Wandering and Wondering

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Bristol and Cardiff

Last weekend I caught the train to Bristol, 2.5 hours west of London (although my journey actually took 3.5 hours, but lets not talk about that now - I'll leave my rant about the English train system till the end of my article), to catch up with my old uni friends Ian and Gez and their (almost) 2 year old son Jayden. Here's the little tiger:

Run to the camera

The weather was actually nice and sunny for a change, and the local kids made the most of it:

Enjoying the sunshine

Ian and Gez showed me around town, including a hike up to the Observatory Hill where we got a nice view of the suspension bridge and the farmland beyond:

Suspension Bridge in Bristol

Of course, the tour wouldn't have been complete without visiting a few of Ian's favourite watering holes along the way. In the evening we went to a local pub near their house and I sampled the English favourite of Gammon and Eggs (basically just a thick hunk of ham and eggs).

The next day I said goodbye to Ian, Gez and Jayden and caught the train for the short journey to Cardiff, the capital city of Wales. Here I visited most of the usual tourist sites, but probably the most interesting was the Senedd building, which is where the National Assembly of Wales meets to debate:


The building itself is only a few years old, and I remember reading about it when it was finished. It incorporates some interesting design features for saving energy, the main one being a giant wooden funnel that draws air out from the building, reducing the need for conventional air-conditioning:

Wind funnel at the Senedd

I also visited the Dr Who exhibition, a TV show that used to really scare me when I was a kid:

Dr Who scared by a Dalek

At the end of the day I headed to the train station for the ride back to London. It was at this point that I discovered my mistake of purchasing one-way train tickets instead of getting a return ticket. The reason I got one-way tickets was because I wasn't returning to London from the same place (ie I was returning from Cardiff instead of Bristol). Logically, two one-way tickets shouldn't cost that much more than a return ticket, so I didn't think it would matter that much. Wrong! A one-way ticket to Bristol costs £49, and a return ticket only costs £1 more! So, basically I ended up paying around £100 for my return trip instead of £50 (the one-way ticket from Bristol to Cardiff was only around £6). Who came up with such a stupid pricing policy? And why are train tickets so expensive anyway? My flight from Milan to London only cost AU$110 (about £40), which is less than the one-way train ticket from London to Bristol. My flight also wasn't late by an hour. I've even seen advertisements for flights from London to New York for only £129, which is only slightly more than what I paid for my return train trip. What makes it more ridiculous is that they should be trying to encourage more people to use trains instead of planes because the carbon emissions are a lot less. So here is my message to the new primeminister Gordon Brown: Fix the train system!

Ok, that's enough ranting for now. Apart from the trains, it was a good couple of days in Bristol and Cardiff.


Boots in the Oven said...

I like your digression there about the British rail system - it's sort of famous for being ridiculously expensive and simultaneously labyrinthine. Sorry you got screwed out of 49 pounds - that's completely insane!

Hope your flight to Capetown went well - I can't wait to see your Africa pictures!

Boots in the Oven said...

Ahem...it's Rachel, by the way. Forgot to sign my other comment...