Tweets on 2008-05-22

  • Striking camp in Glen Coe and plotting a scenic route for Carlisle via Oban, Perth and the Forth bridge. #
  • Was a very windy night and the breeze is still up now. Woke to deer basking on opposite bank of river. #
  • @dr_nick unsmashed lightbulbs should go to your local tip where they will tell you what to do with them. #
  • @dr_nick or they could just go in your residual waste but they can’t go in glass bank. #
  • Lovely lunch in Ben Lora cafe, but not making much progress. May have to warn tonight’s b’n’b we’ll be late. #
  • Gps #
  • Eschewing the Bridge of Awe. #
  • *Still* north of the Firth of Forth. Will we make our b&b in time? Tune in for the next gripping instalment… #
  • @dr_nick our eccentric route, Oban, Perth, Edinburgh, Carlile – we’ve gone coast to coast twice on A roads! #
  • Limited food options in Northunberland at this time of night, so trying to eat takeaway curry off our laps off a country road. #
  • Failing to get wifi to work – and reminding self 10 internet free days is no real hardship. #

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Tweets on 2008-05-21

  • Watching the tipi being dismantled before we go on a road trip up to Loch Ness. #
  • In Fort Augustus looking at the start of Loch Ness and maybe having a sunny evening drive up to Governess. I mean Inverness. #
  • Just clocked up 500 miles. Trust us to go on driving hol as fuel prices hit record high. #
  • Wee bite to eat in Inverness. Struggling not to put on mock Scottish accent when talking to people. #

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Tweets on 2008-05-20

  • At the Scottish National Trust Glen Coe visitors centre, using my long lens to take photos of tits. #
  • Kicked out of the Glen Coe visitor centre because of a power cut that made all the alarms sound. #
  • P not terribly chuffed with his role in my photo entitled “Old Fart in the Old Fort, Fort William” #

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Tweets on 2008-05-19

  • Becoming an uncle in the night – happy birthday Noah! #
  • Writing a double dactyl visitor book entry before getting back on the road. #
  • Having lunch on the banks of loch Lomand and cooing at photos of my nephew. #
  • @rfenwick last night, overheard organist practicing Stainer’s "I saw the Lord" and now have it on the brain. #
  • Campsite bril – surrounded by mountains, v quiet, idyllic. Kenny’s tipi is brilliant! #

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Tweets on 2008-05-17

  • Updating next year’s municipal diary on my phone with the help of google calendar and goosync. Hopefully. #
  • Dismayed to discover there’s no Sunday mail collection anywhere in Nottingham. #
  • Looking at next week’s forecast and zipping fleece back into raincoat. #
  • @rfenwick there’s a carrot shortage? I have a bag in the fridge that are fine if you cut the slimey bits off. #
  • Establishing through the medium of text message that I have a bigger tummy than my full-term sister-in-law. Eek. #

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Tweets on 2008-05-15

  • Finished leafleting nearly 400 terraced houses but defering cake celebration to lunch as I have a committee this afternoon. #
  • Aha – that "What is love? (baby don’t hurt me)" church sign now reads "Love is patient." I know where it’s going now. #
  • Intrigued to hear so many people are now smoking outside in city centre that cigarette butts are starting to block the drains. #
  • Dear god *another* city centre starbucks? Feels like I’m being hunted down by a giant dulce de leche frappacino #
  • Boy, that council officer really wanted my attention. 3 phone messages, one word of mouth and a chase from council reception #
  • @dr_nick really? FREE wifi? #
  • Was that the sound of @jamesgraham choking to death? #
  • @rfenwick don’t mind me, you need fattening up. But venti? I hope you’re not going on public transport with that 🙂 #

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Sometimes I love this job

You know, the whole job of councillor / local politician. Someone texted to ask me my availability in June, and my answer was:

Sorry, 6th we’re giving freedom of city to to Alan Sillitoe and 7th I have public meeting with Lembit Öpik- have to pick him and Cheeky Girls up from airport.

And the thing is – it’s almost entirely true! The Cheeky Girls almost certainly won’t be coming, but the rest is right.

To fly or not

For the past few years, I’ve had an informal personal policy of limiting the amount of flying I do. One short-haul return flight a year.

This hasn’t previously been much of a hardship.  Up until this year, the idea of jetting off on more than one holiday hasn’t really come up.  This year, however, lots of opportunities have arisen.  We’ve already flown medium-haul to Cyprus; in July, I have booked Lufthansa to get to Munich, and now the latest opportunity is a trip to Dublin in the Autumn with the gay bellringers. (Actually, it’s been a gay year all-round, staying with gay friends in Larnaca, and the Munich trip is organised through Thingbox).

So, I’m already over-carbon-budget on flying with a medium haul flight.  Munich compounds that because you can’t fly direct to Munich from many places, and the itinerary I have ended up with involves two flights in each direction (Birmingham International to Munich via Frankfurt outward bound and via Dusseldorf on the homeward leg.)  I did consider the overland alternative to Munich, but ruled out the rail journey as a little too complicated:

  • 3 hour train Nottingham to St Pancras
  • 2h30 journey from London to Paris Gare de Nord
  • 6hr20 journey from Paris Gare de l’Est to München Hbf

You’d be looking at nine hours just on a train, with assorted complications with changing, customs, passports.  And I’m not sure it’s possible to buy a through ticket which could mean you’d be in a mess if you messed a connection.

Mind you, there’s the sleeper alternative – this Guardian article has some interesting long weekends in Europe by rail, most of which entail a sleeper service at some point.

My other alternative was considering a direct flight from EMA to Salzburg in Austria followed by a 30minute ICE train journey to Munich, but it transpired that the EMA/Salzburg service is winter only, and only on a Saturday, which wasn’t terribly convenient.

But if you think 9 hours to travel the nearly 900 miles to Munich from Nottingham is bad, trying to get to Dublin overland is worse!  The National Rail router says Nottingham to Newport (South Wales) then a five-hour long train from Newport (South Wales) to Holyhead (North Wales) – before a short ferry trip from Holyhead.  All in all, just … another nine hours on a train.

RailEasy comes up with a slightly more sane route that avoids South Wales at least by adding changes at Derby, Crewe and Chester, but still only brings it down to 7 hours.

So, for Dublin, I could

  • Drive to Holyhead and catch ferry
  • Spend an entire day and more on dreadful slow local trains
  • Fly direct from EMA, and to hell with personal flight policy
  • Not go at all.