Our last day together in Scotland was spent mostly in St Andrews, but before leaving Dunkeld we visited The Hermitage, a valley with what is meant to be Britain’s tallest tree (among many other tall trees). The bridge across the creek was closed due to a landslide, so you couldn’t get across to the tree itself, but we could get photos from across the creek.
Then we headed across to the east coast and down to St Andrews, which is probably best known as the town where Prince William went to university and met Kate Middleton. (What are we actually meant to call her now? Catherine? Kate? The duchess? Duchess Catherine?) Christine took us to Bibi’s Cafe where she had her amazing hot chocolate a few months ago, but because it was a warmer day we went for the milkshake version. It was terrible. I don’t know how you can get a milkshake so wrong. I think it must have been made on fat-free milk because it tasted like milky water (even with the piles of cream on top that I stirred in), and the chocolate was so weak it was like some cocoa powder had sneezed on it but never actually made it into the glass. It was also half full of marshmallows. Some marshmallows on top of the cream are ok… half filling the glass with marshmallows instead of real milk, or even ice-cream, is not. At least the chocolates on top of the cream were good. After that we went and found a pub with real food (not just salads and paninis like the cafe had) for lunch.
After lunch we visited St Andrew’s cathedral (or the remains of it, anyway) and the castle, which was very interesting, as it played a part during the reformation when John Knox was sheltered there before he was arrested. You can still walk through one of the tunnels built while the castle was under seige during the reformation.
After spending the afternoon in St Andrews, it was time to head back to Dundee to drop Christine back home. We did a load of laundry, had a shower and ate dinner at her place before setting off (a bit later than we’d intended!) towards Stirling so that we could return the camper as early as possible the next morning. We found the Witches Craig Caravan Park at about 9.30pm, which was able to take our payment that night, because we had to be gone before their office opened the next morning.
First thing the next morning we packed and cleaned up the van and headed into town to return it. Our contact, Tommy, was there and offered to give us a lift to the train station which was awesome, because even though it wasn’t far away we were in a hurry. Getting to the train on time was our only concern; once on the train we would get to Edinburgh in plenty of time to catch our flight.
The flight back to London was fine; I don’t remember what food we got but BA always gives you pretty good food. We then had about 5 hours in Heathrow Airport where Andre’s parents came to visit us for a while as they were back in London after the end of their tour. We had a bag full of souvenirs, guidebooks, roadmaps, scarves etc that we didn’t need for Turkey which they took home for us.
About 3/4 of an hour before our plane was due to leave (which was meant to be 5:50pm), Andre’s parents left and we went back through security to find our gate. They didn’t have a gate listed yet so we sat around a bit, found somewhere to charge the tablet and waited. And waited. Half an hour before the plane was meant to leave (and when boarding was meant to have started), there was still no gate listed. We found a BA customer service desk and asked them. The lady had just looked up the same flight for another person and told me they had only just confirmed it was Gate 21, so we headed to Gate 21. About 3 other people were there and our flight wasn’t even listed on the screen. We sat down and waited some more. A few more people turned up, and the screen on our gate eventually displayed the flight number. Someone went to chat with an employee (I couldn’t tell if they worked for BA or the airport) and I overheard words like ‘delayed’ and ‘7 o’clock’. Seriously? I thought. It’s been delayed, nobody’s been told and it’s not even listed as delayed on the departures screens?
After maybe another ten minutes the screen at our gate finally said ‘Delayed – Boarding 18.40’ or something similar. Well, just perfect. We didn’t even need to come back through security so early, we would get into Istanbul even later at night, and we couldn’t find anywhere near our gate to keep charging the tablet. I had a headache from lack of sleep the night before and not drinking enough water, everywhere in the airport only sold mineral water which is gross (what is with the UK’s obsession with mineral water??) and we were hungry as we should have been on the plane and served dinner by now, but there wasn’t quite enough time for a sit-down meal in one of the airport cafes. I contemplated buying sandwiches but then thought I probably wouldn’t want the meal we’d be served on the plane.
Well, eventually we got on our plane. At first they only served us a drink and snack and I was ready to hit the roof because it was past 7pm and we were starving and this is an INTERNATIONAL flight on BRITISH AIRWAYS and they had BETTER give us a proper meal! Fortunately BA didn’t let us down and the snack was just to keep us going until they could get the hot meals prepared and served. One roast meal (with banoffee cheesecake!) later we felt much better and even managed to get some sleep.