Let the train take the strain’ ran the advert. If only. The New Year saw headlines of more sharp rises in ticket prices, although nobody seems to write about the even sharper increase in car-parking costs over the past few years. It now costs £940 annually just to park your car at Petersfield.

The rail service has been appalling for the past few weeks. I’m writing this stuck on yet another train that’s going nowhere, and the communication about what’s going on is mute. To be fair, neither the regular theft of copper cabling nor the suicides are South West Trains’ fault. But as for the rest…
One night, a kind gentleman offered us a lift when we were stuck, seemingly forever, at Haslemere.

His wife came to pick us up, and turned out to be the vicar of Selborne. Now, Selborne was the home of the eminent naturalist Gilbert White, who is buried in the churchyard, which is also home to a famous, ancient yew that appeared to have died a few years ago. However, the old tree seems to have sprouted again. I hope the yew may be a metaphor for our train service of the future.

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