Last Friday I made a much longed for return trip up to see my eldest son and his family in Scotland. K had been despatched to respite care on the Thursday, a day earlier than she normally goes, but I really didn’t want to undergo the same nerve wracking experience we went through last year when the Access bus was late picking her up, and I had a train to catch! I set off from home at ten past ten, and after buying a salad from Hartley’s to take with me for my lunch on the train journey up to Carlisle, I made my way to our train station to catch the 11.58am to Leeds.
The London train arrived as I was waiting on the platform so I took the opportunity to take a few photos of its arrival. A gentleman stood on the platform waving goodbye to his wife after she had boarded the train struck up a conversation with me. (we’re a very friendly and talkative bunch in Yorkshire.) I presumed she was going down to London and had to laugh when he informed me that she was only getting this train to Wakefield! Because she was a pensioner with a Metro card, it was only costing her 40p to travel in complete luxury to the next stop!
My train arrived on time, and on arriving at Leeds, I had oodles of time to have a toilet break, buy a drink for the train journey up (no trolley service unfortunately) suss out which platform it was to depart from, platform 5, and then patiently wait. Again I stuck up a conversation with another lady who was also travelling up to Glasgow via this route. She confessed to making this particular journey quite often and we chatted about the advantages and disadvantages of using this particular route compared with the alternative Leeds, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh route and the impending change at Carlisle.
Our train was only two coaches long, and its a very busy route. Not only that, it only runs every two hours. I managed to acquire a seat next to where a wheelchair user would normally be placed, mainly because I like to keep my beady eye on my suitcase and in that particular seat I could keep it by my side.
The train was bursting with young people obviously visiting the Yorkshire Dales. They had huge backpacks with them and gigantic holdalls. The train was jam packed. Holdalls, luggage etc, were thrown willy nilly into the wheelchair area as the suitcase rack was bursting at the seams. Some of the youngsters risked placing their holdalls onto the racks up above passengers heads, with the result that you feared for your head in case they suddenly came crashing down. I was just pleased that I had managed to obtain a seat. Hmm, I thought to myself, this route could really do with using at least three carriages if not four!
Because the Yorkshire Dales is such a tourist spot, the train stops at every station on the way up to Carlisle depositing its various passengers who are touring the Dales as it does so. These lovely little stations are so attractive and well looked after that its a pleasure to stop at each one simply to admire the old fashioned lampposts, hanging baskets of flowers and the general tidiness of each one.
As we journeyed along the route, the train slowly but surely became emptier and emptier until by the time we pulled into Carlisle, there was only a handful of passengers left on board. I made my way over the walkway to the platform for the Glasgow train which I hoped was going to turn out to be one of the pedelo trains. It arrived on time, I climbed aboard to make my way to my reserved seat in coach B. Someone was sat in it, and as it didn’t state that my seat was reserved, she simply refused to budge.
I would have ploughed my way down to find a conductor or member of staff in order to do my usual complaining, but there was an empty seat available a few rows further down, so I sat there with my suitcase shoved between my legs (most uncomfortable) next to a guy with an Apple Macbook and an iPhone complete with earphones which he used continuously throughout the rest of the journey to Glasgow. Of the conductor there was no sign, and anyway, it was a battle to get into or out of our carriage as everyone's luggage ended up falling down from the luggage area into the aisle near the door. No one bothered to put them all back either, they just simply stepped over them on route to get a coffee or drink.
I was glad when we arrived in Glasgow to be honest. However, of my son and his family there was no sign. I rang his mobile to let him know I had arrived. He couldn’t get into the station to meet me as the usual car entrance was all blocked off. Eventually Cl and the children came to collect me as my son drove around the station and then arrived back at the entrance to pick us all up. I was so glad to see them all! Its a fair drive to their house from Glasgow, about half an hour to an hour depending on the traffic. The cats looked none too pleased to see me (I won’t let them sleep in the bedroom that I occupy and always shut the door to stop them getting in, so they treat me with distain) but Sandy the dog was happy and greeted me with a wag of her tail.
I had arrived!