Thursday, 18 October 2007

Infrastructure, lack of

I have had two days of nighmarish travelling, and am exhausted. Should be reclining on a chaise longue with a teeny lace and satin hankie in my trembling hand.

First travel nighmare: London.

Left home to catch the 0715 train, which gets me to London by 0915, plenty of time to get across town and have a cup of tea, brush hair, slap on some lippy etc before the meeting.

Or so I thought.

Train got to Salisbury. I hopped off and onto the big fast London train as planned. No problems thus far. Arrived at Basingstoke only 10 minutes late. Still not too bad.


The nice man sitting opposite caught my attention* (was listening to my iPod and reading Neil Gaiman) and said "I think we have to get off here...there are problems with the signals".

Hm. Not good.

So, a whole trainful of people disembarked and scurried down the tunnel, under the lines, up the other side and across to the waiting train on the opposite platform. The already-full waiting train. Which had been held back for 20 minutes so it could meet our train.

How the delayed, crammed-in passengers laughed as an extra trainload piled in around them.

I was fortunate enought ot find a seat (not First Class, but I wasn't going to push my luck), but there were dozens of people who had to stand up all the way from Basingstoke to Waterloo.

Oh yeah, and there was an extra stop at Woking to pick up even more passengers, who should have caught the first train. The one still sitting at Basingstoke, presumably. Bloody nightmare.

We finally crawled into Waterloo at 1020, over an hour late. I scampered across to my meeting (taking some funky escalator photos on my mobile on the way) and was only 30 minutes late.

Four hours from leaving my house to getting to the meeting. Sheesh. FOUR HOURS. Not impressive.

Coming home, I got to Waterloo, found the right platform, had to use a different gate as mine was shut, and ran onto it just as my train pulled away. I thought about running along beside it, waving my arms and shrieking, but couldn't be arsed.

Went and bought some chocolate buttons and a Telegraph instead, and sat quietly for 40 minutes till the next train arrived.


Almost 7pm by the time I got home. That was Wednesday.

Today. Shrivenham. By road.

Only 60 miles from home, not brilliant roads but hopefully not too busy if I left early enough. I had to be there for 9am, so thought I'd allow 2 hours. Just in case of delays.

In the event, I was out of the house and scraping ice off the car at 0645. Gah.

As I'd predicted, the roads were full of large, slow lorries, all doing between 30 and 40mph, with nowhere to overtake, so I was glad I allowed plenty of time. Got there by 0815, cup of tea, nice and relaxed, hurrah hurrah hurrah.

Left at 5, and thought "I'll go home the same way I came this morning. It was nice and straightforward."

What a FOOL I was.

The police had closed a road just as I came off the M4, so I sat (along with about 5000 other people) in an ant-speed** queue, winding down a tiny back road for an hour. Got home at 7pm again, seething.

Other news: Mr WithaY had his exam today and is very pleased. He said he could answer all the questions, and didn't run out of time. Results in a couple of months. We went to the pub for dinner to celebrate.

Also. Kevin the Decorator is going great guns on the downstairs loo.

I came home tonight to find the toilet cistern on the front lawn. I assume he will put it back at some point, and wasn't just having a rock star moment.

*He waved at me, trying to attract my attention without disturbing me. How British.

**An ant with several broken legs. Carrying a huge suitcase.

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