Mister Eclectic (howeird) wrote,
Mister Eclectic
howeird

On The [Rail]Road Again

Fully recovered from the weekend activities, I was up at 4 am, with the gnawing feeling that I had told cousin Brian to come for my suitcase at the same time my train was supposed to leave. So I got out the schedule, and saw I was wrong. It was two hours. So I went online and checked for other train departures, and found a couple which would get me into Penzance at 5:30 instead of 3:30. It's daylight here till after 9 pm these days, so that was okay. Leave Hove at 10 instead of 8. No big whoop. 

Back to sleep, woke again at 7, this time unwillingly (the alarm did it), and had a Full English Breakfast™ at the hotel. As an appetizer, they have a very American array of cereals, which I never touch, and several varieties of canned sliced fruit and real fruit. I had some canned peaches and mandarin oranges. The full breakfast is a panoply of bland. Two eggs with no seasoning, fried, poached or scrambled, with all the flavor removed. A slice of what they call bacon, which is the same cut of pork as bacon, but parboiled instead of fat fried. Much healthier, I suppose. Oh yes, and with all the flavor removed. A sausage, slightly bigger than your standard American breakfast sausage, made with 1% actual meat, 99% filling, with both the flavor and texture removed. Half a beefsteak tomato, baked. Someone's head may roll, because this one did have a modicum of flavor. Mushrooms, those generic canned ones, boiled, with all the flavor removed. Beans - the ancestor of Boston Baked Beans, in an ancestor of that same sauce, with all the flavor except a mild hint of ketchup, removed. It was quite filling, but so is a plate of sawdust.

I was way early, so I sat in the lovely lounge and read the Argus, the local paper. Lots of photos of the Pride Parade. And an article bemoaning the fact that the festival is in the red from lack of major sponsorship, and an editorial telling the greedy pub and hotel landlords to give back to the organization some of the $12 million they made over the weekend. Good stuff, and since it's Monday and some news stand down the block ought to be open, I went and bought one for myself and one for  cinchntouch. I'll mail it when I get back.

Brian was there at 9 am sharp, put my suitcase in his car, which is when I got a text message from his wife Viv telling me he was on his way. We said so-longs (no goodbye because I'll stay with them Friday night and Saturday) and he drove off. I put on my knapsack and hike to the train station.

Reading the schedules, I saw that the train I'd picked actually went most of the way back to London, which wasn't what I wanted to do because London is NE of Hove and Penzance is SW. So I hopped on the first SW train, which was to Portsmouth Harbour. That was my original plan, so no harm no foul. I was rewarded at Pourtsmouth with a tall ship in the harbor, which was so big it took two wide angle photos to fit it all in. The nice guy at the info desk gave me two variations on how to get from Penzance from there, I took the first one, a Great FarWest to Bristol, then a  Virgin Train to Plymouth, and then another GFW to Penzance.

I was let down by the Virgin. She was late. The last time I heard that line was from my high school girlfriend. Scared the bejeesus out of me. But that's another story. The Bristol to Plymouth train was 22 minutes late, and there was only 20 minutes between trains. Except they held the Penzance train for those who wanted to get one. Not me, it was hanging-out-the-windows room only. Another 15 minutes and a long train (the high speed one from London) came along. It was also packed to the gills, I found a seat next to a kid with a GameBoy, had to keep the pack on my lap because all the luggage racks were full and it was too big for the overhead. Little by little, that train emptied, and an hour to go in the trip there were only three of us in my car.

The BritRail system is packed with easy transfer points, and they are well used.

Due to the crowded conditions, I didn't get as many pictures as I'd wanted, but I did get to see the countryside.

Thanks to the delays and change of plans, I didn't get to Penzance till 7:30, and when no taxis showed up I walked the mile to the hotel, and have the blister to prove it. I'm at the Queens Hotel, which I swore advertised either wireless or modem dial-up internet, but has neither. So I'll send this next time I have access.

After dropping off my stuff, I went on a short walk, ostensibly looking for the police station and post office, but finding a park which has a small open air theater, and caught the tail end of a pantomimed melodrama. Looked good. Did find the post office at the bottom of that street, right around the corner from the hotel. Also found a place to eat, Lugger's Hotel bar & restaurant. Very pricey menu, but it all looked good. They also had what they call a "carvery" which translates as the same kind of buffet you get at King's Table - your choice of turkey, beef or ham, and about 10 side dishes. The service sucked, it took the waiter 15 minutes just to see I was at a table, and when I asked what a carvery was, he told me he would lead me to it, but halfway there he took a side trip to chat with someone at the bar, and after I'd showed myself and told him I would order from the menu, instead of following me back to my table, he ran off to another table for 5  minutes. I asked for a glass of water, which didn't show up for 20 minutes. Very poor service, totally screwed up my plans to get to the police station before dark, and to the ice cream place before they closed. The food was okay, but not worth the wait or the price. $14 for seafood soup, where they did not bother to shuck the shrimp or the  mini crawdads. $26 for baked cod wrapped in bacon in sherry sauce. Needed salt. :-(

Original plan was to be out of here by 9:30 and in Cardiff at 2:30 tomorrow, but don't think I'll make it. Depends on when the PO opens, and when the souvenir shops open.  I need a T-shirt and a visor or cap, both for the nostalgia value and because I left all my T-shirts home.
Tags: england
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