I have no car. Liz and I have a car but she uses it for work. As it's her company car this is hardly mean of her. In 2002, after ten years on the road, I never wanted to drive again and have spent four years walking around a lovely parish meeting lovely people, hiring a car for occasional non-rail friendly forays to difficult to access places such as Oxford after midnight, Cambridge before lunch and Nailsea for 9.00 a.m.
Network Rail have been my friend and my enemy. The wonderful Chiltern Line to London is cheap, comfy and usually efficient. Getting 8 miles north to Coventry is all together more challenging. My week so far:
Walk everywhere happily by day with a spring in my step. Lazily, use car to go 1 mile (round trip) to evening meeting.
Arrange lift at Nailsea station for Friday. Call in at Leamington Station to book ticket. Told not to bother as there is a strike planned. Pop next door to Enterprise and hire a car. To pick it up before 7.30 a.m. and drop back after 7.00 p.m. means it is a two day hire, Thursday 4 p.m. - Saturday 4 p.m. £100.
Cancel Nailsea lift.
Train to Coventry negotiated punctually and successfully. 14.24 train back cancelled without reason. Lots of trains being cancelled as lines are buckling in the heat of the hottest temperatures on record apart from 2003 and 2004. Use time to investigate dental and optical insurance which is being promoted on the concourse. Great offer but I can't have a leaflet to consider. Can only sign up.
15.24 delayed for 13 mins. Explain to Australian woman that yes, that is how they pronounce Bournemouth in Coventry and yes he did say Southampton too. She doesn't believe me but when I tell her that it is my train too she agrees to get on with me and I carry her luggage. (How that happen?) After finding a place for her luggage she sits down and says thank-you. Transpires she has sat in the last seat on the whole train. Go do Su-doku for 11 minutes in non air-conditioned corridor where man tells me how he was almost beaten up on platform 3 last night, adding 'Know what I mean?' after every line. After ten minutes I am relieved that we arrive in Leamington because by then I know not only exactly what he means but precisely why people wanted to beat him up. Consider hitting him in the teeth and leaving unconscious body with contact details for dental insurance. Snap out of it.
17.00 News says rail strike cancelled. E-mail Nailsea and reinstate lift. Phone Enterprise and cancel car hire. It's not even Thursday yet.