Early to bed and early to rise was our method on Thursday night and Friday morning. Jenny was the first up, followed by Nat and then myself (after yet another night of coughing). I had managed to get everything packed late Friday afternoon and I’m still not too sure how I got it all in. Yes, it’s true what they say – what you bring multiplies when you leave! I had actually surprised myself when I was able to pack what little items we had purchased during our trip. This was one trip where I didn’t buy a lot, but what I did buy was a couple of bulky items that worried me a little as to where and how I was going to fit them in.
Nat and Matthew picked us up at 6:45 am and our drive to the train station was smooth sailing all the way. After all, who in God’s name is up at 6:30 in the morning!! As we drove along, Nat and Nat were chatting away, while I sat in the back seat with Matthew watching as he played his PS3 game. His dad advised that Matthew has had his PS3 for close to 6 years and I had to congratulate Matthew on what a good job he’s done keeping it that long. He played along at a furious pace and I admired how quick thinking this young lad was. In fact I was envious and imagined the days when I could still remember what I did yesterday!
Arriving at Newcastle train station we said our goodbyes to Nat and Matthew and then began our trek across the bridge to the other side of the tracks and the platform where our train would pull up. We were lucky as the train was early – arriving at 7:12 – and being empty we were able to load our luggage into the little compartment at the end of each car and find our reserved seats. The train ride was nice and for once we were able to sit back and enjoy the scenery as the sun began to rise. With each stop passengers boarded and passengers disembarked while Nat and I sat back enjoying a drink and just relaxing.
After about 3 hours or so, we arrived at Manchester Airport. As with every airport, more walking than you can ever imagine. At times you feel as if you’ve walked the entire place. With an hour or so to go before heading to the Departure Lounge, Nat and I took a quick look around. We grabbed a sandwich for the trip and then wandered through Duty Free where I was able to buy my favourite cologne, Chanel #5 at a more reduced rate than in the shops. We asked the shop clerk where we pay and she replied “Oh just go through and pay at the end“. With a bit of wonderment, we continued on our way until we reached the Departure Lounge – what seemed like a mile down the road! Exhausted, we found a seat, but nowhere to pay for the perfume. After asking an attendant we were told they don’t accept payment for any purchases or duty free and that we’d have to go back to where the shop was and pay there. One more glitch! Nat walked back to the Duty Free shop and soon found where we were to pay, but had forgotten our Boarding Passes. Back he came huffing and puffing, as it was now getting very close to when we were due to board the aircraft. Grabbing a Boarding Pass he then ran back paid what we owed and ran back with only minutes to spare before we were called to board. We had thought about this whole thing later. Because perfume is not a “duty free” product, it seems like we could have flown home with a free bottle of cologne. No one checked and no buzzers went off when we left the shop. That little bottle of Chanel #5 sat in my purse the entire time and for all anyone else knows, I could have brought it in Newcastle! We did, however, do the right thing and pay for it.
The plane trip home was also uneventful. They showed three movies – Arthur, The Adjustment Bureau and Thor – but I had forgotten to put our earphones in my purse, so we were only able to watch. About par for the course, I suppose! Besides, it was quite evident (except for The Adjustment Bureau) exactly what was going on. We both did decide to rent The Adjustment Bureau when we arrived home, as it really did look good.
Finally we were on Canadian soil. Another major trek across Toronto International Airport, to where we were to check in with Niagara Air Bus. Little did we know the fun was about to begin again! Our driver seemed nice, but we could both tell he was one of those jokster types! Just what we needed when we were totally exhausted – an idiot that thinks cheering us up is going to make a difference! I think not!!!
Around 4:00 pm we were finally loaded on the bus and driving down the road. Only one other couple and a single gentleman on the bus. Not bad, we thought – meaning only two stops before us. Boy were we wrong. We drove into St. Catharines and dropped off the single gentleman at Henley Plaza for his bus to be taken to Welland. We then arrived at Niagara Falls and dropped off the couple from Manchester at their hotel. This is where we were informed that our “funny guy” behind the wheel had to go to Buffalo and that he’d have to change buses beforehand. Apparently the one we were presently driving wasn’t registered to go across the border. What could we say. We were captors on a bus to what seemed like nowhere. By this time I was really coughing and starting to feel like I wanted to sleep anywhere you dropped me. Nat, too, was exhausted and now frustrated. Our driver said we’d be about 5 minutes, that he’d drive us over to where he’d pick up the other bus and then we’d be on our way.
After what seemed an eternity of driving through Niagara Falls – so, so close to home – we arrived at the Niagara Air Bus depot. Joe (the driver) took us inside the little office area where two other drivers were catching up on their paperwork and the dispatcher was directing other buses hither and yon. Joe was in and out, along with the maintenance guy who announced he would gas up the new bus. We were “outsiders” in this little world of transport, but accepted as being “short termers”. Finally, at long last, Joe announced he was ready to go. Back on the new bus and down the road we went. More jibber jabber as he joked about the Toronto Maple Leafs not being able to make the finals this year. As if we needed his opinion!! He at least turned the game on for himself and for Nat, who was unable to hear sitting way back in the bus in order to avoid talking to this guy!! Nice try, dear!! He still managed to be heard from whence we sat.
During our trip home Nat turned to me and gave the signal “Do we tip and how much?” Those that know me will know my reply. “Not a chance”. I realize what was happening was not particularly this man’s fault, but he caught me in that mood where I wasn’t going to give money to anyone right now – I just wanted my bed!!! We’ve been up since 6:45 (UK time), on a train for 3 hours, on a plane for 7 hours and on this bloody bus for 3 hours. With the time change we didn’t know if we should go for lunch or go to bed. So we arrived home just after 7:00 pm and in time for us to put down our suitcases, make a grilled cheese sandwich and soup and relax in front of the hockey game. I then went to the office to put a few things away for catching up tomorrow, and when I returned my loving hubby was dead to the world in his recliner as the game was finishing. When he awoke I asked what the score was. “I don’t know”, he replied. “I fell asleep and missed the game”. It now felt like Britain was many many moons ago and that we’d been on the road that same length of time. The Good Lord was finally going to let us get some sleep!