When my wife’s Scottish relatives organized a family event to take place on the 30th of October, I am sure they had no idea it would fall on the weekend of the COP26 kick-off. Likewise, when we accepted the invitation, we had no idea we would be heading into Glasgow along with 20,000 foreign dignitaries, negotiators, staff members, reporters, hangers on and protesters. If we had, we might have booked a table at Ask, fearing that it would be too crowded to get a seat there, even at one o’clock in the afternoon.
As it was, we didn’t have a problem. We arrived in Glasgow ahead of the crowd and managed to avoid going through Glasgow on the way back to the airport.
(Yes, we flew up to Glasgow for a 2-hour gathering, flying up on the Friday, staying for Saturday, and flying home on the Sunday, during the initial weekend of a summit on climate change. Don’t judge us.)
Frankly, flying up seemed a silly thing to do but it turned out to be, not only the best option, but the only option. I might have driven up if I had fancied spending ten hours driving up to Scotland, only to turn around and spend another ten hours driving back to Sussex. Or we could have taken the train if we had fancied spending seven hours sitting in a carriage only to turn around and spend seven more hours sitting in a carriage. However, in my view, this was not a bad option, because I could at least take a nap or have a beer, things my wife frowns on me doing while I am driving. Alas, the train companies put a damper on that idea when we found tickets from Sussex to Glasgow cost about £200. Each. That’s £400 just to go to Scotland for the day. Flying was cheaper, and quicker.
Due to COP26, we spent only a little time in Glasgow before heading up to our accommodation in Helensburgh (pronounced: Helensboro, not Helensburg; who knew?) That was closer to where the event was to be held and farther away from Joe and BoJo and the rest of the gang. We booked a flat through AirBnB, a company I was a bit sceptical of, though I have been thoroughly converted. Booking is quick and easy, and the accommodations are well appointed. In my view, it’s better than a hotel, being, as it is, an entire flat or house that you can pretend is your second home for the duration.
This particular flat was located right on the loch, with spectacular views, and a lovely coastal walk just across the street. The entranceway looked like a place you might lure someone to murder them, but the rest of the town was picturesque, with a variety of shops and unfailingly friendly people who, I am sure, wouldn’t dream of murdering you.
We had a nice—though very short—time there, and at the event, where we caught up with people we hadn’t seen in years. Then it was time to return to the airport, where we learned that taking a polluting jet plane to a climate conference had been the correct choice. The weather was so bad in the rest of the country that our flight was late, due to it being unable to take off. (It was nice in Glasgow, however. Go figure.) Not only that, the train we would have taken had been cancelled, and driving would have been difficult and, very likely, dangerous.
Still, that didn’t stop me complaining about our flight being an hour late.