Dinner last night at Tom's Bar terrace at Somerset House. Perfectly acceptable nouvelle cuisine but a very noisy 'disco' background run by the prototypical middle aged bloke with designer shades, a shaved head and a trilby perched on top. No doubt he thinks he is very cool and a great hit with the young clientele.
Above the noise (we did get the nearest speaker turned off) I had an argument with an opinionated American (sometimes I ungraciously wonder if there is any other type) about rail privatisation. He said it was an unmitigated disaster: I thought it was more of a curate's egg.
As it happens the service to Leamington has greatly improved with the arrival of Chiltern Railways, now owned by Deutsche Bahn. There is, however, a less frequent alternative service run by the Wrexham & Shropshire company which I caught this morning.
They are using 1970s coaches which are slightly the worse for wear (despite a new external livery) and have seat numbers put up with paper and sellotape. I had forgotten that the arm rests don't move, but the seat was quite comfortable and there was a table. The train was moderately full. One of the nice features was a full service buffet where the train manager was serving behind the counter.
We went quite fast to Banbury, but then were diverted into a side platform. It seemed as if the timetable had a slot for the engine to take on water (Banbury is one of the few stations where it is available on the line) while in another platform we were overtaken by a Virgin Cross Country service.
It was all a bit retro, including having to lower the window to open the carriage door (health and safety?) but then I am up for that.