The Anonymous Widower

The Man In Seat 28

The title is a direct crib from that excellent train website, Use it if you want to find out how to get anywhere by train.

I did get my sandwiches, after failing at the Angel this morning, in Liverpool Street station, and here they are laid out on the table that I didn’t have to share, as I sat in Seat 28 in Standard Class.

Marks and Spencer's Gluten Free Sandwiches

I should say that Liverpool Street now has three Marks and Spencer food stores and I got my lunch from the one in the Broadgate or western entrance.

They are certainly going to make football a lot easier for me, as now I won’t have to worry about lunch or supper. Especially as until now, Ipswich was a virtual gluten free desert. The Marks there is listed as selling gluten-free sandwiches, but I haven’t checked yet.

Seat 28, also gave a very good view of the Olympic Park, as it was on the left side going towards Ipswich. The seat also has a full window.

The Olympic Park from Seat 28

Unfortunately, if you want the best view, you’ll have to be up front with the driver. I’ve done this once and it’s the only way to travel.

I should say that the jouney home wasn’t as pleasant.  I had deliberately taken a later train and I took a table seat in an almost empty carriage.  But then three obese middle-aged men joined me, hemmed me in by the window and proceeded to talk loudly amongst themselves all the way to London. They talked mainly about rugby and beer.  I may have interest in the first, but I certainly have no interest in the sort of beer they droned on about.  I also didn’t like the way they talked about their long-suffering wives.

In the end I decanted from the train at Stratford and took the North London Line home. Perhaps, next time I don’t want to be disturbed, I’ll book First.

Today’s trip and my last one to Plymouth and Bristol illustrate that train catering is getting more and more irrelevant for many people. I haven’t bought anything except coffee, Coke or perhaps a water for months now.  I either take everything with me, buy something from Marks in the station or make sure I eat well before travelling. As for example there is a Carluccio’s either in or close to St. Pancras, King’s Cross and Liverpool Street, it can’t be long before most large stations have a sensible gluten-free cafe. Most stations too have a coffee shop at least up to Starbucks standard.

I suspect that train catering will disappear completely within a few years.  At the Zoo Late, you could pre-order Gordon Ramsey picnics. How long before someone does luxury picnics, that you pre-order and pick up at the station before you travel? They could even be delivered to your seat in First Class!

If you are a food supplier, the great thing about train passengers, is you get at least two goes to sell them food.  Obviously, I bought my picnic today before I got on the train and I could even have bought a glass of decent wine in a plastic glass at Marks. But suppose, I’d been going to Brighton to walk on the promenade, I might have brought my lunch when I arrived. And if you’re changing trains at say Liverpool Lime Street, you could buy your food between trains.

So if you run a dedicated train catering service, you’ve got real competition!

So I think that in a few years, the food available to rail travellers will be very good and probably lightly alcoholic if you want a drink. The catering will certainly be better than that on the roads, where everything is over-priced and over-curled.

I think that some of the new trains are even prepared for the revolution. The new trains, I used to get to Cambridge a couple of weeks ago, are built with trays for laptops and/or snacks. All it needs is to make sure the litter is either taken out by the passengers or cleaned up at the end of each leg!

August 13, 2011 - Posted by | Food, Sport, Transport | , , , ,


  1. Oh dear – sunk by Hull. My team (Brighton) on 2 for 0 but Portsmouth did miss a last minute penalty.

    Comment by Marc | August 13, 2011 | Reply

    • It wasn’t good! But in the big scheme of things it’s fairly irrelevant

      Comment by AnonW | August 14, 2011 | Reply

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