Category Archives: Commuting

Why travelling is like peeling an Orange!


Travelling for me has always been just an annoying necessity. It’s the bit in the middle between having to go somewhere and actually being somewhere.

I liken it to an orange. (bear with me) Eating a fresh orange is one of life’s little pleasures, but in order to eat an orange, you first have to peel one. That annoying bit in the middle between wanting an orange and eating an orange. Don’t even get me started on the people who peel an orange while travelling….. why are they putting themselves through it?

I hear people uttering the phrase “I love travelling” all of the time and it frustrates me. I am absolutely certain that these people do not “Love travelling” at all, they simply enjoy being well travelled. It’s a very different thing. It’s like saying “I love peeling oranges” when what they actually mean is “I like eating oranges”

I appreciate that this blog post is a little orange heavy, so let’s move on. So while travelling has always been an annoying necessity for me, it has provided me with a chance to be more creative. Had I not for example, been stuck on a train with a bunch of strangers for over five hundred hours in the last year, I would not have been able to find the time (or more importantly been provided with the content) to write a bestselling book.

So my advice is simple. Don’t ever waste an opportunity to do something more creative, not even when peeling an orange.

As They Slept – A Year in the Life of a London Commuter is OUT NOW. All four parts of the bestselling series in one book (Part 1 of the bestselling series has sold over 40,000 copies and has been ranked #1 on Amazon Humour and Biographies)

As They Slept 1-4 cover design (ebook)

Click Here to view book on Amazon


So which one are you?

ATS Part 4

It was way back in September 2012, when, infuriated by the snoozing passengers surrounding me, I decided to post a status on Facebook declaring that sleeping on trains is a complete waste of time.

My so called “friends” disagreed.

In a bid to prove them wrong, I set out to write a book from start to finish on the daily commute.

The chapter below was written while I commuted from Headcorn to London on Wednesday 28th August 2013 and sums up just about everyone that you will ever encounter on a morning commute.

So which one are you?

As I look around the carriage this morning, I can see a real mix of people. It’s a nice reminder that commuters come in many forms and very rarely fit the typical stereotype of smart suits and broadsheet newspapers. I would say that only around half of the people in my carriage this morning are wearing typical business attire, while the other half are adorned with a colourful array of casual clothes.

As a tribute to commuters everywhere and in the hope that you will all recognise a few of the people mentioned, I have decided to write a poem.

There’s not one person that makes a commuter
Some sit quietly and work on their computer
Others use the time to apply their make up
While others look depressed over their latest break-up
Then there are those that talk on their phone
And others that can’t leave their willy alone
Of course there is always a noisy eater
And you will always sit next to the broken heater
There is always a train guard that looks like yoda
And a guy in the corner with questionable odour
There is always someone tapping their feet
Now here comes fatty with his huge broadsheet
There is always an old guy that should have retired
And a person who’s ticket has just expired
The guy with the braces, whose starting to snore
And the one with the glasses, the office bore
The hungover guy, collapsed in a heap
And five or six others are fast asleep
But always be careful and make sure you look
For the guy by the toilets, who’s writing a book

As They Slept – Part 4 half price and available to download for ONLY £0.99p 8am November 15th to 10am November 18th

As They Slept Astheyslept As They Slept – Part 2 As They Slept Part 2 (2)As They Slept – Part 3 As They Slept Part 3

Words cannot “Express”


I’ve seen a rapid increase in the number of establishments using the word ‘Express’ in their business or product names recently. For the most part it makes perfect sense, and I can see exactly why the proprietors would want to convey the message of speed.

The word express conjures up images of people dashing around looking as if someone has pressed the fast-forward button. It conjures up images of people standing aside and waving you through, but unfortunately, thanks to fatherhood, it also conjures up images of my wife using an elaborate machine to extract milk from her breast.

‘Cafe Nero Express’ is a perfect example of where the word express works well. ‘Cafe Nero Express’ perfectly explains what you’re going to get as a paying customer. You’re going to get coffee and, so long as they have their business model right, you’re going to get it quickly. Pizza Express works much in the same way, and once again I wholeheartedly agree with their willingness to provide the ‘Express’ in their title and their service. As I see it, people need food and drink in order to survive, and whenever there’s a chance that someone might die, I think it’s reasonable to demand an express service.

There are a couple of examples, however, where the word express doesn’t exactly fit with the product or service. Take the Gatwick Express, for example. It’s a fantastic concept: a high-speed train service which will get you to Gatwick in a flash. Except the flash is usually followed by smoke and flames, all as a result of another signal-box failure.

All of this brings me to a company that was brought to my attention yesterday, as one of its branded vans sped around the City of London. The company?

Picture Frames Express!

I’ve nothing against Picture Frames Express, per se. I’m sure they offer an extremely good range of picture frames and are able to deliver them quickly, but who has ever thought to themselves “I need a picture frame, and I need it now”?

Surely a picture frame is a purchase only ever carried out while casually browsing? I can’t imagine someone ever running into a shop and demanding to know where the frames are. “They’re over there, sir, right by the door, next to the toilet paper and the morning-after pills!”

If you enjoyed my blog, you may enjoy the books I have written. As They Slept – Part 4 (The comical tales of a London commuter) is out on Friday 11th October 2013.

As They Slept – Part 4
ATS Part 4

A Birthday First

It’s my birthday today and it is the first time I have ever worked on my birthday! Even as a child I was excused from having to go to school due to the date that it fell on and as I crept into adulthood, I always managed to find an excuse to take the day off.
“My wife has booked a surprise for me” I would say as I hand in the holiday request form, knowing full well I have nothing more planned than sitting in my pants all day eating chocolate cake.
I always felt sorry for the kids at school who had to come in on their birthday. Birthdays are the one day a year when you are allowed to be spoilt; twenty four hours of pure unadulterated selfishness. By going to school or work, you are shortening that already extremely small window considerably.
I said to my boss this morning that as this is the first time I have ever worked on my birthday, was there any chance that I could treat it a little differently.
“How do you mean” he asked, puzzled
“Put my feet up and take it easy” I said
“I thought you wanted to treat it differently!” he replied
Another good reason for not going to work on my birthday is that I miss out on having to buy the cakes! Call me a grump, but why in the hell should I buy cakes for everybody when it is MY bloody birthday. Surely birthday’s are the one day a year when you can sit back and let other people buy things for you. Not once have I woken up on my birthday and thought “Never mind me everyone, here’s a couple of hundred quid, why don’t you go out and treat yourselves”
It must have all started somewhere. I imagine it started with the office junior one year. Fed up of sending them to fetch tartan paint and left handed screw drivers, someone somewhere told the office junior that when it’s their birthday they have to buy the cakes and this whole stupid birthday cake buying nonsense was born.
I’m on the evening train home now, looking forward to seeing my wife and child, but I can’t help feeling that I’ve been cheated. By insisting on sleeping for the first seven hours of my Birthday and then stupidly spending the next twelve hours at work, I have reduced my twenty four hour’s of unadulterated selfishness to just five; and that’s if I make it to midnight before falling asleep!
So, seven months pregnant or not, my wife’s got her work cut out this evening as she has only five hours to squeeze in a three course meal cooked from scratch, a luxurious massage followed by a perfectly run bath while providing some insightful and interesting chat about Watford’s chances of lifting the title this year.
I’m guessing she’ll be booking me a surprise next year!

An example to us all…apparently!


I was recently contacted by Commuting Expert, a website dedicated to providing everything a commuter needs in order to make their commute cheaper, more productive, more enjoyable and more worthwhile.

The website ties in very neatly with my original aim, to make use of the time that we commute instead of wasting it, sleeping.

I have published the article below and for the original article click here

For those taking public transport, and particularly trains, the temptation to just sleep during the daily journey is a very real one.

Yet one commuter decided that getting a few extra winks was no way to spend his valuable time in transit.

Looking around his carriage to see all his fellow passengers comatose, Account Executive Andy Leeks posted an angry message on Facebook to say how lazy he thought they were.

After all – surely they could use the time for things like paying bills, researching recipes, emailing an old friend, doing some creative writing – anything?!

Predictably, his post drew a number of counter comments from his friends telling him he was wrong.

Not one to give up easily, Andy decided to prove the point.

From September 2012, he challenged himself to write on every commute for a whole year, and the result is his debut book As They Slept: The comical tales of a London commuter – written solely in the time he spends on the train.

The book is full of humorous observations of his fellow passengers.

Speaking to the Harrow Times about his work, Andy explained his inspiration:

“I’ve got a special seat on the train, which I’ve managed to manipulate since starting the book. I sit right next to the toilets, by all the bikes. The smell’s awful, but it means I’m not being overlooked by anyone. That’s crucial when you’re writing about other people.

“One day you might be moaning about the fat guy opposite who has just thundered through four cans of Stella, another day the beauty of the countryside. It was about me getting ideas down on a page but it’s kind of turned into a grumpy old man’s notebook.“

His is writing the book in four parts: Parts 1-3 are available on Amazon, with Part 4 out in mid October.

Clearly it is striking a chord as Part 1 was released at Christmas and has gone on to sell over 37,000 copies and has previously featured as the #1 book in both Biographies and Humour in Amazon.

A lesson for us all
Here at Commuting Expert we think Andy offers a role model to all of us for how commuting time can be put to good use.

The fact that he has managed to write four volumes also goes to prove just how much productive time can be gained: with the average UK worker commuting for over 200 hours a year (and the average Commuting Expert reader commuting for over 400!) you can achieve an incredible amount – even a second income – by using the time well.

Andy clearly agrees too: “I don’t think there’s any limit to what people can do during their commute,” he says, “As long as you can do it on a train and do it legally.

“I’m writing because that’s what I enjoy. I’d love one day to walk through a carriage and see people juggling, painting, crocheting and knitting. Do something you want to do, anything – there’s no limits.“