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Join Date: Apr 02
Location: Ferndown, Dorset

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From The South Wing to the North West Wing - GDO Travel Day

I'll be blogging my journey up from the south coast to Blackpool on Friday 6th, in readiness for our Grand Day Out at Blackpool Pleasure Beach with 100 wonderful DIBBers.

No set plan for the day, other than seeing what serendipity offers as I catch the train from Southampton to Blackpool. It's about 5 hours on my own on the train, so it would be great to have some DIBB company along the way!

Just finished work for the weekend, and keeping a keen eye on the weather!

Not sure if I've packed enough. May add another toothbrush. And shorts.

Ok, so based upon your feedback I've decided to pack a bag. It's full of toothpaste and toothbrushes.

At Southampton Airport Parkway now and it looks like a good start with the 922 to Manchester Piccalilli is on time. No, I didn't take the photo lying on the floor. I've barely touched a drop this morning.

Safely aboard my train, first stop Winchester: former capital city of the South of England and the birth place of Captain Scarlet (these facts are sponsored by Wikipedia, so for all I know it's all utter tosh.) Where's Judith Chalmers when you need a proper travel writer?

Ah, the shining citadel that is Basingstoke. The Land of 1000 Roundabouts.

Ticket steward tells me there are a lot of people on this train en route to Blackpool today. Hmmmmm.

Reading now. It's always disconcerting when you enter a station travelling forwards, but leave it travelling backwards...(awkward glancing around for Yetis looming overhead).

Little known fact*: The lift manufacturer Otis has an office in this town. When they answer the phone, they are required to say, "Otis, Reading".

Train is MUCH busier now. A group of Americans have just boarded...the are all soooo polite, it shames the rest of us. But no, you can't have my bloody seat.

(*This is not a fact)

The Dreaming Spires of Oxford now. Nope, don't see it myself.

A surreal link between Disney, Oxford and Blackpool now: Alice, from Alice in Wonderland, was a real girl named Alice Liddell. She was the daughter of the Dean at Christ Church, who was a friend of Charles Dodgson (A.K.A. Lewis Carroll), who taught at the College. Dodgson spent much time with Alice and her family, and immortalised her in his books.

Just pulled away from Banbury. Thought I'd tease Team Mintball with this pic

What's everyone having for lunch?

Looks like the station at Leamington Spa had teamed up with the Halfords' bike department. That's what I call initiative.

The carriage is a lot emptier now. But, why does someone decide to sit next to me when there are perfectly good empty seats elsewhere? I must have one of those faces. It was the same when I was younger and I took the bus to work - some old dot would always strike up a conversation with me. Anyway, I'm being very British and stoic, and looking out of the window (and typing at an angle so he can't read this! )

I've now officially been sent to Coventry. Strange man has now disappeared, to be replaced by an old lady who smells of what can only be described as 'wet dog'. I've lost my appetite for lunch.

Birmingham International. Oh, the glamour!

Wet Dog Lady has fortunately disappeared, perhaps in the search for her dog. Anyhooooo, the journey is progressing well and I'm loving hearing from you, do keep the comments coming!


Wolverhampton now. A local tradition states that King Wulfhere of Mercia founded an abbey of St Mary at Wolverhampton in 659. Rumours that Geoff was asked to open it are entirely inaccurate and scurrilous.

The quaint seaside fishing village of Stafford.

A little link between here and my hometown of Bournemouth is J R R Tolkien. In the early 1900s, the village of Little Haywood near Stafford was home to Tolkien's wife, Edith. He stayed with his wife in the village during the winter of 1916, and the surrounding areas were said to be an inspiration for some of his early works. He subsequently retired to Bournemouth, as does the rest of humanity in my experience.

Potteryland aka Stoke-on-Trent.

The pic shows a warehouse for "Jones & Shuffs" (Shuffs being short for "Shufflebottom" *sniggers*). Trivia time now, and Stoke-on-Trent has proved to be a veritable hot-bed of British talent: Anthea Turner, Neil Morrisey, and Frank Bough. Please stop.

The happy citizens of Macclesfield provide a welcoming committee to all visitors to the town. In 2004 the town was awarded the title of Most Uncultured City in the UK. They celebrated this award by burning down the local theatre (utter lie).

Almost at Stockport now. Getting a little twitchy as my train from Manchester to Blackpool leaves in 15 mins. Hurry up!

On the platform waiting for the 1346 to Blackpool North. It's like a scene for Schindler's List, but with M&S sandwiches.

Right, just caught my breath. Here we are in Bolton. The train station will look fantastic once it's finished.

Just leaving Horwich Parkway. When looking up notable people for this prestigious borough, Wikipedia simply says "See Bolton". Bless

Chorley, famous as the birthplace of Ken Morely (aka Corrie's Reg Holdsworth) and pop group Star Sailor. No, me neither.

Crowds are thinning out now. Earlier on the steward asked passengers to use "all the available space, including the luggage racks ". I had to peel one old dear off the ceiling as she thought the racks were to be used as a mezzanine level.

I'm rather regretting wearing just my speedos as the air con is really being cranked out.

Preston. Not long to go now, and neither has the battery on my phone. Nick Park, the creator of Wallace & Gromit, was born here. Hoping to catch their ride tomorrow!

I think tomorrow is going to be wet #DodgeTheRaindrops

Poulton-le-Fylde is so posh, that not only does the train station have a roof, but a Customs & Immigration Officer is on the platform to check your credentials.

Our next and final station stop is BLACKPOOL NORTH.

J'arrive! My chauffeurs Geoff and Darrin have collected me. Thank you to everyone for keeping company, if not sane

Everyone neat b pretty? Let's get on with the show! Oh, and it's raining. Like real Florida rain!

Edited at 08:53 AM.
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