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Tuesday, 5 January 2010

Heading back to Birmingham

Speeding south to catch my connection to Birmingham
Spent two hours shovelling snow off the driveway at Brin Croft yesterday, so that Sharon could drive me, my luggage and Oscar down to Inverarnie Stores where I met up with a taxi whose driver took me gingerly down a snowy A9 to catch a train to Edinburgh from Aviemore. A freight train, whose tumbled Eddie Stobart wagons I glimpsed through the taxi window as we passed Carrbridge had lost its brakes on the descent from Slochd Summit and come off the rails just north of the station - so no trains from Inverness and a narrow escape for the drivers.
An hour later we were running comfortably south with no certainty of a connection at Edinburgh. On Waverley's milling concourse - always a station that brings to mind my favourite and greatest version of The 39 Steps, the first black and white version directed by the young Hitchcock - the boards were vague about trains to Birmingham, but as I waited in a queue for information, Oscar, behaving impeccably until a friendly mastiff with a crumpled face joined the same queue, set up an extended low growl of rage which attracted the attention of a motherly lady from Scotrail who directed me to an East Coast train to London on Platform 9 "You've got five minutes! Change at Newcastle or York" Well...give me an East Coast train even if it's not going my way - especially now they're no longer run by privateers. We dashed over the passenger bridge - about 39 steps - climbed into a packed train, climbed out again, ran up to First Class and got a wide seat with floor space to spare and paid a £27 supplement for the next 100+ miles to York. Catering starts at Newcastle. I've got free WiFi, a couple of fine ham rolls I made up at Brin Croft this morning, sharpened with English mustard, a miniature of Scotch and Fred Vargas' Seeking Whom He May Devour.
Lin says it's snowing hard in Birmingham while in Ano Korakiana people are rightly annoyed at another episode of uncollected refuse though we've found the weekday service mostly excellent, if we compare it with the once-a-week collection we have in Birmingham where mess is created by householders who leave their black bags in the street so their contents can be strewn around by foraging urban foxes. In Corfu there's the added bonus we've harvested from beside these bins by way of abandoned carpets, tables and chairs suitable for renovation and, in the last resort, firewood.

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Simon Baddeley