I’m going back to my roots…..

But not by train.

In October Mrs. Ha and I are going to Britain for a week. Via Helsinki. Well, it is cheap. I have an aunt celebrating her 80th birthday and we thought we would tag along for the jelly and blancmange. The choice on arriving in Heathrow was to hire a car or to try to use public transport.

The first shock was that the Paddington (Rip-off) Express in now £20-25. Each. One way. Gulp. If we wanted to go from Padders to Cardiff (in just over 2 hours) we could pay anything from £35 to £160+. Each. One way. If you think you can travel at a very off-peak time and are prepared to accept a “no refund under any circumstances” condition you can advance book for 35 quid. I think assuming we can get from HK to Paddington spot on time is a  bit of a gamble. So the next cheapest ticket seemed to be £70+. Each. One way. You see we want to come back via all sorts of places – no about turn and all the way back. At this point it seems to be costing us as much to travel to Cardiff as it does to hire a car for a week. So we will fork out for a hire car and petrol and be environmentally unfriendly but flexible. Working out the ticket price permutations of a rail journey needs a PhD as far as I can tell and probably only people on expenses can afford to use the trains. I sense the British Government may need to rethink its long term strategic transport plan. If it has one. Getting people off the roads and onto public transport isn’t going to work at those prices.

Today was however a good day. It started off with Mrs. Ha worrying about a leaf on the dining room window. Yours Truly went to get rid off it and discovered it wasn’t a leaf but an uninvited guest.

Eudocima-hypermnestraThis is Mr. Eudocima hypermnestra. There is a debate raging as to whether this is a wet or dry season form but my lep guru assures me he is who I say, whatever he is wearing, wet or dry suit.

As you can see he objected to the camera and fortuitously flew off and landed on a plant. Much more photogenic than the dining room window as a backdrop.

We then hot-footed it (by jalopy) to the club for a splendid lunch. When in the sub-tropics it is always good to eat the local food. I had bangers & mash. Mrs. Ha had the piece of cod that passeth all understanding. And then we nipped down to the club’s bowling alley  and made fools of ourselves for 90 minutes. I top scored with a 115, which is awful. And so a rather eventful day passed off. For we retired folk it is good not to have too much excitement. I almost overdid it on the crème brûlée. That would have been dangerous. Safe now though. My only nagging doubt is where the Eudocima hypermnestra went. He was rather swish.



8 thoughts on “I’m going back to my roots…..

  1. Love that leafy critter!
    I don’t do a lot of traveling. Besides my intense dislike for airports and all facets of air travel the alligators would miss me. I don’t them to have long faces. heh heh. Uh boy…

  2. We all choose to spend our money in different ways. For me the travel is part of my journey, holiday whatever you want to call it. So rather than getting the cheapest flight back to the UK, I would take the overnight Madrid-Paris sleeper and cross-Channel ferry. Or train bus up to the north coast of Santander and ferry across Biscay. Far more expensive, but far more enjoyable.

    As for the train tickets, been there done that too. Like you having not been resident in the UK for years, I had no idea what train routes were running where or who to contact apart from some divs in a call centre who knew stuff all about timetables and prices. I ended up buying a vastly overpriced return ticket from Kings Cross to York on that vile GNER route. Terrible NER more like.

    I later discovered there was a Hull trains route from Kings Cross to Hull, calling at Selby which was where I was going anyway. Much nicer service and you could buy tickets on the train. Live and learn comes to mind.

    On subsequent visits I tried the book in advance thing and like you, it was just too risky. And like you, I was going to different places, not there and back. I bit the bullet and paid.

    I was fascinated to find that on more than one route if you bought two legs of the journey rather than straight through, it was cheaper.

    The best way to buy tickets is to go to a station and deal with a person rather than a div in a call centre. But that’s a bit difficult when you are thousands of miles away. Bring back British Rail, say I. And those nice trains with wooden compartments.

    Spanish trains have gone the same way. Not that there are lots of companies but there are more plastic trains and my favourite – and much cheaper – train to Madrid has been axed. They even had a real buffet where someone would cook you fresh food. Imagine!!

    Do take piccies of Wales. Partner will be most interested to see them.

  3. There’s a vast array of ticket types and an assumption that you know what all the different names mean, when really most people just want whichever is cheapest. Also the assumption that we all have these wonderful, organized lives and we book 3 months in advance to get a better price. Does nobody in the country do anything spontaneously anymore?
    Even after 10 months I only recently found out that there’s a card you can buy that gives you a third off of your train fares, which represents a huge saving to me. But nobody told me and there’s this incredulous ‘how could you not know that?’ that you get from people.

  4. Booking train tickets is a pain in the ass in the UK, indeed! I hate the lack of flexibility – you book for a certain train (what if the plane is late??) or even worse, for a certain provider. So i.e. if you miss your connection with TransPennine, then you can’t go with Northern Rail and the same ticket!

    BTW, what about passing by in Switzerland? 😉 Trains are a joy to use here 🙂

  5. The visit back home should be a good one. I know your aunt will be so glad to see you and Ms Ha. Sounds like transportation is a nightmare. I do not envy you in your quest for getting about.

  6. Mmmmm….creme brulee. Was there anything else you mentioned? 🙂

    Fortunately, we do not have much wanderlust. Traveling is sounding less attractive with every tale I hear.

  7. Train prices are a mystery – especially on the internet with several sites competing for better ‘deals.’ I’ve often found it’s just as easy and as economic to turn up at the ticket office on the day and see what’s available.
    Long term, strategic and government don’t seem to sit too well in the same sentence.
    Lovely pic.

  8. We too are rooting about in Britain late September and October. We also abandoned ideas of the train to go to Scotland for a week (indecipherable fare categories and timetables, and horrid costs). We’re Checking out S’s ancestors – one side of her family lived on the East side of Scotland, the other the West – so we have to make a circle tour! Then back to spend time with our southern family of sassenachs. We are taking the infamous Queasy Jet to and from Scotland and hire car round the top of Britain. Getting our woolies ready.
    What a great spot – the Eudocima hypermnestra. At first I thought you meant he had hot footed it to his club – but re-read and discovered it was you and Mrs Ha. Beautiful photograph. Great camouflage.

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