Celestial Weasel (celestialweasel) wrote,
Celestial Weasel

Weasel Trip

1. Didcot to Reading
2. Reading to Southampton Central
3. Southampton Central to Fareham
4. Fareham to Gosport Ferry (Eclipse BRT http://www3.hants.gov.uk/eclipse )
5. Gosport Ferry to Portsmouth Harbour
6. Cat in a meringue to Ryde Pier Head
7. Island line to Smallbrook Junction
8. Steam train to Wootton
9. ... and back to Smallbrook Junction
10 Island Line to Sandown
11 Island Line back to Ryde Esplanade
12 Hovercraft! (Hovercraft! Hovercraft!) to Southsea
13 'HoverBus' to Portsmouth Harbour Station (not really a HoverBus - they also have a HoverParcels services, which is not as exciting as it sounds, either)
14 Portsmouth Harbour to Southampton Central
15 Southampton Central to Reading
16 Reading to Didcot

Field notes
A. Didcot Parkway station has a sign saying 'Didcot Parkway Interchange' with some Quangotastic logos, including a 'buses' one with 3 'electron going round nucleus' loops and the word 'buses' which I suspect is related to Science Vale Irksome Delusional Quango Wank - since as I recall the grand vision for transport for Science Vale is 'another bus' (also 'some sort of integrated transport card, yes I'm sure First Great Western and or Chiltern Rail will go along with that yearright) this logo probably symbolises that 'the bus' will go to Didcot.
Also, the bridge between the main road and the station car-park is shut and the diversion signs would be utterly unhelpful if you didn't know where to go. Also the card machines in the car-park were out of order again, prompting much swearing from other people, but not from me as I tend to assume they will be out of order and therefore that I need £6.20 in cash.
B. Blimey, hasn't Reading Station grown? The old buildings form a tiny part of the new station. There was also a rather bizarre ad for Cardiff 'come to the capital city closest to London'. 'Home of Doctor Who' is one of the things that gets a name check on it.
C. Southampton Central station is a bit of a shit-hole.
D. Some quite wacky backs of terraced houses on the route out of Southampton. Southampton is a place that by virtue of having relatives to visit there I have not really explored that not flattened by air-raids / town planning.
E. Southampton Airport (Parkway) station appears to be called 'Southampton Airport (Parkway)' with brackets. It, along with Southampton station also has signs saying 'the home of Southampton University'. Well, which University would you expect it to be home to?
F. On the train from Reading to Southampton Central, two old ladies behind me were having a stunningly tedious conversation, really world class, but as we approached Winchester where they were getting off, it veered into one describing how one of her friends had leapt into bed with her man-friend she met at U3A when he came round at 10:30 in the morning, then her son came round and let himself in with his key and she came down in her dressing gown and said 'oh Reg [or whatever] stayed the night as we'd had a drink' because she thought it was better than saying 'Reg came round this morning and we went to bed'.
G. The 'rapid bus transit' is definitely rapid in a very, er, interesting use of the term. It goes along the old railway line, converted into a road for use only by the buses, and with barriers that they shut at night, presumably due to paranoia about joy-riders, but not a guided busway like Luton / Cambridge, but then it crawls through Gosport - I don't even think it has a magic 'change the lights at junctions' system. This means, of course, the quickest way out of Gosport centre by public transport is probably ferry to Portsmouth.
H. The Island Line trains are, indeed, old Underground trains (surface stock - I think I remember things very like them on the District Line in my youth). They go along the pier in Ryde and there is indeed a tunnel in Ryde. It is a bit freaky. But what WERE they thinking closing the line from Shanklin to Ventnor?
I. Ah, a hovercraft. It is almost like The Jetsons came true rather than the grim cyberpunk dystopia.
J. Actually, the catamaran is almost as quick and a lot smoother.
K. Gosport looks quite run-down. What I saw of Portsmouth didn't. I do think there is a tendency (perhaps unsurprising) for the gap between the run-down and the up-and-coming to grow - see also Reading vs Coventry.
L. The reason for turning round at Sandown was that I thought that I would exhaust the novelty of travelling on an old tube train through bucolic countryside, so I would have 20 minutes in Sandown rather than 8 in Shanklin. Sandown is where we often went on holiday in my childhood, until my cousin's husband inherited a house near the Fishbourne ferry terminal. The station is actually too far inland for me to have got to the front and back in 20 minutes. The bit I saw, i.e. inland, looked a bit down at heel in the manner of British seaside resorts. The same is kind of true of Ryde - some quite impressive buildings turned into bedsits. A very odd large house with lots of Doric columns and expensive cars in the drive at the edge of Ryde town centre sandwiched between a car-park one one side and rather less impressive buildings to the other side and opposite.

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