To travel hopefully…
…is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.
(Robert Louis Stevenson)
I have mostly heard this misquoted as “To travel hopefully is better than to arrive.”
Last time I mentioned that travelling hopefully could be the theme of this post. A post on Sue’s words and pictures describing my journey to a writing group is also relevant to this theme.
Last week I set off on a longer journey. I had arranged a visit with plans to see as many members of my family and friends as possible, but not all at once.
After all the storms we have had and the resulting closures to sections of the railway, hope was definitely needed. The journey began well with the newly installed digital information system advising that the first train would be on time. Suddenly “on time” was replaced by “8 minutes late”! Fortunately I had decided to travel on an earlier train in case there were any delays. Another passenger had been hoping to connect with a bus to keep an appointment.
The train stopped between stations. An announcement was made that a delay of 15-20 minutes was expected. The train arrived at the mainline station considerably delayed, but still in plenty of time for my next train. I used the ramp to take my luggage across the station. An employee of Virgin trains asked me if I needed any help, so I mentioned the train that I had booked a seat on. She confirmed that the 12:46 train indicated was the same as the 12:49 on my ticket, indicated the train standing at the platform and gave me permission to board it immediately.
“I want to buy a sandwich first”, I replied, thanking her for the excellent customer service.
I had expected to buy a sandwich and a puzzle book in WH Smith near the ticket office. Once I was in the shop I realised that it was a different franchise selling hot drinks as well as the other items I expected to find. As my favourite puzzle book did not appear to be there, I pulled out a wrapped bundle of Puzzler magazines. It advertised fun for all the family. I could see two titles through the plastic and read that they were all out of date, in case I had been thinking of entering any competitions.
Being in good time for the train I was possibly the first person to enter the coach with my reserved seat. I settled myself down and opened my bumper puzzle pack. The magazine hiding at the back was the sort I’d have chosen. It felt like my birthday! There was one, which Mum likes, another, (which is probably too hard for the youngest members of the family, but won’t eat anything) and a pocket crossword book. There was also a leaflet advertising the launch (last year) of a cryptic puzzle book. It included hints and tips for solving cryptic crossword puzzles. I found good homes for them all during the week, just keeping my favourite.
Unlike people travelling to and from Scotland, I benefitted from the closure of the line to Glasgow as I could sit in a warm train instead of having to wait on the station, either on a cold platform or in the waiting room, which has also appeared on Sue’s words and pictures.
While I was on the train I received a text message from a family member, telling me that the London underground staff had called off their strike for Friday-Saturday. She had been concerned about her own pre-booked journey. There had been the possibility of changing her visit from Saturday to Wednesday.
The train arrived on time in London. There was a slight hold-up at the end of the platform, where tickets were inspected. I crossed London by the Victoria Line and checked the platform at Victoria station for the next train to my destination, only to see a train pulling away from it as I approached. I asked which train to get and there was one waiting, which arrived at my destination five minutes before the time on my itinerary. I left the station, crossed tram-tracks and a busy road to reach the bus stop, catching the first bus going near to my destination. I did not see a particular bus, which would have taken me closer.
After a week of activities with friends and family, I had to make the same journey in the opposite direction. There were no problems with it. I discovered that the tilting trains are more comfortable in an aisle seat than a window seat. (Usually I choose a window seat for the view, but I am liable to feel queasy due to motion sickness.) It is obvious that the outside tilts more than the centre of the train. I can’t think why it didn’t occur to me before!
When I changed trains I met someone I hadn’t seen for a few years as she spends most of her time abroad. We travelled together as far as her destination. Hubby met me and drove me home from our local station. He said the train had arrived three minutes late.
I’m glad to have gone and glad to be home. I’m also thankful that there were no serious problems with any of the legs of the journey. The name of the Virgin train I travelled back on was “Mission Accomplished”. My mission was accomplished too.