Going the distance on my hols

Galashiels Transport Interchange between Ladhope Vale and Stirling Street.
Galashiels Transport Interchange between Ladhope Vale and Stirling Street.

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.