Day 1 - Sunday 2nd December

Journey to Dumfries

Please Note: The views expressed in this blog are not necessarily those of Scottish Book Trust and, quite frankly – now we come to think of it – we suspect some of the 'facts' contained within it are downright lies. Thank you.

To the airport

The first leg of my journey to Dumfries was the walk from my front door to the Bentley which had already been filled with my luggage by the old Ardagh family retainer, Ricketts. I had hoped that he might carry me the short distance down the steps and across the gravelled drive but he'd already pulled a muscle carrying the valise with my beard care and coiffure products, so I had to make the eleven strides myself.

The drive to the North Terminal at Gatwick Airport was uneventful and I was able to sit in the back and relax, looking at photos of myself on my mobile phone. I had hoped that my personal assistant (retired Head Teacher) Dotty Hendrix might accompany me, but the first Sunday of the month is when I have her count and number all my paperclips.

Ricketts had little problem parking at the Drop-Off Point and wheeling my cases in one trolley and me in another to the Check-In and Bag Drop-Off area, at which point I sent him away.

In the departure lounge, I was told that I would be met by 'Ted' who'd be easily identified by his green uniform and would accompany me to my plane. He wasn't quite what I'd been expecting...

Ted and Philip

Up in the air

Once on board, everyone in business class pretended not to recognise me, as if I believed that for one moment. Ha!

Edinburgh and Beyond

I was met at Edinburgh Airport by Michael and Beth from Scottish Book Trust, who showed me to the Ardaghmobile which we'll be using to get from A to B or -- as they say in Scotland "from A to B" -- over the next six days.

We then sped through landscapes which went from green to a smattering of snow to full Ice Road Truckers conditions before you could say, "Do you really know how to drive this thing?" and "Can you steer back onto the road, please?"

The Ardaghmobile on the move Into the unknown
The Ardaghmobile on the move, into the unknown

Most of this stuff is mine
Most of this stuff is mine

The hotel in Dumfries has proved to be very nice indeed, as did the dinner we had there this evening. Beth under-dressed -- I think those were clothes she was wearing -- whereas Michael overdressed. I felt guilty for sitting on his top hat, but he was most understanding. It transpires that he originally came from Arizona and Beth from Hull (which, I'm told is somewhere in North-ish England). Neither is Scottish, therefore. I have made a note of this in my ledger.

I very much look forward to tomorrow's start of the tour.

Read Philip's blog on Day 2 here.