{03/04/2012}   The joys of long train commutes

This morning, to make my short working day reap at least a little financial reward, I caught the 07.14 slow train from Folkston to London, c1 hour 50 minutes.  This train takes twice as long as the high price high speed train but there are mornings (I just want to get home on the way back so that direction always seems long) when I am happy for it to be an even longer journey.  Yes, really.

I am almost an hour into the journey now, I have done some writing, I am drinking coffee, it’s a lovely sunny morning, I’ve seen lambs, horses, cattle, flowers, signs of spring emerging further, farms, oast houses, dog walkers tramping across fields, misty lakes and I was the only person in my carriage for the first 20 minutes.  As usual I also have a bag full of train activities.

Commutes are generally horrid.  The journey home is by far the worst for me because everyone is tired and smelly, public transport is usually too hot and everywhere is busy.  This morning’s commute progresses with the rising sun, the waking up of towns and cities.  People are quieter, no one is sitting next to me yet and we haven’t had as much time to have had or be having a bad day.  Yes, yes, I can see that there are days when you’re too tired to function, in winter it would still be dark, train delays, leaves on the line, people standing in the aisles.  Yes, hideous, and I would have posted a rant no doubt.  But for now, just allow me this misty eyed love-in for this commute.

I used to commute from Whitstable.  As a general rule I enjoyed my commute in to work but in the morning AND the evening, I always got a seat.  But doing c1.5 hours each way most days was tiring.  I don’t usually work five days a week and I don’t (especially then as I wasn’t working such long hours, as will be the case today) usually have to travel in return rush hour so it wasn’t too bad for me.  But there were days when I could barely stay awake, when the train was late, it once took three hours to get back, in snow it was embarrassingly bad and by the time the train got to Bromley South it was packed and I get seat guilt, which I really don’t need to endure.

Overall though, I do prefer the high speed train because 55 minutes is a good time to get home and a good time to get things done.  I always have a table and I have written many a letter and blog post, read books and magazines, caught up on emails and texts, completed editing my work on the way home; it gives me time to do things I always claim not to have time to do.

When I returned to London after my six and a half months living in Whitstable, I genuinely missed my commuting time.  I had vowed to get up at the same time and read before getting up and getting ready for work.  Did I?  Yeah, right, not even once!  In my ideal world (assuming I had to commute) I would have a one-two hour commute to work (I can do mornings.  It may not be pretty and I may struggle but I know I am at my best in the mornings) and a ten minute commute home.  Currently, I am slowly waking up and enjoying my morning.  When I get to London Bridge I will have to change for a Charing Cross train, which will be busy.  My commuting love will end round about then.  But as I’m being a cheapskate this morning, I will have a c25 minute walk to where I’m working and that will be partly through St James’ Park so I expect to have a second pre-work high.  I love London parks in the mornings prior to the tourist/lunch break groups taking over.  I will keep quiet about my post-work train dawdle back home!


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