Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Still here ...

Its been very distressing, these last few weeks, not having regular internet.

We've been travelling, and staying in places, and working.

In a few days we will be back on the internet. oh yes!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Out of Sheffield

What was it like leaving Sheffield:

Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by...

'From a railway carriage' by Robert Louis Stevenson - a poem we all learnt at school (yes, in the 'old days').

We phoned for a taxi well ahead of time, and were at the station (with our big pile of bags) over an hour ahead of our departure time. It was all very relaxing. When the time came to climb aboard people around us offered to help! That was so nice. It was a lovely trip down to London, St Pancas, and we were patting ourselves on the head over choosing such an excellent method of travel.

Then we had to change trains. We had been given various versions of the distance between St Pancras and King's Cross Thameslink - 300 metres, 5 minutes walk ... to mention a couple. We had 25 minutes to make the change.

So we set off along the platform. I had my backpack, and the computer strung around my shoulders, and I was pulling a large and a small case. Peter was pulling two large cases and wearing his backpack and camera. Halfway up the platform we spotted a single trolley in the trolley stand and grabbed it eagerly. Setting off again, still with backpacks, Peter pushing the heavil loaded trolley and me still towing one small case ...

We stood staring blankly at the escalator and stairs, shifting our feet and wondering which would be even slightly possible. A helpful railway worker pointed out the lift hiding behind some construction boards further up. We pressed the lift button ...

"Your request - " bellowed an amplified voice as I steppedback in alarm " - has been noted and the lift will be here as soon as possible." For goodness sake, it was a glass lift, I could see it right there one floor below.

Weaving through crowds we headed out of the station, ignoring signs about not taking the trolley away from the station. There were roadworks and building going on, and higgledy-piggledy signs here and there not giving very clear directions. We crossed the street with our load but then had to come back because the pavement was all boarded up. We trundled off down the rough street dodging other hurrying (but less encumbered) travellers. It was onl a couple of minutes before or scheduled time when we pushed our way into Kng's Cross station and scanned the information boards - but no trains to Brighton ... wrong station!

Back out into the street looking for "Thameslink", and trundling along the rough, narrow, crowded pavement. The traffic in this area was quite heavy, and we were protected from it by miles of continuous metal railing ... and there was the station on the other side of the street! We had to go way up the street to find a traffic light where we could get across.

Right on the time the train was due to leave we came panting (literally, and sweating quite a bit!) into the station, and approached a railway worker to ask which platform. She told us the train was still at the station "... but its stairs!" she said, pointing. Two flights of stairs, no lift, no ramp. Peter lugged the cases down the stairs two at a time ... as the train pulled out of the station.

There was another train in fifteen minutes ... we needn't have rushed, we weren't necessarily booked on that particular train. Like the bus system, the train system in England is run by several different companies and on different systems. We had had seats actually booked on the Sheffield train, but not on this one.

And so we arrived safely in Brighton, and were met by our good friend Charlotte who took us to her home in Rustington for a few days.