Tuesday : From Farnborough to Walton (Smashed Mugs to Lovely Swans)

I mentioned that I’d be writing this blog in a new style. Same old irrelevant piffle, but in a more organised manner really is the short version. I’ll spin off some new web-sites to keep things tidy and then people who only like reading about Norfolk churches, British Airways flights, odd museum exhibits or Good Beer Guide pubs can wallow in content without being distracted by other random things. I’ll add that I’m not really writing this blog for anyone else, it’s for me to remember stuff, so yes, it’s all self-serving. But, it keeps me amused, and so here we are….. I won’t write every day and sometimes I might get behind, but when I do post, it’ll usually be an entire day’s worth of content.

Let’s start today’s adventure at Travelodge Farnborough. This has been quite a quiet stay until my last night when a mug smashed against my door just after midnight. It transpired it was the room two doors down who I think had broken a mug and tossed it out of the room. I on the other hand assumed that it was Russia launching an invasion on my room, so I phoned reception so that they could alert NATO. The nice man came up, cleared up the mug, told people in the room to shut up, they did and that was that. Not ideal, and I’ve complained to Travelodge in the hope they offer me a free breakfast or towel or something.

Farnborough railway station, which opened in 1838 and I will write about elsewhere. I will write that a lot over the next few weeks, but I will add the links in here as well for future readers and also mention when there’s new content elsewhere. Oh the anticipation and excitement of it all….

There we go, the 09:46 train, heading for my first stop of the day, which was Woking.

How people manage to navigate steps without signs like this I’ll never know….

Not very busy and suitably comfortable because it wasn’t very busy. 3*2 seating is bloody dreadful when busy, it doesn’t fit, trains were built for 2*2. I might have moaned about that before.

British Rail Class 450 carriages, a staple of the South Western Railway and these were brought in during 2003. See, what exciting content I have with this new style!

Woking railway station, which they’ve tried to make look a little exciting with some large potted plants.

One of the five Woking born Sean Henry installations across the town, and I’ve written about him before on a few occasions.

Time for a Good Beer Guide pub, this is the Herbert Wells, operated by JD Wetherspoon and named after HG Wells.

I treated myself to a traditional breakfast and also added tomatoes as a side, and my friend David Morgan will be delighted you get a whole tomato now and not just half. I was pleased that I could dip my toast into the egg, which I consider to be an essential part of the Wetherspoon’s breakfast experience.

It’s a huge Wetherspoons, I liked it, there were plenty of power points, the staff were friendly and the decaff coffee didn’t run out. I thought that I had quite a productive morning, I always find Wetherpoons to be excellent background music which helps me get stuff done. Especially as they were having problems with the gas for an hour or so and some customers were told they couldn’t have draft beer. Honestly, the complaints from customers were ridiculous, I heard one thinking he was being hilarious saying to his friend “a pub without beer, I’ve never heard this, have you, the press would love this!”. A slight exaggeration and the situation was resolved soon enough, but I did offer a little private prayer for the customers who couldn’t have beer between 10.00 and 11.00.

HG Wells wrote War of the Worlds whilst living in Woking, there’s quite a lot about him around the town.

The Woking Martian by Michael Condron.

And here’s the plaque to the sculpture.

HG Wells himself. Well, a statue of him obviously.

It took me longer than it should have done to realise why the light wasn’t going green. I spend a lot of my day confused at things like this.

I then went to the Lightbox, an art gallery and cafe, although I think mostly cafe judging by where the visitors were all sitting.

This is the Woking Story, the free exhibition. I mean, the three cabinets aren’t really the British Museum, but I suppose it’s better than nothing.

The Woking Beer Festival special exhibition. I thought there might be more to it than this, but I assume that the curator was busy that day and so this was the limit of the story they wanted to tell.

More Sean Henry, this is Sleeper from 2013.

Sean Henry again, this one is called Standing Man and was created in 2016.

All that looking at beer glasses made me thirsty so I popped to Pret. I didn’t buy the crisps, I’m not that decadent, they were my latest Pret Perk that I got for free. I’m hoping I get something good like a sandwich soon rather than crisps. I stayed here for quite a long time getting as much work done as possible. Another actually quite productive few hours….

Woking’s war memorial, in the heart of the town which is where I think it should be.

I then popped into the library.

I haven’t bought a book in ages, other than the ones I have on my phone, but I always have a little look when there’s a book sale.

I didn’t buy anything. I never do now, but I can’t resist having a little look.

The library’s local history section has either been pinched, or they haven’t bothered to collect many books on the subject.

There were literally thousands of travel books, but I’m good with this, I find them inspirational.

The astute reader will know who this is by.

That was my morning in Woking over. Some people think my life is full of excitement, but that was it, my quick meander around after spending hours in Pret and Wetherspoons typing away on my laptop. I got a peppermint tea to takeaway with my Pret subscription, despite knowing that I’d have to carry it around for 45 minutes until it cooled down. Here it is having a rest next to the bench.

Back to Woking railway station. I missed my train by one minute because platform three is about 75 furlongs down the platform.

The waiting room, which had a strong smell of paint so I didn’t dare touch anything. My Pret cup is visible as it was still too hot to drink.

Here’s the South Western Railways thunderbolt that would take me to Walton on Thames.

Still too bloody hot.

In there is the first class compartment, taking up about 5% of the train, it’s very odd.

And here we are, safely in Walton. I had managed to drink my Pret tea by now. Just.

The railway station, which had too many cars outside of it. The taxi drivers were very careful to ensure they got priority over pedestrians trying to cross to the other side of the car park.

The town’s war memorial.

The town’s only Good Beer Guide listed pub, the Walton Village. The staff were friendly, but I found the set-up a bit formulaic. It’s a small chain and there’s nothing wrong and the food looked quite good, albeit too expensive for what I wanted.

It wasn’t very busy and I was disappointed that the keg options were quite generic.

The Solaris from Big Smoke, one of the dullest beers that I’ve had, but it was well-kept to be fair to the pub.

The Regent, a Stonegate pub which has this really annoying thing of charging nearly the same for two meals as it does for one, which is not particularly useful for odd sized groups.

My hotel room overlooked the Regent, which was a JD Wetherspoon outlet until 2016. I don’t know how Stonegate are making this work if Wetherspoons couldn’t. Frankly, I would have likely very much enjoyed this pub if Wetherspoons were operating it. Much as people complain about them, they’re in a different league to Stonegate (I mean a higher one).

My little ten minute walk to the River Thames.

Rather peaceful.

I thought I’d pop into the Anglers which is located by the river.

Absolutely no effort made to offer a range of beer styles, look at the exciting range of colours that they’ve got.

Underpoured and on the turn. Stonegate seem to be in a freefall with their pubs, and they’re really in the gutter at the moment. Today in the press the company has been charged with the death of a student and accused of faking reviews, and it’s just an endless torrent of bad news for the company. They’ve got more pubs than they can manage and I doubt they will be able to recover the situation given how badly rated so many of their pubs are.

The swans seemed friendly, but I think they thought I had food and galloped towards me at some pace, so I thought I’d better move on. They didn’t look angry though, that’s the main thing. I wonder if my friend Clive remembers when he upset a swan and it knocked him into the water from his canoe. He’ll laugh about that now I bet.

St. Mary’s Church, which I didn’t get time to investigate unfortunately.

I thought I’d get chips for my evening meal, although the chip shop has decided it no longer accepts cards. I used my emergency £5, which I must remember to replace…..

I like the name of the Fish Tank, which was quite busy, but there wasn’t too long a wait for service. Friendly staff as well.

All OK, it came to £4.50 and the portion size wasn’t too bad. The chips seemed freshly cooked and I liked the batter of the sausage, quite rich, although the sausage itself was a bit generic. Anyway, it was £4.50, so I can’t much complain. I carry an emergency supply of tomato ketchup sachets (yes, I know I should get out more….) which came in handy as well. It was as much food as I needed, so it lasted me through the evening. Note that I asked for extra milk and decaff coffee, which are in the photo above.

And with that, the day was pretty much over, as I had an LDWA Zoom meeting which occupied some of the rest of the evening.