La Gomera recovers
We have visited La Gomera for most of the past 24 years, usually in February or March. It is not just the rolling Atlantic waves, the deep agave strewn barrancos, the lush, cool, damp forest, the fresh fish and fabulous weather that have kept us going back, it is also the people themselves. We are going again next week ... I love this island with a passion and won't abandon it in its hour of need. Not that spending another two weeks there is exactly a hardship. Do the Gomerans a favour and go visit – you'll be doing yourself a favour too.
La Gomera will certainly shine in the face of adversity as your well-written piece shows: Gomerans have the aptitude and attitude to survive and rebuild.
The only way to see Borobudur is to be on the top well before sunrise, and that can only be done by staying at the hotel at the structure's base because the grounds are locked until sunrise. The tranquillity at dawn is shattered by hordes of tourists, tramping around yelling, while taking photos, making the whole experience pretty pointless.
Indonesia is an empire, not a country. In Jakarta an entire floor at the Pasarya department store in Block M is devoted to traditional crafts. It is itself almost a wonder of the world in its diversity.
Besides the long and winding 5.06pm from Paddington to Bath, another odd train is the 8.59am First Great Western service from Brighton to Great Malvern. Over five hours and 38 minutes, it meanders from Sussex to Worcestershire via Southampton, Salisbury, Bristol, Gloucester and Cheltenham. Anybody who misses it should not panic: by taking a service at 9.25am and changing at Gatwick Airport and Reading it is possible to arrive 40 minutes earlier.
While they may seem bizarre, some of these train routings are in order for drivers to refresh route knowledge. It's a requirement that before a driver sets off he must "sign" the particular route, which means he is intimately aware of the positions of signals, junctions, tunnels, bridges, stations and speed restrictions and stopping distances, all in order to control the train safely. If a driver does not sign a route, he can be "conducted" over a section of by a driver who does know the route.
Chiltern offers a number of keeping-the-hand-in trips with services from Leamington Spa to Oxford and to Paddington just a few times per week, so drivers can use those routes at the drop of a hat. The West Coast Main Line operator would do well to run from Euston via Banbury and Coventry to Nuneaton with a diesel service once a day as a reserve route for when it goes pear shaped (about once a week) via Milton Keynes Central.