Another Weekend Another Mode

July 12, 2009

Last weekend we took a short trip to the Isle of wight by hovercraft – from Southsea to Ryde and back – almost exactly 50 years since the first operational hovercraft crossed the Channel on the 25th July 1959.

AP1-88 Island Express arriving at Southsea

AP1-88 Island Express arriving at Southsea

When I was a kid hovercraft fascinated me, and I particularly remember many channel crossings on the huge SRN4 hovercraft in the 70s. In more recent years it is probably true that for many applications the fuel hungry hovercraft is outdated. But for Southsea to Ryde it is ideal for three reasons:

  1. Its speed – 10 minutes hoverport to hoverport
  2. It can land on the beach in Southsea – avoiding the congestion of Portsmouth’s harbour mouth
  3. It can land on Ryde beach, which is shallow and sandy, whereas ferries have to use Ryde Pier

The ride across is, lets say, lively, which has always been a feature of hovercraft. The ride is rough and bouncy unlike the feeling of being on a ferry in a heavy sea which is smoother but probably more likely to make you feel seasick.

Hovertravel offers a good service at a reasonable price, and it is possible to buy various combined tickets including rail or attractions on the Island.

The day on the Isle of Wight was great – blue skies, blue sea, good food. Who needs the Med?!

The sea view at, erm, Seaview, Isle of Wight

The sea view at, erm, Seaview, Isle of Wight

As ever, more photos on my smugmug site.


Lovely Bankside

July 2, 2009

More reasons to miss my office in Great Suffolk Street – some scenes from around Bankside yesterday.

SE1 004

Pavement cafes and TV screens around the Blue Fin Building

Beach life in SE1!

Beach life in SE1!

Sun worshipping at the Tate Modern

Sun worshipping at the Tate Modern

More photos at my photoblog.

Snow, Snow, Thick, Thick Snow

February 6, 2009

Why is there still snow and slush on platforms in London three days after the last snowfall? In British Rail days when it snowed everyone was expected to turn out and clear the snow from both the tracks and the platforms. That included ticket office staff and even management. If you couldn’t get into work you were expected to make it to the nearest station and volunteer to help.  I never did it myself, mind, with the excuse that, as a marketing trainee I was never passed out as an operator. 

I remember my chum David Smith turning up at his local station shovel in hand to dig out frozen points and clear the tracks some time in the mid 1980s. Contrast this to the humiliating sight of a guy slipping down the slushy stairs at Waterloo on Monday. In today’s railway this kind of thing is effectively impossible. The railway is fragmented, and safety rules force people to sit in their offices watching passengers slipping and getting injured.

Its not just the railways though. Even today, some of the pavements in Southwark are coated with frozen slush, forcing people to walk on the nicely salted roads. This is a really serious issue for the elderly. Yes, I know that the snow was really bad here, but clearing pavements near to flats should be a priority.

OK, old fart moan over. I’ll get back to work now.

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