This is a bit of a novelty – for the first time I am writing this outside my office.
Instead I am on a small but perfectly appointed train heading from Crewe to Bangor. I am heading off to go and see Bleddyn and Sue Wynn Jones at Crug Farm Plants which is I believe squished between Snowdon and the Menai Straits. An area of the country about which I know nothing – all I know about the Menai Straits is that the name can be substituted for Malay States in the Noel Coward song. As in “In the Menai Straits they wear hats like plates that the Englishmen will not wear…”.
Have just bought a cup of coffee from the most entertaining buffet attendant I have ever come across.
09:55 – Sheep, sea a rather wonderful sea wall built from boulders, a derelict ferry. Rather annoyingly I am sitting on the inland side of the train so cannot photograph these delights for you.
10:04 – Lots of caravans in Prestatyn. Sun has come out and the grass looks extraordinarily green.
10:07 – Rhyl. The Welsh for Lift is “Lifft”
10:17 – Colwyn Bay has a very manky looking pier that was obviously once absolutely teeming with boatered holidaymakers and children bowling hoops. Sadly no longer: without the fuss in Welsh is “dim ffwdan”. The sun has gone in and it looks very dreary. This is Llandudno Junction.
10:27 – There are a lot of stations on this line – Conwy now. I think that there was a castle here that was recaptured from Owain Glyn Dwr by Henry V when Prince of Wales.
10:34 – Penmaenawer (I think) where the trackside bowling green is sponsored by a company called The Butcher (who sell meat).
10:38 – Llanfairfechan has Petatsites growing on the platform.
10:46 – Bangor. Journey’s end. Got a lift to the nursery with a Dutch taxi driver. It is raining. Spent a very interesting day talking plants and planthunting. They are an extraordinary couple who spend three months each year striding up mountains, through valleys and across swollen rivers searching for undiscovered plants and seeds. Their plant list is phenomenal – most of the things I either have not heard of before. Delicious lunch as well.
16:42 – back on my train again but this time in the encroaching blackness so cannot report much on the passing stations. Am trying to make sense of my notes which I need to translate into sparkling prose for SAGA Magazine. I am listening to Doo Doo Doo Doo Doo by the Rolling Stones. The picture is of a Welsh Hill from the train.
We have an unwelcome addendum….
22:43 – this train, due to arrive at 19:45 has just spent the last two and a half hours stranded outside Rugby station. Something happened to the electric line ahead and as a result we have been sitting there without light – except for those glow sticks that people wave a concerts (instead of holding up cigarette lighters). I had forgotten how extraordinarily boring it is to be bored. There was a smattering of blitz spirit among the passengers with some chattering but no communal singing – that needed another couple of hours delay.
22:51 – Virgin trains is giving out free tea for the next 30 minutes (on top of the free flapjack that has already been distributed).
23:15 – Journey’s End. Sixteen and half hours later.
Thank goodness I didn’t drive and let the train take all that strain.