I’m just back from a week in Scotland with my family. Aside from the weather and the ten-hour journey to get there from Kent, we had a great time. The main reason for the trip was to go to the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, but we were staying in Edinburgh (mostly because staying in Glasgow would have bankrupted us all) so we took the opportunity to spend a few days exploring the city once we were done with the Games. Here are some of the highlights of the first half of the week…
Yep, it really is that easy to make me happy. By the time we arrived at our B&B on Saturday evening, we were exhausted and grumpy, but the second I heard my first Scottish accent I cheered right up.
Calderglen Country Park
The following day, we piled back in the car and headed over to Glasgow, to find the park and ride. Unfortunately we allowed a bit too much time and ended up an hour early, so we kept going and found, a little further down the road, Calderglen Country Park. We didn’t have long to explore but we managed to fit in a short walk and make friends with a few local animals. As you do.
Now ok, this is not strictly speaking a highlight, but it caused us a fair bit of hilarity so I’m going to throw it in. And in fairness, it did get better after the first day, when we arrived on time, to find a queue a mile long and a distinct lack of buses. At that point, naturally, it started to rain quite hard so we huddled up under umbrellas and waited for something to happen. An hour later, some buses arrived and got a spontaneous round of applause (I’ve never applauded a bus before, and probably never will again. I don’t even like buses) from the soggy crowd as we piled on and headed to the Games.
But that wasn’t the best bit. That evening, we left Hampden Park and eventually found the queue for our car park. Another hour later, we made it on to a bus, with a driver who joked as we climbed on board that he didn’t really know where he was going. We laughed politely, not realising that he wasn’t actually joking at all. This became obvious when we’d been driving for a while through the Scottish countryside and a few other passengers, who fortunately had some knowledge of the local area, realised something was wrong and went to help. Just then, with immaculate timing, everyone received an email from Glasgow 2014, asking for our views on the day. Fortunately we had plenty of time to tell them, given that it took us about 50 minutes to eventually find our way back to the car. At which point we clapped again.
Fortunately, once we arrived, the Games themselves were great, if you ignore the two slightly annoying presenters and the quite clearly fixed ‘noise-o-meter’, which showed the same result every time we cheered. There was a fantastic atmosphere, particularly as the home nations won quite a lot of stuff, and everyone dealt pretty good-naturedly with the inevitable queuing to get in and out of the stadium.
Particular highlights – Adam Gemili winning silver in the 100m, David Weir in the 1,500m and David Rudisha in the heats of the 800m (before he got beaten in the final – but I wasn’t there for that). Also, I have no idea what the Scottish anthem was but everyone else in the stadium seemed to know it, and joined in with great enthusiasm when Libby Clegg got her gold medal. Even though it felt like we were the only ones not singing, it was a pretty cool moment. We probably should have put the same effort into singing Jerusalem when discus thrower Dan Greaves claimed his gold for England, but given that it’s our old school hymn, hopefully we can be forgiven for not joining in.
This guy gets a point all to himself, because he’s awesome. He’s a Nigerian discus thrower who happens to have only one leg. It took us a while to realise that he was carrying the discus into the ring on his head, because he uses two crutches to walk. Then he gets himself in position, tosses away his crutches and then throws the discus. On one leg. Without falling over. Oh, and did I mention he threw it 39m and won bronze, to the delight of the Hampden crowd? Insanely brilliant. I don’t have a photo as he was too far away, so here’s a video someone else made.
Oh come on, I had to. The sunset over Hampden on Monday night, our one decent day weather-wise, was pretty spectacular, and even made queuing for the bus (again, but this time with floodlights, which made it feel a little bit like we were being marched to our doom) slightly more bearable.
Oh, and a quick report on my expectations pre-Games…
– Giant dancing teacakes – zero
– My own personal Scottish terrier (with my name embroidered on its little jacket) – sadly, no 😦
– Not the Proclaimers – the Proclaimers themselves were not there, as far as I know, but we did enjoy several enthusiastic karaoke sessions, which is almost the same thing.
– Ewan McGregor in a kilt – no sign, unfortunately. Although kilts in general – lots.
Coming in part 2 – our adventures in Edinburgh 🙂