Getting Locked on a Train

marylebone_stationThis weekend I thought it would be good to travel a little off piste. Marylebone station is now just around the corner from work and I was keen to explore and see what it was all about. Marylebone is indeed a very interesting and unique station, the youngest of any London termini and the only station with no track electrification. The station has a certain charm that no longer exists in London, it's a quaint, friendly station with a pleasing decor. Remnants of Network SouthEast branding were a pleasant sight, something that is seldom seen any more. I arrived early to have a wander round and take the very short tube journey from Baker Street, I perhaps got there a little too early... Thinking I was clever I checked out what platform my train was scheduled to depart from (using www.opentraintimes.org) and boarded it immediately after the incoming passengers had left. Drank my coffee, had some lunch and welcomed the peace aboard my personal coach. After a short while people were running down the platform, ha! silly people I thought to myself. Then it struck me. People were running because this coach wasn't part of my train. In fact, this train of which I was now the sole occupier of was not my train. Lunch abandoned I headed for the door and hit the exit button, realisation soon struck me; the doors had been locked to stop people boarding. Whoops. I quietly contemplated my stupid mistake while people attempted to open the doors from the other side in an attempt to board (which is exactly why they lock the doors) of course none of these people considered notifying a member of staff about the imprisoned man on the train (I'm pretty sure I would, if in their shoes). The green emergency door release lever had never been so appealing, if it weren't for the possibility of it sounding an alarm I probably would have operated it under a partially legitimate circumstance! About five minutes after the train I should had boarded had left a dispatcher finally noticed my frantic banging and rounded up some staff to secure my release. The only upside to this embarrassing incident is that I left through the train's cab. I discovered train cabs are quite small, smaller than I had imagined, but equally as awesome as I had anticipated one being. I can now quite proudly brag that I've been inside the cab of a a Class 168! (I may have to improvise an alternate story when saying so...) The next problem arose in that my advance tickets to Leamington Spa were quite useless a kind ticket inspector scribbled some presumably important numbers on them and said they should be fine now. Result!

leamington_spa_signBack to the planned feature: The journey up to Leamington Spa was quite relaxing, the train was busy but against all previous 'quiet zone' experience people actually respected it's cause, which was nice. At one point I think the loudest thing on the entire carriage was the tapping of my fingers against my think pad's keyboard. Leamington Spa was an interesting place, I was only there for an hour or so but successfully managed to locate the local Wetherspoons unaided by technology. I enjoyed a pint of Meerkat Mild which was darker than I like my ale, but it had a good head and a well rounded taste, wasn't particularly hoppy which was a shame.

leamington_spa_stationThe station at Leamington was well maintained, to the extent I'm convinced it must be under the maintenance of a preservation society of some kind, the paintwork on the signage and benches was flawless, with some fantastic detail. This amongst the pristine flower beds made it a very impressive stop.

The journey back was even better, the WiFi on the Chiltern service was fantastic as were the power outlets, I managed to log on to some problematic equipment in Poland and talk to the guy there while steaming though countryside. I was very impressed!

Interested in which service and trains I used? Take a look here: http://railmiles.14zz4.net/ Make sure you filter for the 8th May 2013.

Tignes Snowboarding 2010

tignes_1 Wow, 2010 was a busy year indeed! In the spirit of continuing my blog catch up here is my second official bucket list completion: #6 - Snowboard down a mountain.

Snowboarding isn't the easiest thing in the world, that's probably a given, so along with a friend of mine we decided to get some dry slope practice in before heading off to Tignes, France. the John Nike Centre in Chatham has a fairly big dry slope and with a few private lessons, some falls and some scuffs the n00bs were ready to rock.

tignes_2We stayed in the Les Almes area of the Tignes resort in a group chalet called Chalet Milou. the chalet itself was good fun, as there were a few people in our group it allowed everyone to be in the same chalet but still have separate sleeping areas. The chalet was run by two young guys who made breakfast and cooked dinner each night. the location was fantastic, right next to two ski lifts, 'Chaudannes' and 'Lavachet' which made getting going in the morning a breeze. It also wasn't too far from a 'green' slope, which was great to get adjusted to snowboarding on snow - I even managed to begin mastering turns!

tignes_3The height of the trip was going up to 'Le Grande Motte' (see what I did there? :P) Which translates to 'The Big Mound' I can assure you the one thing I would not describe it as would be 'mound', this thing was an all out mountain which offers round the year skiing. The Grande Motte was impressive, although I discovered I have a mild fear of cable cars, not chair lifts, just cable cars. Why? Not sure, I'm normally all down with physics and will quite happily hang from a large height with all but a rope and harness to support my squidgy self - I think there was something quite disconcerting with piling into a caravan type vessel to then slowly be moved out over a MASSIVE crevasse. Needless to say I just kept quiet and dealt with it like a man. The view was of course worth it, literally one of the most amazing, fantastic and breathtaking places I've ever been or am likely to ever go, I'd suffer the caravan death machine without a second thought.

Holyhead Lifeboat

What to do when in Bangor, Wales? Go and see Holyhead Lifeboat of course!holyhead_lifeboat The boat was spotlessly clean and very prominent in the small marina. To get to the marina involved a 10 minute walk from the train station, which was pretty cold for February. We weren't able to get up close as the boat is moored on a private pontoon but luckily it was within picture distance. The vessel is named Christopher Pearce and was launched new in 2003 to replace the previous Arun Class named "Kenneth Thelwall".