Birmingham City is one of the easier away grounds to get to at a weekend, as to get to the ground it’s a ten minute walk from Bordesley station.
But yesterday, I decided to try to use the buses, so I was told to get a 17 from outside Moor Street station. I managed it easily to get there, but coming home, I would have had to wait fifteen minutes for a bus, so I virtually walked it back into the centre, before I got a taxi from the Coach Station to New Street station.
The dangerous roads were no better.
I know most away fans, these days go by coach or car, but surely, as Leeds do, they should organise a taxi queue after the match for the lost. Birmingham City might do, but the stewards had no idea.
As it was I missed my 22:10 station and had to wait for the 23:10. At least though, I was able to buy some gluten-free sandwiches and a drink in the Marks there and New Street is not the dismal, dirty and draughty station of the near past.
I actually had a choice of two types. When did a coeliac last have a choice of gluten-free sandwiches at 23:00 anywhere?
The Virgin train was the pick-up-the-stragglers service from Edinburgh and made it home a few minutes early, so I was in bed at a reasonable hour.
The football was another scrappy match, but at least we scraped a draw in the last minute.
I went to Crawley Town to see Ipswich get knocked out of the Carling Cup in extra time.
It wasn’t a good match for Ipswich, except that some youngsters made promising debuts.
I had got to the ground courtesy of a lift from my cousin, with whom I had supper.
But coming home. there was no other way thsan to get a taxi to Three Bridges. Luckily I was able to get a lift with a Crawley Town supporter, who was also going back to London on the train.
Crawley would appear to be one of those grounds, where to get away after an evening match you are going to need a taxi.
I’ve recently been to Iceland for a few days holiday, which meant a trip to and from Heathrow.
For people like me in East London just to the North of the City, it is a boring and tedious journey.
Going out, I took the easy route for me, which is to take a 141 bus from virtually outside my house to Manor House station and then got the Piccadilly Line all the way to Heathrow. It gets you there but around thirty stops on the Underground isn’t quick at around an hour and a half.
Coming back, the flight was in a bit late and I decided to use Heathrow Express. My ticket cost me £13.80 with a Senior Railcard and is timed at 21:09, which as the Heathrow Express I got left Heathrow at 22:18 and arrived at Paddington at 22:36, says a lot for the speed of the Border Agency and the baggage handlers at the airport. From Paddington, I decided that as I was hungry and there is no good gluten-free restaurant at Paddington, that I would get a taxi. I got home just after 23:00, as although there were lots of taxis, the self loading cargo couldn’t get itself organised. As the taxi cost me £26, and although it might have been slightly quicker by about twenty minutes or so, each minute saved cost me a couple of pounds.
Next time, I’ll take the Underground.
In a few years time, I’ll probably use Crossrail. Heathrow to Whitechapel will take about 37 minutes according to their web site and from there to home is probably about 15 minutes now. So Crossrail should deliver a time of under an hour for a lot less money. Hopefully, it will be free as reports say that Freedom Passes will be able to be used to the Airport.
So on a brief look, it would appear that everybody in the City and East London will probably use Crossrail to get to Heathrow. Who in their right mind, would struggle to get to Paddington to get the Heathrow Express?
Incidentally, my taxi driver last night thought that Crossrail would be good for black cabs, as more people would use the train to get into London.
The one problem is that Terminal 5 at Heathrow is not on Crossrail. But looking at the various trains that are either are or will be connected to Heathrow and their routes, I would suspect that this will be rectified a few years after Crossrail opens.
There are various proposals that help to link Heathrow to the rail network.
The one that probably stands the highest chance of being built, is to link Terminal 5 to Reading to give rail access to the airport from the West of England and Wales. The BBC talks about it here.
If this one gets built would some Crossrail trains just go underneath Heathrow stopping at Heathrow Central, Terminal 4 and Terminal 5 in order before carrying on to Reading on the other side of the airport. At Reading, it could be a cross-platform interchange to fast trains to the west. Reading to Cardiff now takes just under a hundred minutes. When electrified and with new Class 801 trains, this could be reduced by about fifteen minutes or so. So if you add the short hop from Reading to Heathrow, the journey to Heathrow from Cardiff could be well under two hours. If the Class 801 could get to Heathrow, obviously the journey would be quicker too!
I’ve put all the sundry pictures I took of Reykjavik in this post.
It is a city with more colour than I thought it would have and being by the sea, there is a lot of water.
In fact, don’t go to Iceland, if you’re not keen on water.
It is also a friendly city, as the locals always seem to be helpful and there is a fair amount of information and maps at important places.
I also used the taxis to get back up the hill to the hotel several times and I just used them off the rank and paid the meter. Unlike some cities I could name, they were clean and the drivers were efficient and knowledgeable.
I got a taxi home today, as I had a heavy parcel to carry and was surprised to see it was fitted with a mobile phone charger.
I didn’t need it, but I like the idea. It’s all described here. Apparently, Voafone, who’ve set it up, has a system, where the taxi fare can be charged to your mobile phone bill.
It’s ideas like this that will be the best defence against Uber, when coupled with the black cab driver’s knowledge.
The latter was illustrated recently in Edinburgh, where although it was a black cab, the driver didn’t have the knowledge that I expect from a driver.
I remember once, C and I were going to a house, in a tucked away square in South London. The driver dropped us in the next street and said there was a litle passage into the square. There was and it was just by our destination by chance.
You don’t get that sort of knowledge from a computer system!
There have been reports that Uber benefited from the protest.
There has been a lot of opposition to the taxi-app called Uber around the world, with London taxi-drivers being particularly vocal.
It probably won’t affect me in London, as I’m not a very heavy user of taxis. Usually, I only use them, when late in the evening, I want to get home from a station and I’m tired.
I wouldn’t use Uber though, as I don’t do apps on my mobile phone. So my only worry is that Uber is so successful, black cabs become a rarity and I can’t find one when I need one.
We should also remember that a lot of people are like me and need to sit down to do anything complicated on a smartphone. Which probably means I’ll avoid apps like the plague.
I also avoid signing up to many companies, as they just fill my inbox with spam. I suspect that if I downloaded an app for a bookmaker, I’d constantly be pestered to have a eit. I’m in control, not the company and anybody who thinks otherwise doesn’t get my custom or business. As an example, if there is an alternative to Virgin Trains, I use it if it’s cheaper or more convenient, as Virgin keep sending me junk mail through my letterbox.
I also think that black cabs should trade on their strengths, like their knowledge, their ranks and their general friendliness and jokes.
They also should make it, that all black cabs take bank and credit cards. Last Saturday, I could have had an embarrassing moment, when I took a taxi back from Waterloo. I thought I didn’t have enough cash and the driver didn’t take cards. But luckily, I had another note tucked away in my wallet.
The French train from Hendaye may not have been one of their most modern, but everybody was pleasant and the train trundled along the coast to Biarritz, which was my final destination.
There wasn’t any good map at Biarritz station and as it was now dark, I felt I had better take a taxi.
The driver though, wasn’t the surly individual beloved of British comedians, when talking about France for years, but a clean cut individual, who spoke perfect English and charged me what it said on the meter.
So painlessly, I’d arrived at the Radisson Blu hotel.
The BBC is reporting that there has been a call to ban hands-free mobile phones in vehicles. they also had a lively phone-in about the subject, with high emotions on both sides of the argument.
As a non-driver, I’m not that bothered, except that I’d like to see the current law enforced, as I constantly see bad or selfish driving, where the driver has his phone clamped to his ear. A couple of times, I’ve been waiting at a zebra crossing and instead of stopping as the Highway Code says, they’ve sped across in front of me, hoping that I can’t see their phone on the opposite side of the car.
But this is a problem that will sort itself out, one way or another.
In the next few years, one country, state or city, will ban the use of hands-free mobile phones whilst driving and we will have some reliable data to enable us to make a sensible decision.
One of the biggest objectors today, are probably professional drivers, who drive hire cars, taxis, trucks and vans.
A few months there was a documentary on the BBC about London’s buses. The instructions for the driver are relayed by computer, so that if the driver is to change route, it’s all there in front of them on a screen. These sort of systems are obviously designed not to distract the driver and will come increasingly common, reducing the need for the use of mobile phones in vehicles.
It should probably be the law, that all taxis, hire-cars and delivery vehicles should be controlled by such an approved system.
By now, I’d determined that I needed to get a taxi to my hotel and as luck would have it not only was my phone out of juice, but so was my wallet.
So as I needed money for the taxi, I needed a cash machine and where are both of these found? In a station! But as the picture shows the only ones I could find were behind the ticket barriers.
Luckily, I was let through and got the money for the taxi. As it was the driver didn’t take credit cards, so I definitely needed that cash.