Our last morning on the islands. For most, the end of their adventure – though not for me. So I had mixed feelings. We gathered up our things after a leisurely breakfast. Our minibus picked us up. Our drive this morning took us to the airport, stopping along the way at a bakery he knew. He asked if we were interested and of course, we said yes!
Stornoway airport was not like the Barra airport. It had a building and a paved runway. No beach this time. We checked ourselves through security. We sat around in the waiting area knitting and chatting. Out of nowhere, I thought I heard my name called over the airport’s intercom system. I looked around. Had anyone else heard that? No? I walked over to the check in desk. “Did someone from here just call my name for something?”
“Through there, dear.” A woman motioned toward a door marked SECURITY. “They’ll have called you to there.”
Okay. I push the door open. Oh, right. Doors here don’t push outward. I reset my brain and pull the door toward me. I’m in a tiny little room with a window and service desk. There’s a guy there about my age saying “Is this your bag then?
“Yeeeeeeeesssss” I’m wondering what the heck is wrong with my bag.
“Okay. Just going to check through it for security.”
“Okaaaaaaaaaay. Is something the matter?”
“Oh, no. We do this to several of the bags. No worries.”
He unpacks everything in my duffle bag and we chat while he does so. Turns out he’s from Yorkshire, where I’m going next, so I ask him all kinds of questions. After a while I realize he’s trying to repack my bag and I start laughing. “Here, let me do that. It’s a bit like packing Tetris. It all goes together but you have to put certain things in certain directions.”
I return to the group and resume knitting. Then Ruth is called in for a security bag check. Then Jude. We start giggling. There is more security at the Stornoway airport, in the middle of nowhere, than there was in Glasgow, where they barely reviewed our belongings.
Eventually we did get on our flight. Beautiful again, to rise up and over the islands dotting the blue sea. Then across the mainland and landing down into Glasgow. We found our transportation and were dropped off right in the heart of the city, off George Square. A line of us, like chickens (why do I have that image), with our bags dragging behind us. We got checked in, made a plan for dinner, and everyone went to their rooms to relax. Later we gathered for drinks upstairs in the “executive lounge”, in which we had privileges. It was like a big living room with snacks and a full bar – from which you could drink as much as you liked. Golly. However, I was tired and warm and had no desire to drink anything but a glass of ice water. We decided to venture out and have tapas at a nearby Spanish restaurant. It was crowded and loud and rowdy and the food was good and we had a good time. But I could tell that already peoples’ minds were gone from the islands. “What will I need to do when I get home?”, “What do I need with me on the long plane ride?”, “I wonder what the house will look like when I get back…” It’s funny how one night in the big city knocks the island, the sea, the green hills and the sight of sheep, terns and herons right out of your mind. A few big buildings, a few honking cars, confusing traffic. They jar you back into civilization. We walked back to the hotel and most everyone simply went to bed, with a few reminders about who needed to be up when and for which airport transports.
When the alarm went off in the morning at 5:30 am, I barely heard it. Heather got up, showered, dressed, went to have breakfast with our early crew and saw them off. I woke up about 6:30, threw on a sweater over my nightgown and ran down to say goodbye. (I meant to get up, I really did. I just fell back asleep and almost missed them. This is why it’s good when there are two of you. I knew I didn’t have to be there, because I knew Heather was there. However, I could be lax enough to zip down there in what I’d just slept in. That’s sharing the load.) Then it was time to actually get dressed, meet the rest of the folks for breakfast and get ourselves out of there.
The restaurant at the Carlton George Hotel was at the top of the building. Fantastic. A view across the city with coffee and croissants. I was feeling happy at that, a little sad at our group breaking up. Heather went off to find our transportation parked down at George Square (that was as close to the hotel as we could get due to construction.) I waited for the last of our group and we walked down together. One last load up and we were off to the Glasgow airport. Those ladies unloaded themselves and were off to check in like a well trained militia. We waived goodbye. I don’t think they realized we weren’t coming in. Our driver was taking us to yet another hotel, over in Glasgow’s West End. Heather had another night before her next group would arrive and she’d be off on a new tour. I was heading south to England and a host of exploratory endeavors in Yorkshire. We looked at each other. Then we stepped back on the mini-bus and said to our driver, Ian, “Let’s go.”
I believe that was officially the end of our walking trip to the Outer Hebrides.
And just like that, the dream of a trip was done.
Writing about it for you people is what keeps it alive for me, in words and pictures. But there also remain brief bits in my brain. They surface at unusual times and give me a smile. Susan showing off her lace knitting and making me laugh with her hilarious observations; Jude and Carol dishing on the California towns in which they live; Anne and Annie sitting together on the mini-bus and cracking up over some ridiculous thing one of them has just done; Pat serenely observing the whole lot of us; Harriet and Margaret discussing whether that was or was not the flower shown in their handbook; Colleen knitting her fantastic multi-color shawl; Cheryl basking in her happiness at being in Scotland; Bea looking around at it all and nodding to herself. Great group. Good days. Big sky and sea. Happy sheep. Fantastic food. Lots of learning.
That’s the why of it.