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11 January 2016

Taking the Train

Believe it or not, I had not been outside Edinburgh since we arrived here in August. Ironically, visiting friends from the states (hi, Kitty!) were doing a better job of seeing Scotland than we were!
     Why? School turned out to be more intense than I expected. It was fun work, I'm not complaining! But the assumption of long weekends traipsing off to exotic locales was not possible. Add to that, while we had originally planned to go to France for Christmas, Stan caught a bad flu bug which kept us here through the first half of winter break. He was really sick, poor guy.* (I know, I know. Get out your small violins...we had to spend Christmas in Edinburgh. Awwwww!)
     At any rate, all that changed on Thursday when we hopped the train down to Newcastle to visit Susan Gates and her husband Phil. You may know Susan as S.P. Gates, author of over 150 books and generous blurber for A Bird on Water Street.
     Susan and I met years ago when Lee & Low asked me to host Susan on my blog with her latest title, The Monster in the Mudball. Even via email across an ocean, we got along famously.
     Later, Susan read and loved ABOWS. She especially connected with the mining history because of a similar history in Newcastle. Pollution there was so bad in its hey-day, they actually filmed the movie ALIEN on a local, blackened beach. Of course, that's all since changed and the city is now a thriving and beautiful metropolis. And the land that was once so destroyed has now been saved. Read about that here.
     So when Susan emailed me with fun photos of their New Year celebrations in downtown Newcastle, we just had to go say 'hi'! I mean, how bizarre is life that we now live only one and a half hours apart? I wanted to go finally meet my friend in person. That meant taking the train for the first time...
     The train.
     The TRAIN!!!
     I am in love with all things train - the train station in particular. We bought our tickets a few days early, so found a deal of a trip. We walked the 12 minutes from our flat (seriously) to Waverly Station. Then we walked into this lovely, Victorian-era, atrium-like space, which is all at once buzzing and surprisingly relaxing.
     You check the board to see where you want to go. OH, the possibilities! Suddenly all of Europe is available to us. Ironically, in going to Newcastle, we looked for the line to Penzance. Yes, that Penzance!
     We got a cup of tea and a latte to enjoy while we waited at our platform (#3). And then came our train right on time - the whole system is extremely efficient. You don't want to be late!
     We tried out seats in what is equivalent to coach and it was perfectly comfortable. (Although upgrades aren't terribly expensive either.)
     The train ran down the east coast most of the way, and gads, the views were spectacular! I'm sorry the reflection made for not great pictures, but maybe these will give you an idea. We passed tiny villages interspersed with rolling green hills covered with sheep.
We passed rocky shores with frothy seas.
And we passed tiny fishing villages.
The one and a half hour trip sped by so smoothly with such stunning views. It could have been three more hours and I would have been happy. They even offer beverages and snacks during the journey. What an evolved way to travel!
     On the other end, we arrived in Newcastle where Susan and Phil were waiting for us in their equally lovely station.
And that was just the beginning of our adventure. Check back soon for Newcastle!

2 comments :

M Louise Kelly said...

And of course you travelled from the only railway station named after a novel (Waverley), to the birthplace of the 'Father of the Railway' the man who built the first inter-city railway line- George Stevenson. Glad you had fun.

Elizabeth O. Dulemba said...

I didn't know that, Louise! Thanks for putting it in context for me! :) e

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