Hi gang, Finally, another trip report from me. Got a few still lined up from earlier in the year, but this one's nice and short, plus I had it conveniently in my notebook next to me. The others will come eventually! Should add my alternative name for this thread, 'This could be para, para, paradise'. Taken from Coldplay's rather excellent current single, Paradise. Anyway, the show goes on: 1st November 2011 - LM Great Escape (my first one too!) The morning starts well, with an on-time waking up (those who know me well will know this is unusual! ) and a good breakfast. VA51 SAR, the local Optare Spectra, as usual on the 0720 to Hereford, and I spend most of the journey reading Syphon! 147 and the C37LG AGM minutes. Traffic is terrible from just before Whitecross, which prompts me to wonder when we might get there. An accident in the middle of the road going the other way in Whitecross is noted as the culprit for the worse-than-usual traffic, but we arrive at the station at 0840, 18 minutes late. It could have been far worse! First things first, I get my Great Escape ticket then go to McDonalds for a coffee and the bank for, well, banking purposes. A Dr Pepper is got from Morrisons for later on before boarding 170633 on the 0940 to Birmingham New Street. I realise I haven't got a camera, camcorder or anything like it for today, a foolish oversight on my part last night. Thankfully I've got my NREA, notebook and diary with me, as any basher knows that's what you really need. Well, and a couple of pens! Worth mentioning that it's a lovely day, lovely day, lovely day... No, seriously, the weather was stunning for the beginning of November! 73931 is observed at Ledbury, possibly the only non-passenger train I've ever seen there. And what happened to the blue skies?! By Worcester, they're back and I finally reach what is currently my favourite song, Coldplay's Paradise, on my MP3 player. Downloaded it last night on Play.com for just 99p, bargain. Had to get it since I've been singing it at work lately, ever since I first heard it at McDonalds recently after work. 158882 is observed just west of Henwick, which would have been on the 1051 Great Malvern to Brighton. Nice, very nice. Not so nice was the thought it might have been my last SWT 158 to get for haulage, thankfully not, nor was the battery finally dying in my MP3 player. Fortunately, I'd had the sense to pack a spare in the bag days before. A 3-car 150 passes us before Droitwich Spa, and I seriously consider alighting there to get a 150 in. If only I wasn't pushed for time. Harsh times, but I should be getting a 150 later so it's all good. Been nearly a month since my last 150 move, that being on 8th October. Thankfully I'll get some 150 action in on my home turf later this month, and I can't wait. To think there were times when I lived in South Wales when I shunned a 150 in preference for a 158. Absolutely dreadful, in the literal sense. As I play Paradise for the umpteenth time today, I can't help staring out of the window at the lovely weather and enjoying the trip. It may have only been 8 days since my last bash, but this trip combined with a much-needed day off from work makes this a trip into paradise for me! We start passing Starships (also known as 323s) and more memories come flowing to the forefront of my mind. Might have to get on one later, it's been ages since my last one, although now I check it was only on 8th October. Must have been too tired to enjoy the short leap! Another tune drags up memories, My Chemical Romance's 'I Don't Love You'. Best start getting ready to alight me thinks. We arrive into Birmingham at 1107, 6 minutes early, and I race off to find required 350123 on the 1113 to London Euston, and we leave smack on time. That's a line in the book is one quote that comes to mind, as does mileage move. I'm sure I don't need to remind heart-of-wessex where that pair comes from! I was surprised to see 390037 on the 1120 to Glasgow Central, I'd have expected to see a 221. What's going on there then? EC-LBC from Mint Airways (never heard of that one before!) is noted as we race past the airport, doubt it's dud somehow and it'll be a welcome addition to my AFQR. As I write this now, I remind myself to do a vegging spree at Birmingham International one day. 350115 heads west at Birmingham International, which reminds me of the first time I finished the 350s for sight some years ago. Now I'm just after 350232 (where is that now anyway?) then it'll be the 350/3s when they arrive! Time for a slightly early lunch in the form of ham sandwiches and my Dr Pepper from earlier, tons of time to get to Bletchley after all. A surprise sight was noted at Rugby, 57003, 57004 and 90014 were noted just north of the station. If I'd had a camera with me, I'd have probably got off for the shot. Assumed to be a 90 off exam at Crewe (which I've now found out it was), and I note the Motorail vans (96609/608/606/602), 92263 and 73905 also in the area. DIRFT, and 66429/421/539/570 and 08913 were noted. None of those needed, but I needed most of the Motorail vans to my surprise. I also noted a RHTT heading north after we went through Long Buckby, but no numbers could be got. Not needing many DRS 66s, that's annoying! Epic "GRR!" moment had at Milton Keynes as I observe 221108 heading north. One of my last two 221s to get for haulage there, will I ever get them I wonder...We finally reach Bletchley at 1245, 1 hour and 32 minutes after we left Birmingham. Good grief, that felt like a long time! The sound of a BR train was most welcome, and I get a can of Fanta Fruit Twist for 85p from the cafe-thing on the station. 153371 is doing the honours on the 1301 to Bedford, which my NREA tells me is required haulage. Excellent stuff! An otherwise routine and dull journey made up LM's version of the Heart of Wales was made more interesting by the poor TM's attempts to issue a passenger with a ticket to Stratford International (the SET one). Poor girl had no luck whatsoever, the whole affair proving just how complicated ticketing is on today's railway. Shame that, hopefully Bedford's ticket office staff had better luck. Arrival at Bedford saw me scoop 319447 for sight at last, leaving me with just 5 more to get for sight. That's probably how many heart-of-wessex needs for haulage now I get the same 153 back to Lidlington for the station grice and to get 150106 on the next service to Bedford. We arrive into Bedford on a rather randomly quiet 150 (I swear it was noisier when I last had it in July) 4 minutes early, and it's now time for some food. £5.94 later, and I leave Pumpkin with a cheese and bacon burger and a can of Guiness. Not cheap whatsoever, almost an hour's work that, but dang it was nice and worth around 45 minutes of slogging away at work! In terms of activity at Bedford, 377521+512 were both required for sight as we arrived, with 319421 arriving from Brighton at 1449. 319442+215 left at 1454 to Brighton, and I must admit to having wanted to be on that! We left promptly at 1455 on 150106 again. To be honest, it's not the dullest line in the world (St Albans Abbey to Watford Junction must surely qualify for that), but by heck does it run through some backwaters! Time now to celebrate finally doing the Marston Vale with that can of Guiness! I didn't know the 319/2s went to Bedford, but then I suppose there's nowt stopping them. Need most if not all of them, so at least I've an idea on where to look for them now. That Guiness went dead quick but darn it was so good. I had considered coffee, but made an implusive decision to have an alcoholic drink for a change. Time to bring the Baker up to date, after a struggle to find the highlighter, and the atlas looks much better. We arrive into Bletchley 2 minutes early at 1536, now it's onto 350240 for required haulage to Wolverton for a station grice. 350235, also required haulage, then takes me onwards after a random 3 minute delay. Time to catch up with doing the detail side of my latest coverage map, as my old one was falling to bits. Having looked at some of my older ones since then, I'm surprised just how much I've done since autumn 2008. A break is required after a while though, and I finally get that Fanta drunk after Coventry. We get random delays at and after Coventry, and having been on time off Northampton, we finally arrive 5 minutes late at 1721 into New Street's platform 5a. There goes all hope of making the 1719 to Hereford, grr! These things happen I suppose, but still not amused. I meet up with my sister who had used Virgin to come up from Euston, and we get some food and drink from The Pasty Shop. Eventually, the 1749 to Hereford is allocated to platform 10b and 170514+170506 arrive from Tyseley to take us home, leaving 1 minute late. Compared to some of the other delays on CrossCountry, that was great! My map's finished off on the way home, and Mum kindly comes to pick us up after we arrived slightly early at 1922 or so. Thus concluded a great day out, for £10 it was amazing! Only one late train out of the whole lot by arrival time, and all delays only pretty minor. I only wish I could use the Great Escape offer again before it ends, alas this turned out not to be an option. Next time though, I'll appreciate it even more as I won't have a railcard then! All in all, an excellent trip. Sadly, I haven't got any random quotes to share although next time I'll keep a more active look out for them. Mileage was around 296 miles in the end, for £10 amazing! 4 new lines in the book and a welcome top-up to my 150 mileage. For the first time, my 150 mileage is higher than my 221 mileage! To end this, if you've not done a Great Escape before I highly recommend doing one!