Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: Commuting


Exactly 3 years ago today we moved into our first home, this home, the Victorian terrace house that we had dreamed of during all those years as students in Bristol. We moved in and set to work renovating and restoring it back to its glory complete with tiled hallway, wooden floors and fireplaces. 5 plus years of imagining living in a house like this had resulted in a build up of ideas and an enthusiasm that when released was like a whirlwind. Every evening and weekend saw us sanding, painting, building and sometimes destroying. With no children or even a dog to worry about we loved every minute of it.

Now we are moving, our house sold in less than a week and we found somewhere to buy 2 weeks later. Way beyond our expectations in what supposedly is a stagnant market, I like to think that it reflects the love, care and attention we have given this place. But it’s still going to be strange to be moving and leaving our first home.

But we are also now incredibly excited, the new house is pretty damn perfect and perhaps more importantly will cut my commute from 60 minutes to 10 minutes. You may remember that I wrote this post for Britmums (which I just noticed was published exactly 1 year ago, very odd) where I talked about how hard I found it being a commuting dad to Matilda. Well a year later I’m a commuting dad to 2 but finally there is a change in sight, hopefully in 2 months time I will be so close to home that I can pop home for lunch.

I’m not sure I can get across how much this is going to change my life. I’ve been commuting for 8 years now, 8 years of at least 60 miles a day in commuting (80 miles for most of it). During that time I’ve driven, taken the train, driven some more, back to the train, then the bus and finally driving. If you assume I commuted for 45 weeks a year (taking into account holiday and business travel) then that’s over 110,000 miles of commuting. That’s a bloody lot isn’t it? Plus of course the time spent doing it, most likely 2 hours a day, it suddenly becomes a big deal to cut that to 20 minutes and 4 miles a day.

Writing that I had a big smile on my face, a big smile at the fact that I will soon be eating breakfast with my little family EVERY DAY, a big smile that I will get to put them to bed EVERY DAY, a big smile that I will get home 10 minutes after leaving work EVERY DAY, a big smile that I will no longer spend more money on commuting than buying food.

All there is to do now is fill out piles of paperwork and cross all my fingers and toes that the sale doesn’t fall through.

A rant – Dear Mr First Great Western

Dear Mr First Great Western,

When I moved house 18 months ago I was excited at the thought of commuting on the train. Driving on the M4 everyday had become monotonous and quite frankly expensive given where diesel prices were headed. Plus going on the train meant being given the ‘gift of time’, time to read a book, day dream, write my blog, play solitaire or if I got really desperate do some work.

For a while it was fun, the train in the morning was quiet, I had a table seat to myself and could happily do some emails. I arrived home more relaxed and less tired, I started running to and from the station to fit some exercise into my day and could have a drink during lunch meetings with clients without any worry.

But the honeymoon didn’t last in my second week you cancelled my direct train due to it being Christmas so I had to go via Bath each day. I can just about forgive that, there probably weren’t many other people commuting in any case. Then I noticed that the station and ticket office weren’t always open in the morning but no explanation as to why. Of course you didn’t install a ticket machine so I either had to stand in the big queue at the station when the ticket office was open or hope that the train conductor did come up the train so I could buy a ticket before arriving at my destination.

Then inevitably there was the price increase, 6% which is above even our high inflation, but don’t worry my company would give me a big fat pay rise right? No that’s right we were in a recession so no extra money. Well that was a nice reward for my custom wasn’t it? How exactly did you justify that again? Especially as you think it’s reasonable to run one train in each direction a day, yes ONE. I don’t live in a particularly rural location; I’m 6 miles from Bath and in a town of 50,000 people. So if these train times don’t fit with your day you are forced to change trains in Bath. Where there is only 5 or 6 minutes between arriving and departing, which is great, unless of course there are delays, of which there are many. Missing a connection adds 20 minutes onto a journey.

Last but by no means least is the joyous event that is catching a train on a Friday afternoon where inevitably the train I get on which has come from London is half full of stag and hen parties drinking and shouting and more often than not involves standing up for the entire journey (again how do you justify a fare rise). Then upon catching the connecting train in Bath again standing up because you have yet to work out that trains are busier on a Friday so running only 2 carriages is an act of pure stupidity.

So it is with much relief that I have turned my back on your company forever and started commuting on the bus instead. A transportation method that should in theory be much less convenient, slower and more uncomfortable. But you know what? It’s 10 times better than the train. It takes the same time door to door as the train, but costs £5 a day rather than the £16 for the train. The bus is clean, comfortable and I have yet to see a drunk person on there or fail to get a seat. I can still do my email or read a book and I do it in the knowledge that in 2 months of travel I have yet to experience a delay.

Yours unsatisfactorily,

The fool

P.S. I haven’t even mentioned here the cost of a ticket to London if I ever need to go there for work. £159 return? Are you out of your mind? I can hire a car and drive myself for less than that. Or the fact that you need a degree in ticketing to understand the many types of ticket available and how to get the cheapest fare (2 singles cheaper than a return for example)