The Great Escape

JOHN

June 2020

I had been looking forward to visiting the Mainland on the first reasonable opportunity. The timing of the ferries is such that one is crossing around lunchtime. The bagel with cream cheese, smoked salmon and capers is a particular Calmac favourite of mine, but due to you-know-what, there was no catering available on the crossing. Very disappointing. The wearing of masks made the journey a rather hot and uncomfortable affair, everyone is on their guard and the journey seemed longer than usual.

That weekend was spent in Glasgow with my youngest son Sean. I wandered around the city, visiting all of the usual places gradually steaming up behind my newly acquired face mask. This was made of a black, synthetic substance, when I noticed my reflection in a shop window, it reminded me of motorcycling without a crash helmet (something I remember well at Art School). Cities without Art Galleries and Museums, cafes and swimming pools suddenly seem pointless and dull. My only cultural experience was to visit the large Waterstones where I could browse, looking for the books that I had earmarked to buy when given an opportunity to visit.  I realised that out of maybe 10 books, I could only find 5 and that if it were just the acquisition of books that I was looking for, I would be better-off shopping online… but thank you Waterstones.

After an excellent take-away curry from ‘Mother India’ Sean and I drove to Newcastle to meet various members of our family and to stay with friends. We linked up again to see my youngest daughter Laura in Newcastle, then eldest son Henry and Gemma together with my 2 grandchildren Toby and George in Hexham. We ate our fish and chips in the park whilst the little ones had a kick about (sometimes of each other) Great.

My friend Alan (Wilson) and I went to Eyemouth to check on my motorcycles that had been standing idle since the beginning of lockdown. We cleaned out their carburettors, charged the batteries, and added some fresh fuel before starting them up and generally seeing that they were in good fettle. It was good to be re-acquainted with them. It was also Alan’s birthday which we duly celebrated in traditional Tyneside fashion. After driving back to Glasgow. Sean and I went to the old national football stadium, a half-used space where the old terraces are covered in grass and wildflowers together with the usual discarded beer cans and Lambrini bottles..

We also visited the spectacular Whitelee Windfarm Country Park, which is south of Glasgow, and is apparently, the largest windfarm in Europe. We were accompanied by an engineer who informed us that the turbines were ‘squirrel cage inverters’ Interesting. The following morning found me on the long road North, Although leaving plenty of time for my journey, there was a serious accident on the way necessitating calling the air ambulance. The road was blocked both ways for nearly 2 hours. I only made the ferry because it was an hour late, thankfully so on this occasion. It was good to be back on the island.

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