Posted in Updates on Wednesday 25th October 2006 at 7:10am
I noticed recently that someone had mentioned this site in a post on the Preserved Diesels forum, but had pointed out that it was boring. Now, firstly I accept the charge fully - there's not a lot here thats really engaging or enlightening. It's a record of my travels, my visits and my thoughts which might be of interest to a few people who know me. I also understand that some people like the pictures. I'm sure some people enjoy the London related text more than the railway journeys, or perhaps like everyone who reads other's blogs, people are seeking the vicarious thrill of some controversy or salacious happening being mentioned? To quote briefly from the About MikeGTN page:
"I suppose I could go on in traditional personal website style to list whole pages of music and books which I enjoy, but I'm not sure how helpful or interesting that would be. Things which I find diverting or life-affirming make it onto the site. If you've accidentally arrived at this site, I hope you found something to interest you. If not, I won't be either surprised or offended."So am I writing this because I'm actually offended and disappointed with the description? Not at all. I'm writing this because I'd like to have put something similar on the forum in response, but days after the post it moved to a new host and old threads are locked. I also wanted to puzzle out why I continue - indeed, sometimes it does seem odd to record every last detail of some railway journey, or to expose the grandiose theories I concoct on wanders around London to others. I don't blog much about politics or some other aspects of my life because I try to keep the content fairly factual and neutral these days. Perhaps I should be more honest? My theory is that blogs are the 21st Century manifestation of the storytelling tradition. A global story where you can switch viewpoints with a mouseclick. In every group of storytellers, there is one who gets bogged down in the insignificant background detail. That's me!
Posted in Updates on Friday 29th September 2006 at 10:02pm
For the first time in a couple of days, I'm actually managing to relax and look forward to the weekend's trip. My turbulent couple of days began yesterday. Into work early to try to tidy a few loose ends before heading for London. The plan was to have a leisurely ride up and to head for my lodgings near Victoria Station. The train ride went well, and signs were promising until I realised that my hotel (booked through the usually I understand very reliable lastminute.com) was fairly dreadful. Nice front desk, but appalling rooms. The free wifi hardly made up for it. Spent an uncomfortable night, and checked out as early as possible this morning. Over to Kensington - a place I find unaccountably miserable, and time for coffee once the hotel was located. The conference was surprisingly short, and at 14:38 I found myself heading for the tube station, with a cheap ticket for the 18:08 train. Got to Euston at 15:05, and noticed that the 15:17 Liverpool service was the last on which I could use a Saver ticket. Booked at not inconsiderable expense and made it onto the packed Pendolino - predictably, 390033 'City of Glasgow' which has become my pet class member! Stood the entire way in the non-airconditioned vestibule. Journey flew by however, and soon enough we were heading up the Trent Valley at speed towards Crewe. Checked in at The Crewe Arms and savoured the absolute luxury in comparison to last nights accommodation! Headed out for a bite to eat before planning to turn in early in preparation for the morning.
Posted in Updates on Friday 25th August 2006 at 10:01pm
A second attempt at Pathfinder's Rutland Renegade tour means another night in Warrington. Straight from work onto the train, and a fairly uneventful journey up - especially considering it was the start of a bank holiday weekend. Disembarked from the Voyager in a gloomy but not yet dark Warrington, and set off for the now familiar cross-town trek to the Travelodge. Varied my route a bit - getting closer to the town centre than usual, but still I don't think I met another soul the entire way. Checked in, disturbing a strange situation where the receptionist seemed to be illicitly distributing frozen ready meals to a favoured guest. Dumped my things, made a few calls, and headed out to find food - with the smell of molten plastic and cheap gravy from the ready meals still haunting the entrance!
Set out for The Blue Bell where I knew I'd find a fairly good pint from my last visit. Misjudged the extent of work on the new shopping centre, and had to take a torturous route alongside the main road, and out as far as Central Station to get into town. After a quick but fairly good pint of Youngs Special - not a favourite beer of mine, but welcome nonetheless - I headed back towards the town. Straying further into the centre than usual I discovered the carnage of a Friday night already in full effect, with ambulances and nightclub bouncers apparently in league - a case of "I'm about to give someone a kicking, can you park there and scrape him up when I've finished?"! Dodged the discarded kebabs and found a Subway, where I managed to get food and had a surprisingly engaging conversation about 'The Wicker Man' and films in general. Slunk back to my hotel to wait for morning, avoiding the centre of town as far as possible. Another Friday night in Warrington!
Posted in Updates on Saturday 22nd April 2006 at 8:52pm
For me, a lazy sort of day - up late and not out onto the railway station until after 9am! Our party soon began to assemble, and a neat total of eight meant two GroupSave tickets - half price travel in effect. To my slight dismay, a lone class 150 rolled into sight at almost exactly 09:25. Not a comfortable journey, but unusually in my terms this was more about the destination!
Arrived in Newton Abbot a little before 11:00 after a quiet and event-free journey. First part of the plan was to head into town for breakfast at a Wetherspoon's pub. Excellent value for money, and a much needed preparation for the day ahead. Only one of our party succumbed to the lure of a local ale at this early stage - not me I hasten to add! Once fed, it was a short walk back through town to Tucker's Maltings. The Maltings is a huge 19th century building on several levels, but the beer festival takes place on the ground floor where on a working day the soaked grain is left to begin germination. The long, dark low room was packed from end to end with casks of beer - nearly 250 in all, almost all from the South West of England. Once issued with a glass, it was down to the difficult task of choosing where to start.
Our group finally found a small haven in the corner of the SIBA marquee, and set out our picnic. From here, we'd wander into the building at regular intervals, each of us returning with some new find. Prize for strangest must go to Stonehenge's Sign of Spring - a green beer, brewed to emulate a Danish custom of colouring food and drink green to celebrate the onset of spring! It tasted rather good, despite it's appearance. My own pleasant surprise were the Bristol Beer Factory beers - something on my doorstep which I've been curious about for a while.
As the day wore on, the weather improved until it was quite bright outside. A spirited game of football was being played alongside the Maltings, with the teams wondering why they had so many spectators no doubt. Inside, there was entertainment from a singer who doubled as a stand-up act. Overall a really well organised day.
Far too soon, but probably just in time to prevent severe inebriation, we headed back to the station for the train back - another class 150, all shacks this time! I had an enjoyable and sociable day - and I'm really pleased to have been invited. The title, by the way, comes courtesy of Rocking Rod and the Strychnines.
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.