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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.