The train was almost empty on the way to Adisham. But despite, or perhaps because of this, the announcements never stopped. ‘This is a Southeastern service to London Victoria. We will be calling at Kearnsey, Shepherdswell…Snowdown, Aylesham, Adisham’….and on and on. ‘The next station will be Shepherdswell. We have now arrived at Shepherdswell’. ‘For your comfort and security, CCTV recording is operating on this train’. ‘Please keep your belongings with you at all times and if you see anything suspicious contact a member of staff or the British Transport Police’. I don’t think there were more than three or four minutes on that journey when there was not an announcement or three.
The world wide web contains dozens and dozens of weather forecasts for the small area I want to walk around today. But there really is a phenomena of ‘too-much-information’. Weather forecasting is still an inexact ‘science’ and with climate change (as global warming has now been re-branded), it is likely to become less exact. Sometimes the best thing to do is to stick one’s head out of the front door, check the sky, feel the air and decide from there. I reckon it’s going to be mild and warm with a bit of wind. Other factors have also come into play. I want to travel light so will take a chance if there is a light rain shower and I want to feel the wind and the coolness of the breeze on the downs.
Trying to write a few words about Canterbury Cathedral is akin to trying to sum up a Mozart opera with a few bars on the piano. It is impossible. So therefore perhaps one can aim to say a few words about a visit to Canterbury Cathedral, because that is personal, and a few words will suffice. Continue reading
Sometimes it doesn’t really matter where you start. And it doesn’t need to be a long hike. There can be as much to enjoy and savour by going slow, taking your time on a warm Sunday afternoon. The first snowdrops and daffodils can be seen and the sky has that sense of the spring coming. Continue reading
Arriving at Vienna Hauptbahnhof on a train which has traveled through the snow covered Alps from Innsbruck, is to arrive. One immediately acquires a sense of the city, the late nineteenth century buildings with their baroque ornamentation, the bits of new build, the glimpses of the Wohnung Gemiende – the community housing – of the 1920s and early 1930s. It is a city which has poured forth a stream of ideas and people; of Sigmund Freud, Alfred Adler, Arthur Schnitzler, Otto Bauer, Otto Wagner, Emmy ….,
I check with the man at the information desk in the Metro station at Amsterdam Centraal.
‘Sprek du Engels?’
He looks at me and then in to the distance, as if he is thinking very hard about a different question, as if I had said to him, ‘Did I meet you at the house of Erasmus in Bruxelles in 1521? In the garden. Do you remember?’
He comes back from some far off place and remembers that he does speak English and he suggests that I put the card to the right of the barrier to open the gate. ‘Otherwise’, he says, ‘the gate to the left will open’. I understand what he means. It was getting late. The train journey was an hour longer than expected. Not through any delays, but from reading the timetable incorrectly. Human error is as difficult to eradicate from railway journeys as any other sphere of human activity.
Sandling is a proper railway station. When you alight and the train departs, you are often the only person left on the platform. There is a sense of distance from anywhere else, of the magical silence which can be created if only the bullying authorities who insist on ‘see it say it sorted’ would shut up and let us daydream when we travel. If they are so concerned with bombs and explosions then perhaps more time should be spent telling British arms manufacturers to desist from selling high explosives to Saudi Arabia which are then used to blow up innocent people in Yemen. How many dead are there? See it, say it, sorted it indeed, as long as it doesn’t reference faraway people in faraway lands. What could any of that have to do with England apart from the profits of bombs and weapons making companies?