Sunday, November 25, 2007

The London Trip

I'm home again but with a different account from the one I expected to relate.
Episode 1 - the journey
Travelling by rail from North Devon is never straightforward. The nearest mainline station is Tiverton Parkway, just under 50 miles away. The alternative is to take the little diesel train on the scenic Tarka Line from Barnstaple to Exeter and catch the London train there. The Tarka line is closed for repair work at present so we had no choice but Tiverton.

We were unaware that the Reading and London commuter belt has now extended to Tiverton and we arrived to find the car park full. There were cars parked on flower beds and grass banks and along the approach road to the station. There were barriers and a whole team of security guards to keep us out. One of these guards told us we would have to drive into the nearby village, park there and get a taxi back to the station.

The MM dropped me off with the luggage and roared off in search of a carpark. After an anxious wait, I saw him limping in to the station with just a few minutes to spare before our train arrived, the right leg of his trousers wet with what I thought was mud but turned out to be blood. With no taxis to be found in the village he had run the one and a half miles back to the station and tripped on an uneven path. Brave creature that he is, this did not worry him so much as the fact that he had left the car in the only carpark he could find in the village, underneath a notice saying that the maximum stay was 24 hours. We were planning to leave it there for four days!

Having mopped up the blood and tidied up the trousers as best we could, we decided we could spend our time worrying about the fate of the car, whether it would be clamped or towed away or if we might face a huge fine, or we could forget about it until Sunday and enjoy ourselves. We settled for the comfortable option. We had seats in the Quiet Carriage on the train and it was wonderful to travel without those intrusive, boring and embarrassing mobile phone conversations that usually spoil train journeys. My only regret is that I didn't know about this book before we travelled; I spent most of my time looking out at the countryside and it would have been really interesting to read about the places I saw. I shall certainly get a copy before our next trip to London in March.

Tomorrow: Episode 2 - Cinderella does not get to the Guildhall


  1. M - if only I'd known you were going via Tiverton Parkway, I'd have warned you. Parking is a perennial nightmare and has been for the past three years or so. Poor husband. Poor you.

    When I was doing that run to Paddington regularly, I would always pray that I would get a space and not have to park a long walk away from the station. I always arrived back late at night and a long dark walk on a country lane is no fun for a female of any age.

    The massive increase in car numbers comes mainly from all the new development around Tiverton, hundreds and hundreds of new homes and many, many more people commuting daily into Exeter, Plymouth and Taunton. But no extra parking spaces at the station since it opened in 1995 . . . Planners eh?!

    We locals have been protesting and campaigning about it for yonks -I think a new car park is being built but I'm not holding my breath.

  2. D, we usually travel Friday to Monday, that's why we haven't had a problem before this. We did see the diggers on the field next to the station, so that's probably for exra parking.

    I saw your comment on Musings about the incomers to the area. It only seems a short time since we were campaigning to keep Tiverton station open. It was due to close because of low numbers of users!

  3. I really enjoyed reading your article. You had a nice trip to London. London is one of the most attractive European cities. With 28 million tourists a year, London is second only to Paris in terms of visitor popularity.
    And even there are so many buses, cabs, Limousine London vehicles and cars, the air in the city is fresh and clean, because London is one of the greenest cities in the world. The eight Royal Parks alone add up to 5,000 acres. Londoners enjoy 30 square metres of open space per captia, compared with 19 square metres in Paris, 12 in New York, 11 in Tokyo, and 0.5 Bangkok.
    I really love London.

  4. I'll keep the cab number for my next trip to London, Richard.


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