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So today didn’t get off to the best start. After an evening of packing-angst last night, I finally went to bed reasonably confident I had everything I needed and could make an early start in the morning. When I picked up my pack this morning though it left behind a pool of water. My water bladder had been leaking; it’s new and last night had been the first time I’d filled it. Curses!

So, mentally rearranging my diary as I headed for the train, I sent Lee a text to cancel my 09:30 gym session and walked up The Strand from Charing Cross to the shop where I’d bought the bladder last week. As I got there, I remembered that the place doesn’t open until 10:00am, but given my tight schedule, waiting for it to open was the most time-efficient option, so I picked up a latte at the coffee shop opposite and spent a pleasant half-hour watching the world go by. Lee came by when he’d finished with his last client as he wanted some waterproof over-trousers too.

Murphy’s Law of course ruled that I hadn’t been able to find the receipt for the reservoir in the pile that seemed to include everything else I’ve ever bought (it subsequently turned up in my wallet which I’d been carrying all the while!) When the shop opened, I put on my confident look, explained what had happened to the assistant. He agreed there seemed to be a leak and went away to seek advice, eventually coming back to point out that the locking ring beneath the filling cap had been loose and, now that they’d tightened it, the bladder didn’t seem to be leaking any more.

Okay, so I felt like a complete noob but, on the bright side, I hadn’t had to argue my way around having no receipt – and in my defence the five-pictogram set of ‘instructions’ printed on the bladder’s packaging doesn’t show the locking ring at all, so I feel my muppetness is defensible!

The rest of the day at work went largely according to plan; the team only mildly bemused by my late arrival in the office, followed by the draping of damp clothing over radiators to dry. Nevertheless, I got turned around in time and was in thoroughly professional mode for my 11am meeting.

Come 4:30pm, I was back in my hiking gear and setting off up to Euston. I met up with the others (Lee, Huw and Chris) without incident and we found our seats on the train. Chris (who is very much the minimalist hiker) was aghast that I’d managed to fill a 70l rucksack with pretty much the same stuff he was carrying in his 50l one (alongside a tent and three day’s food for four people)!

Chris and me on the train to Glasgow

The train to Glasgow is a five-hour trip, so we had plenty of time to eat (dismal, mushy, microwaved burger from the buffet) and bemoan the weather forecast (not looking good!) When we were bored with that, we played a game of Cliche Wars; basically each player has to get as many cliches into a conversation as possible. I learned two things from playing this game; firstly, I am nowhere near as quick-witted as my friends, and secondly, they are all as mad as a box of frogs!

That isn’t a bad thing, you understand – quite the reverse! We all have quirks and foibles that make us unique, something that’s as true of me as anyone else. Our individuality is why I’m glad we’re going on this trip together in the first place! They are fun people to be with! Who better to set out on a taxing endeavour with than a group with a sense of humour but, when it comes down to it, know what they’re about?!

Lee and Huw wonder if Fish & Chips is the right thing to do…

Our arrival at Glasgow was punctuated by a stop outside the station for Fish and Chips – kind of traditional Scottish fare – before taking a taxi up to the Glasgow Youth Hostel. Turns out it’s an old townhouse of some kind, with some gorgeous carved woodwork, particularly around the stairwell and some really large rooms which must once have been for formal dining or drawing rooms. The bedrooms though were all Standard Issue YHA. Before retiring we explored the facilities and played some pool. Lee started out on his plan to do handstand-pushups in as many bizarre places as possible (see the photo album for a record of these).

Because I’m traveling light, I don’t have my charger with me so am keeping my phone switched off to preserve the battery in case of emergencies. It does underscore how used to having it I am; I no longer wear a watch. It says a lot about how I live my life that I am so uncomfortable being without ready access to the exact time.