After an enormous breakfast of smoked salmon and roast potatoes – some of which I had to put back in the fridge because I simply couldn’t manage it all – I caught the train south. My travelling companions were TPR, a teenage Perthshire schoolgirl and her 5 year old sister heading for Heathrow airport with a sack of potatoes and several large bottles of milk, and a tall Rwandan man in his early twenties.
I had met the Rwandan before when we had shared a commentating job at a recent sports event. I was pleased to see him again. Indeed TPR and I got on with him so well that when we reached Berwick-upon-Tweed TPR and I left the train to take up of his offer of a lift for the rest of the journey south. At the time we didn’t appreciate that his mode of transport was horse and carriage, nor that we would be stopping off at every tourist attraction along the route to London.
The first destination was the Holy Island of Lindisfarne. It was bad enough that we would be interrupting our journey to cross the causeway and see the sights. Worse still, our driver felt obliged to access the island on foot. He unhitched the beautiful black horse from the carriage and led it over the sand dunes. TPR and I followed, carrying all our belongings for fear that they would be stolen from the carriage if it were left unguarded. Our driver walked at a terrific pace, and we soon lost him. Poor TPR struggled even to keep up with me due to blisters from his new shoes.
By the time we reached the island, and its new visitor centre which charged for access to the village, our driver had disappeared completely. His horse was tethered to a tree in the distance, but he was gone forever.