Up early into a morning washed in pale gold, walking through air that hadn’t had time to recover from the heat of the previous day. Having heard that in the last few years Bristol buses have gone from “laughable overpriced shambles” to “running approximately to timetable”, and not hugely wanting to schlep down to Temple Meads in the muggy air, I tried my luck on the #9 bus, which to my great surprise worked out just fine.
The train ride down to Cornwall is much longer than I’d expected (over four hours; who knew England was big enough?), and would have been stunning even on a bad day, let alone in the endless, glorious sunlight. There’s good transport infrastructure in those parts. It’s very bad train country – lots of rolling hills, requiring strings of viaducts and cuttings through inconsistently unhelpful geology – but they really went at it, and creamtealand/pastyland are criss-crossed with picturesque lines.
All of which made me wonder: where the hell did the money come from? I didn’t think Cornwall had much of an economy beyond pasties; there’s a bit of mining, but nothing which would warrant (or pay for) so many nicely made little stations and attractive little branch lines rolling off into the hills. Admittedly, most of the infrastructure looks more than a hundred years old (including the ancient semaphore signals which fall to “GO” when broken, which I thought had been banned), but that nobody’s put the money or effort into shitting everything up with ugly concrete modern stuff is hardly a bad thing.
“There is no smoking anywhere on this train. That includes this train’s toilets; that includes this train with your head sticking out the window.” I’ve noticed a lot of sarkiness in train guards’ announcements lately, and I really like it.
Changed at St. Erth, for an interval of sunburnt platform between the slick air-conditioned 125 to Penzance and a solid old four-coach diesel clanker which rolled down the quiet, shady branch line to St. Ives.