2073 days ago
In the build up to my 32 mile charity walk for Woodlarks on July 28, I planned to build on last week’s 15 miler stroll with 19 miles and it all started so well. My pal Lucian Miers drove over from Winchester first thing and at 8 AM we started walking from just near Bristol Temple Meads. According to my calculations the Bath Bristol Railway path was 13 miles and Bath to the Hop Pole Inn on the other side was 6 miles largely along the Kennet & Avon Canal.
2902 days ago
As ever the, normally, excellent V cars warns me that booking a cab at 4.20 AM for a 4.47 train is "at my own risk" as I really need to allow 45 minutes to get to Temple Meads from my home in Bristol. As ever I ignore them. The cab is early and we depart at 4.19 AM. By 4.25 AM I am standing outside the station. We got lucky with the lights. Sometimes it takes almost nine minutes.
In the old days this allowed me time for one leisurely fag before the station doors are opened up and I could wander in to buy a ticket and head to platform 3. Or sometimes, as today, platform 7. But as a non smoker of five and a bit weeks this is not a option.
I know what I am thinking about and also know that I should not be thinking of such wicked pleasures. It is not that I actually crave
3414 days ago
I am a man of habit on the travel front. At 4.20 AM on every other morning V cars of Bristol picks me up and I arrive at Temple Meads by 4.30 despite the routine warning from the cab firm that if I miss my 4.47 AM train it is my own fault if I book a cab any time after 4.02 AM. I could walk to the station in 45 minutes, at this time of morning the drive is a breeze.
3646 days ago
When I was a child my mother’s wider family used to meet up at a restaurant in Marlborough in December for a meal and to exchange Christmas presents. I remember the hotel served an amazing brown breadcrumb ice cream. My grandparents would travel up from Dorset and my mother’s brother and little sister would drive up separately from London while Dad would drive us down from Northamptonshire.
My father takes after his mother and so we would arrive on the dot at 12.30 as agreed. We would then spend the next two hours enjoying the sweepstake organised by my father on which member of the Booker clan would be the last to arrive. Bookers do not do punctuality and it is correctly said that the only occasion at which they are ever on time is their funeral.
My father’s mother only once ever missed a train in her life. That was when she arrived so early that she caught the one before instead. My father operates on a similar basis and so when dropping me off at Moreton-in-Marsh he always allows plenty of time. Even though he observes a strict 20 mile an hour speed limit on all roads, more or less up to and including Motorways, I inevitably spend a good twenty minutes waiting on the platform at Moreton.
But I am as guilty of this obsession with not missing my train as is he. Regular readers will know that I catch the 4.47 AM from Bristol when travelling up to London as I am doing today. It is empty
3703 days ago
The cab from V-cars was early and the streets were empty and so I found myself outside Bristol Temple Meads at 4.25 this morning with 22 minutes to kill before the departure of my train. As the other passengers scuttled in I delayed. Once on the train I have no excuse not to sub Zak Mir’s book and so standing awkwardly in the cold seemed a rather attractive idea.
The only chap not to scuttle in slumped and snored on one of those ice cold, terribly uncomfortable metals benches, with lots of little holes designed to leave bumps on your bottom, that Network rail is so keen on. He looked a tad rough and was taller than me and rather muscular but he was wearing a suit of sorts.
On that basis I though he was more likely to be a passenger than a drunk old tramp and so wondered if I should wake him. If I do nothing he might miss his train. He can’t blame me but I know it will piss him off. If there is one thing worse than getting up at 4 AM to catch a train, it is getting up at 4 AM to catch a train and then missing it. But what if he turned out to be a violent drunk who lashed out? The British way is, I suspect, to show polite indifference and walk on.
Hmm, I could always walk on and sub Zak’s book. If he did beat me up and hospitalise me that would be a three day excuse for not subbing Zak’s book. That thought swung it for me. It was a win win.
And so I shook him gently. He snored on. And then a bit more aggressively stating “first train mate”. He awoke. He was indeed thoroughly pissed but seemed grateful as he wheeled in circles, tottering towards the Station.
A good deed to start the day…and now to Zak’s book. Aaaaaaagh