Showing posts from August, 2022

Seaside Special - Bay Watch: South Wales

Near the end of June 2021 and the station car park at Berkhamsted was quiet for that time of day. Covid-19 was still gripping the country with the steely fingers of the new Delta variant. The 10.30am to Euston was empty and might have been an untimetabled ghost service that rail companies use to fulfil requirements of ancient transport legislation.  Heading out to Cardiff was a different story though. A train curiously packed with passengers wielding wheelie trolleys and ruck sacks. Foreign travel was still an amber or red list hazard, so airports wouldn’t be seeing much action; and the train didn’t call at any obvious tourist destinations. Then it clicked. England were playing Sri Lanka in an international T20 that evening in Cardiff. That would be the reason for all the sports tops as well, then. The seat reservations policy of GWR was designed to comply with social distancing restrictions. It was a causing problems. A restless couple relocated to the seats behind me after being shun

Seaside Special - Ding Dong: Avon Calling

These posts have so far all been presented according to the pattern of the traditional pre-1974 county structure of England without too much fuss. The geography of Local Government in England is a fractious mess (I’ve already had one nerdy pop at this subject back in Sussex ). The old ceremonial counties make sense for this sort of project. Only a small liberty was taken with East Yorkshire which is technically a unitary authority, rather than a county. I wanted to include Bristol on these travels to mark the city’s influential and sometimes controversial role as one of the major seaports of the British Empire, together with some of the curious, charming and overlooked settlements on each of its flanks. But how to categorise the area? What should I call it? (Never mind what anarchists have to say about this. Labels are important.) Avon would be the natural description as a former non-metropolitan county for this part of west of England. However, it has ceased to be. It is an ex-count