Princes Street in Edinburgh may be a famous street, but the new trams haven’t improved it, with their unsightly poles and wires everywhere.
The biggest problem is crossing from one side to the other, as there aren’t enough crossings and you have to walk up and down between them to get across. I mentioned this to the young lady, who gave me the directions for the Kelpies and she said the trams had made it worse for some reason. I had wanted to cross to a Tesco to get my copy of The Times, but by the time I got to the crossing it had become blocked by buses. No wonder Scots seem to jaywalk much more than us Sassanachs. It’s the only way they can get across.
I then saw a Marks and Spencer on the other side, so as I knew they had papers and gluten-free sandwiches, I decided to give them a try.
Firstly, I had to walk back about a hundred metres to find a crossing.
Then, I couldn’t find any gluten-free sandwiches, as they’d already sold out at nine in the morning. But then there is no other shop selling gluten-free food near the station.
So I thought I’d try the Marks and Spencer in the station on my way to the Kelpies at Falkirk.
But they didn’t have any either. I have complained.
So I bought my paper and hoped I could find something in Falkirk.
I went up to the Commonwealth Games on the 08:30 Virgin out of Euston arriving on time at 13:01 give or take a minute or so.
The best thing about going Virgin before 09:00, is that you get a proper breakfast, which includes a gluten-free option. I had plenty of tea, some delicious scrambled egg and smoked salmon and a glass of juice.
I didn’t get my gluten-free roll though!
As I was meeting someone in Glasgow, who’d come through from Edinburgh, I could have gone up with East Coast and then across to Glasgow with her.
But it would have meant an earlier start and I had to see the builders.
I think it’s true to say that if you’re going to Glasgow or Edinburgh from London, it’s probably better to go direct. But even so, the distance between the two big Scottish cities isn’t great, with the fastest trains taking between fifty minutes and an hour.
So as Virgin run twenty trains a day up the West Coast and East Coast run eighteen and the fastest trains take about the same four hours sand a bit, it’s very much a case of you pays your money and takes your choice.
The only certain thing is that in the next few years, train routes between England and Glasgow and Edinburgh will gain more capacity and will get faster.
As an example, over the last year, Transpennine Express has introduced new faster Class 350 electric trains to and from Manchester. I thought I heard several northern families in Glasgow, who looked like day trippers up for the Games.
So is this illustrative of how fast, comfortable, high-capacity railways change our lives?
The biggest changed will be Network Rail moving to in-cab signalling, which will allow running over 200 kph on both the West and East Coast Main Lines. This could bring the journey time from London to Scotland much closer to the magic four hours, using the current trains.
When I went to Edinburgh recently by easyJet, security problems meant that I took five and a half hour from my home to Edinburgh city centre. So a four hour journey will be fast enough to give the planes a run for their money. But not everybody goes between London and the major Scottish cities and possibly the biggest beneficiaries of a faster service will be those who have easy access to intermediate stations like York, Peterborough, Preston and Carlisle.
The biggest problem will be track and train capacity on the East and West Coast routes. On the West Coast, there will probably be a further increase in the Class 390 fleet and on the East Coast the Class 800 and 801 are coming.
As with so much on Britain’s railways, the elephant-in-the-room is freight, which is increasing substantially. So will we see extra routes and tracks opened up to held the freight through, just like we have with the GNGE between Doncaster and Peterborough via Lincoln. Of course, we will!
Perhaps, in Scotland, we might even see the return of freight to a Waverley line extended to Carlisle.
Then there is the Edinburgh Glasgow Improvement Program, a project that seems to have lost its way a bit recently. But the main aim of getting about a dozen services every hour between Edinburgh and Glasgow, with some taking just over half-an-hour must be a goal for Scotland.
This was my lunch today.
The baguette was from Marks and Spencer and was just warmed through in the oven, before filling with bacon.
I can’t remember, when I last had a baguette that was this acceptable. If it looks small, it’s because there was another bit, that I’d already eaten before the photo was taken.
This new Marks and Spencer’s product certainly makes it easier to cope with a visitor, who needs gluten-free food.
I bought a pack of Marks and Spencer’s gluten-free cheese crackers today.
Here’s the front and back of the packet.
The back with the ingredients is interesting as it says they are a potato based snack with Gouda cheese.
These pictures show the gluten-free salt-beef sandwich I’ve just made using Marks and Spenver’s brown, seeded gluten-free loaf, some slices of salt beef and a tomato.
It is not the best sandwich I’ve ever made. I made that a few minutes earlier and it was so good, I just had to make another.
This gluten-fee loaf is really the best, I’ve ever tasted and it makes superb toast too!
I went here for dinner, as I really didn’t think I could stand the hotel food.
They had a gluten-free menu and I had some excellent lamb.
But why was it served on a plate like a piece of guttering?
Incidentally, the restaurant had whale on the gluten-free menu. I didn’t partake!
One thing that can be said for Rejkjavik is that there is no problem finding a restaurant if you’re coeliac
I had a good supper in a restaurant called Tapas House, by the harbour in Reykjavik.
The starter was smoked guillemot, which was followed by fish. There was no problems about it all being gluten-free
I used to eat a lot of Ryvita with a decent marmalade spread on it. So today, I tried some Tiptree Marmalade on some Free’d crispbread.
It was very nice, but it was just a little bit messy! So it should probably be eaten with a serviette handy!
Both are new London companies.
Does this say that it is easier to start a business in London or there is more demand in London for gluten-free products, because of a possible large number of people going gluten-free for lifestyle rather than health reasons?
Well not really biscuits, but something to dip into hummus, cream cheese or act as a base for a snack.
I haven’t had a choice since I was diagnosed as a coeliac. Pre then, I used to like Ryvita with butter and marmalade on it.
Now I can try it again!
Both biscuits are delicious.
Obviously, the one on the left is from Marks and Spencer and the Free’d is available in the deli in the village. At present Free’d only seems to be available in London, although the product is made in the green hills of Derbyshire.