Planning the Spontaneous

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Posted by Robert Chow on 22/03/2010

Over nine hours it’s taken to get back to Bideford from Manchester. It’s an absolute disgrace. At first I thought the problem would lie at Birmingham New Street, with a sketchy 15 minute wait for the connecting train, and the least of my worries at Exeter with a 45 minute changeover. Yet, it was the latter, with the Birmingham to Exeter train delayed 1 hour 30 minutes. As a result, I had to catch a much later train back to Barnstaple.

I can honestly say, it’s the journeys that I am going to miss the least when I leave my placement in the summer. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love the work I’m doing (that reminds me, I’ve got a lot left to do), and being a student will be very disorienting again, I am sure. However, it’s no secret that I’m not too fond of the location. It’s great for a holiday, or a weekend break; but a year, especially for someone growing up in Manchester and loving the city life, it’s not quite my cup of tea.


I’m back in Bideford now. Hopefully I’ll be able to cram in a few more posts before I disappear back up north again.


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Posted by Robert Chow on 14/11/2009

So we’ve all heard the term “turning over a new leaf”.  I’m not quite doing that.

You may have noticed that I haven’t been updating this as regularly as I may have liked.  And that the posts have been rather long, and can get a little tedious.  But, in all honesty, I don’t believe they’re bad.  They just could be, better.  And thus, I am not turning over a new leaf, but just improving on what I already have.

This means that the blog will introduce shorter stories.  Not ones which span the whole page, and take a week to write.  It will also introduce more technical blog post, more than already.  It will also introduce less technical blog posts, less than already.  And also blog posts related to my placement, but not necessarily computing.  This blog is, my industrial experience.

So we start off with a non-computer related post.  And funnily (and ironically) enough, in Manchester – not Bideford.  I’m happily taking a couple of weeks, “working from home”, or from time in lieu.  And to get here was the worst journey I’ve had to endure, ever.

From Town…

I’ve flown from Manchester to New Zealand – 27 hours that took.  Compared to the 9 hour stint from my doorstep in Bideford to where I was staying in Manchester, it seemed like what I was about to do was easy.

I set off in the car to Barnstaple train station, knowing full well, I wanted to make it early so I could get my train tickets with enough time to spare.  Traffic the second we hit Bideford, but at least it passed a few minutes afterwards.

I arrive at Barnstaple train station – the train wasn’t for another half hour.  Oh, and I remember it wasn’t a train – there was a rail replacement service instead.  That meant coach.

… To City

We set off.  The coach wasn’t crowded.  Comfortable actually.

We arrive at Exeter.  And I think I’m getting old.  I’m starting to feel travel sick now – winding country roads, enclosed by trees either side, in the dark and on a coach – I’m not claiming to have the strongest mind or stomach for this.  But I survive.

Still 6 More Hours

We board the train to Birmingham from Exeter.  It’s only 2 minutes late, which is fine, as there is a 25 minute window to change train at Birmingham.  Plenty of time.

We arrive at Bristol Temple Meads.  Drunk youths board the train to get to Bristol town centre.  I’m slightly worried because at this point I remember this place as one of the worst hit areas for racial abuse.  But in the public eye, I’m rather calm.  I just want to set off.

We should have left 10 minutes ago.  We stuck on the platform, waiting for a driver to take our train to Birmingham.

Still waiting.  Apparently there is a train heading straight to Manchester from another platform, but it hasn’t arrive yet – that’s been delayed too.  Many of us are rushing from platform to platform, wondering which train will go first.

We finally set off.  This is bad news.  We have to make up at least 5 minutes to allow us to get onto the connecting train.  Bad news – if we don’t pass through Cheltenham Spa with ease, we’ve lost our chance.

We should be near Birmingham by now.  We’re not – we’re half an hour away, and the Manchester train is to set off before we arrive – and it’s also the last direct train of the night too.  We’re all worried.  Alas, we have good news.  Credit to the very brave conductor giving the announcement.  He was hoping to be able to delay the train setting off for Manchester, but there’s no need.  The train travelling from Birmingham to Manchester – turns out we’re already on it!  The last hour and a half spent worrying was all for nothing.

Relief At Last

We set off from Birmingham with haste to make up for a few minutes.  All is well.

Nearly Home

I arrive in Manchester.  I can feel a grin on my face forming, and I can’t help myself.

Rather a different change to previous posts, but I hope it’s a refreshing new read!

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