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Alnmouth to Spalding

This is my third post about train rides and is about a journey om 19th December 2022.

Christmas is approaching and I have just taken possession of our new home in Amble Northumberland. Having driven my wife’s 20 year old Corsa up to Amble in quite cold, frosty weather with a little snow on the ground I decide to take the train back to Spalding to possibly spend what may be our last Christmas in the house there before moving in the New Year.

From Amble I catch the X18 bus that takes me close to Alnmouth station on a picturesque journey along the coast through Warkworth heading north. From the bus stop it is a short walk uphill to the railway station.

At Alnmouth station I catch the train heading south and take my allocated central aisle seat. Sat next to me against the window is a young lady about 20 years of age, earphones plugged into an ipad playing a film or TV program. An id card on the table suggests she is a student at Edinburgh. She is slumped against the window apparently asleep with her eyes closed. The seat reservation ticket suggest she is to alight at Newcastle. I sit down and take out my current reading book, The Blade Artist by Irvine Welsh.

As we approach Newcastle the young lady, who is dozing, leans my way onto my arm, which I find both a little awkward and embarrassing. I am also concerned that she may need to get off. So, raising my voice slightly, I say as gently as possible, “We are approaching Newcastle would you like me to move?” Luckily she stirs with a jump, I repeat myself and she confirms with a “Yes, Please” and gathers her stuff together. I hoped that going through Newcastle I would get a good view of the river, but the movement of people and the dirty windows conspired against this. As the passengers alight a new cohort enter the carriage.

Among the fresh passengers is a man dressed in a sweat-stained T-Shirt and fleece carrying a plastic bag, sweating profusely as he only just got on the train before the doors shut. He smells of sweat and beer. He sits down in the reserved seats opposite me. His breathe smells of stale beer. Holding my book as some sort of barrier I continue to read. He has a large mobile phone and a plastic bag with what appears to be a half-eaten burger on top of some random clothes. He leans forward to me and in a Canadian accent says, “I apologise in advance I tend to spread out so if I tread on your toes I am really sorry.”

“Not a problem”, I reply, “I am wearing steel toe caps so I apologise in advance if you hurt yourself.”

This was true I was wearing black safety shoes and he was somewhat taken back by my response and sat back in his seat. I then continued to read my book whilst he had loud conversations on his phone about the Christmas party he had just attended in Newcastle and how he had nearly missed his train.

At Durham station I waited to see if any passengers would get on the train and seek to claim the two seats opposite and hopefully move on my loud beery Canadian. I was in luck, two young men entered the carriage looking for their reserved seats and asked him to move. The Canadian objected quietly, but I pointed out to him two seats that were apparently reserved from Newcastle station that had not been taken. The young men thanked me and sat down opposite. I continued to read the last chapter of my book.

I wasn’t long before I finished reading. I noticed the two young men were both holding copies of Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”. I asked if they had been studying the book for college. They explained to me that they had been on holiday together in Whitby and then Durham and had both read the book so that they could talk to each other about it. They found it really exciting as they had been on a Bram Stoker tour of Whitby. They talked about it and I asked if they were aware of Conan Doyles links with Whitby and his character Sherlock Holmes – they were. We talked about their reading, Whitby and the Gothic festival that has emerged there. They got off the train at Doncaster. I offered them the book that I had finished reading which they politely accepted. They had not heard of Irvine Welsh, but had seen the film Trainspotting – I suddenly realized how old I was compared to them and how different our points of reference were with Trainspotting coming out before they were born!

So feeling a little old, I continued my journey to Peterborough and on to Spalding with very little further event.

A small Vauxhall Corsa car in very good condition,
My wife's 20-year-old Vauxhall Corsa

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