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What's this blog all about?

Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog about family travel around the world, without leaving the UK.
I love travel adventures, but to save cash and keep my family's carbon footprint lower, I dreamt up a unique stay-at-home travel experience. So far I've visited 110 countries... without leaving the UK. Join me exploring the next 86! Or have a look at the "countries" you can discover within the UK by scrolling the labels (below right). Here's to happy travel from our doorsteps. See www.nicolabaird.com for info about the seven books I've written, a link to my other blog on thrifty, creative childcare (homemadekids.wordpress.com) or to contact me.

Monday, 17 September 2007

Crowded train

Pete, Nicola, Lola, 9, and Nell, 6, spent three months during the summer of 2007 traveling around Britain. Now we’re home but the travel bug is still there. Join us for occasional sightseeing plus tips on how to shrink your carbon footprint…

It’s a September Saturday and we’re off to our friends John and Ann’s wedding in Bristol. They’ve organized a BBQ and lazy afternoon at Bristol Zoo so we aim for the 10.05 out of Paddington Station. The Circle line seems suspiciously crowded but when we get to the main line station it is a sea of gold and green shirts worn by the crowds of one-time Sydney residents trying to get to Cardiff Millennium stadium for the World Cup rugby match between Wales and Australia. There are probably some Welsh fans in the melee, and less sporty travelers too but at Paddington’s glass-covered concourse it looks as if Australia has the most supporters.

The one charter train has already packed itself to capacity and left for Cardiff which means that we share our service with hundreds of fans desperate to get to the stadium on time. Our carriage is so crowded it would be wrong to sit in all our reserved seats, even if we could persuade people to shift, so we squeeze all four of us on to just two. Inevitably that means we have to earwig the surrounding conversations and that’s how we learn that Australians – when not talking about the rugby – are obsessed by European traveling, budget insurance (eg World Nomad), and have a check list of places to visit while in Britain which includes Brighton, Cornwall, the Regency circus at Bath, Stratford-upon-Avon and a pretty Cotswold village. Edinburgh Festival (in August) and the Munich beer fest (in October) are also obligatory.

Pete regularly travels on trains full of footie fans so he’s not phased by the over-crowding or surprised when our train is unable to pick up passengers at interim stations even ones as big as Reading and Swindon. Instead he enjoys the bonhomie, shared bottles of cider and sport talk.

In contrast I’m shocked that the train companies, like First Great Western, are so untogether that they don’t run longer or more trains to get fans to the ground. These big sporting dates aren’t a surprise so why do train operators let us all down by making zero effort to handle the demand? And why are trains allowed to be so over-crowded in an age when allegedly health and safety is a top priority?

As for the result: a 71,000 crowd see Australia beat Wales (20:32) in an allegedly good game. And because we were cheek by jowl with the Ozzies for most of the journey we can’t resist shouting a good on yerrrrr - even though we're now having a nice day at a white wedding.

1 comment:

Simon Pielow said...

Rail travel is very sociable! I am glad you all had fun - or at least in retrospect have good memories.....