Sunday, 19 December 2010

Trains trains trains

The time came when I needed to head back to Brum and go home for Christmas. However, the atmosphere saw it fit to drop a megaton of snow all over the country the day before I went. Awesome.

I decided that it was best to take no chances with Cross Country Trains. If anyone was going to left stranded in the middle of some field in the middle of nowhere because my train had caught fire for no reason, it was going to be me. I was going to be prepared goddamit. PREPARED. Screw you Cross Country Trains. If you're going down because of some frozen water, I'm not going with you.

Therefore, for my little excursion from Cambridge to Birmingham New Street I saw it fit to pack:

  • 1 headtorch (50 lumens don'tcha know)
  • 1 leatherman (with awesome attachment bits! And a saw. And some surprisingly excellent scissors)
  • 1 box of matches
  • String. Obviously.
  • 1 boat tie (I didn't have any rope)
I also had a bit of an issue because there was no food AT ALL in my house. Except porridge. But I also obviously needed to take food with me. What if I was stranded for six hours in Peterborough or something? PETERBOROUGH? However, all of my tupperware either tasted of jelly or peppers. Not good accompaniments to porridge. But I did have this.

I have porridge in a golden syrup tin and a titanium spork. Officially ready for anything.
Did get some bloody funny looks while eating it though. Eating stuff out of golden syrup tins is apparently not very normal.

But anyway, you know it's bad when you have so little faith in the train network that you take the means to start a fire with you just in case they leave you in the middle of the British countryside in sub zero temperatures.

Oh and I also wore A LOT of clothes. Just in case, you know.

Life lesson: these are great. They fit in the overhead bit on trains, you can fit loadsa stuff in them and they last forever. And they're a tenner. And no one messes with you if you've got one. AND you can use them as pillows when everything just gets a bit much at the National Watersports Centre.

But anyway. After The Travel Gods had decided that the train I was going to get at 0920 no longer existed, I eventually got on some train going in the vague direction I wanted. Hurrah! I ended up having on of those rare experiences: a random conversation with a stranger on a train. It was awesome. He was at least 70 and was something in the British Medical Society and had a bar of dairy milk in his bag. He had a nice reminisce about when he was at Cambridge.

Around Nuneaton, a big family got on, with four really chavy c. 7 year old boys got on. I'll admit it, I was worried.
However, they turned out to be impeccably behaved, and one of them was completely awesome. The train went past a massive pit with loads of piles of rock lying about, big conveyor belts, that sort of thing. The little guy got really excited:
Ye, this boy came out with a brilliant socioeconomic history of some random pit near Nuneaton. I was impressed. He then proceeded to play with the time-zone function on his phone.
Honestly, I just hope he doesn't leave school at 16. That would make me very sad indeed.

I do love it when people completely don't live up to expectations. Case in point, I was in Bayeux looking at the tapestry (Get me! I do cultured stuff!) and there was a really biker-looking fellow avec leathers and that. He turned out to have an excellent grasp of Latin :-)

But anyway, train journey done etc. I got home. And home was full of exciting things like Christmas trees and a really fluffy dog. AND FUCKING EDIBLE BALL BEARINGS.

There was a pot of the damn things next to the coal scuttle.

I lol-ed.

I was home :-)


  1. Anna, have you ever thought about giving up all this astrophysics & maths and rowing malarky, and getting a job running the country? I think you'd do it really well, and i think I would like to live in a country run by you. Please consider this option.

  2. PBH? Is that you? I feel honoured :-)

    If I ran the country I would make sure that if The Internet said a train out of Cambridge existed and that it was running on time IT WOULD BLOODY SODDING EXIST.


  3. Frankie and I had a similar experience with travel. We drove to a wedding in Cornwall and took several weeks worth of survival kit with us (in big ex-army bags in my case too)! We also had a boat-tie (I too lack rope), bungees, two huge thermos flasks, sleeping bags and a shovel. Brilliant fun!

  4. Glad to hear that you have got home ... and about the chav-kids who turned out to be impeccably behaved and socio-economically well informed! That's awesome :)

    Also in awe of your prepared-ness for train journey. I think I would have felt the same, if undertaking a similar journey ... although my provisions would probably have just been a survival pack from somewhere (like this: and a blanket.

  5. @Ed: I considered bringing my trangia but I thought that might have been overkill (and I had no room).

    @Eudoxia: That kit had a wire saw in it! How awesome! :-D

  6. Anna could you suggest where you can buy those awesome looking bags from please?!

  7. @Anonymous: I just got mine from the army and navy store in Cambridge (the man in the shop had to explain to me how to use the slightly odd fastening). Can't imagine where else you'd get one from apart from some sort of Army and Navy outlet tbh...

    But a tenner! Get in! :-)