Another courier run

We learnt late yesterday (as usual!) that we were off on a courier run today. Can you guess where we are going? Here are the clues:

For cost reasons, we have to go separately, with Tigger leaving by the early train and me leaving later. We depart from the upper level at St Pancras (platform 4, as it happens).

Leaving from St Pancras
Leaving from St Pancras

No? Well, here’s the final killer clue: we expect to have vegetarian fish & chips for lunch. You’ve surely guessed by now!

Yes, we are off to Sheffield again. You might be forgiven for thinking that the firm doesn’t do business with anyone else. In fact, we did nearly go somewhere else today but as Sheffield was the more critical job, that is now our destination.

As I have narrated Sheffield trips so often (for example, here), I won’t bore you with a blow-by-blow account of this one. I will instead concentrate on what we do that is different. We have an idea where to go after lunch and will make a final decision later depending on conditions at the time.

Sir John Betjeman
Sir John Betjeman

For now, suffice it to say that I arrived at St Pancras in plenty of time for my train so I was able to visit a couple of my favourites, the frieze around Paul Day’s The Meeting Place, and the lively sculpture of poet laureate John Betjeman, remembered for, among other things, his defence of this very station building.

Fountain and distant Winter Garden, Sheffield
Fountain and distant Winter Garden, Sheffield

The ticket inspector has checked our tickets and we are now rolling through a countryside under a bright grey sky which, though devoid of sun, seems not to threaten rain as yet. If the conditions remain thus for the expedition, I shall be content.

Colourful fountain, Sheffield
Colourful fountain, Sheffield

I reached Sheffield on time at 11:52 and found Tigger waiting for me. We went for lunch and then returned to the station, where we bought return tickets to Doncaster or "Donny", as some affectionately call it.

The Leopard, Doncaster
The Leopard, Doncaster

We had a train almost straightaway but it took longer to get to Donny than we had anticipated, about 28 minutes. We made a mental note to leave at least half an hour for the return trip to catch our St Pancras train.


Doncaster station exit delivers you into maw of Frenchgate, one of those modern shopping centres that are as sterile within as ugly without. This one, indeed, is uglier even than most, a fine example of the Modern Aberrational style of design. Our first impression of Doncaster was therefore somewhat sour. "It makes Rotherham look like Paris in comparison," remarked Tigger.

The Royal Buildings
The Royal Buildings

We did cheer up a little as we explored, finding some modestly elegant pieces of Victorian and Edwardian architecture. We decided the Paris remark was a little premature.

We found the market which has both indoor and outdoor sections. I was looking forward to exploring it only to find that it was closing.

Doncaster Market was closing
Doncaster Market was closing

It must be said that we did not have much time to spend here and perhaps a longer stay would have revealed more of interest. We may well return another time in more relaxed conditions.

Inside Frenchgate
Inside Frenchgate

Our train home would leave Sheffield at 16:27, the only one for which our tickets were valid. We caught the 15:24 from Donny, thinking this would get us back in plenty of time. This train went via Rotherham, though, and took longer than the outward bound train. We did, however, made it back in time to board the St Pancras train.

He wanted to be photographed
This character insisted that I take his photograph.
Why he then closed his eyes, I do not know.
Is he well known in Doncaster?

We knew our reserved seats were not together so we didn’t bother with them. We found unreserved seats at a table. The train was fairly full and we had seat companions between Derby and Leicester but then we were on our own until we reached St Pancras.

Altogether, it was an enjoyable day out. The job was done and we made the acquaintance of another town which, if it did not thrill us at first sight, may still be worth visiting again.

About SilverTiger

I live in Islington with my partner, "Tigger". I blog about our life and our travels, using my own photos for illustration.
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7 Responses to Another courier run

  1. BFG says:

    Ah, Sir John B. Never managed to meet him, but his common-law wife was on the board of Directors of my school (King Alfred’s, Wantage) and I walked past her house in Priory Road every day I went to school (which included Saturday mornings).

    She used to give talks at the school with titles like “My Time In India” but I never quite managed to find out what that time was…

    • BFG says:

      Oops – as you were. I thought it was his second not-quite-wife who came to lecture us, but it was in fact his real wife (then ex-wife when she was at our school), whose father had served in India.

    • SilverTiger says:

      Sir John was certainly a character and a bit of a scruff. If you look at the statue’s feet, you can see that one shoe lace has been represented as broken and tied together in a knot.

      I think he and his wife were always fond of one another but couldn’t live together without friction.

      People don’t usually know (or care) who the poet laureate is and I think Sir John was a rare case where the poet laureate was generally known and liked.

  2. Reluctant Blogger says:

    I glanced at this last night before I went to bed but was too tired to comment. Then I had the weirdest dream involving trains and being stuck in various places and everywhere I looked was the word “Sheffield” . It wasn’t till I came back online again this morning that I realised what had triggered it all.

    Doncaster is one of those names I can only say in a Northern accent. I just can’t help myself. Newcastle is another.

    I love the character. We have this guy outside the market in Norwich who waves this puppet around to music all day. He is so weird – it’s not entertaining at all in the traditional sense but people stop and look because it is just such a peculiar thing to do. You must look out for him and take his photo if you come to Norwich again.

    • SilverTiger says:

      I never thought of my blog as causing nightmares! Boring people to sleep, yes, but not prompting nightmares…

      There are some strange people about and as long as they do no harm I think society is the richer for their presence.

      I don’t know what this one has in mind. He kept planting himself in front of my camera with his arms outstretched as in the photo.

  3. Villager says:

    Doncaster ! I am wondering where next ?!


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