Musings from a New Commuter

On Monday it will be the fourth week of my new job and I am becoming accustomed to being a commuter.   The job is good and a testimony that clouds do have silver linings.  The hour long travel by train is proving to be manageable too, despite late running due to a broken down train, an animal on the line and a track failure.  It’s just one of those things I have to live with and there is little point in getting stressed about it, yes, it is annoying but I got home eventually on each occasion.

I am a people watcher and train travel is a great place to engage in this activity.  Commuters are creatures of habit and one such is the girl who has a particular standing spot on the platform.  I first noticed this, when waiting at the end of the far end of the platform at our station which was empty, bar a lady in a red coat, who was standing patiently, feet on the yellow line, when she arrived and took up her spot standing shoulder to shoulder to Mrs RedCoat, it quite obvious the point she was making.  I have watched her every morning as she marches down the platform and takes her place.  Why?  When the train comes in, the doors open exactly where she stands so she is always the first on.

On the train, it appears to be men that take longer to settle than the women do.  Coffee is placed on the table, off comes the  jacket and placed  in the rack above, followed by a rucksack or computer bag, then the bag is retrieved and an iPad or Notebook is removed.  Usually the jacket  is then brought down, pockets felt, the mobile phone is added to the collection and the jacket returned to the rack.  All this is while fellow travellers are trying to make their way through the carriage to find a seat with a table.  Eventually, once he has adjusted his earphones, Mr Commuter settles and starts tapping away on his Notebook.

Travelling southwards along Ouse Valley viaduct
Travelling southwards along Ouse Valley viaduct (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Train travel for the commuter is an extension of their office and working day, very few of them actually look out of the window.   Others not working, or having loud phone conversations relating to business or, even worse, their personal life, will read.   There is nothing wrong with that, quite often I read too.  It is an ideal opportunity to get into a book without feeling that I should be doing other things.

Some days though I sit and look out of the window as we speed through the beautiful Sussex countryside.  It is “me” time – time to contemplate, reflect and just gazing out of the window.   Something that not many other fellow travellers do and I wonder how many of them actually are aware of the places they pass through.  A friend of mine said they have probably seen the view so many times they are no longer interested.  To me, I think that is sad – the countryside changes with the seasons and so does the scenery.   Also it good to clear the mind of work and other things and appreciate what a wonderful part of the country we live in.

Ouse Valley Viaduct For railway buffs the trai...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

How many notice the skeletal trees are developing a pale green hue as though someone has painted the bare trees.   Shortly they will be covered with leaves and their shapes altered.   Although the weather has been balmy for March, how many noticed that where the sun has not hit the fields, they were covered in a ground frost.  That certainly reminded me to be careful with seedlings and new plants.

Daily we cross the Balcombe Viaduct  – how many people know it is a Grade ll  listed building, built in 1841 and restored in 1996 and its proper name is The Ouse Valley Viaduct?   The vista of the rolling Downs is spectacular, with the Ardlingly Reservoir  just out of sight.

Ouse Valley Viaduct Also known locally as Balc...
Ouse Valley Viaduct Also known locally as Balcombe Viaduct,photographed from Haywards Heath Road just south of Balcombe (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The other day I noticed The Jill Windmill, gleaming white, standing high and proud looking over the Sussex Weald.  Jill is a 19th Century corn windmill and is one of two Clayton Windmills  known as the Jack and Jill Windmills.  I bet at least 50% of those on the train have seen it – what a shame.

Jack and Jill Two windmills on the South Downs
Jack and Jill Two windmills on the South Downs (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These are just two of the historic sites we pass twice a day, I am sure there are more.  We should stop once in a while and just look at the world with fresh eyes and remind ourselves that we live in a wonderful place.

One day I will  travel on the train at a weekend, when there is elbow room, and take my own pics of the scenery from the train, but I couldn’t write this post without any photographs and I give credit for  the above photos which have been selected from images on Wikimedia.

I have never used photos taken by others before but having checked the details, my understanding is that they are in the public domain and freely  licensed.


  1. I cant believe its four weeks. I am so glad the new job is working out, what a relief for you. I’ve done quite a bit of train travel over the last year for one reason and another, in fact more than I have probably done in the last 10 years and I always take a book/magazine and never open it unless it is dark outside. I love watching the scenery go past especially as you say on a route I have done at different times of the year.

    When I was first working I used to travel to work on the train and I took, like Ms Red Coat, used to stand in the same spot on the platform. I used to get quite confused if someone else stood there but I would never have gone and stood right against them!!


    • I laughed to myself this morning, two of us were standing on the platform waiting for the train and she came marching down the platform and stood right between us, the other lady had to take a couple of steps sideways!! I don’t think she had a clue what she was really doing, just focused on getting on the train first – and she did. 🙂


  2. I used to commute by train to a job, and it was always an interesting experience. I also enjoyed it because it gave me that down time before I arrived home. Your observations on your ride are beautiful reflections of your surroundings.


  3. Ronnie I am so glad you are enjoying your job and commute…I would love to have a long train ride to work instead of driving…we haven’t much train travel here which is a shame…i loved traveling by train as a child…as I drive I too notice the changing seasons and critters along the way…but I would love to read a book or just zone out looking at the lovely scenery…wonderful musings!!


  4. Sounds as if you are becoming a seasoned commuter Ronnie. Hope that your journeys flow as smoothly as possible. Did you catch any of the recent BBC programme called ‘The Tube’? I was fascinated/ amazed/ dismayed etc by the behaviour of some passengers 🙂


  5. Hi Ronnie,

    I am that lady in the red coat! Hahaha, I know exactly where the doors will open after a few years commuting to Uni; I even remember now where abouts they are and can estimate where the carriages will stop and doors open 😀

    Just wait until the monotomy kicks in and then you’ll begin to fall asleep every journey. Everything becomes the same and somewhat boring…

    4 weeks since you began commuting??! Where has the time gone? I can’t believe it.


  6. Glad things turned out well for you with the job. I agree with you that travelling time is really good ‘me’ time. Time to read, time to stare, time to think, time to enjoy.


  7. I am glad you are getting on well in your new job role and it is good to hear about all of the positive things in life. You are an inspiration to others and proof that there is life after being told you are going to me made redundant.

    Have your thought about keeping a journal, so you could write a book on your journey to and from work?



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