Sunday, 19 December 2010

Never travel with Northern Kayaker!

After my adventures getting home from Inverness a few weeks ago, last week I headed down to London for the biennial NSGG Recent Work in Archaeological Geophysics meeting.  I presented a poster about the Ring of Brodgar and got to catch up with folk.  Archaeological geophysics is a small world so there were lots of people there who I had studied and/or worked with or indeed studied and/or worked for.  There were some great talks and papers and it was great to see the two guys I did my masters with – just like old times!

We set off from Heathrow on Thursday afternoon and were due home in the evening…..  We made it as far as Edinburgh Airport.  The current bad weather in Britain came straight in from the Arctic and hit the Northern Isles first.  Everything at Kirkwall was delayed and then, inevitably, our flight was cancelled.  This was beginning to sound familiar…..

Once again, Mr Flybe accommodated us (in the Borg Cube) and we were to return to the airport in the morning.

IMGP0093 Borg Cube (Dakota Edinburgh)

We went to the airport in the morning and waited.  Kirkwall airport was open and we were hopeful.  Our plane was in Kirkwall so we had to wait for it to come down before we could go home.  We waited.  The weather closed in in Kirkwall……  About midday, once again our flight was cancelled.  Chaos ensued.  After a little bit of negotiation, we returned to the Borg Cube.IMGP0100  Inside the Borg Cube

It was early afternoon so in the daylight I could see where we were – South Queensferry on the southern bank of the Forth by the bridges.  After lunch, I took a walk down to the town. IMGP0079 The Forth Road Bridge and Forth Bridge.

The Forth Bridge opened in 1890, with the Forth Road Bridge opening in 1964.

IMGP0098 A We-no-naa canoe?  Sorry Mackayak, it wouldn’t fit in my case! 

After another night in the Borg Cube, it was time for Plan B.  The boat from Aberdeen.  Off we set the next morning by taxi to Dalmeny train station,  where we caught a train to Inverkeithing and another to Dundee.  All was fine until just outside Aberdeen where the train developed a ‘technical fault’ (the brakes froze).  About 3 hours later, we arrived in a bitter Aberdeen and took a taxi to the ferry (it would have been quicker to walk!).

IMGP0109 Train (I love trains but we have none on Orkney!)

After the 7 hour boat journey, we arrived in Kirkwall.  I spent most of the journey curled up and trying to avoid developing sea sickness….  The boat was due to arrive at 11pm but we were told it was running a little late.  We all waited patiently to disembark but were told that there was a little trouble docking due to swell….  For a few horrible minutes, we thought we were all going to Shetland!  Eventually, the boat managed to tie up but the passenger gangway could not be connected.  We had to wait for the cars to come off before MV Hrossey spilled foot passengers from its gut.

hrossey                                                               Disembarking from the Hrossey (Peter Fay)

Finally, I arrived home, 43 and half hours late!

There was only one problem…. my car was still at the airport.  As soon as I walked into the airport, all the planes were cancelled!

IMGP0133  Shovelling

   IMGP0148  Oh dear. Airport closes again.

The moral of this story:  Never travel on a plane with NK!

Next journey: Orkney to Inverness by ferry and car.  Wish me luck!

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