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Published: October 8th 2013
The weather hadn’t improved from overnight and there was light rain falling again as we emerged for the day.
We were fortunate to catch daughter Leigh on Skype as we were having breakfast but unbeknown to us as we started the call this was to become a drama that we never expected to happen to us.
Up until this morning on the BBA V2 we have taken great care in the use of our toaster making toast while we have been in hotels where the smoke sensors can be more sensitive than in an apartment. However, the Travelodge hotels have very few 3 pin plugs in their rooms and they are usually in the centre of the room, often right under the smoke alarm.
We carried on talking and eating and putting down a last piece of toast on its own in the two piece toaster.
We have found in the past that the toast cooks faster when there is just one piece in the machine and that is what happened this morning with disastrous effect!!
Suddenly there is a high pitched noise in the room that meant only one thing.................smoke alarm!
A quick look
at the toaster revealed plumes of blue toast smoke drifting upwards to the ceiling and hovering around the smoke alarm..
Luckily we had already showered and were dressed for the day, unlike many of the other guests in the hotel. Gretchen was quick out the door and hoofed it down the hallway to the reception at the front door where the woman on reception and the cleaning staff were putting on their glow vests and getting an evacuation of the hotel under way.
Sheepishly Gretchen tried to explain against the wail of the alarm that we had accidently let our toast burn and that the smoke had set the alarm off and that there definitely wasn’t a fire that ensued.
The woman on reception naturally wasn’t impressed and told Gretchen that we shouldn’t have been making toast in the bedroom, not that we needed to be told this. By now guests were arriving from both ends of the hotel and filing outside into the car park meeting point.
Meanwhile I unplugged the offending toaster and thinking that it was probably best that it was shoved out of sight proceeded to hide it behind the suitcase in
a corner. For good measure I threw the burnt piece of toast in the suitcase and closed the lid.
With the noise of the alarm blaring away I am not sure that my thinking and actions was going to reduce the impact of the incident but it was what came into my mind in the first instance.
All this time Leigh was laughing and falling about on the laptop screen over what she was seeing and hearing and before I left the room I somehow had the presence of mind to sign off Skype.
Gretchen had thought that in the case of a ‘false alarm’ that the woman on reception would inform the fire brigade so they didn’t make the trip from the fire station to the hotel.
No chance, the fire brigade was on its way and as I left the hotel with Gretchen to go to the assembly point in the car park we could hear the wail of the sirens in the distance getting louder as they got closer.
We stood apart from the 20 or so other guests who had had to evacuate their rooms and we had the feeling that
they could tell we were the guilty parties to the alarm going off.
Two fire engines pulled into the car park with their sirens blaring and stopped outside the front door. The firemen from the first engine went inside and checked out what they needed to and then as a giveaway the window in our room was opened fully to allow fresh air in and clear whatever smoke from the burnt toast was still lingering in the room.
Then the alarm was turned off and the firemen reappeared out the front door to give the all clear and we walked slowly back to the entrance to the hotel preparing ourselves for a ‘telling off’ by the either a fireman or the reception woman or both.
The fireman knew that we were the guests who had caused the alarm to go off and he spoke to us as we walked past the reception desk. Needless to say his advice to us was not to make toast in a hotel room because what had occurred was the consequence of the smoke alarm being activated.
So with a telling off and most of the other guests returning to their rooms able to confirm it was us that had caused the ruckus we returned to our room as quickly as we could not making eye contact with the other guests if we could avoid it.
Back in the room we made contact again with Leigh on Skype. She was still laughing and wanting to know what had happened since we had cut the first call short when the alarm had gone off.
We waited for as long as we could to let other guests who might have been checking out to go so we didn’t meet any as we went on our way. We were embarrassed enough as it was!
There was one woman who left just after us and she gave us the eye as she got into her car.
We decided that this morning’s incident had taught us for the future and we were fortunate to get away without some sort of fine for setting off the alarm. It seemed that burning toast was not quite as bad as smoking in the room when we would have been up for a GBP150 fine.
Still dazed by what we had done this morning we drove to the small village of Cumbernauld which we found on the way to the M73 as we started our drive to Dumfries near the border with England where we have an overnight stay.
The village is all that remains of the original buildings of Cumbernauld as the rest of the area was built as a ‘new town’ in the late 50’s and 60’s and is a bit of an unattractive mess of urban sprawl.
Many of the shops and houses in the village looked quite old and probably dated back to the early 1800’s or before as did the church at the top of the village. We spent a quarter of an hour, until light rain started, looking through the graveyard at the headstones which dated back to the early 1800’s in case we spotted one belonging to a Hunter or a Walker that might have been on the family tree. We didn’t find any and the church was closed because of the roof being replaced so we couldn’t get inside to check any records that might have been there.
With time ticking away we hit the road heading south towards Dumfries taking the M73 onto the M77 so we could connect with the A76 which started once we reached the open countryside. We had a small navigational problem when we changed the GPS option from fastest to shortest route as we switched onto the M77 and Serena tried to take us back towards Glasgow. You would think by now we would have learnt our lesson on not changing the options until we are well on the way to our final destination for the day when Serena doesn’t get too officious.
We got ourselves straightened out after realising that Glasgow was coming into sight again and we were soon back on track.
Once you are into the countryside on the road to Dumfries there is not a lot but farmland and small villages like Mauchline, the home of the Scottish poet Robbie Burns complete with a memorial to him.
For much of the countryside driving we followed the Nith River and it was flowing fuller than usual, but not in flood, with the recent rain in the area.
We had plans to take a walking tour of Dumfries and check out the sights but the rain was steady by the time we arrived in the city and so we went straight to the hotel to check in. Had the rain eased before dinner time we would have taken the short drive back to the downtown area but it didn’t and although there was a restaurant close by to the Travelodge and within walking distance we still drove to it because the rain continued.
Given how the day had started out in Cumbernauld we were quietly pleased it had come to an end and tomorrow we start afresh, with or without toast for breakfast!
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