Well that was the plan, but finishing things off at work meant I missed that one, and the only run every hour – which would have still got me to York on time, but I could get the intermediate train to Knaresborough which I thought was only about 10-12 miles from York – Plan!
While waiting for the train, all the bad aspects of this plan begin to occur to me – what if I get a puncture and miss the train, but the time I can check the consequences this would entail – a new ticket for £82 – obviously I could still get the 15.29 if I was near a station, but…
No such problems fortunately, though I've by then remembered that rather than a nice ride along a country lane or two, Knaresborough to York is the A59, but at least it’s a fast road – good job too as it turns out the journey’s nearer 18 miles. But the wind’s behind me, and I'm almost to Poppleton by the time my alternative train passes me.
Time to divert from the direct route on the outskirts of York, when I suddenly spot a windmill – turns out to be the Holgate Windmill, in the middle of suburban housing, seems like a good reason to stop for the first photos of the day. The windmill has been fully restored and is operational, though it’s not at work while I'm there.
On to York Station – my train is running late already, and I'm sure my inexpert loading didn't help either. Then there’s a warning that all trains are being delayed between Newcastle and Berwick due to a signalling problem at Chathill – some have been delayed by 2 hours. But first the weather in North Yorkshire suddenly breaks and anyone getting on or off at Northallerton has a vicious hailstorm to deal with.
The Chathill problem seems to have been resolved by the time we get there, but we've already had a delay at Darlington due to a “train spotter in the wrong place on the platform”. I’d never realised that there was a right place for train spotters – anywhere! The delay at Newcastle is because “we’re waiting for an essential member of the train crew”. A few moments later someone in East Coast uniform is spotted jogging towards the front of the train – I guess a driver would be useful.
By the time we cross the border, it’s a beautiful evening, and the train is hurrying along non-stop from Alnmouth to Edinburgh, at last befitting its “Flying Scotsman” livery.
Edinburgh's weather, however, disappoints - it's been raining, and there's still drizzle in the air. Off the train and to the Prince's Street steps exit - now I'd never have tried to get a laden bike up those steps, but with the remodelling, I'd assumed there would be a lift - I think there is going to be one - something distinctly lift-like posed behind tape - so it had to be the escalators, a bit like hard work - but not when you compare it to the stairs...
Down Leith Walk, surface still bad, so head for Easter Road at the earliest opportunity, and am soon at Leith Links and find the Mackenzie GH where I'm staying. First impressions are good (full verdict after breakfast!)
Then it's off to SMWS Vaults, and I'm immediately introduced to an amazing first fill sherry 11yo Glen Moray, 35.91, it says it's ex-sherry on the bottle, but when you nose it and taste it, sherry does not come to mind - and it tastes nothing like the 35.86, same age, same cask type. 35.86 is a good dram - little too much sherry influence for me, but 35.91 has none of that sherry, and lots of fruit and marzipan instead. Dean suggests a Springbank to follow - not a recent one but the 27.70 - well balanced smoke. quickly glossing over my role in getting the card machine drunk, we move hastily on to a mystery dram, which tastes very strange immediately after the Springbank - perhaps it's the too very contrasting smoky styles that produce this effect, but a few more sips and it has to be a Caol Ila - 53.182 in fact. They actually work well together after you get used to them. Then a taste of the 35.86 mentioned above, and another comparative sip of 35.91 from fellow whisky and cycling enthusiast, Mike (who's also the SMWS Chef), which confirms the views set out above about the two drams.
I'll finish with a G10.1 - or not as they have none left (I've got one at home, so no bother) and unusually I decide I must have more of the same - it's too good not to have more 35.91.
Getting ready to leave and @CompassBoxLili walks through the door, so Dean persuades me into a G4.3 with ice! well I went for G4.3 and he suggested the ice. It works surprisingly well, until the end when the ice has dilute the whisky too much.
Meanwhile they've been clearing the member's room for a big food event tomorrow - have you seen the Vaults' Members Room cleared of furniture - well now you can. (I think that's probably a better way of putting it than my initial suggestion of naked Members' Room, which conjures up all the wrong images...