Thursday, 15 September 2011

On The Road Again: 143 miles, 4 and a half hours.

I feel like everytime I go and see one of my grandmothers without Matthew, the travel is atrocious. When he is with Elizabeth & I, it's all smooth sailing and easy-peasy. I wonder if it is actually harder, or if I'm just wimpy on my own? Well, anyways, Elizabeth & I went down to Bognor Regis for a night this week. Matthew is getting some stuff done at work, and benefited from a couple long days at the lab.

First Leg: 59 George Nuttall Close to Cambridge Railway Station 
(2.8 miles = 1 hour)

As per usual, the hardest part of the journey was the bus from our house to the station. I have figured out that it's faster if I get on a different bus from a stop a little bit further away from our house.  And wouldn't you know it: as I rounded the corner towards the stop, the bus was in sight! I started to run to catch it, and grossly misjudged the distance to the stop - I thought it was one block, but nope, it was three. But I made it to the stop before he left, and then the driver tried to tell me there was no more room for pushchairs - ha! Says him! Little does he know, I can fold up my new stroller in no time! So I got everything out of the tiny basket, grabbed Eliz around her middle, and got us and our little stroller on - just in time for the lady with the double Phil & Ted's stroller that's taking up all the room to tell me that she's getting off at the next stop. Are you kidding me? You couldn't have said that 45 seconds ago? But whatever, it was the first step of a long journey, no worries, I was calm and cool. Except that I was sweaty and hot.

Second Leg: Cambridge Rail to London Kings Cross 
(58 miles = 1 hour, 10 min)

This was when I thought I had really lucked out. We got to the station at 10:00, got our tickets, planning for a train at 10:15. But the 0950 was late to leave, so we jumped on that train! Awesome! And we got two seats, even awesomer! AND there was a dog on the train, and he was right beside us! Awesomest!!

You'd think catching an earlier train would mean getting to the destination station sooner, right? Think again! Since this train was arriving at an odd time, there wasn't a platform available for us to park in - or whatever the train word is for 'park'. So we were stuck just outside of Kings Cross for about 15 minutes - just long enough for the 10:15 train from Cambridge to sail right past us and into their pre-destined parking spot. How typical is that?

Third Leg: Kings Cross to Victoria
(4.6 miles = 15 minutes on the tube + 30 min delay before next train)

The underground was straightforward and uninteresting. I am finally able to go down an escalator with a stroller and without  heart palpitations. I used to have anxiety about somehow losing my grip on the stroller and Elizabeth tumbling down, down, down those huge metal stairs. I have now perfected the death grip, complete with white knuckles.
This is my ode to my new favourite blog because the internet had no good pics of bad parenting.
The funny part at Victoria station was when I cleverly went to my platform - number 18 - before using the toilet - which was obviously at platform 1. Oh, no, waitasec, the actually funny  part was when they announced that my direct train to Bognor Regis was cancelled. For reals. Ha. Ha. Ha.

Fourth Leg: Victoria to Bognor
(70 miles = 1 hour, 45 minutes)

So I had a two minute hate,  regrouped, checked the website, and found out there are trains to the Bog from Gatwick. So I get on the next train to Gatwick, along with all the other passengers who had figured it out at the exact same time as me. . . so the train was p-a-c-k-e-d. We managed to squeeze in, into the little doorway part before you turn into the actual carriage - along with about 8 other people and all their luggage. By this time it was after 12, and Eliz couldn't decide if she was Captain McStarveyPants or Little Miss Getting Tired. So I kneeled in front of her stroller, and started feeding her. Obviously, she doesn't want any of the food I've brought with us, so I'm getting each little tub out and offering her any or all of it. Just then, the driver makes an announcement over the scratchy PA: "All passengers destined for Bognor Regis and Portsmouth should alight at-" cue Elizabeth crying, just loud enough for none of us in our little cubicle to hear the announcement. I took a poll - it was 50-50 in our area about whether he said East Croydon or Gatwick. Then one lady said, in an authoritative Old British Lady tone, "I'm fairly certain he said East Croydon." (Can't you just see her? Closed eyes and everything.) I put all my eggs in her basket, and then realized East Croydon was the next stop, and I was still surrounded by all the tupperwares of Eliz's food. I quickly put them back in their bag to hang on the stroller handle, and obviously the bag breaks. Luckily, these two Korean girls had a plastic bag that they were using for their garbage, so they gave me that. Yay? Anyways, we got off at East Croydon, and didn't even forget/drop anything on the way off the train! Success!

Luckily, Old Authoritative British Lady was right. We only had a few minutes at East Croydon until our next train departed, and had to bust it down the stairs (with the stroller) to the subway between platforms and back up again on our new one. But we made it - and on to our final train. It was about 1 pm by now, and Eliz had pecked at a few things to eat, but nothing substantial, and she hadn't napped yet. She was sooooo tired, but was fighting sleep like a . . . like an Ultimate Sleep Fighting Champion.
She is practically lying down on the table, but would NOT close her eyes.
 I totally do not understand why kids do this. I love sleep. She finally let go - at Pulborough, about 1:30. Just in time for us to pull into Bognor at 1:45 pm. Awesome.

 The journey was totally worth it though, because Elizabeth & I had such a great time with Grandma. We fed ducks, we fed squirrels, we went to the seaside. . . we "did" Bognor.

 Elizabeth loves her Great Grandma - and I'm pretty sure the feeling is mutual. When Eliz figured out how to open Grandma's drawer full of rolls of ribbons . . . Clever Great Grandma turned a piece of ribbon into a leash for the pussy cat. Well, that was hours of fun right there.

 The Journey Home
(143 miles, 4 hours 30 minutes)
The way home was uneventful. I decided to change at a smaller station (Three Bridges) halfway between Bognor Regis and Victoria, and come into London to St Pancras. St Pancras is across the street from Kings Cross, so I bypassed the tube entirely. This step decreased our total journey time by approximately 10 minutes. Woot? We were on the trains at rush hour, which probably makes other passengers nuts, but makes my journey easier because Elizabeth just sits and talks to everyone in our berth. She's a good traveler, for sure.
Eliz doing some colouring on the train ride home. Did anyone else notice that headline? Whaaaaaaat???


Christina said...

Wow, I'm so exhausted after only reading this post. You're a super trooper!

Anonymous said...

I love the stroller-on-escalator drawing! And the blog that inspired it.