|Day 8: I was up at 5 AM Thursday, the last day of May. The water
in the shower was super hot that morning. The hotel bathroom had not just
soap but "seaweed therapy hydrating body soap." I went out for a walk in
the brisk morning air. There was a pedestrian bridge over the Clyde near
the hotel. On the other side, there was... not a lot. We all went down
to the restaurant for breakfast. The tables offered jars of apricot jam,
blackcurrant jam, and "set honey." We got packed
and loaded onto the coach, and hit the road by 8:40.
We drove around Glasgow, getting an idea of the place. It was a modern city, with lots of buildings post-World War II. Because of its shipbuilding industry, Glasgow was heavily bombed during the war. George Square had some impressive 19th century buildings. The square was decorated with a war memorial and statues of many famous people, such as James Watt, William Gladstone, Robert "Robbie" Burns, and Queen Victoria. We also passed by McDonald's, Staples, and Pizza Hut. The coach went down Finnieston Street, then turned around at the Citroen dealership. At the City Centre, we went down Nelson Mandella Place. We rode near St. Mungo's Cathedral, and passed next to the oldest house in Glasgow: it was built in 1471! Just then, Nick the tour guide got a call on his cell phone. It was for us! We planned to spend an extra day in London after the tour, and had decided on going on the Tower of London afternoon tour. The phone call was to finalize our plans. I was a little embarrassed at interrupting everyone's tour.
The coach took us out of Glasgow on a modern 4-lane highway, the A74. We rode past suburbs of smaller houses and into bright green farmlands. The sky was unsettled. It looked like rain off in the distance. We turned southeast towards Carlisle, almost the same direction Mary Queen of Scots took. Nick gave us another history lesson about Mary as we rode along past emerald mountains. A windmill farm churned in the distance. Sheep grazed in fields. Mile after mile of farmland passed by us. In the cities of Britain, you get overwhelmed by the history surrounding you. A 400-year-old building can be next to a 500-year-old building, both of which on a street where some big historical event happened. Going through castles, battlegrounds and historic sites, you get the feeling like every square inch of space had a story to tell. As I watched the miles of farmland roll by, however, it occurred to me that for the vast majority of land, the story it had to tell was more of peace and wildlife. We passed farms and tiny quiet villages, where perhaps generations of people had lived theirs lives filled with honest work, but outside the history books. The ones that did live near ancient historical sites –which might be thrilling and inspirational to tourists like me– could easily take them for granted. But every place has a history-- every place has a story to tell, whether it makes it into the history books or not. That's why I didn't want to miss anything on our trip.
Before we got back on the coach, I got some snacks, including a Dr. Pepper and a bag of "roast chicken crisps." Did they taste like chicken? Maaaaybe. By 11:30, we were rolling again. It was a little stuffy in the coach, so Nick asked the driver, "Can you put the air con on?" We passed a business called the Last House in Scotland Marriage Shop– and it was. Just past that, and over a short bridge, we were back in England. We had entered the Lake District.
|The western end of Hadrian's Wall was nearby. Off to the left, we passed
a charming, typical little English village snuggled up against a short,
wide hill, complete with narrow streets, compact little houses... and a
Domino's Pizza. We went through Carlisle, where Woodrow Wilson's family
came from, and headed west on the A66. A sign on the highway said, "Tiredness
can kill. Take a break." Off in the distance, we could see mountains to
Back at the hotel, Donna went to the room while I tried to get online. The new person at the front desk said they couldn't give me 15 minutes on the Internet "because more minutes haven't been delivered." Huh? The only option they gave me was to pay 10 pounds for 90 minutes online, and I wasn't going to do that. They couldn't even tell me when I could get online at the original rate. It put me in a sour mood the rest of the evening. All I wanted to do was check my stupid email. I got a Guinness, then went back to the room. I watched a rerun of "House" and tried to watch some English football. In the news, Bush announced global warming plans that didn't stop global warming. British TV showed pictures of him smiling, like messing up the environment delighted him to no end.