Posted in Railways on Friday 15th September 2006 at 8:57pm
I'd booked time off for London Open House months back. Just like everything else these past few weeks I didn't get around to organising things until the last minute. Managed to get a cheap first class fare for the journey up, and booked a slightly more expensive than usual hotel. I could probably realistically have travelled up tomorrow, but I wanted to recapture some of the spirit of my first Open House a couple of years back, where I made a series of epic treks. This time, I planned to use this afternoon for a railway ramble, then walk tomorrow. Sunday would be a chance for a lazy breakfast and the journey west around lunchtime.
A fairly smooth start to proceedings. Dealt with some domestic bits and bobs and set out for the 0945 to Taunton. Changed and had only a brief wait for the 1031 to Paddington. This train calls at Reading and London Paddington only, and originates deep in Cornwall. Fairly busy, even in first. Settle back to read and doze through the journey along the Berks & Hants route. Gave very little thought to how I'd kill the time until check-in at all.
Arrived on time at Paddington, and glanced at the Departure Boards whilst shouldering my pack. Noted the 1255 Chiltern Railways service to Princes Risborough. This train runs once a day on all weekdays except Wednesdays, and this and its balancing inward journey are the only way to cover the short stretch of line from Old Oak Common West to Northolt Junction. I recall being somewhat obsessed with this bit of track, along with the Stalybridge Parliamentary some years back, but I'd never attempted it. Perhaps in fact it was a Friday only working back then? Took the opportunity to grab coffee and food, and to trudge over to the furthest extremities of the mainline station at Paddington. Sure enough, there was a Chiltern class 165/0 ticking away with at best two other passengers onboard. Decided to cover the route as far as High Wycombe - partly to maximise my options for the return, and also to honour the excellent Remapping High Wycombe project.
Once we've swung across the mainline just beyond Old Oak Common depot, the line plunges into a cutting. Soon the Central Line joins on the left, alternating between being a little below or a little above us. The disused Park Royal branch from the Guiness Brewery swings in from the right, and soon we're at Greenford where the Central Line is high above us, along with the single line trailing in from the Great Western Main Line. Beyond this, it's a long straight dash into the suburbs, with a fairly regular procession of southbound units passing us now we've joined the line into Marylebone.
It's a long time since I've passed by High Wycombe station. A strange, staggered layout with an additional longer platform literally bolted on to the down bay. Decide not to stay long. There's a air of menace about the station - mainly due to the Revenue Protection goons who are eying me suspiciously for not leaving the station immediately I'm off the train and scribbling in my notebook. Note a fast London train leaving soon, so I head under the lines and onto the less busy up platform. Soon on a wedged class 168 heading south again, listening to an inane conversation a seat or two back. Its turned out a hot and sticky day, and its nice just to sit in the air-conditioned unit for a while. All too soon we arrive at the always strangely captivating Marylebone station. Wander a bit, but the evening rush is beginning to start, and bits of the station are closed for extension.
Head out of the station and underground at Baker Street for the short hop to Euston Square. Exceptionally lazy of me - its a fairly short walk to Bloomsbury, and I'll still need to walk part of the way. However its partly laziness and partly tradition to arrive this way - passing Senate House, skirting the British Museum and crossing Russell Square. Locate the hotel and check in, before heading out for a brief walk around old haunts, some food and beer. It's good to be back here, and for the first time in weeks I feel relaxed.
I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.
I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.