Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Random Thoughts About the UK

It is noisy, rough, hot, there is a lot of walking involved, ofen with stairs but London's Tube train system is brilliant at moving millions of people around the city daily. To have a great understanding of the different lines and how they all intersect and where you can change and where it is quicker to walk must be a wonderful thing, and I know many people do have this knowledge.

Marie remarked to R how she loves The Tube. By the end of our time in London R said, Marie can have her Tube. I don't like it. I think the Jubilee Line which we used frequently is one of the busier lines but not the busiest. Even though there is a train every few minutes, it was always crowded, standing room only when we boarded at North Greenwich.

When we returned to London after our UK tour and were stuck in stop start traffic in our coach, I remarked to R, it would be good if we could get off and catch The Tube.  He gave me a dirty look.

Within greater London there is also the overground train system and national rail and it is so complicated to a stranger. It would be easier to use terms suburban trains and regional trains.

The stored value Oyster Card system works well, although who can work out on which buses you to scan off and which you don't. You have to watch out when using the Docklands Light Rail as there aren't barriers to open when you scan your Oyster, only a single? point as you enter the station area and they can be easy to miss when you are concentrating on where you going.

As I said, the heat at the underground stations and on the trains makes for an unpleasant trip. Air conditioned trains are being built and in service now, but I don't believe it is possible for all trains to have air con because of the very tight tunnel clearances. The open windows facing the direction of travel did let in a huge flow of fresh air and R one day ended with what I called Tube Hair.

Not too many buses seemed to have air con either and there is no excuse for that. Even the new Routemasters (Boris Buses) buses don't have aircon. Absurd.

Often on buses people would crowd the lower floor and not climb upstairs. An unwritten rule should be for younger people to go upstairs if they are travelling any distance and leave the down stairs seats for the less abled. Speaking of which, about twice each we were offered seats by someone and they were usually getting off at the next stop or station. Young people thought nothing of stepping in front of you to take a vacant seat as you were moving to towards it. It is a generalisation but I think here in Melbourne as an older person, you are more likely to be offered a seat.

But generally people are super polite in GB, at times annoyingly so. I shouldn't be such an old grump. We never felt unsafe anywhere we went, although we were on the tourist trails.

London is a very multicultural city and seems quite harmonious. Yes, I know there are problems at times and in some areas, but you don't have that feeling as you move around the city.

Now to phones. I don't think we need to qualify with mobile/cell anymore. Many people using The Tube used their phones but passively for listening to music. There isn't phone reception in The Tube, although I think there may be Wifi and perhaps that has something to do with it. But even on the street, people weren't walking along slowly while staring at their phone screens as they frustratingly do here. When in the company of R's family up north, while people would check their phones in company, that is all they would do. They weren't using them obsessively as people do here in Australia. Our Friend in Japan when she was last in Australia remarked how frustrating phone usage is on the streets. Of course sometimes pedestrians are using them for directions, as we did in the UK.

I did not like the early BBC news on tv. It was so slow and boring. The BBC News at 10 was much more what we are used to at home. When I heard a BBC reporter refer to vertigo for weed pickers at Angkor Wat in Cambodia, I was very disappointed. Vertigo is not a fear of heights.

What else.... the Docklands Light Rail, DLR is a driverless train with an attendant who can manually drive the train if they have to. The Jubilee Line, London's newest Tube line, is also a driverless train but there is a driver there ready to intervene if necessary. The driving had me puzzled until I found out it was automatic. There were instances where it would brake and then speed up and then brake again. If there was a driver at the controls, they would have just coasted.

Obesity: If you live in London and regularly use The Tube, you are probably not obese. Like inner city Sydney people, Londoners walk, a lot, and even older people are generally slim, trim and fit.

I've been to many places in the world where there have been wars, but learning about and seeing Northern Ireland was truly scary.

To wrap, here is a short video of me 'driving' the Docklands Light Rail. Hey, the windscreen wiper is in front of me, I must be driving.

38 comments:

  1. It's great to sit at the front and pretend you're driving the train! Used to be able to do it all the time if you sat behind the driver's cab in the multiple units (i.e. the carriages with engines), but now they block off the cab for security reasons.

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    1. Tasker, yes, all our trains are blocked off now. What a wonderful world we live in.

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  2. True, vertigo is not the word for fear of heights, but vertigo is the reason most people fear heights! lol

    Your description of crowded and hot trains sounds very uncomfortable but I suppose in such a high density population there is not much choice.

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    1. Jenny, you are right. The alternative is buses, which are sometimes time competitive and cheaper, but driving in inner London is expensive because of congestion charges and terribly slow.

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  3. I Love London do much

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  4. I find other transit systems very intimidating. And last time I was in Dublin I couldn't find anywhere when last trains left on the Luas, particularly bugging when I had a return ticket and it went to waste and I had to get a cab. GRRR.

    Heat and crowds as we age are pretty terrifying. London will always be special to me. One of the romances of my life happened there.

    XO
    WWW

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    1. WWW, it is always easier to use what we know, but The Tube is rather user friendly, aside from what I said. How long ago were you in Dublin? There are now apps for your phone.

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    2. Oh yes, the romance. Sounds like it will be a good blog post.

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  5. Of course you were driving. And look to have done a most excellent job.

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    1. EC, I reckon I was a fine train driver.

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  6. Londoners seem to be well served by their public transport system.

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    1. Cheryl, while Londoner's will complain about it, it is very efficient.

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  7. Oh when I think of how long it has been since I was in London I feel such a longing. Thanks for the post. I loved your observations. Felt like being back there again!

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    1. Sweet, Maribeth. I don't want to be a complainer, but I wrote as I saw it.

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  8. Perhaps they are all listening to podcasts. :) I know that is what I am listening to quite a bit these days in my private time.

    In the studio it is always music because I need to be able to focus on what I am doing and really with a podcast the best time to listen to that is while doing chores which require no thought so I can focus on what is being said. Making lunch, emptying and filling the dishwasher, general cleaning, these are all accompanied by podcasts now.

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    1. Snoskred, I agree. You can do some things while listening to podcasts, and I have listened to thousands, they don't sit with talking, writing, watching and listening.

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  9. I'm such a boring old fart...but I admit it without shame or excuse.

    I don't like crowds. I hate the madding crowd; the hustle, hassle and bustle. I don't use public transport, which is just as well as there is none hereabouts. And, I don't have a mobile phone.

    I don't travel far, having no yearn, no desire to do so. My little Toyota Echo and I are happy wanderers who don't wander far.

    I'm quite content to remain in my little corner of the world here on this peaceful mountain.

    See! I told you I am a boring old fart...I do not lie! :)

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    1. Lee, I thought you were going to slip into Banjo Patterson moment. You are of a certain age and I am quite sure when I reach the same age, I will cross the road to post a birthday card, but that will be it.

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    2. I am 74...will turn 75 in November...but I've been of this frame of mind for many, many years. My age has nothing to do with it.

      A leopard doesn't change its spots...a zebra doesn't change its stripes. I left city living back in 1979....that is when I left the hustle and bustle....aged 34 years...40 years ago! :)

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  10. London's Tube train system is absolutely brilliant at moving millions of people around an enormous metropolis! Everything is named clearly and the map is so clear that I learned it off by heart (many years ago).

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    1. Hels, undoubtedly. The signage is brilliant and instinctive. The map has changed many times since you were there, and will change again soon as the new Elizabeth Line opens.

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  11. Most Londoners don't know the Tube too well. They know the bits they use, like they know a bit of the area they live in. I used to like the Tube, but for me it was essential to get to work etc.

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    1. Cro, that doesn't surprise me and my remark was influenced by Tube nerds who really do know the whole system. It is hard to imagine London without The Tube.

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  12. H Ha, excellent 'driving' Andrew. Vertigo is not the fear of heights, but dizziness which can occur at high altitudes so perhaps the newsreader was referring to some people getting dizzy.

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    1. Thank you River. I know my driving is most excellent. Let me think of the context.....the newsreader could have been feeling vertigo after watching someone at such heights, but probably not.

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  13. I guess air conditioning isn't as big or as necessary over there Andrew. I think the London tube, light rail, buses, must be so interesting to you, how does London transport compare to Melbourne? I keep imagining R with tube hair 😁😁😁😁

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    1. Grace, you are right about the aircon, but not in public transport. Vehicles get very hot and stuff even on mild days. While public transport is good where we are and can be good for other Melburnians, it pathetic compared to the UK. At least most of are vehicles have aircon and the trains are quiet and smooth. R just smoothed his hair down.

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  14. Public transport can always be confusing when you're not a local I suppose. But transport without air-con in Summer would be awful. I also had a laugh at R's tube hair :)

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    1. Sami, it can be although London's is pretty easy to understand. Buses don't have a long life and all buses there should have aircon now, never mind the trains.

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  15. We don't have much public transport here. The daily coastal starlight of Amtrak is on the chop block for Trump. To be honest, its often barely used. It's pricey for one thing, to take the train anywhere. Then once you arrive, you have to take cabs or uber or a bus, more cost, more time. That's if you go to a city. I've never been to a really large city, just Portland, so who am I to say a thing.

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    1. Strayer, I expect the Starlight doesn't get used because it not fast and efficient. Trains, especially long distance trains, have to compete by being fast and comfortable, so that people who might normally drive, wouldn't even consider doing so. It requires a good bit of investment of money in the line and the people will come.

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  16. I've never felt comfortable taking the Tube in London. Not a fan of those long escalators, they scare me.
    Like taking trains in the UK and Europe, though.
    I still get insulted when someone offers me their seat on the subway or bus!!!

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    1. Jackie, I try to forget about the fatal wooden escalator fire and the terrorist bombing on The Tube, but it is always in the back of your mind. I think you get used to using The Tube and make your own experience better.

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  17. You make me laugh with your airco, just like my bus companions on our trip ! It's just as if I would come to your part of Australia and claiming for heating everywhere ! It's so seldom that it's really hot that it is money thrown out of the window to put in airco ! If you would live in Victoria, you would talk different, that's what a couple told me they are always freezing there. I like the tube if I am in a hurry, but otherwise I prefer by far the bus and sitting on the top doing a kind of sightseeing. In the tube you don't see nothing and I feel like a mole. People are always very friendly and I have always gotten a seat even from youngsters, but that maybe is because I am a woman. Man have to stand see !! lol ! I loved London and still do but not everything anymore, since they have built a little Dubai !

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  18. Yes Gattina, I remember you remarking about the air con on the buses when you took the same tour. I still think at least buses in London should have aircon. You can claim heating here. It gets cold in winter and everywhere is heated. I agree with you about buses over The Tube. I like to out the windows at whatever. The highrise buildings in London are not so bad. You should come here and see our monster tall towers everywhere.

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  19. aah I love the tube. Thankfully next time we will be there it will be winter, so the heat will be welcomed! But in summer, phwoar, it's nasty. I use citymapper when I'm in London. Or just get lost a lot!!

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    1. Fen, it must be nice in winter to go down into a nice warm tube station. I have Citymapper on my phone but never really used it.

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Democracy is all very well, but why give it to the people? - Audrey Forbes-Hamilton.