Scotland has a new bridge over the Firth of Forth, the stretch of water between Edinburgh and Fife.
Over the past few years the delightful assistants have watched the construction with interest. They were among the many people who voted on a name for it (now called the Queensferry Crossing), and were two of the 50,000 winners of a public ballot to walk across it shortly after it opened.
The Queensferry Crossing is part of the M90 motorway and not normally open to pedestrians, but on 2 and 3 September the 50,000 ballot winners were given the chance to walk across it, in what was billed as a ‘once in a lifetime’ opportunity. The delightful assistants’ tickets assigned them a walking start time of 12:15 on Sunday 3 September.
To make sure their energy levels were sufficient to sustain them along the 1.7 mile route, they called in at Le Jardin Cafe near Kinross on their way south to fill up on calorie-laden snacks. Delightful assistant no.1 opted for a filter coffee, while her spouse and their chauffeur had cappuccinos. To accompany their drinks, delightful assistant no.2 chose a moist and well-filled fruit slice, while his spouse and their chauffeur plunged into freshly baked fluffy fruit scones with butter and jam.
Thus refreshed, they continued on their way south towards Dunfermline, where they had been assigned a parking location in the grounds of Pitreavie Sports and Soccer Centre. After parking up alongside the cars of fellow bridge walkers, they set off armed with trusty walking poles to catch one of the courtesy buses that would drop them at the north end of the Queensferry Crossing.
They made use of the surprisingly luxurious temporary toilet facilities on site before getting on the bus to begin their bridge adventure.
On arrival at their drop-off point, they disembarked with the other passengers and began their march over the bridge.
The weather forecast had suggested cloud and a chance of rain, but in fact it stayed dry and bright during their walk.
Participants were encouraged to complete the crossing in an hour, no doubt to prevent people from lingering too long and causing hold-ups with the buses. By striding out and not stopping too often, the assistants managed to get themselves over the course in an hour and five minutes.
Most of the walkers were considerably younger than the delightful assistants and no doubt managed the distance inside the recommended hour, but this was the longest continuous walk delightful assistant no.1 had undertaken since her knee replacement operation in January. Usually, when they trot out for a stroll, the assistants take things at a very leisurely pace, but they made a concerted effort on this occasion to keep their speed up as best they could.
At several points along the bridge large signs had been erected giving fascinating facts relating to the bridge and Scotland, e.g. the Queensferry Crossing holds the world record for the continuous pouring of concrete (15 days) and is the longest three-towered, cable-stayed bridge in the world.
As they walked along, they were able to view the other two bridges over the Firth: the Forth Road Bridge and the Forth Rail Bridge. The three bridges were each built in different centuries (the Forth Rail Bridge was opened in 1890, the Road Bridge in 1964 and the Queensferry Crossing in 2017).
It was interesting to view the other, very familiar, bridges from a new perspective. There was a flag flying on top of each of the two towers of the Forth Road Bridge, something the assistants had never noticed before.
Walking over the Queensferry Crossing, it was awe-inspiring to be up close to the massive cables the assistants had watched being slowly added to the bridge during its construction.
As they neared the end of the crossing they stopped to have a last look at the other bridges, the only time they’d ever get quite this view of things.
By the time a courtesy bus had delivered them back to their car it was well past their usual lunchtime. Their chauffeur, always concerned for her stomach, had located a cafe a few minutes’ drive away in the village of Limekilns, and they sped off there post haste.
Unfortunately, by the time they got there the cafe had stopped serving anything other than drinks and cakes, as had the other eateries in the village. Feeling pretty desperate, they motored on into the next-door village of Charlestown, where a sign on the Elgin Hotel was advertising lunches served from 12:00-16:00. Spirits raised, they zipped into the hotel and settled themselves at a table ready to pack in the comestibles.
Being too hungry to think of photographs, their chauffeur failed to take pictures of the first course (which was a veggie pasta dish for delightful assistant no.2 and herself, and a chicken, ham and leek pie with chips and vegetables for delightful assistant no.1), but she did manage to snap the puddings.
Delightful assistant no.1 didn’t have room for dessert, but her spouse was lured by a mango and passionfruit cheesecake with ice cream, while their chauffeur fell into a hot apple pie with ice cream.
Replete with their tasty, if shockingly late, lunches, the delightful assistants climbed back into the car for the journey home. The gentle rhythm of the car rocked them both into snippets of slumber, as they dreamed of the adventures of the day.