Here we go! Pedalling off to the Rugby World Cup Final at Twickenham.

Photo by Kevin Mayne

Courtesy of the ticket lottery almost a year ago I am in England for the big match, my first time at Twickenham for many years. One of those bucket list occasions, to attend a world cup final in almost any sport but especially one that I played and then watched most of my life.

Also an opportunity to catch with family and friends who I am connecting via a couple of days of folding bike touring around very wet but gorgeous Autumnal landscapes. “Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness” indeed.

Photo by Kevin Mayne Photo by Kevin Mayne

Very tempting to bike to the game too, but I will content myself to arriving by train tomorrow so a few beverages can be consumed, got to get into the spirit of the occasion after all.

Now the final dilemma. Who to cheer for? England long gone, the other home nations fallen by the wayside leaving an Antipodean challenge between New Zealand and Australia.

All Black Haka

Logically I can say I am a neutral and I am looking forward to an amazing match, even better if it goes to extra time. Emotionally I can say that English sports fans will always cheer for the underdog, which in this case is probably Australia because New Zealand have been so good.

Of course it is also fun to wind up the Kiwi half of the family and various friends all around the globe, although they tend to have a bit of a sense of humour bypass when it comes to rugby. You can easily substitute the word rugby into one of the quotes of Bill Shankly, the legendary Liverpool football manager, who said of the round ball game “Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that”.  (Murray, Stuart – are you reading this?)

But I have conferred with my English colleagues at work, I have had DNA testing done, read the small print and we categorically agree.

It is NOT possible to cheer for Australia. Can’t be done, won’t be done.

Yes we can hope for a nice, tight exciting game. Or we can hope that the All Blacks give the Aussies a right good kicking, that would be just fine. Game on!

Is this the finest railway station in the world?

It’s been a bit of UK week. Speaking about UK cycling at a public enquiry by video link on Monday, then the slightly odd feeling of being a returning visitor to London on a lovely spring day yesterday. Only six months away, but it did feel strange.

I’ve got a couple of posts that will come from both those experiences but first a travel thought.

So many visitors that arrive in London by Eurostar train just head for the underground (the Tube) so they leave their arrival station without ever stepping outside. Because I walk and cycle I always get to take in the wonderful Victorian buildings of St Pancras station which I regard as the finest railway station I know, an opinion apparently shared by travel writer Simon Calder who apparently called the redeveloped terminus  “the world’s most wonderful railway station”.St Pancras Station London

Yesterday the low afternoon sun picked out the gothic detailing almost perfectly. I have never stayed at the Renaissance Hotel which took over the refurbished Midland Grand Hotel in the main frontage but one day I am going to treat myself. However even if you are just visiting London don’t dash off to the West End or the City without appreciating London St. Pancras.

For the history of this great station the Wikipedia entry is here