Posted in Railways on Sunday 14th August 2011 at 2:27pm
Regular readers, should any remain now the music stuff has headed elsewhere, may recall the 'Lost Weekend' series. Occasions when planned trips didn't happen but advance fares and hotel bookings had to be used. In fairness, I've had some fairly interesting trips in the past off the back of these happenings, and I've rarely let things get me down after the initial frustration of cancellations. This one was however a bit different - the plan had been a Crewe-Fort William trip with the Deltic on Wednesday and a Preston-Edinburgh run with Class 50s on Saturday. Two interesting and much looked-forwarded to trips which were annoyingly cancelled only a matter of a couple of weeks before they were due to run, ostensibly down to a lack of available stock from WCRC. With the politics out of the way, and the difficult realisation that booking on the re-runs would be difficult given how much I'd invested in this week, I turned to working out what to do now. Having thought that returning home between Wednesday and Saturday wasn't necessary I'd committed to a whole week away.
One target had been obvious from my first base of Crewe - a dash up to Glasgow on the 05:57. So, Wednesday morning saw me bleary eyed and troubled having watched a night of unbelievable rioting occuring in London and beginning to kick-off around the country. Scotland, from the perspective of Twitter and Facebook friends, seemed unaffected - indeed there was a degree of curiosity and amusement about what was happening here - until the news broke about the Sony Distribution Depot being destroyed, and many small record labels stock with it. The trip was gloomy and tense, and the skies dark to match the mood. It had been raining non-stop in Glasgow for days and was supposed to be this way all week, with warnings all over the place about floods. I stepped off the train at Central, feeling a hint of the old enthusiasm right away, but then saw the rain and dashed for the coffee shop. I skipped from shop to shop all day, watching Glasgow getting drenched. I've been soaked through here many, many times - but this was a little too much for even the seasoned locals, with street-corner smokers staying indoors. I wasn't sorry to head back onto my train for a thoughtful dash home. I felt rough, felt like I'd missed an opportunity to be in my favourite city because of the rain and a lack of planning, and was thinking grimly of the week ahead...
Thursday would have been a very sleepy day in the original plan, as the Fort William trip was due back at around 00:30 had it run. Instead, I had another restless night in front of 24 hour news and still managed to be up earlier than I needed to. The main trip today was the relative short relocation to Preston for the rest of the week. Decided to head into Manchester and to use the time to cover one of the Northern Rail Class 180 diagrams. Breakfast and then into Piccadilly for coffee and lounging about watching people. A tram across town revealed some evidence of damage from rioting, but it didn't seem to be keeping people away from the shops. On this evidence a thought I'd had about returning here later in the week didn't seem so bad. At Victoria, I waited time for the service to Blackpool North, deciding to take it all the way to the coast. As booked, a 180 turned up and I settled in for the run, picking the same coach as the loudest and most abusive family I've ever come across - and that's in years of being associated with Children's Social Care. Considered reporting them somehow, but realised that this bunch were actually taking their kids to the seaside so couldn't in fact be all bad despite appearances. Put away my prejudices in order to entertain the usual ones at Blackpool. Didn't even exit the ticket gates this time, waiting for the 180's run back to Preston without facing the grim-visaged Northern staff at the ticket line. At Preston I quickly found the hotel and checked in, heading straight out to find food. Realised oddly that I remembered a lot of the walk from looking carefully at the pavement on my last very slippery and icy December visit to the city! Realised too that Preston practically closes down at 5:30pm. Eventually found a Tesco Metro and during my shop mentioned how surprised I was that one of Britain's newest cities was shut up so early. The young lady gave a nervous chuckle before speaking - and I realised later that most locals do the same before talking about their town. Still, a brand new Premier Inn meant a comfortable night ahead.
Friday dawned a little clearer, and I enjoyed a late start by visiting Starbucks and watching Preston wake up. Down to the station for one of the first off-peak stopping trains to Manchester - a pretty rickety Class 142, full of OAPs who I understand get some sort of concession on rail services in Lancashire? Once into Manchester, descended to the Tram Stop and waited the first service out to the short MediaCity UK extension. I'd tried to do this once before during it's uncertain first days of operation, but today managed to get to the terminus among the smart new BBC offices and the growing knot of businesses in the area. Couldn't manage the Eccles-bound side of the triangle in off-peak service though, so returned to Cornbrook and waited what seemed like ages for a tram to St.Werburgh's Road - the stub of what will be the Airport line eventually. Noted the former rail alignment heading off into the distance beyond the stop, and reasoned that it's a damn good thing that this light rail scheme has prevailed here over guided busways and cycle routes. Look forward to returning to cover the rest of the line when it's built. With new track covered for the first time in a while, headed back to Victoria to take the Class 180 back to Preston again. A short day out, but at least I'd managed to find a productive purpose to what could have been a very dull day. Headed out to see some bands later, which was an experience in itself. Preston is a strange city...
I'd desperately tried to book a variety of things to fill my week, but given I had only a matter of days to sort things out as decent fares were disappearing fast, things had been a little hit and miss. I'd thought of a trip to Edinburgh - but completely forgot that the festival was on, and both accommodation and tickets were at a premium. So, I'd ended up booking a second dash up to Glasgow today - managing to stick around for a bit longer too. I'd thought about heading for Edinburgh once I got there, but having practically written off my trip earlier in the week I decided to stick around the city a bit. The early run up began irritatingly as the Train Manager refused to open the rear set where my reservation was at Preston. Given a crowd of other folks with seats there pestering him, he did so at Lancaster necessitating a dash back down to the unit. Ended up in a nice, empty coach as a result though - and enjoyed the trip immensely. With the weather comparatively fine, had a wander around the city and visited the record shops. Explored some places around the river which I'd not visited for years too, noting how they'd changed - and the passive provision for a future light rail scheme. A day in Glasgow is always a bit unrewarding though now - I want to be around for music in the evening, or have the chance to wander further afield. Felt this acutely today, having felt like I'd wasted a week - and certainly one of my days up here. So, rather miserably set off back to Preston, despite an amusing journey were a drunken Celtic fan bet me I couldn't correctly guess which side the platform would be at each station!
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.