Despite my stomach bug, I still love Scotland. I was inspired to make this video with pictures from 2016 and 2012.
I mentioned in prior posts that we meant to head to Stoke on Trent the day our cruise ended. I didn’t plan for getting a stomach bug. Sometimes your best laid plans don’t work out and by the time we reached Glasgow after our messy ride in a taxi cab, I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go anywhere in England that evening. Our cab driver dropped us off at the Hertz rental car office near the Glasgow Central Train Station.
Let me just say that both the cab driver and the folks at Hertz were just wonderful to deal with. I looked like I had been run over by a truck and felt even worse. I had a bag of soiled clothes (explained on my main blog) that needed to be disposed of and a sour look on my face. My stomach was cramping; I had diarrhea; and probably stank of shit and vomit. But they all treated me with great kindness and compassion and for that, I am very grateful.
Bill explained to the folks at Hertz that we needed to delay our rental for a day because I needed to go to bed. The manager of the Hertz office took one look at me and concurred, then helped us book a hotel room at the Hallmark Hotel, a place just around the corner. One of his co-workers drove us to the hotel; the Hertz guy had even tried to haggle the price on our behalf (that old Scot thriftiness at work). Unfortunately, the Hertz guy had booked us using his phone, so he got the dates wrong. They didn’t have a record of our booking and there were no standard rooms left. We ended up paying a lot for our one night stay in a mediocre hotel. At the time I didn’t really care much, though. I just wanted to go to bed. Besides making me erupt from every orifice, the virus also made me very sleepy.
We were on the first floor, but I barely made it up there even using the elevator. Once we got into the room, I decided to take a shower. The only towels in the bathroom were hair towels. I didn’t care. I turned on the water and sat down in the tub while the water came down on me. And then I hurled again.
Once I was finished cleaning up, I crawled into bed and fell asleep. Bill went out to find me fluids and ended up at the Glasgow Central Train Station, where new cruise passengers were waiting like we were the week prior. He came back with Milk of Magnesia and very strong ginger beer. I didn’t try the Milk of Magnesia, since I read that it was a laxative and I sure as hell didn’t need one of those. Later, he went out and got me some Coke and 7Up, then took himself to dinner while I snoozed. He also emailed the folks at the Shawgate Farm Guest House in Foxt, which is where I had originally booked us.
Our room at Shawgate Farm Guest House.
The toilet and shower were a little tricky.
I’m pleased to say that I felt a whole lot better the next morning, though I still had stomach cramps and diarrhea. Bill walked to the Hertz office and came back with a nice car for us. The manager had upgraded us to a larger car with an automatic transmission and even took off 35 GBP because of the hotel error. We were blown away by and grateful for how kind he was to us. If we ever need another rental car in Glasgow, he will definitely get our business.
Once we checked out of the hotel, Bill set about driving on the left for the first time. I think we were both surprised that he handled it seamlessly. It took several hours to get to our hotel near Stoke. As long as we were there in time to see Avenue Q at the Regent Theatre, all would be okay. Driving from Scotland to England gave me an odd sense of deja vu. At times, I felt like I was on either I-95 or I-81 in Virginia. It’s easy to see why my family ended up settling there once they left the British Isles.
Shawgate Farm Guest House…
Our lodging near Stoke turned out to be further away from the city than I’d originally realized. It took awhile to get there, mainly due to us getting to town as school was letting out. It was interesting to see all the kids walking home alone or with their parents. One little girl looked upset as she handed her dad a note. Maybe it was from her teacher?
Kids coming home from school.
I saw a cheeky ad for a hand car wash. Its slogan was “Best hand job in town.” Sex sells.
Our hostess at the Shawgate Farm Guest House was a pretty lady named Nina who had a five month old infant. She lit up when we told her we live in Germany. It turns out she is German and hails from Frankfurt. She showed us to our room with its charming canopy bed and bidet. The Shawgate Farm Guest House also had lots of mama sheep outside, guarding their babies. I got a kick out of how they all bravely came forward, bleating at us indignantly, even though we were well behind the fence and were no threat to their lambs.
These were some protective mama sheep!
We ended up skipping dinner because we didn’t really have time to eat and I still had no appetite. But we did get “blue boxes” at the theater, which offered snacks and cheap wine. I drank one cup of wine and gave the other to Bill.
Avenue Q was fabulous! I related to it on many levels. Not only is it a wickedly funny show, especially for overeducated housewives like me, it’s also got kind of a nice moral to it. We’re reminded that tough times don’t last. At the end of the show, they even threw in a hilarious reference to Donald Trump. We also ended up with front row seats, which was awesome. For once, I didn’t have a tall person sitting in front of me. I had been worried about parking and it was a bit of a challenge until Bill found a nearby parking garage. Then he spent several stressful minutes trying to figure out how to park and pay.
Our view of the stage.
Our breakfast at the guest house was very good, though I was still a little fragile and could barely manage half of it.
On another day, this would have been awesome!
I wish we could have spent the second night at the B&B. Though Stoke is not a very pretty town, the B&B is located in a lovely rural area. It would have been nice to take a couple of walks around there. They only charged us half of the first night’s rate, because they couldn’t rebook it due to our late cancellation. I wasn’t expecting them to give us a break and really appreciated it. Not all innkeepers are that understanding.
Unfortunately, Bill started showing symptoms of the virus early Thursday morning, so we beat a hasty retreat and made our way to the town of Watton in Norfolk. We would be staying there for three nights so I could explore Mildenhall, the town where I lived when I was very young and where my first memories were formed.