LAURA CARTLEDGE Life’s like That...The train is such a fantastic place for a spot of people-watching

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Travelling by train has always been something I have enjoyed.

Granted at times it can be a nightmare, what with those pesky leaves on the track, signal failures and delays sometimes making it feel like you might as well walk.

But when it is good, it is really good.

With a book in one hand and an overpriced chai tea in the other you can whizz past amazing countryside without the stress of having to sit in traffic jams or the risk of getting lost.

The latter of which is especially a bonus for me as my geography skills aren’t just lacking, they are non-existent.

My time at university in Liverpool, and the fact it has resulted in friends flung far and wide, has given me plenty of opportunity to become something of a carriage connoisseur and master the art of the long-distance ride. I can spot left-behind newspapers at 20 paces and for the most part manage to avoid the children. Who may look charming at first but give it four hours, three arguments and two bags of sweets...let’s just say it would be more relaxing to sit on the roof.

But there is something I detest more – the unnecessarily long and loud phone call. Quickly followed by the thing I like the most – the collective display of annoyance. The tuts, the mutters and the collective roll of the eyes.

However, while I have perfected most of the journey, down to my disapproving glare as I peer over my paper at the chatterbox, there are a couple of things I will never understand...

Why is it that first class always sits empty and elusive behind its glass sliding doors while the rest of us are forced to perfect our sardine impression as we pile into the aisles or perch on luggage racks?

And why does the journey differ so much depending on the time of day?

When it is light outside you can meet some fascinating people, exchange passing pleasantries or even an in-depth discussion about the world.

But when darkness falls and your only company is your own fluorescent-lit and unflattering reflection there is always one “interesting” character who, despite the abundance of empty seats, will purposely sit so you are within staring range.

I guess the appeal of going by rail is that it is a cross-section of society swished into a carriage.

And for people like me who like nothing more than observing others, it is the finest way to travel.

* Don’t miss autumn!

People are talking about presents, shop shelves sparkle with decorations and I have even heard rumour that snow is on its way. As much as I am trying to ignore it I can’t deny the countdown to Christmas has started.

And it is such a shame! Autumn is awesome – with its light and colours. I for one am going to resist jumping on the festive bandwagon for as long as I can, and make the most of what we have now.