Thursday 19 June 2014

Honey I'm home

Did you miss me?  I've been away in the country next door for 3 days and two nights visiting 3 generations of women with whom I have half my genes in common (me Ma, me Sis, and Dau.I).  I heard at short notice that my twin sister was having a knees-up in the Cafe where Dau.I works to celebrate her 60th birthday.  Those of you who are quick-on-the-uptake will realise that any birthdays are shared by the two of us (and 19 million other well-above-average people). Those of you who are little sleepy will promptly ask us if we are identical. We are (XY, XX) not. As it happens, I had nothing specific happening at work on Mo Tu We this week and so I checked RyanAir and AerLingus to see was it possible to fly to BRS or BHX and still have change from €400.  It was, just, but it meant getting up at 0230hrs to bus to DUB airport and then hiring a car at the far end and tooling about the country in a huge cloud of carbon footprint. I was then on the point of saying meh! and stopping home to mow the grass.

But then I remembered Rail/Sail which is a cunning plan to get foot-passengers to use the ferries across the Irish Sea by bundling a ticket with an onward rail journey. One way on the ferry for a car-less person is €37 but a Rail/Sail ticket for the addtional 220km to CNO (or any other similarly distant station) is only €41.  Such a bargain is to be seized before you reflect too deeply on the idea of spending seven 19th century hours waltzing across the country in leisurely zigs and lazy zags.  In order to travel on a circular tour Fishguard-Dorset-Gloucester-Fishguard, I had to board 9 different trains run by three separate companies. I don't know how they divvied up the 2x€4 among their rapacious corporate selves. British Rail now has pretensions to parity of esteem with air-travel and it is often more expensive to ride the rails.  Each station accordingly has a three letter code just like the well known IATA codes for airports.  Here are all the platforms I trod on this week with their more exotic IATA twins. I'll have to be careful ordering tickets on line in future , lest I catch the 1240hrs to Dnipropetrovsk.
Station Code Airport
Chetnole CNO Chino, CA, USA
Bath BTH Hang Nadim, Batam, ID
Stroud STD Santo Domingo VE
Cardiff Central CDF Fiames, Cortina d'Ampezzo, IT
Swindon SWI Swindon, UK
Newport, Gwent NWP Naval Station, Argentia, Newfd, CA
No IATA, no confusion with stations BPW Bristol Parkway and FGH Fishguard Harbour. It was grand altogether: I spent 16 hours locked in the rail network but that's not more than 2x the time spent getting to, through and from an airport. The view out of  the window is terrestrial and so more interesting than the clouds that are the most exciting thing you see from 10,000m up.  I've never, for one example, seen a bottle-nosed dolphin Tursiops truncatus while waiting in airport security, shoeless and beltless like a POW.

The reason I was able to keep up my implicit post-a-day contract with you, Dear Reader, was that The Beloved had offered to press the Publish button for the two posts that I had ear-marked for the days when I was travelling off-grid. I'm back in the saddle now. That's a metaphor: I have no intention of riding the rural byways of England on a horse like William Cobbett, but b'golly I was tempted on a few occasions to fling myself out of the train at the next teeny station to walk up intriguing lanes in the early Summer English countryside.

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