"It doesn't really fit into best or worst categories," Jillian said once when we were talking about her travel experiences. Still? Yes, I know, but they are always interesting.
"There was once in Glasgow quite a few years ago, when I was staying with a friend of my mother's. It had been a long and harrowing journey from London's Euston station to Glasgow Central on the fast train. Can't remember what it's called. Perhaps The Flying Scotsman” she said. (Editor note: I think it was called Inter-City).
"Anyway. It was one of the new fully electric trains that had just introduced and it travelled, I think, at about 110 mph most of the way. It whipped through the stations like a tornado - the carriage rocked quite violently it seemed, and the noise of the wheels and the sound of the wind reflected back from the station buildings were very frightening. I wondered what would happen if we rocked so far that the platform or the roof would make contact with us and cause a catastrophic crash. Of course it hadn't happened so far and probably would never happen, but it was hellish scary."
"The trip took 5 hours but it seemed like forever." she said.
I sensed this was not the story. I was right.
"When I arrived, it was really embarrassing," she went on. "I was so exhausted, and it was getting latish, I could tell by all the half hidden yawns.”
“I think it was about 9.00 pm,” (she explained as an aside), “so I let them know I was ready for bed.”
A few friendly 'getting to know you' things happened. Including questions about what time I wanted to begin my exploring of Bearsden where they lived, and Glasgow in general, and what I wanted for breakfast.
Bearsden lies on the northwestern fringe of Greater Glasgow, approximately 6 miles (10 km) from the City Centre, and is effectively a suburb, with housing development coinciding with the introduction of a railway line in 1863, and from where the town gets its name (Bearsden station was named after a nearby cottage). Wikipedia.
I said that since I was only going to be a few days I'd like to start quite early about 9.00am. And I mentioned that I thought a quick trip to Edinburgh might be a good idea. Shock horror, “That is so far away - on the other side of the country.” they said in unison, looking at me as if I had two heads. (It is actually about 60 miles or 70 km - just over an hour's journey by car and probably not much different by train). I gave that idea away. Pity, it would have been nice. But I didn't want to upset the hosts.
Next was the breakfast question. Easy answer.
"This," Jillian then said, "is where it became truly weird. I am in Scotland, right? Haggis and porridge? Yes? So not wanting to be a nuisance I said I'd just have porridge. I assumed that was the national breakfast.”
"MISTAKE. Big mistake.”
“I noticed a bit of activity outside the bedroom window as I crawled unwillingly from the warm bed on the rainy, cold morning that followed. My mother’s friend's husband (she couldn't remember names so this is a bit cryptic) was just pushing his bike back into the small lean-to thingy next to the very small and narrow cottage sort of structure in which they lived. See what I did there? Winston Churchill would be proud.
“They had NEVER eaten porridge, and, so as not to disappoint me, he had popped out to the early opening corner store to get some. Needless to say I was mortified.”
“And they didn't know how to make it either. It was horrible. But as I'd asked for it, I had to pretend I enjoyed it."