Posted in Railways on Saturday 24th April 2004 at 9:15pm
Up late last night, trying to decide what to do today. Not much inspiration on offer. Finally decided to travel to Horsham, via Epsom - a previously elusive new bit of track for me. This route would take me via Box Hill where Gissing visited Meredith, and Dorking where Gissing lived for a time. I needed to do a bit more research before wandering Dorking, but a quick pass through would be interesting.
Despite the late night, and a rude awakening when some neighbours had a vehicle returned by a breakdown truck at 1:30am, managed to get up for the 0640. For reasons of economy, travelled on a Cheap Day Return to Reading and rebooked - something I recommend to anyone visiting somewhere in the South East for a day. Shaping up to be a very pleasant day as we zipped along through misty fields towards Reading. Once there, changed for the next Paddington service arriving in London only 15 minutes later than the through service. Found the Underground in disarray, with no Circle to Victoria and queues everywhere. Hopped on the District, originally planning to go to Wimbledon, but decided to change at West Brompton for the West London Line. This seems a very different place from my last visit, eight years ago. Now, the regular Willesden to Clapham Junction service is supplemented by Rugby to Brighton trains, and Silverlink services from Watford Junction. Spent a pleasant few minutes on the tidy, refurbished platform in warm, bright sunshine.
My longer than planned interchange meant a bit of time at Clapham Junction. Arrived on Platform 17 - which only serves the West London Line through trains, a new one on me. Explored the station a bit, enjoying the atmosphere of "Britains' busiest railway station". Finally caught the 10:39, which made a slow start, crawling along to Sutton, then picking up pace into the countryside to Dorking and Horsham.
Changed platforms at Horsham - was tempted by a London Bridge service, but its calling points didn't betray much detail about its route, so played safe and headed for East Croydon on a very comfortable pair of Victoria bound 377s. Since the weather was pleasant and time not pressing, waiting awhile at East Croydon for a London Bridge (via Crystal Palace) stopper was no great hardship. Again, a crawl to Norwood Junction, then a pleasant trundle through South London, which always seems so benign and interesting in good weather, but takes on a wholly different character in less clement periods!
I find London Bridge a strange, magnetic, rather mysterious place for some reason and want to spend more time exploring - perhaps an exploration of the South Eastern suburban services will give me the chance soon? Realised I'd just made the same journey in reverse that the newlyweds make in the "Io Saturnalia" chapter of Gissing's "The Nether World" (London Bridge to Crystal Palace).
Quick change onto a pair of 465s to Waterloo East, and the long trudge onto the main station concourse. Grabbed some refreshments, and just about made the late running 1452 to Reading. It was a pair of slammers - 423s to be exact, which was a pleasant change - this trip has always been 455s or 458s for me. A long, slow journey punctuated by signal checks.
While waiting for the 1610 to Bristol at Reading, noticed a London bound service which had just left had stopped, fouling the points. Lots of orange jackets running around on the track. The 1600 Penzance slipped omionously from 'Expected 1603' to 'Delayed'. More people ran around. The 1610 also became 'Delayed'. An announcement spoke of 'Operating difficulties'. Finally the orange jackets climbed back onto the departing service, and things started moving. Later discovered it was a lineside fire - perhaps the secrecy was down to some residual twitchiness after last weeks serious bomb alert?
Finally got home, still in blazing sunshine, on a packed 143 from Temple Meads. A long and rather warm, but very pleasant day.
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.