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It was so wonderful to be travelling again, and so weird to be mixing ‘naturally’ (almost) with people again. I could scarcely believe my holiday was happening as I set off, having not stayed away overnight since early March 2020, and now I’m back I can scarcely believe it has indeed happened. It is lovely to relive it through my photos, and here beginneth the recital of 13 days’ travel, roughly up the left-hand side of England, the right-hand side of Scotland, and vice versa on the way back. The first couple of days were comprised of close-packed visits to friends.

First stop from Somerset, on Monday 7th June, was Stafford, in time for lunch with Ellie, a former probation service colleague, and her two cats. Here she is with Skimble, who passes most of his time on the ironing board.

(I should have used flash (1)!)

The following morning, I left quite early, to have coffee with Stan, with whom I used to make music when I lived in Staffordshire.

I was delighted to learn that his son, for a long time himself a professional musician in the Netherlands, was shortly getting married. This in fact happened three days ago, while I was on the road, nearly home, and I was very happy yesterday to watch a video of the music- (and musician-) packed event, which took place in the Anglican church in The Hague. The couple will shortly be coming to the UK for a church blessing here.

I had had the mad idea of meeting up with Peter, to have lunch with him in the Manchester area. Thank goodness he was not going to be free. Time and traffic constraints would have meant that I would have to have cancelled at no notice my diversion eastwards to visit 97-year-old Brian in Mytholmroyd, near Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.

I stopped for a bite of lunch by my car high on the moors, about 15 minutes’ away from Brian’s, on the Halifax road. This photo does no justice to the beauty of the area, but I could not park where I would have liked to.

I had known Brian and his family when we both lived in Reading, Berkshire, in the 1970s. They had, as it were, adopted me when I moved into Quaker circles there. I used to make music with their daughter, Hazel, until she moved on marriage to Hebden Bridge, many years before her parents followed her. Sadly Hazel had been called away on urgent family business just before my arrival, but her husband, Jim, was on hand to welcome me, and took this photo, possibly the first of Brian and me together since we had a narrowboat holiday together, with his late wife and another friend, in the 1980s.

There followed a long drive all the way to Langholm in Dumfriesshire. I stopped briefly at the Tebay Service area,

and was pleased to find that the rather heavy traffic I had encountered thitherto thinned considerably from then on.

I checked into to the Eskdale Hotel for two nights at around 6 pm.

Tom and Ally, brother and sister-in-law of my London friend, Mary, joined me for dinner there.

(I should have used flash (2)! I promise you they are not really purple.)

I spent the next day with them. Tom writes a blog every day(!) and I asked first if we could just have a wander around the town so that I would be able to envisage the various places he mentions in it. As ever I snapped away, and here are some of the photos I took.

Their (Church of Scotland = Presbyterian) church
Its great – especially from a musician’s point of view – interior. Covid-necessary cleaning going on.

They have local birds to die for:

Grey wagtail

I think this is ‘just’ a Lady’s smock/cuckoo flower, but if Mr Tootlepedal disagrees, perhaps he would say so in the comments. (I’m not sure why I took it.)

Sawmill Bridge
All that remains of Langholm Castle
Noble fir
I was pleased to catch this blue tit emerging from its nest in the tree trunk (not of the fir), which it did with great frequency, having bought food to its chicks.
This heron may or not be Tom’s Mr Grumpy, who appears regularly in his blog posts.
Elements of both primary and senior schools, not to mention the seniors looking on.

And a sneaky peak at Tom and Ally’s garden, of which more anon.