Jonathan: Back in December 2010 I was asked to help out with the design of major alterations to a very busy roundabout at Burnt Mills in Harlow, Essex. “A couple of weeks’ work” was mentioned at the time, but I’d heard that any number of times before over the years; and true to form that one roundabout has eventually amounted to what for most people would be more than four months’ work – albeit spread out over fifteen months, inter-woven with other engineering work. But now at last everyone involved seems content (or have they just fallen by the wayside with exhaustion?), and we’re ready to go: construction will start in April! Another major highways scheme I’ve been contributing design work to – also in Essex and involving a number of roundabouts, has been in construction for a good while now: calls for design changes and information have fallen away. There’s been no new mainland highways work offered for many months now: the landscape of the construction world has changed so dramatically since late 2008 when work was at its peak. So many flagship projects have been put back on the shelf to collect dust, and those that have survived are being procured differently. There just aren’t the same opportunities for freelancers, especially when it comes to working from my home office here in Uist as I did for the vast majority of the major projects I’ve worked on in recent years: all the layout of Edinburgh Tram from Haymarket to Newhaven was designed here in South Uist, and so too tens of kilometres of roads in Ireland. Besides, I am these days more interested in projects closer to home in every sense, whether it be engineering design for community energy projects, project management of ‘grand design’ type house builds, surveying croft boundaries, authoring websites for local businesses – or better still producing great Hebridean hogget lamb or devising new recipes for the jams and chutneys we sell here at The Big Garden. Thankfully it is these same things that show signs of growth – the island economy is it seems growing, where on the mainland it is stagnant. I was busy then; but now busier then ever! Over the years engineering work has taken me – taken D and I and the children, and the cats and dogs too! – around and about the UK, and well beyond; but life now is much rounder and it is about so much more!