Saturday, August 18, 2012

2003 revisited

The searingly hot summer of 2003 will be long remembered as providing one of the longest and most unpleasant weather conditions for many years. We have had few such summers since, and certainly 2012 has been wet and cold in comparison. Yet once again, this week, Europe is sweltering. Paris was 38c today whilst even in beautiful Ruislip we were looking at 31 or so. Just mowing the lawn in the late afternoon induced a stream of sweat [no unpleasant personal details please: Ed] and a disinclination to do any more. Thankfully we had our summer holiday in Switzerland last week because it is pretty damn hot even in the Alps right now.

Commuting on the dear old Met has changed fundamentally for the better this year, now that the air-conditioned "S" stock trains provide 100% of the normal service (although I still gripe about the removal of a third of the seats compared to their venerable "A" stock predecessors), and the Jubbly also offers a cool way into central London. Alas no such comfort on the Bakerloo whose oven-like conditions can hardly be described for fear that my readers will accuse me of hyperbole and sensationalism.  Oh well, my office is supposed to be moving sometime soon and with a bit of luck it will be "S" stock all the way in and out in future.

Monday, August 13, 2012

From the Alps

The Games have come and gone, the tube has never before carried so many passengers and the whole thing ended with a strange mixture of pop stars old and new in a ceremony that went on so long I was in bed long before the end. A bed in Cologne, mark you, because the closing ceremony coincided with the last night of a holiday in Switzerland during which Mrs. Commuter and your correspondent clocked up many thousands of miles riding the highly efficient Swiss Railway system. Highlights included the mountain railway above Zermatt, the Glacier Express and the Bernina Express, with a trolley bus in Montreux and various local runs as the icing on the cake (or the crevasse over the bergschrund if you will. [umm - help please: Ed] Oh just look it up Ed, we were in the mountains, didn't you do 'O' level geography?.

For all those fans of trams out there, this time I omitted to take the usual tasty snaps so here instead is the Bernina Express at the Alp Grum station. Not your normal commute.

Friday, August 03, 2012

London during the Games

Travelling home yesterday, on a Met  bearing a half-load of fellow commuters, we heard an extraordinary announcement. We were advised not to try shopping in Westfield at Stratford because it was open only to athletes and workers at the games. We were also told not to try to buy tickets, other than on-line. I suppose this might have made sense directed at people travelling on the Central or Jubilee and getting close to Stratford. I merely shook my head in quiet disbelief, since I have yet to shop in any Westfield and am probably unlikely so to do in the next thirty years or so, nor do I have the slightest intention of going anywhere near Stratford (other than on a jaunt to explore the DLR).
I took a lunchtime stroll along the South Bank yesterday and found it thronged by holiday-makers and well stocked with live statues, food stalls, a colourful sand pit for the very small and a dance-themed series of exhibits outside the Festival Hall. Yet the London Eye had no queue at all - anyone turning up went straight to the ramps where they do the security checks and then into a pod. And from the Eye to the National Theatre not a policeman to be seen. Perhaps they are all busy frisking Olympic visitors for contraband such as sandwiches made with the wrong kind of pickle.