Cycling · Socialising

Week 24: My trip to Shippea Hill (and other shenanigans)

As far as work goes, I spent the week just reading recent-ish articles on TeV-scale Higgsinos, but that was by far the less interesting part of my week.

To begin, on Monday, Jacqueline and I were invited over for soup cooked by Annalise. She had prepared a large pot and didn’t want to eat through it all herself, so we shared in a few bowls. Not wanting to be ungrateful, the next night Jacqueline and I prepared and cooked up a stir-fry in return.

On Tuesday evening, I attended the Gates Annual Lecture, presented by Professor Dame Sally Davies, the Chief Medical Officer of the United Kingdom. She talked primarily on the current and impending threats of antimicrobial resistance. Importantly, she presented from a public health and policy perspective, rather than a pure biological sciences perspective. This meant it was appealing to a wider cross-section of the audience, and so could prosecute the argument for change more easily. Antimicrobial resistance is an issue that covers many fields, such as agriculture and foreign relations, and so it was an interesting and clearly dedicated synopsis on the topic.

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Much of the remainder of the week was rather straightforward. Recently, the weather and the sun have been conducive to going on more regular morning rides,  followed by spending the day in the office (with maybe a hard and fast bike ride in the middle to wake me up a little) followed by dinner in college. I took delivery of my new laptop on Wednesday, and spent some time setting it all up. Friday broke the cycle a little, attending a much-postponed lunch at Darwin College with Harum and Paul. That night, I hosted Joanna and Danny for formal dinner, also at Darwin College. Neither had visited before, and the college put on one of their best beef steaks for the occasion. We spent much of the later part of the evening in the bar socialising.

Saturday was probably the highlight of my week, and something I’d been thinking of doing for months now. I woke up early to ride to the train station, where I bought a ticket to a tiny little station called Shippea Hill. This is notable because Shippea Hill was the least used railway station in Great Britain in 2015/16; just 12 passengers alighted or departed the train here in 12 months. There is just one train a day on the northbound platform, and only one a week heading southbound. Hence it became an attraction for me just because of its obscurity.

The only train of the day left just after 7 in the morning, so I took my bike along and sat in the nearly empty train. Heading out of Cambridge, the conductor came to check my tickets and saw that I was heading to Shippea Hill, and so had to go and tell the driver to stop at the station; otherwise the train would have gone straight through.

Eventually, the train arrived at the tiny station in the middle of the very flat fenlands. The conductor waved to me as the train left the station, and I was all alone to explore. There was an old signal box by the road crossing which had been unused for years, and a tiny covered waiting room that was also largely untouched. The ends of the platform had not been serviced recently, but the areas where the trains still stopped had a bright yellow line still visible on the edge of the platform. Someone had left a few potted plants around as part of some beautification project, and there were even a couple of bike racks!

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After exploring everywhere I wanted, it was time to ride home. There were to be no more trains for the day, so I had to cycle. It was a 50km cycle home through the very flat fens. It was the second flattest ride I’ve ever done (the flattest being a ride along the beach in Adelaide), and would have been the flattest save for a tiny hill coming back into Cambridge. I had selected a number of quiet back roads, so there was no issues but for the wind. I was caught by a cycling group halfway home and rode with them for a while too, so it really was an easy ride, despite the distance. I spent much of the rest of the day following the Western Australian election on the ABC.

I joined Annalise and Jacqueline for brunch at Trinity College on Sunday, after which we veged out for a movie in the MCR. This was followed by a visit to Joanna and Danny for a quiet Sunday afternoon of knitting and a trip to King’s College chapel that evening to see the King’s College music society perform Ravel’s La Valse, amongst other things. Crucially, Jacqueline was performing, so I was there to witness and encourage her along.

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