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Sunday Diversions

Posted in Biographical, Brighton with tags , , , on September 28, 2014 by telescoper

Remind me never again to travel on a Sunday. Needing to get back for some important meetings tomorrow I set out from Cardiff this lunchtime leaving plenty of time for the journey. Just as well.

For a start, First Great Western trains were disrupted by “planned engineering work”. Not very well planned, obviously. The train I got on was to be diverted via Bath Spa, adding about an hour to the usual journey time. But that wasn’t the main cause of vexation.

When it arrived at a crowded platform at Cardiff Central, the 12.53 consisted of just seven coaches, three of which were First Class. To add to the chaos and consternation, Coach B, in which several people standing beside me had reserved seats, did not exist.

Not having a reservation in a real or imaginary coach, rather than stand for 3 hours I went and sat in any empty First Class carriage and when the guard arrived I paid the £15 upgrade to Weekend First, congratulating First Great Western on a cleverly-worked scam. Deliberately running a short train on a busy route to increase revenue this way is cynical and exploitative but that’s what it means to run a train company these days.

Anyway, the weather being quite nice when I arrived in Paddington I walked through Kensington Gardens and along the Serpentine before heading down to Victoria.

Stage two of my journey via Southern Railways turned out to be no better. More “planned engineering works” meant all Victoria to Brighton trains were diverted through Littlehampton. A replacement bus from Three Bridges was offered as an alternative “possibly a little quicker” but having no confidence at all that a bus would actually materialise I stayed on the train as it trundled through rural Sussex.

I got to Brighton Station around 7pm, about 6 hours after leaving Cardiff Central, but at least I got a bus straight away.

I hope the rest of the week isn’t as exasperating as today, but something tells me that it might be..

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Flooding into London

Posted in Biographical with tags , , , , , , on January 14, 2011 by telescoper

A brave bunch of hardy Cardiff  University astronomers are heading into London today for a meeting of the Royal Astronimical Society in London which celebrates the first year of science from the Herschel Space Observatory. This wouldn’t normally constitute too arduous a trip, but it turns out after the last couple of days torrential rain in Wales and the South-West of England, there is flooding on the line at Sodding Chipbury Chipping Sodbury which has sent the railway network into one of its regular episodes of chaos. Half the trains from Cardiff to London are cancelled, and the other half diverted all round the houses so they will take at least an extra half-hour to reach their destination at Paddington.

There isn’t any flooding actually in Cardiff, but the River Taff, which hibernated peacefully through the recent snowy period, has now sprung back into life and seems to be in an angry mood. I took these snaps yesterday as I walked into work, so you can see the water level is high enough to submerge some of the riverside shrubs and trees, but not high enough (yet) to threaten the embankments.

At times like this the Taff is more than a little scary, not so much because of the way it looks but because of the sound of it growling along down to Cardiff Bay, carrying the occasional car tyre and traffic cone with it.

I suppose this is small potatoes compared to the terrible floods in Australia, Brazil and elsewhere in the world, but it is quite exasperating, especially since it happens so regularly yet still catches the train companies completely unawares.

Anyway, I don’t know if the first wave of Cardiff folk managed to get to London in time for the start of the meeting. I had a couple of things to do this morning so decided to go later, even though that meant missing some of the talks that are closer to my own interests. I did think about cancelling my trip entirely, but decided in the end to give it a go. I hope I make it there at least in time for dinner at the RAS Club.

But then there’s the question of what time I’ll get  home tonight…


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