Travel has been on my agenda since Grey Matter last clattered the well-worked keyboard. Not far – but travel I did.
I’m not much of a get-away holiday person at this time of year. Too wet, cold and windy for the trusty tent that serves me well in the summer.
For a variety of reasons I hadn’t used my holiday entitlement by the end date of December 31. But my kind-hearted boss agreed that I could – once again – carry them forward as far as February.
And so it was that I found myself with two weeks to myself. I spend the first few days doing virtually nothing. I had big plans to redecorate, check what was inside unopened letters and file away some of the paperwork that had gathered on various tops around the house. I did a bit of filing, but the paint brushes and rollers remained in the closet.
I decided to travel. Galashiels was my first port of call.
My hometown does not look the same, but I saw bits of it that I haven’t seen before. The gaping holes gouged out by the men from the gas company gave me a truly amazing insight into ... well, a hole exposing the lower levels of Bank Street. All those cables and pipes that Galaleans have for centuries taken for granted. Truly a miracle of engineering by my forefathers.
And there is that other miracle of architecture and engineering – the ever-towering and ever-spreading construction that is the Transport Interchange. People will come from far and wide – and even distance shores such as St Abbs and Cockburnspath – to marvel at this 21st-century wonder that will enable travellers safe passage across Ladhope Vale and Stirling Street. Hopefully.
Peebles drew me next. I love this gem, reached from the upstairs of rattling and chilly double-decker. But well worth it, as always.
A few nights at the Rob Roy Hotel on the outskirts of Aberfoyle followed. A canny walk by the swollen water of the Forth into the village, a coffee and scone, and then into Stirling. A bustling place that has a big castle that I couldn’t find. I jest, I’ve been there before and was determined not to be identified as a tourist.
In Edinburgh there was an unexpected meeting with my neice, Kathryn Wylie, on a pedestrian crossing on the Bridges. She’s following in Grey Matter’s footsteps and has just started as a journalist on the Turriff Advertister, but was in Edinburgh with a pal. Naturally we went for a drink in the Scotsman bar.
Back at work and via train to Leeds for a company seminar – and an embarrassing few minutes in the toilets of the Yorkshire Post. More next week.