Saturday, 12 November 2016

The Regency Javelin Tour

A few weeks ago, I was looking at railtours, like you do, and found this one, which was not too expensive, involved a Javelin train (okay, not so romantic as a steam train), and was on a day when we had nothing else planned.  So the Swan Whisperer bought tickets, and this morning we got up very early and made our way to St Pancras via the Victoria Line.  The train was waiting for us on the platform - when we finally found Platform 12, we discovered we had come a very long way round, but we had been able to buy a coffee at Costa en route.

Our seats were in either the first or the last carriage, depending on which way we were going!  And there were several route reversals during the day.  They gave us a printed itinerary, so we knew where we were and whether we were in time or not.

It was a very grey and dreary November day, with very little colour about.  As always, perhaps the nicest part of the journey was the Mid-Sussex line, aka the Arun Valley Line, which runs through the water-meadows of the Arun valley, and passes Arundel Castle.
But it was fun going out on HS1, which we have only ever done on Eurostars (I did once go between Stratford International and St Pancras on a Javelin, because I could, but it only takes 2 minutes or so....).  We went down via Rochester and Strood to Tonbridge, and then along the line to Redhill, and thence to the Arun Valley Line once we reached Three Bridges.  Then at Littlehampton it reversed again to go along the West Coastway line, which I know like the back of my hand, so not as interesting as it might have been....  However, instead of running straight into Brighton, it went up the Clifton Curve to Preston Park, and then down into Brighton from there - not sure where.  Brighton was basically lunch time - I'd brought sandwiches, and then we went and got the Swan Whisperer a coffee - and after it we headed off to Hastings, via Eastbourne (where we reversed again, only I'd fallen asleep by then, and missed it).  I think these semaphore signals were at Hastings:

After Hastings, we headed back to - I was going to say Birmingham by way of Bethnal Green - but back to St Pancras via places like Sevenoaks, St Mary Cray, and then Rochester again to rejoin HS1 at Ebbsfleet.  It was dark by then, of course, so one couldn't see much, and I was a bit stiff after sitting all day, but we had had plenty of opportunities to get up and move around and stretch, so it wasn't as bad as it might have been!

All in all, a very enjoyable day, and on-train sales, raffle tickets (no joy, of course) and a silent auction which I didn't participate in raised about £2,500 for the Royal British Legion.

But would somebody please tell me why it is easy to find the King's Cross exit from the Victoria Line platforms, very close to it, but utterly impossible to find the Victoria Line platforms from the King's Cross entrance?????  There seems to be a wormhole that means whatever way you go you have to walk down endless claustrophobia-inducing tunnels with horrible lighting.....

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