So far, Abigail, Barney, Clodagh, Desmond, Eva, Frank, Gertrude visited, all, it seems, in quick succession.  Now we expect Henry’s imminent arrival.

Gertrude stormed in last Thursday night, (28th January 2106) and raged all of Friday. Late in the day there was a lull in Gertrude’s activity and I went out to get some provisions, such as were available. Bridges closed to traffic, meant absolutely no buses, no transport of any kind that would deliver anything and also trains were cancelled.

Passing through the check-out with my few bits of shopping; ‘passing the crack’ (chat) with the cashier, a young lad from the high school :

Him politely: It’s getting chilly out there now.

Me: Gertrude  has been raging all day.

Him: – mischievously- what set her off then!

Yesterday, Saturday, we had snow and windy gusts. It felt really cold…it pierced through you.  I was wearing four layers indoors and a long padded coat plus hat outdoors. By nightfall the snow was nowhere to be seen.

Heavy snowfall pitted its sound against the windows during the evening.  Eventually, peaking out from behind the curtains, I saw a settled covering of white.

Today, Sunday, the last day of January, we had snow lie all day.  It was another four layer dressing day. There were some light snow showers, also a period of bright snow reflected sunshine.  We went for a walk  zipped up in wadded coats, our hats on, thermal gloves to keep hands and fingers toastie warm and walking boots for grip.

Now we await the arrival of Storming Henry, chasing in close on the heels of Gertrude.  Oh joy! (Not).


Unexpectedly, as I watched the spectacle of the Wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton, I found myself thinking back to the first major state occasion I ever saw. It was courtesy of a friend that we saw the 1953 coronation of The Queen, relayed through a small TV screen, in black and white. Then I was a young child. As an adult, I remembered my curiosity felt much the same as I peered then and now into a surreal world.

In these theatricals there must be uncountable project managers with departmental stage managing-directors to report to. Can there be an executive CEO to pull things together? These things are so big and diverse, I think that the State occasions in the UK, would be more than Cameron Mackintosh, (Phantom Of The Opera) could handle.

As I watched today’s events, I was fascinated by the structuring of them, the type of policing control I saw, limited by what the BBC media cameras focussed upon.

The ‘Wing’s’ buses used for the extended Royal Family were a curiosity. Anyone from the grandparent generation and their offspring, populated those, (except that is, The Queen, Prince Philip and their family line). One commentator said that the mini-buses would give a connection to the people. London Taxi drivers will probably have some thoughts about the chosen mode of transport. One or two red London Buses,(low level entry platforms) would have been perfectly acceptable and easier for the less agile guests. I think seeing London Buses in use, would have been a delight.


We missed out on the good weather during the early part of the long weekend break away from home. A North Atlantic sea haar suppressed any hint of warmth, and where it did, the sun struggled to break through.

There was an almighty rainfall, just as I was treating myself to a bit of pampering at the hairdresser’s. The stylist sprayed some product over her finished handiwork to deter the affects of humidity; in this case it was more like the affects of heavy precipitation. My hair really frizzes up in the damp. Apart from having lots of hair out of place, the spray seemed to work for the day. Restoring hair order the next day was more difficult. :no:

However, Sunday and Monday have been lovely weather days, quite mild, great for getting washing out to dry and for exploring the world around us. Our explorations have led us to gorgeous scenery, a working Vintage Bus Museum and an Abbey dating back to 1072. This was known to be a place of worship from about 800AD. Apart from changes in worshipping formats, there is without a doubt, a continuity of religious belief in this location.

The Easter Bunny left a little metallic balloon on a stick for the neighbour’s three year old grandchild. She gave it to me this evening. I suggested she might like to save it for me for another time. The little girl took it back, exchanging it for the tiniest sliver of chocolate Easter egg. Then, saying “Bye, bye” the little girl cheerily sang ‘Jingle Bells’ as she disappeared indoors, having secured a very satisfactory conclusion to her gift transactions.


We were recently in Inverness. Now, I know Hogmanay is thought to be sacrosanct in Scotland by those South of the border, but not to the extent where a bus company, Stagecoach, can disconnect a whole city and then offer a Sunday service, (read highly limited into that) for the remainder of the period. Taxi services were on tariff three for two days, that means they could charge sky high sums for journeys on those days and a bank holiday tariff for the other days. Workers could not get into work without begging favours and lifts if they happened to live outwith reasonable walking distance from their places of employment. I heard of some workers being bused in by a taxi mini bus, paid for by their employers if they lived a certain distance out of the city. Others had to pay excess taxi costs from low wages to get into work.

If you want to get around and about when staying in or near the city of Inverness, think twice before visiting the Scottish Highland capital during a holiday period without access to private means of transport. Its public transport services, in any case, are rather limited to its conurbations after about 6pm. If you’re happy to be in the centre and take a tour when tours are functioning, you may be suitably catered for.

In Summer 2009, I met an Australian couple who had arrived in Inverness by car. They were seeking a city visit hop-on-hop-off bus. It only runs on Wednesdays, the tourist office said, and this was a Friday. 🙄


While peacefully enjoying some refreshment in the pretty garden setting of the City of London Crematorium and Cemetery café, I gazed vacantly through the boundary railings to the street. What met my relaxed gaze was a steam engine, shiny black and gold, steaming its way majestically along the busy road, with trails of modern vehicular traffic following behind at the same slow pace, (whether the drivers wanted to or not). It’s not what you would expect to look upon in a busy East of London suburb, especially when there was no obvious fair, celebration or rally, for it to arrive at on the surrounding common land.

Up to the first World War, a steam engine of this type would have had a less preened and glorified existence. It would have been heavily worked, probably trailing such ignominious vehicles as wooden accommodation vans for the workers, who would hire out their agricultural labour. The accommodation van did not have the romanticised look of the decorated and cute Gypsy caravans sometimes seen at shows today. It would have been a wooden construction, with heavy wheels. Inside there would have been bunks for the men and a large chunky stove for heating and cooking. In certain parts of the country, the stove is likely to have been stoked up with peat turfs. An accommodation van I saw on a walk, which is a marker on a particular ordnance survey map, though decaying (shame), still contained its neglected stove and the bunks were just still intact. A man on the walk remembered seeing the caravan in use on the local farms for a time during and just after WWII. He added for effect, and just in case anyone thought he was much older than he looked, “I was only a really young lad then“.


A young man, on the underground platform in one of the Central London stations, a little the worse for wear from a can or two of beer, but nevertheless quite pleasant, was staring dismally at the train that had just arrived. He asked for help. The doors were just opening. “Please, please, does this one go to Liverpool Street Station? I’m dyslexic and someone told me to wait here”. I suggested that he got on the train, at which point I could explain to him and probably show the young man what suited his travel needs.

Once in the carriage it was easy to show him the line plan and interconnections, discussing the colour of the line that he needed to use to get to his destination. I pointed to it. “Oh I need the orange/red one do I?” he said. I assented and also told him to exit at the next stop to get to the orange/red line, explaining that he should sort out the direction – East or West – that he needed when he got to the platforms.

“Can I kiss you please?”
“No you can’t…bye” I replied and I seated myself further down the carriage next to hubby.

Unexpectedly, the guy opposite me interrupted the conversation hubby and I were having, to tell me that the guy getting off the train had called out to thank me and say goodbye.


The surf babes had quite a good morning, though I am not sure how safe it was out in the swelling ocean. We now have major storms.

Storms, force 11 to 12 with rain, do we really need to have the add-on, I think not, but we do, so there it is. The storm force wind is really noisy, the double glazed windows are currently withstanding the onslaught. The storm has been building up since 11am and speeding up. I wonder when it is due to pass.

There is no doubt there will be structural damage found with the current weather conditions. I still thank the builder who nailed down every tile on our roof over twenty years ago. No doubt, they’ll weaken in due course. Till then I live with the confidence that our major structure will, in large part, fare okay for now…

The ferries will not be running, they won’t even be trying. I do hope other boats and ships have put into the lee of some cliff line, a bay, or other haven, taking shelter.

Vehicles are going to be affected, especially high sided ones, which are usually delivery trucks, bridges are going to be closed. On high ground there will be fierce blizzards.

Santa’s sledge will be speeding, Santa could arrive at destination very early, too early, if Santa and reindeers encounter tail winds of the velocity we have tonight!


The ticket was definitely printed up with ‘carriage B seat 01B‘ for my return journey.  When I bought my tickets I was given the choice of reserved table seats or airline seats. I asked for all the seats on my journeys to be table seats.

There was one passenger taking up all four seats on the outward journey, where one was reserved for me .  The passenger mumbled something about there not being any reservation cards showing, so I showed her my reservation ticket for my gangway seat.  I invited her to stay and share if she so wished. Only when she swept up all the items strewn around the three seats she wasn’t sitting on, did I realise this person was the only passenger in the section. She occupied two airline seats instead.  

Another distracted male passenger was looking for a carriage that didn’t exist, (unless he had paid for first class).  He returned, no, he was not a first class guy.  He plonked himself down opposite me and tried to shove first one of my feet back towards me then the other.  I hoped my effort at severe frowning said it all.  His feet continued to step sequentially on my feet.  My feet held their ground.  The guy got the message and moved over to the window seat where he could stick his feet where ever he wanted.  

Return Journey

I clutched my warm lunch in its polystyrene pack and looked forward to laying it out and munching at a table. The train arrived with carriage ‘B’ in tow. Where was my seat? I looked out of the gaping carriage entrance to check the direction of numbering and returned to my hunt for seat ’01B’.  A manual number one had been scratched above a side facing seat which was facing opposite a similar seat under a manual number two.

As all the table seats were taken, I took an unoccupied airline seat with its titchy tray and managed to loose an avalanche of lunch into my lap. I covered my meal stained trousers with my carrier bag.

The ticket inspector cheerily appeared. “Excuse me but I had a reserved table seat which doesn’t appear to exist, can you advise?”

You sure?” he questioned looking at my reservation slips.  He looked around. “Maybe you made a mistake“, he said.

All my seats were booked to be table seats“, I explained. The ticket inspector looked at my tickets again.

Ooh yes – you had a back facing seat and you only get those at table seats“.  He sucked on his pen and looked around once more.  “Mmm, since you booked, I think they’ve changed the design of the train”