This morning the alarm clock erupted at 7am, and started playing music from the local radio station. After watching the minutes tick by for a while, I eventually scraped myself out of bed and set about packing bags, filling Kindles with books, and stopping arguments.
A couple of hours later we were on the concourse of Reading railway station - sipping coffee, and zipping our coats up to defend against the biting wind. Three hours on the train ahead, and apprehension of finding our reserved seats. I guess I was stressing because I did this journey several years ago, and discovered people in our seats - when I told them we had the seats booked, they told me there were people in their seats - and when I asked those people, they told the same story.
Luckily this time was an entirely different story - a train carriage with people sitting in seats they had booked, and our line of seats sitting empty - awaiting our arrival. We stowed our bags, folded our coats, and waved goodbye as the train pulled away. The next half hour - for me - was spent working as a tech support engineer for three children with laptops, and tablets. Once everybody had the movies or TV shows they wanted, I could settle down with a book for a while.
In the end the journey flew by - mainly because we had unintentionally entertaining passengers sitting in front of us. Two women talked endlessly - at quite some volume - about their lives. We heard all about their divorced friend, who now rents out his house to all manner of waifs and strays - including a fitness instructor that is now pregnant. At one point they began singing Prince’s “Purple Rain” at the top of their voices. Later in the journey one of the adults began playing with a “Girls World” makeup and hairdressing mannequin that belonged to their children. Like I said - endlessly entertaining. I dared our eldest to take photos of them, but she chickened out.
Before we knew it, the train swept along the south coast, and then over the Tamar Bridge and into Cornwall. I called my parents, and then asked the children to re-pack their bags. You know… I may lose my temper with the kids from time to time, but today they were amazing - within moments they had their coats back on, travel distractions packed away, and were sitting dangling their legs on the edges of the train seats - asking “are we there yet?” repeatedly.
The train announcer - who had obviously missed his true vocation as a television presenter - informed us that we were arriving at Liskeard, and before we knew it we were wandering along the platform in the rain towards my Dad.
I imagine the next few days will be filled with walking, and rock pools, and open fires, and beer, and wine, and junk food, and stories, and books, and lots of other things. I’m planning nothing though - we all need to slow down first though. I often notice that the further you travel away from London, the slower life becomes. People have more time for each other - they are more patient, less demanding. It’s going to be fun.
The 2016 Republican presidential primary race has not been going as expected for former Florida governor Jeb Bush, from plummeting poll numbers, to a poor showing in the Iowa caucuses, to several lackluster debate performances. And with the New Hampshire primary in full swing, the latest news out of the Bush camp adds to that list of woes: Jeb Bush’s campaign bus broke down on a train track, and a train is rapidly approaching.
Freight Train, Carter, Montana, 1941. Marion Post Wolcott. Gelatin silver print.
“You think when you wake up in the mornin yesterday dont count. But yesterday is all that does count. What else is there? Your life is made out of the days it’s made out of. Nothin else. You might think you could run away and change your name and I dont know what all. Start over. And then one mornin you wake up and look at the ceilin and guess who’s layin there?” ― Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men