We went past it twice a day during the Edinburgh Book Festival. We go past it whenever we travel between Edinburgh and Stirling. I’m about to get pretty close to it today.
Some time recently someone in the family wondered if perhaps it was time soon for me to get off the train and have a look. I replied that as a matter of principle I didn’t think I ever would. Or at least not yet.
I don’t feel ready.
Back in the infancy of InterRailing the witch-to-be InterRailed every year, starting the first time it was possible to do so. The second year, when she was 17, the turn came to Britain and especially Scotland. I had never been to Scotland. I was a little disappointed not to find tall mountains as soon as the train crossed the border near Berwick. (I had been misinformed. Not all of Scotland was built like the Alps. Just as Sweden doesn’t have snow all year round. Actually.)
But School Friend and I liked Edinburgh. The youth hostel was great, and so comfortable and such good value that we decided to base ourselves there, and just use the InterRail pass to make day trips. A poster we saw at Waverley station showed the Palace in Linlithgow. It looked nice. We decided to day trip to this conveniently placed town, just west of Edinburgh.
We got on a train. It was soon time to get off again, so we got up to get off. Except, we didn’t get off, because we couldn’t. This was back in 1973 and the British Rail (oh, the nostalgia in writing that!) rolling stock used had doors at each end of the coaches. Doors with no door handles. The instructions on the door said that to open it we had to press and pull down (the window, it seemed).
No amount of pressing and pulling got us anywhere. (These days passengers are always getting off at Linlithgow. Just our luck that we were all alone.) I lie. We got somewhere. The train started up with us still on it, and we went to the next station which in those days was Falkirk.
We managed to get off there. Looked at the area surrounding the station and came to the conclusion it wasn’t up to much, and quickly crossed to the other platform and went back to Edinburgh, where we sat on the grass in Princes Street Gardens for the rest of the day.
I have still not been to Linlithgow. I know how to get off trains these days, but somehow it feels as if I’d be letting the side down by getting out and looking at the Palace. It’s bound not to be very interesting. Isn’t it?
(This rather boring blog post was brought to you by the witch meeting up with one of her readers – Che – at the launch for Bloodstone in August. After I tried to kill her by having her run across a busy road to catch up with us getting into the taxi she was to share, Che was travelling to Linlithgow. Well, I suppose someone has to.)