Archive for the 'trains' Category

Tales from the trains #3

[Notes from my rather epic journey to St Andrews a few weeks ago. It kept me amused]

And that was that.

We came we theologised, we left.

We had a poetry night, which is more awesome than it sounds.

I think I get poetry now. This is always been a personal bug-bear of mine; that I never really got it; that I never really got the significance of it as something more than mere transfer of information.

The key it seems is hearing it spoken. Perhaps in 10 different accents with some Ardbeg on the go.

I remembered some Seamus Heaney. Somewhere back in my memory it was there, unused and untouched but there all the same.

But the week ends as quickly as it begun

I’m at the beginning of my epic return, troy is conquered, I have a dangerous and mystical journey to get back… I’m sure I’ve heard that before…

I’m hoping southbound will be a bit smoother than northbound was: so far so good. I’m on the 1657 from haymarket to Birmingham. I have a whole table to myself. I have a flask full of coffee and a power suppply. Too bad the graphics card finally and conclusively died yesterday. Virgin trains give you free wi-fi? That’ll do nicely. Shame i’m confined to iPhone.

3 hrs of this. I’m a little buzzing with excitement at the prospect. God I love trains…

I have 3 hrs to hang around in Holyhead waiting for a ferry. You can imagine how much fun that will be.

Tales from the trains #2

[Notes from my rather epic journey to St Andrews a few weeks ago. It kept me amused]

So yeah, I know this wasn’t the most efficient way to get to St Andrews, but it is a kind of transport, travelling adventure.

I spent an hour and half in holyhead train station this morning. What have you ever done?

I was shouted at by a toddler, I was cold and they sneakily stuck us on a train replacement service instead of a train. There were almost fisticuffs for the seats.

It was never made entirely clear that there was actually more than 1 bus coming for the 100 or so passengers. Hence the anxious panic.

Bus is no way to travel. At least for me. I get nauseous when I try to read so i’m limited to headphones and podcasts.

The woman in front of me has a mid-sized dog on her lap. i wonder where the term came from – mid-sized, it makes it sound like a VW Golf, it’s kind of mid-size. It’s a very nice dog, lies there quietly and I don’t notice it piss on the seat once.

After 90 mins on the bus we’re in Ryll. I remember being here on a BB camp a long, long time ago. I may have been 14. Imagine that, i was 14 once.

With an hour to kill I spend my time in a chip shop eating lovely fish, horrible chips and surpisingly appetising mushy peas.

There is a scrum back at the train station as the angry mob (my fellow passengers) attempt to storm the turnstiles, just as the passengers are leaving the train we need to get onto. Hilarity ensues. By which I mean gruimpiness, swearing and angry looks.

The attendants were blissfully unaware of the situatin letting the two masses collide into each other in some amateur hour version of CERN.

We all get a seat somehow, on a 2 carriage train smaller than any even Northern Ireland railways seems to have to offer.

This train goes for 20 mins. We get off (scrum style)

We get on another train heading fro London, and there are no seats and a repeating announcements that those of us with rail sail tickets wil be castrated and fed on our own genitalia if we fail to leave the train at Crew.

So I’m in crewe. Huddled over a pint beside a power socket, recharging, figuratively and literally, for the final assault.

Tales from the trains #1

[Notes from my rather epic journey to St Andrews a few weeks ago. It kept me amused]

8am Dublin-Holyhead

I envy the people who can sleep. Sleep anywhere I mean.

A half-empty ferry on a wet Sunday morning, and people are sprawled out all around me sleepng like babies. Their cheeks elevated on rolled up sweaters to keep their skin off the faux-leather cushions.

The MV Ulysses. Joyce would be chuffes I’m sure.

I forget how much I enjoy travelling. Or perhaps this is just commuting. I’m not sure what the difference is. Maybe the weather.

It’s all about getting a seat, and the train connections. And waiting rooms where I can ge a power point for the lap top. Such an amount of work and entertainment I have to occupy me. If I can just keep the battery charged.

Commuter love – #11

I now regret the five minutes I took cleaning the bathroom before I left the house. That five minutes was the difference in catching the train or not.
I try not to run for trains. Walk quickly yes, but not run. Not that I mind running it’s just it inevitably involves your bag coming open and your keys falling out and then you have to turn back and then you fall over etc…
Walking quickly would have been enough today except my rail pass wouldn’t work on the turnstile. At least that’s my excuse. Seems easier to blame the technology than poor time keeping.
At least it’s a pleasant morning. At least the birds are singing.

Commuter love – #10

At rush hour, the golden hour of public tranpsort, between five and six when people are rushing around desperately trying to be home to make dinner and pick up the kids and whatever else they have to do.

At rush hour stations are busy bustling places. The platfroms throung with punters. Those in suits with briefcases.

But not in the evening. Not come 9pm with the various disparate individuals seeking transportation home. Those running late at the office making apologetic phone calls home. Young guys wtih guitars. Groups of girls with shopping bags. People like me after food and drinks with the guys from work.

Tara St. is like a little floating island of a train station, struggling under the weight of the load it’s asked to carry. The platforms shake as the commuter trains trundle past with their diesel engines roaring.

Today I feel cold. The first day I feel properly cold. As if autumn was only playing with change in the seasons till now. I’m looking forwad to my seat. To settling down in the corner of an empty carriage with my copy of Hauerwas. I like the isolation. I like the┬áloneliness.


Sometimes I worry that I drift off up my own arse in introspection and isolation. I liked Into the Wild because it appealed to me not because i thought it was right. But look at me getting all self-referential. You didn’t come here for the first person did you?

Commuter Love – #9













All that effort all year to grow and be green and then in one spectacular week it changes colour in an act of superfluous beauty at it’s best. Helps me get the difference between that which is good and that which is beautiful that I struggled with earlier.

Commuter love – #7

Winter has arrived. Even if it’s only early autumn I feel the change so abruptly that I over dramatise it. I have draft proofed the house and added a curtain over the front door. I’m thinking of retrieving the slippers out of the cupboard

Sitting on the train platform I feel the gust blow down by neck and I feel cold. Cold in a way I haven’t felt for 6 months or so. I zip up the top of my fleece and pull the collar of the jacket around me.

Maybe I should take up smoking. It makes sense shivering on a platform and inhaling warm air/smoke. It seems like a good idea despite the obvious limitations if I think about thermodynamics. Best not to think.

I like the cold. When it’s a passing experience, when I know there’s a train coming or a warm house at the end.

My bag will get even heavier. Not just the book, the laptop, the coffee and my lunch. Now I’ll he carrying around hat and scarf. Like a snail carrying his house on his back. Though it’s more akin to a snail carrying his home entertainment system on his back. And a snail would never do anything that silly.


January 2020
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