Monthly Archives: April 2009

National Rail UK iPhone app review

One of the most useful app functions on my iPhone has been the ability to check train departure and running times. Until the end of March this was offered free of charge by MyRail Lite and it did a fine job. However National Rail refused to renew their license to distribute real-time train information and do this app was discontinued. Replacing it now is an app from National Rail itself. The cost is £4.99 which has led to no shortage of anger with users of MyRail Lite, feeling that National Rail is crushing competition and charging top dollar for a previously free. The National Rail app does offer more features than its predecessor, however, so let’s have a look at these now:

Live Departures & Arrival

The main feature of the app is to check upcoming departures from a chosen station. You can choose your station from a searchable A-Z list; nearest, which using the GPS function of the iPhone lists the nearest 50 stations and handily also displays the distance from you to the station; recently viewed stations and; favourite stations.

Live arrivals screenshot
Live arrivals screenshot

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Walking the Chess Valley

Making the most of the fine, summer-like weather yesterday we headed over the border to Hertfordshire for a walk along a stretch of the Chess Valley. We began at Chorleywood station, walking north through Chorleywood House Park to the river and then roughly following the river past the M25 to Rickmansworth, where we picked up the tube home.

Chorleywood houses
Chorleywood houses

Chorleywood is a compact place; one of the relatively small settlements on the farther flung reaches of the Metropolitan line which, through the vision on the railway’s founders has nevertheless a station to its name, and so became a popular, yet rural, commuting location. We began by exploring Chorleywood, heading south of the station to the high street. It was functional and featured some nice delis, cafes and shops.

Chorleywood Common
Chorleywood Common

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Buying in a Recession: in search of a new Dara cottage

We’ve finally taken the plunge and bought a new pad of loveliness. Yes, bought. Despite these times of financial horror, we’ve taken advantage of the lowest interest rates since 1694 and shall be moving to Rickmansworth (known locally and affectionately as ‘Ricky’) as soon as we get everything sorted.

The search for our new flat took up three days last week, which is probably as speedy as you’re likely to get. We saw eight properties – four flats, three houses and a maisonette – so we had a pretty good idea of what we could get for our money. Some of these places were, er, interesting, to say the least. Let it never be said that we shunned the prospect of viewing the maisonette with the astroturf garden or the flat that could’ve been a set for Life on Mars. One of the flats – the only one with a balcony, albeit north-facing – was pretty lovely, but was sold the day after we viewed it. One of the others had huge ceilings and loads of space, but was a 25-minute walk from the station. The latter was a total lads’ pad. Copies of ‘Nuts’ and smelly ski gear all over the place! The biggest house had nice wooden floors, fireplaces, a decent kitchen and a garden – but the front room opened straight out onto the road and there was a pub carpark next door (nice pub, though).

Tiresome.

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“Don’t stand there, you moron!” Ten Commandments for tourists in London.

No doubt other people have attempted to instil some common sense in prospective visitors to London before by

Make it clear you're a tourist by dressing thusly.
Make it clear you're a tourist by dressing thusly.

writing down some advice for would-be tourists. We feel that’s far too nice an approach. In the space of about an hour around town today, we’d come up with a list of over 30 possible rules (not advice, note) for visitors to London. For efficiency’s sake, we’re narrowing them down to 10 and mailing them to Boris Johnson so that he can have them handed to all people who cross the M25, whether by train, car or plane.

Take heed.

The Commandments

  1. Thou shalt learn prior to your visit how to use the Oyster card/travelcard and shalt not stand in front of the ticket barriers on the tube trying to shove one or other of them in the slot the wrong way.
  2. Thou shalt follow all instructions given to you on the tube, particularly with regard to standing on the RIGHT on escalators and travelators.
  3. Thou shalt not talk loudly in an unsociable manner on the tube, particularly if you have a nasal accent from a continent we shall not name. Or if you’re from Liverpool.
  4. Thou shalt be observant and notice the direction of the way out sign BEFORE attempting to leave the train, so that you do not block the doors.
  5. Thou shalt not stand with your pushchair/large family/luggage completely blocking entrances to platforms/parks/stairways.
  6. Thou shalt not walk slowly down the pavement, taking up all the room, staring at your map. Go ye unto a bus stop to do the same.
  7. Thou shalt obey all queuing customs, i.e. that you do NOT queue-jump for any reason, and must meekly accept being tutted at if you do.
  8. Thou shalt not take up an entire pavement in order to take photographs, forcing polite pedestrians to wait for you to finish.
  9. Thou shalt, if you’re lost or can’t work the cash machine, ask for help. We won’t bite (unless you’ve broken commandments 1-8).
  10. Thou shalt not yell the names of prominent world leaders across a room in the presence of Her Majesty. She doesn’t like it.

Basically, bear in mind that we work the longest hours in Europe, so we don’t appreciate people standing in the way or holding us up unnecessarily when we’re moving about the city. Abide by the rules and we won’t set the giant bulldog on you.

**Thanks to www.maskworld.com for the image. Do go there to buy your tourist costume. These are now the only legal garb for tourists in London – make sure you get yours soon before they run out.

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