Monday, October 15, 2007

Trains - Thoughts of a World Traveller

It's been a while, but I thought I'd wax lyrical about the high-speed train service I use every week.

Zipping across France at 200 miles an hour certainly leaves most of the traffic behind, although I'd like to think I could give the TGV and Eurostar a run for their Euros in the old Volvo estate. But then I wouldn't be able to pretend I was working in the Volvo. Mind you I couldn't work on the trains either until I cut out the audio distraction of the vulgar babbling masses by equipping myself with the latest geeky wizzardry : smart headphones that cancel out their chatter with a calculated dose of 'anti-noise'. I must try turning them to speaker mode and upping the volume to see what the rest of the carriage makes of that. Ecoutez-ca, Froggies.

I tried the 'connection' at Lille (an industrial town in the North - but entirely lacking in huge smokestacks, back-to-back housing, and mills and very few vestiges of its coal-mining past; you'd have expected a devcent pub!) last time instead of Paris. Never again. An hour and forty minutes in an aircraft hanger of a waiting room with no food, no drink and nowhere for a fag.

One thing I've not worked out about the tunnel itself is where the chicane in the middle is as we change to left hand drive. Presumably the faster we go the less chance there is of meeting one coming the other way on the crossing, but it's a tad worrying.

Those navvying-Jonnie types on our side of La Manche have now completed the fast route all the way to London, and the refurbished splendour of St Pancreas. I'll have to see if I can jiggle my journey plan to wangle a night on expenses at the revamped hotel instead of 'Chateau Fownes' one time. Pity in a way though - Waterloo is a much more satisfying destination for a train from France. Anyway, from next month it'll be a two hour sprint from Paris to London.

Obviously in a further two hours from Paddington I'd still be lucky to get as far as Didcot, let alone points further west where I would anyway be chancing my luck with square wheels on iron rails over the Cotswolds. So for me it'll remain a change of mode to the motorcar and back to my comfort zone in the fast lane of the M40 for the last leg to my usual suite at 'Chateau Fownes'.

Work colleagues might soon benefit from my speedier journey, and I don’t just mean my less grumpy disposition on arrival. I've been promising to bring them some French produce from the local patisserie for some time (''qwazzants' they vulgarly insist on calling them). Truth is I've actually left home a few times so equipped, but I've never yet managed to pack enough for it all to survive my attention the whole journey. I'll have to further stretch their anticipation by pointing out that a faster Paris-London leg next month might finally allow the prospect of some sustenance arriving intact and fresh.


Blogger Stoker said...

So, the Green Jumper has been retired! But not despatched, I hope.

I presume it has returned to its original use as a dog blanket in the back of the tank, or for mopping up the "spillages" in the front passenger foot well.

Reading your post made me think of a potential further use. The Green Jumper must be so heavily impregnated with animal fur that it would provide excellent insulation for keeping the "qwazzants" warm for your underlings. Mmmm!

I think you'll find the chicane is a loop-the-loop under-and-over job (copyright and patent pending: Alton Towers Project Management Committee - guaranteed Architect-free), but it's so dark in the tunnel I guess it's not obvious. You only need to worry if you're travelling slowly.

Bonne chance!

9:09 am  

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