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On the train tonight

Story location: Home / Blog /

I was on my way home from work on the Birmingham to London train, which stops at Birmingham International and Coventry. I'd got to the train quite early and managed to get a seat at table. When the train stopped at International, a grey haired who looked vaguely familiar sat down opposite me. After a few seconds I realised it was one of my old lecturers from Aberystwyth.

Farewell, Lasagne

Story location: Home / Blog /

Earlier today, a truck appeared to take away my old Rover Metro. Nicknamed Lasagne (from the number plate), I'd had the car for 3½ years but it was becoming increasingly unreliable. After being broken into by possibly the most inept car thieves in Coventry, the steering column was left at a funny angle (they managed to break into the car but not start it - they were probably confused by the manual choke). More recently, the starter motor had become temperamental which led to a push start in the Tesco car park.

Herald Avenue

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /

Just off the A45 in Coventry, there is a Sainsburys and an industrial estate on a road called Herald Avenue. I've known for a while that the site used to be a Triumph car factory but one night last week we were driving to the Sainsburys and it suddenly occurred to me why the road was so named: Triumph used to make a car called the Herald.

On the way home, we stopped at traffic lights behind a old-looking small car. My first impression was that it looked like an old Triumph but as we got closer I thought it might be something foreign or a kit car. Today, when I saw some car photos on a web page, I realised it was actually a Triumph Herald. That was quite a strange coincidence.

Call me a5thael

Story location: Home / Blog /

At least, that's what my car insurance company called me. Somehow when they renewed my policy, they managed to change my name. I think I should phone them and let them know, otherwise I'm probably not covered to drive my own car (unless I legally change my name to A5thael of course).


Story location: Home / Blog /

My new car insurance starts today, with Emma down as an additional driver so she can get more practice, ready for her driving test in december. She was really excited but I must admit to being a bit nervous at first. My old heap of a car isn't as easy to handle as more modern cars with their power assisted steering, automatic chokes and responsive brakes.

We didn't go anywhere exciting, just to Tesco and back, although we did get stuck on the A45 for a while because the traffic was held up by an accident near the Broad Lane junction.

At the station this morning

Story location: Home / Blog /

A lot of the Virgin Trains have been given quite strange names. This morning, the train pulling into New Street alongside mine was called Doctor Who. I've also been on one called the Institution of Civil Engineers. Most of the time I don't notice the names but occasionally one catches my eye. There is more information on the Wikipedia site.

You are now approaching the station you just left

Story location: Home / Blog /

On the train home tonight, the passenger info system (recorded announcement and scrolling LED display) seemed to be in reverse. On leaving Birmingham New Street, we were told that the train terminates there and all-change please. This continued for the rest of the journey. The voice would correctly identify the station we'd stopped at but would claim the next stop was the one we'd just left. At Birmingham International, the driver realised what was happening and apologised over the tannoy, but left the automatic voice to continue to mislead us all the way to Coventry.

Lunch at 300mph

Story location: Home / Blog / work /

I was on-site with one of the Data Collectors in work and was trying to use his laptop pc (with build in GPS) to track our location. There seemed to be something wrong with the tracking because it would sometimes show us in the middle of a field or think we were on a side road when we were still on a main road. If it was trying to navigate for us, and thought we were on a side road, it would read out nonsense directions and try to get us to turn into nonexistent roads. The best (or maybe worst) was at lunchtime when the van was parked in a lay-by. The GPS thought we were flying over the town at around 300 mph!

The Black Screen of Death

Story location: Home / Blog / birmingham /

They seem to be having a few problems with the departures boards at Birmingham New Street. I took this photo last night, but it was also showing this interesting variant of the Blue screen of death last week. They seem to have sorted it (or simply rebooted) because it was working ok today.

bios screen
Update: 22/09/05
The above looks more like a Bios screen which you see when a computer starts up. Here is a 'proper' blue screen of death, on the same screen.
blue screen of death

Trains cancelled due to wrong kind of Lightning

Story location: Home / Blog / coventry /

I suppose it's my own fault for complaining about how much time I spend travelling to and from work. This morning, I was stuck at Canley station in the middle of a thunderstorm. None of the local trains were running but a few express trains thundered through. The station was effectively cut off - the phone line was down and the bloke in the ticket office couldn't find out what the problem was.

After an hour of no news, I waited for a break in the rain and walked to the bus stop to catch a train to Coventry station. According to the screens there, all the local trains and about half of the others had been cancelled. I managed to get a Virgin train to Birmingham. As we pulled into Birmingham New Street, they announced that the problems at Coventry had been sorted out and that the trains would be back to normal soon.

6 and a half days

Story location: Home / Blog / work /

Earlier today, it occurred to me that I'm losing half a day each week to commuting. Once I've taken into account the walk to the bus stop in the morning, waiting for the bus, travelling to the station, waiting for the train, travelling to Birmingham and finally walking to the office, around an hour has passed. If I'm lucky enough to get to the station in time for the fast train (and not the slow local stops-at-every-station one) then it's around a 45 minute journey but that only happens about once or twice a week if I'm lucky.

Travelling home usually involves me catching the local-stopping train and walking from Canley because that's actually quicker than going to Coventry station and waiting ages to catch a bus home from there.

So normally I lose about 2 hours each day to travelling or waiting to travel. Every now and again though, something goes wrong, such as last night. A train had broken down at Hampton-in-Arden and blocked the line to Coventry. My train had to wait at Birmingham International. I decided rather than wait around in the blazing hot sun, I would risk the bus back. I caught the no. 900 which slowly took me (and a load of other people who didn't fancy waiting for the trains to start moving again) around Meriden and Allesley Village before eventually dropping us off at Pool Meadow. Rare good timing meant that a no. 12 was waiting to leave, which takes me to the end of my road. Even so, I was over an hour late getting home.

Coventry Transport Museum

Story location: Home / Blog /

Whilst wandering around Coventry city centre this afternoon, we decided to have a look at the transport museum. Having walked past it a number of times, we thought it was worth seeing what was in there. On the whole, it was interesting. After looking around the downstairs area, with lots of old or historic or unusual cars (such as the Jaguar XK8 from a James Bond film), we went upstairs.
This was much more like an old-fashioned museum with lots of side rooms with different exhibits. While wandering around more or less at random, we found the Thrust SSC exhibit, where you sat through a simulation of the record breaking run before having a look at the actual car which broke the world land speed record in 1997. This seemed such a major item for the museum to have and keep quiet about! Neither of us knew it was here and there was nothing in the museum itself or at the entrance which gave a hint that it was inside.
All in all, it was in interesting hour or so. We'll have to go back and have a more thorough explore when we've got more time.