Things I’ve learned on trains

I love to travel, well you know, I did, before all of this nonsense kicked off. I love an airport lounge (and all the free prosecco that flows within her) and I love watching old episodes of Modern Family on flights. Not that I get to fly all that often, but before lockdown, I did go on high speed trains at least once a month thanks to my jetset twin centre lifestyle split between Newcastle and Eastbourne. If i were to be a Dr Suess book, it would be called ‘Oh the things I’ve learned on trains’


Don’t get me wrong, for the most part, travelling on trains is actually quite pleasant. If you go on the same service you get to know the staff which often means a sneaky cookie slid your way with your coffee every now and then. And, if you know how to work the booking system, you can book a specific seat which 9 times out of 10 is empty, so you get a double seat to yourself there’s plenty of room to spread out and see the best of the English countryside as the sun comes up.


You don’t spend 12 hours a week once a month at the mercy of LNER (other train companies are available) without learning a thing or two. Over the last 2 and a half years doing this journey, I’ve observed some startling behaviour. Because, if that popularity of Coldplay has taught us anything, it’s that’s people never act predictably:

LNER wifi doesn’t like Instagram or YouTube

The people who talk loudest on trains usually work in HR – yes pet, we get it, you’re very important, now pipe down, I have a presentation to work on

You can learn a lot from the presentation your seat neighbour is working on

London is always a good couple of degrees warmer than Newcastle and if i’m early for my connection back to Newcastle, I’ve collected many a freckle sitting outside Kings Cross.

Newcastle train station is always a couple of degrees colder than the arctic circle.



People seem to me under the impression that their screens are invisible even though you’re sitting right next to them. My poor eyes have been witness to someone sacking someone over email (poor Darren), someone reading an extremely graphic blog post and someone rewatching the same sex scene in Game of Thrones over and over again.

Likewise people think their ablutions are also invisible. I’m talking specifically about the nose pickers and crotch scratchers

People are much nicer to me when I’m wearing my NHS work badge. Not that people aren’t generally pretty nice, but I think people are extra nice when they now I work for the NHS. Which is nice, because most of my thoughts are occupied with random boyband facts rather than saving the lives of the nation.


If you’re getting on the Victoria line tube at kings cross don’t turn right like the signs tell you to, turn left, its quicker and they only divert you to the right to avoid connection #newmanstraveltips


Spotify doesn’t work on the underground, unless you’ve downloaded your playlist of course.

When you have bags of time your train will be delayed. When you’re in a rush, your travel will be on time and I’ll miss it by precisely 1 minute every, single, time.


On the train from London to Eastbourne, you pass the Longman of Whilmington. which is a large chalk outline on one of the downs and visible from the train on a clear day. There are two facts about this dude that always makes me smile when I see him
1. When I first saw it, I didn’t realise It was actually a famous landmark in that area, I thought it was some transient graffiti by someone protesting about arable farming to something. So when I got to the office all excited about this new discovery they all laughed at me
2. Legend has it that he used to have a rather large appendage between is legs (hence the name Longman I suppose) as he was supposed to be some kind of god of fertility. However it was removed under decency laws.

From platform 0 right the way round to platform 11 at Kings Cross is exactly 683 steps. That’s what you get up to when you’re early for your connection but it’s raining.

And when you’re bored on a train back from Glasgow, hungover and have just been told off by your mum for throwing a bag of wotsits at her head, playing around on Snapchat is the most fun ever:

1 Comment

  1. June 1, 2020 / 6:30 am

    Helen, your posts never fail to make me smile! Loving all of your random observations!

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