Lack of fitness, a lost thermarest, and a barrage of vile showers – they let off for an hour or two to open up that horizon – made for one of the more trying excursions I’ve had north of the border; but such is the stuff that memories are made of.

Memorable enough, it would seem, to have become the marker by which I’m reckoning time: it must be almost bang on a year since I headed off to the west coast with the bivy bag to collect myself before the Marie Curie fellowship. 

Looking back brings a jumble of emotions. The novelty of being able to buy books once more. Learning Danish and Old Norse, and the sensation of a living, learning brain that brings when things fall into place: I understand! Getting the Lohengrin monograph contracted so easily, so positively, and the teaching week back in Bonn, where it began all those years ago. Having the time to think and read and write again. Rediscovering the joy of getting to know forgotten medieval poetsDismantling one short-term home in order to create another. The relief of having a full-time salary in the summer months. Getting a fittingly international conference project up and running. Being together again, and the questions that begs about what is worth it in this or any other profession…

It is, to return to the present, not without self-irony that this academic has woven a bit of self-promotion into his blog just there. Perhaps that is why this year’s trip took us to the wide, high spaces on the other side of the country, where the distance and the shape of the land seem to swallow one up, far off from help, and small.