I blogged a couple of months ago about a particularly frustrating occasion making one of the very few regular journeys I still do by car.
I am a fairly infrequent driver, with only two regular weekly car outings, each about 45 minutes or so for the return trip, plus other journeys, generally a little longer but less regular and less frequent, including visiting my mother in a nursing home in Winchester, and trips to the sailing club in Portsmouth. Winchester I think is going to be too difficult, but I think I have managed to switch my Portsmouth trip to train/bike, taking the train to Fratton station and then back-tracking about three miles, on flat and mainly off-road cycle paths (mediocre quality, but at least they exist, and are quite well-used).
One of my regular weekly trips is also too difficult to change – ironic really, as it is to the gym, for an hour’s sheer torture with my personal trainer (who, I am convinced, learnt her trade at Gitmo, forcing men in orange jumpsuits to maintain “stress positions” to extract information from them – or at least that is what “the plank” feels like to me). The other, the one which caused me such frustration recently, is to my French tutor on a Saturday morning. I fumed then that it would be so much nicer to travel by train and bike.
|Journey by road to Guildford in blue. By bike and train in red.|
I left home ten minutes earlier than usual, cycling down to the station to pick up the 10:32 train to Guildford. I locked up my bike at Haslemere station, as the final leg in Guildford is a steep climb and not very far so better to walk. I arrived about 5 or 6 minutes before my lesson was due to start, and waited on the street so that the student before me could finish her lesson before ringing the bell.
For the return journey, a walk back downhill to Guildford station, then about 15 minutes’ wait for the next train back to Haslemere, spent in the waiting room (if you can call it that, but at least it has a bench and an electric heater) reading my Kindle. 20 minutes in the train to Haslemere, and a little over ten minutes’ ride back home from there.
The journey times are a little longer, inevitably, but at least I get time to read a few chapters of the “Swedish Noir” romans policiers that I enjoy, which I wouldn’t get in the car. I also save 28 miles of driving and the fuel consumption and CO2 emissions that entails, and I have a season ticket for the train already.
It depends on the weather – hanging around outside Anne-Sophie’s house for five minutes in the rain doesn’t appeal – but I think I might make a habit of this.