The story so far...
The weekend had begun on a clear cool night under the bright lights of the Memorial Ground where Bristol "entertained" Sale, losing 6-9 in a match that resembled the Battle of the Somme, lots of casualties but precious little breaching of the oppositions defences. It was settled by a display of long range artillery, some more accurate than others. The "management" were "surprised" that all of 8,000 fans decided to come, and as they have decided this year to only take money at 4 box office ticket points and not at the turnstile the end result was a queue out onto Filton Avenue, and a wait of about 30 minutes to get in, in some cases 15 minutes after a kick off that had already been delayed 10 minutes to allow the crowd to enter. Like Basil Faulty of Faulty Towers, running an hotel would be so easy if it weren't for customers wanting to stay there....
The next morning. Saturday 20th Spetember.
The Internet is a wonderful place for making plans, least not "Holidays", and many people devise their own. But sometimes it pays to be advised by a professional, especially with things like foreign travel, where things can go "pear shaped". Don't we know. I think that is where the independent traveller might find Trail Finders useful. Personally, I don't "do" holidays. Too much like going to war. So a day out raving away to some unknown spot on a whim with Dings Crusaders playing, appeals. With the promise of a glorious early Autumn day I went on the Ealing Trail Finders Rugby Club web site and searched for a map as to where it was, always helpful to know if you want to get there. (Ed. Get on with it Blessing...please).
The map showed the ground to be next to a suburban railway station, Castle Bar Park, and consulting my old Ordnance Survey map of the whole of West London, I could see that the way to get there was a train to Paddington and then another train back down the line for ten minutes before the branch line curved off North through Drayton Park station and onto Castle Bar Park. "Cross the footbridge, walk along a road for five minutes, turn left and left and into the ground", said the web site.
Game on! Next, the cost of the fare. By paying 24 pounds a year for an over 60 rail card, you get one third off all journeys after 9.30 am week days and all day weekends. So the normal off peak and weekend fare is reduced from 41.50 quid to 27.40. If you buy a return ticket to Didcot and a return ticket from Didcot to Castle Bar Park at the same time, perfectly legal as long as the train you travel on stops at Didcot, no need to get off, the standard fare is reduced to 32.80, and with a rail card this comes down to 21.75 about. Realistic for the lowly paid call centre worker I am proud to be.
More to come, I must go for a run and then down to Taunton to meet Ray and watch Somerset versus Lancashire in their now difficult attempt to win the County Championship for the first time. I've booked two days off to herald the end of summer. Tomorrow, perhaps we may go to Glos vs Essex second day, depending if I feel like sitting in a cemetery surrounded by tombstones, or are they spectators?. Keith, after a whole summer off watching cricket, every day, has been asked by Computershare to return to work for the winter. He is both very relieved and pleased!
Yesterday began with me setting a new World Record for the Horfield Common Run, of 23 minutes and 50 seconds. Waist size down from 44 to 39 inches, weight from 16 stone 12lbs to 13 stone 13 lbs. Then I watched Glos and then Somerset at Taunton as planned.
But back to last Saturday and my trip to Ealing. What a wonderful day. What joy, in the bright sunshine, speeding across the Berkshire Downs, as fields of wheat were at last being harvested, in one case by a tractor with the tracked wheels of a tank, to stop the still wet soft soil being compacted.
Arriving at Paddington Mainline Station, I noticed the glass roof was a bit grimy, but this was "the Smoke" after all. I walked across the concourse to platform 14 and jumped on the waiting suburban train back out to Ealing and Castle Bar Park. Alighting and crossing the track by footbridge I wandered into a deep green corridor and heard the sound of a choir singing "Jerusalem". "How inspiring", I thought, imagining it to be some sort of Saturday mid day West Indian religious out door gathering. I opted to explore the path alongside the line and soon I could see the modernistic club house of the Trail Finders sports ground. A gate to a sun lit glade to the left invited me in, and seeing it was the sports field of the local primary school, I turned to leave and was invited into the Trailfinders ground on the other side of the lane.
I spoke to the gentleman running the complex, David Robinson, who explained that the founder of the travel company had bought the sportsground of Great Western Railway, GWR as it was then known in 1996, on condition it was opened up to the community and could not be sold for development. And what a splendid job they have done. Cricket, hockey and tennis thrive there along with the rugby. The Sunday morning football team had been asked to leave due to foul language by players and supporters. To the North was Harrow on the Hill and to the east in the far distance, the huge arch over the new Wembley stadium. I must go there at least once.
Lee Best was injured on the first day of the season but he was supporting the team, and unfailingly courteous as ever, an excellent ambassador for any organisation. He's working full time in the city. And enjoying life.
Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Club blew Dings away, 46-9, seven tries to nil, which is some doing as Dings were very, very determined opposition. Dings coach Alan Martinovic who as a rubgy coach and teacher at Colston School has provided English clubs with countless players, including Ollie Barkley and Tom Varndell, was quite bemused by his clubs demise.
On an adjoining pitch, my attention turned to Ealing Seconds contest a closer if equally fiercely fought battle with Blackheath Second's, the away team winning 17-19 in the last minute. These second teams play on a Saturday in the Canterbury Shield consisting of second teams from Cornish Pirates , Plymouth, Exeter and the like, so I am led to believe. The standard was remarkably high. Tough, fast, skilful rugby.
What a pity our unadvertised A games are hidden away on a Monday night! What a waste.
As I left the ground I could hear the tannoy playing Jerusalem. I realised that I had entered without paying the 7 pounds entrance fee. This is getting to be a regular occurrence. So here's 7 pounds worth of advertising in return.
So, back on the train at 4.59 pm back to Paddington and onto the 5.30 pm for Bristol Temple Meads, stopping at Didcot of course, and home by 7.15pm.
What a day. Praise the Lord and praise Ealing Trailfinders Rugby Club.
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 26/09/2008 08:49 by WilliamBlessing.