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Part 7: Scotland – Carole King was in Glasgow!

Note: This is a scheduled post of our Summer Holidays in Scotland (9th to 25th September, 2022)

Many of us keep the Weather Forecast App bookmarked on our phone because we know how important it is to stay up-to-date on the latest weather news. With the glorious sunny six days prior, there’s always a day that spelled the dawn of a new day. It was raining cats and dogs on our last day in Glasgow. Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, so there’s no such thing as bad weather 😉

Listen to the rhythm of the falling rain

As the saying goes, rainy days are perfect days to cuddle and watch movies. We didn’t cuddle though, but we did watch a movie, and it was more than a movie.

BEAUTIFUL is indeed … beautiful!

Her name is Carole King and her story is Beautiful. It was 18:45 and we walked to The King’s on Elmbank Street

The King’s Theatre, Glasgow

The Carole King Musical casts were on the UK Tour at The King’s theatre in Glasgow. We were very fortunate that we were in town to catch the Musical.

Beautiful – The Carole King Musical

By the way, Beautiful tells the inspiring true story of Carole King’s remarkable rise to stardom, from an ordinary girl with an extraordinary talent. She fought her way into the record business as a teenager and sold her first hit, “Will You Love Me Tomorrow”, when she was only 17. She moved to become a chart-topping legend, with strings of songs that gave voices for generations.

Abrupt Stop

Almost two-thirds way through the Musical, we heard a loud “Thud” sound and chaotic murmurs from the audience 2 rows in front of us. It was difficult to concentrate on the Musical with the commotion in the auditorium. Apparently, someone in the audience had collapsed.

The Musical was stopped abruptly due to a sick onlooker in the auditorium

It was 21:35. The Theatre Manager apologised for stopping the show as the dire need to assist the sick spectator came first. The ambulance arrived 20 minutes later and wheeled the sick onlooker out of the auditorium. Thank God!

A word of apology from the Theatre Manager

The show must go on …

And it did!

Carole King and her cast hurried back on stage and performed their best where they had left off prior to the abrupt stop.

The cast hurrying back on stage. The show must go on!

It was a fabulous performance from every single actor. Pure class with great music and an energetic and talented cast. Beautiful was indeed beautiful and fits the bill for the entire 2 hours!

I Feel The Earth Move Under My Feet – a spectacular and well-deserved showstopper. A perfect ending before the final curtain

The show ended at 22:20. Another fulfilling day that made us wanted to stay longer in Glasgow.

Leaving Glasgow for the Highlands

I couldn’t believe 7 days had passed by in the blink of an eye. It was our last night in Glasgow, We would be waking up to a new morn in the Highlands.

We checked out at Maldron Hotel wheeling our luggage on the cobblestones of the streets of Glasgow for the last time to Glasgow Queen Street Station.

Boarding the 12:07 train to Inverness at Glasgow Queen Street
On the train to Inverness

Our train left Glasgow at 12:07 enroute Inverness passing scenery and landscapes of the rugged Highlands.

The breathtaking landscapes of the Highlands as viewed from the moving train towards Inverness
Inverness Station

We arrived at Inverness at around 15:30, where we would be staying for the subsequent three days.

When we checked in at the hotel, we were given Room 307. It was a lovely spacious room, however we noticed the bathroom looked awkward. Was that supposed to be our room? 🤔

Room 307 River Ness Hotel, Inverness

Hmmm… not again! 😱

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Part 6: Scotland – Princess Royal, Glasgow Botanic Gardens, Ashton Lane

Note: This is a scheduled post of our Summer Holidays in Scotland (9th to 25th September, 2022)

Before the weather got crappy in the next days, we maximized our time outdoor, gallivanting on the streets of Glasgow. The pedestrianised shopping areas on Buchanan Street, Argyle Street and St Enoch became animated with buskers and lively charades.

The pedestrianised shopping streets: Buchanan, Argyle and St. Enoch

Loyally Royal

Again, an impromptu walkabout in Glasgow to pass our time aimlessly, we headed for George Square. We noticed a crowd thronging the Glasgow City Chambers. We heard about Princess Anne, the Princess Royal coming to Glasgow but we were not aware it was going to be at the spot where the crowd were. Well, why not, eh? We joined in the crowd standing on the 3rd row and struggling to zoom in on the famous daughter of the late Queen Elizabeth II. Princess Anne arrived at 12:15, accompanied by her husband, Sir Timothy Laurence.

Chance meeting of Princess Anne at the Glasgow City Chambers on George Square

By the way, Princess Anne visited the Glasgow City Chambers to meet representatives of the organisation of which the late Queen was patron. M and I joined the crowd and in fleeting moments, we made it to ET Canada news, not very visible but we were there. I’d say, “My nose, mouth and hands met the gracious Princess Royal” . The rest of my body went incognito. LOL!

Top photo covered by ET Canada news. Bottom photo taken by yours truly.

Glasgow Botanic Gardens

When the crowd started to disperse on George Square, we strode across the road for almost 2 hours to get to the Botanical Gardens on Great Western Road. It was probably the best day to laze and bask in the sun. 

Perfect day with copious of Vitamin D
Glasgow Botanic Gardens

Lost and Found

It was also at the Gardens when M and I lost each other for a good half hour. I was taking photos of the majestic Sunflowers. When I turned around, M was no where in sight. We finally met again at the starting point of the Botanical Gardens making it a double full circle squeeze of our energy.

A reminder … Lost and Found 🌻

Haggis Pakora. Anyone?

It was at Ashton Lane that we discovered Glasgow’s hidden gem. Loved how the rows of restaurants complement each other. Looked very European. Ashton Lane is a small area, but worth a visit.

Ashton Lane, a hidden gem

With our tummies rumbling away, we combined a late lunch cum early dinner at 17:00 at Ashöka, an Indian restaurant. Interestingly, it’s only in Scotland that haggis pakora is on the menu. Not bad. 

Mix pakora (chicken, vegetable and haggis pakora)

For main, I had the slow cooked beef madras curry, while M had lamb curry. Both dishes were served with basmati rice and roti. In hindsight, we should have ordered only one dish as 2 were plenty. We were stuffed!

Late lunch/ early dinner at Ashöka, Ashton Lane

We walked back to Renfrew Street feeling full, very tired and exhausted from clocking a total of 30k steps and climbing 50 floors with a distance of 25 km

Evening walk back to Renfrew Street via Kelvingrove Park

Another day well spent albeit an impromptu one, as always 😬

We knew it was going to be a BEAUTIFUL next day, or was it? 🤔

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Part 5: Scotland – Loch Lomond, Glencoe, Loch Ness, The Heilan Coo

Note: This is a scheduled post of our Summer Holidays in Scotland (9th to 25th September, 2022)

After a long day the day before, but feeling not too frazzled as we had AJ driving us around Falkirk and warming us up with a bit of Scottish gossip and history. AJ is a Scottish Borderer (originally from Kelso). Our Day Tour to the Scottish Highlands the next day was shepherded by a Glaswegian (Lowlander) who knew the Scottish Highlands like a Highlander but he introduced himself as an ‘Outlander’ 😅

We were up early for breakfast and left the hotel on foot to the bus terminal at Queen Street where the Rabbie’s Coach awaited us on Stance 2-3.

Glasgow Queen Street Bus Terminal

Being one of first to enter the Coach, we took the very front seats just behind the driver’s cockpit separated by a plexiglass that became our “mirror” for the entire day 😂

Reflection from the Plexiglass

Our Coach departed from Glasgow Queen Street bus terminal at exactly 08:00. Stuart Hunter was our bubbly and animated Glaswegian guide who talked non-stop, telling us stories and legends of the Scottish Highlands and Highlanders. His Glaswegian accent was the icing on the cake. Loved it!

Rabbie’s Day Tour package to the Highlands – Glencoe, Loch Ness, Loch Lomond

On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond!

I really loved the song when I first heard it many moons ago when Music was one of the many subjects I had to take during my lower secondary school. I didn’t know the story behind the song, let alone, the origin of the song. When Stuart said, “Our next stop is Loch Lomond¨ and then he asked, ΅Does anyone know this song – On the bonnie, bonnie banks o’ Loch Lomond?”. Awkward, but true, I was the only one on the Coach who knew that song. ☺️

Stuart played the 1997 live version at Stirling Castle performed by the Scottish Celtic band, Runrig. I happily lip-synched to the song while recalling my nerve-racking 13-year old me playing the recorder with Mrs Majoribanks listening on. Lol!

Loch Lomond

By the way, Loch is the Scottish Gaelic word for lake or sea inlet.


It was 10:17 on a lovely 14C morning. We passed many breathtaking landscapes and backdrops of the lochs (lakes), bens (mountains) and glens (valleys) on the way before Stuart stopped the Coach with a dramatic landscape in front of us. Stuart reminded us of the 1969 Bond film with Sean Connery, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”, when Bond reveals that his father is from Glencoe! In “Skyfall”, with Daniel Craig as 007, he returns to his Scottish roots to his childhood home, hence the stop of the view of Glen Etive. Glad to be part of an unpremeditated quest for the Bond trail 😜

Glen Etive near Glencoe, the childhood home of Ian Fleming’s 007 Agent, Bond

Magical Harry Potter locations

Scotland is home to many locations from the Harry Potter films. The majestic Glencoe was used for various outdoor scenes: The Goblet of Fire, The Order of the Phoenix, The Half Blood Prince and The Prisoner of Azkaban.

With only 10 minutes to snap our breath away, I managed to get some photos of Glencoe. It’s the short and sweet stop that made our trip worth the while. The leg-stretching did us good and the toilet stops, of course 🙂


Loch Ness

Everyone was looking forward to meeting Nessie, if she’s (still) there. Loch Ness is one of the most touristic locations of the Scottish Highlands as can be seen even before crossing the barrier to Fort Augustus.

Entering Fort Augustus

Fort Augustus was our main stop for the day where we had our lunch at the Caledonian Canal Brasserie.

Highland Burger at Caledonian Canal Centre Café, Fort Augustus

The quest for Nessie was on, but where’s Nessie?

All we saw were enchanted looking houses along the Ness with boats and yachts berthing at the pier waiting to attract gullible travellers.

Loch Ness Cruise on the Caledonian Canal and the village of Fort Augustus

The Ness walk did us good so we were not complaining. It was a lovely walk to the mouth of the lake where I thought I spotted Nessie’s shadow. Can you spot her? 😉

Loch Ness, Fort Augustus
Nessie’s nest

Two hours at Loch Ness in the settlement of Fort Augustus went by in the wink of an eye. But what I was eyeing for most was to have a closed up view of the almost dwindled breed of rustic herds, the Highland Cows (or Heilan/Hielen/ Heeland Coos). They’re easily distinguished from their long horns and long wavy woolly coats. The hair gives protection during the cold winter in the Scottish Highlands. Don’t they look cuddly?

The Highland Cows

The reddish brown breed of the Heeland Coo

The usual coat colour is reddish brown with ca 60% of the population, while the rest are either pale silver, brindle or black. I have not seen the black Heilan Coo. Better luck next time?

Friendly, cuddly Highland Cows 😊

Today’s rain is tomorrow’s Whisky

This is an old Scots saying that expresses innate optimism”, says Stuart.

What proper timing when we stopped at Pitlochry, best known for the whisky distilleries. There are 2 in Pitlochry, one of which produces Edradour. I didn’t have the real thing but the Edradour Highland Single Malt whisky ice cream at £3.30 for one scoop, was to die for.

Edradour Highland Single Malt whisky ice-cream bought at Scotch Corner in Pitlochry

There are many whisky distilleries in Scotland, but none of them are the same. Every distillery has its own colourful history and unique setting.

Welcome to the land of Whisky 🥃

Homeward Bound

Time to leave the Highlands of Scotland for the Lowland. We arrived at Glasgow Queen Street Bus Terminal at 20:30. It was dark and chilly. A good night’s rest was very much anticipated.


Until a brand new day with a speck of Royalty😉

Homeward bound from the rugged Highlands to the rolling green pastures of the Lowlands
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Part 4: Scotland – The Forth Bridges, Kelpies, Falkirk Wheel and Stirling Castle

Note: This is a scheduled post of our Summer Holidays in Scotland (9th to 25th September, 2022)

<<< Flashback …


I received a call from someone in Scotland, someone I have not met for more than a quarter of a century! It’s great to touch base again. It’s been too long.

The caller had this to say ,”When you decide what time you plan to take the train, let us know.”

>>> Fastforward >>>

Hmmm… who was the mystery caller with a UK number calling me in the hotel room? 🤔

Apparently the mystery caller and I have been WhatsApping for a while. When I told her in June that M and I were going to Scotland in September, she wrote, “We could try to meet up

MY moved to Scotland more than a decade ago to be with her true love 💕

Well, the last time I met MY in the flesh was back in 1995. We were colleagues back in Kuching. Not only were we colleagues, MY is my maternal cousin! Yup, it’s a small world after all 😀

ScotRail and THAT unforgettable stop!

Remember to take the train from Glasgow Queen Street and NOT Glasgow Central to Falkirk High”. This reminder was crucial to newbies like us, as it did make a difference where we had to travel within Scotland via ScotRail.

Glasgow Queen Street Station

We took the 10:00 train from Glasgow Queen Street Station to Falkirk High (towards Edinburgh). Falkirk is mid-way between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Our ETA was 10:21.

Waiting for the 10 am train to Falkirk High at Queen Street Station

I was so engrossed watching out for the time that as soon as the train stopped at a station at 10:17, we didn’t budge immediately until M saw “Falkirk High” from his side of the window. We got up from our seats and rushed to open the door, but to no avail. The door was fastened tightly and guess what? The train started moving and I saw MY pacing up and down the station platform hoping to see familiar faces to alight. She was not aware we were in the moving train. Alas, it was too late. Yup, we missed our stop!

I immediately texted MY.

We stopped at Falkirk High, but the door didn’t open for us. I’ve no clue where we are. What do I do now?” Oh shucks! MY didn’t read my messages!

Where to stop? Please advise. We’re stuck on the train heading for Edinburgh”. Still, no reply. So, we did the best thing we could by stopping at the next station, Polmont. I googled the place, it was about 8 km from Falkirk High and a 10-min drive.

Polmont Station

After a quick call to MY, all was solved. We finally met MY and AJ in their red Ford. Phew!

It was lovely listening to a real Scottish accent for a change. AJ drove us to North Queensferry Station and bought us tickets to experience a brief train ride on the Forth Rail Bridge (Red steel bridge). Completed in 1890, it is considered a symbol of Scotland, having been voted Scotland’s greatest man-made wonder in 2016, and is a UNESCO World Heritage site.

North Queensferry Station with the lovely mural of the Forth Rail Bridge
With MY at North Queensferry. The Forth Rail Bridge can be seen in the distant background

Overlooking the Red Bridge are the ‘newer’ suspension bridges, the Forth Road Bridge (1964) and the Queensferry Crossing (2017). 

View of the Queensferry Crossing and the Forth Road Bridge from Forth Rail Bridge

By the way, the Queensferry Crossing had appeared on television the entire day on 11th September, 2022 on a worldwide scale as that was the last journey of the late Queen Elizabeth II when her casket was carried en route from Balmoral Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Edinburgh. Glad to have experienced a part of the soon-to-be-history during our holidays.

A short drive to South Queensferry sealed the deal with the breathtaking view of the 3 bridges running parallel with each other.

Intersecting view of the Forth Rail Bridge (1890) and the Queensferry Crossing (2017)

With such lovely sunny weather, we couldn’t resist some Scottish ice-cream. The artisanal ice-cream made using grass-fed cow’s milk was exquisite.

Dessert before Main 😅

The Dutch Inn

Coming to Scotland is not complete without trying haggis. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, that’s for sure, but I was game for new things, especially foods! Ha ha …

The Dutch Inn, Falkirk

The Chicken Highlander (stuffed with haggis) and the Sticky Toffee Pudding combined were the pièces de résistance of the day. It was pure indulgence 🤪

Chicken Highlander (Chicken breast stuffed with haggis served with Drambuie sauce, vegetables and fries) and Sticky Toffee Pudding

I was curious about the name of the restaurant, “Dutch Inn” and then I saw Belgian Waffle on the menu card (that’s why …). MY had that and she loved it.

Belgian Waffle, or to be precise, Lèige Waffle 😉

The Kelpies

When MY and AJ asked me what I wanted to see while in Falkirk, I said, “I come to Scotland with an open mind. Bring me to places that will trigger my memory for a long time, ie, somewhere or something I can remember Falkirk by.” AJ knew exactly where he would bring us – The Kelpies!

The Kelpies is a 30-metre high horse head sculpture depicting kelpies (shape-shifting water spirits). The name reflected the mythological transformation beasts possessing the strength and endurance of ten horses; a quality that is analogous with the transformational change and endurance of Scotland’s inland waterways. 

The Kelpies
With MY (ex colleague and cousin). Memories are made of this

The Helix Park is home of The Kelpies and The Kelpies have transformed the area into a 5-star tourist destination. The park was an amazing space, literally and figuratively speaking.

Helix Park, Falkirk

The Falkirk Wheel

It would have been great if we had arrived on time to experience a boat trip of a lifetime rotated by the Falkirk Wheel. Alas, we were a boat too late, however, we managed to watch the Wheel lifting / raising the last incoming boat. Impressive!

The majestic Falkirk Wheel in action …

The Falkirk Wheel is the only rotating boat lift of its kind in the world. Although we didn’t get to experience the lift, it was awesome just watching the Wheel turning. 

The Falkirk Wheel

Stirling Castle

We hit the road heading for one of the most popular Castles in Scotland where a string of Hollywood movies and Netflix series were shot: Game of Thrones, Outlander, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, just to name a few.

Stirling Castle taken from AJ’s car

Oops! Late again. We reached the parking lot of Stirling Castle at 17:45, a bit too late as the last entry into the Castle was 17:15.

Stirling Castle entrance notice
Stirling Castle taken from the parking lot

The inside of the Castle would be great, but what we saw outside of the Castle was enriching in itself. Each landmark and statue tells a story.

Statue of Argyll and Sutherland Highlander soldier from the Boer War

The Star Pyramid, aka Salem Rock is a massive sandstone, ashlar pyramid dominating the area below the Stirling Castle beside the Old Town Cemetery. The Pyramid is dedicated to all those who suffered martyrdom in the cause of civil and religious liberty in Scotland.

Star Pyramid aka Salem Rock situated just below Stirling Castle

The statue of Robert the Bruce on the esplanade at Stirling Castle looking out at the William Wallace Memorial was captivating. King Robert I was one of the most renowned warriors of his generation. He led Scotland during the First War of Scottish Independence against England and fought successfully to regain Scotland’s place as an Independent kingdom. Robert is now revered in Scotland as a national hero. Now I understand why the Scottish people are craving for independence post Brexit

Statue of Robert the Bruce

Stirling Castle was also the childhood home of Mary, Queen of Scots and it was there that William Wallace’s Braveheart speech: “Freedom!” was filmed, portrayed by Mel Gibson

William Wallace aka Braveheart’s “Freedom” speech played by Mel Gibson was shot on the compound of Stirling Castle

Homeward bound …

It was a fulfilling day spent with AJ and MY. We would not have thought of going for that short train ride on the Forth Rail Bridge to watch the historical Queensferry Crossing that marked the last journey of QEII. We would not have thought of visiting the mythological horse head sculpture or watching the raising and lifting of boats powered by the majestic Wheel. Thanks MY and AJ 🤗

We headed back to Glasgow from Falkirk High. It was 20:00, cold and dark when we reached Glasgow Queen Street.

An early next day start awaited us for another full Day Tour of the Highlands with the many lochs, bens, glens and coos.

Nessie, here I come …

Belgium · Family · holiday · Informative · Leisure · Personal · Scotland · summer holidays · Travel

Part 3: Scotland – Glasgow the real deal?

Note: This is a scheduled post of our Summer Holidays in Scotland (9th to 25th September, 2022)

10 hours, that’s how long I slept. It was a much needed sleep after the mental and physical agony the past 24 hours.

Customer is King

Shucks, still no internet connection! That’s definitely not expected for a 4-star hotel. After being told 3 times by the Front Desk staff that it was due to our iPhone settings – erm … Fibs! – we had to call in the Duty Manager to check out our room for himself. Spot on! ZERO internet connection. We were immediately checked out from Room 1208 to the 8th Floor. Et voilà, seamless connection!

The age-old mantra of the ‘Customer is King’ is not just a cliché but was tried and true in our case.

Immediate check-out from Room 1208 to a new room in less than 24 hours

A Scottish Breakfast

While travelling on the Caledonian Sleeper from London Euston to Glasgow Central, we could have ordered a traditional Scottish breakfast of Haggis, sausage, baked beans, tatties, tomatoes, mushrooms and toast. We didn’t go for that for the obvious reason that 6am was way too early to consume such a hearty breakfast. Hear ye, hear ye! For the next 7 mornings in Glasgow, we had no choice but to indulge ourselves in the daily wholesome Scottish brekkie 😄

Breakfast at Maldron Hotel, Glasgow

The great Scottish brekkie pumped tons of energy in our body systems to enable us to sustain an almost 3 hours walk to Glasgow Cathedral from our hotel. We read about the Cathedral being the oldest Medieval Cathedral in mainland Scotland and the oldest building in Glasgow, hence, we had to see it for ourselves, with no regrets.

Glasgow Cathedral

The Cathedral is dedicated to Saint Mungo, the patron Saint of Glasgow, whose tomb lies at the centre of the building’s Lower Church.

Upper and Lower Churches of Glasgow Cathedral

An impressive interior considering the building being the oldest building in Glasgow!

With the recent passing of QEII, Glasgow was also mourning. Several people paid their last respect to the late Queen by placing bouquets beside her obituary. 

Rest in Peace, Ma’am

Glasgow Necropolis

We walked to the nearby cemetery, the Glasgow Necropolis.

View of Glasgow Cathedral from the Necropolis

The Necropolis remains one of the most significant cemeteries in Europe, exceptional in its townscape, its symbolic relationship to Glasgow Cathedral and the mediaeval heart of the city. In common with the other major Victorian cemeteries, it was designed as a botanic and sculpture garden to improve the morals and tastes of Glaswegians and act as an historical record of past greatness. 50,000 individuals have been buried there. Every grave has a stone. 

Every grave has a stone at Glasgow Necropolis

The Glasgow Necropolis reminded me of Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris. Glasgow native, Billy Conolly has said, “Glasgow is a bit like Nashville, Tennessee. It doesn’t care much for the living, but it really looks after the dead.” 😬

John Knox Monument – This imposing 70 foot monument predated the Necropolis and has a 12-foot statue of Knox clutching a bible in his right hand

Scottish Greats

I didn’t know David Livingstone was Scottish! I knew he’s an Explorer in Africa. By the way, the popular ViaVia Travellers’ Cafés in Belgium was inspired by Livingstone.

ViaVia Café (A Livingstone Experience), Heverlee, Belgium
David Livingstone, a Scottish physician, Congregationalist and pioneer Christian missionary, an explorer in Africa and one of the most popular British heroes of the Victorian era

Another Scottish great name worldwide is James Watt. What? Yes, Watt, the unit of power used in the international system of units to quantify the rate of energy transfer. The statue of James Watt stands in the corner of George Square

James watt, a Scottish inventor, mechanical engineer and chemist
George Square, named after King George III with the Scott monument in the centre

With all the walks, nature’s call came on spontaneously. It was lovely to find a little Spanish oasis in the city centre, not far from George Square.

Walking with my trusty barefoot All-Weather shoes

Café Andaluz City Centre on St Vincent Place is a Spanish/ Catalan tapas restaurant. We had the pre-theatre menu of 3 tapas. I had grilled asparagus topped with grated Manchego cheese, lemon hollandaise and crushed blackpepper, fried calamari rings served with fresh lemon and smoked paprika aioli and the classic Spanish chicken dish cooked with garlic, rosemary and red chillies

Pre-Theatre Menu of 3 tapas pp at Café Andaluz, Glasgow
Café Andaluz, a tapas restaurant serving Spanish and Catalan cuisines

The Spanish experience was a superb choice. Everything was spot on – fast service, friendly staff and great food.

We returned to our hotel, feeling hopeful for positive days ahead.


I received a call on my mobile phone from someone in Scotland, someone I have not met for more than a quarter of a century! Boy, it’s great to touch base again. It’s been too long.

The caller had this to say, “When you decide what time you plan to take the train, let us know.”

So, our journey to the ‘unknown’ continued mid-way between Glasgow and Edinburgh. Looking forward already 😉

THE Train …
Lovely Spring-like weather

Fingers crossed for a better next day 🤞