The Anonymous Widower

Coeliac Or Just Gluten Free?

I was asked this question in Jamie’s Italian in Edinburgh.

How professional is that?

I had a very nice rabbit pasta.

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Food, World | , , , | Leave a comment

Buses In Edinburgh

Whilst in Edinburgh, I travelled several times on Edinburgh’s buses. They may be understandable to those, who live in the city, but they don’t have the bus maps everywhere, that Londoners and most tourists like in London.  So if you’re not with a guide, it can be difficult to find the bus and the appropriate stop for where you want to go.

I was staying with a friend, just outside the city centre, and she can take buses from two companies to get home.  So, although you can buy a 24-hour ticket for each company, you can’t buy one for all of the buses that use Edinburgh.  And of course, I can’t use my English bus pass in Scotland. I have wondered how many English, who fancy a weekend away, don’t go to Scotland, as their bus passes are not valid.  Surely, every UK bus pass, should be valid all over the UK, to encourage tourism.

But the fact that there is no 24-hour pass for the whole of Edinburgh, was a total surprise to me. Many cities in England and of course London, have systems to give 24-hour travel to everybody, who wants it. Surely, this problem will be solved, when every city in the world follows London and allows a bank or credit card to be used as a ticket. There’s a lot here on contactless ticketing with bank cards.

Talking of tickets, will you need a third 24-hour ticket, for the trams in Edinburgh?

Edinburgh has the silly single door buses, that don’t announce their stops, that still persist outside London.  Was this why on my several trips on Edinburgh’s buses, I never saw a mother with a baby in a buggy or anybody carrying anything heavy?

What summed up the badly planned nature of Edinburgh’s buses, was this timetable on a stop.

How Not To Do Bus Information

How Not To Do Bus Information

Note how to text to find the next bus, you have to type in an eight-digit number and then use a full mobile number.  In London, which appears to be a much bigger city than Edinburgh, all stops are covered by codes that are just five digits and you text the same short number of 87287 at every stop.

I also think that as you can get the buses of two companies from the stop I was using, you actually have to use a different system to get the times for the other company. London,which has several bus companies, merges all the routes and companies together.

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , | Leave a comment

Edinburgh’s Tram Infrastructure Goes In

The infrastructure for the new Edinburgh tram line appears to be substantially installed.

I still have doubts that the design of the lines isn’t the best.

Edinburgh is an important city architecturally and I do wonder if the trams should be like they are in Seville; without overhead wires. I can see the day, when all city centre trams will be like those Spanish ones.  it would certainly make building the systems a lot simpler.

It does strike me too, that now I can see where the tram route goes, does it go close enough to the main station at Waverley? I asked in an earlier post, why the trams don’t go over the North Bridge in front of the station.  It would appear that the original Edinburgh trams did, from a map I’ve seen. These days too, modern trams are much better at climbing hills, as they do regularly in cities like Geneva.

Perhaps Edinburgh’s biggest mistake with the trams was to start them when they did.  If you were designing a system now, it would be much simpler and less disruptive to install and probably a lot cheaper too!

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 1 Comment

An Improved Waverley Station

Trying to improve Waverley station in Edinburgh, must be one of those jobs that architects find challenging to say the least. The site is in a cutting and very cramped and making an attractive station with all the facilities and decent entry and exit for passengers is probably the stuff of nightmares. They had a lot of similar issues at Birmingham New Street station, but seem to have solved them, by virtually demolishing the old station and starting again. But as these pictures show, a new clean roof and escalators can bring about improvements.

One thing that I found rather strange, was that the road opposite the station seems to be reserved for tour buses, which in my view should not be blocking up access to the station. I am surprised that the new trams won’t be crossing that bridge. Surely like Kings Cross, London Bridge and Euston stations in London, interchange with the local buses, should be just a short walk. At least the escalators up to Princes Street, make one entrance to Waverley station a lot easier.

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

East Coast Didn’t Impress

It had been a long time, since I travelled all the way up from London to Edinburgh in one go.  Once a few years ago in the days of GNER, I did a trip from Peterborough to Edinburgh and back in a day. That must have been after I had been diagnosed as a coeliac, and I can remember discussing my meals with the on-board chef.

As it was I didn’t get any breakfast on the way up, as they had nothing that was gluten-free.  So I might as well have saved money and travelled in Standard Class.  Compare this with Virgin Trains, who now serve an excellent gluten-free breakfast.

I also had a seat with a table that rattled a lot and shook tea everywhere. I just think it needed the tightening of a couple of screws.

I think that next time, I go to Edinburgh, I’ll combine it with an intermediate stop like Liverpool or Newcastle or perhaps take the soft option and fly.

Mainly because I was getting distinctly hungry by the time I finished my journey.

I could have taken a packed lunch or bought sandwiches in Marks and Spencer in Kings Cross, but that really nullifies the advantage of First Class. Obviously with a shorter journey to say Leeds, York or Newcastle, this lack of food is less of a problem, as I can eat well at both ends of the trip.

As I Can in Edinburgh, but surely one of the reasons to take long distance trains, is to enjoy the travel and the views and hopefully some well-served food.

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Over The Border Into Scotland

Compared to some railway journeys in the UK and Europe, the East Coast Main Line doesn’t have the best of views and give many photo opportunities. Perhaps crossing the Tweed into Scotland is one of the few.

I was on the western side of the train and in many ways the other side is best for the views, which  include the cathedrals at Peterborough and Durham, the bridges of Newcastle and the sea once you’ve passed Newcastle.

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | Leave a comment

Speeding Past The Hitchin Flyover

The Hitchin Flyover, is compared to HS2, a fairly miniscule piece of railway infrastructure.

According to this article, it will cost £47 million and save 30,000 minutes a year in train schedules.

I  have this feeling, that engineers know of similar schemes, that would benefit UK railways all over the country. But most of them aren’t very sexy for politicians.

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | 1 Comment

Over The Digswell Viaduct

As the train went over the Digswell Viaduct just north of Welwyn Garden City, I took a couple of pictures of the view. I usually do.

Over The Digswell Viaduct

Over The Digswell Viaduct

But none in my opinion, are anywhere near as good, as this one, with the shadow of the viaduct on the valley floor below.

I would love to claim, I planned it all and actually booked a train north on a fine day, at the right time to get the shadow.

But it was all of course, down to luck.

I do bet though, that it’s not the first time, this picture has been taken. Perhaps with an  iconic Stirling Single or a Gresley A4 Pacific blowing plumes of steam into the sky.

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , | 2 Comments

Kings Cross In The Morning

I started my trip to Edinburgh at Kings Cross by getting the 09:00 to the city.

Kings Cross In The Morning

Kings Cross In The Morning

I took this picture from the lift, that took me from the overbridge to the my train on Platform 1.

A guy with me, said he had been one of the engineers, who worked on the cleaning of the roof.  He said, they got enough pigeon muck to power the country for several months.

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment

Off To Scotland

I’m off to Edinburgh today by train to see an old friend.  Then it’s over to Glasgow and on Saturday down to Bolton to see Ipswich play.

I’ll be having a good breakfast at Leon in Kings Cross, as it would appear that gluten-free food on East Coast is a bit thin. I may be wrong, but we will see!

October 24, 2013 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment