Once a quarter the latest newsletter needs to go up in the Kent Community Rail Partnership notice boards along the line.

The puzzle is how to reach fourteen stations connected by a largely hourly train service in a seven and a half hour working day. The solution is combining bike and train for the journey.

I was fortunate at Strood to bump into Jim Payne, station manager on the platform and get the all clear to update the board. Job done the train took me with my bike all the way down to Tonbridge again checking in with the station team before starting work.

The new board is waiting to go up, we’re using the old one for now.

A Ramsgate bound service took me back to Paddock Wood, the lifts made crossing between platforms easy. With a lengthy wait for a Medway Valley Line train the bike took me through the beautiful Kentish countryside to Beltring.

Back on the train where I met a lady exploring Kent by train and ebike, her first trip out since lockdown. She found the ebike liberating, flattening the hills for her and enjoyed using the train to explore new areas. We both left the train at Wateringbury.

“What happened to Yalding?” I hear you ask. There was a plan and the timing was perfect to take the next train back down the line to Yalding where I was joined by Andy. Southeastern had alerted us to some vandalism and regrettably our new display board had been destroyed.

Working together we removed the remnants to make it safe and created a hybrid by placing the new backing board inside the old frame. It is obviously disappointing and frustrating that the vandalism occurred, we were pleased to have found a solution.

We were both back on the train with Andy continuing to Maidstone West to drop the damaged board off at the office whilst I stopped off at East Farleigh.

The subsequent cycle along the Medway River Park was a joy, discovering that Andy had already updated the notice board at our base gave me time to pop into the office to top up on supplies and take a short break before cycling on through town to Maidstone Barracks.

By the mid-afternoon the Maidstone West to Strood service has increased to half hourly, supporting a hop-on, hop-off approach to the remainder of the line. A few minutes delay to the final service proved fortuitous, allowing me to make a connection I’d expected to miss.

I got lucky with a couple of connections, the sun shone through most of the day without which it may have taken a little longer. There’s no doubt that bike and train made a great combination for my working day and there’s something different to see as the seasons change for every newsletter.

I can’t wait for the next trip.