A tale of two commutes

I’ve been commuting into London daily now for a month. Enough time to get a good feel for it. We were in the lucky position of being able to locate ourselves somewhere where the commute is about as good as it can get without being in London itself, so here’s my typical day:

0725 – Leave home and cycle the two miles to St Albans City station

0744 – Get the semi-fast Thameslink train to London Blackfriars. There is a fast train (straight to St. Pancras then onwards) at the same time which is always standing room only. The one I get takes a whole eight minutes longer to get to Blackfriars than the fast one and I get a seat every morning. The only time I didn’t was when the fast one was canceled one morning.

0824 – Arrive at Blackfriars and walk along Queen Victoria Street, over the Millennium Bridge and along Bankside to the FT at One Southwark Bridge

0835 – Arrive at my desk.

1715 – Leave work and walk back to Blackfriars

1736 – Get the fast train back. Always get a seat

1806 – Arrive at St Albans, cycle back home

1815 – Get back home.

This will improve even more in December when the Bankside entrance to Blackfriars opens, which will at least halve the amount of time I walk to/from work.

So far I’ve hardly been affected by delays or cancellations. I have come close though when I narrowly avoided the chaos caused by a power failure at Kentish Town the other week. All in all I’m very happy with how things have gone so far and have no regrets about the commute (or anything else about the job!)

This was driven home today when I went to a one-day event at the Hilton Park Lane. This meant adding an underground journey into the commute. I purposely looked to avoid any tube journeys in my daily commute and today proved why. The trip into town in the morning was fine. I got the same train I’d normally get, got off at St. Pancras and then took the Piccadilly Line to Hyde Park Corner. Coming back however I left at 5, stood on a packed and hot tube for 15 minutes, then boarded the same train I normally get home, but from St. Pancras, not Blackfriars. By St. Pancras however the train is packed and I stood the twenty minutes back to St. Albans. So, the time was about the same, but the hassle increased and comfort decreased.

I’ve probably jinxed it all now.

Week One

I’ve now been in my new job a full week. So far so good. Here’s some rough thoughts:

  • The commute is better than expected. I typically get the 0744 train from St. Albans to Blackfriars and after that it is a 10-15 minute walk. This will get even better in December when the Bankside entrance to Blackfriars opens. Coming home I normally get the 1736 back. The total commute is about an hour each way.
  • I get a seat both ways, every day.
  • The weather has been fantastic making the walk delightful. No rain so far!
  • The new team are great. Nice bunch of people. I’m the second dev on the team, and we had a third join this week.
  • Theres a lot of contractors. Something new to me.
  • I’m working on the project that allows journalists/editors to apply various metadata to articles that then serves many purposes, including what sections of ft.com the article appears in.
  • So far I’ve got my development environment set up, pair programmed my first defect fix, and also delivered my first solo fix and done a bit of code refactoring along the way.
  • There’s some meaty new feature work planned for the next couple of months that should keep us busy.
  • It’s completely and utterly different to the experience of IBM product development teams in many ways, which requires a blog post of it’s own.
  • I’ve not been on a single conference call. Our customers are one floor down (in the newsroom, which I got to visit on the first day)
  • We have a product owner and in general the scrum roles are much more clearly defined than on any project I’ve ever worked on.
  • Have yet to eat lunch in the work canteen. I’ve always gone out for lunch, normally with others. There’s lots of choice around and prices are not as bad as I thought they would be.
  • Free tea/coffee saves me a lot of money anyway.
  • Today I didn’t even bring my laptop home.