…Temple Bar or thereabouts!

I reported way back in February last year that the senior managers wanted us back in the office on some spurious excuse about being more able to share ideas and knowledge by being together – yeah… I should coco – more like indulging their desire to hack people off 😉 Anyway, a year later and it’s finally happened! So, like Rudi, I find myself back on my train again three or four days a week – though it’s hardly a train to nowhere.

My commute is relatively simple. Walk down to East Finchley station, 15mins. Northern Line to Kentish Town, 12mins. Thameslink to City Thameslink, also 12mins. Walk to BT Centre. So each morning I’m out of the house around 7:05 for the walk to the station via the churchyard where I endure the Robin, Wren and Blackbird mocking me with their songs. I pass the lazy commuters waiting for the bus to the station and I am passed by the even lazier ones in their cars 😉

East Finchley station is quite busy when I get there around 7:20 and I board the first available train for the 4-stop run to Kentish Town. Sometimes I get a seat, sometimes not. If I have my Kindle with me I’ll have a quick read – currently I’m on Feersum Endjinn by Iain M Banks (rereading it because I’ve got my son reading it and I want to be able to answer any questions he may have). Piling out at Kentish Town I struggle up the stairs and the escalator against a feersum gale – for some reason Kentish Town always has something close to a hurricane force wind of cold air blowing down into the tunnels below. It’s probably an unintentional ventilation system – or perhaps it is intentional – who knows!

Passengers wait for the 07:44 as the 07:40 fast to Brighton runs through Kentish Town
Passengers wait for the 07:44 as the 07:40 fast to Brighton runs through Kentish Town
Up above on the Thameslink platforms of Kentish Town I wait for the 07:44 – depending on how the previous parts of my journey have gone this is between 8 and 12 minutes. In that time the number of fellow commuters builds up and we watch two non-stop trains pass, or at least we should do. The fast trains are to Orpington and Brighton at 07:34 and 07:40 respectively. On a limited survey of 7 journeys the Brighton service has been late enough on 4 occasions for the signal man to let our humble 07:44 to Sevenoaks through ahead of it – which won’t actually affect its lateness any as every train becomes all stops through the tunnels to Blackfriars but, the fact that this has happened so frequently may explain some of the complaining tweets I’ve seen about the Bedford-Brighton service and its timekeeping.

A Class 319 stands in St.Pancras International Station.
A Class 319 stands in St.Pancras International Station.
The 07:44 has been on time every morning so far, which is probably its one redeeming feature. Made up of a single class 319 unit, it varies between full and cattle-truck with standing being the only option when boarding at Kentish Town. Most days reading a newspaper would be out of the question as there’s not enough room – makes the Northern Line train seem positively palacial by comparison. I haven’t tried swinging a cat as it might upset the animal lovers among us 😉 If we do go through ahead of the Brighton service then we also have a further burden of passengers waiting to board at St.Pancras just down the line. Fortunately it’s just a 12 minute ride to my destination – but then, those of you who know me will guess that I don’t tend to be that bothered by the overcrowding. I’m just feeling for my fellow passengers who don’t happen to be rail enthusiasts and are therefore suffering much more than me!

Ludgate Hill in the shadow of St.Pauls Cathedral.
Ludgate Hill in the shadow of St.Pauls Cathedral.
City Thameslink Station is where many of the passengers alight for a day in the city and it’s my stop too. We move along en-masse like a herd of Wildebeest up the short escalator or the stairs to the surface and the ticket barriers before fanning out onto Ludgate hill. Here, my journey takes on a tourist ambience as I wander up the hill with a view of St Pauls Cathedral bathed in early morning sun and standing proud above the shadows of the street below. It’s a short and pleasant walk to BT Centre via St.Pauls Churchyard, cutting under the Temple Bar and across Paternoster Square. It’s surprising how many enterprising real tourists are out and about amongst the city-suits at 8 o’clock in the morning making the most of the light around St.Pauls. I note that some church nearby is chiming the hour at 3 minutes to 8 by the clock on St.Pauls and by my watch too – or perhaps it’s just some enthusiastic bell ringers?

City Thameslink Station.
City Thameslink Station.
So that’s my commute to work – and going home we reverse the process departing from City Thameslink station, usually on the 16:16 which also has been on time every day so far!