On the Monday morning the day of my imminent departure I was washed, dressed, breakfast eaten, tablets taken, everything checked and re-checked ready and waiting at 09.00am! The grandchildren were also up and getting themselves ready for school and after their breakfast they bid me a fond farewell. Hmm. Now I was waiting around. Twiddling my thumbs until C and C were ready to take me to Glasgow railway station. I hate waiting but I tried to keep myself occupied. After all I reasoned to myself, the journey up had gone without a hitch so what could possibly go wrong with the return journey?
We set off from my son’s house at roughly about 10.45am. As it turned out, it was a good job that they decided to allow extra time for the journey because when we hit Erskine Bridge, we became part of a traffic jam that seemed to go on and on for miles in front of us. I was sat on the back seat trying vainly to keep myself calm and collected. We were reduced to a crawl. My son kept trying to reassure me. “Don’t worry Mum, we have plenty of time.”
At last we reached the outskirts of Glasgow and finally pulled up and parked inside the station. I had intended to buy a magazine in W.H.Smiths to read on the long journey home, but as it was now 11.40am I decided to go and find the platform which my train was due to depart from first and as it was already in and you could board it, I did just that. Of course my coach was the furthest down the platform right at the far end so we had to walk all the way down. C carried my suitcase on for me and placed it in the luggage rack, and I was pleased to see that my reserved seat was right next to it thereby enabling me to keep my beady eye on my suitcase easily.
We said our fond farewells and C and C then departed because they could only park up in the station for free as long as it is only for 20 minutes. The train wasn’t particularly busy and there were plenty of empty seats on board. At precisely 11.50am we set off. I had some drinks with me, but when the trolley arrived I bought a cup of tea. The journey across Scotland was fairly uneventful and we were soon pulling into Edinburgh. Ahh, now the best part of the journey! Down the East coast line! Hmm, I was again sat on the opposite side of the coach to where the fantastic views of the coastline was to be seen out of the windows! Oh well, I would just have to strain and look across! No one came to sit next to me for the entire journey so I could place my bag on the seat beside me rather than have to have it on my lap which was nice, although a young man did sit in my seat when I made a quick visit to the toilet but he quickly vacated it on my return.
It was a very pleasant journey so far running through the beautiful countryside and looking over at the coastline on the left. Eventually we reached Darlington. As we were stopped at the station, the train manager gave out an announcement that there had been a ‘lightening strike’ at York causing massive signal failure, therefore we were ‘being held’ at Darlington for the time being. We must await further announcements. We must have been stationary there for about 15 to 20 minutes before we were informed that we had to move out of Darlington Station to make way for other trains to arrive, and were therefore being diverted to another route until such time as the signalling problems were sorted out at York. Hmm. This meant that obviously I would miss my connection at York, but we were all assured by the train staff that all tickets (including Advance tickets) would be honoured because of course this was out of our control.
Funnily enough throughout all this Technogran remained remarkably calm! No panic attack, no hyperventilating! I remained unmoved by it all sat in my cosy seat by myself! Wow! What a difference from Friday when I had been like a cat on a hot tin roof! So we moved out of Darlington and slowly travelled along until the next announcement over the tannoy proclaimed that we had no need to divert as the signal problems had now been fixed, so we then continued into York station. As I alighted from the train there was a member of the station staff on the platform so I asked her where I could now catch the next train to Leeds. She told me which platform to head for (over the concourse) but didn’t inform me that the train I subsequently boarded was the slow train to Leeds! We must have stopped at every station from York to Leeds with the result that by the time I finally arrived at Leeds it was 17.10pm!
Blast! Just in time for Leeds Railway station rush hour when everyman, woman and child in Yorkshire needs to leave Leeds by train! Then everything deteriorated into a bit of a farce to be honest and really spoiled the whole journey. On the platform there were at least a thousand passengers (slight exaggeration I know, but it seemed like that) waiting for our train which always consists of just two carriages only no matter what time of day it departs and how many passengers are likely to be boarding. How much does it cost a train company to put on an extra carriage? Or at peak times even employ two more carriages? When the train pulled in it was a mad free for all and every man, woman and granny for themselves, and its at times like this that I HATE not looking my age! Don’t forget, I was complete with suitcase to lug on board as well. I stashed that in the luggage rack with the help of a very nice lady who I had previously struck up a conversation with on the platform whilst waiting for the train to arrive. (You really had no choice but to strike up a conversation with the person next to you because we were all stood waiting on the platform crammed next to each other like sardines in a tin, AND she was from my home town, so it would have been very difficult not be become rather more chatty than one would normally! Anyway we are by nature a talkative lot who reside in our town even without an excuse!)
Most of us were all having to stand it the aisle. I glared at anyone sat down who was obviously younger than me. (So that meant just about everyone.) We were already late as well. This train SHOULD have departed Leeds at 17.13pm hours. Suddenly a member of the station staff poked her head into the train doors further down, said something to the passengers which were stood near the door. Word of mouth became very handy here or should I say Chinese whispers, because suddenly the passengers near to the door where she had appeared all began getting off the train! What was going on?
”We’re all on the wrong train!” someone said so we all informed one another by passing the message on, (nice of the staff to let us all know wasn’t it) and so I quickly grabbed my suitcase from the luggage rack and joined the milling throng scurrying along the platform to another waiting train further down (still only consisting of two carriages by the way) Huffing and puffing with some curses thrown in for good measure, we all again repeated the process as before by packing ourselves onto this other train. It then finally departed Leeds approximately 25 to 30 minutes late! No announcement, apology or explanation was forthcoming either. Hmm. Leeds Station is getting rather lax of late in my opinion!
I didn’t manage to grab a seat until Dewsbury. What an end to my Scotland visit! Surely nothing else could go wrong? WRONG! On eventually arriving at our little station the heavens opened and it absolutely poured down! This is when I discovered to my horror that my ‘roll up’ raincoat is NOT waterproof! I just might as well not have worn it for all the good it did. I was fed up by the time my suitcase and I rumbled into the town centre, and one of the taxi guys spotted me struggling along pulling my suitcase and looking like a wet dishcloth, so he waited for me and I gratefully tumbled wet and bedraggled into the taxi for the ride home. What a day! I was exhausted by the time I entered the flat. I rang C to let him know that I had now reached home and also rang K as well.
It had been a wonderful few days up in Scotland seeing my eldest son and his family and visiting such wonderful places, but it was also nice to arrive home even if I had ended up soaking wet!