Boop boop

I’ve never really been one to hanker for the golden age of the railway: more of a polite, Mr Toad styled petrolhead, I’ve never really undertaken massive cross-country train journeys – what does one do to get around once one gets to ones destination? Not everywhere has a tube you know. But my convalescence has forced some reevaluation of late, and a big old trek from London town to Cornwall became necessary.

The tube deposits us, somewhat later than planned, at I.K. Brunel’s grandiose Paddington station (I love that the London terminals are so fancy: I’m a fan of architecture which shows effort on the part of all involved, so little flourishes will always tickle me). Although we were technically in time for our train, the bare moments we had made things a horrific rush, so we chose to take the McDonalds+mooch route until the next train, which comes highly recommended. Changing trains is hardly a barrel of laughs at the best of times, no need to rush it.

Once on the train though, we experienced the stressful drama of waiting to see if anyone was going to claim the reserved seats we were sat in, with the same heart-beating at Reading. In the end though, no-one bothered us and on we got with the business of train-travelling. Through Berkshire, Oxfordshire (I’m resisting the urge to do you a Google map, just as I had to resist the temptation to liveblog or tweet the journey), Wiltshire, Somerset, Devon, we arrive at Taunton and from there it’s stop-start all the way. The lush, watered countrside of this English heartland is really a treat, but not as much as what awaits past Exeter St Davids. The track drops to the coast along Dawlish and Teignmouth, including the fantastical Dawlish Warren with its towering red clay stacks, before branching inwards towards Dartmoor. We ride alongside the green vales with the towering tors of Baskerville country looming in the middle distance. Through Totnes and the pleasant Devonshire towns to the less pleasant blitzed-out, functionally-rebuilt Plymouth. More of Mr Brunel here, his famous Tamar bridge a curious diversion, but not so much as the wonderfully gaudy waterside pub bedecked in building size Union flag. Thence through the Eastern Cornish valleys to Bodmin and finally alighting at Par, our destination.

The return was much the same, but for sleeping through the good bits of the coastline. Nevertheless, one serendipitous highlight was reading Mike Parker‘s Map Addict about the Uffington White Horse, looking up, and there it is. Falling as it did in the chapter about the arcane depths of pagan Britain, I might be spooked out, but being a sensible sort: I wasn’t.

So apparently, travelling by train isn’t all that bad, even though that was 9 hours of round trip. I was a bit helpless at the other end without my trusty motor, and the next trip I take (next week) will be car-based, but sometimes one can drift off into a hazy halcyon of pre-Beeching locomotive nostalgia, and not be too embarassed about it.


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