As I have been a little busy since we returned from our recent trip (what with fridges and other distractions) and feeling a little lazy, it must be admitted, I haven’t progressed very far with my travel report. Given the excitement and enthusiasm generated by my invitation to guess where we went (yes, I am being ironic), I felt I had to give you a little something to be going on with.
What follows is a teaser, the first part of my narrative, written as it occurred. Perhaps the question at the end will cause more of a reaction than has so far been evidenced.
Saturday, June 16th 2007
I had set my phone’s alarm for 6:30 am but awoke at 6:20 so I got up and made tea and then washed and dressed ready to leave. Tigger was ready in a flash and we left home at 7:30 – good going, I thought. Off we went on our next adventure!
We took the 476 bus as this goes right into the forecourt of Euston Station – useful if you have a heavy suitcase. Having bought sandwiches for the journey, we had a modest breakfast, watching the Departures board for news of our train. Here we found ourselves victims of the Platform Dilemma.
The Platform Dilemma is experienced sooner or later by all travellers using big stations. It doesn’t occur in small stations for obvious reasons. It works like this: the Departures board shows a list of trains, together with yours, and gives their departure times and the platform numbers – except for yours, of course. For your train there is no platform number. All trains before and after yours have numbers but yours is blank.
Your train creeps steadily up the list as departure time approaches and you begin to feel anxious: you have a heavy suitcase and, for all you know, your train might be at the other end of the station but you can’t go anywhere because the platform number remains blank.
You ask a member of the station staff but he just shrugs. They’ve obviously been sworn to secrecy. Then with 5 minutes to go, the number finally appears. You have to run to the other end of the station, board the train with your heavy case, stow this in the inadequate luggage area and find your seat… along with hundreds of other people trying to do the same thing.
Things settle down at last and off we go. We must change at Birmingham.
We scramble aboard the train at Birmingham. This time I have no trouble storing the suitcase, surely a sign that something else will go wrong. It does. Our seats are occupied by a party of woman, a “hen party”. They have already been drinking and are aggressive because another passenger is complaining about them, but reluctantly gather themselves together to move. They take their time about it, blocking the gangway and preventing passengers from getting seated. I hear one of them say “We got the wrong carriage, that’s all. What’s the big deal?”
Normality restored, we relax and watch the countryside pass by the windows. It was raining when we left Islington, then it cleared up but once again the sky is threatening rain. We pass through flooded areas which match the watery theme.
Lancaster is where we change again.
At Lancaster we have 30 minutes to wait and I buy cups of insipid tea. Our train arrives, a battered suburban cuckoo, that runs as a shuttle between Lancaster and our next changeover point. After a couple of stops, including one at the quaintly named Bare Lane, we arrive at Heysham Port. Now it is the sea that separates us from our destination.
Have you guessed where we are going yet?