Roving Chef, Jane Hughes, faced unexpected obstacles on her way to Vegfest Scotland…
Funnily enough, I had a bad feeling about my trip to Scotland even before I started out. VfL were running the Mature Zone at the country’s very first Vegfest, in Glasgow, December 5 & 6. I was scheduled to deliver two talks and a cookery demonstration. But even as I put the finishing touches to my PowerPoint slides and packed my saucepan and whisk, I had a sense of foreboding.
The first leg of my train journey took me from Manchester to Preston, where I boarded the late-running Glasgow train. High winds meant our speed was restricted for safety reasons, but we made progress.
We ground to a halt close to the top of Shap Fell in Cumbria, with a landslip on the tracks ahead. It was pouring, I’d never seen such floods. Ninety minutes passed while we waited for engineers to clear and approve the track. The buffet coffee machine died. At last, the train was allowed to proceed ‘at walking pace’ – the track ahead was knee-deep in fast-flowing flood water. Any faster and we would have damaged the bed under the tracks – or perhaps brought down another landslip…
We pushed on, but were stuck outside Carlisle station for ages because all the platforms were taken up with abandoned trains.
The buffet sold out of food. By the time we elbowed our way into the station, three and a half hours late, the train crew had used up their allocated hours and had to leave.
As we waited for replacement crew, news came that there were no trains going south. There was no going back. Next came the news that there were landslips ahead on the line going north – no trains were going anywhere.
Gloom descended as we contemplated the dreaded replacement bus service… little did we know that we would end up hoping and praying for a bus, any bus. There were no buses to be had – flooded roads and accidents on the motorway were reported as people resorted to their phones for information.
I sat tight for nearly three more hours, keeping my VfL colleagues posted by text. I missed my first talk slot. Then one bus was announced – going to Preston. I literally made a dash for it. And made it home, very slowly, via the flooded backstreets of Lancaster and with a bus breakdown on the motorway thrown in.
I heard on the news today that many of my fellow passengers weren’t so lucky. They remained on the train, with nowhere else to go. Pizzas were delivered. Then blankets. Night passed. Breakfasts were delivered…
So this is my apology to anybody who was hoping to see me at Vegfest Scotland – I really did try to get there!