I have a minor confession to make. I really like train journeys. I don’t really like long tube journeys, because they’re just short enough to not let you really relax and think but they’re always too long to just stare, unblinking, at the door – because of course accidental eye contact on the tube is the absolute worst thing that could happen to you.

Whereas proper train journeys are great. You just plug yourself into an mp3 player (stops people thinking you want to touch up their necklace or even, heaven forbid, talk to them) and away you go. If it’s a journey you don’t take very often there’s some merit to just looking out of the window and drinking in the scenery. Look! In every house is a family, every car has someone inside, all those pedestrians have their own lives, and your life will probably never intersect with any of them. Isn’t that amazing? Isn’t it astounding that there can be so many people so close to you who you will never meet or even talk to? Even on the train itself – if you’re feeling brave – there’s the opportunity for some surreptitious people watching. Like the man sitting with a group of his friends (they all got on together) but not talking to any of them. Why? Or the man who fell over in the toilet and is now harassing the guard for a free ticket on his connection train – isn’t that weird?

Of course, if you’re on a familiar journey that’s where things start to get interesting. You could take the opportunity to read a book. I always like reading on trains because it feels like I’m being productive without having to do anything – I’m reading, but I’m actually going somewhere at top speed. Or you could have a quick meditate. Admittedly, this might work better if you’re in the quiet carriage but I’m sure you could pull it off if you were determined. Another option, and my favourite, is to put on a playlist, unbuckle my imagination and just drift off into my own head for half an hour. I may look like I’m sitting in a seat on a train, but I’m actually wrestling a dragon, or negotiating a peace treaty with aliens, or in a cafe meeting my future imaginary spouse.

Sometimes I’m even disappointed when the train pulls into York.



There’s something about travel that just sort of fascinates me. I know it probably sounds stupid, but to me the idea that you can be sitting in a car or on a train for two hours and end up somewhere really far away is sort of bewildering. I suppose it’s the fact that on a normal day I’d have spent those four or five hours sitting around on my arse at home, doing absolutely nothing of any value at all. And yet, on those travel days, you can end up at the other end of the country in the time that it would normally take me to decide whether or not I’m really enjoying a tv series. (ha, I joke. It takes me much longer than that to decide if I like a tv series)

Another part of it is the way that a very comparatively small part of travel is the part where you go the most distance, if that makes sense. So I’ll do something like four hours getting back to Egham from Yorkshire, and maybe it’ll take an hour to get to York station, and then probably at least an hour to get to Egham from London, and then another twenty minutes to wander along to where my house in Egham is, depending on how tired I’m feeling from all that travel. So that’s, what, three hours? Ish? Assuming I managed to catch the train without loitering pointlessly at the stations, and I always factor in loitering time. you know, for loo breaks, tea breaks, loo breaks again (Tea breaks occasionally wreak havoc on your journey plans), and then you miss the direct train from Waterloo so you have to wait half an hour for the next one… etc. Whereas the actual train from York to King’s Cross is generally two hours, and that’s a long old distance.



let’s just thank goodness none of us has to go all the way to Marlow by train because dear JAM that could take you all day.