Livin’ it up

So it turns out that if book your tickets far enough in advance, it can actually be cheaper to travel “Up North” first class than rocking up to the station on the day with your rail card! The availability of wifi is quite heavily touted on the GNER website, and so it seemed worth the little bit extra over a normal advance ticket to travel in luxurious comfort and be Internet enabled.

Sadly, while I am writing this on the train, wifi is still only available on “selected” services, announced only on the day of travel, and on relatively few services at the weekend. So, was the first class worth it?

  • I am pretty sure we have eaten and drunk our money’s worth in free tea, coffee, water, orange juice and shortbread biscuits.
  • While I find the standard class in the new electric trains fairly comfortable, the second leg of our one journey was in an old “slam door” where the space difference was more noticeable. The fact that this second train of the day was extremely busy, and they had insufficient staff to put out the seat reservations, made me quite glad we were able to avoid the scrum for standard-class seats.
  • Controversially, a first-class ticket does not necessarily entitle one to access to any of GNER’s “First Class Lounges” which are reserved for the exclusive use of those passengers paying full price peak fares.

So was it worth the extra cost? Maybe. For such a long journey, the selection of food was extremely poor — hot bacon sandwiches and similar were available on Saturday morning, but it was only cold sandwiches coming back on Sunday; apparently the full restaurant service is only available during the week. If you can obtain one of the ultra-cheap Advance tickets, then it’s certainly a lot more fun than standard class but having seen how the other half live, I am glad we didn’t pay full price.

Are your photos, music, and documents at risk?

Tim Bray has an insightful article on how a user in charge of their own computing environment should go about ensuring the safety of their data. (“Data” sounds very stuffy, but how would you feel if the friend who fixes your computer turned round and told you all your photos and music were gone forever? What about that CV that took you hours to perfect? Your dissertation?)
Continue reading “Are your photos, music, and documents at risk?”

Improv Theatre

We discovered another London gem last night: Improv Night at the London Comedy Store. It’s a little hard to explain the concept, but four to five comedians on stage at once (including on our visit, Paul Merton of HIGNFY-fame) improvising sketches and stories based on suggestions from the audience. Incredibly-funny: during the last sketch I was laughing so much it was beginning to hurt! Buy your tickets in advance or get there early though—we were one of the last groups through the door, having started queuing at 6pm for an 8pm show!

Improv is Wednesday and Sunday nights only, but based on the quality of last night’s show, I am keen to return to see one of the stand-up shows.