At random with Martin Laing 09.01.20

Fireworks lit up the bay as Oban welcomed the new year.

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Off the rails

My wife travelled by train from Glasgow back to Oban on Hogmanay.

It was not, to say the least, the most auspicious closing of the old year but was perhaps a chilling reminder of the many problems that beset ScotRail.

The national carrier has not had its problems to seek of late, the operating company Abellio being stripped of its contract recently.

January 31 was, you may remember, a very cold day and, not for the first time by any means, there was no heating on the train. Not only was there no buffet carriage (of course not), there was not even any tea trolley service, so there was no way to have a hot drink.

Now, this is no quick hop between stations but a journey of around three hours. it is outrageous, frankly, that in mid-winter passengers are expected to have to tolerate freezing conditions without any heating or catering.

Rail travellers here are made to pay top dollar to use our trains and this level of disservice is simply not good enough.

Explosive start to 2020

I was out and about on New Year’s Eve for a wee while and thoroughly enjoyed myself.

My aforementioned wife and I imbibed a little wine in the splendid surroundings of the Perle Hotel, where a talented group of musicians entertained the busy bar with traditional music.

Just before the bells, we all trooped outside and watched from the bay as the fireworks exploded over Oban’s McCaig’s Tower. It was a fantastic display that was applauded enthusiastically by the thousands of people watching from the town centre.

Over the preceding couple of days, I had met and talked with a number of tourists from around the UK who had made the effort to get here for Hogmanay. They would not have been disappointed but were, indeed, well rewarded for their efforts.

Well done to all those responsible fr organising the celebratory events.

What do you think?

Write to me at or The Oban Times, Crannog Lane, Oban, PA34 4HB, or call 01631 568021.