I blog when I go abroad, and occasionally when I do stuff in the UK too. There's a nicer interface over here.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Parkway: latin for 'is quite a way away'

Originally uploaded by Darren Foreman.
If the dice says M, and the list asks for 'excuses for being late', I don't think I will ever hear a better answer than 'masturbation'.

Scattergories over and a couple of Guinnesses to the good, I went to bed perpendicular to Ruth. Actually I'm getting ahead of myself here -- before that we watched a couple of episodes of Moving Wallpaper, an ITV sitcom neither Ruth or I had heard of before. It has Jim-from-Neighbours in it, and therefore wins. ITV seem to think it's a contemporary drama. They are wrong.

The perpendicular sleeping arrangements were two single beds in a small room. Ruth was going to put her feet next to my head until I complained. I found it pretty amazing that there was a spare room at all in the house, but there it was. Oh, and we had internet access (having put the laptop onto the wireless earlier when Ruth was showing off some Pakistan and Grand Canyon photos) which meant we could fall akip listening to the world service. I love the world service. Such a humbling radio station.

Sunday morning meant bacon. Yum. It also meant a game of Monopoly (Europe edition) which only lasted long enough for everyone to pass Go just the once. I was very much in last place and was glad it was interrupted. Soon after breakfast most of the house went off to church, with just Simon hanging back to give me and Ruth a lift to Bodmin Parkway.

This was our first Parkway of the day. Simon had picked us up from it the day before, but I hadn't really taken much notice of how long the drive was given the newness of everything and the football+relatives diversion. This time was different, and the truth became apparent: Bodmin Parkway is fucking miles from Bodmin. Nowhere near it. You would be a fool if you decided, perhaps if you were in possession of a rail rover ticket, to just get off and explore Bodmin. Also, though I admit this may be unrelated to the distance from the town, the weather was fucking appalling. Tipping it down, blowing a freezing gale, we at first went into the small coffee shop (diet coke; coffee; bakewell tart; lemon cake) and then shuffled from foot to foot on the bridge over the lines for a while.

For more than a while, in fact. We'd arrived in plenty of time for the train, but it was late, and the bridge provided respite only from the wet, not the cold. BRRRR.

The train was about, I dunno, 15 minutes or so late. So we'd already missed our connection at Plymouth, onto a rail replacement service due to engineering works between there and Exeter. I don't really mind about having journeys somewhat disrupted by engineering works at the weekends -- I understand that far fewer people use trains then than do on weekdays, and that most weekend journeys are optional (rather than commutes), so no problem there. But having been sold such a tight connection, and then having a train running late on a line with a reduced service, well that's just a pain in the arse.

So we missed our bus. And the next bus didn't fit us on. The 3rd bus was OK, but full, and slow, because the route to Tiverton Parkway had roadworks on it. And the weather was still shit pretty much all the way (for 90 minutes!) until we arrived in glorious sunshine.

So, then, Tiverton Parkway. 8 fucking miles from Tiverton (though google says it's 4). No signs of life anywhere near. I mean, the surroundings are nice, if you ignore the motorway, but there's nowhere to just pop out and have a wander around other than a fishing lake (private property) and a conservation walk through fields. No shops beyond the one in the station, no pubs, no nowt. Useless if you've got the best part of an hour to kill, which we did.

Originally uploaded by Darren Foreman.
Our ticket was for the 1pm. Actually no, our ticket was for Tiverton Parkway to London Paddington, but our seat reservation was for the 1pm service, and the two were only valid with each other. That said we were planning on paying the tenner each to upgrade again -- having spent precisely no money in Bodmin or Perranporth apart from the provisions mentioned above -- so it didn't matter too much. What mattered most was the hugely crowded station, lack of anything much to do, and 50 minute wait 'til the next service.

That's what mattered to us. What mattered to the woman sitting near us was the fact that First Great Western hadn't held the train for her when it was obvious the bus would be late. Oh no! Hadn't they, and indeed everyone, realised who she was? Never mind that this is rail-based transport which doesn't exactly lend itself to having other services overtake the ones being held up. For fucks sake.

Ruth got the laptop out and did a bit of studying. I went off for a walk. The fishing lake was quite pretty, the graffiti in the tunnel under the motorway was interesting, but the wind was cold. Back to the station, bought a drink, train came along, got seats in First Class, etc etc. Another nondescript journey.

At Waterloo, on our ascent from the Bakerloo line, yet another very very important passenger thought it appropriate to use his suitcase as a means of carving out space in the crowd. Space behind him, mind, since he was pulling it on wheels. He and his luggage barged into Ruth and didn't even look round, let alone say sorry. I got fairly close to him and tried to shove my toe under a wheel to make it bounce and spin but just about missed. He carried on his way, ending up about 4 people ahead of us.

At the top of the escalator, he hurried a bit more, heading round the edge of the otherwise orderly mass of passengers, cutting in to a barrier a good 5 or 6 seconds earlier than he may otherwise have done. Then he put his ticket in the slot, the machine beeped, and up came Seek assistance. As is normal in London, he didn't seek any assistance, but just put the ticket straight back in. Thing is, he was next to a member of staff who was providing assistance anyway, and in this instance said employee took the ticket out and had a look at it. As we passed through the barrier next to him, we heard the words 'This ticket isn't valid on the underground, sir. You need to buy a ticket.'. Glorious. Fuck you, you fuck.

At home, my rehabilitation from Wednesday night was completed. I had a medium Domino's pizza, covered in grease and vaguely hot stuff (peppers etc). My stomach thanked me. I was glad to be back, in both senses.

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