Thursday, August 31, 2017

Thursday 31 August - Crickhowell and a Jacques Tati ending to the day

The ruins of Crickhowell castle

The Bear Crickhowell

The Bear Crickhowell
Mary and I took the train to Abergavenny where John and Valerie Palmer met us for the short ride into Crickhowell.  This is a delightful little village on the river Usk.  We had coffee in the Bear Inn then made our way down to have a picnic on the banks of the river close to the ancient bridge.  This is a salmon river and fishing rights are costly.  The blackberry bushes were ripe with fruit.
Crickhowell Bridge
After lunch we walked across the bridge and took the footpath to Llangattock, past St. Cattwg's church to the canal. There was a mare with a foal close by.

St. Cattwg's church Llangattock

As we passed there was a funeral service in progress. It seemed the whole village had turned out.  We heard a very emotional rendering of Canol Lan, a traditional Welsh hymn.
Click here to see all pictures taken at Crickhowell

Mary and I waited in the Abergavenny station cafe for our train to return to Shrewsbury.  The owner was very chatty and seemed pleased of our custom.  Just before our northbound train was due to arrive a southbound train came into the other platform and was examined by a member of the crew. It had evidently hit something which had broken off some of the front cowling and bent the drivers' footsteps on the west side.  Our train was held out of the station while this was going on.  The southbound train then left and our train came into the platform.  After a long wait we left and went north a few miles then came to a stand.
Long wait.
Staff announcement - there was an obstruction on the line and we would proceed when it had been cleared.
Long wait.
Staff announcement - we would be backed back to Abergavenny where we would be switched to the other line to go north.
Long wait, then slow return to Abergavenny were the doors were opened so people could walk out on the platform. This was an opportunity for the small kids to gang up and play pirates with swords running up and down the two car train.
The next train up was also in the station platform behind us.
Long wait - then the passengers in the train behind were told to get into our train so the second train could return south to Newport which it eventually did using the crossover south of the station near the signal box.
The Arriva Trains Wales web site showed that a train had hit a bull and they were waiting for a veterinarian to arrive before they could clear the line. The staff still referred to is as an obstruction.
Long wait - then staff announcement that they did not know how long it would take and our train would go south to Newport where other arrangements might be made. One possibility mentioned was a return via Birmingham or possibly buses would be put on.  
This is where the fun began.  The train could not convey passengers over the crossover to the southbound line.  I presume this was because the crossover points (switches) were not fitted with facing point (switch) locks. The passengers would have to cross over to the other platform by the overbridge (the luggage was safe however).
On the southbound platform we once again boarded our train and wondered how we were going to get back to Shrewsbury.
The train which hit the bull

Our train has successfully negotiated the crossover by the signal box

Another long wait then the conductor announced that the blockage had been cleared.  However, our train was now on the wrong line and would still be returning to Newport. People wishing to continue north would have to get out, climb back over the footbridge and wait for the next train which would arrive in about 30 minutes.  This time people had to carry their bags, prams etc. as well. One of the compensations was a beautiful sunset over the mountains viewed from the footbridge.

As we sat on one of the few platform benches Mary mentioned that it was like that wonderful scene in the Jacques Tati movie "Les Vacances de Monsieur Hulot" where a crowd was moved several times between platforms.

Throughout the four hour wait passengers had said "Buggrit" and drifted away, either deciding not to travel, taking a taxi or getting a friend to drive them.  The group was quite cheerful and nobody gave the crew a bad time. Temporary friendships developed  and as people left at the stations along the route we could hear
"Good bye, nice meeting you"
We eventually reached Shrewsbury about four hours late.

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