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Posts Tagged ‘transport’

(While none of this will be new to those of you who have lived in snow before, it might amuse you to see which bits weird me out the most. Apologies for the obviousness of some of this, but that is partially the point of these posts, to reveal things that are obvious to the natives)

Firstly, my history with snow: when I was 9 we went to the Victorian snow fields in Australia. It snowed a little bit when I was in the UK in April 2008, but it had melted by midday. That’s it. So snow is quite alien to me, and hence I don’t know how to deal with it, or what might happen when it snows, what the different sorts of snows mean, and when to be careful. Quite scary for Little Miss Capable and Independent.

So, day 1 of snow, on 16 December was quite confronting. Also, it was the first real wake-up call that my life had substantially changed. Very much a ‘Toto I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore’ moment. Up to this point my subconcious hadn’t really absorbed that it was somewhere different. Most of the things I experienced could have occurred in Australia, somewhere, sort of. Snow in an urban environment? Nuh huh! Just weird. So I freaked a bit. It didn’t help that I had a colleague sitting next to me panicing about being snowed in, as they were in February. We kept ratcheting up each other’s anxiety levels.

snow hips

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I have a job, (more on that later, when I’m not actually at work taking a quick blog break), and since I don’t have a car, and this is London, and I like to do so, I catch public transport to work every day. Along with the majority of people that work in London.

The standard trip takes 1.5 hours door to door, on a good day. If there’s engineering works on my line, or there’s lots of crowds then add 15 mins. If there’s a tube strike add 30 mins. All in all, not a bad run considering I live outside the M25 (the ring road around London).

Why a poster child? The variety of public transport types I catch every day.

The standard trip in is: train – tube – light rail. On the way home it’s light rail – tube – train – train. (I generally just miss the direct train from London Bridge, so change at East Croydon as it’s quicker than waiting for the next direct service)

Generally the tube is the Jubilee line, in which speed is traded for space, at least until Canary Wharf where all the bankers get off and the carriage empties. I’m getting rather sick of the daily game of sandines; being poked and prodded by handbags, or having men’s elbows in my face. I’ve worked out that women tend to pack closer than men, so if I can target the knot of men at one end of a carriage then there’s generally more space around them. Once we clear Canary Wharf then there’s ample space to put down bags, coats and finish reading the paper/a book.

I have the option of taking a tube to Bank, then a long walk down many tunnels to the light rail station. This is generally a less squishy option, but adds about 15 mins to the journey since the light rail stops more frequently and doesn’t travel as fast. However, it is probably the cheapest rollercoaster around, maybe not the most exciting. Try sitting in the front of the second carriage one day and enjoy the camber on the corners, the jolting and the surreality of the twisting carriage in front of you as the train dives into a tunnel.

There’s been a tube strike the last two days. This hasn’t been to bad for me, as my unaffected train service arrives in a similar part of London. The best option has been another train to Greenwich, then the light rail up through the Isle of Dogs. Adds 30 mins to the trip, but I get to see a part of London that I might not have otherwise.

Last, but not least, there is a bus (red double-decker) that leaves from the front of my work direct to Canary wharf, the closest transport hub, and major shopping precinct, which is yet another way to get home. If I take that option then in one trip I can combine every sort of public transport available in Greater London, except a ferry. Hence, poster child.

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