Tuesday, June 26, 2007

It’s nice to go travelling....

.... and it’s even nicer to get there. I had to leave the Borders this morning at 6 a.m. to head to Berwick-upon-Tweed to catch the train to London. I had decided to leave earlier than I was going to do in order to give myself some extra time because of the dreadful weather yesterday in and around Yorkshire. I got on the 06.44 and within a few minutes of leaving Berwick, barely time enough to order my bacon and tomato toasty when there was an announcement.

“This train will be going no further than York as the line is blocked between there and Doncaster.” Had it only just happened, why hadn’t anyone mentioned it before we’d got on? Train staff did their best but knew little more than us. “There’s no buses to take you beyond York as I expect they’re all doing school runs.”

“Are there any taxis?” asked one passenger nearby. “Yes, but the road might be blocked.” Is it the end of the world? I took the decision to get off at Newcastle, the train staff were urging us to do that and “return north!” I got online with Wifi and tried to book a BA flight from Newcastle to Heathrow, after two attempts it had still failed to accept my booking. With Newcastle approaching I called BA.

“We are experiencing exceptional call volumes, please expect to wait ten minutes for an agent.” Twenty minutes later an agent appeared and I booked on the 9.10 flight (cost £216.50), as the train was pulling into Newcastle station at 7.45. I headed for the Metro and got down to the area to buy my ticket. It didn’t take credit cards or notes for the £2.70 fare so I had to hot foot it back to Smiths to buy a 57p tube of mints. I proffered a £10 note, “sorry”. I finally got on the train at just before 8 and arrived at the airport at 8.20. Checked in with one of those machines and then deposited by nag and headed foe security. Naturally there was a queue, but there was also an announcement of a twenty-minute delay. Finally through security at 9.10, on board and we departed at 9.45.

We landed at Heathrow at 10.45, and then spent fifteen minutes standing on board at the gate because there was no one to drive the jetty (yet another of those nautical terms adopted by the aviation world. Getting into the baggage reclaim I waited another twenty minutes for the bags to start coming up and so here I am o the Heathrow Express, cost £15.50 (surely the most expensive train per mile in Britain) and we’re naturally delayed en route. I should be in Chelsea by 12.30 in time for my 1 p.m. meeting. I’ve only been up for six hours, feels like forever.

Some people even travel for pleasure – amazing!

1 comment:

r morris said...

Trips like this, as unpleasant as they are, sure make for good stories, though.
In the military in the States, as you know, we call this type of thing SNAFU--situation normal, all f---ed up.
I have a story to match it, but it'll save.
Hope your return is easier!