So off to York we go on another courier run. The deadline is fairly late so we don’t need to make an early start: the 9:30 train from King’s Cross will do. Even so, the fare makes me gulp…
It’s a dull grey day and the weather forecast for York is temperatures in the region of 16 deg C. It’s difficult to know what to wear. In the end I reluctantly decide to take my anorak which doubles as a rain jacket and can, at a pinch, be stuffed into my backpack if the weather turns warm.
We are still on an economy drive so we breakfast at home on porridge. Not quite as good as the porridge we had in Glasgow but it’ll do the trick until lunchtime.
We stroll down to King’s Cross and arrive in plenty of time. The train is indicated on the departures board but without a platform. We buy coffee and look for somewhere to sit. Just outside the station there is a customer lounge with nice hard seats. It’ll do.
At 9:15 we go onto the “concourse”, the grand name they give the waiting area these days, and check the departures board. Still no platform. An announcement informs us that the train is being readied and – uh-oh! – apologizes for the delay in boarding.
We move to the small monitor near platform 1, away from the crowd. Our train is announced on platform 4. We have reserved seats so do not need to hurry but we hurry all the same, racing the passengers dragging wheelie suitcases. This is all part of the fun.
We asked for a table with facing seats because, both having long legs, we can interlace them and stretch out, not something you can do with a stranger opposite. The clerk has misunderstood and placed us side by side. Not that it matters as a facing seat is free – just as well we hurried.
The train leaves on time. Tigger watches a DVD on her portable viewer wile I attempt the “Challenging” sudoko in the Metro. This is the only one of the three I attempt as the others are too easy. I only manage to do this about once a week or so. I give up on this one as we approach Stevenage.
My ear troubles are not over, as I had hoped. The nurse cleared my left ear on Friday but it is blocked again. I think it is infected. I would have gone to the walk-in clinic this morning if we hadn’t been travelling to York. I will go tomorrow instead.
After Stevenage, we run into beautiful autumn sunlight with blue sky and white clouds. Is it too much to hope for that the weather in York is the same? The sunlight is so intense that Tigger has trouble watching her DVD and uses a Metro to make a sunshade.
Farmland slides past the train with distant views of towns and villages. So far, it is a day to gladden the heart.
We are so used to the railway – and to grumbling about the deficiencies of the service – that we often forget what a wonderful invention it is that has revolutionized travel and is set to revolutionize it still further, given a chance.
When you travel by air, you barely see the land you pass over, especially if there are clouds. What you do see is far below and tiny. It is like looking at a series of models rather than at the real world.
Travelling by train, you see a very real world, with all its charms and blemishes. Keeping careful watch you see many things to entertain, amuse and instruct. Urban squalour contrasts with green countryside, factory with farm, trees with smoking chimneys. A sunlit village suddenly surprises you with its beauty or the eye is caught by the movement of startled horses running from the train or by the flutter of water fowl splashing down on a lake…
Here, the train threads a way through a maze of close-packed hills and there, the land is so flat that it seems to stretch to infinity on all sides, overarched by a gigantic sky. Pylons stand in a row like six-armed athletes preparing for a tug o’war. A tractor crawls across a field, combing the earth with steel fingers. A flock of pigeons wheels around a church spire caught in a spotlight of sun.
On arriving in Leeds, we took a taxi to the client’s premises. Here something unusual happened. The receptionist asked which company we were from but, in accordance with the rules, we declined to answer. An officer came out, took the proposal, and proceeded to check it in our presence, remarking that several items were missing.
We pointed out that we were only the messengers, delivering the goods as requested. They would have to contact the company directly.
Released at last, we took the bus back to town and visited Leeds Library to see if they had useful information on the town (not much) and then sought out a place for lunch.
We chose a pizza and pasta restaurant called Tuscany offering a lunch deal for £7 and dessert at reduced price.
After lunch we explored York, revisiting some familiar places and finding some new ones.
Throughout, the weather remained warm and mostly sunny, perfect weather for a day out. You cannot reasonably ask for more.
For the return journey, we caught a train that went direct to King’s Cross without any intermediate stops. Bonus!