Wednesday 19 September 2018
Today was a big day for me. I had managed to secure one night’s accommodation on Holy Island – Lindisfarne – for tonight – an opportunity for me to clear the decks from the Egypt trip and prepare for the choir trip starting on Friday. An opportunity to soak in the spiritually and prayer and history of this sacred space.
It started well enough – an early breakfast then check out from my hotel near Edinburgh airport where I had been since Monday night. A cab ride to Waverley Station Edinburgh by 11am. First hitch – the first available seat on a train to Berwick-upon-Tweed wasn’t until 1.30pm. Well, I can wile away a couple of hours at this interesting train station – which I proceeded to do. On the train at 1.20pm – first class ticket – nice seat – free lunch and drinks provided – all looking good. This train runs to London. I only need to go to the first stop which is only 45 minutes away – the above-mentioned Berwick-upon-Tweed where I get a 2.30pm bus to Lindisfarne. Things are a bit tight in that I have only fifteen minutes to find the bus station from the train station, but I figure – how hard could it be!
We no sooner begin the journey when the conductor announces that the train will be running half-speed from Newcastle to London due to the high winds generated by the fierce storm ALI blowing in from Northern Ireland. I figure – that’s okay – I only need the train to get to Berwick-upon-Tweed. One minute later the train draws to a halt! The conductor says we have run over a tree branch which has become tangled under the train. We are sitting for about ten minutes and I am starting to feel a bit nervous. Relax Shane – if you miss the 2.30pm bus you can always get the 5.55pm bus (only two which run) Also you could get a cab from Berwick to Lindisfarne. No worries I think.
We get going and I can see that the wind is whipping things up bad outside – the train is rocking a bit in the wind – but all I am thinking – is get me to Berwick-upon-Tweed! Then just as we pull into Dunbar station – the train stops!! The conductor comes on air and says that due to electrical lines down over the rail line ahead and all types of debris reported on the tracks – the company is calling a code BLACK – for customer safety – no trains are to leave Scotland south at all that day!!! We were to head back to Edinburgh. Now the lady and daughter sitting next to me are a bit frantic at this stage as they had flights out of London that night home to the USA. I could over hear various telephone conversations being held as people informed loved ones and others of the situation. Tempers are fraying a bit and you could sense the anger in the carriage.
I am starting to go over my options – Lindisfarne is out – that’s for sure. The next question is – where am I going to sleep this night in Edinburgh as I didn’t have a reservation. The Waverley station is in chaos when we pull in. I am directed to the ticket office to join the long queue of people endeavouring to get answers and help. I do finally manage to get my ticket refunded. I battle strong head winds and walk to Motel One – the Hotel I was booked in for Thursday evening – hoping they had a spare room for tonight. After a rather cold and miserable walk with my luggage for twenty minutes I arrive at the reservations desk with a lady who came up in the lift with me. I allow her to go first – and wouldn’t you know it – she gets the last room available for tonight. Phones are ringing madly and there is a frazzled atmosphere in the hotel as all I hear is – “No – we are fully booked; Sorry – no rooms available.” They are kind enough to provide a Wi-Fi code so I start looking up other hotels close by. After about half-an-hour I get a tap on the shoulder to say that a room has become free. As it turns out – the storm has meant that people planning on staying in Edinburgh at the hotel couldn’t get there and that meant I was in luck. So after 7 hours – I am back in the city I started out from in the morning. I say a prayer of thanks and count my blessings. Lindisfarne will have to wait for another time.