Personal and undiluted views

2376 days ago

The more I travel First Great Western the more I hate it

I arrived at Bristol Temple Meads for the 4.47 AM in good time but a bad mood. My driver at V cars had attempted to sting me with a £1.80 penalty for getting into his cab at 4.26 AM – six minutes after it was booked for. By the clock in his cab – which tallied with the clock on my phone - that meant he had managed the journey door to door in five minutes which is impossible. I queried him – as a V-Cars regular - and he relented at once. He was trying it on and knew that I knew that he was trying it on.

Instead of handing over a tenner and not asking for change as is my wont I dutifully counted out the now agreed £8.50 exactly and handed him a pocket full of change. He was grumpy and so was I.

Inside Temple Meads the ticket machines were today both not functioning properly. That is to say they were not taking cash. Since my battered old cashpoint card is not accepted by FGW ticket machines although it works in ATMs from Cork to Kalamata, I always use cash on the train. I wandered onto the concourse, explained and a big burly man said that it would be okay to pay on the train.

Sitting comfortable at 4.42 AM the “train manager” announces that this is a penalty fare zone” and that if any passenger does not have a ticket they must return to the machines in the ticket hall to buy one. The message is repeated in threatening tones.

But there’s a hole in my bucket dear Liza, dear Liza, there’s a hole in my fucking bucket why is it that the ticket machines at Bristol Temple Meads never ever work properly you bastards. And so I sit here tapping away awaiting my fate.

Postscript: The Ticket collector was most understanding and I seem to have escaped the “penalty fare zone.” FGW is not all bad.




2415 days ago

Off to Ireland for the Weekend – Ballymaloe beckons

I have never hidden my admiration for Darina Allen, the High Queen of Irish cooking. As a cook and as a person she is pretty amazing and has borne certain domestic issues with a remarkable stoicism. It is perhaps her photogenic daughter in law Rachael who is better known but it is Darina who is the real deal as a cook and as a late birthday present for the Mrs we are off to see her this weekend in Cork, in the “The Old Country”, that is to say Eire.

It was Darina’s mother in law Myrtle Allen who started the phenomena that is Ballymaloe. It is a stunning country house – now containing an amazing restaurant – near Cork. Up the road is the cooking school which is surrounded by acres of organic gardens in the style of an old Country house. The fish comes in fresh from the sea at nearby Ballycotton and Darina is a champion of all things organic and locally produced. Natch that brings her into conflict with the regulation mad Evil Empire – Brussels edicts are the death of the small scale producers of foods such as cheese.

I’ve done a couple of courses there and one day shall shock you all