Thursday, August 6, 2009

Clippy's log - page 15

29/7 4pm. The train takes off, and we can see forward! We can see backward too, and there's not a uniformed person in sight. The train is completely driverless!! There's plenty of PA warnings about doors closing and I guess people must just obey them. The whole right-of-way is either elevated or very well fenced, so obstacles on the track won't be much of an issue. The driving style is careful and gentle, with just a small jerk on stopping. The infrastructure is well maintained giving a smooth ride. What's funny is that there's signage about speed limits on curves and turnouts, and signalling - maybe the line used to have drivers, or maybe they wanted to hedge their bets in case driverless didn't work.

4:23pm. We get to International Departures and Aer Lingus have a self-serve baggage check-in! Really it's just a self-serve boarding pass, and the bags get weighed and tagged afterwards. A lady helps us work out the system so Aer Lingus gets the Midga Customer Service Seal of Approval. Quite an honour. After the bags are done we have to take them to the next stage ourselves - which is strange, what if people add more weight after weighing? Oh well.

5pm. Rosuav is getting used to removing ALL bits of metal for the x-rays now so we don't have any delays. Traal and I are quite resigned to the brief hits of electromagnetic radiation, it's no big deal. The gate is right here so all we can do is wait.

5:50pm. Push-back and taxi. There's a whole bunch of planes ahead of us.

6:15pm. Takeoff, at last!

11:10pm. It's a flight, what is there to say? We're on an A330, don't rub it in.

12:15am. Landed Dublin. It's 5:15am local time and dawn over the Atlantic is quite beautiful.

1:27am. After a few dramas involving a passport being lost (Midga can't handle red-eye flights) we're on the road to London. Good engines quick, come let's be gone! And it's time for a timezone reset.

6:30am. My pal the phone knows all about timezones, I have nothing to worry about.

6:44am. Takeoff. So far two of our two Airbus flights have taken ages to get off the ground. Buy some 737s mmmkay?

6:47am. The Emerald Isle looks rather beautiful from above. Come to think of it the accents of all the staff are nice too. This is how we travel through a country - talk to airport staff and judge the country from them. Recruitment people, be very very afraid.

7:40am. First UK train sighting!!! From altitude we see something long and thin, mostly white with red ends and middle. A double Virgin Voyager set if I'm not mistaken. Very soon that will be us!

7:56am. Landed. We came in over the railway - it looks ubercool.

8:50am. No sign of our luggage so we register an "enquiry" and they promise to courier it to Buxton when it arrives. Sighs. Still, they couldn't have been better in getting the problem on its way to being solved.

9:20am. We're on the Gatwick Express to London Victoria. It's a Class 460 EMU, very new. The interior is the standard intercity stuff we remember from 2007. Motors are quiet. Door alarm is not! Ride is very smooth, even at speed. The service runs every 15 minutes and takes half an hour to get to Victoria. There's also stopping trains from Gatwick to various places.

9:45am. We've just passed Clapham Junction (and no, I don't need to have that checked out later) and a steam special passes! It's way too fast to see any details but the beat is unmistakeable.

10am. Victoria station, time for breakfast. The old stone and brick shell of the station is still intact, and a modern convenience arcade has been built inside. Not quite as good as Adelaide but better than Southern Cross. There's obviously lots of work still happening but it should be good when it's finished.

11:55am. Big dramas - again. Rosuav is dead on his feet after the red-eye flight and has lost his BritRailPass! We've made our way to Euston station and are waiting to buy a normal ticket to Buxton. £60 - ouch.

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