Mutterings of a Fool

Man, Dad, Runner, Chief dog walker

Tag: Travel

The gallery – Travel

If this prompt for the gallery had been a couple of months later then I would have had some awesome photo’s from our trip to New Zealand. But alas no so you’re going to just have to put up with a very cute photo of Bracken instead. When he was just 12 weeks old and a couple of days after his vaccinations that meant we could go outside we went on holiday to Padstow. Having a puppy who was our first dog meant that the holiday was most definitely an adventure, but also lots of fun. Having a puppy is a great way to start conversations with random strangers, but it also means stopping every 10 metres so that someone else can say hello to him. Not really surprising because lets be honest he is pretty cute isn’t he?

Dad’s gone to Iceland

No I’m not talking about that temple of all things frozen frequented by Kerry Katona, I’m talking about the actual country. You see I’m attending the wedding of a friend who I grew up with (who is actually Icelandic, its not the latest foreign venue of choice). More significantly I’m attending on my own, we did think about taking Matilda but flights are pretty expensive and she is only 8 weeks old.

This is going to be my first nights away since she was born and to be honest not really something I’m looking forward to. In a normal week I don’t get to see much of her as I leave for work at 7am and get home at 6.30pm when she is in bed. So the weekends are precious to me and a chance to spend some quality time as a family. She is so awake and happy first thing in the morning and at the weekends I can actually spend some time playing with her.

I’ll miss her little smile with her tongue sticking out and how she sleeps on her back with her arms above her head. I may even miss changing nappies! The lady of the manor will be fine of course, she’s a complete natural at the whole being a mum thing. Plus she’ll have her mum there to help if needed. No doubt the trip is going to cost me though, I’m sure presents will get mentioned at some point….

Being a dad is more amazing that I ever thought and I don’t want to miss a second. Saying goodbye to my girls in the morning is just horrible, but unfortunately unless we win the lottery not going to work really isn’t an option is it? Not sure what the solution is here, but something has to change in the next year, I don’t want to miss Matilda growing up and all those ‘firsts’.

How much?!

Do you know how much a return train ticket costs from Westbury in Wiltshire to London Paddington? It’s not a long journey in the grand scheme of things, just 1 hour and 40 minutes from start to finish, direct with no change of trains. Well if you just turn up on the day and happen to choose a train arriving in London before 9am then you’ll be charged the princely sum of £156! I don’t go to London very often, but yesterday I made the trip along with 2 colleagues. Fortunately we’d had the foresight to book tickets in advance, and paid £80 return, but let’s consider what would have happened if we’d had to make a last minute trip and couldn’t book tickets 7 days prior.

We’d have spent more than £450 between the 3 of us in a single day on train fares, for a train service where you aren’t guaranteed a seat or the train to run on time. Not to mention the fact that the coaches are so outdated that you have to reach out of the window to open the door and let’s be honest don’t regularly run on time. Not forgetting a ticket system where you virtually need a ticketing degree to understand all the types and deals available and where buying 2 single fares is often cheaper than a return.

But what’s the alternative? Well for around £300 we could have hired a private car to drive us from home into London (perhaps not all the way to the centre).and back again in the evening. This would have been a nice Mercedes or the like with a pleasant driver and pretty much door to door service. We could have easily slept or worked in the car and arrived refreshed and ready for the day. Plus of course travelled at a time convenient to us and not dictated by the train company.

The second option is to have driven ourselves from home to a tube station on the London suburbs such as Hillingdon. Total travelling distance almost exactly 100 miles and in theory a 2 hour travel time. A rough guesstimate of costs for a car returning 40 mpg would be about 15p per mile in Diesel costs, lets round up to 20p to take account of wear and tear etc. So £40 total cost for a 200 mile round trip, plus £8 each for a day travel card and I’m going to guess £10 for a day’s parking. All in £74 for the total journey, a quite considerable saving versus the train ticket.

So remind me again Mr Cameron, why exactly should I be using public transport? The train isn’t cheaper, certainly not more convenient and only 20-30 minutes quicker. Of course in rush hour traffic driving could take longer but for a saving of £376 that’s something I could be willing to live with.

Rising petrol prices are already making things difficult, so what’s the future for the vast majority of people who can’t live near or choose not to live within walking distance of work? What are your experiences of train travel? Have you cut down on all non essential travel of all types or made a decision on where to live based on the increased cost of commuting?