The Anonymous Widower

A Few Hours In Okehampton

Today, I took a trip by train to Okehampton and spent a couple of hours in the town.

I took the 10:04 from Paddington and after changing at Exeter St. Davids, I arrived in Okehampton at 13:11

Coming back, I took the 15:24 from Okehampton and arrived in Paddington at 18:24.

So the journeys took about three hours.

These pictures show Okehampton station.

Note.

  1. The train was two Class 150 trains coupled together.
  2. I suspect the platform is long enough to take a GWR Castle train
  3. The bus in the pictures is the 118, of which more later.
  4. It looked like a buffet was under construction.
  5. The new train information displays.

I took the bus down to Okehampton, where I took these pictures, as I walked around.

Note, that the first three pictures show the museum and the cycle works cafe, where I had a coffee and a delicious gluten-free flapjack.

I have a few thoughts on my journey, both now and in the future.

The 118 Bus

The 118 bus runs between Tavistock and Okehampton station.

  • It serves the villages in between.
  • It meets the trains from Exeter and takes them to Okehampton Town Centre.
  • It picks people up from Okehampton Town Centre and takes them to the station just before the trains leave for Exeter.
  • It accepts contactless payment.

It is a well-designed bus route that links passengers with the trains to and from Exeter.

Many other towns could follow Okehampton’s lead.

Walking Between Station And The Town Centre

I could certainly walk down the hill, but one of the locals said that it rather a stiff walk up the hill that takes about fifteen minutes, if you’re up to it. He also felt a taxi would be about a fiver.

Could A Battery Train Work The Service between Exeter And Okehampton Station?

Consider.

  • It is 24.8 miles between Exeter St. David and Okehampton stations.
  • It is a rise of under 200 metres.
  • The Class 150 trains climbed the hill at around 30 mph, but in places it was lower.
  • Hitachi, Stadler and Vivarail are talking about battery-electric trains with a range of fifty miles.
  • I was talking to one of the Great Western Railway staff and he said in the days of steam, the trains used to roll down the hill into Exeter.
  • There is the 18 MW Den Brook Wind Farm close to Okehampton.
  • With regenerative braking rolling down would recharge the batteries.

I suspect, that designing a battery-electric train to climb the hill is possible.

My rough estimate says that a battery of around 500 KWh could be enough.

Are The People Of Devon Going To Use The Train?

I took these pictures as I joined the train back to Exeter.

The people were a mixture of those arriving from Exeter and those returning to Exeter, but most seats were taken on the way back.

I can see Great Western Railway running Castles, like the one in the picture, for services on this route in the Summer, both to attract passengers and to cope with their numbers.

Local Reaction

I talked to several local people and they were all pleased that the service has been reinstated.

The only complaint was that it should have happened sooner.

Is A Day Trip Possible?

Suppose you live in London and your mother or other close relative lives in Okehampton.

Would it be possible to be able to visit them on their birthday for a good lunch?

Consider.

  • At the present time, trains from London, connect to the Okehampton service about every two hours.
  • The first connecting service leaves Paddington at 08:04.
  • Trains take around three hours between Paddington and Okehampton.
  • From probably May 2022, there will be hourly connections to Okehampton.
  • The last London train leaves Exeter at 20:46.

If you wanted to be a real hero, you could always take the Night Riviera back to London, which leaves Exeter at 0100.

I would say that if they planned it properly, a day trip from London to Okehampton by train, is feasible for a special occasion.

Will Great Western Railway Ever Run Direct Trains Between London Paddington And Okehampton?

I doubt this would be a regular service but I do believe that it is technically feasible.

  • Trains would need to reverse at Exeter St. Davids.
  • Trains would probably be limited to five car Class 802 trains.
  • Okehampton station could probably accommodate a five-car Class 802 train.
  • I estimate that the journey time would be a few minutes under three hours.

It should be noted that Paignton gets around three trains per day (tpd) from Paddington.

It might be that if the demand was there, a few trains per day could be run to and from London, by splitting and joining with the Paignton service at Exeter St. Davids.

  • If both services were run by five-car trains, there would be a ten-car service to and from London.
  • It certainly looks that GWR wouldn’t have to spend a great deal to implement the service.
  • The extra capacity of the five-car train might help commuters into Exeter.

It  is likely that this service wouldn’t run until Okehampton Parkway station is opened, which would attract travellers from the West, who would arrive at the station along the A 30 dual-carriageway

I can certainly see a service leaving Okehampton at around seven in the morning and getting into London about ten, paired with a late afternoon/evening train home.

It should be noted, that First Group with their Lumo service between London and Edinburgh, seem to negotiate for paths that create revenue.

But I do wonder, if one of the reasons , that Great Western Railway, Network Rail, Devon County Council, the Department of Transport and the Government were all very much in favour of reopening this route, is that it creates a valid alternative route between London and Plymouth and all places to the West, should the main route via Dawlish be breached again by the sea.

Okehampton station and the future Okehampton Parkway station are both close to the A30 which would allow express coaches to Plymouth and all over West Devon and Cornwall to bypass the trouble.

Hopefully, because the alterative route has been enabled the worst won’t happen.

Conclusion

Exeter and Okehampton is a well-thought out reopening, that will be welcomed in the South West of England.

 

 

November 26, 2021 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Pret A Manger Comes To Dalston On Friday

It appears that Pret a Manger’s new Dalston branch opens on Friday.

But search the Internet and not everybody is happy.

Pret is accused of the gentrification of Dalston.

December 3, 2019 Posted by | Food | , , | 3 Comments

A Plaintiff Plea On Wake Up To Money

I regularly listen to Wake Up to Money on BBC Radio 5 Live.

One morning, they were talking to Kentucky Fried Chicken about their new vegan burgers. As a coeliac, I say Yuck! to that!

Somebody else texted the program and said something like.

I’m a coeliac, how about more gluten-free food.

In fact it was a bad week for me as a coeliac last week.

  • I found Beyond Bread had closed on Upper Street.
  • Le Petite Bretagne  closed in Dalston.
  • I spent about twenty minutes looking for a coffee and a gluten-free cake in Liverpool Street.

All this passion for vegan and vegetarian food, is marginalising those like me, who have to avoid gluten.

I’ve still got a couple of cafes in Dalston, where this is possible and I could always go to M & S and take a cake home.

But I refuse to buy an expensive coffee maker.

After Liverpool Street, I ended up in Leon in Moorgate.

Note the excellent gluten-free cake and the posh cup and saucer.

Note, that because of my stroke, I like a proper china cup or mug

I tend to avoid American-owned chains like Costa and Starbucks, as some American gluten-free practices are suspect to say the least. I used to like Cadbury’s Bournville chocolate, but now I believe it uses addictive wheat-derived glucose, I wouldn’t dare touch it.

As I said finding good cafes and restaurants that do gluten free well is becoming more difficult.

  • Carluccio’s is creaking and many that I used regularly like Glasgow, Islington, Liverpool and Westfield have closed.
  • Pattiserie Valerie is struggling and has closed a lot of outlets.
  • Jamie’s Italian has gone bust.
  • If I go a bit upmarket, there is Bill’s and Cote, but they are not ideal for a fast pit-stop.

As last week, I suspect that most coeliacs hope that Leon or others following their relaxed, quirky and customer and diet-friendly model, prosper.

Freedoming

These days many pensioners like me, get free public transport in their local area.

Londoners like me, get a Freedom Pass, which gives free buses, Underground, Overground, trams and trains, within the M25.

I will often get up, look at the BBC London News, the weather and other sources. I may then decide to go to Canary Wharf, Richmond ir wherever  to have a walk, see an exhibition or whatever.

London is an amazing cornucopia of delights, which is a sentiment echoed by others who live close to our other great cities.

Free public transport enables this lifestyle.

I think the various cafe and restaurant chains can tap into this lifestyle, as often one of the reason to go to a place is to have a good meal or a drinki.

If like me, you like particular chains, I believe that their web sites could be an important part in planning how to waste a few hours.

Suppose, their web site  had the following features.

  • A simple list of all their cafes and restaurant, with st most a short description like “Close to Pierhead”
  • The ability to sign up to a simple e-mail alert of new openings and closures. Note the word simple!

I believe that if I got a message saying a chain had opened in say Kingston, it might prompt me to go and have a walk and perhaps lunch, with a friend I haven’t seen for years.

Note.

  1. Lists are much better than maps, if you don’t know the area.
  2. Companies are relying too much on apps, which are OK for finding places near where you are, but are useless, if you are using the cafe or restaurant, as the resewn to go or the starting point for an explore.
  3. I believe Carluccio’s troubles started, when they abandoned their list on their web site. I told them so in strong terms.

Patteriserie Valerie has an excellent list.

 

June 23, 2019 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why Don’t Cafes Provide More Charging USB Points?

Surely, if someone had a flat phone, thry’d stay longer?

I would design a system, so that each USB port could provide so many milli-amps. I’d then adjust the limit, to get the most profit!

August 7, 2018 Posted by | Food | | 2 Comments

ollybars At The Reilly Rocket

The Reilly Rocket is a cafe on my walking route home from Dalston Junction station and the Kingsland High Road, that I occasionally use for a small refreshment.

Today I popped in and found they were promoting ollybars on the counter.

So I ate one with my pot of English breakfast tea and took another home for later.

At two quid they may be more expensive than say EatNakd bars, but they are very good.

Too many gluten-free snacks are either bland or have the texture of sawdust.

ollybars are not guilty of either fault.

Congratulations to Olly!

August 19, 2015 Posted by | Food | , | 1 Comment

Sawyer And Gray At Highbury Corner

Highbury Corner is a bit short of eating places that appeal to me. Over the past couple of months, I’ve passed a new cafe called Sawyer and Gray on my way to the bus stop to get the  30 home.

Today, after coming back from my travels to the station and after buying my Sunday Times in the littleWaitrose, I ventured inside to have a cup of tea.

I liked what I saw and decided to have some scrambled egg and smoked salmon for an early lunch.

It was very good and I shall go back again. When Kings Cross and Euston have got their escalators fixed, it will be very convenient for a sustaining drink on the way home from a trip up north.

Note that the restaurant is a bit of a Tardis and as it has a basement with seven tables, it’s a lot bigger than it appears from the street.

 

December 28, 2014 Posted by | Food, World | , | Leave a comment

Palmers Green Station To Get A Double Upgrade

After visiting Alexandra Palace station and the Yard Cafe, I took a Hertford North train through Bowes Park and on to Palmers Green station.

The station needs refurbishment and it is getting step-free access and a branch of the Yard Cafe.

December 17, 2014 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | , , | 3 Comments

A Solution To The Tea Bag Problem

In Rochester High Street, I had a very nice cup of tea in a cafe called Dot Cafe. What a good name for a cafe with good internet and wi-fi.

As you can see milk was served alongside in a small wider jug, which was an ideal place to put the teabag. The lady in charge said that was what you did!

A simple idea that solves a messy problem! Perhaps you could put some words on the jug like “Milk – After The Teabag”

November 26, 2014 Posted by | World | , , | Leave a comment

The Best Cafe In Eastfield

Marks and Spencer’s cafes are probably best described as safe, with a boring selection of drinks and pastries, that wouldn’t annoy ladies who drink milky coffee.

But the one on the bridge at their Eastfield store is different.

It’s nice to go to a cafe with proper china and nearly all those in that area of the shopping centre use paper cups.

So it’s a no-brainer as to where I go!

It does mean that if I’m lucky, I have to put up with one of the best views in East London.

As Marks and Spencer now have an extensive range of gluten-free foods in the shop below the cafe, Stratford is an ideal place to break a journey with a pit stop for supplies

 

 

October 9, 2014 Posted by | World | , , , | Leave a comment

Before Overground – Cafe Issues

The stations to be incorporated into the Overground from the Lea Valley Lines have a sprinkling of cafes, like this one at Hackney Downs.

I got a nice cup of tea there, but on chatting with the owner, there are issues that London Overground need to sort out with these little cafes and other shops in the stations.

I also feel that in some of the smaller stations, the only decent small premises are the booking office, which was often closed. As it is Transport for London’s policy to do away with booking offices, perhaps some could be revamped as retail premises.

At Rectory Road, there was only one lonely guy sitting in the booking office. He should be on or watching the platforms, not hidden away!

September 30, 2014 Posted by | Food, Transport/Travel | , , , | Leave a comment