Thursday, January 14, 2010


Last night I discovered that I'd not booked myself on the earliest flight to back to Bristol, which was just as well given the weather conditions. What it meant in practice was the avoidance of a really tiring early start, and a leisurely departure. I caught a park and ride bus to the airport from the other side of Vernier/Meyrin railway station. It took ten minutes, and I was 25 minutes early for check-in. The automatic check-in terminals were already open for my flight, and within a few minutes of arrival my suitcase was on its way, and I was queuing to get through security checks with about sixty people in front of me in the usual long snaking queue. Twenty minutes later I was strolling unhurriedly through the huge new duty free shopping area, and making my way to the all new departure lounge. A lot of expansion has taken place in this airport since my last visit eighteen months ago.

The flight was only fifteen minutes late taking off, and ten minutes late, touching down in fog at Bristol. My bag came out quickly and I was soon on a bus for Temple Meads, with only a fifteen minute wait for a train to Cardiff - all very relaxed and easy. Only after arrival at Cardiff Central did things become less smooth. There was no readily accessible information about the departure points of buses that could take me up North Road close to home - Birchgrove or Whitchurch buses - there are several. With a little time in hand, I jumped on the new FreeB shuttle around the city centre instead of walking, or going on a bus stop hunt. With a dozen sets of traffic lights to negotiate and a cigarette break for the driver added in, it took 20 minutes to get from Central Station to Greyfriars, the drop off point which would give me the shortest walk home.

The distance from the station to Greyfriars I could have walked in ten minutes, but I'd decided not to, as the ground was slushy and I didn't want to carry my suitcase rather than drag it and get it mucky. Others may have learned the same lesson. I was one of two passengers on the bus. The other man thought he was on a park and ride bus out to Cardiff City football stadium. The livery of the P+R buses, and their size is significantly different, so he may have been plain stupid or unobservant. Having said that, I noticed a P+R bus with all Welsh language descriptions down the side of the bus nearest the pavement - not bi-lingual, all Welsh. There's a lot to be learned around here about communication, no matter how many languages are used.

How jealous I was of the real time journey panel displays on Geneva trains buses and trams, resembling a simplified sat-nav route display, all integrated across the network, along with fare structures. It takes the nightmare out of travel, and in a place where six languages (French German, Italian, English, Spanish, Arabic and Russian) are used by both travellers and residents, information is clearly displayed in ways that don't make different languages much of a problem. Cardiff could be just good, but unfortunately what you pay determines what you get.

After a brief cup of tea at home, I had to walk over to Tredegarville school for a meeting between the Governors and the OFSTED lead inspector. A school Inspection is due, starting on St David's Day. The procedure was very carefully explained to us, and were were asked a few preliminary questions about our perceptions of the nature of the school. If only local government offers and their procedures were exposed to the same disciplined and detailed independent scrutiny as are pedagogues, perhaps it wouldn't be quite such an onerous task to deliver useful and relevant information to the public as it seems to be. In this day and age 'good in parts, with room for improvement' is not enough.

No comments: