Monday, November 2

The Axe Vale Festival, joined up transport, and the great horse of Emo

A few months ago I made the journey to the Axe Vale festival on the outskirts of Axminster, billed as ‘probably the best gardening and crafts festival in the southwest’. Enticing!

Planning the journey, my natural instinct was to check the train times first. In a frustrating case of not-at-all-joined-up transport policy, it turned out that I could get a train from Weymouth to Yeovil Pen Mill and then a train from Yeovil Junction to Axminster. The two Yeovil train stations are separated by a couple of miles but despite being joined by a working train line, no passenger trains currently run between them.

Trains occasionally tootle along the line as an emergency measure when flooding occurs, or if a steam train needs to turn around at the Yeovil Junction turntable but there’s no passenger service. Possibly the fact that one station is run by Southwest Trains and the other by Great Western Trains doesn’t help integration.

I spent hours on Internet forums trying to work out how to get between the two stations. Looking at Google maps, the direct route looks like a pleasant stroll along a river, but it turned out to be private property, containing the splendidly named Jack the Treacle Eater folly. There is a road between the two stations but my new contacts on Internet forums told me there was no footpath or verge at all, so it would involve a quite dangerous walk. (At this point, I like to think that Lord Adonis is getting interested.)

So the options were taking a bike to cycle between the two stations, or walking into Yeovil town centre and walking back out, or getting a taxi, or waiting for a bus that might not come. Or a million other combinations that made my brain hurt.

Then, somehow, after spending about half a day researching how to travel between two train stations, 2 miles apart, I realised that there was a bus that would take me directly from Weymouth to Axminster, although the journey time was ominously long relative to the distance covered.

On the Sunday, reaching the bus stop I grabbed some cheapo coffee as the shops were opening and was puzzled by the sight of people crouched over pints in the Weymouth seafront pubs. Had they just started drinking, or were they winding down from last night?

From the top of the bus a series of interesting scenes presented themselves. A civic-minded lady with a small white dog was clearing beer cans and litter from a cricket pitch near Dorchester. Crows loitered ominously around a garden bird table in a front garden in Poundbury. At Martinstown, a Little Egret reared up right in front of the bus – strange to think that just a few years ago these birds were a rare sight in England. At some point I passed a sign that said ‘Revolutions’ next to one that ‘ironically’ said ‘No turning’, which I had previously seen only on the Internet. I didn’t bother to photograph these scenes – the reflections and dirt on the windows means that it’s usually a waste of time.

At last, and feeling a bit travel sick, I arrived in Axminster, and took a few photos at the festival.

After a pleasant day’s shooting I meandered around the town a little, waiting for the vomit-inducing bus journey back. My last view of the town was a group of emo kids leading a very large horse along a pavement.

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