As you may or may not already know, I like to take risks. Taking risks with my journey to and from work, is perhaps not something I would wholeheartedly recommend. I decided to catch the train for several reasons, even though I know I could have worked from home. Although, that would have looked rather suspect, particularly straight after a Bank Holiday Monday.
I normally get up around 6:10am, but I had to be at Bourne End train station by then my train would depart at 6:14am and I just made it! You will note a striking theme throughout this post. I noticed a woman on a bicycle, just making it onto the train seconds before I did and I took a punt, asking a young chap in a sharp black suit, if this was the train to Maidenhead. It was and I took a deep sigh and sat down. This was part one of my three-legged journey to the office. I had made it, but there were more twists and turns to come before the day was out. First stop, Maidenhead for change one. The time is 6:25am, the time I would normally be in the shower back at home, some fifteen miles away. I made my way to the correct platform, following the rest of the herd. However, now I was in a dilemma, there was no information on the screens, so First Great Western expect you to be telepathic at this time in the morning. I asked a well dressed Asian gentleman, which platform for Reading and he pointed me in the direction of Platform 5. However, I had just missed the first train by a few minutes. This was the 06:28am service to Reading (I had a full three minute transfer time, I bet even Buzz Lightyear would have problems making it. Now I was really concerned because my seats on the final leg of this epic journey (Reading to wonderful Swindon) were pre-booked and reserved, I would not be able to use my tickets for a later service. I was confident that another service would be along shortly and I would be able to make use of my twelve-minute window on the other side. Sure enough, it was at this point in the morning (6:30am) that all the signs came to life. Thanks you First Great Western! I got onto the train to Reading and now my eyes were on both my watch and printed itinerary. I had my fingers crossed that I would make it in time. Sure enough, I made to Reading, got off the train and then headed to the right platform and within ninety seconds, my train arrived. Finally on the train I had wanted to catch, I had to send a tweet in frustration via text (a record 1400 since I joined back almost exactly two years ago). It was a dull grey morning and felt little like the summer in a World Cup year, but I had another things on my mind. Like getting to the office, this was my first time in Swindon town centre. Before that, I had some time (thirty two minutes) the longest part of my journey to listen to music on my Zen. However, there was never the chance to fully relax or unwind (if you can do such a thing on a train!). There was only one stop before Swindon, (Didcot Parkway) and then I found myself in unfamilar surroundings, wondering whether to walk, find a bus or get a taxi. I snapped a photograph with my E65 of the sign, I knew it would be going on the blog soon enough.
I felt somewhat arrogant as I made my way down the stairs from the platform, somehow by the grace of God, I had made it to work. It started to rain as I got out onto the street. I opted for the taxi, I wanted to be in work early, so I could make sure I left early in plenty of time for my train home. How wrong I was going to turn out to be.
I wanted to leave at 16:30 sharp, but had to have a meeting with my manager, and it over ran. (The conference call to the States actually lasted only a record twelve minutes). My colleague Richard, had drawn me a detailed map, although my Google map was much better! He even offered to walk me as far as he could go which was a help. I have never been the fastest walker in the world, I am never in such a hurry on two feet. However, it was quite clear that I needed to get a wiggle on, if I was going to catch my train at 17:11. Now this would not have been such an issue, if I knew where I was going and how far the station actually was. In the end, I opted to jog the most part, into town and then take a little breather when I got into town. Not easy carrying a laptop, mp3 player, book and other documents in a fashion manbag (rather than backpack) It was busy and perhaps perfect weather for the Wiltshire town. Cold, wet, dull, grey, boring. The pedestrianized area was being dug up for some reason, so I had to maneuver around various railings in place and then it was the home stretch. I could see the international (or is it just European) sign for a train station. I was around the corner, once I got passed a big office building, I could recollect, the scene from this morning. I got my phone out of my pocket, it flicked over to 17:09. I was too late, I was not going to make, but I did not give up, I put my foot down and rushed across the road and into the station. As I made my way to platform three, I heard on the tannoy that my train was on the platform and about to leave. Once again, I had been lucky. Once I sat down and caught my breath back, I called Richard to thank him and let him know that I would always give myself forty minutes, should I dare to venture onto such a mode of transportation ever again.