Astrid and I are settled in for a long winter’s nap, and I’ve got visions of Victoria Sponge Cake dancing in my head. With everything closed and no transport services, we dutifully went grocery shopping Friday night (beating the Christmas Eve crowds on Saturday) and are all set.
I still find it hard to believe that there is no transport on Christmas! The last train from Central London passed at 21:24 last night, with the next train not for 56 hours (5:21 Tuesday morning). Although the Underground is only closed today, the drivers are striking tomorrow on Boxing Day (as they did last year) over demands for triple pay plus a day off in lieu for working on the holiday (they’ve also called three more days of strikes over the next two months).
Perhaps the most noticeable difference here, though, is the absence of buses; all day every day we have 30-40 buses per hour passing our windows, with 4 per hour all though the night – so the lack of visible presence and noise is quite big! The car traffic is pretty quiet too, and with no public transport and nothing open even the pedestrian crossing just outside the window is beeping less (since it is by request only).
So, we are curling up with books and blogs and kitties to celebrate a week off, and send our best wishes for a great festive season and a Happy New Year out to you all!
Hello all! Sorry I have been so remiss in posting, but things are just incredibly busy at work and will only get moreso through the end of June. The good news is that in that time I have some exciting trips – to Taipei (with a couple of days aftewards in Hong Kong) and to Vancouver (with a couple of days afterwards in Seattle and Portland). But I also expect to be working one day every weekend though that time too.
But I decided to post something quick here because today was an exciting moment – I bought my new “annual travelcard” for transport! I blogged about it last year, so I thought it would be fitting to review it again this year.
For the same exact thing, the price has gone up £80 to £1,288. Not impressive enough? Try $2,070. Still the largest non-automobile purchase I’ve ever made, I think.
The 6.6% increase is more than inflation – which I think was about 4-5% here, although it is hard to decide which measure to use and when – and only £0.22 per day more. The total price, though, comes to £3.53 (or $5.67) per day. Yesterday, though, after my old one expired and before I got my new one, I had to use “pay as you go” to travel to and from work, and it cost me £7.30 total, so I guess it is a good deal. If you start to try and add up the days I’m traveling and try to figure it all out, the “maths” get complicated, but I do think it is still a good deal. I should point out that for my mega-pounds I also get a “gold card” which gives me a 34% discount on off-peak travel throughout most of the south and east of England (everything from here to the coast including Dover, Brighton, and Portsmouth, plus just-beyond-London destinations like Oxford and Cambridge), but also for trips to Outer London (including the airports).
I want to take this opportunity to talk about one other thing regarding the transport fares here – the fact that the only people paying “full” fares are adults between 18 and 60 who can’t find a way to qualify as students. Under 18s are mostly free (10-18 have to pay half-price on trains but are free on buses), and over 60s are totally free (at least for residents). Adult students get 30% off. The situation is particularly noticeable elsewhere in the country, where bus fares are very high, but anytime you pay them you notice that virtually everyone else on the bus is free. While I don’t want to be subsidizing seniors (especially the rich ones), I don’t particularly want them driving on the roads either. Interesting policy issue, with pros and cons in both directions of course.
If I tell you that last night we went to ANOTHER interesting talk at a museum, you’re going to get the impression that we’re all cultural and stuff. But don’t worry, this week has so far been anachronistic. But we did go another talk last night.
“Seeing it Through”, at the London Transport Museum, was a talk and slideshow about posters designed or commissioned by the London Underground during World War II. It’s quite a fascinating subject, and I really enjoyed myself. I think Alex liked it too, although he was not as interested in some of the design aspects. The speakers were both excellent and well-informed, and I think I’m quite likely to go back next week for another talk!
This blogger was at the event last night, and her website talks a lot about various posters and such, particularly the now-famous (or infamous, depending on your design senses) Keep Calm and Carry On poster that has taken over the world.
Here are just a few of the posters we learned about: