After arriving in Exeter I had a quiet night in my lovely old hotel, The Mercure right across the road from Central station. The kind and friendly young lady on reception offered me an upgraded room and complimentary breakfast. Having a large room in such a grand (if slightly faded) hotel was luxury so I made the most of it and spread out on the king size bed to catch up with some writing and paperwork. Here’s a few pictures.
Now, after not kicking the arse out of the free breakfast (I limited myself to bacon, beans and scrambled eggs, honest!) I’m on the 07:29 to Waterloo as far as Salisbury which is worked by a pair of SWR Class 159s. These units are tired and seem a throwback now. I’m in 159001 which has no power sockets or USB and where the noise from the a/c is a constant presence. At least it’s helped drown out the chatter from the two middle-aged women on the table opposite. Animated and coffee and cake fueled, one hasn’t paused for breath since we left Exeter. I think she must be able to breathe through her ears!
I changed trains at Salisbury, swapping from SWR to GWR who were running a pair of Class 158s down to Portsmouth Harbour which I used to get to Southampton Central. It seems I’m on the edge of the heavy rain passing through the South-East. There was a real scrum at Southampton with people everywhere. I’m assuming a cruise ship has docked. My next train was a 4-car Southern service – which looks like this. Hardly a pleasent travelling experience. It also shows the entitlement of some people. Just how many seats do you need?
I abandoned my even more packed train (you should have seen what it looked like after stopping at Chichester!) at Barnham for a trip down the branch to King George 5th’s favorite town – or not – if you believe the alleged death-bed quote!
After seeing a series of basic stations in Wales and the South-West I’m now back amongst Victorian finery and in 3rd rail land.
The weather’s slowly improving as I head Eastwards along the South coast but it still looks unpredictable. What it isn’t is cold, which makes lugging my combined camera/day bag somewhat sweaty – especially when I’m on the move so much. Of course it could be worse, I could still be stuck in the conditions I encountered in Southhampton. Now I’ve no worries about weilding the camera.
I arrived in Brighton aboard one of the oldest passenger trains still in daily use – the class 313s. These were built in 1976 for the newly electrified suburban services from Kings Cross and Moorgate. The last survivors of the class are now exiled to the South coast.
Right now I’m continuing my journey East on another Southern service to Hastings via Eastbourne.
I’ve moved – a lot. Right now I’m signing this blog off from my hotel room opposite St Pancras station in the heart of London. It’s a cheap and cheerful hotel that’s much more upmarket from the days when this area was famous for rooms you could rent by the hour! Getting here was fun as I traversed such a variety of railways, including the ‘Marshlink’ line from Hastings to Ashford, then onto the most modern line we have (for now) – as I took ‘High Speed One’ from Ashford right into the centre of London. I’ve had another fascinating day exploring the UK rail network in 2022 – and there’s lots to see yet…
Meanwhile, here’s a couple more pictures from today.
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Loving the journey and that we get to come along both here and on your Twitter account. Only wish I could come along too. Maybe you could give us an insight into the planning and booking processes you use to make it all happen