Posts Tagged ‘Paddington’

I’m mindful that I promised myself that I would post an update at least once a week. Now obviously, when I’m sailing the Seven Seas, on a cruise ship I have much to write about; in fact, I could post almost daily – network connectivity permitting of course.  Anybody who’s read about some of my recent cruising adventures will know that connectivity from the middle of the ocean isn’t that great. In fact for my last cruise, unbeknown to Mrs Me, I spent £300 on WiFi and all I managed to post was six updates after which I gave up. And now, here I am,in the middle of a cruise famine, I find myself struggling to come up with something to write about.

As, I sit on a First Great Western HST taking me from Paddington to home (Hungerford), I’m bashing away at the key pad and seeing all these words come on my screen and still I don’t know what to write about. I suppose I could write about my daily adventures on the rail network trying to get from home to my office by London Bridge. If everything fits together, it can be done one hour and forty minutes. In the real world of course and taking door to door into account, it takes around two hours and thirty minutes and most days, that’s how it goes. On the odd occasion however, i.e., at least once a week, something goes wrong: An underground line is suspended; Person on the line; overrunning rail works; early morning driver fails to turn up; train faults, etc.: The list goes on. The best issue to date however is when the train had to crawl almost at walking pace because the speedo didn’t work and it had to make its way to Reading (from Paddington) where the train could turn back to front so that the back became the front where there was a working speedo and the train could then do what a high speed train is supposed to, whiz along at high speed. There was of course the occasion when a train got stuck because it had run out of ‘air’: Yet all the passengers seemed to be breathing just fine. It turned out that the train need air (compressed) for the brakes. This week however , it was a broken underground train on the Bakerloo Line. This meant me getting a slow overground train – I could explain why, but I won’t – to Reading where I could catch a connecting train to Hungerford, only to see such train pulling away as I dashed towards it. This left me with a 24 minute wait for the next train which actually overtook the train I missed. Ironically, I had to change and catch said missed train for the last two station leg. On that occasion, my journey took just under four hours. But, do I really want to write about my train adventures? Probably not, so I won’t write about them. So what what do I write about?

 The Next Day, and –

I still don’t know what to write about. I did think of writing about somebody who passed me a piece of work a couple of days ago while telling me that it’s quite urgent as a customer is seeking a speedy response. When looking through the ‘piece of work’ I noted that it had been sitting in somebody’s tray since the middle of April. Had the work come to me then, it would by now have been completed, the customer would be happy and there would have been no fretting about it’s now urgent nature. Once again, somebody’s lack of forethought and planning constituted my crisis. But then I thought, no, nobody wants to read about that so I won’t write about it.

So, just what do I write?

Then it struck me: I’m sitting here at the kitchen table, looking out of the window seeing great expanses of blue sky with just a few fluffy clouds and the sun just sitting there like a big yellow duster with just the gentlest of breeze teasing the tree tops and I start planning todays cycle ride. Today, I shall cycle a 30 (ish) mile loop taking me up onto the Chute Downs from where I can gaze down and look at the wonders of nature with the oh so english fields of rape reflecting the suns rays, the sheep and their young, bouncing around and no sight nor sound of a single car. That has to be one of the nicest places to cycle to, cycle along, and reluctantly, cycle from.

From there, it’s a series of climbs and descents, up past the gliding club where once again I shall stop and watch the gliders being coaxed into the air by a winch, or sometimes, a small plane; When at an optimum hight, the glider is released and it soars silently  checking out the clouds, competing for air space with Red Kites and Buzzards before making it’s way slowly and gently back to the ground. Again, notwithstanding the small plane, all is silent and nature is at peace with all. After that, it’s a gentle undulating route back past The Swan Inn – a great place to stop if you’re out cycling / walking (shall I [again] be tempted to sample their wares?) before eventually arriving home feeling refreshed having blown the cobwebs away and taken in all that Mother Nature had to offer. But I can’t write about that. I can’t write about that because it’s blowing a hooley outside with dark angry clouds and rain to match. Also of course, the idea of me getting on my bike just now is still an aspiration rather than reality (COPD has seen to that 😦 ). So, I can’t write about that either.

So, I still don’t know what to write about.

There is of course the fabulous weekend, just past, that I spent with the lovely Mrs Me at the Millstream in Bosham near Chichester. We like to spend as much time as we can in and around Chichester and Bosham. The town, the village and the surrounding countryside is just so beautiful Check out the You Tube video by Patrick Macnee to get a feel for the area. Having had an almost complete makeover inside we felt we should go back to see how it looked. It looked LUVERLY. And with the beautiful weather as our constant companion we sat out in the gardens enjoying a lovely glass of Rioja (Me) and Rosé (Mrs Me) before wondering down to the harbour to see if the Bosham Car Wash was in action Watch the video, it is hilarious). Unfortunately it wasn’t, though this did mean that with the tide out, we could make our way round to the Yacht  Club, sit, and watch the sail boats drifting in and out before wondering back through the village wondering at the Wisteria, which seems to be doing extremely well everywhere this season though I have no idea why.

Now, Mrs Me being Mrs Me: No trip to Chichester is possible with a visit to Russell & Bromley, purveyor of fine shoes and handbags: No trip to Russell and Bromley is possible without a purchase and it was with some rightly placed trepidation that I entered the establishment, dutifully following Mrs Me. We looked at boots; we looked at flat shoes; we looked at wedges; we looked at loafers; we looked at same rather high stiletto feel shoes; we even looked at some kinky boots; we looked at large handbags; we looked at small handbags: Briefly, we looked at mens shoes before returning back to ladies shoes. Eventually with great determination, she found a pair she liked. “I’m sorry Madam” said the shop assistant, “we don’t have these in your size” (oh no I thought, my weekend is going to be awful), “But” he said, “I’m sure they are available in one of the other stores: Let me check”. Yep, they did and even better, they would deliver them to home so it was with great joy that we were able to make a purchase and continue shopping. But, I felt there was still some sadness in Mrs Me. Then the penny dropped, we had come to Chichester, bought a pair of shoes but still she had nothing to show for it. But, his Podgeness is sometimes too clever for his own good. He espied a jewellers that did some rather attractive and reasonably priced bracelets, and having pointed them out to Mrs Me, we went in, tried them on (yes, she needed two), purchased them and Mrs Me was once more a happy bunny and with that, we returned to The Millstream for more much needed wine. But, does anybody want to know about all of this? I doubt it, so I won’t write about it. So:

What can I write about?

I don’t know: I haven’t a clue, so for this week I’m afraid I’m going to have to fail my objective and not write anything. Next week, I will try better. I promise. Maybe, just maybe, I’ll include better pictures. But don’t worry, I won’t be in any of them.

So, there I am; standing in the main entrance to Guys Hospital just before 8pm wanting to get to Paddington to catch the 20:35 so that I can get Young Nick back home to the care of his Mummy. On the main desk is a box of cards for a trusted taxi service. I phone them, the tell wait there and a taxi will arrive. So, I stand there, young Nick sitting looking as though he’d been through the wars, and in a way, he had. Then, in come a nice jolly caribbean man on the phone trying to get hold of his fare but saying that the number he’d been given was wrong. Quickly, his Podgeness sees the problem and make the nice caribbean man aware of the need to get to Paddington before the train leaves. If we missed the train, the next one was the little baby trains which ‘aint much better than cattle trucks.

Don’t worry says the nice caribbean man, I’ll get you there in plenty of time. So we bundle into his car and off we go.

First clue to something not quire right was when he turned south instead of heading over the river and north towards Paddington.

Second clue was when the trusted taxi company phoned to say that my taxi was outside. No, I said, I’m in your taxi now.

Third clue, long pause at the end of the line.

Fourth clue; what car are you in and what the drivers number. I couldn’t answer either.

Conclusion: the nice little caribbean man wasn’t a taxi driver, nor was his car a taxi.

There then followed 10 minutes of silence as we drifted, eventually, north and past Buckingham Palace and on towards Paddington.

Did we make it? Yes, we did. Did we get ripped off? Well no, actually we didn’t. The fare was less that it would have been. Was the nice caribbean man a nice caribbean man? Well, yes, he was. But he was also a scoundrel.

This time, we got away with it but believe me, there won’t be a next time. I was caught out and I couldn’t believe i’d let it happen.

His Podgeness was a dickhead.

This post has no point, just a replay of something of nothing….

So, there I am, sitting in the office melting and finding it difficult to breath [COPD sucks]. I played the sensible option (I thought) and called it a day and headed off early to get an early train.
Arriving at Paddington in good time, I checked the platform app to see that the 16:36 was ready on Platform 3. I got on, having confirmed the stickers in the window that it was actually going to Exeter, via Hungerford, and settled down.
After 10 minutes, everybody gets off. Apparently they’ve changed their mind and my train is now on Platform 4. So now, I have to scrabble my way round, along with the world and his wife to the Correct Train’ – the train on 3 is now going to Swansea.
Again, I settle down and get my breath back having managed to find a seat.
Guess what? This naffing train has broken but they’re trying to fix it.
Guess what? No such luck. They can’t fix it so we now all have to get off and dash to Platform effing 8.
Don’t worry #fgw, I made it. I even managed to get a seat: unlike so many extra passengers who have been shoehorned on the train. ( as the train was still at the station ).
How do I feel? Totally drained and knackered. I’d have been better of staying work and coping with rush hour. #fgw, you really are priceless. And to think, I pay you over £5000 per year for this privilege. Monopolies (that’s what the rail system is) don’t work.

Today, I know not why, I shall be nice. I shall smile to everybody, I shall smile on the telephone, I shall remember to says please and thank you.

I’m sitting on the comfortable 06:40 Grown-Up Train from Hungerford to Paddington, anticipating an on-time arrival of 07:53. Excellent, I shall sit back, enjoy my coffee from the on-board express cafe (another reason for not using the baby trains) and recount my joys on this page. And, while I’m at it, I’ll check the status of the underground rail system.

just looked out the window to see rain: boo, but a smiley boo 🙂

I don’t mind the rain: we never should, there are many place who have none, so yes, I’m happy it’s raining. It does after all ease the drought conditions which still prevail! I understand the hosepipe ban is still in effect. Fortunately, I have a borehole so the current ban does not affect me. Given all the rain we’ve had since the ban was imposed, I just don’t care 🙂 see, I’m still happy; still nice.

Uh oh, just looked at the underground status. Both Circle & District part suspended, due to signal faults at Mansion House. Such joy as this is a key station for me. But no worry, I’ll check the status again when I’m nearing London. Somehow I think my vast experience of the underground system (not) will help me conquer and stay happy and nice 🙂

Tee Hee, keep it quiet but I’ve fooled those pesky trains. I’ve taken the back to front route and came in from the other direction. Yeah, His Podgeness is truly mightier than mere machines. And as if to prove a point, I got into the office 5 minutes earlier than normal.

yep, I’m definitely feeling nice today.

As for my day in the office? Well, as office days go, it was pretty uneventful. I did what I set out to do plus a little bit more but nothing earth shattering or monumentous. Equally of course, nothing bad or irritating happened either so all in all, I’m a nice man today.

I went out for lunch, as is my want, and did a quick tour of St Katherine’s Dock. It was a nice walk on a nice day made even nicer by even more nice boats than there were yesterday. The dock is filling up nicely in readiness for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the flags and bunting do look ever so, ever so nice. Everything is just nice.

Still smiling, and enjoying a small glas of Rioja on the journey home in the grown up train that has been tamed. Every thing is good. Especially the wine, which is very, very nice. And as if to prove a point, the train reaches Reading just 1 minute late! Now given that virtually every train has been arriving around 10 minutes late, because of ‘congestion, this makes us around 9 minutes early. See, being nice works, I’ve even made the train nice. :-). 🙂

so, all in all, everything is still nice

Better still, I have just one more sleep to go before I have a whole 9-days free from rail travel. And after that, I have just 33 sleeps to before the Grand Event, the 175th birthday celebration with P&O when we sail away to the fiords on the Oceana with, hopefully, weather permitting, a fly past of the Red Arrows and knowing that the Princess Royal will be viewing us as we sail by.

yep, all in all, I’m very, very happy and very, very nice.

nice works, clearly

So that’s it for this update. I did smile at everybody, i smiled on the telephone, i think i even told a joke. All in all, I’m feeling very nice today. Byeee

Go Podge, Go.

So, this morning I posted the rambling inane rant of a weary traveller, signing off with:

OK, I’m going to stop now, I’m rambling already. I’ve said my piece and feel better for it:

And off I went into the sunshine to Tower Hill. Now, I have to say that things are really cheering up around Tower Bridge and especially St Katherine’s Dock as the boats start to arrive ready for the Jubilee Pageant. Everything and everybody give off a very real feeling of happiness. I was feeling good and was seriously looking forward to anything and everything the would bring.

Anyway, as the saying goes ‘Time & Tide Waits For no Man’ and sure enough, the end of the working day arrived and His Podgeness had to head once more towards the unavoidable perils of rail travel. First was the Underground.

Now, I used to hate the underground, often spending a small fortune on taxis rather than venture into that warren that lay beneath London. But, of late, I’ve come to enjoy it, even to the point of exploring different lines to get to where I want to be. So far, I’ve used the Circle, District, Central, Hammersmith & City and the DLR and I’ve found them all to be fun and spookily interesting. But, of late, they just don’t seem to be working very well. Perhaps it’s the heat, I don’t know, but there always seems to be problems somewhere on the network with broken trains. Today was no exception, except this time, I was on that blithering train.

Hurtling along the Bakerloo Line between Regents Park and Baker Street the train came to an abrupt halt. So, there we all are, train packed to the gunnels sitting, standing, waiting deep underground in a tunnel wondering what was happening. Then we were told there was an apparent faulty passenger alarm which was stopping the train from moving. Eventually our determined driver overcame the machine and forced the blighter to move on to the next station, where once more it said, ‘ NO, I AM NOT MOVING’. Oh what a tinker this train is I thought as people abandoned train and headed upwards for daylight only to be replaced be new travellers who had no idea what this train was like. But, once again, Man Triumphed over Machine (I knew it was Man by the because he spoke us over the intercom, so no sexist accusations please), and the train once more set off until eventually, we reached MY station: Paddington. And, guess what? I was still in time to catch Old Faithful, the 18:33 to Exeter St David’s. Yes, His Podgeness has done well today for he has struggled through the warrens beneath London, beaten the efforts of Machine and still arrived early. Ha Ha, I am truly Podgethepuffer who will not suffer.

Obviously, nobody had told the land of the overland grown up trains as they had contingency plans, determined to thwart my attempts to get home in time for, well, anything really!

Anyway, not only did I board Old Faithful, but she also gave me a seat (sounds quite saucy really, doesn’t it). So naturally, I was feeling pretty smug. Then, almost with an air of smugness, the faceless voice came over the air to tell me that the service was running approximately 20 minutes late because of, guess what?, a broken down train at Reading (bring on the Olympics, for Yes, we are ready). So once more, I have to give in and accept it, machine does rule over man, and woman.

Tomorrow, I shall try once more. Why? I have no idea except to say, what choice have I? I have no practical alternative. It’s almost like our travel is governed by a monopoly 🙂

Go Podge, Go

footnote – The big nasty train must have sensed my anger as once we were past Reading, it must have red-lined itself all the way, so we weren’t that late after. Woo Hoo.