TGO 2011 - Day 0 (The Journey North)

TGOC 2011 Days 0 - The Journey UP

Wed 11th May 2011

Today started around 5.00pm with the arrival of my chauffeur Phil (M'Lord) Lambert.
A short drive to Al's house in Hemingford and we awaited the arrival of the taxi to take us to Huntingdon station and the start of our adventure (at this stage we did not know how much of an adventure it would be on some days, but we will come to that).

The taxi duly arrived and off we went to get the train to London. I realised as I looked at the size of Al's pack and felt the weight that I had yet again packed too much stuff. 
I would need to have a look at Strathcarron, but that was a long way a way and there was nothing I could do.
So off we set and after arriving in London, did the short-ish (bloody heavy this pack) walk to the Italian restaurant with the stunningly lovely waitress near Euston Station.

On route Al took a few photo's of me. =====>

It is not true despite the rumour on his blog. I did do the Challenge, and did not spend a fortnight at Pole dancing clubs in London. Although had I known the weather was going to be that interesting I might have been tempted.
Having said that, and seeing this photo, I did need to go, just to loose weight.

Anyway, back to the restaurant and the waitress.
She was still there (obviously a year older, but none the less just as good looking ... old men eh ... )
We had our food (cannot remember what I did have but it did taste nice), a few beers (training) and then
SHAP arrived with the coffin. He's the chap wot did make it init and a fine job as well. It looked just like the real thing. This caused great interest at both the restaurant, and also the station, and although light? it was still quite heavy.
How high were we going to carry this bloody thing?

There was quite a wait at the station, and at this stage Al did not even know if they would allow it on the train.
Well anyway, to cut a long story short we did. 
They put it in the Cycle carriage (must have freaked out a few cyclists), and we put our stuff in our bunks.
I was meant to be sharing with an unknown person, but as luck would have it, they did not turn up and I had the whole sleeping compartment to myself. So stuff spread out, it was off to the buffet car for a probable encounter with beer.

Several beers later (hydration is crucial on the Challenge), we eventually headed off to bed, to awake the next morning in Inverness.
It was a noisy night, I have no idea what they were doing next door, and too polite to ask.
Time for Z's

Thu 12th May 2011

After a pleasant cup of Coffee or something similar, we pulled into Inverness.
It was time to get off the train, pick up the HEAVY rucksack and collect that Bloody Coffin.
So off we went. I again collected a bag with Al's stuff in it. He liked leaving it on trains, maybe he didn't want it. Phil and Alan got the coffin.
I tried very hard to avoid them, but unluckily got roped in to carrying it again.
We headed off to the entrance to find the chap , that was going to take it to Ault na Goire.
So we waited for a while by the entrance with more onlookers and questions that had to be asked.
Eventually David Hamilton arrived with his van for the coffin, but woe alas, now confusion. There was another possibility. It would now be taken to Ault na Goire by Katy, Alex and Janet Sutherlands daughter who also happened to be a press photographer.
So we set off to Morrisons for a bacon butty and a coffee to wait for Katy. 
Actually it was quite pleasant in Morrison's. 
Katy duly arrived and we set off to the Council buildings to take photo's of coffin carrying and stuff. I was in Katy's car with the coffin, and Al and Phil went with David. 
We arrived there in no time flat, Katy knew the roads round Inverness, but no sign of Dave and Al and Phil. Time was pressing, we had to get back to the station to get the Strathcarron train.
Still no sign, mild panic and then they did turn up........
So out again with the coffin and many photo's were taken. 
Then back in car and back to the station. 
Easier said than done that, since now the back door on Katy's van would not shut. 
Actually it would not open either. Bashing it a lot (it's a bloke thing) solved the problem in the nick of time and we headed back to the station. 
Actually panic was pointless, there was loads of time. In fact, enough time for me to go and buy a bit of shot cord to repair the broken rivet on my Crocs. 
Always good to have to repair kit before you have even started.

No worries, train arrived and by now a rather large motley collection of folk were ready to get on the train to Strathcarron. 
The weather was fine and all was well.

Off we went for the long train journey. It was a loooooooong train journey, but with so many great people on the train, it flashed past, and were soon at the hotel in Strathcarron, with the weather looking like it was going to close in.

I had booked but Al had not. It looked like camping for him. 
We had a beer or 2 and a game of pool or 2 as well whilst waiting for my room to be ready. 
 As the afternoon and evening progressed many more folk arrived. 

Sorting out room and food was in order, as was getting ready to get the collection and card signing for Roger. Al had volunteered me for this job. For this particular job it was a pleasure not a burden, and as the evening progressed, and having put in some large notes to start the pot boiling, we gained a lot of signatures, and a good collection for Roger. 

Cullen Skink soup (I have no bloody idea how to spell that or even if it is close to what I actually had - but my earlier attempt at spelling was corrected by Humphrey) at the pub was excellent. So excellent I had 2 bowls, and a jolly fine and sociable evening was had by all.

Outside folk were arriving with tents in the rain and wind. 
John Hancock had a tarp. 
Lucky him I thought smugly thinking of my nice warm bed.

I would love to mention all the people I met there, but I just cannot. Sorry! You were all very nice though!

Eventually it was time for sleep. I had already been through my kit to sort out the unnecessary, and as we shall see tomorrow, had stuff to send back.
Unfortunately I appeared to have packed 2 hats, and 2 base layer tops. No bottoms, just 2 tops. I also had an enormous towel and some other pointless crap. It was going back home in the post first thing tomorrow.
So off for a final nights sleep in a real bed under a real roof. Excellent!

Al had looked long and hard at the weather outside (approx 15 secs) and decided he was NOT going to put his tent up.
So since I am a nice chap, and despite his later nagging about leaving at precise times, and whinging in the morning about the post office delay, I let him sleep on the floor in my room.
(See by 9.30 the next morning he had forgotten this noble gesture and the use of my bathroom and shower and .... and just went on and on about waiting for me and for the post office to open.)

I watched a bit of telly, and went to sleep.

It was almost time to start and there was NO going back!


  1. Shplendid Shtuff! I look forward to comparing the sections you and Slowman engaged in together. Unreliable narrators? Shurely not . . .

    It's Cullen Skink. Ambrosia of The Gods, made from smoked haddock, tatties and nectar. I introduced Ade Fortune to this in the Cafe Royale in Edinburger as we had had an hour free between trains. He lapped it up like the fine Yorkshireman he is.

  2. Many thanks for that Humphrey. I will correct that as soon as I get to my computer.

  3. Humph: Andy took notes. He actually wrote things down in his tent at night.
    Having said that, that was after he had been quaffing his granny's thought juice and my rocket fuel, so I bet he won't be able to read his handwriting and his memory will be totally fogged by the vapours.

    On the other hand, my account is all smiley because I have already forgotten all the shitty bits.