Category Archives: Brussels

The first time ever…

If anyone was expecting me to start the final week of radiotherapy treatments with a health posting, well you’re going to be wrong. For that fact, you can either thank, or be annoyed with Eric, though in truth, as I will know far more after tomorrow, and probably more on Thursday, it would be a bit of a wasted exercise anyway. Though you could say both have a tunnel in common, but seriously…

I dont know exactly when the first time I travelled under the Channel was, though given it was with my partner who I parted from in 1999, you’re talking quite a while ago, but anyway… In those days we travelled from Waterloo, not St Pancras as you would now. Indeed, even my last journey on the Eurostar was prior to 2007 (as thats when the train service was seemingly transferred), though in truth it was before moving to Yorkshire in 2005, so…I could only have travelled from Waterloo, lol.

That first time, the only high speed section of the Eurostar route started at the tunnel entrance, and continued in France and Belgium. Yes, the whole UK section prior to then was over the standard rail lines, not the special high speed one you get to travel on now. Yes, I will need to try and put that fact right once I’m up to it, wont I? I have been on weekend trips to both Brussels, and Lille, and indeed Bruges (via Brussels) with her back in the 90’s, as well as with Eric to Brussels, in the early part of this century. I know, never been to Paris, but if I’m doing the trip again, I’m sure it will be Brussels again, because I’m awkward like that, and Paris has less appeal in truth.

Thing is, if I do it now, the trip to the tunnel entrance would be totally different to anything I’ve ever travelled, literally. St Pancras International, Stratford International, and Ebbsfleet didnt even exist when I first went under the Channel. I’m not sure what the set up was at Ashford back then, but I’m pretty sure it didnt have an entirely separate International station, but dont quote me on that! Seems that now the only section that isnt really high speed is the last section into/first section out of Brussels for about 12 kilometres, though that might have changed now from when the journey was filmed that I saw (care of Eric) earlier this evening. Beyond knowing its after 2007 obviously, I dont know when it was done, in truth.

Of course, the most amusing thing about all of this is the naming of Stratford International station. Why? Simple, there are no international trains serving said station! Care of Wikipedia, I gather the plan was to use it for the trains going further north than London, but of course they never happened (not even during Olympics!), so only domestic trains have ever stopped there! In theory I could get a domestic train that stops there (remember I used to live in nearby Leytonstone, change at Ebbsfleet, or Ashford, to travel abroad, but seriously…?

Either way, the UK part of the journey would be very different to my first Eurostar journey, that is for sure.

OK, video time. Most people of my age grew up on the Roberta Flack version, people younger than me will have grown up on more modern versions, but its right to say this is far more the version as originally written, for sure