The Anonymous Widower

It’s All A Bit Of A Doddle!

Many of those of my generation remember British Rail’s Red Star Parcels service with affection.

If you wanted to get a parcel from say Ipswich to London, you’d go to their office at Ipswich station, deliver the parcel and pay your fee, and it would be on the next train to London.  The consignee would then go to Liverpool Street and collect the parcel later.

It worked well and was probably quicker than anything today, except for a courier taking a hig speed form of transport.

I remember in one instance, our McClaren baby buggy broke in about 1972.  They told us to send it by Red Star to Derby, which we did.  They repaired it and sent it back by another train the same afternoon.

Does anybody offer such customer service today?

Red Star is now long gone, but I was interested to see that Network Rail is introducing a parcel sending and receiving service called Doddle.

I doubt it would help me, as there isn’t a main line station close to my house. Unless it grows to use large Overground or Underground stations like Dalston Junction.  After all, they could use the Ticket Office, when it closes.

But it would be an ideal service for those that pass through such a station on their way to or from work.

Will we see the like of Red Star again? I doubt it  will come back everywhere, but on fully-crewed trains, it might return, as how else would you be able to get something really important from say Liverpool to London in under three hours.

Whoever thoght of the name; Doddle, deserves at least an OBE.  But I suspect the man backing the scheme; Lloyd Dorfman, who might have thought of the name wouldn’t accept it, as he already has a CBE.


December 21, 2013 Posted by | World | , , , | 2 Comments

A Crazy Football Match For A Crazy Day

I was running a few minutes late after my meeting in Manchester Piccadilly and eventually, I got on a train to Sheffield.  It was the usual overcrowded TransPennine Express going to somewhere like Scunthorpe. Hopefully, when they finally sort out and electrify the cross-Pennine routes and Piccadilly station, you’ll always go to the same platform to get trains to places like Sheffield and Liverpool. at least though there were plenty of staff about and the train I needed was not in the platforms at the back of the station.

But I didn’t get to Sheffield in time to get a train to Derby that would get me to Pride Park in time for the start of the match. Nothing was late except my start time at Piccadilly and I caught a Cross Country train that would get in to Derby at 19:51. However, someone decided to try a spot of attempted murder on the train and when we got to Derby, the Police locked us all in for a few minutes until they made an arrest.

So I decided to take a taxi.  If you know the area, walking to Pride Park from the station is not that far. But the taxi driver gave me a tour of the city and then dropped me at the point of the ground furthest from the Away Supporters End. By the time I got into the ground, Ipswich were leading by three goals to one.

We were all ecstatic at half time and wondered how many it will be.  But in the Ipswich were almost lucky to hang on for a four-all draw.

I then walked back to the station to get the 22:02 train to Birmingham for the Virgin train home.

But it was running thirty minutes late.  Luckily there was another train and I piled in to try to get to Birmingham in time.

I made the Virgin train, by the skin of my teeth and it was a few minutes early in London at 01:15.

But why did I need all that hassle to get back, when most train companies, but not East Midland Trains, provide a train back to the capital after a match.

October 1, 2013 Posted by | Sport, Transport | , , , | 2 Comments

Why We Need More Walk-Through Trains?

The Class 378 trains on the London Overground are completely articulated and you can walk through from one end to the other.

Class 378 At Highbury And Islington Station

Class 378 At Highbury And Islington Station

The picture shows the train I got on to return from Highbury and Islington station, today. I got in at the end where you walk down to the platform at the station and then walked through to the other end, as that end is best for getting off at my station, which is Dalston Junction.

As there is no doors to open or close as on most trains, it’s an easy process and is something I’d like to see on a lot more trains, as not only is it more convenient, it might well be safer too! Already the new S stock trains for the London Underground are built similarly.

March 6, 2013 Posted by | Transport | , , | 2 Comments

Train Announcements

I was coming back this morning on the Overground and got these two announcements.

The Next Station is Wapping


This Station is Wapping

It looked fairly small to me.

Perhaps they should think more carefully about station names.

December 2, 2012 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

How Little Possessions Matter!

Melanie Reid, who is one of my favourite columnists, has a piece today in The Times about how little possessions matter to her now, after breaking her back in a horse riding accident. It is one of her best, but then most are and that’s why she was last year’s Newspaper columnist of the year.

She talks about how possessions and what she calls stuff have lost their significance to her.  I would also say that since the loss of my wife and son to cancer and my stroke, there’s one thing that matters to me above all.  And that is my brain.  If one pair of shoes is more comfortable than another, then they are better.

I used to love driving and now all my cars have gone. But then I have no intention of driving again. But then too many idiots can drive, but how many have taken a train all the way to Nice and back as I have. And how many have wangled their way into the cab of an HST between Edinburgh and Inverness.

I got the latter because of my most treasured possession and something I won’t gve away; my brain. It may not be perfect, but at least all the memory and creative bits are still there.

Melanie finishes her piece about how when being searched for a flight, she started to feel the hands of the security guard and says that things are still happening. A similar thing happened to me, when a young lady pushed her supermarket basket into my left leg and apologised. I said she needn’t, as I had felt it and that was good for my left leg.  So we laughed about it and carried on queuing. Perhaps, I should have asked her out for a drink, but that would be pushing my luck. The next time it happens I will.

Let’s hope she’s brown eyed and haired, as I lived with a blue-eyed blonde for forty years, and a change would be nice.

August 11, 2012 Posted by | Transport, World | , , | 3 Comments

A Proper Map at Ipswich Station

I’ve never really checked out Ipswich as to how easy it is to get around by walking or public transport, so I checked on Saturday.

A Proper Match at Ipswich Station

There is no excuse for maps of this quality and size to not be displayed at the railway station. And probably several other places in the town or city as well.

Note that the map has a five minute walking ring and an index to all the streets.  The tourism information office is also properly shown.

About the only thing not on the map is the hospital, which is some way on the other side of the town from the station. To be fair to the hospital, they have a page, which describes how to get there by train.

One thing that is different at Ipswich station to many I’ve visited in the last few weeks, is that you walk out of the station and you can see the town in front of you.

Ipswich Town Centre from the Station

The picture, shows the bridge over the River Gipping, the council offices and the football group. You are naturally drawn the right way towards the town centre.

I know, I know Ipswich well, but few towns I’ve visited draw you in in a purposeful way from the station. Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool and Wolverhampton do to a certain extent. One of the best was Huddersfield, which also had a free town centre bus. But others such as Bristol, Manchester and most of the new towns haven’t got their acts together. Burnley was one of many places where a simple map, some fingerposts and a bit of thought could really improve things.


November 28, 2011 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment