Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Four Wheels Bad, No Wheels Good

I'm planning to move Starcross this weekend as the first stage of our (early) Spring trip up the Shroppie. The trip proper won't begin until the following weekend but moving her this way increases the range we can cover and means that half the holiday isn't spent going over familiar ground. I have a crew, in the form of Bernard, who has his own boat "Sunshine" based at Pillings Lock on the River Soar, but who often comes along on Starcross to help out and for a change of scene.
One of the difficulties of a one way trip is getting the crew to and from the boat. If you have two cars available you can do the "two car shuffle" whereby you meet at the boat's destination, leave one car and drive back to the starting point. Of course, you have to do this all over again at the end and also work out who's car is best left where - it can get quite complicated.
The worst option is to have only one car available, especially when you are starting from such a relatively inaccessible place as Norbury Junction. If you leave a car there you have the devil's own job to get back from your destination to collect it before you can set off home. Its much better to have no car at all, provided that the far end of the trip is somewhere near the public transport network.
I can get to Norbury Junction easily from home - a train, a bus and a short journey on my folding bike. Bernard could get there relatively easily from Leicester - two trains and two buses (and a short walk from Norbury village). A lifetime working in public transport has given me rather too good a knowledge of the country's bus and rail networks for my own good so I usually offer to help any crew needing advice on how to get to or from the boat.
Bernard's case was a little more complicated though as he's retired and has both a free bus pass and all the time in the world that's needed to make long journeys by bus. He therefore doesn't see why he should fork out some of the world's highest train fares just to get places a bit more quickly. It took me a while, but I've now planned him a route from his home near Leicester that involves six buses and takes six hours. The connections are remarkably good and interestingly the route - via Nuneaton, Lichfield and Stafford is the same as it would be by train, which says something about the transport geography of the Midlands.
If all goes well I'll meet him off the bus at Norbury village at exactly 16.15 on Friday (and I doubt if you could be that exact if driving). Now all I have to do is plan him a route home again!


Captain Ahab said...

I sence a certain indomitable challenge in making the journey by bus, for free.

Starcross said...

Just wait till I get my bus pass next year! -There'll be no stopping me.