Monday, January 30, 2017

Getting from place to place

When I first moved to Leighton Buzzard, it was a 30 minute train ride and a 25 minute walk. A few weeks later, I moved in with the Godivalas and it turned into an hour walk through the Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire countryside. The summer was lovely and autumn was unseasonably warm, so this was not an issue in the slightest. I got a lot of reading done on my Kindle and got to enjoy the countryside - though admittedly, it was mostly hedges along that stretch of highway. 

Apparently Aylesbury Vale was the birthplace of the Paralymics. Aylesbury was also the hometown of one Roald Dahl.

This is the Wing library  that little room at the back of the town hall.

Signs similar to this adorn every roadway and train station.

Now that I live in Harrow (third county in six months), I walk down Hamilton Road everyday. As such, I frequently find myself humming/singing various songs from the musical.

Here's a picture of my mother at the Marylebone Station with a Chiltern train behind her. It's actually a really old, slow line, but the carriages are nice.

The mandatory red phone booth photo (in Harrow-on-the-Hill) with a typical English sky in the background.

Compared with an atypical English sky...taken on the same day, on the same hill (looking North).

It is often an adventure travelling in England. I've been in the Tube when it was so packed, you couldn't fall over if you tried (I took a photo once, but can't find it). I've also been possibly the only person on a train, other than the driver. I've had fun laughing with/at inebriated people, conversed with Brazilians and Canadians, heard dozens of different languages being spoken, became friends with my neighbor, or traveled in absolute silence (with everybody in ear buds and absolutely self-absorbed).  There are always other people on the streets, as walking is a popular mode of travel. There are way too many cars, and people find driving often takes longer than walking/the tube. The history, combined with the well-preserved countryside and green spaces, makes walking a pleasant passtime (when the weather cooperates and when you're not inundated with the smoke, as people tend to smoke in public a lot more than in the States).

Now off to more travels...

Edited for a few musings -

Strikes. These have been a common occurrence in England since about September - principally on the Southern Line, but recently affecting Transport for London and other lines. Fortunately, London Midlands, the line I usually get, hasn't had those issues yet. I can't think of much worse than being stranded and feeling helpless. My co-worker, Tom, who lives in Croyden and has to travel through London everyday he comes into the office, said that he has literally seen people crying at the station when their trains were cancelled (again) or only have two carriages instead of twelve and won't fit everyone.

Other issues arise that cause delays or cancellations. When a driver or guard doesn't turn up for work, there are cancellations. When a train breaks down, there are delays. When there are leaves on the track that they haven't cleaned up yet, there are delays and cancellations. Broken signals. London fog (it can get very dense). Or people being stupid.

I've been affected a few times and a couple of times, were not for pleasant reasons. The first major one was a train from Newcastle to Edinburgh. The train came an hour late because "someone broke onto the track and got electrocuted and they needed to clean up the mess". And they said it so nonchalantly. Needless to say, I got into Edinburgh a little late.

A recent close call was coming back from Oxford a few weeks ago. I came home on a Sunday night, without realizing that the Tube operators were on strike that day and minimal services were running. I caught the last train back to Harrow from London.

The latest was last Monday, when I was heading up to Potters Bar to do a demo at the Royal Veterinary College. I thought I was running way late because the computer told me it would take an hour and a half to get there. When I got to Kings Cross, it ended up being a 20 minute ride. As I hopped on the train, they announced that someone had been hit by a train near Hatfield and that they would be skipping about 6 stations (including mine). Bah! I got off on the first stop and waited 25 minutes for another train (the slow one) that would stop in Potters Bar. Everything else was closed for the morning. Luckily, my extra time ended up being just right and we had a good demo. I also walked by my company's old office and the sign is still there (and is apparently still turning on at night). They haven't been in that building in 10 years. I should have taken a photo of that...

Another recent escapade was two weekends ago when I was going down to London to meet some friends, as we rented a car and were driving up to Nottingham together. I made it to the bus station right when I'd planned and hopped on the correct bus - going the wrong direction. I ended up hopping off the bus at the other Harrow Station and then got the correct bus going the right direction and made it to the car rental place on time(ish). Fortunately, I beat everyone else, so I consider that early/on time...or at least less late than everyone else.

Friday, January 27, 2017

First post in years!

Greetings from England.

Look, Mom, I posted!

I'm going to do quick posts to catch up on the past few months in England and then I'll try to do a more regular blog - rather than these 5 years between posts. :)