As being at Lib Dem spring conference will prevent me from having the time to blog about anything else, I’ve decided to write a general account of my experience of it instead. Don’t worry; I’ll try not to bore you with too much political minutiae. Internet access will be limited so I'll post when I can.
Friday 11th March
I’m writing this on the train to Sheffield where the conference is taking place. Today’s been a rather long one as I woke up at 7.30 and won’t be arriving in Sheffield till 9.20pm. However, today started very well as my girlfriend was interviewed on BBC Lincoln and it gave me something very pleasant to listen to in the morning while I packed my stuff and got ready for labs (if you’re interested, you can listen here - she’s 1 hour 17 minutes in).
After a six hour laboratory session at the university (we’re working on a project to build an FM radio receiver) I was able to dash down to the train station to begin the journey to that strange place which is known to southerners, such as myself, as The North.
Fortunately the journey started unalarmingly enough with a simple commute into London. Sadly, when I arrived it was rush hour. And, let me tell you, after a short while on the underground in rush hour I very much understand where genocidal maniacs get their motivation from. Thankfully, I managed to make it to King’s Cross without killing anyone and I even had time for a meal while waiting for a train.
As the time approached for my train to depart I began an experience which I can only describe as stressful. Firstly, in my rush, I mistook a sign which said “No access to platforms 6 to 11” as reading “access to platforms 6 to 11”. After explaining my mistake to a grumpy member of staff, I was released from platform 4 and went to platform 8. However, my suspicions were aroused when, getting onto the train, I noticed that the seat numbers in the carriage only went up to 36 whilst my reservation was for seat number 52. It was then it dawned on me that I should be at St Pancras rather than at King’s Cross. There then followed the fastest dash of my life which ended with me arriving at the wonderfully modern looking, recently refurbished interior of St Pancras. This was better, now I could see the platforms. Unfortunately, I was separated from the platforms by a great big glass wall. I then realised that I was at the wrong end of the station.
A few minutes of sprinting later I made it to the platform just as the ticket gates opened. After queuing for about five minutes I passed through the barriers, trekked down the platform to my carriage, boarded it, ejected the interloper who had the temerity to be sitting in my seat, discovered the luggage racks were too small to hold anything bigger than a paperback novel, stowed my luggage under my seat and sat down. Or, to put it another way, I caught the 1855 to Sheffield.
The journey itself was long but peaceful (though why they feel the need to have radiators on in a packed carriage I do not know). Despite the poor reception, I was able to pick up enough of a signal to download the latest version of the conference papers on my phone and I settled down to read it. I got about half way through the 137 pages before I gave up and decided to look at it again in the morning (I suspect this will prove to be a mistake). So here I am, sitting in a now mostly empty carriage, listening to Katy Perry (and no, despite my music tastes and political affiliation, I am not gay) and looking forward to arriving at Sheffield in about 25 minutes.
I’m booked into a nice bed and breakfast and my girlfriend should be meeting me at the station when I arrive so I’m actually in a fairly good mood. Purely coincidentally, today is our four month anniversary so I’m looking very much forwards to seeing her again (attending universities at opposite ends of the country can be rather frustrating). As a consequence, I doubt I’ll be writing anymore tonight and probably won’t go online at all other than to upload this to my blog. So, with that in mind, I wish you all a very good evening and I shall report back tomorrow on the first day of conference.