qatsi (qatsi) wrote,


When I booked my trains for Christmas it was the end of October. The tickets offered were more confusing than usual but without any explanation, and I ended up with tickets to travel with a 10-minute connection at Nuneaton; just as bizarrely, for the return leg the cheapest available fare was First Class Advance.

It turns out there was top-secret engineering work at Bletchley the weekend before Christmas, and there was only one train an hour going anywhere for the West Coast main line from Euston. I'd been a bit nervous about travelling on Sunday anyway, because there is only one bus an hour from Burghfield, but that leg of the journey worked fine. Euston was appallingly chaotic, with British Transport Police having to hold the fort. Neither my train nor the one before had arrived by the time mine was due to depart; in the end we left about half an hour late. We crawled through north London - or so I thought, until I saw platform signs for Acton Main Line and West Ealing. For a moment I thought the train was going to retrace my steps and go through Reading, but it turned off through Greenford and I metaphorically waved to rosamicula as we passed Northolt.

The only stopping point on that leg was Coventry; after that, the train crew decided to turn off the heating and the train noticeably chilled. We were held outside Nuneaton - by now over an hour late - for 15 minutes or so. Nuneaton turns out to have the worst station signage and loudspeakers ever, with only one display board; I avoided the Manchester train and got on to the next train north, sat unchallenged in a reserved seat (of course by now everyone was on a different train to the one they'd booked). The train manager on the route to Nuneaton struggled to deviate from his script and continued to say he hoped we'd had a pleasant "travel experience"; at least his colleague on the train to Glasgow acknowledged that most people on the train had already suffered disruption and inconvenience. I arrived an hour and a half late.

Dad was fine and although the weather wasn't great, it wasn't terrible either. I'd watched the news and ironically, the only part of England and Wales not covered by flood warnings was the Lake district. We had Christmas dinner with some of his friends; we'll gloss over who knocked the glass of red wine as serving bowls were being passed around.

Somehow the FreeSat PVR failed to record Doctor Who on Christmas Day; we both noticed some problems and I wonder if one of the tuners is broken (it has two, so you can watch one channel while recording another). Fortunately I caught the repeat on Boxing Day. I didn't have high hopes, but actually I thought that was one of the better Christmas specials. It took me a while to join all of the dots but I liked the references to the classic series and I imagine we'll see rather more of those as the 50th anniversay approaches.

My return train was already ten minutes late when I boarded it, and as I suspected, the first class carriages were fairly full (though still civilised, apparently unlike the state of the cattle class carriages). We arrived in to Euston about three-quarters of an hour late, and so I missed the planned connection from Paddington. Unfortunately this cascaded because of another 10-minute hold up waiting for a platform at Reading, which led to missing the bus by minutes and having to wait an hour because it was a Saturday service and I'd just fallen into the evening part of the schedule. I had wondered whether to go for the earlier train - unfortunately to get the cheaper fares it would have been three hours earlier - but with hindsight it would have been the right decision and I shall have to try to remember that for next year.
Tags: dad, travel, who
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