The four of us retired earlier than usual. We were catching the 12:20 train to Newcastle and I had only partially packed. So off we trotted to bed before midnight, finished ramming in the balance of our stuff into our cases, along with a glorious round tin of Cadbury Roses, a welcoming gift from Wendy. In my heart of hearts I was ever so thrilled, but Mother and Dad’s proper upbringing took over and I told Wendy she really shouldn’t have. Naturally she insisted and said they were really cheap at Morrisons. To me it wasn’t just the thought of the chocolates, but it was the thought that she actually remembered from her visit 18 months ago that Nat and I loved Cadbury Roses. It’s people like that the world needs so much more of – loving, thoughtful and generous to a fault.
(If you’re reading this, Wendy, I mean every word, plus a huge hug and kiss for those cute and delicious sandwiches you packed for our trip. We dug into them only 15 minutes down the road. We ate the second half during the last leg of our trip.)
After breakfast we sat in the living room chit chatting until it was time to leave for Bristol train station about an hour down the road. Terry had warned us that driving in Bristol was very difficult and most Brits even had a name for it, the likes of which I’ve forgotten, with apologies to Terry.
Terry was more than right, the traffic was bumper-to-bumper miles before the station. With a calm driver behind the wheel, we managed to make it with half an hour to spare. Once the train pulled up we said our tearful goodbyes and boarded.
This is where our luck turned back to London. With our advance tickets we were also issued reserved seating in the quiet car. Once stepping into the car our chins dropped – the bloody thing was jammed packed. While we stood in-between cars waiting for another passenger to juggle his luggage because he was getting off in 5 minutes, we were able to shove our luggage in various little holes we found. Although we had reserved seating it was obvious we weren’t going to get them, as they were occupied. If we had to bump any of them we were creating a domino affect and I’m sure we would have had a rebellion onboard.
To find seats and possible more luggage room, I headed to the back of the car but to no avail. The luggage storage department was full and no seats available. As I watched Nat finding spots at the front of the car I stood back grabbing onto anything that was solid, to hold my balance as the train began to pull out the station. I wanted to cry. I wouldn’t be able to wave to Terry and Wendy and holler for them to get me the bloody hell off this cattle car.
It wasn’t too long afterward that a lovely young girl across from where I was standing invited me to have a seat. I think she thought I would probably fall flat into the aisle, as the sweat by now was pouring out of the top of my head like a water fountain. Another 10 minutes later Nat was able to find a seat as passengers got off at the first stop. And yet another 15 minutes or so after the second stop we were able to find 2 seats together.
The confusion continued, as we were now sitting in a little elderly ladies seat once she boarded at the next stop. We apologized and quickly explained but as the train was about to leave she dashed off to find another seat, albeit next to the luggage area.
On to Birmingham, a few more stops down the road, and the confusion began again. Our little elderly lady had asked the train attendant to try and get her reserved seating back. The conductor soon approached us and we explained in detail what had happened, that our reserved seating had been taken and we had to find any seats that were available. The conductor managed to find this lady a vacant seat next to ours and we apologized for the confusion and being most gracious about it, she soon settled back, rested her head on the back of her right hand and nodded off. With all of our problems trying to get around this glorious country, we could feel her pain.
We arrived at Leed’s station around 4:00pm and had already eaten the last of Wendy’s sandwiches and lemon loaf and again we were ever so grateful for her thoughtfulness. We certainly had different versions of sugar plums dancing in our heads about this train trip!! If they were going to serve snacks and drinks, the cart had obviously missed our car or else it rolled off the train at a previous stop while some passengers were disembarking!
As we were continuing our journey, we talked a little and looked out the window whenever something caught our eyes in between trees, bushes and oodles of shrubbery. As we were leaving Leeds, I turned my head to the window and suddenly this older woman was looking back at me. Her turned down lips reminded me of Nanny, her hair was thinning and she had deep crevices showing behind her cheeks. Egad, it was me!!! I had made a huge leap into senior hood. No regrets, mind you. Just a sudden shock of reality. When looking in a mirror I see the young woman I once was looking back at me while putting on my make-up. I’m now thinking I’ll walk through the rest of this world holding my head high and never turn it around so my skin will look like a mountainside full of dried-up streams running down it.
As I’ve mentioned before, the story continues and we can only guess how this whole adventure will continue. Wish us luck, eh!!!