Last year, it seems odd saying this despite it only being a few weeks ago, I travelled to Wales to see my good friend Paul Nicholas and then on to a Guitar Retreat in Ross-on-Wye. After the Retreat I had arranged to spend a few days with Sue and Chris in Leatherhead. I’ve known them for a few years now having met them on a previous Guitar Retreat and over that time we have become good friends. Sue lives in Cobham and Chris in Yorkshire – a relationship conducted over some distance! Anyhoo, Sue is having some work done on her house, well essentially it’s being gutted, and as a result she has had to find alternative accommodation for a couple of months or so. She has stayed with Chris and friends but has also spent some time house and pet sitting. At the moment she and Chris are staying in a rather luxurious house in Leatherhead. They stayed here in November and I must have been a good guest as they’ve asked me back!
I could have flown to Gatwick or Heathrow but decided to take the train instead. I’m off to Portugal at the end of next week for another Guitar Retreat in the Algarve and whilst I don’t mind flying, I find the whole thing a palaver, and I really resent being herded around like cattle. Unfortunately, I have no choice next week but I saw no point in suffering twice insuch a short time. There’s been a bit of a stooshie in the press in the past couple of days over the hike in rail fares. I booked this journey about six weeks ago and got a great bargain – all the way to Leatherhead, 1st Class on the London train, tube across London and then train to Leatherhead for less than £115. I checked the price of the same journey today and it’s just under £200. I think as long as you book well in advance and are prepared to have no flexibility in your ticket then you can always find a good price. The great benefit of travelling by rail is that you can just pitch up 10 minutes before departure, stroll on, find your seat and relax for the next few hours. Having said that, travelling 1st Class I arrived a wee bit early to make full use of the Lounge at Waverley.
So far the journey has been OK, breakfast, constant coffee and snacks, comfortable seat and Wi-Fi. However, there appears to be a few issues with the train – the electronic booking system which displays the reserved seats isn’t working, there’s a fault with the heating in another 1st Class carriage so there are a few disgruntled passengers looking for seats in this carriage. Of course, there are few available and those coming through have no idea which seats are reserved and which aren’t. They also seem to be under-staffed as the food buffet for the rest of the train to use, isn’t open due to “staff shortage”. I foresee problems later on as the train gets busier!
Whilst I’m having a reasonable journey for a reasonable cost, I can understand why there are so many complaints about rail travel in the UK.