Welcome weekend break

Since we returned from Route 66, things have been very hectic so a long weekend in London is a welcome relief from all the jobs waiting at home & work. Most of yesterday was spent in a very stimulating and enjoyable meeting at the University of Nottingham, thrashing out a research proposal. There were snow flurries outside and more on the way back to Smallwood. As soon as James returned from work and after a quick bite to eat it was time to head to Crewe for a late train. Despite all the delays on the screen, ours was thankfully on time although very crowded and we were soon installed in the very warm and comfortable Royal Society of Medicine. Today was spent ferreting about in some of my favourite bookshops down here and other interesting emporia with re-fuelling sessions in various cafes. I had hoped to combine this trip with sorting out our visas for Tanzania but they will not post date them so that will have to wait for the next time. The weather deteriorated as we were walking back so we will not be venturing too far for dinner this evening.

First journey of the year

Our regular route from Smallwood to Edinburgh and uneventful despite the traffic announcements of flood warnings, tide surges and road closures south and west of us and bridge closures and restrictions north of us. North of the Mersey, the main rivers crossed (the Ribble, Eden and Clyde) were all at full spate and had only just receded from extensive flooding. The deep blue profile of the Pennines to the right are a reminder that one day I will walk instead of driving or taking the train.

It’s always a heartsink moment as you leave the M74 and a slow vehicle is just in front as you get on the A702 as it is usually quite a while before they can be safely overtaken. This time, however, it was a lorry minus his load and I guessed correctly that as this was late Friday afternoon, he would be heading home and not too slowly either. He turned off at Biggar where the Christmas lights are still up and the remains of the bonfire still in the centre of town.

The straighter stretches of the A702 after Dolphinton parallel the old Roman Road which ran slightly further west, higher up on the flank of the Pentlands – the Romans quite sensibly tended to avoid building roads in valleys where flooding and bogs would cause problems.

Saturday was spent doing a few essential things in town and then a great evening with the Youngs over dinner and  drinks in the Caledonian bar plotting potential trips in 2015. The day ended with a clear sky and sunset.

Todays journey alternated between hills shrouded in mist and some drizzle (The Pentlands, Southern Uplands at Beattock and over Shap) and clearer spells in the Eden Valley. There was a little snow visible on the Pennines and Cumbrian hills. By the time we got south of Preston we were into heavy rain and wind.Sunset 4 Jan 2014 Edinburgh