The Anonymous Widower

A Dreadful, But Totally Avoidable Train Journey

As a coeliac who avoids gluten and also because I’ve had a stroke and am on Warfarin, I have to be very careful about my diet. For this reason I plan my pit-stops well when I travel by train. If I do change trains, I usually arrange this at a station like Birmingham New Street, Cambridge or Leeds, where I know there is a good M & S Simply Food or a selection of restaurants that I trust.

The last couple of days, I have been in Scotland and on the way back I saw Ipswich Town play at Middlesbrough.

As Middlesbrough is a particularly difficult town for suitable food, I decided to come south as soon as possible after the lunchtime match. I did get lunch of sorts from the M & S in the town.

Quiche And Lemonade On A Bitterly Cold Day

Quiche And Lemonade On A Bitterly Cold Day

It was bitterly cold and I ate it in the gardens in from of the Crown Court. But hey, two of my family’s bloodlines are Jewish and Huguenot and I reckon at times, they’d have found my simple lunch a veritable feast.

A couple of weeks before, I’d tried to book a First Class ticket from Middlesbrough to Kings Cross, but found the prices rather stratospheric, so in the end I bought a reasonably priced First Class ticket from Middlesbrough to Peterborough changing at York, from where I could get a Great Northern train into London.

I had assumed that the difficult availability of tickets was because of the England-Scotland match at Twickenham and at no time did the on-line booking process on East Coast inform me of the real reason for a ticket shortage.

It was only, when I caught the Virgin Trains East Coast train at York, did the staff inform me of the reason. The East Coast Main Line was subject to engineering work and we’d be using a diversion.

Unlike some other companies, East Coast’s gluten-free offering is non-existent, so I was getting hungrier by the hour, as we were shown the delights of the GNGE in the dark.

As the train  was going on to Kings Cross and there were plenty of empty seats, I asked the conductor if I could buy a ticket to complete the journey on the train, rather than decamping at Peterborough to purchase a ticket for another train.

Astronomic prices were mentioned, which bore no relation to the twenty pounds or so, my phone said I would need to spend on-line for a Standard Class ticket. So I got off and bought a ticket in the Booking Office for around ten pounds for Great Northern. Incidentally, the Off-Park Single with a Railcard for East Coast is £14.75. So where did a price of three times that come from?

I finally arrived in London six hours after I left Middlesbrough. To cap it all, the only gluten-free food left in M & S at Kings Cross was one packet of sandwiches.

I could say the sandwiches were stale to add colour to this tale! But they were excellent!

If the works on the line had been flagged up when I tried to book the ticket, I would have only used East Coast as a last resort. After all, I could have gone via Sheffield or Manchester, where I can at least get something to eat. The Booking Office clerk at Peterborough had told me that they have to tell personal callers that there are problems! So why not on the web?

The conductor on the train, said it was all my fault, as I should have gone to Kings Cross, to read all the information about engineering works. Doesn’t that remove one of the advantages of booking on-line?

If you say you want to collect a ticket from a station that is not the  starting point of your journey, the train purchase web sites ask you if this is what you want to do. Surely, a warning if there are works or likely delays on your route could be similarly indicated.

The real losers in this tale are Virgin Trains East Coast, as they had an empty seat between Peterborough and Kings Cross, for which I would probably have paid a reasonable amount. Next time I go to York or Doncaster where there is an alternative, I will also probably use it.

March 14, 2015 - Posted by | Food, Transport | , , ,


  1. […] the first four, I drew a blank even in Marks and Spencer on getting anything tasty, except for a gluten-free quiche in Middlesbrough. Although, I did get a gluten-free pizza in Pizza Express in Preston and a Polish gluten-free […]

    Pingback by The UK’s Unhealthiest High Streets And Gluten Free Food « The Anonymous Widower | March 27, 2015 | Reply

  2. […] up into the city centre to the Marks and Spencer, to see if they had any sandwiches. Just as at Middlesbrough, there were none available. I then walked down from the city centre to the […]

    Pingback by Match Forty-Four – Wolverhampton 1 – Ipswich 1 « The Anonymous Widower | April 18, 2015 | Reply

  3. […] is probably interesting to compare my lunch in Chemnitz with the scraps I scrounged in Middlesbrough a few months ago, on a day when Ipswich lost and the trains screwed me up […]

    Pingback by Lunch In Chemnitz « The Anonymous Widower | June 20, 2015 | Reply

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