Monday, 23 August 2010

Trains, More Trains and Automobiles

I want a car. I don’t need one, but I want one. In particular I want a Mini Cooper. A new one. I’ve wanted one for years, but when I saw on Facebook that one of my friends has one for sale I nearly caved. I have the money in my ISA for a deposit on a shoebox of a flat and for a moment, it nearly got spent on something quite frivolous.
You see, in London, you don’t really need a car. Driving to work in the city centre is a no-no, being even more stressful than a commute on the tube and several times more expensive. So when my friend who lives in Lincolnshire told me how she needs her car to live her life, I nearly laughed. Then I remembered my childhood in semi-rural Nottinghamshire, and sympathised.
Of course there are times when I would benefit from having car. Like when I need to go to the supermarket and have missed out on the delivery slots for the next day on The other situation is when we travel to visit family and friends out of London. I seem to have been doing this a lot lately, and have wondered, whilst perched on the luggage rack outside the toilet on the train headed north, whether it would work out cheaper to have an old banger for such situations. If I need to get up to Yorkshire to visit my sister at short notice, I am looking at £90 return, off peak. With no guarantee of a seat. Having said that, having a car in London, you would have to factor in the cost of the congestion charge and parking permits. Ouch.
The good thing about trains is that you don’t have to concentrate on the road. If you are lucky enough to have a seat you can sit back with a good book and a mini bottle of over-priced wine. However you always have to keep an eye on your luggage rather than slinging it in the boot and forgetting about it. I have recently been sent a handbag hook from that can be hung from any table and worked particularly well on a train, even though the table was quite thick and the train journey quite wobbly. I was able to sit back and enjoy the journey in the knowledge that my bag wasn’t getting stuck to a nasty piece of gum on the floor, or, worse still, sliding towards the other end of the carriage whenever the train tackled a slight tilt in the track. But that didn’t stop me from having to check my suitcase hadn’t been liberated every time the train stopped between London and my destination.
So, when I journey up north to see Him Indoor’s parents at the weekend, squeezed in between several oversized suitcases and several more sweaty bodies, I will probably regret not making a serious offer on that sliver, eight year old Mini with is currently going for £4,800 ono. But for now I will remind myself that it isn’t worth the road tax, the MOT’s, the hassle of having to put up with London’s crazy cabbies and boisterous buses. Or hope that my Facebook friend accepts my offer of £50 a month until I have paid off the national debt.


  1. you just like shiny things...

    Sorry my house is a £90 train ticket away - we need to get better at the el cheapo tickets!!!

  2. I used to drive into Camden (and pay for for parking, fuel and congestion charge) from Berkshire every day as it was considerably cheaper than using public transport. I found driving from West London to Camden/King Cross fine.

    Its only in the last year with fuel rises that using public transport has become slightly cheaper and have been forced to accept at least some of it (!!!I so so so hate public transport!!!). I still drive into London but park in Ealing and take the tube into Kings Cross. It’s because of economics that I’ve been forced onto public transport and no other reason.

    On a recent driving trip, myself and my partner (who is very green-minded unlike me) were discussing how impossible this trip would be by public transport, and if it were possible, how very expensive it would be. The trip was to Stonehenge, Avebury, Chedar Gorge, Box, Longleat and Bath to and from Berkshire. We managed the whole round trip on £35 of fuel!

    If I lived in London my car use would be considerably lower but I would still own a car as the flexibility it offers will never be bettered by public transport.