Except that I’m actually travelling on a train and typing into my blog. Now I’ll disconnect the WiFi and work on my blog proper.
5 October 2015
I’ll try and get roughly back up to date and will try to add in last Thursday and Friday later.
With the convention over Pen and I stayed an extra night at the Maidenhead Holiday Inn. We also swapped bags so I wasn’t lugging my “Thunderbird Two” suitcase around England. I thought I’d done quite well whittling my big bag down to Pen’s case size.
Anyway, I jammed everything in and we took our bags down to reception to be stored. Then Pen and I went out to walk to Maidenhead Rail Bridge.
Those of you who followed my last 2010 blog, will realise that I did a bit of hunting out things that had been created by the great engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Pen’s a real fan and hadn’t seen the bridge before so we decided we’d walk there this morning.
Why, when we’d been indoors all weekend, did it decide to rain today? Not heavy rain, just a persistent, wet, drizzle. I put my waterproof over-trousers on, which was good as the rain got heavier a couple of times when we were out. Pen only had a showerproof jacket and the rest of her was non-waterproof.
I could have stayed behind and typed up my blog, but it was good to get out and stretch our legs after two days of sitting around inside.
Soon after we left I realised that I couldn’t remember putting my sunglasses into any of my bags. I’d left the glasses in a prominent place so I wouldn’t forget them, but didn’t know if I still had them. As I’ve already lost the case, I didn’t fancy losing my sunnies as well.
We managed to find the bridge (I wish I’d put my GPS on, but it probably couldn’t have found a satellite through all the protective gear I had on) and the rain eased off enough that I was able to get photos.
The Maidenhead Rail Bridge is unique in that its largest, central arch is asymmetrical. Brunel was determined that the Great Western Railway, “Brunel’s billiard table”, was going to be totally flat. To ensure this the curve over the Thames is slightly steeper on one side than the other.
Everyone said it couldn’t be built.
Brunel said it could.
Everyone said it would fall down.
Brunel said it wouldn’t.
Everyone insisted that it was a hazard and that scaffolding had to be erected to ensure that the bridge didn’t collapse.
Brunel said: “Fine. We’ll leave the scaffolding there if you want.”
A short time later the Thames flooded, washing the scaffolding away, and over one hundred and fifty years later the bridge is still standing and carrying a large number of fast moving trains.
On the way back to the Holiday Inn (with an unwanted and unexpected detour down a dead end) we stopped off at a Sainsburys and got some lunch.)
We saw a sign. “Bridge Clinic”. Pen asked if that’s where bridges went when they were ill. I said that was probably when they had fallen arches. Pen reckoned that was a terrible joke. I also thought it could have been a nose clinic.
We got back to the Holiday Inn and I asked at reception if room 207 had been cleaned yet. The receptionist didn’t know, but “cut” me a key (they’re electronic), so I could go up and find out. I had hoped that it hadn’t been cleaned so I could use the loo too, but when I got there everything was pristine.
I found a cleaner and asked her about my sunglasses and she was very helpful, checking the staff member who would have my room’s trolley and then running up and down stairs to find her.
No sign of the sunglasses.
I came back down and went to the reception toilets, drying my hair under the air dryer. Pen did the same with her trousers.
Then we got our bags from reception and I found my sunglasses in my “Keep calm and call International Rescue” bag.
We then caught a taxi to the station. Why was it £5 for the station to the Holiday Inn, but £6 for the reverse trip?
We waved goodbye to the Fanderson team and to Stephen Le Reverie, who’s making the three 1965 audio recordings with the original voice cast into TV episodes using the original techniques.
The trip to Paddington was uneventful and I managed to get some convention blog writing done. Once at Paddington we had to negotiate our way to the underground that would take us to King’s Cross.
Last time I was at King’s Cross everything was under scaffolding. Now they’ve been spurred on by how great St Pancras next door looks. We had to walk through St Pancras and once again I was amazed by how awesome the roof over the platforms is. It’s a huge arch of glass and steel… But you’ll have to look at my 2010 photos to see it. I didn’t take any this time.
But I did enjoy the fact that they’ve got three old upright pianos on the concourse and every one of them was being played by passers-by with a degree of skill.
As I said in 2010, St Pancras and King’s Cross were built cheek by jowl because different railways built them. At that time there wasn’t one unified network train system. (Apparently there isn’t now either. The Great Western Railway was proudly advertising the fact that it’s GWR again.)
It was only a short walk, or push with Thunderbird Two, from St Pancras to King’s Cross and I have to say that it’s a hang of a lot brighter and more open than it was. The front of the station had been blocked off with the ticketing office, but now they’ve removed that and revealed the two arched windows that had been hidden for about a century. The shops/ticketing area now greets you under a huge, arching glass and, for want of a better, less utilitarian, more artistic word, tubular structure.
Pen minded the bags and sent me off to explore and take photos.
Well, it’s not a Purupuss blog without photos of railway stations.
I came back and we got a hot chocolate and ate our (Sainsbury) lunches in Pret a Mange – or whatever it’s called.
Then Pen went to use the National Library’s toilet. She said it was nearby, less heavily used, and you didn’t have to pay for it. I was going to follow in her footsteps once she returned, but she was gone so long I thought it was safer to hang on.
While I was waiting I saw some other photos I wanted to take. One was the plaque commemorating the opening of the newly revamped King’s Cross station in 2012. The plaque had been one of the steps to the railway offices and was slightly concave from the decades of feet walking up it.
The other was platform 9 ¾. Well, if they can have a platform 0, why not? (They had space for a new platform after the development, so rather than renumbering the others, they just called it “0”.)
Last time I was in King’s Cross, platform 9 ¾ was a wire trolley bolted to the wall about platform 11 or something. Now it’s on the main concourse, is fenced off, and people are employed to wrap a Hogwarts scarf around your neck, tell you to hold the plastic and metal trolley complete with trunk and owl in cage, and jump in time to get your photo taken for a price. There’s also a Platform 9 ¾ shop. I can’t work out if King’s Cross must love or hate JK Rowling.
My train to Leeds was scheduled to leave at 14:35. (Thank heavens it wasn’t the cancelled 5:05 one.) At 14:15 it was allowing boarding from platform… “To be announced.”
The time at that point was 14:20pm.
Pen and I decided to head towards the most logical platform and see if that had more information. All the electronic signs said was “King’s Cross Station.” We had just decided that we’d better head back and see if more info was available in the main concourse, when it flashed up that the Virgin train on platform one was heading my way.
And it seemed that I had to walk halfway to Leeds to board the train. The First Class passengers have the shortest walk and were about carriage K. I was carriage C.
I got myself into the carriage and attempted to put Pen’s suitcase on the luggage rack overhead. As you know I’m not that tall and I nearly dropped the case onto the head of the lady sitting in the seat next to me. Pen was waiting outside to wave me goodbye and looked nearly as horrified as I felt. The lady was most gracious about it.
One thing I will say about Virgin Trains, they may make you hurry to board, but they are prompt when they leave. I looked away, maybe to get EOS out of my bag, and when I looked back the train had started moving so smoothly that Pen was already out of sight and I couldn’t wave to here.
I was able to get a lot of typing done on the trip, apart from when I was talking to the lady next to me. Having an ailse seat meant I couldn’t see out the window, so there wasn’t much else to keep me occupied.
The lady was telling me how she was visiting her daughter and they were going to be picking out the daughter’s wedding dress. Knowing her daughter, she was of the opinion that it wasn’t going to be a cheap one. She also told me about the time that her husband sleep walked. She’d been on the night shift and he’d been home alone when she’d got a call to come home. He’d been found outside the house, talking to a larger ceramic pig. This pig, and other items of their neighbours’ gardens, he’d, with great care, moved to different locations. The only thing he’d damaged was a plant that he’d pulled out of the pot and put on a neighbour’s car. The neighbours, worried about him and the fact that his house was wide open and all the lights were on, had called the police. When the police arrived, they found him having an earnest conversation with the afformentioned pig, (having moved it behind a car – despite its weight) and he refused to acknowledge them. That was until they touched him on the shoulder and he woke up with a great fright.
I said he was lucky he had clothes on and apparently the only thing he was wearing was his robe.
(Why has the speeling check stopped?)
He used to sleep walk as a child, but that’s the first time they’ve known him to do it as an adult, and he was concerned that he’d do it again while she was away.
She got out at Doncaster, so I was able to slide across to the window. Despite this I was happily typing away when I managed to here the in-train announcement (which was very indistinct) say that the next stop was Leeds.
Frantic packing away of everything and getting myself ready. I managed to get my case down without clobbering anyone once the train had stopped.
Last time I’d visited Michael and Rosemary I’d waited close by the ticket swallow-uppers. (you put the ticket into a machine, it almost sucks your fingers off as it takes the ticket, and then the doors open to let you onto the concourse.) So, not seeing Michael or Rosemary this time, and with hundreds of people (communtors) rushing past, I thought I’d wait in the same spot until the crowd thinned and I knew I hadn’t missed them.
The crowd thinned.
I wandered around the corner, looking at all the faces and trying to spot one that I knew when I saw Rosemary come striding towards me. “I saw this person and thought she looked familiar.”
“The pink jacket would have cliniched it.”
We caught the bus (Rosemary kindly paying the £2.80) to where Michael was waiting with the car and then we drove to their place.
Whoever made their subdivision wasn’t very inventive with the street names. The naming structure goes something like Kingswood Grove, Kingswood Court, Kingswood Lane… And yes, the Postie does sometimes get confused.
That evening we watched a TV programme that they’d kindly recorded for me. “Filmed in Supermarionation”, which was great as haven’t had the chance to see it yet. The Blakes had to put up with me saying: “I saw her this weekend.” “I spoke to him.” “He was very funny.” And adding to the information on screen. We all thought the show was very interesting, but I think it had the potential to confuse some people. It had a (I presume) production date of Thunderbirds as being 1964. It was first broadcast in 1965 – Fifty years ago last week. Also the footage of Gerry Anderson showed him to be bright and fit. When I saw him five years ago he was relatively emaciated and he died three years ago. There was no “filmed in 200#” on screen.
But it was still entertaining and I learnt something.