The Runaway Train – wrote a story

Back in August 2022 I happened across a competition on to write a story about a Runaway Train. That’s all there was to the challenge – write a story between 600 and 5000 words about a runaway train and you could win $10,000! Alright, so specifically they said “Write a story about someone who wakes up on a train. They have no ticket and no memory of how they got there. Oh, and one more thing: the train shows no signs of slowing down“, but left things quite open in my view and for some reason I found it an inspriing idea to write about. Anyways, what with various other things happening around the same time and getting the closing date slightly wrong I never managed to finish by the deadline, but I continued writing my story and finally, well over a year later, finished it today!! So if you’re really bored for an hour or two and fancy something to read here it is (all 15,500 words of it).

The Runaway Train or “An Honourable Journey”

Wake Up

Edward woke up, blinking. He looked about himself with a grimace, where was he? The first thing he heard upon waking was a continuous click-clack sound, the tell-tale sound of moving along railway tracks, which made him assume he was somehow on a train. Glancing around confirmed this, he was indeed lying on a chair, in a 4 person cabin, onboard a train carriage, but that made no sense to him. The last thing he could remember was the bar and drinking that first pint of beer at the meeting. So how did he get here? Where was the train going? The cabin was decorated with wooden slats and the seatings were made of felt. There weren’t any motifs, maps or posters around to give any clues as to his location or destination. The seats with their blue background and scarlet stripes bordered on the hypnotic and after a few moments of staring at them Edward rubbed his eyes. He stood up and turned the cabin door handle. He peered outside and then stepped into the narrow corridor.

Finished the Ford RideLondon-Essex 100 Mile Bike Ride 2023

This turned out to be probably the hardest endurance event have ever done, but managed to complete the Ford RideLondon-Essex 100 Mile cycling event! Reasons for such difficulty were :

  1. Not enough training rides – I did a whole 3 practice rides in total before the event – the longest one being 65miles and that was about 6 weeks before. This was due to a lot going on the previous month(including driving to Switzerland and back) and not having enough spare days to train. So my bike training for a 100 mile century ride was 1 x 38 mile ride out to Redhill Aerodrome and back, 1 x 65 mile ride from Worcester Park to Milton Keynes, 1 x 38 miler around Box Hill and back via Epsom.
  2. Moved house 2 days before – yeah great timing 🙂
  3. Hardly slept the night before – so was quite tired for most of the ride – didn’t get to bed until around midnight due to sorting out new house stuff and then woke up at 4am as had forgotten to prepare some food for the day – usually sleep quite well the night before events like this, but this night, I was wired.

Anyways I got up at 5:20am – there were allegedly 3 trains from Wimbledon(or Raynes Park) station on a Sunday morning that would get me to the race start on time – one at 5:56am, 6:17am and 7:08am. Despite the race email saying my arrival time at Buckingham Palace should be 7:50am, I opted on the side of caution and went for the 5:56am train, but when I got to the station there were NO TRAINS! :O

Queued 7 hours to see the Queen lying in state

Yesterday I stood in The Mall to attend the procession of the Queen’s coffin from Buckingham Palace to Westminster Hall, then queued for 7 hours to see the Queen lying in state. It was a long day, but am very glad to have done so, both as a Royalist and as a mark of respect to the Queen and her 70 years of service to this nation.

Met my church friend Beryl at Victoria station and we got to The Mall around 11am. We were very lucky to get to the front row (well she got the front row and I was 2nd row). After viewing this very emotional event, I decided to join the queue to see the Queen lying in state. Beryl was not interested, as, like many, she had heard the headlines about it possibly being 5 miles long and 30 hours queuing time. Undeterred I crossed Lambeth Bridge(where we saw those very first people in the queue – who had been queuing since Monday night and had been featured on TV) and trekking 3 miles down river to the edge of London Bridge – where I joined the end of the queue! After about half an hour, the queue started to rapidly move and we eventually stopped around Waterloo Bridge. This was where we were finally handed wristbands (I think they must have run out earlier, which was quite concerning to those of us for a while, as there would be nothing to stop any criminal queue jumpers).

International COVID Entry Requirements

Here in the UK we have dropped ALL COVID entry requirements to enter and exit the country. You can come here vaccinated or unvaccinated and without needing a PCR test, you can enter by plane, train or car. As a keen traveller I was interested in finding out which other countries around the world still have COVID entry requirements and what they are. So I made a list of them using the UK government travel information website. The list features 233 countries of the world and their entry requirements.

Legend for the list :

NONE = no COVID requirements are necessary to enter ie. you can visit unvaccinated or be vaccinated with a dose that has likely expired (as will be the status of many UK residents who were vaccinated in 2021).

VACCINATED = you are required to be vaccinated against COVID to enter the country. Currently the most contentious nation with this status seems to be the USA, where COVID is endemic and they have also officially acknowledged that immigrants entering via the southern Texas border do not require the vaccine.

PCR TEST = you can enter the country whether vaccinated or not, but a negative PCR test is required to enter and possibly to leave.

CLOSED BORDERS = the borders are still closed for these countries, entry and exit is only permitted for nationals – whether you are vaccinated or not.

QUARANTINE = some nations are still requiring a period of quarantine to visit.

Note: the “Conditions” column is meant to list other conditions of entry and still needs filling out. As requirements change on a weekly basis, this is an on-going work in progress, but maybe you will find it helpful for travelling or just to give you some ideas about where to go. Please double-check with the Foreign Office website for the very latest information.

Scafell Pike Hike Episode 1 or How To Get Lost On The Mountains In The Fog On Your Own At Night

This is the account of my lone and somewhat disastrous first attempt to climb Scafell Pike in November 2007. It was quite an adventure and I’ve retold the story numerous times over the years, but here it is written down for the first time, proudly presented in the knowledge that most regular Lake District hikers will consider this tale sheer idiocy 😀

The Scenario

That day I was alone, nobody knew where I was or where I was going, as I hadn’t told anyone. The mountains were quite empty too, being November 2007. The day before I may have told my Dad I was heading to the Lake District, but that was about it. My provisions included some chocolate, some biscuits, some bread “sandwiches”, some Kendal Mint Cake and some water. The weather was quite pleasant to start with and I set out reasonably early for once. Having not hiked a proper mountain for a quite a while, I thought it would only take a few hours to climb England’s highest mountain and using the official Scafell Pike Ordnance Survey map, assumed the trek to be fairly straight-forward. How wrong I was!

Wrote a Grime song about my Crypto-friend!

I started listening to Grime tracks driving home late at night on BBC Radio 1 about 5 years ago and despite the off-beats and random lyrics, I found the genre bizarrely kind of grew on me. Anyways, today I was inspried to write a “Grime” song 🙂 I’ve written various songs and lyrics over the years, but never in the style of rap or grime, so I thought why not give it a try and what better subject than for it to be about than my Dutch friend who is an expert in crypto currency(he was one of the first people out there to buy bitcoin, years ago, way before it was easy to do so on etc). Must’ve spent a whole 10minutes writing the lyrics and recording this in my best London accent 😀

Anyway, here it is (click below). The backing track is Lost Souls by Lee Grizzle.

Hiking the Knoydart from Inverie to Sourlies Bothy or How I got lost in the Scottish Highlands wilderness at night!

This is my account of hiking in the Knoydart Penisula from Inverie to the Sourlies Bothy and the slight disaster hike it became. There was obviously lots more arguing, more yelped worries and genuine panic (from me at least anyways) than mentioned, but just use your imagination. I’ve had several disastrous hikes, been lost in wilderness-type areas many times before, but this is probably the best one so far, seeing as I was accompanied by my wife, Bronwyn.

The Knoydart Penisula is on the North-East coast of Scotland, not far from the Isle of Skye and is considered the last wilderness in Britain – nowhere else in the UK can you hike for 2 or 3 days and not see anyone else nor be disturbed by any roads or cars. There’s no mobile signal either, no phone boxes, nothing 😀

Access to the Knoydart is from a small village called Inverie, which you can only get to by hiking 27 miles cross-country or by taking a 45min ferry from the port of Mallaig. So why go to this place? Well, the original reason was the same as most visitors there – to see what is claimed to be Britain’s most remote pub “The Old Forge“. Having visited “The Nutshell“, the smallest pub in Britain, in Bury-St-Edmonds and various other unusual pubs, Bronwyn thought I’d like to see this one too.

Ran the Loch Ness Marathon 2021

Back in December 2019 I signed up for the Loch Ness Marathon! it seems a long time ago now, but it was meant to be a surprise for my nephew-in-law, Dominic, whose words “I’d like to do that one” inspired me to do so. Anyways here we were at Loch Ness in October 2021 and allegedly all ready for the run – well I’d roughly followed my own trademark 3 month marathon training plan to do it anyway. Must admit I was not filled with confidence about this one, but we drove up to Loch Ness from London via a fine airBNB in Penrith. We arrived around 7:30pm Friday night in rain and pitch dark via a country back-road at the Forester’s Lodge B&B at Inverfarigaig, which is half-way down on the East side of Loch Ness…