Having slipped out of bed at 04:45 in order to beat the alarm clock and not disturb Dawn I’m currently on Northern’s 06:00 from Halifax to Leeds. My extra early start gave me plenty of time to walk to the station and the rain Gods smiled on me. So now today’s adventure starts. I’m heading for the South coast before a night in London. Stay tuned to see how the trip goes…
The 06:00’s the first train of the day towards Leeds and never the busiest as it’s only working from Hebden Bridge. That said, the 3-car Class 195 that’s working it today has (at a rough guess) loadings of between 20-25%. This time of day the passengers are all solitary folk on their way to work.
I’ve transferred to the 07:00 to London Kings Cross. At this time of day Leeds is a hive of activity for LNER as trains from outlying towns and cities converge like Bradford and Skipton converge on the station before taking Yorkshire business folk down to the capital. The 07:00’s one example. Having started from Bradford Forster Square it reverses at Leeds, after which it makes one more stop at Wakefield Westgate before running non-stop to London, making the 185 miles and 70 chains trip from Leeds in 1 hour 59 minutes.
We’ve just left Wakefield Westgate where several dozen passengers awaited our arrival. Needless to say, they’re almost exclusively business travellers. The tables in my car are now covered in laptops as people catch up on emails or other work. There’s a sea of red seat reservation lights in my coach, but a quick headcount reveals many seats are unoccupied. On a walk-through the car I count 31 people in a vehicle with 88 seats (27.3%) but as this is coach 9 of a 10 car set I know the cars that were nearer the Leeds gateline will be busier.
We’re now flying down the East Cost Main Line, having just passed Retford. The day’s just beginning to dawn and I can see it’s wet. Very wet! Rain’s beating on the opposite side of the train so hard it’s making noise like a sizzling frying pan. I’m happy to be stuck inside this metal tube where it’s warm, dry and I can get on with some work.
Fortified with a rather good coffee from the buffet (it’s strong and rich, unlike the dishwater you get on some trains) I’ve been occupied with researching today’s assignment whilst keeping one eye on the weather. The rain’s stopped for now but the low grey clouds look very uninviting. The forecast for the South coast is better, but we’ll have to see. We’re only 40 mins away from London now…
Joy! Watery sunlight’s penetrated the murk here at Hitchin! Cloud level doesn’t seem to be changing, but it does appear to be thinning. On another note, I’ve just wandered through the car to the loo and observed that I’m the only person who’s still wearing a mask. Still, they don’t matter anymore now that Covid cases are dropping, do they? Oh, wait…
I decided to take the ‘scenic’ route to the South coast which saved me having to cross London on the tube. I’m now on a Southeastern ‘Javelin’ service from St Pancras International to Ashford. I say ‘scenic’ but as much of it is in tunnels and it passes through Dagenham before it reaches the Rainham marshes that is somewhatof a misnomer! I’ve not been this aay since Covid kicked-off so I was amazed to see the amount of new housing neing built on brownfield sites on the ribbon of land North of the railways to Rainham.
I have to say it’s a pleasure to be able to speed between central London and Ashford in this fashion. As a former Londoner I remember what a schlep this was from our home in Crouch End, having to get the tube across to Charing Cross/London Bridge for the slow service.
Having arrived at Ashford just 38 minutes after leaving St Pancras I’m now on the ‘Marshlink’ line on the non-electrified line between here and Ore. I’ve come this was as I’m hoping to kill two birds with one stone and get pictures around the area for another client. Fortunately, the weather’s playing ball. The skies are clearing, the sun’s appearing and the skies are turning blue! My luck might just have turned…
Apologies for the gap in updates but I’ve been a busy bee. I took an hour-long break in the lovely town of Rye. Built on a hill and once famous as the nearby home of the comedian and author Spike Milligan (who lived close by in Udimore) it’s still a lovely place to visit as it has some fascinating old buildings. Here’s an example. That said, the place is starting to look a bit tatty. Many building are in need of quite a bit of TLC. Rotten window frames, peeling paintwork and closed shops are common. It’s a crying shame.
I was tempted to tarry but as the train service is hourly and I had a lot more to do I resisted the temptation. That said, I fitted a lot into the hour as the weather worked out for me which allowed me to get some half-decent pictures before moving on to my main destination. Eastbourne.
I’m now back in London and winding down for the evening after a packed day. I struck lucky with the light as soon as I arrived in Eastbourne which allowed me to get shots in the bag sooner than I expected. Having done so I was able to have a wander around town, something I’ve never done before. Like many towns (seaside or otherwise) there’s a glut of empty shots as retail faces the forces of rising rents, online retail, Brexit and Covid. I saw a number of buildings that looked like they were once department stores but also a lot of smaller shops that were once eateries. It’s sad, but the world’s changing – as it always has.
Anyway, I’ll end this blog with a few pictures as I’m too knackered to write anymore after a 04:30 start and I’ve a busy day tomorrow.
Tomorrow I’m in search of the new rather than the old as I’ll be exploring the High-Speed 2 railway construction sites at Euston in London…
I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this blog, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course (although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab!), but the revenue from them helps to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site – and right now (because of Covid), us freelances appreciate all the help that we can get to aid us in bouncing back from lockdowns. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website – https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/