8:29pm. And now we're waiting for a path to the station itself. Good thing the connection isn't going to be tight.
8:38pm. And here we are. 14 minutes to the Buxton train. Worth looking for a backpack repair kit? Probably not.
9:04pm. Stockport - and 66605 goes past with a container train.
9:42pm. The conductor announces Dove Holes and I could swear he said Dubbo!
10:15pm. Home, unload, eat, rehydrate. I don't know why humans get tired from travelling, I'm fine for another 48 hours or more! Rosuav has completed the first stage of a project which will make a MIDI file respond to a conductor's stick and it's lots of fun to play with tempos. Then we watch The Princess Bride, since it's finished torrenting.
1:30am. Midga jumps onto Traal briefly, to check on some things that work better on a fill size screen. Then bed - tomorrow, Blackpool!
1:45am. On consideration, it's probably not necessary to tahe the 6:50am train. Blackpool isn't far. Say 8:45 alarm for a 9:27 train? Fine.
25/8 8:45am. I didn't prompt him. Nor did my pal the phone. Nor did Rosuav or Traal. He just woke, spot on the dot of 8:45. He always used to do that when he was going gunzelling in the old days before he had a job. Uncanny.
9:22am. And here we are at the station, just in time for the train. It sure pays to be a gunzel.
10:28am. Piccadilly. Next Blackpool train is at 10:46. I rather like these train frequencies. In the meantime, any chance of a roll of black duct tape for backpack repairs? Grumble.
10:46am. A TP Class 185 - nice. It's packed so we stand. Not bad by home standards though.
10:50am. Another crowd gets on at Manchester Oxford Road. The driver and the PIDS woman both get on the PA to tell people to take luggage off seats to let people sit. People here actually care!
11:07am. We leave Bolton on time - not bad for a loaded train. Midga is able to highly amuse some fellow passengers (and the connie, for that matter) by telling stories of the Dandenong line after a cancellation. See that floor there? You wouldn't see that in Australia. There'd be 40 people in this doorway alone.
11:28am. Preston, quite a big station. The connie comes over the PA and says "Anyone with not much luggage who wants a slightly faster trip to Blackpool, there's another train coming in to Platform 2 right now". Very nice of him. It turns out to be a Northern Class 158, and it goes ahead of the TPE. A seat at last. As we leave we see a Class 57 loco, a bunch of derelict carriages and a few track machines in the yard. This place must have been a major centre in days gone by.
12:06pm. Blackpool North is much smaller than the other major stations, and less modernised. Facilities are more like Spencer Street pre-Southern Cross, although the exterior is way less dated. Just as we leave the TPE comes in - the connie was right, a slightly faster journey.
12:20pm. We stop at a place called Wilkinsons, which is a sort of Wal-Mart with everything from hardware to fresh food. They have a roll of black cloth tape, hooray! The poor backpack won't have to survive the embarrassment of a gaping hole in the side done up with yellow double-sided tape.
12:25pm. The beach looks harsh - a dark grey with lots of white caps. And a strong smell of dead fish. The wind is cold too - and this is the middle of summer!
12:33pm. We board a tram - one of the "balloon" double deckers. It's all classic 1930s inside, with tip-over seating and timber/leather/melamine panelling. Some of the timber is showing its age like the Ws do, and some of the window perspex is going white. Ride quality on the top deck is fine for photography but not for writing. There's hardly any noticeable sway, it feels more like bounce, but when we go down to the bottom deck it disappears so it must be either sway or pitch. The horn is a single tone air horn, not a bell but still cheerful. North of Talbot Road it's mostly reserve track, with the road crossing at close intervals. The air compressor runs at high speed like a Comeng's, that's not the sound I came all this way for! But the motor sound is classic. There's only one door per side, and average speed is very slow despite the reserve track. But still the tram is more popular than the parallel bus. Weird.