Road (train) trip – the second Monday

Yes, the medication is obviously working and I’ve been allowed out of the office again.

Today I went off to play with some nice grown-ups in Liverpool. As opposed (he added hastily) to the nice grown-ups I normally get to play with in Wiltshire.

Phew, that was close. Think I got away with it though.

And it meant being on the train again which was brilliant; though strangely, neither the 2+ hour journey northwards from Birmingham New Street nor the return were on an InterCity train.

On both occasions it was a ‘sprinter’ sort of thing.

Look, no-one else cares B, let alone knows what you’re on about. Just get on with it, eh?

The day broke down in to neat little segments:

Waking up:
Not normally a thing worth wittering about. But this morning my trusty 05.15 alarm didn’t do its stuff.

Probably because – for some inexplicable reason – it was switched off.

I blame aliens.

Anyway, a mad dash around the house resulted and I was still on the platform on time.

And noticed a friendly face walking towards me – a guy I worked for on my first contract as an independent consultant.

I didn’t know you lived here!

Not a brilliant start by me, but at that moment I was desperately ferreting around in the corners of my brain for his name and where on earth I knew him from!

Know how that is?

Just can’t place the face – so many to choose from?

So we had a chat and a catch-up on the way in to Birmingham which was nice.

The on-going train from New Street – as you may have gathered – surprised me, but I’ll let that slide.

It was a fantastic morning; one of those Spring/Autumn classics – blue skies, not a cloud in sight, slightly frosty start.

Our second stop was in Wolverhampton (the first being one of those nameless, faceless stations lost in the Birmingham urban sprawl).

Wolverhampton – many canals!

Which, incidentally (despite the towpaths being built for horses to walk on to pull barges), horses are not allowed to be ridden on!

Even today though, I could take a horse on a towpath if it were pulling a barge; but not ride one or lead one in-hand if it weren’t pulling a barge.

And not just those of Wolverhampton, this rule applies to every canal side towpath.

Much madness.

Third stop was Penkridge which, from my seat, seemed to be a very small station in the middle of a series of fields. Very pretty.

Then Stafford, which looked like Allotment City.

Crewe, frankly, looks as though it’s been plonked down in the middle of some of the prettiest countryside that England has to offer; many half-timbered countryside residences in evidence on the outskirts of the place.

Winsford, low-lying countryside showing much evidence of flooding but looking very green.

Hartford, very beautiful but I can’t help wondering how they got that commercial airliner to just hang in the sky like that.

Acton Bridge, much prettiness, very green and rural, a real ‘green and pleasant land’ postcard kind of place.

Runcorn, didn’t see much of the place because the railway runs in and out through a deep cutting but the town looks nice from the train. Fantastic views over the river estuary on the way out – and the design of the bridge that carries the railway is brilliant!

Liverpool South Parkway is prefaced with a large industrial area that contains the Jaguar factory (I’ll have one if you’ve any spare on the production line!). This is the started of the Liverpool urban sprawl; light industrial/small factory units and some late Victorian terraced, red-brick houses.

Liverpool Lime Street, the most striking markers are the towers to the city’s two cathedrals standing head and shoulders about the city skyline. There are other tall structures but I don’t know what they are.

As the train pulled to a halt in Lime Street the girl/woman/female opposite me got to her feet and pulled her The Beatles, Rubber Soul handbag over her shoulder.

She was probably born twenty-five years after that album was pressed!

The train journey was pleasant – but the lack of 13amp socket was a bit of a bummer.

Also the steward on the refreshments trolley; his scouse accent was so thick it was impenetrable.

The cab I got in was called Lady Madonna and had a sign down the side saying I should ask the driver about taking The Beatles Liverpool Tour.

Sadly I didn’t, I had a meeting to get to.

And so the face-to-face portion of the day began; on the way up I’d read a 64-page software manual, transcribed four pages of notes in to English from the peculiar type of hieroglyph that is my hurried scrawl and written half a page of observational notes which have become what you’ve just read.

Not bad considering I got to the meeting venue at 09.15.

At the end of the day I got back to Liverpool Lime Street, waited 45 minutes for a return train home and, when it arrived, got on, installed my iPod and listened/dozed back down to Birmingham.

The only sour note was the toilet at Birmingham New Street.

For crying out loud people – you charged me 20p to pee in a building site!

Not acceptable.

I realise that major work needs to be done from time to time but when total devastation occurs, can’t you see some reasonableness and stop charging people?


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