January 2017 - The Missing Blogs

2017 was kicked off in the same style as 2016, with family in Cornwall. We spent time in East Cornwall in December and visited Bodmin Moor and The Cheesewring (see post) before heading to Charlestown for New Year celebrations. At Midnight there were fireworks from the harbour, and we enjoyed some champagne while watching the events in London on my phone! Late night, but lots of fun, a great start to the year.

Charlestown, Cornwall

Charlestown, Cornwall

We also visited Watergate Bay, a beautiful sandy beach in North Cornwall and took this genuinely memorable photograph - it was far too cold to only be wearing a t-shirt and entirely too cold to be surfing.

Watergate Bay, Cornwall

Watergate Bay, Cornwall

After returning home I had a trip to Amsterdam, to meet with work colleagues for some business in the Netherlands. A very productive trip and the first of many to Amsterdam this year. We have a fantastic office, and it was great to see this beautiful city during winter time. One highlight was the gin; I had no idea that gin was so popular in The Netherlands and that it is distilled here in some many different varieties. The flight on this trip with BA was terrible, I have since switched to flying with KLM instead, whose service has been fantastic - plus they still provide complimentary drinks (shame on you, BA)!

Sylvius Gin, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Sylvius Gin, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

My exercise regime was officially kicked off, in line with 2017 objectives, taking good use of the new local PureGym. I was much less fit than I realised but gradually I have got into the groove.

The big international news of the month was undoubtedly the Trump Inauguration, particularly interesting as I was travelling to the US the day following. The day I arrived was the same day as the 2017 Women’s March, which has been recorded as the largest single-day protest in US history, quite a significant event. The focus of the trip was SD-WAN, a topic which has had my full professional commitment this year and continues to do so.

My View of Trump's Inaguration

My View of Trump's Inaguration

While in St Louis I had some downtime to explore the city, I saw the Gateway Arch close up (it is enormous!), sadly it was closed for refurbishment. I did, however, speak to a very friendly and polite Park Ranger as the arch is part of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial and is maintained by the National Park Service. I also had time to visit the City Museum and get close to the Mississippi River; I took the MetroLink transit back to the hotel, which was a daunting experience!

St Louis Old Courthouse

St Louis Old Courthouse

Next stop was NYC to get our SD-WAN appliances racked and stacked, only visiting for a few days but again managed to get a day or so of downtime. I caught up with some friends for lunch in SoHo and took a sneaky trip to the top of One World Trade Centre (of which Cushman & Wakefield are both a leasing agent and tenant). While the view was fantastic, the view from Top of The Rock is still better!

View from the top of One WTC

View from the top of One WTC

A Quick Update to the Rail Map

It hasn’t been the busiest year for rail travel, in fact, I have barely used the train at all compared to last year. That’s mostly due to much less commuting, instead spending more time working from home but is probably because of the unfortunate expiration of my 16-25 Railcard. Trains now seem and well, are, expensive – that’s a big frustration, I would much rather take the train to Cornwall, but the cost is just not comparable to taking the car. There have however been some good and new journeys this year and of those a few which I’d been hoping to travel for some time.

The best was certainly having the chance to take the Caledonian Sleeper night train from Edinburgh to London; a fantastic experience and something quite special, although similar to the Cornish Riveria it was different in its own right (and a little bit better in my opinion!). The gin in the bar area was spot on!

A Rock Rose Gin and Tonic aboard the Caledonian Sleeper at Edinburgh Waverly Station

A Rock Rose Gin and Tonic aboard the Caledonian Sleeper at Edinburgh Waverly Station

I also managed to jump aboard the Penzance to Aberdeen Cross Country service, albeit for only the south-western leg, while travelling from St Austell to Birmingham New Street. A quirk of British transportation, completing an end to end journey on this 17-hour mammoth service certainly earns the traveller the right to sit on the ‘UK Rail Throne’. Perhaps another day…

A few trips to Edinburgh finally allowed me to travel on the newly Virgin-branded East Coast service, travelling from Kings Cross to Edinburgh Waverly. A measly five hours was most comfortable aboard a Class 43 (which I was most pleased to see on the platform!). The journey was quite impressive, with some fantastic sea views north of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

Lastly, a trip to Ascot provided an interesting opportunity to see some more of South Western Railway’s network than anticipated, when we reversed just before Richmond on the return leg. I wasn’t paying quite enough attention as to which route we took, but it was certainly a long way around. This was also the first time I have ever been on a railway service where everyone aboard decided to have a singalong!

You can find my latest rail map here with a few more green lines than the previous one.