Well, it’s day 3 of the fortnight long engineering works. Thankfully I had yesterday off to celebrate Mr Charming’s birthday, so it was really only day two for me.
It’s not too bad. A bus that takes an hour from Brandon to Cambridge when the train journey would take about half an hour is irritating, but NXEA seem to have got it pretty right. On Monday the buses were there when we disembarked at Brandon, and were there when we alighted at Cambridge that evening. They’re not too shabby either – all of the ones I’ve been on have had that weird, scratchy seat material that seems to be old curtains, but they’re fairly clean and moderately comfortable.
The only down side is that I have to make up about an hour and a half of time from work, as I’m arriving at 9.30am and leaving at 16.10 every day. My employers have been extra helpful though, and have lent me a laptop so I can carry on working on the journey. Lessens the guilt for me and means I don’t have to stay later another time. I’m currently working on my second laptop though – I lugged the first one home last Friday night, charged it on Sunday night and settled down Monday morning for a spot of task building, when the battery decreased 97% in about three minutes. Not terribly helpful. So another laptop’s been sourced, which will hopefulyl last longer than that one. I won’t hold my breath though. Apparently it’s because the laptops in the office are rarely used as actual laptops, but as portable desktop PCs. If that makes sense. Basically, they’re always plugged in to the mains.
The view is definitely different from a coach, anyway. We went past RAF Lakenheath this morning, and I had never realised how vast the base is. There are sternly worded signs along the length of the barbed wire fence (which is low enough to jump over, I reckon) which tell would-be intruders to stay out otherwise the guns/dogs/bombs/soldiers will get ‘em. The bit we drove past though, is clearly a golf course. They even have golf buggies. Not that scary. Plus, I saw brand new housing being built – massive houses which I hope are flats otherwise I may well consider an Army career. The weirdest bit was that there was absolutely no-one around. We navigated a fair amount of the perimeter and I didn’t see a soul. No dogs, birds, children – not even soldiers guarding the gates.
Then the bus passed one of those hilarious signs that helpfully advise “queues likely”. To me, it’s a bit like cramming an airport into a swimming pool and then warning that there may be delays. Maybe I’m approaching it from the wrong angle. It tickled me, though. Oh, and also – how do they know where to put the animal road signs? This is ringing a bell with me as I’m sure someone’s mentioned this recently, but it’s still a relevant observation. What comes first – the duck or the signs? Do the ducks know not to venture outside of their dictated perimeters, as that way lies sure death by fiery demon? I would like to live in a place that has a duck advisory sign.
In terms of passengers, the train has been beautifully quiet. As I mentioned before, The Natives formed The Driving Alliance and have temporarily seconded. Other than that, there are a few tourists around and the occassional newbie, like myself, who does not have another way to get to work. If I had, I would probably not be gracing the train with my presence.
I did try to help out today, though. As the train pulled in to Brandon, which is the last stop this week, there was a dapper old gentleman waiting to board. As I was the first out of the carriage I advised him that Brandon was the last stop. He nodded at me and came back with “I’m going to Cambridge”. I re-iterated the advice but he just nodded at me again, bless him. On the way past the driver I pointed him out as he was making his way back along the platform, at the back of the crowd. I looked out for him on the coach but couldn’t see him. Some people are funny though – they assume you’re going to mug them or they just ignore you.
On Monday afternoon the coach pulled up to Brandon and everyone spilled out in a blind panic. As I was at the back I waited until everyone else was off (I wasn’t being helpful then, I didn’t have a choice) and wandered past the two guards at the entrance of the platform. When I rounded the corner, everyone from two coaches was standing on the platform, eyeballing the stationary train. I turned on my heel and went back to the guards, who confirmed that it was indeed the Norwich train. I retraced my steps and headed towards the furthest carriage (Norwich is an end of the line station) to resume the doze I was in on the coach. When I looked back, about fifty people were following me to the train. Hmm. I wasn’t that comfortable with the responsibility, to be honest. But I also felt sorry for them for being such sheep – every single person had walked past both guards in their haste to get to the platform before as many people as possible, but no-one had the brains to ask the guards if it was the right train, or even the driver.
I didn’t resume my nap. I read work stuff instead.