Scene 1 - The Journey Begins
Wedny and I set off for the Oxonmoot on the 3:30 train into Glasgow Central, this ran smoothly with no inkling as to what was to come. We then went to catch our train for Birmingham New Street, which was to leave Glasgow Central at 16:10, we boarded successfully and found our reserved seats and made ourselves comfortable for the long journey. At approximately 16:15 and with us growing restless to be away the guard (sorry "Train Manager") came on the tannoy and told us that a combination of a lightening strike and extreme weather in the borders had brought down the overhead line at Lockerbie and that no trains from Glasgow or Edinburgh were currently going down the West Coast. We would have to now wait as there was not a backlog of trains waiting to progress. We only had an hour between our connections for Oxford at Birmingham so it looked like we would have to get the next train. Ho hum, I suppose no journey runs smoothly.
At 16:40 (or thereabouts) The Train Manager came back on line to let us know that the train had now been cancelled and would we all go to the Main exit where we were to catch coaches down to Carlisle. Ah, Somehow I started to feel that this was going to be longer than even I supposed.
We decided not to get on the first, mad rush bus nor the second slightly less mad rush. We thought that we were on the fourth but it may have been the third. The cunning bus driver decided to go straight up St Vincent Street and join the motorway at Charing Cross and avoid trying to cross the city centre to join at Townhead. If you live in Glasgow this would sound like a truly cunning scheme which would cut the city traffic and get you moving quickly onto the motorway. However, if I now point out that he did this at 17:10, people in Glasgow will realise how profoundly dumb this was as he was placing us further into the rush hour crowd rather than avoiding it. It took 45 minutes for the bus to actually get onto the Motorway and we crawled at a (respectable for Glasgow) 35 miles an hour down towards the South (you have to say it with a capital letter ‘cause that’s what printed on the signs).
We arrived in Carlisle some 2 and a half hours later with only the amusing spectacle on the main West Coast line (which we should have been on) of a train racing beside the M76 for some 10 minutes before hurtling off towards Carlisle. We did actually beat it to the station as it was standing there when we finally extricated ourselves from the bus and entered the station with all our luggage dragging behind us. That train was going to Euston and had standing room only as it left the station; it was like one of those refugee movies (except nobody was actually on the outside).
Careful examination of the notice board showed us that the next two trains were both going to Birmingham New Street which was puzzling but we were then distracted by the entertainment of a very well dressed woman in an absolute fury literally bawling at several the Station Managers as she appeared to have been directed to the wrong train. Everyone in the Station was much relieved by this amusement and all tried to keep a smile off their faces as she stalked past with her cigarette held like a gun.
Anyway we stupidly didn’t ask which of the two Birminghams’ we should catch (the trains that is not the cities) and so we got on the first, seems reasonable doesn’t it? By this time it was just before when we should have caught our second train to Oxford and we were still some 250 miles short. 10 Miles later we hear the helpful announcement that the next station was Oxenholm, oh and by the way anyone who doesn’t want to get to Birmingham New Street after midnight get the express service which was the train behind.
So we got off at Oxenholm (which looks like a nice place) and got on the next train through, some 10 minutes later. All appeared well with only the slight disconcerting announcement that we only became the express service after we got past the train in front at Preston. By now you will have realised that this story can only get longer and longer, so only a little more tonight.
Scene 3.Only 20 miles short of Preston we stopped in the middle of nowhere. There was a long pause before the, by this point, unsurprising news that the train in front had failed and the drivers were going to couple the two trains together and push the failed train into Preston. I had a distinct sinking feeling about this and this was not helped by the fact that it took 40 minutes for the two drivers to connect the trains.
More tomorrow, which will put it in the wrong order for people coming later to the journal, but what the Hell!