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Margaret Gow: The 12 miles of roadworks on the A1 were just mind-numbing


I’ve been back from Bonnie Scotland for four days, and with nearly 600 miles on the clock you can imagine I haven’t felt like doing very much; I didn’t even empty my case until last Thursday afternoon.

Lovely weather going, but from Saturday afternoon until Tuesday when the sun came out as I passed Grantham, awful. It is of no comfort to know that you have had the same back home!

Twelve miles of roadworks on the A.1 from Leeming Bar to Scotch Corner was mind-numbing: and - if ever any of you has been on the A.66 to Penrith - the monotonous processions in both directions can cause serious teeth-grinding. One section which was dual is now down to another dose of 50 mph for five miles. Dire, especially in the sheeting rain where the only relief, the wonderful scenery backed by purple mountains, disappeared throughout its 52 miles on the way home. The only Good Thing was that I was driving east.The cortege in the other was being led by an elderly tractor towing a slurry lorry... I don’t think I was the only one to smirk.

36 people, some from as far away as Australia, New Zealand, Puerto Rico, Malaysia and (of course) the U.S.A., enjoyed each other’s ancestry in Lockerbie and finding out if we were actually related. We did Armstrong Dinners, ‘piped in’ on the Saturday when I wore my tartan kit, visited Armstrong sites and (for the first time) Carlisle’s Tullie House Museum, so interesting that there wasn’t time to explore the castle. But before I left it was necessary to pay respects to the HQ, Gilnockie Tower in Canonbie, where you will be astonished to know that our 90-year-old president Ted had climbed to the top of the spiral stairs and was last seen on the parapet! I have two years to go before the next Gathering, in mid-July 2017 when for the first time one of the ladies will organise the weekend. The question is ‘Will I be able to drive?’ as thanks to Dr. Beeching, the rail journey sounds worse. Also,although it is very friendly, I’ve never been in so creaky an hotel, not conducive to sleep. Even bare-footed and on carpet, the floor squeaked at every step from my bed to the shower (which was a trickle), I could hear every word in the next bedroom and it sounded as if ogres were clomping down the corridor. Perhaps they were: I thought it prudent not to look.

Oh, yes - I promised to tell you about my BT connection. This happened the afternoon before I left, and appeared to work last Friday lunchtime. However, I spent another two useless hours that evening on their helpline before giving up exhausted after I couldn’t access the internet - let alone emails - via any browser, and lastly having the whole thing frozen solid. (And yes, I did try turning off and one several times). At the end I couldn’t get rid of the hourglass.

Things are no better with BT today; having spent a lot of money getting the BT package, I am using a different email provider. Now, I understand why only 47% of users are happy with their service and some of the residents here have given up after six weeks. Have any of you had problems? I’d love to hear from you if you have.

Meanwhile, back in sunny Market Harborough, the Square has been transformed into a beach complete with bands throughout today (not sure about Sunday), palm trees and deckchairs; there’s even a Punch & Judy show in the gardens. Maybe this is the place for a holiday weekend next year, and I won’t have to drive anywhere - great.

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