A day in the Big Smoke

16 July 2016

For fifteen years (well fourteen really, because one of my University years was actually in Canada!), I lived in Reading. 1996 to 2011, minus September 1998 to June 1999. Reading…. 30 minutes out of London Paddington. When travelling to the Big Smoke now (generally from Chippenham, Wiltshire), the additional train time is suddenly clearly evident. Today was a day at the Society of Genealogists in London for me. Strange though it may seem, I was allowed ‘out of the office‘. However, it would seem that the ‘phones in the office were so busy that on a number of occasions, my mobile rang as all the lines were busy. Fatal … don’t let the MD out of the office!

I did have a really good reason for my exit stage left to the Big Smoke and it was not research-related. Educating interested members of the genealogical public on the subject of My Ancestors Came From Cornwall was the order of the day. In London, I was guessing that none of the attendees would be travelling from Cornwall itself and I wasn’t wrong…. However, my travel to the Big Smoke was eventful (as my travels often are). The finishing touches complete for the half-day course (starting at 2pm), the exit from the office was scheduled for 10am in order to be on a train by 11am. Chippenham Station is 15 minutes drive from the office and, with Car 2, it would certainly take additional time to navigate the telephone parking system. 

Well, that would have worked fine…. except that there were ‘signalling problems‘ between Bath and Chippenham. If it’s not the wrong leaves on the track, there is always another excuse to be concocted. Initially 10:55 became 11:02, despite the fact that a stationary train was on the platform our train was supposed to arrived on, which was not due to depart until 11:08, so the writing was on the wall. Suffice to say the word ‘delayed’, with no actual expected time, was eventually provided on the information boards in respect of our train.

25 minutes late on arrival. Well, that stuffed up my travel plans good and proper. [Do I wish I still lived in Reading? … even after this morning, no!] Arrival was well over 30 minutes late into London Paddington and so the madness of trying to work out District and Circle Line underground stations ensued. I did rather well and hence, arrived at 1:30pm for a course starting at 2pm.

Without going into the minutiae of the course (you needed to be there or buy the book!), I was very pleased to catch up with previous acquaintances but also to meet up with a Twitter friend who made the effort to come and say ‘Hiya!’ There are so many genies who I only know via Social Media and having a real – though brief – opportunity to meet in the flesh was wonderful! Thanks Penny!

Returning to the homestead, the travels were (once again) none too easy. Further delays on incoming trains (knock-on from the morning) caused issues on the home leg of the journey as well. However, I managed to clock a member of the train crew for the Taunton train I was waiting for and so, not only had advance warning on the platform, but also landed myself the first seat on the train! Who knew that half 6 out of London towards the West Country would equal a packed train…. I do now!

So, note to self …. when returning in two weeks for the next half-day course at the Society of Genealogists: (a) leave even earlier, (b) hope to heaven and earth that Ronnie is back [Car 1 and my trustee steed] and (c) continue to befriend random train staff for the greater good of the journey plan!

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