Thursday 22 June 2023

Contrasts: The Cairngorms & Liverpool, Thunderstorms & Sunshine, Cities & Nature

View over Strathspey from the Cairngorms, June 9

Last week the dry spell ended with thunderstorms and I went to Liverpool. Just before the weather broke I walked along the top of the Northern Corries in the Cairngorms on a day of increasingly hazy skies and enervating heat. Two days later I was on a train to Liverpool for the annual Outdoor Trade Show.

Glass & metal, June 12

Or rather a series of trains, four in total, one more than expected. The thunderstorms had begun and damaged the line outside Inverness so my train from Aviemore to Edinburgh was delayed. When it finally arrived it then stopped for good at Perth. I never found out why. Another train took me to Preston and was almost on time. From Carlisle south I watched dark rain storms sweeping across the sky to the west. The wonderful Blitzortung app showed a solid wedge of lightning strikes all the way south to Bristol and across the whole of North Wales.

A final train to Lime Street Station and I was outside on the streets of Liverpool, streets that were awash with water as torrential rain hammered down. Reaching my hotel, a twenty minute walk away, was exciting and challenging. Seeing through the sheets of rain was difficult, crossing roads hazardous, not skidding on the thin river underfoot required concentration. I could have done with trekking poles. I could have done with a better waterproof jacket, waterproof overtrousers and waterproof footwear. I was woefully under-equipped and entered the hotel lobby sodden and bedraggled. Welcome to Liverpool!

Bright halls, hard edges. June 13

The next morning there was no sign of the storm. The sky was blue, the sun hot, and the pavements dry. So it remained for the rest of my stay. For three days I wandered round the big exhibition hall looking at outdoor gear and chatting to acquaintances old and new. How many years had I been doing this? About 45! With only a few years missed. Unsurprisingly it was very familiar. And still interesting.

The Mersey. June 15

Outside in the sun I stared at the wide river Mersey. The water was murky, swirling dark and brown. I thought of the clear streams of the Cairngorms. I’d be glad to be back there.

Corridors, corridors. June 13

Glad to escape the spooky seemingly endless hotel corridors too. Unnervingly bland and characterless they spoke of horror films and sinister murder mysteries. Lights triggered by sensors came on just as you reached them. There was never anybody else about.

Albert Dock. June 14

Before the trains home I had time to amble round the renovated docks area. The developments are impressive, the history fascinating. The Museum of Liverpool provided much more of the latter.

By the time I was walking back to Lime Street Station my senses felt overwhelmed. Cities throw so much at you. Noise, smell, crowds, bright lights. A confusing clash of architectural styles. I needed the simplicity of the hills, the quietness of nature. I’m out of practice with city living, and happy to be so.

Lilies, lupins,hills. June 17.

Back home the Pyrenean lilies and lupins were in full bloom in the garden. The loudest noise was a cock pheasant strutting around calling. I watched rabbits, red squirrels, and roe deer. In the distance Bynack More rose into a pale blue sky. Peace!

Now it’s time for a walk in the hills.

Cairn Lochan, Cairngorms. June 9


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