Life in the big smoke

On the Caledonian sleeper

Last week Gerry and I boarded a late train to Scotland. We were going up for a quick visit and in order not to waste time, we travelled up on Sunday night after Gerry had finished the market.

I was very excited. I’d always wanted to travel on the sleeper. And I had imagined a train out of a Poirot story (without the murders of course). Lush carriages, red velvet, polite staff bringing you tea in silver pots. Somewhere deep inside I sort of knew this wouldn’t be the case, but that didn’t stop me from wishing. During that train journey I learned a lot.




Here are a couple of things to remember about the sleeper.

1. Always let the guard in your carriage know you’ve arrived, as soon as you step on to the train. Otherwise he will accost you in the dining cart just as you’re getting your miniature bottle of wine and in a loud voice ask you who you are and if you happen to have a ticket, before telling you off for not letting him know you’ve arrived. The other passengers in the dining cart might or might not snigger about this. Top tip, don’t piss off the train staff.

2. Don’t be a claustrophobic.

3. Order the continental breakfast.

4. Set your alarm and check when the train is supposed to arrive at your destination. No one will tell you when to get off.

5. Be a deep sleeper.

It took me a while to get used to the swaying motion of the train, but the bed was actually quite comfortable and if the staff hadn’t been so grumpy it might actually have been quite a pleasant experience. What was really nice was waking up in Scotland, knowing no time had been lost.



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A weekend of coffee and things loading sloooowly

Look at that nice sunset at the top of the post. Take your time to enjoy it. Because I didn’t. I barged past people waiting for the lights to turn, ignoring traffic and bracing myself against attacking leaves in order to snap a shot of quite a pretty looking gherkin at the end of Whitechapel road, then I rushed to an interview and halfway through it I realised I’d not remembered to eat for several hours because Gerry and I had been busy shooting the video for our Kickstarter campaign during the afternoon… And breathe.

Did I tell you I’ve been busy this week? I don’t want to go one about it, because this happens to all of us, right? There are periods of calm and periods when everything happens at once. This is one of those everything-happens-at-once-weeks. And I actually quite enjoy it.

This weekend

This weekend I have:

  • Edited a kickstarter video.
  • Put together the sketchbook for our New York prints.
  • Read some of Robert Macfarlanes amazing (really amazing!) book about wandering and wanderers while watching stuff loading.

I will:

  • Edit a radio story.
  • Edit some more video.
  • Watch even more things loading (this is video editing for you).
  • Write a newsletter and pack our bags for Scotland.

Because would you believe it, in amongst all of this, we’re getting on the sleeper tonight and heading up to Glasgow. I’ve always wanted to travel on the sleeper so this is quite an exciting thing.

We’re visiting Gerry’s granny and will have a day of calm on the Scottish West coast. After that we’re heading to Glasgow to stay with some friends and watch a football game. It’s Scotland vs. someone else. This is how Gerry suggested we should go and see the game.

Him: “You know how you’ve been saying how much you want to see Scotland play football?”
Me: “Er, no.”
Him: “Well, now is your chance.”
Me: “Will there be snacks?”

Now I’m not looking forward to freezing my toes off at Hampden Park, but I’m slightly curious about the atmosphere and seeing the Tartan army (Scottish people who travel around the world to watch Scotland play football) in their full glory. So. We’re back next week. Then I’m off to Finland for the book fair in Helsinki and after that it’s time to start thinking about taxes and christmas (those two things you can’t avoid in life).

Days in Devon

I’m back in London. After having spent the weekend writing, eating cake and taking forests walks around the amazing Stickwick Manor in Devon coming back was a slight shock to the system. I was thrown in at the deep end and went straight to the Music 4.5 Smart Radio conference where I was doing some filming. It was an interesting day but at the end of it I was absolutely knackered. I’m still lagging a bit behind myself so here are some soothing photos from Devon.


There were lots of farm cats, none of them seemed very friendly.


Madicken’s new pal, Geoffrey the goat.



An ugly chicken? (Gerry thinks it’s a turkey)



The paths were pretty steep in this forest. I ended up a wheezing mess after climbing the hill back up. It was pretty though (the forest, not wheezy-messy me).