I've always had a bit of a soft spot for Donald and
Douglas, as the two most prominently Scottish characters in the series. I've also noted that they always had fond recollections
of their life in Scotland (see Christopher Awdry's work for evidence). So, for my first ERS volume, I decided to try them
both out in Scotland.
Knowing that they did have a surviving relative on the Strathspey Railway, I originally had a plan
to combine that with the story of their past and how they came to escape to Sodor in the first place (Mid Sodor Engines had
got me rather enthused, I'll admit, and I was keen to tie into the continuity of Sudrian Twin Engines).
The whole issue
of their escape to Sodor, however, never really got off the ground: in a lot of ways, perhaps the idea had been covered often
enough before. Fortunately, I managed to make up for that by finding some surprising, if also rather startling, events to
keep the adventures in the Highlands continuing.
AULD LANG SYNE
we discover that, although they enjoy their Sudrian lifestyle, Donald and Douglas are now keen to return to Scotland one day.
Touched by this and the revelation that one of their cousins is preserved at Aviemore, Winston promptly makes it his duty
to persuade the Fat Controller to find a way. Surprisingly, Sir Topham himself already has the situation in hand and is ready
to offer a reward for years of stirling service.
CLAYMORE OF AVIEMORE
And so Donald and Douglas are delivered by rail to
Aviemore, the Strathspey Railway's headquarters, and are reunited with Jumbo, who is in need of overhaul. Life quickly turns
out to be a tenderload of Welsh coal for them – the only problem is how to convince the resident Class 26 diesel, 'Claidheamh',
that they have their uses.
SODOR THE BRAVE
As it happens, 'Claidheamh' is the least of the twins'
worries: one of the volunteers on the Strathspey turns out to heartless toward steam and a reckless driver to boot. Despite
all care taken by the engines and the volunteer's Land Rover, Jay, a nasty accident occurs on Dalfaber Crossing and Jay's
future is uncertain, as, it would seem, is the Fat Controller's...
Anxieties and fears are gladly shared around Aviemore as the twins await
the outcome of their accident with Jay and Jumbo anticipates a future of waiting. 'Claidheamh' however has by now seen sense
and the two situations are soon cleared up and a relative of the unpleasant volunteer arrives to play his part in Jumbo's