After a nice breakfast and a leisurely reading of the Times, I paid my bill at The Head of the River and took a cab to the Oxford train station. There I caught the next train for London’s Paddington Station.
I have to say that my BritRail pass has really worked out well. It’s a “flexi-pass” which allows me to ride as many times as I like on any 8 days within a 30-day period. Just get on a train and go. It has been really easy to use (some conductors don’t even bother to read it – they just wave me on once they see the outer sleeve) and I really appreciate the 1st Class carriage, which is very rarely full. My estimate was that I saved about 40% by using the pass instead of buying individual tickets. This is a pass, as far as I know, that can only be purchased by folks living outside the U.K. and must be purchased before you depart for your trip.
While on the subject of trains, I always travel in the morning and I’ve encountered very few delays. However, it appears that delays and cancellations do occur later in the day. So, early travel is advised. I’ve also seen many more freight trains on this trip than ever before. Perhaps something has changed in their timing or their routing; it was kind of a surprise to see several of them roll right through passenger stations.
About 50 kids who looked like they were coming back from (or perhaps going to) a camping trip got on the train, too. They had all the equipment: backpacks, hiking boots, walking sticks, etc. and I felt a bit sorry for them as the standard class carriages were packed and some of them had to stand.
My trip was comfortable and I managed to get on an express train, so there were only a few stops. We stopped at Reading briefly and then on we went, past all the little towns and landmarks I came to know so well when I lived here. And finally we rolled into the old familiar Paddington Station train shed and waiting for me just a short walk away, the Hilton. The temperature is really very warm, in the mid-80s.
Tonight: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime at the Gielgud Theater.