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Train stop journey arrives at Haverfordwest

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Vicki and Geoff: Travelling to 2,563 train stations across the UK

A COUPLE from East London have taken on the challenge of travelling to every train station in the UK, and this week they arrived at Haverfordwest.

Geoff Marshall and Vicki Pipe have travelled to over 1,400 train stations out of the 2,563 stations in the United Kingdom, and have so far travelled by train across Kent, Birmingham and Derbyshire, but this week is their ‘Wales Week’.

Updating their YouTube channel, ‘All The Stations’, they have been documenting their journey on a daily basis.

So, what are the rules? Geoff and Vicki must be on a train that stops – they can’t get on a fast train that goes all the way through to the final destination, so ideally they need to be on a train that does stop at every station.

The Herald caught up with Geoff and Vicki at Haverfordwest Train Station after they got off the 2pm train with their camera, wearing their ‘All The Stations’ t-shirts yesterday afternoon (Jun 27).

When asked where it all started, Vicki said: “I’m very interested in the social history side and how the railways connect people.”

Pulling into the station: Haverfordwest

Geoff managed to be the record holder of travelling to all the tube stations in London in the fastest time – twice. He said: “Off of that came the conversation, is there a record to go to all of the train stations?”

“We’re not trying to do it in the fastest time, but at a more leisurely pace!”

The pair didn’t want it to just be a journey in which they stopped and explored places that they thought were interesting, and wanted other people to contribute.

They came to Haverfordwest after being approached by a local, who offered them the chance to travel to Pembrokeshire and take a look around.

So far, it has taken Vicki and Geoff 6 weeks to travel to half of the stations across the UK, however they anticipate it will take them an extra 8 weeks to complete the rest as they take their journey through Wales, due to trains running less frequently than in other areas.

Geoff said: “One of the most obvious difference is we live in a world in South East London, where we’re from, where a train runs every 10 minutes.

“One of our local stations, I don’t even bother to check when the next train is going to be, I just rock up and know that another one is going to be along in the next three or four, at most seven minutes, there’s going to be a train, and here at Haverfordwest we’re looking at the board and there’s a train every two hours.

“It does bring it home how infrequent trains are out of the cities and commuter areas.”

Whilst travelling through Wales, Vicki has been trying to learn some of the Welsh language, and has been speaking to people across the country in an attempt to help her learn more.

She said: “It’s been brilliant trying to learn Welsh as well, and people have been so happy to give us tips, and I really hope by the end of the week I’ll be able to reel off a few sentences without having to look at my notes!”

Half way there: Vicki and Geoff are almost half way through their ‘All The Stations’ journey

The love of railways all stemmed from a box of old black and white photogaphs of railways owned by Geoff’s grandad, before they were closed by The Beeching cuts in 1965, along with maps of the railways that Geoff’s grandfather used to cycle to.

Geoff said: “The more you look at a map and the place names, the more you think why don’t people just get on a train and get out and explore more? And there’s something quite marvellous, with that expression the thrill is in the chase not the capture, I would definitely bump that up to the experience is in the journey not getting to your destination.

“And, I’d rather do it on a train where you can look out the window, read a book, talk to someone, have a nap, get up and go for a walk around – if I was taking a long journey I’d prefer to do it by train, and it’s good for the environment too!

“And I really mean that – we come from London where the air quality is an issue, and we’ve been in Wales this week breathing in some fresh mountain air, so it brings it home. So, more than ever, I’m thinking we need to get people onto trains.”

The Herald asked Geoff and Vicki if they think the train lines will change over the next few years.

Vicki said: “I think there’s going to be loads of investment in the train network over the next few years, and that’s going to dramatically change the way we travel, such as the speed of which we travel, how we buy our tickets and the service we expect once we get on board a train, and in a way it felt like 2017 was the time to take a look and take a snapshot of what the railways are like now before all of that change happens.

“We’ve joked about maybe coming back in 15 to 20 years to see what it’s like!”

To follow Geoff and Vicki’s journey, go to www.allthestations.co.uk or find them on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Twitter.

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Tenby: Pizza chain submits appeal after application denied

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DOMINO’S PIZZA has submitted an appeal after their application to open a restaurant in Tenby was declined.

The chain wanted to open a restaurant and takeaway on the South Parade.

However, these plans were declined after concerns were raised by locals within the town, as well as councillors.

It was felt that the location was too close to the war memorial, and locals also worried about littering and illuminated signage.

Now it has been confirmed that the chain has submitted an appeal against the refusal of change of use from a retail outlet (class A1) to a takeaway (class A3).

The appeal hearing will take place in December, at a time and location which is yet to be decided.

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Tenby: Shoppers queue early for opening of new store

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A LARGE queue of people eagerly awaited the opening of a brand new designer shop in Tenby this morning (Sept 22).

Shoppers were up bright and early to queue for the opening of Joules, a designer store which sells clothes, footwear, accessories and more.

The shop opened at 9:30am at its Tudor Square premises.

The first customer was awarded a £200 voucher, the following ten won £100 vouchers, and the ten after that were each awarded £50 vouchers.

The store is also offering 15% off to all customers today.

A Joules spokesperson said: “We’re thrilled to be opening a new Joules story in Tenby. We are really looking forward to bringing our unique personality and style to shoppers over the coming months.”

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Monkton: £30,000 benefits fraudster avoids jail sentence

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A MONKTON woman pretended her marriage ‘to a traveller man’ had lasted only four weeks and went on to swindle almost £30,000 in benefits.

Emma Blackmore was in fact living with husband Wayne in Tenby Court and they even had a child together.

But Blackmore, aged 37, maintained for four years that she was a single woman living alone.

Blackmore, now of Queen Street, Pembroke Dock, admitted six offences of fraud by failing to notify a change in her circumstances.

She was jailed for 12 months, suspended for 18 months, and ordered to complete 20 days of a rehabilitation activity.

Nuhu Gobir, prosecuting, told Swansea Crown Court that Blackmore had made genuine claims for income support and other benefits in early 2012 in her maiden name of Emma Hughes, stating she was single, lived alone and could not work due to ill health.

On June 16, 2012, she married Wayne Blackmore but described him to the Department of Work and Pensions as a ‘traveller man’ and said the marriage was already over.

Blackmore continued to make claims and over a four year period she received £29,569 in benefits she had not been entitled to.

Mr Gobir said an investigation revealed that Wayne Blackmore had made it clear on his Facebook page that he was in a relationship and that the couple had become parents.

And further checks showed that his wages were going into his wife’s bank account and that as far as his employers were concerned he lived at the same address as his wife.

The judge, Mr Recorder Greg Bull, said he noted that Blackmore had maintained that ‘times were hard and money had been a struggle.’

But that was true for many people in Wales, he said.

Blackmore, he added, had defrauded the public purse at a cost to other members of the community but sending her to jail immediately would not achieve anything.

And neither was she in a position to repay any of the money.

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