As the year ticks over, I always feel the need to reflect on what I’ve been doing and where I’ve been over the year and to think about where I'd like to get to in the next 12 months. And I guess the urge to do that is particularly strong in what's been a rather strange (politically, at least) year.
There's been a little bit less travel than in some previous years, but I’ve still managed time in the Arctic and the Alps - quite a lot of beach time both in Shetland and on the north of the Scottish mainland - and quite a lot of time in Coventry.
I’ve finally managed to see western Greenland in the sunshine (my previous photographs from were pretty dreich) and to take some decent pictures around the mouth of the Ilulissat Icefjord.
Getting to Greenland really doesn’t offer many alternatives to flying but some of the other destinations do offer other options.
The Alpine trip (to the Tiernsee in Austria) could have been done easily by plane or by train, so we opted for the train route travelling via Brussels, Frankfurt and Salzburg. And yes, of course it all ran to the timetable except for the bits that involved tracks in the UK. Watching the countryside of France, Belgium, Germany and Austria roll past seamlessly felt particularly poignant at a time when the UK electorate were gearing up to their collective act of daftness.
Over the last ten years I’ve gone to Shetland by several different routes - usually driving to Aberdeen and finishing the journey north by boat or flying from London via Glasgow or Aberdeen, but occasionally coming up with other variants. In April this year, in a fit of individual daftness I decided that rather than fly north, I’d get the sleeper bus from London to Aberdeen and finish the journey by boat. The direct bus turned into four buses, and involved a lot of time sitting around at various motorway services and bus depots. All in all, the most commendable aspect of the Megabus service was the speed at which they were able to refund my fare (which had been refunded before the journey ended!).
Travel traumas not withstanding I did manage to see Shetland in the sun, rain, wind and snow (and not always on the same day!). I’ve reassured myself that there isn’t anywhere that I rather be to unwind than on Scat Ness.
Top three travel experiences of 2016
3. Going from London to Aberdeen by bus. I’m noting this under “once-in-a-lifetime-experiences”. I won’t be risking an overnight bus from London again anytime soon.
2. Wandering the edges of the Tiernsee in western Austria. Fantastic scenery and great strudel.
1. Flying across the Icefjord en route into Ilulissat on the little plane from Kangerlussuaq.
And plans for 2017
I have one trip into the Arctic by boat (to Jan Mayen Island, and on north to Svalbard) already in the diary, and have a strong hankering (but no booking yet) to get back to the Antarctic. There aren’t many trips to the Ross Sea, but it doesn’t seem right that I’ve not been on one yet!
I (bus experiences not withstanding) still want to do a really long haul train journey - maybe next year I’ll find an excuse to do the Trans-Siberian railway.
And I really do need to spend a bit more time on Shetland in the next year - this year included lots of short periods in residence so I need to conjure up some longer ones too.
Not quite sure how to work all these ideas alongside my regular visits to Coventry - maybe some creative accounting or teleworking, at least, is needed.