Across Continents

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Westerly brewing

March 10th, 2012

My choice of words conveyed my distain. Rather well I thought. Brief and to the point. I’d almost laughed but instead had chosen to be abrupt. Purchased not a cup of tea, but rather a cup of tepid water and a separate tea bag I’d have to unwrap and dunk myself. A good brew this could never be. Self-assembly I’d said to the woman behind the buffet car’s overly tall counter.

A man had appeared from the galley. They were not, he explained, allowed to touch the tea bags lest they spread disease amongst the passengers. Now I laughed. Conveying a sense of ridicule I hoped. This, I said loudly, was ’ealth and Safety gone quite mad. He seemed surprised by my assertion.

Back at my seat a young woman stared and tutted as I clambered back in. Her boyfriend was sprawled out in the seat opposite, fast asleep. She woke him and muttered something about it being a Quiet carriage. He soon dozed off once more. I supped my tea loudly. Must definitely stick with the buses.

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Ear wigging

February 23rd, 2012

Small cafe. Bright and cheerful on an otherwise dreary wet street. Very quiet. A motherly lady behind the counter and two young women sat engrossed in discussion. One was Polish. The other was explaining her rights to her. Mostly in English. They’d need to visit the Embassy.

I’d taken a lunch time train out of London. Sat quietly in the front carriage tapping quietly into my netbook. Writing little pieces for the blog. The cycling was over but not yet the journey. Still to conclude the transition back from roads less travelled. Finding my jottings cathartic.

I’d been sent a teasing note a few days earlier. From a good friend. It started with Mr Roberts. Observing that for all my protestations that the blog’d be drawing to a close, there was scant evidence to support this. On the contrary, my efforts suggested I was smitten with the writing bug. And I probably was.

Fascinating what people will openly discuss in railway carriages. Especially if they think someone’s engrossed elsewhere. Not listening. Two people explaining the finer points of revenue generation, future risks, for what they described as prestigious waterfront shopping development. I knew the place but didn’t quite recognise it. Their audience was an investor. Some shrewd questions. They stumbled frequently.

Waiting to disembark at the end of the line, I listened intently to another group. They really should have known better. I smirked knowingly. And deliberately. It was now raining. I headed off to find a decent cafe. They went off towards a small passenger ferry. As I thought they would.

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Postscript

February 19th, 2012

The train from Corby was cancelled. Next one in an hour. Engineering works. I’d miss my connection from Kettering south into London. But had been assured my ticket would be valid on the next available service. I made little effort to hide my scepticism. Large sliding doors meant the waiting area was little warmer than the platform. I breathed deeply, hoped the angst would pass and sat down on the icy metal bench.

Short journey to Kettering. One stop. But enough time to scribble in my diary, to remind myself of the issues I’d need to tackle the next day. Window locks. Letters to post. Tickets to collect. A melancholy collection of tasks. But they had to be done.

The London bound service from Kettering was tired. Dated carriages. Most of the passengers looked forlorn. I’d no idea where they might have started from but imagined it must have been a good distance away. The guard made her way along the aisle, dragging a large plastic bag that she slowly filled with abandoned newspapers and discarded snack wrappers. She returned later to put out reservation tickets for the northbound return.

On the Underground a young man sat flicking back and forth through an exam paper. Quantum Physics. Strange mathematical squiggles. An older man – early thirties – was reading Macbeth. No one spoke. No eye contact. I knew I was home. Making the steady transition back to a less transient existence.

I’d chosen to stop overnight in a central London Youth Hostel, tucked away in a small park but well placed for the next day. In the hostel dormitory a middle-aged man lamented the lack of privacy. Muttered away about the lack of space to stow his luggage. Very tattered. Wondered if he might be homeless rather than a bona fide traveller.

A few days earlier I’d sat in a smart cafe in a small market town a little way from Peterborough. Ordinarily I’d never have ventured in, but half-term meant it was quiet, and suddenly quite appealing. There was a decent sized map of the World on the wall. I’d stared at quite intently. Sketching out my own route in my head. You’d have thought me day dreaming. Rather, I was just beginning to grasp what I’d done. And the gentle realisation I’d never quite view people – and places – in quite the same way ever again. Ever.

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Daylight robbery

January 3rd, 2012

P1070647

On the road between Sanderson and Langtry, Texas

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A bit more Marathon

January 2nd, 2012

Heading for the open desert once more, Ken discovers a bit more Marathon… Trains, a world famous hotel he’s never heard of, fellow cyclists…

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Trainspotting

January 2nd, 2012

Ken stops for a brief roadside coffee, a damp Alpine and the Glass Mountains now behind him….

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If you go down to the woods today

October 10th, 2011

If you go down to the woods… from Ken Roberts on Vimeo.

Ken stops for a short lunch break along the Skeena river, between Prince Rupert and Terrace in Canadian British Columbia.. Peaceful spot. No bears..

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