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07:35.

It’s a wet and windy morning in the Calder Valley and I’m getting ready to head South for the final two days of station judging for the ACoRP awards. Today I’m visiting a station in South London, but first I’ve got to get there. Let’s see how the day goes…

08:55.

I’m now on the first train of the day, Northern’s 08:52 from Sowerby Bridge which will take me to Leeds. The weather broke just before I walked down to the station, allowing me to bask in the sunshine for a while instead of receiving the soaking I was expecting. The forecast for the next few days is unsettled right across the country so I’m not expecting my luck to hold!

My train’s busy, but not overly so. The holiday periods in full swing, so there’s fewer travelling and more of them are casually dressed.

09:59.

Despite the holiday period my 3-car train was packed from Bradford into Leeds, where I switched to LNER’s 09:45 service to London which is being worked by a Class 91 and a Mk4 set. I suppose I should be enjoying the chance to travel on these whilst I can, but I must admit, I’m already preferring the Azuma’s as they give a much smoother ride. I’m sat in the quiet coach right behind the loco and the snatching and jerking of the loco is quite pronounced, especially now, as we’ve just stopped at Wakefield Westgate.

10:46.

We’re speeding through the countryside South of Newark at 112mph right now whilst being battered by regular rainstorms which are building up the further South we get. Earlier I took a walk to the buffet to buy breakfast and saw just how busy the rest of the train is. There’s a lot of families aboard who’re obviously heading for a day out in London, as well as the usual business travellers and tourists. Looking at the loadings, it’s a profitable train.

12:08.

I left the LNER service at Peterborough, where I stayed long enough to get a few shots in the sunshine before it departed, and so did I. This time I’m travelling aboard one of the Siemens ‘peoplemovers’ – otherwise known as the Class 700. These 12 car trains have a massive passenger capacity but even they get packed in the rush hour. However, right now there’s more than enough space to swing a cat, if you were so inclined…

I’ve time to spare for another stop before I get to where I need to, so I’m heading for Stevenage to have a look at the work that’s going on to add an extra platform at the station.

14:16.

Well, that was an interesting interlude. I stopped off twice, firstly at Hitchin to get a few shots, then at Stevenage, where I managed to grab some pictures of the work on the new platform.

Whilst I was there a Hull Trains 180 I’d seen signal checked earlier was terminated due to mechanical problems.

All the passengers were transferred to an 8 car Thameslink 700, which was quite cosy with all the extra punters! I caught it as far as Blackfriars where I transferred to a Sevenoaks service for my appointment at Crofton Park.

16:06.

Visit done (I’ll upload a pic later) I’m now heading my way back across London via Thameslink, bound for Norwich – eventually!

16:57.

I’ve now joined the commuter hordes heading out of the metropolis after a hard day at work. In my case I’m on Greater Anglia’s 17:00 to Norwich, which is pretty much full and standing. It’s a fast service, non-stop to Ipswich, which is where I might dally for a while.

This route holds lots of fabulous memories for me from my days residing in London as I lived, worked and socialised alongside it for so many years. I still get a warm feeling when we whizz past my old Housing Office and the estates I used to manage in Bow, and the virtually unrecognisable Stratford station and environs.

23:06.

I’m here in Norwich and bringing the blog to a close. I had intended to upload some more pictures from today’s travels but the hotel wifi is flaky and had other ideas. Hopefully tomorrow. After arriving and checking in I went for a wander up the strip from the station to the town. It’s always been a street full of clubs, bars and fast-food joints, so it was interesting to see just how many are vacant or undergoing a revamp. I remember it from the 1990s. On a Friday-Saturday night you knew that this would be where you’d be likely to find every village idiot across the county. Maybe it’s changed now, but a Monday night isn’t the time to find out! That said, I do like Norwich, it has some cracking pubs and beautiful buildings. I doubt I’ll have time to look around on this trip, but I’m sorely tempted to return to base myself here for a few days whilst I explore. It was always so much easier to get here when I lived in London and I’ve great memories of a cycling holiday from Ipswich all the way up to the Noth Norfolk coast. One day I’ll get around to scanning all the old slides…

Right, until tomorrow, goodnight.

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