Town Mouse

My 568-mile com­mute

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

WEDGING my com­pli­men­tary copy of Noc­turne: The Es­sen­tial Com­pan­ion to the Cale­do­nian Sleeper into the door of berth C03—a trick we afi­ciona­dos know stops the rat­tling—i pon­der the ad­van­tages of two nights a week in an air­less cabin over 10 two-hour jour­neys in a crowded com­muter train.

There’s noth­ing like be­ing lulled to sleep as you speed north after a few hours in the res­tau­rant car or lift­ing your blind to birch­woods against rolling hills as Leon, Adam, Mario or Clare brings you break­fast in bed. The litany of sta­tion names, the rat­tle of china as the en­gine pulls wearily up the Slochd, the great viaduct strid­ing over the River Nairn, and then we’re bar­relling down the last few miles past Cul­lo­den—and now it’s 10am and I’m at my desk over­look­ing the Ben. Head­ing south at this time of year, you can drink in sev­eral hours of High­land scenery (I like to be in bed by Perth) and then wake up re­freshed for the bus­tle of Eus­ton.

Ly­cra and rucksacks eclipse tweed and shot­guns. On In­ver­ness plat­form this morn­ing, a de­light­ful sight: 30 kilted scouts from the Western Isles back from camp­ing in Fin­land; lots of pur­ple tar­tan I don’t recog­nise. It’s Pride of Scot­land, they tell me, proudly.

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