John Pargiter and I have organised a 10 day trip to Scotland to see the Open, enjoy the luxury of Gleneagles and the art museums of Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Alice (Mansfield), Daffers and Tom (Hollingsworth) and dear old Bob Tickler make up the Rust party.
I had booked 1st class tickets to Scotland east coast on the London North East Rail line (LNER) in advance, these reasonably priced at £75 each way.
However the days of romantic rail travel to Scotland are long gone. This was clinical business travel.
The 1st class Lounge at Kings Cross had no alcohol refreshment nor snacks and Bob ‘lost it’ when initially denied entrance as you were only admitted 2 hours before your journey.
As Bob pointed out, if the trains ran on time we would not need to arrive so early.
Then he had difficulties in working the barrier with his ticket on his mobile. We had all better learn fast as rail tickets will soon only be on mobiles.
We found our seats with no help from LNER and – immediately on discovering Pargie was going to the Open – a talkative passenger opposite name-dropped that Jack Nicklaus was a family friend.
I soon realised the poor woman was batty, as did her husband, who regularly reproached her with “You have made your point”.
The self-appointed expert on all things Open gloomily warned that, because of the crowds and heat, it would be impossible to enjoy the Open and therefore she will be watching it on SKY, an unlikely member of the “Watch it on TV” set.
Her company really was bad luck and a unfortunate start.
I was unsure of how best to get to St. Andrews and my question whether Leuchars was the best station drew from her a lengthy reply of little help, namely, we should think about a helicopter from Dundee.
As it happened an obese passenger with her partner across the aisle had been a student at St Andrews and was more helpful despite being peppered with interruptions from the elderly lady.
It was not all bad, though, as from Berwick on Tweed the scenery is breathtaking as the train hugs the coast.
As we passed the Raith Rovers ground Tom Hollingsworth pointed out that this was the team of the great Jim Baxter and the not-so-great Gordon Brown.
Thankfully, the old lady got off at Edinburgh and at Leuchars there were taxis to take us to the David Russell Apartments on the St Andrews campus where we were billeted.
Others attending the Open were staying there, not least a big blond man in his fifties at the entrance who Pargie recognised as John Daly, the 1995 winner at St. Andrews.
The accommodation – if basic – and about the standard of a Premier Inn – was fine.
St Andrews is not big and best to stay in situ than travel in.
Daffers wondered if William and Kate conducted their romance in the David Russell student block.
As we had started at 10.00am from Brighton station it was a long and tiring day but – despite all the forebodings of the elderly passenger – we had made it but it was a case of early retirement to bed.