Thursday 25 November 2021

Getting Back to Business at Last

By Train to a Real Meeting with Real People!

It has been a long time, but I have finally travelled to a meeting. Who would have guessed that going to a meeting could be so much fun, could have been a longed-for day out? The meeting was in Lincoln, not far away, and although I went there recently to visit with friends for a day out, I still looked forward to this day out on my own and not only to meeting my colleagues in person, in a room but also to travelling there and back on the improved train services to and from Lincoln.

When looking up train times to suit my meeting time (the ending of which had to be flexible), and allowing for time before and time after the actual business for any opportunities for friendly exchanges, it turned out that the travel both directions would best be done via Newark and LNER rather than Spalding at East Midlands Railway: I would have to change trains at Newark Northgate on the way there but that is never a problem.

On the day all my trains ran on time and the whole thing went very smoothly. I had plenty of time to work on the way there and the way back - this is all voluntary work, by the way, because I am now retired. Even going via the East Coast Main Line route on fast trains the journeys still took longer than driving because of the need to travel via a change of train at Peterborough, but the travel time was useful time and I made sure I had plenty to do on the trip. Further,  being retired I am seldom in a hurry anyway and wanted to enjoy my day out, so I booked First Class tickets for the LNER legs of the journey (but only claimed Standard Class fares on expenses, of course).

USB charging on the train
between Newark and Lincoln

On the way to Newark in the morning I enjoyed coffee and a pain-au-chocolat for my morning coffee break, included in the First Class fare, and kept the included sandwiches for an early lunch in Lincoln (my meeting started at noon!). At Newark I had to cross the bridge to Platform 3 where an East Midlands Railway Sprinter train soon arrived to take connecting passengers to Lincoln. They now use more comfortable, and big enough, trains on this connecting service, making it much more of a pleasure than it used to be.

At Lincoln I had plenty of time before my meeting and chose to walk up the hill rather than take the (free for a pensioner!) bus as I often have. As I have mentioned before, Lincoln is definitely improving, and the walk up the High Street and Steep Hill was great. 

After the meeting I walked back down to the station via the High Street. I had been for ages carrying a fully-stamped loyalty card for Caffè Nero on my iPhone, waiting for the day when I would find myself away from home and needing a coffee shop, so I based myself in Caffè Nero to do my post-meeting paperwork, emailing out to other members of the group the notes and instructions we had agreed. How much simpler and quicker IT has made this sort of administration! 

Off then to the station to await my LNER "Azuma" all the way to Peterborough this time, again in  First Class with tea and cake on leaving Lincoln, with a glass of white wine later before changing trains for the short trip home to Stamford. I was meeting my wife in town for dinner later, so I did not take up the offer of the hot meal on the train, but the cake was just what was needed to see me through to dinner time, and it was the right time of day for that sort of thing.

A few days later I returned to Lincoln for the weekend on personal business and had to travel by car for various reasons. For several days beforehand I had to keep reminding myself that it was no use taking things to do on the journey: I would have to concentrate on driving. It is interesting how used I have become to spending my travel time doing things which are useful and/or fun, but although driving was a bit quicker I had no use for my computer or my books and magazines when I took the car.

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