I finished the ironing the night before, packed my case and hit the pillows ready for my alarm to wake me up for work at stupid o’clock the following morning. Staff shortages made the morning’s shift a bit manic, and although feeling guilty at leaving the others in as much chaos as I had survived, I made for a quick exit from work when my time arrived, buying a bargain “meal-deal” for lunch on the train as I rushed outside to find Hubby in the car.
“Did you get milk?” I hadn’t even looked at my phone for a shopping list so I almost ran… I don’t do real running, which is why I “almost” ran back into my shop for milk and Hubby drove me home.
A short while later I had downed a cup of coffee and organised the rest of Hubby’s packing for him to join me at the wedding celebrations in a couple of days. I had changed my clothes into something a little more comfortable … I’m afraid “something more comfortable has no hidden meaning here, no expensive negligee for me… I’m much more of a winceyette pj girl so something more comfortable is exactly what it says on the box.
With Hubby’s help I managed to scrape a spare half hour before we had to leave for the train… What’s a girl to do with just half an hour spare you ask… This girl had a nap.
The traffic was good and a break in the horizontal rain meant I was waiting on the blustery platform in plenty of time for my train… But from then on in, the mice and men decided to make different plans.
The train taking travellers in my direction the hour before had been cancelled and the platform was littered with surprisingly patient leftovers from the previous passenger list. We all waited and watched the clock tick off the minutes on the screen until at two minutes past the due time, an announcement came over the tannoy … our train was delayed.
Time stood still and the relief was evident all round as the train trundled into the station and left again at only ten minutes later than its due time. The one change I was to make at Southampton Central was still possible if we could just make up a little time along the way… Unfortunately, the reason for the delayed and late trains was a speed restriction placed on the drivers to increase reaction times for any debris on the lines caused by the high winds and needless to say, we didn’t make up any time and I missed my connection.
Standing on platform 4 in Southampton, my brain went sort of fuzzy and the world moved on around me as I grappled with reality to pull some mention of my final destination out of thin air. One person moving through the ruffled crowd carried an air of calm with them and with immense concentration I focused on the railway badge on her jacket and pulled myself back into her reality. I presented my tickets, told her my train was gone and asked what to do next.
“Wait for the next train in another hour” was her reply.
Not happy with this idea, and with my wits slowly returning, I pushed for another plan and she gave me one. My connection in another hour would go through Salisbury so I could catch another, sooner train to Salisbury, and possibly in turn make a sooner connection to Cardiff. There was a safety net, a “get out of jail free card” as it were. If there was no sooner connection at Salisbury, then my later train would trundle into the station and rescue me.
I negotiated the change of platform needed and hopped onto the train to my new destination. I poked around online on my phone trying to find a new connection but only succeeded in lowering my phone’s battery to an alarming level.
I was reminded only two days ago of how dependent on technology in general we humans have become. My elderly neighbour felt all alone when her phone was out of order, her connection to the outside world had been cut. We managed to get the problem fixed for her in less than 24 hours, but for her it was a scary day indeed.
I function better in general with a “safety net” and with the power indicator on my phone rapidly moving towards empty I felt my grip slipping away again. I asked the train guard if there was an available electric socket anywhere and he not only escorted me to the first class carriage, but scrappled around underneath the table to plug my charger in for me too.
I continued to look for another connection online but eventually had to settle for a rescue by the train I would have caught next in Southampton. Hey ho… At least I had got to sit in first class and recharge my battery.
At last my train arrived, delayed, but in one piece and ready to take on passenhers. I boarded my last connection to Cardiff. As I began to relax slightly a surge of tiredness swept over me. The power on my phone dwindled again and I sent both Hubby at home, and Little Sister in Cardiff my expected time of arrival while I still could. Unable to write on my blog, or play a game on my phone, I sat and twiddle my thumbs, fighting against heavy eyelids until the familiar platforms of Cardiff Railway Station appeared through my window. I manoeuvred my new yellow suitcase along the corridor and out into the carpark where I was greeted by the most welcome sight of Little Sister and Neice waving from the car.
During my travels for the day, one other traveller caught my eye, I wondered if his connections had been as odd as mine… Or if maybe he had just got dressed in a hurry, in the dark.
More from before: a variety of “visitors and visitees” .