Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Trip to the 21st(?) Century

Went to Reading University last week, to do a lecture as part of a course for PhD students. The course was aimed at teaching paleodata students about models and how they might be useful for their research. A very good idea! Here are some students, and Joy (at the end of the bench) who was in charge, doing a lot of the teaching and most of the lecturing (a lot of work!) all while living up to her name!

Luckily, frothy coffee (a necessity for this travelling lecturer!) is as plentiful outside of Yorkshire as it  is inside. 

The main feature of Reading University campus is the pond which, at this time of year, is chock full of birds. I managed a couple of trips to inspect it, but I only had my iPhone so no point posting the bird pics. Here instead is some pond and trees.

Railway Britain does not seem to have advanced much since the 1980 and 1990s. Biggest difference is that the announcements at the stations are now audible. People also look at phones a lot more, and thankfully they shout into them a lot less. There are also places on the trains to plug your phone in to charge up its failing battery. 

Birmingham New Street station. Dangerously narrow platforms, with crowds standing well over the yellow line! ("Abunai desu kara kiiroi sen made osagari kudasai" - standard train announcement at all Japanese railway stations - because it is dangerous, stay back from the yellow line)

Reading station, however, was redeveloped THIS CENTURY! It's a sort of curvier, blue, dirty version of a late 20th century Japanese station. But at least it has nice wide platforms.

Settle-Reading is about 240 miles, taking about five and a half hours. I suppose this is an improvement over the seemingly endless period in the mid-1990s when all journeys took at least 10 hours due to every inch of track having to be inspected with a fine tooth comb. But it seemed like a lot of travelling for my 1.5 days in Reading. Trains back to the safety of the 19th century are rare and there was a long wait on an empty platform at Leeds station on Friday, but one can gain a little encouragement from the flavour of Victoriana emerging on the painted pillars.

Eventually... Ahhh, Settle station - back in the 19th century at last!

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