Train to the sea

First sight of the sea Swansea Sept 2014
A less familiar train journey today as I set off to attend a conference in Swansea. I have previously travelled the route from Crewe to Cardiff when I was external examiner at the university there. However, that was around six years ago. As the two-carriage train left Crewe, the first notable sight was a dump of dozens of car tyres in a field. Sliding into Shrewsbury, a derelict building (The Maltings) was clearly in need of restoration. Just next to the station, the Butter Market has been better looked after. Continuing through the green and gold landscape of Shropshire, I noted that I do not feel a great attachment to lowland landscapes, having been hefted to the uplands. I was not sure whether a square tower with a flag sticking above the trees and hedges in one village was a small castle or a church. It has been a great year for fruits of many kinds – beside the track are masses of blackberries, rose hips and elderberries while we zoom past the occasional orchard. At one point I spotted a jay flying over the downy seed heads of thistles and rosebay willow herb. I had forgotten that Ludlow has a racecourse and nearer to Leominster, there is a communications centre with many aerials and large satellite dishes. The soil in Herefordshire is very red and I spotted many photo opportunities as we sped past – especially trees silhouetted against the ploughed slopes. As we approached Port Talbot and Cardiff, the landscape changed to industrial and urban. A mother and daughter sitting opposite me were discussing the transition to university. We were back in farmland until Swansea. I was off the train fairly quickly and a quick taxi took me to my hotel which is sandwiched between the marina and the beach. The Welsh Coastal Path passes along the promenade and will be my walk to the university tomorrow. Colleagues are arriving so time to have a quick bath before the welcome ceremony and squeeze in some time for evening photography.

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