Eureka Discovery Centre
As recounted in my previous post, I arrived at St Pancras Station in plenty of time, had coffee and a biscotti in the admirable Camden Food Co cafe there and went aboard my train. This left on the dot at 9:25, as scheduled. I settled down to enjoy the journey. I was confident it would go as planned. There had been problems with the last trip but lightning doesn’t strike twice in succession, does it?
A few minutes later, I received a call from Tigger to say that she was stuck outside Derby. Her train eventually trundled into the station but passengers were told that owing to a “suspected cable theft”, trains could not continue further north. This diagnosis was later changed to “signal problems between Derby and Chesterfield” (well, if someone nicked their cable, I suppose that would make the signals wonky…). Either way, the situation was serious as the proposal had to be delivered by noon.
I was puzzled by the fact that no announcement of problems was made on my train: the manager went on cheerily telling us that “This train is for Derby, Chesterfield and Sheffield, where this service terminates”. One of the “Onboard Team”, as they call them, spent most of the trip in my carriage but just as I made up my mind to challenge her on the issue, she disappeared. The journey continued without incident until we reached Derby.
In the meantime, I heard from Tigger that she and two others had shared a cab from Derby to Sheffield. The train company had laid on rail replacement buses but these would take some time to arrive and it was urgent for her to get to Sheffield. On arrival, Tigger offered to pay but was told by the driver that the trip was free, courtesy of East Midlands Trains. EMT had not announced this to passengers – obviously it was cheaper to send most of them by bus – but those who had had the nous to ask had enjoyed a free cab ride! Something to bear in mind next time your train falters, eh?
At Derby, passengers got into the train and all seemed normal but I did notice quite a lot of station staff with walkie-talkies consulting in groups. Uh-oh, methought. At last came the announcement: we would be delayed while we waited for a replacement driver. Eh? Why do we need a replacement? To cut a long story short, pieced together from a series of announcements, each giving the merest snippet of information, the signal problems, however caused, had delayed the arrival of the train from Sheffield, whose driver was supposed to take us there. So a replacement driver had to be brought in from wherever they keep their replacement drivers.
When will public companies realize that the best way to gain the public’s sympathy and patience is to tell them the full story right away at the outset?
I eventually reached Sheffield only 29 minutes late, though it felt a lot more because of the uncertainty and worry. There I was reunited with my beloved Tigger, who had delivered the proposal in good time and was now free to enjoy Sheffield and environs.
I might just add here that the formidable reputation Tigger is acquiring for getting the job done is making her very popular indeed and we already have three more courier runs in the offing, two immediately and one next month. We also learnt today how much money a successful proposal is worth to the firm. The figure made me gulp. It shows how important it can be for Tigger to deliver the document on time.
So what did we do with ourselves for the rest of the day? You are no doubt agog to know. (Wake up, at the back there!)
We bought South Pennines Day Ranger train tickets, which give unlimited travel within a certain area. I think these tickets are quite new as some ticket inspectors didn’t seem to know quite what they were. That may be why no one challenged us when we accidentally travelled outside the permitted area a couple of times…
We visited the following towns, though we did not explore them all: Manchester, Huddersfield, Bradford, Halifax and Todmorden. Todmorden? Oh, yes: Todmorden. If any Todmordenites are reading this, please forgive the dig. I doubt whether many people “dahn sarf” will have heard of it but I found it a charming town, with a character all its own, with beautiful buildings showing traces of its history, all set in the stunning Yorkshire countryside. We shall definitely return there again.
Below is a selection of the pictures I took as we travelled around. Yorkshire is a delightful and beautiful part of the world and its towns, set in the green and varied landscape, have their individual characters which make them worth visiting.