Day 9 – Back to Llanelli

mastaba

So here I am, off again, back to Llanelli where my tour was cut short, aiming to get to St David’s Head and visiting the most westerly point on mainland Wales before cycling to Fishguard and returning home by train for about a week for previous engagements. After that, I will then return to Fishguard for the crossing to Ireland and hope to visit the furthest place west on mainland Ireland.

The night before my start I watched the late news and the main headlines were that there had been a fire and all services on my local Anglian main line had stopped. There was then a scene outside Ipswich Station showing a long line of replacement buses and a very cheerful cyclist loaded with panniers. He was due to go to Plymouth but replacement buses do not take cyclists, so a taxi was being organised. His problem would be that you are required, on the main line to Plymouth, to book a cycle reservation in advance and if you miss that train it is a question of luck if there is an unreserved cycle space on a later train; perhaps he was being provided with a taxi the whole of the way.

After the news, I checked the status of my upcoming train, but there were no problems so, next morning, I arrived at the station where I bumped into Keith Thorogood and Andy Carter, fellow members of Halstead Road Runners, cheerfully heading off to the annual CAMRA Beer Festival. Keith was hoping that Bishop Nick, our local Brewery, would win another big award.

Have now discovered the easiest, less busy, route from Liverpool Street Station to the cycling super way alongside the Thames and arrived at Paddington without any problem. The photo at the top of this post is of a temporary sculpture in Hyde Park that I passed which is by the artist Christo. Entitled “The Mastaba”, it consists of 7,506 oil barrels and is 20 meters high, 30 meters wide and 40 meters long.

At Paddington, for once, the train platform was announced in good time and I walked the length of the very long train with no sign of the cycle storage which usually has a cycle logo. As I had booked this, I inquired of the train conductor who said proudly that the train, on which he had just come up from Swansea, was completely new and he did not know where the cycle storage was. The ticket did show a seat number which we explored and, where there was usually a pair of toilets, the space which would have been occupied by one of the toilets had been converted, by the introduction of an ingenious
hanging arrangement, to take two bikes.

Another new useful feature on the line was a panel with two illuminated indicators by each pair of seats showing the status of the seats. Our pair showed mine with a red light “Paddington to Swansea” and the other green showing “Available “. This meant that when you entered the carriage you could see immediately where vacant seats were and you did not have to work your way down the carriage peering at the slips of paper on the seat backs.

The train arrived on time at Swansea and there was a train on the opposite platform just about to leave. It was a local train which you could take a bike on without booking outside the rush hour at the discretion of the conductor. I was urged on to the train, the whistle blown and off to Llanelli and the Travelodge where I was remembered and welcomed.

If you think I have a neurotic fascination with bike arrangements for trains you are right, they never seem to be as expected!

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