Travel to Gatwick
We travelled on the 09:40 train from home to Birmingham in order to catch the train to London Euston. As we boarded the busy train, a young man was sitting amongst our reserved seats, with his work bags also occupying a seat. He was wearing an orange gilet with white stripes, the sort worn by train employees. When he realised the situation he politely moved to allow us to take our seats.
After about thirty minutes, Steve spoke to him discussing his travel destination. The young man then took great pleasure in informing us he worked for the rail service and was travelling to a meeting in London.
Creating conversation, Steve then asked about HS2, the super fast train the government was planning. The young man started to tell us about how it’s all developing, what to look for at the side of the tracks to see how it’s progressing, also how to compare tracks and fences, what it means when equipment is lying on its side, which buildings have to be demolished and which have to be preserved, how they are working with various green agencies to protect wild life, diverting water & drainage etc ………. really interesting information!
He talked all through our lunch, giving more and more information about HS2 and then, as we arrived in London, he proceeded to educate us about the underground rail system – enthralling! As we arrived at Euston we parted company with a cheery farewell and started to walk away quickly.
Now it was time to dash from Euston to Victoria Station via the Underground.
With our bags in tow, as well as wearing a rucksack, it wasn’t going to be a walk in the park for a novice like me who is not used to the hustle & bustle of London, so it was going to be an experience.
Staying close enough to keep Steve in view was a challenge in itself. Then to deal with ticket barriers that didn’t open due to incorrect use of the tickets, so causing a build up of people behind me, almost pushing me through the gates, then walking on to steep descending escalators not knowing which side to stand to allow others to pass whilst still maintaining Steve in my sight was a big learning curve. Then off the escalator in full flow to find our next platform was yet another experience, with everyone either running or rushing past us; the good thing was everyone was moving in the same direction. Once at the platform, which was very narrow, the heat and the smell of fumes were noticeable, as was the closeness of the people to the edge. Within seconds the train arrived, luckily it stopped with the doors in front of us, and it was a squeeze on and from behind to board. Once in position we had to find something to hold on to for when the train moves it moves quickly. Then to be offered seats by two young ladies who must have thought we needed to sit down was a little hurtful to our pride and we politely declined. Now the train was moving, with an increase in noise and a shaking of the carriage. Hot air wafted between coaches via the open windows at each end of the carriage – this appeared to be the only ventilation – and it felt that as soon as we reached our maximum speed limit we began to slow down and stop.
Time for us to exit the train, as quickly as we could before the doors shut again. ….phew!!! What an experience, and at my time of life!
At Victoria Station it was much easier to find the next platform that would take us to Gatwick as there were painted lines on the floor to guide us. Again we had to deal with ticket barriers, but this time it was more interesting as some were not working so a guard checked tickets whilst another tried to sort the ticket barrier. Once through we were then hindered by a traveller who decided to stand still in order to put his tickets safely in his travel wallet so we had to step around him and rush on to the train where we luckily found seats.
Soon we were on our way to Gatwick, passing various landmarks I recognised from the television. Once at the station, it was a steady walk to our taxi pick up point, ready for our transfer to the hotel for the night and await Derek’s arrival later in the afternoon.
Derek arrived and, once settled in after his long journey, it was time for chat, light refreshments and dinner before calling it a night as we had a 3:40 call in the morning to take us to the airport.