Budapest – the not so glorious aftermath

Did I wake up on the Saturday after the gig feeling like crap? Yes indeed, and I didn’t even have that much of the Weissbier. I also had an incredibly painful knee, face and various other bits, thanks to going full frontal on the tarmac last night. As it were. However! I had planned things so that at least I wasn’t trying to schlep to the airport in this nick, and while it was quite tempting to take a day off from, um, taking my days off, room service can be really antsy if you decide to just sit in your room and draw or work or whatever, even if you do hang up that, Do not disturb, thingie, and besides, I still had lots of things on the list of stuff to see!

Mostly railways, I noticed. It isn’t even me who is into trains, it was my ex, but there they all were. Quite close to each other, too, and one of them was the Children’s Railway, which my best mate had thoroughly recommended. (Run and staffed by children, apparently, so technically… child labour? I mean work experience. They don’t drive the actual train, thank god).

To get there required going up the cogwheel railway, but before that there was a fair amount of faff with getting into town, discovering half the metro was off for repairs, thanking my lucky stars for the city pass, jumping on a bus, another metro, and then a tram, which, when it finally arrived, turned out to have started off from the same damn metro station I had left from originally, like I was trapped on one of those maths problems. Well, I knew my luck had to run out sometime.

I was kinda surprised everything was actually open, it being off season and all. Still, though a glorious day it was cold as anything, and of course I had just missed the cogwheel railway, and of course I had just missed the Children’s Railway, so I ended up mooching about in the middle of nowhere, freezing my fingers off. Thank god for Harry Pokemon, The Phone Game or whatever it’s called. I did see a wee couple happily carrying massive sticks about, for no reason other than that they were there, and in fact the other day in the park near the hotel I saw a wee couple of grandparents with their tiny kid all merrily lathering feck out of each other with some tall reeds that had been chopped down. I could really learn to love living in a place where everyone does that. Shame I suck at languages.

I fancied a go on the chairlift, so I got off the train at what I thought was the right stop, wandered up a steep hill in what I guessed was the right direction, got to a junction (unsignposted), picked what I was now just hoping was the right direction, and kept going. There was nobody at all in sight, the path just kept getting steeper, my knee was screaming agony, and it’s times like these that you have to take a good look at your life and go, Why the hell did I think it would be a great idea to be both hungover and lost in the middle of nowhere?

Also, I had packed nary a provision. Which, well, no need to worry yet, right? You can go without food and water for a day, easy, and there was no way I was going to be lost for longer than that!


It was the right way, however, and when I got to the top of the hill I found the chairlift and everything. I don’t know if I’ve ever gone down a chairlift before? My god, it’s certainly the direction you get the view from though!

And for a blissful ten or so minutes, there was silence, and the scenery slowly passing me by, and I had nary a care in the world, except for what if I fell off. Then it occurred to me I’ve never tried to exit one of these buggers when I’m not on skis, and I spent the last five minutes panicking about being punted in the arse by the thing, possibly taking out other people in the vicinity, getting caught on it and being swung back up the mountain, only to plummet off it as my clothes ripped or something. Then being impaled on one of these cut-off trees I was passing over, no doubt. The headlines would say, “tragedy”, but everyone would know they really meant, “idiot”.

Anyway, so none of that happened. I suppose I should be grateful that all that happened was, I made my way back to civilisation, got on the tram that was supposed to be going to my hotel, got off it again at the river because what the hell? This is at total angles to the right route. I got a metro back to my starting point, tried again on a bus, and watched the very same river stop sail past an hour later. Oh right, it’s one of those “all the way the other way and then back” deals.

Still, I eventually made it back. I also braved the supermarket, got me some sarnies and local beer because I was starving by this point, and shut myself up in my room for the night to hope that was the end of my transport shenanigans.

Alas, it wasn’t.

Getting all my stuff to the airport was going to be more of a faff than getting away from it, because the metro was still off. I knew that, so left ample time for contingencies. What I hadn’t reckoned on, however, was the busses being quite as mobbed as they were. I mean, they were jam packed when they got to the damn stop (is this not the first stop? How can it be?) I watched everyone in front pile on the first one, then the second one, noted how the busses here stop in pretty much the exact same place every time, positioned myself where the back doors of the next bus would open, and resigned myself to a wait.

There were Bus Porters, or whatever they were, however. About five feet tall and about five feet wide apiece, and they were not for me waiting on the next bus at all. They shouted at me. They shouted some more. Then they picked up me, my bags and all, and smooshed me face-first into the crush inside, to the horror of all involved. It took them two attempts to slam the doors shut around my bony arse, that is how packed it was in there, and then we rocketed off, slamming and banging over all the potholes, and I realised if they hadn’t got those doors shut quite properly I was really going to splatter myself all over the tarmac this time.

I did manage to grab a rail, and held on for dear life so hard my arm was agony for a good few hours after.

On arrival back home, it turned out the place had flooded in my absence, or the Edinburgh part of the place anyway. The trams were off, the trains were looking really ropey, and my only remaining chance was one via Glasgow and then back again that was getting more delayed by the minute. I’ve seen that trick before, mateys. You eventually confess you had no intention of running the damn thing in the first place, but only once it’s too late for anyone to do anything else instead. And I have work tomorrow. So I leapt on the intercity, wondered how I was going to make it home from the motorway services, bit the bullet and called my ex.

To my enormous surprise he actually drove out and picked me up. Granted I had to shiver in the rain at the bus stop for about twenty minutes (which was plenty of time to reflect that, while about the same temperature as Budapest, the clammy cold is a far worse kind of cold than the dry, sunny kind), but it was all okay. I was rescued, I was going to be home and warm soon enough.

Well, just the first part actually, because it turned out Caisteal Ialtag na Gaileach was cold and clammy too. Suspiciously so, for a place where the timed heating should only have gone off about five minutes previously.

So, the boiler had this cryptic warning number on it. Since the internet seemed to have given up the ghost in my absence as well, and the signal here is marginal at best, there was rather a lot of trying to get the internet in the rain, from the gatepost, just like when I first moved in. Or, there would have been if me ex didn’t seem to have the sort of magic phone that always has a signal.

Turns out, the boiler feeder tank had run dry. Turns out, that tank is wedged in the top of a cupboard upstairs. Turns out, the ballcock in that tank is bust and that’s why it ran dry. Turns out new ballcocks are pence, but taking apart the entire sodding cupboard, not to mention half this steampunk-esque heating system, to get at the damn thing is going to be considerably more than that.

In the end, I got the boiler working with the aid of a mug (filled from the tap) and a stepladder (allowing me to get the mug up to the tank). Dear god, I am officially living in the Dark Ages.

So. It’s amazing to be home, with the dark and the rain and the damp and the cupboard of pot noodles (hey, no kitchen!) and if I want things to not continue as they are forever and ever amen, it’s time to get the head down and work all the hours possible so I can buy my way out of having to tend the heating system with a mug. Just focus, think of the eventual rewards, and…

Oh feck, there’s no internet. I am DOOMED.

Oh hey, Gloryhammer just announced tour dates in June!

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