OVER THE BORDER
The night at the services went alright. There were lorries coming and going and some running generators but not as disturbing as you might imagine, though I probably didn't drop off till quite late. Then at about midnight a huge refrigerated lorry pulled up and it was ok for an hour or so till the main generator cut in. It was about as noisy as those ones at the fairs that run the big rides, around about the decibel level of the the dust cart when it is loading. Fortunately he must have been on a statutory break and didn’t stay all that much longer
It threw it down with rain all night long and the wind was howling, and I thought perhaps we had gotten it all over with, but after a brightish start the rain came back, though certainly not as heavy as during the night. I decided to have a cooked breakfast to last me through the day. Mum was a great one for proper meals and as children we never left the house without a hot breakfast of some description. Of course as soon as I was old enough I never ate breakfast again - How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child - as Shakespeare's Mother probably said, but in the spirit of my new life I had two rashers of Waitrose's Best Smoked, and two poached eggs – one from Sally's birds and one from some of my home bred pullets given to Dawn who helped me with the endless cleaning at The Grange. I have to say my birds laid the slightly better egg, but then I would think that wouldn't I! I also had two slices of toast cooked on my new camping toaster, but have decided I will need to learn to live without toast unless I like breakfast accompanied by the piecing bleep of the smoke alarm.
Then off up the motorway again, though as I have a day in hand I will take the coast route up to Ayr. Phoebe, though nervous when we first started out yesterday (I think because of my tension) had soon settled to the journey. But this morning as soon as we started she tried to escape – winding herself in the lead connecting her travel harness to the safety belt. I pulled over at the next services mainly because I intended to fill up with autogas and also Strict Lady was refusing to speak to me again.
I tried to calm Phoebe but to little avail, and had a similar success with Strict Lady. So walked over to the office to ask where the autogas was and if someone could help if I got stuck. The two boys in charge – about eighteen years old each said they weren't allowed – though I would doubt they would have known how anyway. I looked at the reversing I would need to do and the tight entrance and exit – arranged for cars rather than trucks and decided to take my luck further on. As we started off Phoebe was once again in panic mode.
I was at a loss as to what I could do to calm her and we were on the motorway in anycase so there was little could actually be done.
Strict Lady sprang into life again, and I realised that she assumed as I was on the motorway and heading in the right direction nothing need be said. I think she and I will get along well once we know each other's ways. We turned off the motorway and headed up the A75. Although it is reasonably tight for me, I was feeling more confident by the mile. There were lots of parking pull-ins so I stopped frequently to sort Phoebe's harness and try to sooth her. Eventually I realised it was the windscreen wipers which were causing the terror. So we had a long discussion about them which involved me putting my hand and head against the windscreen whilst they swept past. Slightly calmed, but certainly not fully we continued on our journey, though I broke again as often as I was able – she is an old girl and I don't want her distressed if it can be helped.
The countryside as one drove on from Carlisle was pretty boring and flat, really a bit sad I thought, especially after the lovely run up from Lancashire and past the Lake District, but breasting a rather small incline the view suddenly opened out to a truly beautiful panorama. I wish I could have stopped to have a good look and maybe take some photos, though with such views photos can never do real justice, but the road had no pull-ins and Phoebe is no good with the camera.
A little later we passed Cardoness Castle – though the sign by it said Gatehouse of Fleet which I think would have been a far more appropriate name for this 15th C ruined castle with four turrets outlined against the sky atop its immensely high walls and standing proud on a rocky outcrop well wooded with those mysterious damply grey oaks of Scotland interspersed with Scots Pine and other conifers. I wished I was an artist – the weak sun had again come through to subtlety highlight everything against the dark blue-black rain filled sky, and the whole scene was eminently worthy of a good painting – to me it will always be The Gatehouse of Fleet. Once again there was no chance of stopping, but I found a photo on the free commons bit of Wikipedia and have attached it at the bottom. When I am more used to Thebus I will be better equipped to grasp such opportunities, but it is early days in my travelling as yet and I am not sure of myself or him. But I have dispensed with both the cushion, and adjusted the seat to a more relaxed position, plus I am holding the steering wheel with a normal grip. Progress is definitely being made.
On one of my earlier stops I had checked for autogas supplies enroute, and though there were almost none it looked as though there was a station only a couple of miles out of our way so I decided to head for that and get everything completely filled up. Although it was an A road it was very narrow in parts with lots of bollards on central reservations – in a car you are not aware of how close those are. I know they are “traffic calming” but they certainly have the opposite effect on my nerves
We made it to the fuel station, which was a quite small and tight, and a rather busy one. Asking at the shop they pointed out the pump and when I said if I got stuck would someone help me they volunteered “Ian from the back” He duly came out and was very obliging though was fairly well rewarded when the total bill was £225.40 !!! We didn't even fill the petrol tank but stopped after he had put in about 120 litres, and the fuel for the living part was almost completely full before we started. The girl on the tills said it was the biggest amount she had ever taken in one fill-up.
I had to do a u-ey to get back out with a car waiting to come in and a lorry backed up behind. It tested my current skills to the limit, but we did it and got back to our correct road. During the detour Strict Lady was completely silent – perhaps she is used to lorry drivers going 'off piste' or words to that effect, when it suits them, but she sprung back to life again once she recognised the road.
I had intended to stop at a caravan park near Stranraer tonight, but it didn’t sound exciting and the only thing on offer was electric hookup for about £17 so suitably “tanked up” I thought I might look for somewhere to just park up. Apparently this is allowed in Scotland. And not long after my first glimpse of the Scottish sea (I don't know why but it is very different to the English sea) there was quite a big pull in overlooking what is I presume is a coastal inlet, so I am parked up and will “wild camp” tonight then drive on towards Burns Cottage tomorrow.
Julie back at home had found my camera lead and sent it on so I may try and download some piccies later on. I have had a nice meal of haddock and prawns cooked with samphire and mange tout all done in the microwave which still works once the generator is running. I did see a Smokehouse, and would have liked to stop, but it wasn’t well signed and by the time I had seen it I was nearly past, plus it was on the wrong side of the road. I am looking forward to trying as much of the local food as I can, so far I am eating what I have brought with me. But it is useful having such a good big fridge and sensible size freezer.
Phoebe has had her supper and is peacefully asleep in her new bed. She is probably very tired after such a stressful day. I hope she doesn’t have windscreen wiper nightmares.
View of the sea from our Scottish lay-by
Phoebe's First View of the Sea
Sunset from the Side Window this Evening
Phoebe Relaxed at Last