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Well, I hope our trip’s a cruise! We’re currently aboard Northern’s 09:44 from Halifax to Manchester Victoria on the first leg of out trip. Despite yesterday’s storm the railways seem little affected, which is great news. OK, out trains a couple of minutes late due to slippery rails and low adhesion, but when the weather’s as wet and windy as it has been that’s hardly a surprise. One of my first tasks this morning (well, after making coffee, obviously!) was to peruse various website to check on real-time train performance. Suitably reassured I’m relaxed about the trip.

Having stopped at Hebden Bridge where we picked up another member of the CRN staff we’re now on our way West though a dank and dismal Calder valley. At least Hannah and Dawn have added some colour!


Everything’s going to plan! Our journey across Manchester went without a hitch and we rendezvoused with the rest of the CRN advance party at Piccadilly. Now we’re settled in on a 4-Car Arriva Cross-Country Voyager for the long trip to Southampton, which wouldn’t be everyone’s cup of tea (4 hours 18 mins on a Voyager probably qualifies for an ‘Iron Man’ award!) but so far, the train’s relatively empty so we’ve room to spread out.

The weather’s improving as we head South too. The rain was hammering on the roof of Piccadilly but here in Stoke-on-Trent we’ve managed to encounter some sunshine and a smattering of blue-sky. Meanwhile, the CRN staff have turned the train into a mobile office, sorting out some last-minute changes to the awards.

Yep, I’m outnumbered by the fairer sex…


Leaving Birmingham we called at International where a railhead treatment train was sitting between turns Seeing these vehicles working this late in the year seems unusual, but as some leaves are still clinging on to trees by their metaphorical fingernails it’s hardly surprising. It’s been a long autumn!

Right now we’re heading for Oxford in the best weather I’ve seen for days as we’ve blue skies spattered with high cloud rather then the wall to wall dullness that’s been the norm. Our train’s filled up but seats are still available and the atmosphere’s stress-free.


And it was all going so well…!

After an amble along the Thames Valley to Reading as we were already 5 minutes late we ended up kicking our heels for quite some time as one of the train crew who was meant to be joining us was stuck elsewhere. Five minutes became ten, then twenty, then twenty five, then – finally, whoever we were waiting for turned up and we got away twenty six minutes late. But we’d lost our path, so we were nearly 30 down by the time we passed Southcote Junction. We’re now at the mercy of signallers regulating the service and slotting us in as they can…


Made it! As I predicted, we lost more time en-route, finally arriving in Bournemouth 39 minutes late. Judging by the amount of young women hardly dressed for the season who were joining the train as we departed there’s a concert in Bournemouth tonight!

We’re currently relaxing at the hotel sorting our kit out whilst watching the latest political omnishambles unfold via the TV. The PM’s Press Spokesperson, Allegra Stratton has announced her resignation but I don’t that’s going to stop the awkward questions. Such as – which press members of the Lobby attended, because it’s painful to watch some sections of the media completely ignoring the story. The suspicion is that there was a lot of colluding going on here and a lot of people have questions to answer – including the Metropolitan police. Now we’re being told there’s going to be a Prime Ministerial announcement at 18:00 which is sounding like another attempt to say ‘look over there’. Meanwhile, we’ll be watching the announcement with a drink in hand, hoping Johnson’s not going to try and pull a stunt that could affect tomorrow’s awards…