On Wednesday of this last week (12/02/14) I attended a meeting at the Rheged Centre, Penrith, on funding schemes for nuclear waste disposal research. It should have been a simple trip, but for the intervention of the weather …
I set out just before 07:00, taking a bus from Keele to Crewe. My train left Crewe at 08:09, and arrived on time at Penrith at 09:45 It was a short taxi ride to the Rheged Centre, which seems an interesting place, although we had little time for exploration. Another time, maybe!
The meeting itself was interesting and potentially useful. Mark Read and I made some contacts, with whom we might be able to put together a proposal. However we are somewhat limited by the rules of the funding competition, which does not allow academics to be proposal leads, meaning we will have to find something like an SME to work with.
Shortly before the end of the meeting I received a Tweet alerting me to the planned closure of the West Coast line at 19:00 due to strong winds. I was booked on a train at 16:21, so we headed back to the station as soon as we could get a taxi, which was slightly challenging since it coincided with school run time! But we got to the station, and the train seemed to be running and on time. So far, so good.
Having got on the train, we were told by the train manager that we would be travelling at a reduced speed due to the wind conditions. At that point, my ETA at Crewe was about 19:20, as opposed to the scheduled time of 17:59. Annoying but not unmanageable! However it was much worse in the end, because we crawled to Preston, where the train stopped. At that point it wasn’t at all clear if it would (or even could) go any further, and if so, whether it would stop at Crewe station, which was closed for a while when part of the roof blew off (!)
To cut a long story short, we finally left Preston around 21:00, having waited there for nearly 3 hours, during which time we had no idea where the train would stop having left the station. The train reached Crewe just after 22:00 and (thankfully) stopped. The taxi queue had to be seen to be believed (!) so I was grateful that I was still in time to get a bus home. I finally got home just before 23:00, about 4 hours later than planned, but at least I was safe and sound!
The next morning revealed significant storm damage on the campus, an example of which is shown below (close to where I live).