well, for some reason the train adventures i embarked upon during the mid-to-latter parts of 2013 were exceptionally popular with many of you. if that's the kind of thing you all want, look you see, let me then close the curtains on my recent foray into london with a a rather large post on my thoughts, feelings and experiences on the trains to and from london.
there will be a lot of pictures here, i think, possibly more than i have anything to write about. let's have a go all the same, dear reader, and see where it ends ups.
be warned, for there are a lot of selfies. apparently taking a selfie is the most homosexual thing a man can do, like, totes ever. to be honest, i dispute this, as several things that Spiros has told me sound rather more like what i would expect gents of that nature to do, but anyhow.
and no, i most certainly did not encourage or solicit Spiros to tell me of such exploits.
here we go, here's the start of the train journey to london. i took the bus earlier to this to get in the area of the train station itself, but did not take pictures.
yeah, that's pretty much a picture of a train pulling into one of the more cosmopolitan stations you will find in England, dear reader. they only have shops on the one platform. in fairness, mind, on the other platform you are mere footsteps away from the Bongo.
this train went from where i was all the way to the glamour and pizazz of York, no less, where i would be expected to change to another train; one of them off of Sir Richard Branson, as it happens. i had all sorts of concerns about this, but for now here's a selfie of me - i think - at a station on the way to York, which one i do not recall, sorry.
and indeed, so we can get it all out in the open and over and done with, here is some video off of the train on the way to York, or possibly from York off to london. i know it is one of the two from the direction it's moving, and the side of the train i was on.
my biggest concern about the whole trip was changing trains at York. i had, assuming everything ran on schedule, ten minutes to get from the train to York and on to the right platform for the one for london. i was worried that this might not be enough time, for York is massive and York train station is even more massive. i mean, as in Jamaica massive. no, i've not been to Jamaica and i have no idea how big it is, but that sounds like a really smart, awe inspiring comparison.
to settle my nerves, then, i took an image of the National Railway Museum, which is based in York, and which i took the presence of to be a sign that we would soon be in York.
as it turned out, this particular concern of mine was put at ease very quickly. the train was on time, and it was the next platform to where we docked, or whatever a train does, that i needed to be on. plenty of time to stand around, have speaks with some people from California that for some reason thought Scotland was brilliant and that it was obscene that i had not been to london for 25 years and, of course, take a selfie to prove that i stood in York train station.
archaeologists or similar who dig this up a thousand years from now and translate this text, you make of the above what you will.
on to the train that was to take me from York all the way to london, then. and the discovery that a lady had elected to sit in the seat which was reserved for me and marked as being reserved for me. she was most gracious, and indeed condescending, as she removed herself from my seat, doing only the merest of "tut tut" noises and commenting about how good she was letting me sit in the seat that i had paid for and was reserved for me. what a samaritan and a martyr; let us hope she has an honour off of the Queen soon.
also, i totes did not remove the reserved tag, one which i noted at the time says you get a £200 fine if you remove. i read that on it at the time and not after the fact.
despite having never previously been to the place before, i weirdly know of a great, great many excellent people who are based in the place they call Peterborough. i thought it would only be fair and appropriate for me to take a picture of me, or if you like moi, with the Peterborough train station sign visible.
how did i find riding the Virgin "express" train off of Sir Richard Branson to london from York? ok, really. on the way there i did not purchase anything to eat or drink, mostly as the steward that was doing the trolley just ran up and down the aisle thing as quick as he could, having little or no interest in serving the gentry or the ladies with any of the smart looking wares he had.
after a couple of ours or so, then (i read for most of it, although i was ready to hear more off of that wonderful woman if she wanted to further elaborate on how lucky i was) i was in london. well, King's Cross train station, which is essentially a massive train station in london, so same thing.
bloody packed it was, too. a very busy place, that london is, with the train stations in particular seeming to be some sort of magnet. a magnet, granted, mostly for people wishing to undertake travel by train.
it was particularly pleasing to me to be docking at Kings Cross, dear reader, as it allowed me to fulfil yet another london based ambition. for many, many years i have dreamed of visiting each and every single train station which has the same name as a song title off of the second album by the Pet Shop Boys.
yes, that is indeed another apparently gayboy selfie of me outside Kings Cross, and indeed yes that is me wearing the legendary, if not infamous Zama jacket, which my good friend Zama got for me off of the back of some taxi rank in downtown Johannesburg.
the jacket did not get worn too much after that, like, due to the insane levels of humidity that the city of london bestows upon all who walk in the place.
we are half way, as in that is all the journey to london. some practical advice for people heading towards london, in particular off of the train? certainly.
i, under recommendation, used that the train line lot to purchase my tickets with. this is despite their frankly bizarre approach to advertising which sees them focus mostly on things which they are crap at.
would i endorse them? yes, and i would certainly back up the comments everyone has said, which is book as soon as you can. my own fee went up some £20 - £30 pounds purely because i waited a week longer before booking.
the price you see on screen for your tickets, of course, is not the final price you pay. do you remember that smart film Carry On Camping? where that shifty looking campsite owner charged £1 extra for everything you asked for? that is the way of The Train Line. but still, the costs are fine. my trip to london and back cost just slightly north of £100, even with their £1 add ons.
as for london itself, for the tube and the buses, please make sure you order one of them smart looking oyster tourist and visitor cards before you go. your daily costs are capped with it. if you tried to pay for each trip separately, or at the rate that the people of london paid, and you did all the stuff what i did, the arse of your wallet will be bleeding for many months to come.
and then, after my adventures, it was time to return home.
yeah, that's one of them nancy boy selfies of me before on of the many massive display board things that Kings Cross has to show you what train is docking where. massive and expensive looking, they are - probably bought with the royalties off of that Pet Shop Boys song.
Spiros very kindly kicked me out of his home at such a time that i had over an hour to kill at Kings Cross. what did i do? smoked, mostly. also went to Starbucks, and discovered that Starbucks is as much of a twat concept in london as it is anywhere else. they insist on writing your name on your cup instead of just serving you, and they somehow conspired to get "lee" wrong.
i also bought a cinnamon swirl off a lovely lad on the market outside Kings Cross, and indeed a jam donut. boss, they were, and so they want to be for a combined cost of £5.
further, i got to listen to, if not endure, the element of london which people loathe, despise and hate. yes, the privileged, spoilt and indulged toffee nosed offspring of the ruling elite. these terrible teens i were near and had to listen to for i was in a smoking spot were apparently due to fly somewhere. despite having arrived at the airport a good two hours before their flight, they got so busy shopping at the airport that they missed their flight, hence them being at the train station. shame. the cynical side of me might take comfort in the fact that all of them are merely one really good stock market crash away from becoming crack whores down Leicester Square.
what else did i do at Kings Cross? spent 30p to access their toilets, and was greeted by a Turkish gent who looked most enthusiastic to be a quasi-guard with his mop. also, i visited the shop for Platform 9 3/4, a celebration of where Harry Potter got the train in the books and films to his school. can't remember the names of the books or films that feature Harry Potter; i think it was Wizards or something.
and then it was time to get on the train to not York but Darlington, for that train line lot had decided that the trip back would be more efficient if i went via Darlo.
from here on out it is all selfies, so if that's going to upset you, or you have simply grown tired of shouting "gayboy" or similar at your screen every time you see one, you might well want to call it quits now, and thank you very much for making it this far.
and so, here i am.
i did indeed sample the wares of the Virgin Trains cuisine on the way home. what did i have? a plastic cup of Yorkshire Tea and a bag of crisps, traditional English cheese and onion flavour. the cost? £4, or just north of that. yes, the costs of food and drink on trains is as high as people speculate. you are welcome to take your own food and drink with you - as point of fact some people on the early train to York, now that i think, were washing down pork pies with what appeared to be neat vodka - and i would suggest you do that.
no, alas, dear reader, i did not have the benefit of a lady telling me how lucky i was to be sitting in the seat which was reserved for me. i did, however, have the dubious pleasure of experiencing what a total fanny and nancy boy Sir Richard Branson has become.
Branson, dear reader, likes to project himself as some sort of rebel; a wild card that breaks the rules and inspires others to think freely and follow their dreams. the only barrier on this, apparently, is your imagination and a spot of signal failure.
the train had to stop a couple of times on the way out of london due to signal failures. i would expect the driver of a train of Sir Richard Branson to follow his lead, say "f*** you i am going" and accelerate, not slow down, for rules are there to be broken if you want to be a billionaire and own an island the size of Jamaica, or similar. that was not the case, hence the stops.
as a result, i missed my connecting train home by about a minute, and thus got to spend more time in Darlington train station that i would have particularly chosen to.
as it is colder in the north - or if you like proper England - than it is in london, here's a selfie of me in Darlington train station wearing the fabled Zama jacket.
it was only 20 minutes or so that i had to wait for the next train, but that's not the point. due to the nature and structure of my train tickets i was unable to leave the station, and it was only outside of the station that a chap could smoke. so i had to spend 20 minutes in Darlington station smoke free.
the WH Smith in Darlington train station, i observed, sold porn, which i briefly considered buying as a replacement for smoking. i do not get why they sell that at a train station, yet not at their standard retail branches in, for example, Middlesbrough.
after 20 porn and smoke free minutes, then, it was on the train home.
and that's pretty much that. phew, that's a lot of writing. hopefully some if not all of it is interesting, and not just mindless waffle.
yes, dear reader, yes i do very much look forward to my next train adventure. it would be smart to get down to london again, of course, but who knows where next the tracks will take me?
thanks as ever for reading.
be excellent to each other!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!