Graeme Elmore has a date:

Last Sunday I was admiring the Quantocks with the lowering clouds full of rain as I travelled back from mass at The Shrine of Our Lady of Glastonbury. I'm writing now from Peta's sitting room in Bo'ness and as I look throyugh the window I can see across the Firth of Forth to the snow-topped Ochils - the hills just to the north-west of Edinburgh. Coasters passing up down the river have just turned on their navigation lights and emberthe darkness here in Scotland falls earlier than it does in sunny Somerset.

The five-hour train journey from King's Cross to Linlithgow was really enjoyable - all helped by a midday dose of Mother's Ruin as we slowed down to admire Peterborough Carthedral shining in the noon-day golden glow. On we went heading for the next stiop at aniother cathedral city - York. Meanwhile the potato and leek soup had arrived - always a tricky course on a moving train - and the poached turbot was not far behind. Nothing quite like a good hearty GNER lunch. York minster - as beautiful and majestic as it is is more than over shadowed, for my money, by Durham Cathedral and The Castle as we slowed down over the viaduct which gives fantastic views over the River Wear looping around the City. I simply couldn't face the pudding I'm afraid - so it was the selection of English cheeses as we eased into multi-bridged Newcastle and the unintelligible Geordie announcer on platform 7.

Not far to go for the border between the two Kingdoms but first in the winter sunshine and wonderful blue skies we shot along the Northumberland coast and spied Bamburgh Castle standing out against a breath taking sea-scape. The next sight as we neared the Scottish Capital was Arthur's Seat as we made our way through the Edinburgh suburbs and Waverley Station where I changed for the short journey on to the birth place of Mary Queen of Scots - Linlithgow - where the ruins of her palace dominate the town The train arrived bang on schedule and there on the platform to meet me, Peta and Bertie.

Whilst I was travelling in style, Fiona was driving up from Somerset with a boot full of Christmas prezzies - having left home at 0800 she arrived just half an hour afterme at 1600 in time for tea and Portuguese custard cream cakes. Lovely!

On the train I got a phone call from Southmead Hospital in Bristol. They wish to admit me on 16th December and surgery - all being well - will take place on the 17th. I expect to be in hospital for 4/5 days - so "I'll be home for Christmas..."

Well, as this is Scotland, I'd better forgo my usual tipple and go for a wee malt...