Gadding around the country, as I am apt to do, this week the town of Peterborough was the destination for a meeting. This ancient market town is true 'Middle England' and sits half-way between London and York on the Great North Road – more commonly called the A1. The Bull Hotel, an old coach house, was the chosen venue for the meeting. Just walking in through the front door takes you back in time several hundred years with huge portraits of Kings and Queens from yesteryear adorning walls whenever you stroll from lobby to lounge to dining area. The staff will tell you that it is haunted which doesn't surprise me at all. The irony is that after arriving in Peterborough by train you then have to walk through a Sixties-style shopping mall, the Queensgate Centre, and then a charming Victorian arcade remeniscent of London's Burlington arcade to reach the Bull. It is veritable Dr Who style time travel traversing several centuries in just a few minutes. It will be even more surreal when the 21st century Azuma Japanese designed bullet trains arrive next year. More about that in future blogs.
And speaking of trains on BBC TV a few days ago I was mesmerised by a three hour long documentary all about 'The Ghan' the incredible and new train from Adelaide in South Australia to Darwin in the Northern Territory. It was beautifully filmed and the total absence of a formal commentary added to, rather than detracted from, the overall impression. Only the occasional announcement from the on-board train manager,one Bruce Smith, broke the constant but not unpleasant hum of the two colossal 4,000 HP diesels at the front of the thirty-eight carriage train (yes I counted them). As you might expect there aren't many attractions en-route to point out but our Bruce held everyone's attention by pointing out a wind-farm, a turbine blade mounted on a plinth like a war memorial, an Iron Man statue made of steel and made particular reference to crossing the State line from South Australia to the Northern Territories. The fifty-four hour journey was condensed into three hours on the sofa with only short breaks for a cuppa and the call of nature. I hope I will be able to buy a DVD of this programme to add to my collection of Australiana. This journey is a MUST for my next trip to Oz and will hopefully provide material for a future sequel to Sunburnt Pom's Tales of Oz.'
As I write this blog the Old Country is still in a mess politically. We are less than 150 days from exiting the awful European Union and we haven't a clue on what terms. The man who made it all possible, Nigel Farage, has recently been on a tour Down Under. If ever you need a guy on the side of the majority to tell your political classes where to go then Nigel's your man. And before you Aussies ask, no you can't have him. He's ours!