Off the rails

As I begin my last week of train-based commuting, I thought I should maybe write something about the nice things I’m going to miss. It’ll make a change from the bitching, and the reporting of catastrophes.

When I arrive at Laytown station in the morning, more often than not I am greeted by Jo. He’s a gruff old bugger, but he always says hello. Well, to be fair, he gives a waggle of the head that in most places would mean something like “geez, what the hell are you wearing”, or “bloody hell, women allowed out on their own, next thing you know they’ll be allowed to vote!”. But that actually means “Hello, how are ya?” in old-Irishman. He really is very nice, and has been most helpful on several occasions, which all goes to show you shouldn’t trust first impressions.

From spring to autumn, you can see the sea and beach from the station platform, including the magical floating islands. As the sun rises, the sea reflects its light along the horizon, and the islands look as if they are not even touching the sea. On dark winter mornings, you can see the train coming long before the ding-dong of the automatic announcement, as its headlights light up the rails as they curve in towards the station.

Finding a nice snuggly seat on a cold winter morning is particularly nice. The one good thing about living so far away from Dublin is that there are plenty of empty seats on the train in the morning.
I usually try to get a seat on the Coastal side of the train, because the views are just lovely. The (now repaired) Malahide viaduct, and its counterpart at Donabate, span wide estuaries that lead out into the Irish Sea, and the train is the best wayto see them. The first time I rode this line, I was as excited as a toddler on RedBull when I realised that there was water on both sides of the train! In spring and autumn, the sun is usually rising over the estuaries at the time I’m crossing them, and it is possibly one of the loveliest sights ever. I have of course taken about a billion pictures of this over the years.

On my way home, my favourite bit – apart from the fact that I’m going home – is checking on Jeremy the Station Mouse. At Pearse station, I always stand in the same place, and near that place, there is a mouse who has built his house. Or quite possibly several mouses. Mice. Whatever. Anyway, his name is Jeremy Mouse, and every now and again, he will cross the tracks in the boldest of fashions, to visit his friend Cecil Mouse who lives on the other side, under the Southbound platform. I know all this because he told me so, of course.

I think it’s about time I get more sleep.


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