The first leg of the trip was the Caledonian Sleeper from Inverness to London. "You're Neil Fraser?" the steward asked dubiously. It seems that a certain "Neil Fraser" is a regular passenger on the sleeper and the steward had been expecting him when he spotted my name on the passenger list. I suppose that a skinny Canadian geek wearing a bicycle helmet bears very little resemblance to a whisky-slugging Highlander.
The sleeper deposited me (two hours late) at Euston Station in North London. From there I cycled to Waterloo Station in South London to catch a connecting train to Southampton. I was only in London for a couple of hours, but what I saw of that city was quite a mess. Traffic chaos on both sides of the Thames, construction everywhere, decaying Victorian architecture smashed up against decaying concrete architecture. Not too pleasant. I sincerely hope that this is not representative of London as a whole.
On arrival in Southampton I cycled down to the docks where my trip to the North coast began. The docks were filled with activity, ocean going ships being unloaded, containers being stacked, trains moving cargo to inland destination. There was even a dedicated facility for loading submarine cables onto transatlantic cable-laying ships. Very impressive.
I chose a route that went through the New Forest - away from the busy roads. Instantly the environment changed from functionality to beauty.
There is a village called Downton here that has quite captured my heart. Thatched roofs, a water mill, ivy covered buildings. The best part is that it is a real functioning village, not a tourist trap. This would make a wonderful place to retire...
Update: This article is ironic. It seems that 10% of the population of Downton emigrated to Canada.
Next on FOX: When Ivy Strikes!
This untouched photo of the hostel in Salisbury shows the condition of the film. My camera wasn't sufficiently waterproof to withstand what was in store for me...
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