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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 July, 2003, 14:39 GMT 15:39 UK
'My marathon journey to work'
Laura Meyerding
Laura Meyerding cannot imagine leaving the Oxfordshire countryside
News that Britons now spend longer getting to and from work than anyone else in Europe is unlikely to surprise the country's determined band of long distance commuters.

While the average person now spends one-and-a-half hours a day getting between home and the office, others are spending almost as much time travelling as they do at work.

Among them is Louise Blakemore, who spends 30 hours a week travelling between her home on the Isle of Wight and her job in west London.

"We wanted the kids to have the chance to grow up somewhere that was a bit nicer than London and they love being near the beach or being able to go for walks," she explained.

Louise is far from being alone, with other marathon commuters citing reasons such as cost, quality of life and a love of the countryside for their refusal to move closer to work.

Louise Blakemore
Louise spends 4,000 a year on travel

At the extreme is supermarket worker Lynne Siddiq, who loves her job so much that she travels 3,000 miles from her home in southern Spain to the Lancashire store three times a week.

Louise Blakemore's trip means getting up at 5am, with her husband driving her the 15 minutes to the boats at Ryde Pier Head at 5.30am.

Soon afterwards the catamaran leaves for Portsmouth and from there she catches the 6.19am train into London's Waterloo station.

If the train arrives on time, at 7.50am, and all goes well on the Underground Louise should be at her desk for 8.20am - leaving a whole eight hours before she starts the long trip home.

Louise's journey to work
Louise is in no doubt that the journey is worth it.

"It's nice going home because it's such a different atmosphere when you get out of London and far more relaxing than living there."

Even with a 4,000 season ticket to pay for, Louise says that she and her husband, James, are able to give a much better standard or living to their children - three-year-old Daniel, six-year-old Lauren and 11-year-old Patrisha.

Home, which used to be a maisonette above shops on a main road in north London, is now a four-bedroom semi backing onto a marina.

"I have always said that I can't do it for ever, but for the time being I'm doing fine," she said.

According to the RAC Foundation many other Britons are prepared to make long journeys to work so they can maintain the lifestyle they enjoy.

A majority said they would rather spend twice as long commuting than they would move home.

Croydon commuters

Oxfordshire resident Laura Meyerding explained her reasons for living in a country cottage, despite the fact her "stressful" journey to work in London can take one-and-a-half hours.

She said: "To me being in the countryside is home, I have lived here for about nine years now, so I would always choose to live in the countryside rather than the city - especially London."

It is a view which Manchester resident Catherine Salmon understands, but does not share.

Catherine, who has a three minute walk to work, said: "I lived in London previously and it should have been a 15 minute Tube ride to work.

"But it was taking 45 minutes in the rush hour, so when I moved up here I decided I didn't want that kind of lifestyle."

It Asda be a commuter record
18 Jul 03  |  Lancashire
Concerns over road expansion plans
10 Jul 03  |  England
'My escape to the country'
03 Apr 03  |  UK

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