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07:30.

I’m packed and ready to head down to London for tonight’s National Rail Awards. It’s going to be a long day but it’s always a great event and chance to catch up with friends from the industry as well as watch others get well-deserved awards for their hard work and service to the industry. Dawn is already ‘down South’ so we’re arranging to meet before going to the hotel to prepare. The cufflinks and bow-tie are all packed and the shoes polished, so let’s see how the day goes…

08:20.

Walking to the station with the Calder Valley hidden beneath a thick layer of cloud.

09:05.

After walking to Halifax station I’m now on stage 2 of the journey aboard Northern’s 09:00 to Leeds. It’s a York service made up of a 2-car class 158 instead of the more normal 3-car, so it’s already busy. This is one of the unrefurbished sets, which is clean, but tired.

09:20.

After our reversal at Bradford Bradford Interchange where a sizeable chunk of folk deoarted I extricated myself from the luggage shelf and found a seat before the next horde boarded. We’re already full and standing but we’ve still got two more calls before Leeds including New Pudsey, which is always busy. This coukd get cosy!

The murk that covered the Calder Valley is totally absent here. Instead, we have clear, crisp blue skies without a hint of cloud.

10:40.

I’m now flying down the East Coast Main Line (ECML) aboard one of LNER’s old Mark 4 sets pushed by a Class 91 locomotive named “Skyfall” after the James Bond film. We’ve just rushed through Retford at 119 mph and show little sign of slacking. I’m in the quiet coach at the back of what’s a very busy train, but here I’ve managed to find an unreserved table to set up my laptop on and crack on with some work. The weather outside remains stunning – I actually wish I was out with the camera, making the most of it!

11:05.

We’ve just been brought to a stand at Helpston, North of Peterborough, which I assume is because of congestion at the station. We’re on the move again now but crawling along to the next signal at a sedate 17mph. I’ve just taken the time to have a wander through the train to use the loo and noticed how tatty these Mk4 sets are getting now that they’re in their final months of service. The loo door wouldn’t shut properly and the lock was decidedly dodgy. Belay the congestion bit, the Train Manager’s just been on the PA to explain our speed is due to a trespasser on the line. At least our slow speed is giving me time to admire the construction work on the new Werrington dive-under. I must get down here to photograph is properly soon.

11:30.

We called at Peterborough and now we’re accelerating across the Cambridgeshire Fenlands running 10 minutes late due to the trespass incident. The trip recorder on my phone is showing us hitting 123 mph right now as we flash through Huntingdon, leaving the station a blur…

12:53.

Despite the dekay I had plenty of time to stroll from Kings Cross to Euston in the glorious sunshine before catching the tube to Waterloo. Now I’m wating for Dawn’s train from Farnham to arrive…

16:05.

After meeting up with Dawn in Waterloo we nipped down to Roupell St for a ‘swifty’ in a time-warp area of London hidden in the shadows of Waterloo East’s elevated platforms. It’s an area I knew well from my days living in London as a friends mother lived here and I helped redecorate her house.

The interior of the Kings Arms in Roupell St.

Moving on we decided it was far too nice a day to be stuck on the tube a minute longer than we had to be so we walked back to Embankment tube via the South Bank and the footbridge at Charing Cross. The view was stunning.

Now we’re in our hotel in Bayswater, getting changed for tonight’s black-tie event.

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