Land of the Long White Cloud – Part One: The Journey South

Part One – The Journey South.

The 19:58 to Euston was late into Preston.  A passenger further up the line had fallen ill and an emergency doctor had taken him to the nearest hospital.  Only the most stubborn can remain frustrated at the trains timekeeping considering the ordeal that the man had gone through.

Just over an hour late, we boarded the train.  Pulling clothes, books and summer items that would accompany us until the end of the year.  Finding a seat wasn’t hard, after all it was only Thursday night and the majority of passengers were still on their way to Preston station.

As the late train from Glasgow rolled alongside our stationary carriage, a was a brief glimmer of hope that we might soon hear the scratch and squeal as metal on metal of the wheels pull away from the platform.

More time passes.

And more, as a few disinterested passengers wander onto the train.  One more unstable than the others and holding an ‘after-party’ meal wrapped in pitta bread.  In the enclosed carriage the smell is awful.  Greasy. Burnt.  But the snack is consumed so quickly and thankfully the odour goes with it as the hungry passenger moves further down the train.  As I settle into a book, to occupy the next few hours, the high pitched beeping, signalling the closing doors, sounds and the train starts to move.

The journey south had begun.

The station sign saying Euston moves slowly past the train window and the clocks indicates that it is minutes away from midnight.  Terminating its journey the train empties onto the platform and the wind rises as workers rush home for a few hours’ sleep.  Loved ones run to meet families at the exits.  But for us, two backpacks and four mini wheels make their way over to the moving steps that take us deep Underground.

a quite station shortly after midnight

Passing through Leicester Square we pick up party goers and revellers alike, tourists visiting the Capital – from three continents at my reckoning.  Workaholic is a term that you would only use on occasions, but it is 00:37 and the gentleman near the door is pouring over a thick document with a trusty highlighter, lid firmly in teeth.  I am so pleased that work has finished for the rest of the year, and to avoid any temptation of making my return easier, by sneaking a glimpse at an email or two, I have deactivated the work email address from my HTC. Bonus.

The tube lightens it’s load as we move further away from the centre of ‘The Big Smoke’.  The train driver announces the next stop and adds, “dis is the last trayn band for ‘eathrow airport”, the cockney accent leaking through the ‘tinny’ speakers.  My wife and I look at each other quickly with both horror and relief written in our faces.  If the Euston train had been a few minutes later it would have been a miserable journey to the airport.

Terminal 3 Underground station is quiet as a handful of suitcase wielding passengers head for the exits.  It will be bed for a few hours before the 25,000 miles over the next couple of days.  I had planned it so that we would have lights out at about 22:45, but after our delays, it is 01:30.

It’s flight day and the predications of snow closing the runways or Icelandic volcanic activities grounding planes was an empty threat.

It was a glorious day to fly.

Heathrow, UK to LAX, USA.
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