Thursday, March 06, 2008

The race back home


New life after the fire, originally uploaded by CharlesFred.

Back in Holland again now, involved in a race to get home. Of course, I arrived on the station platform in Rotterdam Centraal in time to see the train pulling its way out of the station towards Gouda, Woerden and Amsterdam Amstel where I have my bike, a journey of 65 minutes. It would be another 29 minutes before the next train left, giving a total of 94 minutes to get home, 19 minutes longer than the flight from Grenoble. So 94 minutes is the target and I am trying to beat it by catching the Intercity to Schiphol, another train to Zuid and a tram to Amstel, getting to Schiphol 54 minutes after starting, giving me 40 minutes to complete the rest of the journey to beat the Sprinter. We’ll see.

Holland is under a blanket of cloud and it has rained today, but it is a few degrees warmer than it was in Grenoble and the biting wind we had a few days ago seems to have died down, thank goodness. I really did not like that wind which saps the strength out of you as you try to cycle against it.

Grenoble has obviously had some very nice weather since I was last there as all the forsythia is out, as well as quite a lot of pink and white blossom. Forsythia is very popular in Grenoble as it is everywhere, especially alongside the motorway, where for kilometer after kilometer there are bushes of bright yellow forsythia, planted at regular intervals. How wonderful that so many of spring’s flowers, including primroses, cowslips, celandines and, of course, daffodils are yellow.

So, I’ll be back at home for a few days, not long as it is Cheltenham next week and I will be making my annual pilgrimage. In the meantime, Fred will also be away, with about seventy pupils, in London. I really do not have much of an idea about which horses to back at Cheltenham this year. I hope to use some time this weekend to go through the Racing Post site to look for likely candidates. My favourite trainer, Peter Bowen, is not in form at the moment and I would not necessarily trust Andy Turnell’s horses, which seem to be quite popular with the bookies. However, the highlight is meant to be The Gold Cup next week when Kauto Star will meet the upstart Denman for the first time on a race course. It is just to be hoped that these two horses both give their running. So often, when a race is built up from beforehand, one or both of the principals fail to give their true running and the talk after the race is of the race which not was rather than the race which was actually run.

Further, it seems that countries are busy choosing their candidates for the Eurovision Song Contest. Given that I now have a job and last year did not, I suppose I will not be able to spend as much time becoming acquainted with the songs as I was last year. A lot of work went into choosing Serbia as the winner last year. This year, I feel I have lost my touch…

Well, that is enough blog for today, the train is on time and on target, as we pull out of Leiden, where Fred was just about an hour ago. Someone has brought heated food onto the train and it is stinking out the carriage. The train is still full and fairly noisy but at least everyone has a seat and the contingent of Chinese (who I had tried to avoid but still managed to make it into my carriage) have all gone quiet now, after all the excitement of getting in the train and trying to find a place for all their luggage. The top floor of a Dutch double decker train does not have that much room…

Well, I won the race with 18 minutes to spare, it taking only 22 minutes to get from Schiphol back to Amstel station, so I was not back much later than Fred who had been on the train an hour earlier but who had gone all the way to Centraal and then 'lijn negen' back home.

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