After yesterdays effort no one was keen for a ride in the morning but that didn't stop us having some bike related drama. We knew we had to post our bikes home so we went on the hunt for some cardboard and struck lucky at Homebase. Here we also got some pipe cladding and set about making our bikes a bit more bash proof. The idea was to leave the wheels on so the bikes were reasonably mobile but to take off pedals and handle bars etc. When I phoned the lovely lady at Wick post office she had assured me that this would be fine and gave the dimensions as length plus heigh plus width must be less than 3 metres. Easy peasy. Since it was sunny we took our time packing up the bikes and inevitably left little time to hurry down to the post office where we were greeted by the slightly more stringent man who gave us a more precise definition of 'small enough'. No longer than 1.5 metres and the length plus the girth must be less than 3 metres. Small difference you might think but very crucial. He left us with his tape measure while we tried to bend time and space to fit our bikes before admitting default. A very quick unpack, removal of wheels and semi-repack and we handed them back over. By this time the train had left and we were onto plan B - getting the bus.
We turned to lunch and I found Steve in a butchers looking at a counter of fresh meat - perhaps thinking that we were not quite that desperate I mentioned that we had no way to cook anything but it seemed that they also sold cooked pies. We settled down near the river for a relaxed lunch and some general back slapping. So relaxed in fact that by the time we had packed up and decided to get some money out we were rushing for the bus asking ourselves how once again we had gone from 'plenty of time' to 'late' without first going through 'about time to leave'. Once at the bus stop we showed our first class organisation with first Steve going to buy a paper, by the time he got back Duncan had wondered off to the toilet, then Hugh dashed off to get the rest of the packing tape we had thrown away earlier. Hugh taped his wheels together and then we dropped the roll. Some kind helpful soul saw us in a flap and picked it up for us and was somewhat amused when Duncan thanked them and then turned around and put it in the bin.
I remember little of the bus ride to Inverness but I'm told that there was an older lady who kept up a one sided conversation for the entire journey. Also a seemingly very young girl sat next to Hugh and was chatting on the phone 'and then he said he hadn't phoned me, I said he had cause I had his number, he said he hadn't, so I said I knew he had, so he said......' who it turned out later in the conversation not only went to university but had also had her first pregnancy scare - they are looking younger these days!
Once we got to Inverness Hugh had the blood hound gleam in his eye and he marched us off to a second hand book shop which had only minutes before it shut. Once we were loaded up we headed to a pub for a well deserved beer and a bite to eat, and Hugh 'accountant at heart' Williamson to sort out who owed what to whom. With this done we jumped on the sleeper and settled down in the bar for a last celebratory gin and tonic. The night ended with Steve saying he had to get some work done and the rest of us failing to get matchsticks under our eyes quickly enough. All that remained was for Duncan to jump off the train at 4.15am and the rest of us to fight our way through rush hour in London while carrying bags and wheels much better suited to being on a bike. So Lands End to John O'Groats ticked off, my diary written up and the expenses sorted out it only remains to start thinking about where the next trip will take us and whether it will be even remotely where we plan.