Travelling Solo

It feels strange to be travelling alone. I don’t mean for journeys like the commute to work, that is different. But to be on a train going somewhere for the day and I’m sat by myself. It doesn’t take long for it to kick in that there is something missing. Well, not something, but someone. There is no Helen sat beside me. No little conversations, no little observations, no pointing out interesting objects out of the window. It is rare for us not to be travelling together, and now I am on the second such journey in four days.

Saturday I was off up to London. I had a full medical check up at the Euston BUPA site. A direct train to St Pancras. A journey made more times than I could accurately count. I used to travel everywhere by myself. Headphones in and left to my own devices. But I’ve gotten used to the interaction and now it doesn’t feel right to have replaced it with the headphones.

The medical was somewhat less than optimum, but I haven’t unpacked that all yet. Something for another piece on another day, I think. So much so that I didn’t even notice anything on the journey back to Crawley.

Now it is Tuesday, and I am back on the train and on the same route again. Only this time I am bypassing St Pancras and carrying on to the end of the line – Peterborough. I’ve switched my non-working day so I can go to the rearranged game against Peterborough United. Instead of it being the middle of a week off where we have leisurely driven there and stayed in a hotel overnight before and after the game, it is a there and back in the same day trip this time. Not something Helen is up to at the moment.

And so I am a solo traveller again. And it doesn’t feel any less weird than it did on Saturday. I am left to look out of the window across fields, at trees and bushes, at walls and fences, or to overlook people’s back gardens, see the activity around factories and warehouses, trundle past the death-defying feats required to get the graffiti in that particular spot. How every glance up and out is a different snapshot, a different vista.

I turn to point something out to Helen, forgetting I am by myself. And now I turn back to the window and study my own reflection as we pass through a tunnel, and everything is black outside. And I look old and tired. And sad.

Portslade Station Can Do One

Because I refuse to drive the hire car for both my own safety and blood pressure, and for the sake of all other road users out there, I got the train to work today (last Thursday now).

The train down isn’t too bad, change at Brighton, and with a reduced timetable due to strike action, there wasn’t the usual step foot off the train from Three Bridges to watch the one going through Portslade just pulling out from platform one. Though as usual the ticket wouldn’t work at one end, the Three Bridges end this time.

It let me out (this time) at Portslade station. I’m not a fan of Portslade station as a whole. It’s lay out is just fucked up. It would be great if there was a gate into work from the far end of the platform, but I know that one is a pipe dream. But they have barriers and a ticket office in the building you go through to the south bound platform. But there is no ticket machine in there.

To pick up pre-ordered tickets you have to find the ticket machine. It is outside, well away from the ticket office – which makes no sense to anyone – and is out in the elements, so you either get soaked, or you can’t see the screen as the sun is always on it. it’s a stupid layout.

But not as stupid as the platform on the other side is. On the south side you enter/exit through the building. On the north side you are drawn to the building, the path leads there, and there are steps up and a handrail, but it is only a bicycle store. If you get there and find that out you have missed the only entrance to the platform, a ramp up behind more bicycle stands. Once up the ramp, the barriers are in a position where if they were any further west, you would be on Boundary Road. And at a point where you are not in line with a train.

So, I wasted thirty seconds going to the wrong ‘entrance,’ and then the barriers forced me away from the train on the platform. I scuttle to the rear door and press the button, but the door doesn’t open, and I carry on scuttling to the next door, which doesn’t open either. I can see other doors further up the train that are still open, but they are too far for me to scuttle to to get on, and they close, and the train goes without me.

And then the next one isn’t for another forty minutes.


If you are going to have a cock eyed lay out of a station, put clearer signs up and don’t have the main path leading to a building if you can’t get through that building.



The week saw clear skies, it comes with the cold weather, but it was also a full moon, which I got a couple of decent shots of.

Also visible was Mars. The shots of that weren’t as clear, and so I got just a blob of blurry orange colour.

We were getting a train Friday morning from Crawley station. After what seems to be most of the year, the main entrance is now back inside and undercover. But there must surely be more work to do as there is nowhere to get food or drink in the new glass and chrome station building. No chance of a quick drink before getting a train as there was in the old station building. If they are finished, then although the entrance looks shiny, it will be less use than ever. Plus, the rest of the station still looks like a tip.

Part of the improvements to the station was to build the new footbridge, along with its lifts. Something that has been needed for years. We’re just not sure why it had to be so far down the platform it’s half way to Three Bridges, or why they needed to take the old bridge by the entrance from East Park away. It wasn’t showing signs of falling down, and now for those who don’t need the lift it adds another couple of minutes to their time to get to platform one.

Anyway, we were off to Brighton. Not my favourite destination, but I needed somewhere without the chain store only mentality of so many towns nowadays, and the North Laines is ideal for finding individual shops. I needed this to get some inspiration as for what to buy Helen for Christmas. I used to be really good at this kind of thing, but I struggle a lot now with it. Bereft of ideas as my brain doesn’t want to work in that direction anymore. (or at all it would seem a lot of the time.)

Being on the first off peak train meant we were there before the crowds. And the cold was putting more people off as well. So much so that some of the shops weren’t even open.

It turned out that the second shop we went in was the one for presents, but that was only found out after visiting dozens of others, and I returned to it on the way back to the station and home.

One of the other shops we went in was Snooper’s Paradise. I know I have walked past it quite a few times before, but not paid it any attention in my rush to get the hell out of Brighton. But I didn’t know just what a wonderland it was in there. I think we were in there for about an hour, but that was only scratching the surface. I picked up a couple of random Leicester pieces, but there is a lot I would be interested in going through in a lot more detail, so at some point next year there will be a day trip there in full on snooper mode.

There were a couple of retro shops, which had interesting stuff in them, but, Jesus wept, the prices were ridiculous. Three figures for stuff you can get on eBay for a third of the price. And yet they were full of people buying stuff. More money than sense, and yet all claiming poverty. The worst example was a vintage ugly looking Kappa sweatshirt. Three colours including a horrible brown shade. It was vintage in the fact it was obviously old, had been worn to death and washed within an inch of its life, out of shape and fit only to be used as dishcloths. The price? A snip at £79.99. A charity shop would refuse to sell it, it was so tatty. Yet it goes to show that a fool and their money are soon parted if any idiot decides to buy it.

Friday night saw a Crawley home game in sub zero temperatures, and it was a sub-zero performance to match.

Saturday was writing group, the last of the year, so included some nice non-healthy snacks. And then it was a trip to Argos. We have become wimps and gotten an electric blanket, and dug out the additional quilt to make it up to a lot of togs now.

Saturday night saw another disappointing football match, but at least the bed was nice and warm afterwards.

Helen had booked for us, her sister and mum to go on the winter lights special on the Bluebird Railway on Sunday night. We were meeting them at the Farmers Arms at Scaynes Hill. When we left home it was thinking about snowing, but more a sleet consistency. By the time we’d gone the ten miles or so to Haywards Heath there was a healthy covering on the road, and vehicles were struggling to get purchase to get up the hill in the opposite direction to us going around the ring road.

We got parked and went into the pub, the others turned up and we had a nice meal. In the two hours we were there, an inch of snow had fallen and covered the cars. During this time, we had (well Helen had) been checking the Bluebell Railway’s website and her e-mails to see if it was still going ahead in all the snow. There was nothing to say it wasn’t, and so we made out way there.

In the pub I’d overheard someone say that they weren’t sure about driving home as they hated driving in the snow. I thought to myself that they’d be better off driving in the car. But that’s just me. A couple came in not long before we were going. They had been booked on the 5pm train, but had been held up and missed getting there and had given up and come into the pub instead.

It was one of those evenings where the railway had taken on the wrong name, it shouldn’t have been the Bluebell, as Snowdrop would have been far more appropriate. We got there without too much trouble, only to find out they had cancelled the 8pm train. They had announced it on Twitter, not bothering with their website or e-mailing paying passengers.

It wasn’t directly cancelled because of the snow fall, but it was a by product of the snow and ice, as the 5pm train (which had left late and the couple who came into the pub would have been able to catch it after all), had got as far as Horsted Keynes, but was now stuck due to issues with points and signals and as yet hadn’t made it back.

The lights they did have around the site were good though.

We had a potter around the station (and a quick look in the gift shop), and then headed for home. A proper visit to the railway and gift shop will be something to do in 2023.

The journey back started off OK. The snow was melting quite quickly, and it was only as we started the drag back up to Scaynes Hill that it became heavy going. A long line of very slow moving (but mainly not moving) traffic, that continued in that vein until we got past the turn off for Lindfield (which we were going to take to get around Haywards Heath), but where, as if by magic the traffic disappeared, and we had a clear run.

The issue appeared to be getting around three separate abandoned cars, which was taking a lot longer than it should, especially when there was little to no traffic coming the other way. Three quarters of the hour or so long journey was spent doing two miles.

But we were still home a lot earlier than we would have been if the train had been running, and we’d had a nice meal. And it meant I was back just in time to see the first important action from the night’s football. American Football this time, and as RedZone went on, Deebo Samuel ran the ball into the end zone and the 49ers took an early lead against Tom Brady and the Buccaneers. A lead that never looked like being relinquished, and turned into a 35-7 rout. All behind a quarterback who was the 2022’s draft’s Mr Irrelevant, the last man picked in the draft, who was in his first start. The first time Tom Brady has ever lost against another quarterback starting their first game in the twenty-three years he has been playing. A length of time longer than the age of Brock Purdy. So, a good night’s football after the two nights of disappointment.

And then it’s back to work.

You can’t have everything.

Travel Silliness

Time for another trip, a double header, the first part of which is to Harrogate. We are out early to get the journey into London done. Having dealt with the incompetents of Southern Fail and Thamestink enough over the years, we are giving ourselves some additional leeway to the journey to allow for their random delays and cancellations.

Instead of going their suggested route of into Victoria and having the Southern fail barriers fail to recognise our advance tickets, and then having to schlep through on the underground on another very hot day, we went for a train to St Pancras and the couple of hundred steps across York Road into King’s Cross. (Being in a silly mood, I do wonder if his mood will ever improve – king’s cross again, how about king’s mildly annoyed, or even king’s not overly bothered for a change.)

We have time to get a drink as we wait for the last possible moment before rushing for the train. Not by choice of course, but because, as they do at mainline stations in London, they leave it until the last possible moment to announce the platform number, and then wonder why they have stampede related deaths every twenty minutes or so.

My silliness continues apace as the first stop is Stevenage. I’m asking whether he has a brother, something like Malcolm age perhaps, or if there are any other members of the age family we are going to meet on the journey.

The train is running slowly up until this point, something to do with signalling problems at Hatfield, which meant no trains were stopping there, and everything else was crawling through. Though I do ponder on what kind of hats they are growing in the field there. It’s not going to get any better readers.

Then there is a longer run to the next station of Grantham. I’m not sure who they are granting the ham to. Only to find when Helen comes back from the buffet car that it was to us, with cheese, in a warm ciabatta. Very nice too.

And whilst we were stopped there, watching all this granting of hams they announced, ‘change here for Skegness’. If ever there was an announcement to warm my heart. I can’t hear Skegness without childhood memories coming through. I’m sure anyone Leicester born and bred will think of day trips or weeks during the July fortnight away on the Lincolnshire riviera. Mablethorpe, Chapel St Leonards, Ingoldmells and the capital of them all, Viva Skegvegas.

It was the only place we were distinctly told we couldn’t go to when as teenagers we had a Midlands rail, go anywhere weekly pass during one summer holidays. Mainly because to be back on time we would have to leave there before we arrived.

Further up the line and the next bloke’s house, good old Don Caster. We’re quite familiar with his sister Lan, and are aware of his brother Tad as well. I could go on with his family tree, but no one wants or needs that. (Not that that usually stops me of course.)

The announcement at good old Don Caster’s said to change there for trains to various places including Cleethorpes. One of the places we did make it to on that teenage weekly ticket. As kids, our trip to Cleethorpes lasted about ten minutes. Due to hold ups it was almost time to go home as soon as we got there, a mad dash outside the station to the front and back ensued.

Another of the places mentioned was Grimsby Town, which I’m sure is missing the full moniker, as it usually comes followed by Nil. I went there in my twenties in a minibus of drunken Leicester City fans, but that one really is a tale for another time.

And next up we were off to a wake in a field, by the gate at the west of the field. What? No? Oh, Wakefield Westgate, nothing to do with dead people at all.

As with the stop at Don Caster where we could see the impressive looking Minster near the station, there are some lovely looking grand buildings there if you look out the correct side of the train, including a cathedral that I’ve not been to.

I have been to the castle at Leeds. Again? What do you mean Leeds Castle is nowhere near Leeds? So, they weren’t telling me when I went that the castle was made of stone, but that it was near Maidstone.

We had been running late to the problems down in the field full of hats, but when we got to Leeds (without a castle), we just sat there. Only to be told after a while we could be there for some time, and that the trip to Harrogate might be cancelled as there was a medical emergency at the next station. They were quick at giving out the delay repay details, but with only a few minutes to spare before it would be a full refund, they miraculously cleared the line and we carried on.

To Horsforth. The portal through which the whores come forth (and their punters usually come first). Oh, it’s not spelt like that, and depending on who is mumbling the announcements, it isn’t pronounced like that either.

And then finally we are at Harrogate. Time to dump the bags at the hotel and set out to explore. For a change we aren’t winging it. I’ve looked online and found that there are history trails around the town, and I’ve even downloaded an app for it.

Yes, I did say an app. Single use for a weekend and then delete it. Plus, I’ll probably pick up the paper copy when I can.

A Travelling Man

When it came to my journey to and from Somerset, I did what any sane person would and double checked the train times the night before. Good job really, as Southern Trains had just removed the one I was booked on. They were also warning about slow running trains and potential cancellations, and so I was at Crawley station before six in the morning.

There was no slow running into Victoria, and an easy bus ride across to Paddington got me there in plenty of time for my train, enough time to get a Maccy D’s for breakfast.

I settled into my seat in the quiet zone, and was pleasantly surprised when the booked seat next to me wasn’t taken up.

A young couple got on the train at Reading. Came and sat across the aisle from me in the quiet zone. Only for him to start up a loud running commentary of everything they were passing outside. It was at a volume where he was drowning out my music in my headphones. On and on he went until I took my headphones off and said, “for crying out loud, this is supposed to be the quiet coach, no one needs your loud running commentary all the way to Somerset”. He shut up and took out his PSP and put his own headphones on.

The pair of them sat opposite each other and both had big bags on the seats next to them. OK, the train isn’t busy, but there are large luggage shelves above all the seats. And then she proceeded to take her shoes off and put her feet on the seat and shift about across the both of them scraping her feet all over both. No one needs that, keep your nasty feet off the upholstery you ignorant little skank.

The train didn’t run slowly and was only two minutes late into Taunton, and I got to Cannington in plenty of time to have a wander around before the meeting started.

A quick interlude about the stay. They had big tower fans in the room. I plugged it in and pressed the button, but it didn’t start, so I adjusted the dial and off it went. Only to stop a few minutes later. So, I adjusted the dial a bit more and off it went again, and then a few minutes later it stopped. I did this four times before I realised that the dial on the top of the fan wasn’t a temperature dial, it was a timer, and I’d been setting it to ten minutes and not ten degrees. Once I eventually worked this out, it got the full two hours. (Yes, it hadn’t occurred to me as to why they hell there would have been a heat setting of one hundred and twenty degrees.)

Coming home was different. I’m glad I’m someone who likes to be early to make sure that they are on time. If I hadn’t been ten minutes early to get the bus, I’d have missed it and had an hour and a half to wait for the next one. As I’ve said before, there is nothing worse than public transport which is early.

After a walk around Bridgwater, which I’ve written about separately I headed to the train station and sat waiting for a train to Taunton. The announcement came over the tannoy.

“We are sorry to announce that the 11:21 service to Cardiff Central via Bristol Temple Meads is delayed by approximately 22 minutes. This is due to lightning dame to the signalling system.”

I looked up at the clear blue sky. What effing lightning? Have you seen the weather? There isn’t a cloud to be seen. No rain. Nothing. How? Just how?

They also announce ‘mind the gap’ several times. And when the train to Taunton pulls up, I see why. They aren’t messing about with the gap here. It’s officially turned in to a day out. The step up from the platform to get up onto the train is taller than some people I know. And even I could have fallen through the gap down onto the tracks. It isn’t just a case of mind the gap, it’s effing dangerous. How about building the platform a foot or two higher?

Now, let’s be clear, I’m not Paul Simon, and this is not Widnes train station, but I am homeward bound. This is Taunton calling, or should that be this is Taunton taunting? I have a lot of time to wait for my train here. I left Bridgwater an hour earlier than originally planned. Mainly due to the unrelenting sun and heat, but partly getting any train that is available sounds like a plan for today because you never know when there may be delays, and partly because all the shade offering interesting places were shut.

I would like to do the same now I’m at Taunton, but I have an advance ticket with mandatory seat reservations, which the staff at the station and the guards on earlier trains tell me can’t be used. I don’t even want to think about how much they would want to gouge me for if I was to try and get a ticket for one of these earlier trains. And so, I wait.

I use the facilities and look to go in the café. But is looks like there is only a Starbucks here. And they can stick their overpriced rubbish where the sun doesn’t shine. Which today may be quite far away.

I see a fellow traveller with a bottle of Pepsi in front of him and get a bit excited. Until I ask him where he got it from to be told he bought it with him from town. Which, as with so many train stations, isn’t anywhere near to the station that serves it.

A vending machine calls to be, but drinks are hanging off the end of their racks and a bottle of water is at a funny angle in the fetch mechanism. I look at the pay point on the machine which reads ‘the machine is out of service’.

And so, I amble down to the barriers and ask a member of staff if there are any local shops that might sell drinks. At first, he tries to direct me back up to the Starbucks on the platform, as if he is on commission with them. Seeing the face I pulled at that suggestion he mentions there is another café on the far platform. A little local on, cheaper than Starbucks, and I wonder why he didn’t mention that first. And I think commission again.

I wander over to the far platform and its café. I get two drinks and an ice cream and head back to the platform will eventually go from.

The platform is covered, which is fine if it is raining, but it is a glass roof, which is less than useless in the sun. There is no shade, but I find the waiting room. I walk in and it is great. Aircon is in full effect. It feels cold. At first anyway, it ends up a comfortable temperature once I acclimatised, which is better than outside, and would have been even better if planks stopped opening the door and standing on the threshold trying to find their tiny mind to make a decision about coming in. Letting all the heat in with them.

I look up from writing and there appear to be clouds. The unrelenting sun is forced to relent (for a bit anyway). And as the time for my train gets closer, I venture back out and walk up to the far end of the platform to be level with where my coach will be. The rain starts just as colleagues from work turn up. And the train, which has been showing as on time for the last hour and a half now shows it will be half an hour late, as announcements using excuse roulette come over the speakers.

The train turns up thirty-four minutes late, and everyone has scattered to their pre-booked seats. Only for there to be someone sat in mine. As one of a party of four around the table. Late trains causing pandemonium for seating. Which shows what utter richards the earlier train’s staff were being.

There was a table across the aisle from the one I had booked which had a spare seat. It had the added bonus of me needed to ask someone to move their bag from it. I put my headphones in, and turned the volume up a bit to try and drown out the inane chatter from the table of old know it all know nothings sat in my seat. The concept of quiet coach had gone right out of the window. And I sit there wishing these loudmouths would too.

The train is trundling, it’s going a lot slower than the one did coming to Taunton. And to spice things up a bit they’ve chucked a couple of extra stops in there as well. I am trying to write, but despite it being the quite coach I find myself too distracted to concentrate.

I also sit there hoping this is not the same physical train as I travelled to Taunton on. As if it is then I’m sitting on skanky feet’s seat.

Then the trolley turns up. It must have had a rough journey down the train as it is very nearly early. Not content with stealing my seat the stupid old goats jump in with their order first and take all the remaining food on the train. It may have only been fruitcake left at that point, but it was edible. It’s all I can do not to jump up and beat the old goats to death with their fruitcake slices.

Perhaps I should have taken the packet of biscuits from the room this morning after all.

As the train draws near to Reading the announcement is made that it is running 94 minutes late, and due to that it will be terminating at Reading. So, everyone jumps off, crosses the platform and gets on the other train sitting waiting to head off to Paddington. I had already thought about getting off at Reading and getting the Gatwick train, only to check and see they had all been cancelled for the day. The train sits there for another quarter of an hour before starting to move – to a big cheer from those on the train.

It trundles for a bit and speeds up the closer it gets to London and once it pulls in at Paddington there is a stampede to get off the train. I amble off, as it is going to be potluck once I get to Victoria anyway.

You know that feeling when you fly to a hot country, and you come out of the air-conditioned plane and make your way down the steps to the tarmac, and the heat hits you. Getting off the train at Paddington was the worst I have ever known that to be. I’m not sure, but I think I passed two melted people on my way out of the station.

The bus stop outside the station was shut. Because of course it was. So, I walked up to the next one. It was so hot out there I couldn’t even be bothered to take my camera out of my bag to take a picture of the blue (well brown in this case) plaque to Alexander Fleming and his discovery of penicillin in St Mary’s Hospital.

It has to be said I fluked getting a train at Victoria. There was a delayed one that stopped at Crawley that I just walked onto and got a seat. It even ran at a reasonable speed and I got home less than two hours after the original plan, which in the scheme of things isn’t that bad and was better than some of my colleagues. It just seemed like it was a lot longer.

So, same again in the winter snow drifts anyone?

The Day After

I was woken up by someone banging on the hotel room door. It wasn’t even half past nine, so I could have done without that the morning after the late night heart-breaking loss of the 49ers in the Superbowl. But it did mean I was awake in time for breakfast. It was a nice bright day overlooking Albert Dock when I braved opening the curtains. I took my time getting ready before heading up to Lime Street for my train.

I’m there in plenty of time only to find out all London trains are up the spout. They first say there is a security incident. The announcement over the tannoy says in the Watford area. But staff on the concourse say it is an emergency services incident and it is in the Winsford area. I’m told it would be quickest and best for me to get on any train going to Liverpool South Parkway, and from there get one of the rail replacement coaches they had going directly to Crewe, where I’d have a variety of trains to choose from to get to London.

As the train leaves Lime Street it goes through a long section of track that is surrounded by high limestone walls or tunnels. They cease and there is a brief interlude of industrial areas before the track rises slightly. As I look out either side of the train all that can be seen are a sea of chimneys, and the tips of rows intersected by other rows of terraced houses, as far as the eye can see. It is only broken up by the occasional factory chimney, lonely church spire or tower or an ugly looking tower block.

The chimney vista is gradually replaced by whole house as the line dips down (or perhaps the surrounding land rises). The terraces become more broken up and spattering’s of artexed thirties semi-detached houses can be seen amongst the terraced rows. It must be a vista seen in a lot of industrial cities across the country, but it has never looked so obvious to me before.

Liverpool South Parkway has a scrum of people trying to get on coaches bound for Crewe. The drivers seem to be overwhelmed by the volumes and people are shuffled between coaches, sometimes more than once, before we set off on the congested road to Crewe.

It was appropriate for a coach coming out of Liverpool to take a magical mystery tour. This one covering all windy minor ‘A’ roads in Cheshire. Despite being told it was a direct route to Crewe, we stopped at three random stations in the middle of nowhere, including Winsford where the incident happened to cause the chaos. It was over ninety minutes before I saw a road sign mentioning Crewe.

Nearly two hours I was on that coach. I hate coach travel, the air isn’t the same, and I start to feel all claustrophobic and sick. The constant inane wittering of scouse women sat all around me wasn’t helping either. Seriously, no one cares that if you knew you’d be on a coach for so long you would have put proper clothes on and not be in your pyjamas and dressing gown. Why on earth did you think it was a good idea to dress like that to start with?

I was definitely glad to get off the coach. There was ten minutes before a train my ticket would allow me to catch, and it was in on the platform. But the guard made everyone wait out in the cold breezy station until a minute before the train was due to leave before they opened the doors for people to get on. Once moving they announce that they are sorry for the late running of the train. It wouldn’t have been late if you’d opened the doors earlier you halfwit.

Three and a half hours is the shown journey time for this train. I groaned at that, but found a seat in the randomly placed first class, and for a few stops I was the only person in there, and so set about doing some writing. The beast of a bag I had, now had my rucksack inside, and was still able to fit in the overhead racks for the return journey. I wasn’t blocking the aisles this time and everyone’s happy with that.

I looked up when there was an announcement about a delay getting into Wolverhampton station. They just said they were being held and should be underway shortly. Looking out of the window it was probably going to be as soon as the driver could persuade the train “it’s OK, we’re only passing through, you’re not going to be stuck in Wolverhampton for ever.”

Later we crept into Birmingham New Street where another four carriage tin pot train was going to joining ours. Once it had been we spent the next fifteen minutes crawling through a very dark tunnel. Although it could just have been Birmingham at twilight. I don’t think there’s much difference.

By this point I wasn’t sure just how far behind schedule we were, but there was a rumour that someone was going to be coming around to take breakfast orders soon.

As it turned out, the train was only ten minutes getting into Euston. I walked across to St. Pancras playing the dodge the kamikaze pedestrian game they so love playing in London.

I bought a ticket from the ticket machine next to the barriers down to the Thamestink platforms. I put the ticket into the barrier for it to spit it back out saying “seek assistance”. Seriously, WTAF, I have literally bought this ticket twenty seconds before putting it in the barrier that is next to the machine I bought it from. Why on earth are you telling me to seek assistance? Have your ticket machines and barriers had a falling out and they’re taking it out on the customers? Or as with the rest of your tin pot train services, are they just garbage? It probably explains why your barrier operative just holds the barrier next to her open permanently. Because they know that either their barriers can’t read, their ticket machines can’t write, or both.

Having exhausted topics to write about and mindlessly scrolled on the phone for as long as I could I was left with looking up and down the train. It is quite a sight on the new Thamestink ones. They have no doors separating the carriage, and so on nice straight pieces of track you can sit in your seat, lean into the aisle and see straight up to the front of the train, and turn and do the same to the back of the train. Something that kept me occupied for at least ten minutes.

By the time I get back to Three Bridges it’s eight PM. I’ve been travelling for eight hours, which with the seven or more hours I’d travelled to get up to Liverpool yesterday means I’ve been travelling for more than fifteen of the last thirty five hours.

At least I can have a lie in tomorrow. No? What do you mean it’s Tuesday tomorrow. Goddamn work.

Stupid Weather

Why can’t we, as a country, seem to be able to cope with weather that is in the slightest bit abnormal? Half an inch of snow and the country grinds to a halt. Thunderstorms and heavy rain brings on full blown panic. a bit breezy and people forget how to walk or drive. And then despite the lengthy moaning of most people about the lack of hot weather (not something you’ll hear me moaning about btw), when it is hot, it’s too hot. Public transport becomes even more chaotic than usual. And some companies take this as a sign to be utter halfwits.

I may have mentioned my total disdain towards Southern Trains and Thamestink before (just the once or twice). Well they took full advantage of the hot weather to try and provide an even worse service than they are usually capable of. Southern Trains started out the day by blatantly lying about the running times of their trains. They had all services through Three Bridges into London as running on time. First on the national rail website, and then in the station where you buy tickets. All the displays show as trains being on time and running to schedule.

However, the moment you put your ticket through the barrier and head for the platforms then it all changes. The train I had gone to catch had all of a sudden lost twenty minutes. Either they are a bunch of unscrupulous lying weasels, or there is a time warp on their barriers. Either way I walked up to the platform and stood in as much shade as could be mustered for twenty minutes. And then, just for good measure another five minutes.

Having only just gotten comfortable by the time the train got to Gatwick Airport, it was somewhat perturbing to be kicked off the train to wait for the next Victoria service, so the train we were on could get back on schedule. So I waited with hundreds of others for the train from Folkestone, which is of course, running late itself. I get on, only for Southern to pull the very same trick at East Croydon. Having crawled along because of the potential for buckled rails in the heat. (They don’t have the same problem in countries that are this hot most of the year round.)

Finally I arrive at Victoria, and the tube is up the spout. Apparently with the same problems with the rails. Yep, the sun must have been really strong to get to the rails thirty meters underground. Bus it is, but the air con isn’t working, and they only have three windows on the whole bus, none of them much bigger than a tablet computer. Not that the bus is going fast enough to generate any airflow anyway.

Coming home is not much better. Thamestink are the culprits this time. They at least, say their trains are running late. Both online and at the station, but neither actually bear any resemblance to what is happening at St Pancras. The boards show trains are running with times for some of them. A number don’t have times and none say cancelled. But all of those proclamations are illusions.

They have a YTS kid at the top of the escalators trying to stop people getting down to the platform. Having not noticed him, and with an escalator working I just wander past and start heading down. YTS boy screams at me that there are no southbound trains running. The end of his scream is drowned out by the tannoy system saying that the train arriving on platform A is the delayed train to Horsham.

I’m not sure what happened to the YTS boy, but for all I know he may well be on the train to Horsham, carried along with the rush of people careering down the escalator he was trying to guard. After arriving at the station and boarding the mad rush of passengers, the train sits there for another quarter of an hour before actually going anywhere. At each stop through London it fills up some more, until all seats, the standing areas, luggage racks (including those above the seats), are full of people.

The air con is trying its best but is fighting a losing battle against the heat generated by the sardine tin.

The driver can’t even get the doors closed at London Bridge. Despite several desperate pleas over the PA system inside and outside the train, it is another ten minutes before we get going again. We stop at every tinpot station on the way, and then the train suddenly empties at Redhill. The train makes a noise very much like a sigh of relief and the display goes on the fritz, saying it is only stopping at Gatwick and Horsham. The driver assures all the passengers that we are actually stopping at all the other “small” stations on the way.

I eventually get to Three Bridges on the same day I had left it, but it felt more like three days.

And it was a shit meeting I went to as well.