I've lost count of how many times I've made this trip over the last 18 years. It's homeward bound either way, north or south. Southbound today, the countryside looking particularly green. A vivid emerald that only comes when the rain has poured forth for weeks. At this time of year, the barley and wheat fields that cover these parts alternate between green and silver; it looks like someone is growing gemstones.
Like Treebeard, going south always feels to me like going downhill. I've no idea why. The stretch between Leuchars and Edinburgh always feels like an unnecessary preamble. Like the overlong introduction to a book that you've started but wish you hadn't. The introduction, not the book. The journey doesn't really start until Edinburgh, once the commuters and day-trippers have been shaken off.
I've written down a lot of these trips, here on the blog and in notebooks and sometimes just scribbled into the back of my mind. It's strange that something so familiar should always make me want to write about it. But then I'm ceaselessly noting the rain and haar, so maybe it's not so strange at all.
My coachmates seem either very old or too young. There's a guy with a Red Sox cap on and what seems like a hundred grandparents, aunties and uncles. Some orange ladies got on board at Kirkaldy. Their fake tan is too loud for the quiet coach.
Between Edinburgh and Berwick we hug the coast and as always I promise myself to return here in a car, with a camera and a notebook, and write and snap and take in this stretch of coast that seems a gift of the sea to the land. No one can see this strip of shoreline and not be moved. The surf laps at the front steps of a ruinous cottage.
We quickly traverse the north and reach the middle in York. It's all flat and landlocked from here to London. The rains have turned most of it into fenland, though some it was like that already. I wanted to write more, but instead I stared though the window and watched the words slip by with the country outside.