Nick Jordan

Effortlessly uncool.

Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

Early Trains

IMGP7867 by mattbuck4950, on Flickr

IMGP7867 by mattbuck4950, on Flickr

On a couple of occasions recently I’ve arrived at a London Overground station on time, only to find that my train arrived early and, much worse, left early and I’ve missed it. This is, as far as I’m concerned, even more frustrating than the trains running late.

Surely, if a train arrives at a station early for some reason the driver should be made to wait at the station until the scheduled departure time, so that those of us who arrive just in the nick of time aren’t made to wait on a cold, windy platform for the next one.

Bath

Roman Baths

This weekend Jenny and I headed off to Bath with Steve and Jen, where we met up with fellow SCA folks Kevin and Mary for a visit to the Fashion Museum and the Roman baths. Kevin and Mary very graciously put us up for the night in their splendidly comfortable home, where they fed and watered us splendidly.

I’d been to Bath before and, of course, had seen the baths themselves. They were well worth a second visit and the Fashion Museum, which was a first for me, was very interesting as well. Especially as we’re in the throes of planning a wedding. My current thinking revolves around leather jeans, a white shirt and a knee-length jacket of some sort. I have only the vaguest idea of what Jenny’s planning, which is only right and proper.

Anyway, we headed back to London just after midday. I found myself surprisingly tired, and my eyes were closing as I sat in the car on the M4. This evening has been spent doing some washing and trying to relax before another busy week.

A Long Weekend in Bruges

Bruges

Last weekend I had a thoroughly enjoyable visit to Bruges. Getting there via the Channel Tunnel was no problem, since we travelled just before the fire, but getting home was a bit more complex. We had to cancel our Eurostar tickets and catch a train to Antwerp, another to Schipol Airport and then a plane to London City airport. Still, it was an adventure if nothing else.

Bruges itself is beautiful and full of cool museums and churches, together with friendly restaurants and bars where everyone speaks English. Just as well, as my Flemish is non-existent, to my shame. We English in general, and me in particular, are really rather bad at learning other people’s languages.

Anyway, a jolly good, if exhausting, time was had. I’d definitely go back again.

Location, Location, Location

I’ve been playing with a number of location-based web services recently, thanks in large part to the joy that is Fire Eagle, and the most interesting so far has to be Rummble. As well as locating people you know it allows users to add places of interest, tag them and rate them on a sliding scale. And not just pubs, clubs and shops, either, but any sort of places. I’ve added mediaeval buildings of interest, for example.

The real fun comes when you’ve added enough places for Rummble to be able to figure out the kind of thing you’re interested in. At that point, it start colour-coding places depending on whether it thinks you’ll like them or not. Find people whose taste you trust and the system takes their opinions into account, too.

I should point out that Rummble is still under development but I think it shows real promise. The interface is, perhaps, a little cluttered but that’s fixable and it’s far from unusable. If this kind of thing floats your boat, give it a try. Oh, and try not to worry about the privacy issues – you don’t have to be too specific about where you are, you can set privacy options on the site and, of course, you can always lie about where you are.

A Day Out in Kent

Bodiam Castle

Yesterday I spent a very enjoyable day out with friends Jen and Steve visiting a couple of National Trust properties in Kent. First off we went to Ightham Mote, which I’d visited before but was very happy to see again, and then Bodiam Castle, which I hadn’t been to. It really is the archetypal medieval castle – very impressive looking indeed and great fun to wander around.

After all the wandering around we consulted my Good Beer Guide and found a suitable pub for a sit down and a couple of beers before heading back to Steve and Jen’s where we dined splendidly upon fish and chips before heading home. My idea of a good day out.

Southend

Yesterday I met up with an old friend at Liverpool Street station and we headed off to Southend. The weather was sunny but cold, although we didn’t realise quite how cold until we decided to walk along the pier. We had to keep stopping at the shelters along the way in order to get out of the incredibly biting wind. After a quick look at the RNLI station at the end, we headed back and found a small cafe where we had tea and hot apple crumble with custard – just what we needed!

After a wander along the sea front, stopping for a pint on the way, we headed back to London where we parted and I caught the train home. All in all, a good, relaxing way to spend a day. I should do stuff like that more often.

Warwick

I spent the weekend just gone in Warwick, which is a very pretty little town with a lot of cool stuff to see. The obvious thing, Warwick Castle, is run by Tussauds and boy does it show. It’s extortionately expensive to get in (18.95 each for adults) and is full of gift shops and burger bars, with very little in the way of solid information about the place or its past occupants. I didn’t even manage to spot such basic details as when the various bits of it were built, although I can’t believe that sort of stuff isn’t there somewhere. You’d be hard-pressed to learn a lot simply by wandering around and reading signs, and the staff, although dressed up very nicely in various period outfits, weren’t terribly forthcoming, either.

Despite the disappointment of the castle the rest of the town was great, in particular the Collegiate Church of St. Mary, which boasts that it has the finest mediaeval chapel in the country and, having seen it, I’d find it hard to dispute that. Brownie points, too, for the Keep, a very nice little restaurant indeed. Not cheap but a very pleasurable way to finish off a day wandering about in the rain.

Snodland

I’m off to Snodland (what a truly wonderful name that is! – the land of Snod) in Kent to visit friends this afternoon, which will be a fine way to finish off my mini-holiday. In spite of the weather forecast, the sun is shining, too, so I reckon it’ll be a nice little trip. I like travelling by train; it’s just a shame that it’s so sodding expensive.