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Posted by Steph
21:31 October 29, 2017


We made it: 15 trains, 358 miles, 4 random destinations in 4 days (Wellingborough, Ingatestone, Aldershot, Southend-on-sea).

It involved a bit more travelling in and out of London than we’d bargained on, but ticked all our holiday boxes, and took us to four places that most of us hadn’t been to before. We met friendly people everywhere, and found great places to stay and things to do in each destination.

Based on some of the feedback we’ve had from friends and family, there’s appetite for traindomising out there, and I think our experience has been that it makes for an interesting, varied and pretty action-packed break. It’s given us some ideas for the kind of options that might make the Traindomiser app a bit more sophisticated, for instance, limiting the direction of destinations (“don’t take us through London”) and being able to set a duration of travel rather than a distance (“take me somewhere less than 3 hours from here”). We also found the Airbnb pickings were pretty thin for a family of four wanting to rock up somewhere on the same day, so mainly ended up in hotels – which was fine, and actually pretty good value.

But now, sleep!

Posted by Hannah
17:29 October 29, 2017

Was it expensive?

A few people have asked about whether Traindomising is expensive. These things are relative, of course, but we want to be open about the costs of this trip in case anyone else is thinking of using the Traindomiser and is interested to know what the costs might be. The reality is, you don’t know when you start what it’s going to cost, so if you need to stick within a specific budget then that might limit how comfortable you feel with the unpredictable nature of a randomised trip. It would though be possible to set some of your own boundaries about costs – in fact there was one occasion when we moved on because the only available accommodation didn’t represent good value for us.

We looked into the option of 7 day All Line Rover tickets, but concluded that it wouldn’t be worth it if we were travelling for only 4 days. We did purchase a Friends and Family Railcard for £30, which gave us 1/3 off our rail fares.

In each hotel we had a family room, with four of us in one room. We also travelled off peak, although this wasn’t particularly because of the costs but more because it just worked out that way.

So, what did we spend?

Accommodation including breakfast – total £355:

  • Hind Hotel, Wellingborough: £90
  • The Queens Hotel, Aldershot: £89
  • Park Inn Palace Hotel, Southend: £176

Travel – total £276.80:

  • London – Wellingborough: £75.60
  • Wellingborough – Ingatestone: £92.50
  • Ingatestone – Aldershot: £43.70
  • Aldershot – Southend: £47.30
  • Southend – London: £17.70

Total for travel and accommodation for a family of four for 3 nights/4 days: £631.80

Of course we also spent money on activities, including Laser Maze, bowling, Adventure Island at Southend and restaurant meals. I haven’t included these costs because they would be so variable and depend how you choose to spend your time.

Posted by Steph
16:30 October 29, 2017

Posted by Hannah
13:50 October 29, 2017

Posted by Arthur
13:45 October 29, 2017

The treasure trail!

We’re doing a treasure trail in Southend. Once we have finished, we are going to submit the answer online in a prize draw and possibly win £100!

Posted by Steph
13:40 October 29, 2017

Posted by Steph
12:08 October 29, 2017

On Southend Pier

As a Hastings boy, I like piers. Southend’s is impressive and odd: amazingly long (for offloading passengers to boats in the days of river steamers), with a nice train that goes up and down it, but quite empty of stuff to do at the end apart from the impressive RNLI station.

Nice colourful beach huts though… one advertising going to Groningen, Netherlands for your holiday.

Posted by Leo
10:59 October 29, 2017

Posted by Hannah
04:34 October 29, 2017

False spins

We did have to spin the Traindomiser a few times yesterday before we found somewhere that was actually going to work. We were initially trying to avoid going through London again, but then we found that in some places all the accommodation was gone (it was Saturday) and others were just too far to go at lunchtime on our penultimate day. So we eventually relaxed our not going through London rule and reduced the search radius to 100 miles, which brought us to Southend. Still quite random and a great result for our final day.

Posted by Hannah
04:24 October 29, 2017

Adventure Island

We are actually in a hotel room looking over the rollercoasters and the sea. I’ve no idea why this room was available. Leo said “This is my dream – to go on a rollercoaster!” He and I went on four times last night. We had a brilliant time. The theme park, Adventure Island, was well organised and all the staff were lovely.

Posted by Steph
20:35 October 28, 2017

Posted by Steph
17:20 October 28, 2017

Posted by Leo
14:18 October 28, 2017

Posted by Hannah
12:19 October 28, 2017

Military museum

Driving a remote control tank at the military museum in Aldershot.

Posted by Steph
11:23 October 28, 2017

Posted by Arthur
10:20 October 28, 2017

Posted by Steph
08:00 October 28, 2017

Trip reading

I picked this up for 50p in the book sale at Wellingborough Museum as suitable reading for the trip, intending to leave it at the bookshelf at Wellingborough station on our way out. But – so much for travelling light – I ended up carrying a hardback book around with me for the next three days.

Lots of entertaining stories of early railway crashes and feats of engineering in here.

Posted by Steph
20:13 October 27, 2017

Friday night at Wetherspoon’s Aldershot

Above Wetherspoons, actually. A nice warm welcome from a witch-costumed receptionist who even managed to dig out some games for us. £69 for a massive, lovely family room. A great result.

Posted by Steph
17:48 October 27, 2017

Last train of the day… to Aldershot

From the best refurbished station (Wellingborough), via the fastest train in Britain this morning on the Javelin, to the busiest station, in rush hour. We’re ticking off lots of trainspotter experiences.

Posted by Steph
17:02 October 27, 2017

Posted by Hannah
15:39 October 27, 2017

Posted by Hannah
15:17 October 27, 2017

Spooky cakes

Hard to choose from these at the bakery in Ingatestone.

Posted by Steph
15:05 October 27, 2017

Ingatestone playground

Ingatestone has been nice: we pottered along the High St and we’re enjoying some fondant fancy time in the village playground. But there’s not many options to stay, so we’ve spun the Traindomiser again and we’re off again…

Posted by Steph
14:08 October 27, 2017

Posted by Arthur
12:40 October 27, 2017

Inspiration from Michael Morpurgo

“What she didn’t understand was that we three were bound together now by a common lunacy. We were going, and nothing and no one could stop us. We were doing what people do in fairy tales. We were going off to seek adventure.” Michael Morpurgo, Kensuke’s Kingdom.

Posted by Hannah
11:54 October 27, 2017


We’re getting a javelin train! Britain’s fastest train, apparently. This one’s named after Victoria Pendleton.

Posted by Steph
11:24 October 27, 2017

Posted by Hannah
11:08 October 27, 2017

Hind hotel

Well, Hind Hotel, you were faded, dated and not entirely clean, but I had my best night’s sleep for ages in your comfy bed, had a very acceptable shower and a delicious freshly cooked breakfast, £90 in total for 4 of us. Keep going, you’re doing fine.

Posted by Steph
10:55 October 27, 2017

Posted by Hannah
22:26 October 26, 2017

Arthur’s assessment of our first day.

Arthur says Wellingborough has been a particularly good place and he can’t believe anywhere else will be this good. His highlights were the old penny games machines in the museum that you actually win sweets from, the laser maze and the bowling alley.

Posted by Hannah
21:51 October 26, 2017


Steph’s retired to the hotel and the rest of us are out bowling.

Posted by Steph
21:15 October 26, 2017

Posted by Hannah
21:11 October 26, 2017

Posted by Hannah
17:56 October 26, 2017

Posted by Steph
17:09 October 26, 2017

Posted by Hannah
16:11 October 26, 2017

Posted by Steph
15:59 October 26, 2017

At Wellingborough Museum

A nice museum with vintage slot machines, a Halloween trail and some interesting displays of wartime life in Wellingborough.

Posted by Leo
14:28 October 26, 2017

Posted by Arthur
14:27 October 26, 2017

Posted by Steph
13:59 October 26, 2017

Posted by Hannah
13:07 October 26, 2017

Posted by Steph
12:46 October 26, 2017

Posted by Steph
11:41 October 26, 2017

Posted by Arthur
11:33 October 26, 2017

Posted by Steph
11:00 October 26, 2017