Yesterday, Ipswich Town played at Charlton. It is a very easy ground to get to, as I just get a bus to London Bridge and then take a train to the station at Charlton. It’s then just a short walk to The Valley.
In fact, this ease of access was one of the problems of my viewing of the match, as Ipswich fans bought every seat possible. The seats at Charlton may be in good condition, but it really is one of the most cramped away areas in the country. QPR used to be worse, but it had improved this season.
I was next to the staircase and hardly got any view of the match at all in the first half, as the two guys in front of me were six footers and never sat down. One even stood on the stairs effectively blocking any view of the goal to my right, just fifteen metres or so away. It did get better in the second half, as some didn’t return after half time and I was able to stand in front of an empty seat the other side of the stairs.
So it was not a good viewing experience! The technology exists, so that you can choose your seat and see the view. Eventually, this will be used in all grounds in the Premier League and the Championship.
But at least we won by a Tommy Smith goal. Although, with average luck, we should have scored a couple more before the game really got going.
I do think next time I go to The Valley and the match is likely to be full, I’ll get a hospitality package early.
I am attempting to see every Ipswich Town League and Cup match this season.
So far it has gone very well and I haven’t missed one, although some it could be said were eminently missable.
The problem match is the Boxing Day match at Doncaster, where there are no trains on that day.
Today though, I have bought two tickets for the match. One ticket is for myself, and the other will be for anyone who gives me a lift to and from the match.
On the 38 bus coming back from the Angel, I was approached by another Ipswich Town fan. As usual in this sort of weather, I was wearing an appropriate woolly hat.
He told me he’d been born in the Royal Free Hospital in the Liverpool Road, which probably makes him a genuine Cockney, according to this map.
His parents had then moved to Suffolk.
I’m not, but how many Town fans are genuine Cockneys? For various reasons like the closure of Central London maternity units, very few genuine Cockneys are born these days.
I don’t mess about shopping and especially where groceries are concerned.
Take this morning, which as I’m going to football at Ipswich this afternoon, was very much a small weekly shop for my staples and supper tonight.
My local Waitrose in Islington opens at 08:00 on a Saturday, with the Sainsburys next door opening an hour early. Because too, of the dreadful news from Australia, I decided to go as early as possible and left my house at 07:40. I didn’t buy much as the picture shows.
I did have to go to both stores, as Waitrose don’t sell my favourite Genius bread.
I don’t know when we started doing our shopping early on a Saturday morning, but this behaviour of a direct and early Saturday morning raid on the shops, was very much part of our married life.
The one difference, is that I use a list and C rarely did.
I tend to behave in the same way with IKEA. I needed some small pieces yesterday, so as I had nothing to do yesterday afternoon, except read the Internet or the Standard, I went to their store in Edmonton, reading the paper on the way.
Some might find this very much obsessive behaviour, but I do like to maximise the use of my time.
On the trip to football today, I’ll be reading the paper again and doing some difficult Sudokus.
As I said here, my trip to Blackpool, yesterday, started well at Kings Cross.
As I had a few minutes before the Glasgow train to Preston, I had time to visit the Virgin First Class lounge at Euston. I think some companies charge extra for the lounge if you’re on a cheap ticket or close it altogether at weekends, but Virgin don’t seem to penny pinch like that at Euston.
The train was on time to Preston, but it did look very much like rain.
As I had booked to Blackpool North station, which is a walk of three kilometres to the ground, I asked if I could use my ticket to Blackpool South station, which is only about eight hundred metres. I was informed that there would be no problem by someone from Northern Rail! I certainly hadn’t found a Jobsworth.
The guy on the train gave the same story and I arrived at the station to walk to Bloomfield Road.
I made it in plenty of time, walking in the sun, although the weather was threatening.
It really started to rain, just as I got under cover in my seat.
The match was a topsy-turvy affair, with Ipswich winning with the odd goal in five, scored in stoppage time. Ipswich were one-nil down at half-time, so unusually for a manager, Mick McCarthy threw caution to the wind and played with four forwards across the field.
He got the result all the Ipswich fans wanted and you do wonder, if he hasn’t found the best way to use the talent he has available.
I must admit, I did look at the two Blackpool goals last night on the BBC and I can’t help feeling that if Cresswell and Smith had been playing, one or both of these goals might not have been scored.
In the end the Ipswich fans all went about their journeys home happy with the result, so the two Blackpool goals didn’t matter.
As it connects better to the London trains, I decided to do the long walk to Blackpool North station. However, I didn’t have to walk all the way, as I found a 14 bus, that went near the station. There was the usual silly ticketing palaver, you get with a bus pass outside London and I do wonder if bus companies have shares in those that produce ticket paper.
I got a crowded train to Preston fairly easily, but it arrived there, just as a Euston train was departing. A Virgin employee told me, I had an hour to wait, but as I had an Off-Peak ticket I could take any train. I then realised, it would be nice to eat something, so as a Manchester Piccadilly train was alongside, a gluten-free supper in Carluccio’s at Piccadilly station beckoned. I could then take one of the more numerous trains to London. The Virgin also told me, that the Manchester to London trains weren’t busy, as City and United weren’t playing.
Where had all the Jobsworths gone?
I had my supper in Carluccio’s at a fast pace and made the 19:35 train with ease. I had intended to upgrade to First, but as I got four seats and a table to myself in Stearage, I didn’t bother. In fact the fifteen pound upgrade, I didn’t buy, virtually paid for my meal in Carluccio’s.
As I’d arrived in Piccadilly virtually dead on seven, I’d ordered, waited for and eaten my meal in about half-an-hour, whilst checking the news and the football results on the excellent wi-fi. So with luck, I’d be able to go straight home from Euston and catch the start of Match of the Day.
I did! It had been a very good trip.
In a few years time, going from London to Blackpool will be a lot easier, as they are electrifying the line from Preston, as part of the major electrification between Manchester, Liverpool and Preston. It has also been stated that this will mean a tour-hourly service of faster electric trains to and from London. But as I’ll still have the problem of getting a decent gluten-free meal on the way down, but as it will be a greatly improved service from Blackpool to Manchester Piccadilly, I can still go via Manchester and have a decent meal, whilst changing trains.
In fact, if like I did, you have a ticket from Blackpool North to London, you will have several stations, where you can change onto a fast train to London, if you just missed a direct train and didn’t want to wait two hours. You could change at Preston, Manchester Piccadilly, Liverpool or even Wigan North Western.
I can’t help but feel, that this long-awaited electrification is going to make a lot of difference to the whole of the triangle based on Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool.
It should have been done years ago!
I’m going for the day to see my football team; Ipswich Town play there.
I’m dreading part of it. Breakfast at Carluccio’s in St. Pancras will be it’s usual good standard and the Virgin trains to Preston will probably be excellent, but the local train to Blackpool will be it’s usual crap self. Then it will be a walk in pouring rain to the ground, as only locals can fathom how to use, the town’s Third World bus system. But that is probably an insult to places like Goa, where I explored the area on the buses with a titled blonde widow. I think she was rather disappointed, in that she didn’t get her bottom pinched. But then the people of the sub-continent, are generally very polite and courteous.
At least though, the rain will wash the pavements of Blackpool of the vomit, that they seem to be paved with.
The football will probably be terrible because of the rain.
It’s a tough job, but someone’s got to do it.
I didn’t go directly home, but broke the journey to see Ipswich play Bolton at the Reebok stadium, which is very close to Horwich Parkway station. This meant changes on both legs at Preston.
I would have preferred to come home via Manchester, but because Manchester United were playing Stoke City, I couldn’t get a train ticket at a reasonable price.
This resulted in having to rush my second change at Preston, as the London train had already arrived, when my local train came into Preston a few minutes late.
But the train was in London at the scheduled time of 20:15.
I’ve talked about the problems of getting gluten-free food on Virgin at weekends, so I didn’t really bother, as they had one gluten-free ham salad sandwich in the Marks and Spencer’s at Glasgow Central station.
And of course, it’s impossible to get any gluten free food in a football ground.
If I’d gone home by Manchester, I could have eaten in Carluccio’s in Piccadilly station. And probably a couple of other places too!
It was the AGM yesterday and I took these pictures.
Jay Tabb made an interesting confession, when I asked what it was with footballers wearing beards these days. He said, that he can’t!
I hate Christmas and the older I get, the more I do so. Remember C died just before Christmas in 2007.
This picture from John Lewis sums it all up. Tat hanging from the ceiling, to try to get you into a jolly mood!
This year, I won’t even have the relief of football on Boxing Day, as Ipswich are playing in Doncaster and there won’t be any trains.
Yesterday was a day I won’t forget.
As I said in this post, I was having a lot of frustrations with East Midland Trains, and decided to come back by Virgin from Birmingham.
I also decided to make a day of travelling, as I had someone with an idea, to meet in Manchester, so I decided to go via Preston and then come in to Manchester from the north west.
I left on the 08:30 from Euston and my main reason to go to the city was to see Preston bus station and the city’s buses. Although, I did walk around the market and the shopping area, visit the Preston Martyrs Memorial, looking unsuccessfully for a cup of coffee. It is not a city centre of which to be proud, as I mused here.
Arriving in Eccles, I bought a day travelcard for the trams and then explored some of the new lines, before going back Carluccio’s in Piccadilly station to have my meeting.
I then took trains 4 and 5, from Manchester to Derby after my meeting, saw the match which was a crazy four-all draw and then came back into Euston at 01:30 this morning, using trains 6 and 7.
I’m a bit tired this morning, but it was a good day and it could have been much worse if Ipswich had lost. It would also have been a lot more expensive, if I’d decided to partake of some of dubious and very expensive hospitality of East Midlands Trains.
I must say this for Travelodge, who when I decided to not use the room I had booked, allowed me to painlessly cancel it with no charge over the Internet.