Night Train!

17 September 2010

Tonight I’m catching my first UK Night Train in order to get to a wedding in Cornwall. It looks like it will be slightly more luxurious that many of the European night trains I’ve taken – I remember for example sharing a tiny cabin with five loud, sweaty german teenege boys going from Berlin to Warsaw, and getting worken up in the middle of the night by a guard shouting in Serbocroat on a train without beds overnight from Budapest to Sarajevo.

The two-person berths look far more acceptable to my partner and me!

And of course, speaking of night trains, my friend Ben the ever-electro music maestro, directed me to this as soon as he heard.

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Disconnections, missed connections

5 September 2010

So up until Friday I didn’t know what my plans were. Actually, no, I knew some of them. My partner’s mother is visiting from overseas, and they’re traveling from London to Italy and spending a week and a half traveling around. Nothing more beautiful than September in Rome. At the end of September they’re heading to Venice for the weekend where I agreed to join them.

But of course, with starting a new job, I had no idea what was in the diary. Then I discover, the Thursday I’m going to join them in Venice, I have meetings in both Brussels and Edinburgh. Of course the first task is to work out which I’m going to (easier said than done). (I’ve now decided).

But you wouldn’t believe how difficult it is to get between the two. There are no direct trains (my preferred means of transportation) from Brussels. I could get an overnight train via Paris and Milan for £200 however. Or fly Ryanair for £30.

I hate Ryanair. Yes, they get you from A – B yada yada yada – and they’re cheap. I can cope with cheap. I can cope with all their extra charges. But what I can’t cope with is the fact that they purposely make the whole experience as unpleasurable as possibly. From their garish clunky website to the INYOURFACEYELLOW on the plane itself (I’m saying nothing about the overlyabrupt cabin crew). I’d really rather not arrive at my destination angry and irritated by the experience of getting there.

Anyway, that’s all irrelevant now as I’m actually going from Edinburgh. And could have gotten from Edinburgh to Venice on an appropriately timed flight (arriving that night, not changing at Heathrow overnight) with Lufthansa… but for £650 (£230 single). How can it cost so much more than a return to go one way? The £230 of course isn’t too bad. But as I have to get back to London it’s a waste of money and a seat.

Anyway, I’ve now resolved the problem. Increasing my carbon footprint, and tiredness in the process, by traveling back to London and catching an early morning flight the following day. Oh and missing out on most of a day’s holiday.

In an uber-connected world easy to forget that getting from A to B isn’t easy. And I’m lucky – I have the resources to do it.


A la carte

25 September 2009

I’m writing from the departure lounge at St Pancras station waiting for the 16:25 departure to Paris. A while ago my partner realised he would be working in the South East of England on Friday and Monday either side of this weekend. We originally contemplated a weekend in Canterbury. But then quickly realised it’d be just as cheap to pop under the Channel to Paris for a short weekend break (as Bridget Jones put it: A Mini-Break means true love). With the help of my Nectar Card my return ticket cost me just £50, and my partner will join the train at Ashford. So what’s the plan for Paris? primarilly to sit in cafes, drink coffee, eat croisants and soak up a bit of Parisian autum. What more could a boy want from this Indian summer?


Tales from the Tube

14 January 2009

Following my commitment to blog more I thought I’d make a decent start by linking to two other stories which I discovered about the tube.

I take the tube every working day of the week – sometimes more than twice and sometimes at weekends. Of course, living in Camden, I can avoid taking the tube at weekends more than most, instead option to travel above ground to most parts of London by bus, or train… The subterranean world always struck me as an odd place – tunnels where people are ferried from one place to another, particularly so in London where trains squeeze into tiny tunnels built, in some cases, over a century ago. It’s also a great leveller of society – morning rush hour with the businessman stood squashed in next to the cleaner, the drunk, the junkie, and the guy heading home from a hard nights clubbing who cannot stay awake and drunkenly knocks in to everyone around him.

Over the last 24 hours I’ve come across two different blog posts on the tube showing two completely seperate aspects but both looking at the human angle of the tunnels and trains.

The first, by Ben, about a woman on the Jubilee line and the ubiquitous Metro newspapers:

Well, I say read. It was more like her eyes just trickled randomly over its letters, failing to arrange them into anything more appealing before settling with a resigned frown upon Peter Mandelson’s nose. I took a few steps down the carriage and retrieved a thicker fold of newspaper, lifting back the cover to reveal the Metro and held it out to her. Her eyes lit up.

The second, linked to by my friend Caspar (via Google Reader and Friendfeed) about the night time on the Tube. People who complain about the tube not running 24-hours don’t seem to realise that it’s isn’t just shut down and the lights turned off between 12.30 and 5am… a whole army of people are at work (in particular ‘Fluffers’!)…

Both articles are well worth a read, and Time’s pictures are amazing… well worth a look and thought next time you’re down there…


Madhur Jaffrey update etc

22 June 2008

Madhur Jaffrey update, Florence and Sparkle Motion (random blatherings)

After finding Madhur Jaffrey, tonight was the first opporunity to try cooking her food from scratch, and I must admit to being very impressed…

Three dishes: Neela’s Aubergine and Potato, recepie available here, with an earthy flavour – you can taste what aubergine actually tastes like, Mattar Paneer (recepie here) creamy, sweet and spicy indian cheese with peas, and Mushrooms with onion, garlic and ginger – fabulously tomatoey, savoury and citrussy flavours…

It was a fair amount of work but an absolute triumph for both of us, so I had to update!

Still looking for somewhere to stay in Florence in the meanwhile, have found a few options with Tripadvisor but haven’t had the time to search prices etc yet – the website has a great map function, displaying the top hotels on a map which you can zoom, move and re-load to give the top 25 hotels in whatever area you choose.

I’m busy watching Donnie Darko to entertain myself this evening before another hectic week at work…

Sparkle Motion!


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