Monday, January 28, 2008

Cambridge Travels 1

Tapped Casks
So this weekend I took a wee jaunt down to Cambridge to visit with some friends, see the beautiful city (again) and hit up the CAMRA Winter Ales festival. I was disappointed by almost nothing... the weather was excellent both days, I didn't spend too much money, I took lots of photos (423 to be exact), and tried some interesting beers. Unfortunately we were there on the last day, and by about 8 pm pretty much all the beer was gone except the 8-11% stuff (and I really couldn't have too much more (don't worry though, mother, I was a good boy as always (yes, my mother reads my blog))).

I'll do a write-up on [what I remember of] the beer festival in a day or two, as I have about 30 min to get about an hour worth of chores done since I just got home. And why am I home so late you ask, interested as always for an answer? Well, let me regale you with a tale of woe I've only heard about in British rail system lore...

I took Monday off school to spend all day Sunday exploring Cambridge taking photos. I think I got some pretty good ones, by the way, which I shall eventually publish on flickr. So Monday morning I booked a set of trains leaving at 10:33, arriving in Edinburgh at 15:30 or so. First problem: in Peterbrough apparently there was something wrong with the reservation system, so all seat reservations were canceled. Luckily the train was only about 1/2 full so the annoyance was minor. I ended up sitting by an interesting gentleman traveling home from Melbourne to Edinburgh. I regret not catching his name before the events that occur soon.

Carrying on, just past Newcastle the train stops. Not uncommon, I suppose. I read my book (new book from Pete Brown, who writes about beer and I really like his style, I'll write a review one day... but I digress) for awhile and realized that about 20 minutes had passed while we were stopped and people were getting fussy. The conductor by this point announces that there are problems with the overhead wires up ahead, and they have no clue about what this will mean for our future overland transportation. 30 min... 40 min... after 45 minutes they announce that we are returning to Newcastle station... we'll be put on buses that will take us to a station further on, where we will catch a train to Edinburgh.

I forget the name of the town we took the bus to, but it was a bit of a zoo with a train of people getting onto buses. After a one hour bus ride, I ponder if I should just head into the local to get a pint and a bite to eat, since I believed this whole powerline outage was going to completely mess up the entire north-south train system and we might be there awhile. I was right, however I did not go to the pub. We stood at the station for about an hour (oh, its about 17:50 now, by the way)... a high speed northbound train passed through the station at some point... a little demoralizing, to say the least. Eventually a train comes, and we arrive in Edinburgh at around 6:30, almost 3 hours late. Well, at least rush hour is over...

In anycase, it turns out that if we were on the express train before us, it would have been fine. If we were on the express train after us, we would have been late (actually, as far as I can tell the train we boarded was the train after ours) but we wouldn't have had to get off and bus it. I figure they started busing us then the wire problem was fixed, so we just got caught in "emergency broken response".
To add insult to people traveling to Aberdeen, though, they canceled the service past Edinburgh. Ha.

Apparently there was a bloke trying to travel all the way to the Shetland islands today and certainly he missed his ferry. I hope the National Express put that guy up in a hotel!

Anyway... ok I wrote too much about the train, so now I should end this excerpt of my weekend travels. More tomorrow... in theory.

Cheers!


1 comment:

Paul Garrard said...

I was there on Saturday, it's a great litle festival.