit still and found a place where she could hang out of the window (returning with the predicted smut in her eye. It was great fun.

The museum was also really interesting (if you like trains) if a trifle on the cold side. We all particularly liked the Royal Mail sorting carriage, me because I used to see them in Central Station late at night and always wondered what went on there with all the sacks and compartments and little dockets.P1030143.JPG

P1030113.JPG Comparisons are invidious, of course, but on a recent trip through to Glasgow Dee and I visited the much vaunted new transport museum (Riverside Museum) and were really rather disappointed, by the lack of atmosphere, by the apparent absence of any coherent story or trail through the exhibition, and by the smell. At least the SNRM at Bo’ness smelt like a place where old trains go to be loved. And you could stand on the footplates there, which is not possible at the Glasgow museum. We’d only really gone there, though, to see the Train from Bloemfontein, an enormous Glasgow-built steam engine which had spent its working life pulling coal through the mountains of South Africa. We watched a really moving programme about the transport of this beast of a machine from Bloemfontein to Glasgow a few years ago, involving its own steam, sea freight via Hamburg and Felixstowe, and a final journey up the M74 on the back of a large lorry. Wish we’d seen that ascent over Beattock summit. There’s even a choral song about it. Dad saw the engine on display in George Square before he died and I was always glad about that. Anyway, we’ve seen it now too so all is well.

DSCF2036.JPG We had such a lovely day with the Dougalls at Bo’ness that we decided to inflict ourselves upon them again on Sunday. We arrived in time for fish & chips for lunch (it being St Andrews, of course, it was possible to have battered monkfish and hake and we were not for passing up that opportunity). Then Dee pushed me through the town in the little wheelchair we have borrowed from the Red Cross (I think Colin, not without considerable experience in these matters, was not unimpressed with her skill and speed at negotiating busy streets, traffic, bumps and slopes).

P1030162.JPG When we reached the West Sands, I leapt out of the wheelchair and did a Chariots of Fire run along the beach. Actually that is a lie, as many people have already spotted. The abandoned wheelchair on the sand reminded us all of Reggie Perrin. But I did get to paddle, and to walk along the sand a wee way, and back through the dunes, and certainly got some sea air. Just lovely.P1030166.JPG

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