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I can, on occasion, be heard complaining about the three-hour round trip I have to do when I go in to work at Warwick for the day. But, y'know, it's not all bad.

For one thing, the journey time is actually only about quarter of an hour longer than it would take to drive to Warwick from where I live, assuming good driving conditions. This is partly a factor of me living so close to the station, but hey! I do live very close to the station. That's the way it is, so I may as well take advantage of it. Taking into account the smugness I can feel about my environmental friendliness and the utter absence of driving stress, the slightly longer journey time is easily compensated for. Also, in the morning, the trains are extremely reliable, so that I'm not at the mercy of traffic, and don't need to blow my top about whether I'll arrive in time for my lectures or not. This is not the case on the way home, which can be extremely irritating when you've had a long day and just want to crash. But I've learnt to be philosophical about it, and I'd certainly rather they were unreliable on the return leg than the outwards one.

There is also the matter of my morning cup of coffee, which I purchase with great enjoyment from the AMT kiosk in the station, and then sip dreamily as I sit in my favourite seat (all regular commuters have one), gazing out of the window across an early-morning countryside. That coffee really cheers me up, in that disproportionate way that only the small things can. It's the main reason, in fact, that I leave the house with a spring in my step when I go to catch my train. It's sweet, and flavoursome, and always served just right and quickly enough for me to make the 8:00. It sets me up, and sends me off on my journey with a positive note. It is also frequently served to me by a very good-looking young fellow called Ruben, who likes to give me a charming smile and ask how I am each day. I do not actually fancy Ruben, but it does a girl no harm in the morning to be gently flirted at by an attractive gentleman who is also giving her coffee.

But best of all, once on the train, my time is my own. I can sit back and relax, I can get work done, and I can enjoy the charmingly English landscape which slides by on either side. I see some genuinely beautiful sights out of that train window, which I would be sad to miss. For example, in the last fortnight:
  • Pale pink sunrises through the haze
  • Stark, silhouetted tree-tops emerging from successive layers of mist, retreating back layer by layer into the distance
  • Sparkling, frosty fields which look for all the world as though they're made of sugar-icing
  • A sole swan lazing around on a perfect oxbow lake
  • Three deer tip-toeing delicately through a field
  • A fox nosing around in undergrowth
  • A group of cows with two little calves (quite a surprise in January, but there they were - a nice precursor to the lambs who will appear in another few months)
  • Hearty people walking their dogs who allow me to think, "Gosh, I'm glad I'm curled up on a warm train with my coffee, and not out there yomping through the fields like you!"
  • And of course all the usual sheep, horses, cows, canal boats, rural churches and ruined abbeys that I normally see on that route
Yup, it could definitely be worse.


( 19 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 17th, 2006 01:20 pm (UTC)
That is lovely!
I live very close to my station but journey to work only take about 10 minutes. I seem to have only just sat down,and it's time to get off :-)
Jan. 17th, 2006 01:23 pm (UTC)
Ha, yes - for all my positivity above, I would gladly swap for a journey that short!
Jan. 17th, 2006 01:37 pm (UTC)
What a wonderful piece of writing. There are reasons I prefer working where I do (rural Hertfordshire) to London, where all the similar jobs are. The drive to work along country B roads in a car with a CD autochanger is one of them.
Jan. 17th, 2006 01:40 pm (UTC)
Why, thank'ee!

And yes, of course - music is another of the delights I can indulge in easily on the train. Although I try to meter it out fairly sternly on the way there in particular, to make myself concentrate on worky matters instead.
Jan. 17th, 2006 01:26 pm (UTC)
Wow, that just made me remember why I love travelling by train so much! Especially on a long-ish journey where one can get some work done, or get a decent chunk of a book read, or have a not inconsiderable snooze, or (depending on the length of the journey) all the above. :)
Jan. 17th, 2006 01:38 pm (UTC)
Snoozes are often a feature of my journey home!
Jan. 17th, 2006 02:17 pm (UTC)
Trains are indeed civilised, and I'm fond of travelling on them myself. I had the most wonderful journey down to Mole's party - snow along the entire route, the sun rising somewhere between Grantham and Peterborough behind just the right thickness of cloud to enable me to gaze wonderingly on its disc, and Andreas Scholl's celestially beautiful voice over the earphones. Italian trains are even better, especially if you are in the habit of drinking coffee on them: they are smooth beyond belief. I took a train once from Rome to Assisi, passing mellow-hued villas with old wooden shutters, twisted olive trees, and small towns improbably perched atop sudden hills that rose out of the landscape like a child's drawing of a mountain.

Yes indeed. I'm with you on trains. :-)
Jan. 17th, 2006 04:22 pm (UTC)
Yes - I've been on the small local train that goes round the Bay of Naples (it has some special name, but I can't remember what), and also caught a national train from Pompei to Paestum. Both were enjoyable, although then agian so were similar journeys in Spain and Japan. I think a train is just a general all-round great place from which to see a country.
Jan. 17th, 2006 02:50 pm (UTC)
That made me feel all fuzzy!

I used to like seeing the sun set over St. Paul's when my train was leaving London in the evenings.
Jan. 17th, 2006 03:29 pm (UTC)
*sigh* Sounds absolutely lovely. Whenever I commute into New York, all I get is industrial zones rather than wildlife and ox-bow lakes, alas. Here's to academic commuting some years hence...
Jan. 17th, 2006 04:11 pm (UTC)
Dammit. You've made me miss my commute! And England in general. Sigh. Things to be grateful for indeed!
Jan. 17th, 2006 04:20 pm (UTC)
You've made me miss my commute!

Blimey, that must be an achievement!
Jan. 17th, 2006 04:48 pm (UTC)
I do love travelling in ways that leave your time your own. Trains are great apart from the price, and I find cycling is a far more freeing experience than driving too; you're not stuck in a metal box which runs on tarmacked tram-lines crowded with lots of other metal boxes getting in your way..
Jan. 17th, 2006 05:08 pm (UTC)
Yerss - the price is a downside which I romantically overlooked above. 4% fare rises in January? More like 10% in my case! A there-and-back journey is now £20, and although on the plus side I do only have to go in 3 days a week on average, that still adds up to £240 a month. :-(
Jan. 17th, 2006 05:36 pm (UTC)
I used to have an absolutely wonderful free rail pass, which I got because my stepfather worked for BR (as was). I could get on any train I pleased and go anywhere, even on the ferry to the Isle of Wight, for free. It was such a wonderful way to escape. *sigh* such a shame I got too old to still be in higher education and lost it. Mum gets one for life, lucky cow.
Jan. 17th, 2006 06:52 pm (UTC)
I enjoyed reading this. I really want to visit you in Oxford!
Jan. 17th, 2006 09:01 pm (UTC)
Thanks. And I should be glad to have you. I'm sure there's plenty here you didn't see on your last visit, and don't forget stompyboots will be living here agian by the end of the week!
(Deleted comment)
Jan. 23rd, 2006 11:40 am (UTC)
Yup, I can relate to that. Of course, a paper or similar is more valuable on the way home, as at this time of year it's always dark, so there ain't much to see!
( 19 comments — Leave a comment )

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