Through the wood to the beach, through the Borders to home

Sunday always makes driving a little more interesting. There was a woman in African dress at the filling station and we passed a vintage car on the bypass. The sunny morning meant we had to head for the beach and Tyninghame is a favourite. Walking through the wood to Ravensheugh Sands, I always find something to photograph whether it be emerging bracken shoots or trees.

New bracken Tyninghame 26 Apr 2015 (1 of 1)

Beach 8 Tyninghame 26 Apr 2015 (1 of 1)

We walked and beachcombed and the dog greeted all the other dogs out for a walk.

Beach 3 Tyninghame 26 Apr 2015 (1 of 1)

Beach 5 Tyninghame 26 Apr 2015 (1 of 1)

All too soon we had to leave and drove back along part of the Hillfoots Trail through the communities lying at the foot of the Lammermuir Hills. Just after Humbie and before we joined the A68, eight or nine Mazda MX5s passed, on a day out or heading towards and event perhaps. During our lunch stop just off the A68, it started to snow. Further on, near the Kielder Forest and Newcastleton, it was hailing. The rest of the drive was uneventful as most of the roadworks that have afflicted the northern M6 had been suspended but there are still plenty of potholes.

On the ‘dangers’ of female travel

Interesting article on lone female travelling

Road Essays

This could just be a story about countries deemed dangerous for women to travel to. But it’s more than that. This is a story about our perception of danger and how we’re told time and time again that the unfamiliar and the foreign are more dangerous to us than what is on our own doorstep.

A couple of months back, British tabloid the Daily Mail ran a story in their travel section titled ‘Sex attacks, muggings, and harassment: World’s most dangerous holiday destinations for women (and some of them may surprise you)’. The top ten list declared India; Brazil; Turkey; Thailand; Egypt; Colombia; South Africa; Morocco; Mexico; and Kenya to be the most dangerous countries for female travellers.

We’ll get back to that shortly.  First I want to tell you about a strange encounter I had in Medellin, Colombia in 2001.

After a hard couple of days travelling…

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A train to Edinburgh

I left the house just after sunrise and there was still mist hanging in the hollows and over the canal. On the train heading north the skies soon became blue although cloud and showers are forecast which reduces my anxiety about leaving the greenhouse unattended for a few days. At Warrington, a young couple from Liverpool got on the train and sat opposite me. He was going to treat her to a meal at The Kitchen restaurant so she was checking the menu on her phone. This required some assistance with translation – what is a hogget? Answer: a young sheep between one and two years old i.e. older than the lamb usually eaten. We passed Steven’s Croft, the largest biomass power station in the UK with many piles of wood lying around it. The snow seen two weeks ago has disappeared from the hills and the River Clyde was running fairly high. Ploughing has begun but many of the upland deciduous trees are still without leaves. We arrived at Waverley on time and as I walked over to the Mound to catch my bus noted that Princes St Gardens have now been re-turfed and the tourist season is well underway. Back in the flat the cherry trees are coming into leaf. I’ve got plenty of housework, essential shopping and the Scottish Arts Club AGM to keep me occupied for the next couple of days.

Esdaile in spring April 2015 (1 of 1)

The chimney and turret of Esdaile are a regular perching place for gulls.

To a meadow in Cambridgeshire

An early start yesterday morning saw us on the cross-country route towards Houghton Mill in Cambridgeshire. This was where my mother had requested her ashes be scattered, as it was one of her favourite places. The 141 miles took longer than expected, due to numerous road works with speed limits. As we approached Kettering, we passed what looked like the National Collection of Portacabins. I had never seen so many in one place. It was a building firm’s depot. Across the M1 and in East Anglia, the lowland lambs were much bigger than those seen the previous week in the uplands and the oilseed rape flowers more advanced than those seen further north. The fields are huge and one advertised the fact that it was growing cereals for Weetabix. Once we got to Houghton and found our way through the narrow streets of the medieval village we parked by the mill and found the rest of the family. It was easy to see why this was a much-loved spot with the picturesque mill (still working and producing flour), the river Ouse with nesting swans

Swan guarding her nest (1 of 1)

The swan nest (1 of 1)

many trees in full blossom

Blossom at Houghton Mill (1 of 1)

and even the remains of an old railway to keep my railway enthusiast uncle happy. It dates back to 1847 and ran from Huntingdon to St Ives.

Remains of 1847 railway 1 (1 of 1)

Houghton Mill (1 of 1)

Sunshine, wintry showers and some very bad driving

Winter had returned by Saturday and I had caught the virus James had over Easter so things were not looking good. I had enough energy to keep our lunch commitment that day with friends at the Scottish Malt Whisky Society (while it hailed outside) but did little else for the rest of that day or Sunday morning. We left after lunch and the cherry tree I had photographed on Thursday had now lost most of its petals due to the wind and rain. On the A702 we could see that some of the Moorfoots and Tinto had a covering of snow but the sun was shining and if we had had the time to exploit them, there were several photographic possibilities as we drove past the Pentlands. After visiting a friend in South Lanarkshire (when it hailed again) we were back on the M74 in sunshine. South of the border it began to rain heavily and the traffic began to pick up. Signs began to warn us of delays south of junction 21 and I had pondered leaving the M6 at the M61 and going round the M60 to the A34. James then advised avoiding that route as there was a Manchester City/Manchester United match at Old Trafford that afternoon. We carried on and somewhere near Preston saw an amazingly bad manoeuvre involving leaving the motorway up the off ramp and returning to it via the on ramp. I would have forgiven them had it been an unmarked police car on a job but James pointed out that this was unlikely as it had a personalised number plate. Further south, fields of oilseed rape were flowering in the sunshine. We saw a DeLorean on the back of a truck which looked like it was in the process of being customised like the one in Back to the Future. The warnings about delays persisted so we left at junction 21 and followed the Irlam Royalettes Morris Dancers Bus to the Warburton Bridge. This cantilever bridge always reminds me of some we crossed on Route 66. We paid our 12p and were soon across and on the way home. Just as we were about to leave the A50 we observed another example of bad driving when someone overtook several cars at a crossroads and was very lucky to avoid anyone coming in the opposite direction.Warburton Bridge 1 (1 of 1)

A train journey, buses and a cherry tree

At the station early this morning I achieved a first. There were two trainspotters, complete with camera and tripod photographing the to me quite unremarkable train that left the platform opposite mine. They were under 30. However, once we got to Preston, the only trainspotter there was well over 70 and had only a little black notebook. I have yet to see a female trainspotter. There had been a small amount of fog north of Crewe and it made me wonder whether the haar would in once I got to Edinburgh. Happily, the rest of the journey was under a blue sky and there were many signs of spring including lambs in the fields of Cumbria and the southern uplands with a black sheep and twin black lambs near Carstairs junction. Rooks were busy building and renovating nests in the still leafless trees. There were still two small patches of snow on the upper slopes of Tinto. It was sunny when I got to Waverley and I was keen to get up to the flat to photograph the cherry tree in sun. Into Edinburgh had a photograph of it on their Facebook page a couple of days ago, which reminded me that it was in bloom. I walked through the gardens to get to my bus stop at the foot of the Mound and there is a major re-turfing project going on there. I got to the bus stop and noticed that the number 41 was not listed on the screen. A quick check of the Edinburgh bus app revealed that the diversion via Waverley Bridge had ceased at 03.49 so what was happening? I had resigned myself to having to get the 23 and walk a bit further when the 41 appeared after all. The tree was photographed before the wind increased and the petals started falling off.

Cherry tree Monkwood Court 1 (1 of 1)Cherry tree Monkwood Court 2 (1 of 1)