Saturday 19 December 2015

Exciting Exeter Expedition : Friday 18th [part 1]

There were four good reasons to go to Exeter.

1. To explore Crabrook Station
2. To buy Mrs fbb a Christmas present
3. To buy a bus
4. To check on the "improved" peak hour SWT train service

 1. Explore Cranbrook 

Readers will not be surprise to hear that the station is basic. Take one platform, add railway bits and pieces ...
... and that's the sum total. Theres is a bus stop; but no shelter as illustrated in the original architects sketches; but there are no buses either.
There are no taxis (understandably) but no indication that any might be available; but bus and taxi have a nice exclusive lane to not use.
The plan of station facilities (none to speak of) shows a large lock-up bike store (the blue shed) ...
... but all you get is a rack held down with sandbags!
There is a bit pf platform where there might be a station building one day ...
... but very little shelter. The long bit is open to the track (obviously) but is also unglazed on the car park side, to wind and rain whistle through unimpeded.
The only reasonable cover is a bus shelter affair ...
... with just two seats and a perch for half a dozen parrots. Frankly, for £5million, the Cranbrookians have got poor value. If rail is to be come the transport mode of choice for the new town, it will need a better station.

And another point. There is absolutely NOTHING in the growing town to tell you that it has a station, and no signpost directing you to it. Access is far from obvious.

There were 12 cars in the car park ...
... as fbb waited for the 1428 (arrived 1435). Seven passengers boarded an already "comfortably full" three car train for Exeter. Mr SWT (of DaFT, or the next franchisee) please note; you will need six coach trains if the business grows.

The journey (all nine minutes of it) was splendidly uneventful and most of the trains contents disgorged themselves st Exeter Central to proceed a-shopping. Exactly what fbb did for item 2 on his list.

 1. Prezzy for Mrs fbb  

Mrs fbb is a difficult customer to whom to present presents because she and her devoted hubby are very happy with their humble lot at fbb towers. Nevertheless a visit to Waterstones ...
... provided a suitable something for Santa to secretly secrete at the apposite time.
And secret it must remain just in case the good lady reads the blog!

The first floor CostaLot refreshed fbb with a pot pf tea and a highly recommended lemon tart.
these long train rides are very exhausting, you know!

Two on the list still to do ...
 Talking of Christmas Presents ...

We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas;
We wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
Good tidings we bring to you and your kin;
Good tidings for Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding;
Oh, bring us a figgy pudding and a cup of good cheer
We won't go until we get some;
We won't go until we get some;
We won't go until we get some, so bring some out here

 ... what began as semi-legitimised begging by the "lower orders" at the gates of the Lord and Master ("your king") developed, in the Victorian era, into a massive commercial con. Pagan winter ceremonies encouraged folk to demand a gift; now the demand is from terrible peer pressure. Magazines are full of suggestions for "stocking fillers" at prices between £25 and £100. 

It used to be an orange and a shiny penny!

One thing is absolutely sure; Christmas Giving owes nothing to the gifts brought by the Wise Men. If you gave them to you best friends (gold excepted), they would instantly become your worst enemies.

St Nicholas was added to the mix with his "day" sliding from December 6th to 25th to compound the commercial excuse.

This does not mean to be a "bah humbug" article; but today's Christmas Present Extravaganza (whether you like it or abhor the over-spend) has NOTHING to do with Emmanuel, "God With Us."
         Next rail blog : Sunday 20th December    


  1. A common theme between the long drawn out tram-train process and the amazingly expensive yet minimalist Cranbrook station is the difficulty we seem to have in this country with affordable railway development.

  2. Too much talk and not enough do. Back in the days (good and old) an Architect employed by the railway would design the station then the lads would go out and build it. The process took months. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever why that should not happen today. Design a Meccano Set station, lay the foundations and screw it together. It can't be that difficult, surely.

  3. At least Cranbrook has actually opened. Perhaps fbb would like to do a blog on the Ricoh Arena station on the outskirts of Coventry which I really would like to have used when I went to a trade exhibition the recently.