Tuesday, July 29, 2008

On Holiday, Day 1 - Getting There

I need to accept the fact that it always takes me about an hour longer than I plan to get ready to leave on a trip. Even if I make a list of things to do/pack I still end up scurrying around. I needed to arrange for the plants to be watered so a last minute text to a neighbor took care of that. Need to clean out the fridge of any perishables, take out the rubbish and then pack. I thought I was being proactive by making a list to make sure I didn't forget anything. But lists are only helpful if you actually reference them. I'll expand on that a bit later.

My train leaves at 11:50 and I had wanted to be out the door at 11:00 or 11:15 at the latest. So here I am at 11:25 madly flying out the door to the underground station. I really wish they had escalators all the way down to the platform level. Clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk I go with my heavy suitcase. I packed lots of 'just in case' items as every time I come to London I am completely unprepared for the weather. December it was freezing cold and windy, February it felt like summer, March it snowed and had record breaking cold temperatures. So even though it's the end of July I'm taking 2 long sleeved sweaters and threw in my Taiga because you never know, it might rain.

I get to the train station and look up at the clock, 11:48, ooops. I still need to get my ticket from the machine yet. I run over as I already know what platform and start to get flustered trying to in put my confirmation number. I look over at the platform again as my tickets get spit out and think, hmmmm it looks pretty empty, that's not a good sign. Queue to me running to find car L as I hear the station agent's whistle blow so I just jump onto the first car with an open door. The door shut behind me and the train starts to move. That was cutting it just a bit close.

I find myself in car C and my seat reservation is car L so I have a bit of a hike. The aisles in the cars are just a smidgen too narrow to pull your suitcase behind you which means you need to carry it in front of you. Remember I've packed for 2 weeks, plus have my back pack with my laptop, some books and all the power cords and such. By the time I get to car L I am glistening with sweat. I put my bag in the rack, find my seat and collapse.

For this trip, seeing as it was so close to my birthday I thought I'd splurge and go 1st class. When you book in advance isn't not all that much more (unlike for flights). What it gets you is a wider seat, more leg room and a few perks. Like free coffee, cookies, water. Table service should you wish or priority seating in the dining car.

National Express has complimentary wifi service on their trains which helps to make the time pass quickly. So I can look out the window, take a photo of some nice looking fields, pop the chip from my camera into my laptop, tweak the shot and then upload it onto my flickr page. Easy Peasy, ain't technology grand!

So I'm finally allowing myself to unwind after a busy, stressful hectic couple of months. I realize my last holiday was in March so 4 months is a long time to go with no real break. It's also about now that it hits me, I FORGOT TO PACK UNDERWEAR! Ooops, guess the first thing I'll be doing on Sunday is going shopping.

Back to the train, looking out the window, sipping coffee, getting annoyed with the lady next to me that insists on yakking on her mobile for the entire trip. I mean her husband is sitting across from her, how rude is that? Trip is about half way over and we stop in York. The announcement came on that the dining car had been shut down 30 min earlier to prepare for the change over in staff. The mention of this causes my stomach to grumble and I peruse the seat service menu. I'm thinking afternoon tea of a sandwich of my choice, scone with clotted cream and preserves and coffee should hit the spot and at 5.95 seems like a fair price.

Waiting, and waiting and waiting. Then another announcement comes on apologising for the delay but there have been some switching problems (as in rail switches) that has caused a back up. No worries, I'm on holiday and have no schedule.

Still waiting and then a staff member comes into our car and announces we all need to get off and board the train sitting on the platform next to us. Queue mass chaos.
Now seat reservations mean nothing, no worries I'm able to find one right away and get settled in. Numerous announcements come on reminding people to take bags and such off spare seats, only 1st class ticket holders are permitted in 1st class. But strangely no announcement as to why we are being moved to a different train.

People are becoming cranky. Why? I have no idea, really what will it accomplish. We're still going to get to London on time but this train is smaller than our original and some people from standard class (queue posh upper class accent) are insisting on sitting in 1st class. Horrors! Then there is this woman sitting across the aisle. I heard her get on lecturing the poor attendant about how she had made a reservation and she wanted her single seat facing forward and how dare she be inconvenienced yadda yadda yadda. Some nice young boy (I saw his family outside on the platform) gave up his forward facing seat so she could get her way. Then, THEN she starts banging a spoon on her coffee cup and shouting 'And when will we get our coffee!?!?!' Oooh this is going to be a long 2 hours. I spent the rest of the trip listening to her moan at anyone who happened to look her way.

'It's almost 4:00 and there has been no one to take our tea order'
'This is despicable service'
'I can't believe we're being treated this way, no sight of the service cart'


I eventually wandered back to the snack bar on my own as I hadn't had any lunch to find out what the scoop was. It seems the train we are on is much smaller and they were just not stocked to service this many passengers and they ran out of hot food. So my lunch consisted of a bottle of water, a nut & honey bar and a packet of crisps. What can you do? These things happen. When I got back to my seat I opened up my i-Tunes and drowned her cries of injustice out.

We pulled into London Kings Cross station on schedule.

Let the holiday begin!


DaviMack said...

And you can bet that she does it to everybody, on every train, each and every time she travels. Yikes!

kev said...

well at least you had me to chat to for part of the journey:-)