Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Journey to Aberdeen

We are off on our big adventure of traveling for 2-3 months! The last week in Cambridge was crazy. There were meltdowns. There were goodbyes. There were lots of meals out at good places with good friends. None of us got much sleep, mostly because all the activity and uncertainty meant that Walter wouldn’t sleep much during the day. There were too many long nights of packing and cleaning until the wee hours of the morning.

Walter enjoying a farewell dinner with some of my friends at The Old Spring
Sunday, the day we had to move, was one of the most stressful days I’ve had in a long time. We ended up missing our train to Scotland by 5 minutes. It was so frustrating, but there was nothing we could do. David and I had both gone without full night’s sleep for weeks, taking no breaks when Walter slept just so we could work on packing etc, but there just weren’t enough hours in the day. Unfortunately we had to buy new tickets, at full price, for our journey.

The train journey was fairly arduous until we reached Edinburgh. For one thing, we had two transfers and a lot of very heavy luggage + Walter in his chair. For another, the train that took us from Peterborough to Edinburgh was incredibly busy and the man in charge was a real jerk. We had boarded the train at a car that bridged first & standard class. One of the men asked us to move our bags further down the train, but this was physically impossibly because it was so crowded. So he suggested that we move our bags into the First Class vestibule, one car away, as it wasn’t busy. David dutifully hauled all our luggage there, straining his back in the process. We then had to take apart Walter’s pram to get it down the aisle. We settled down for the four hour ride...

An hour or less into the trip the conductor came through to inspect tickets. He started complaining that we had our things in the first class vestibule. Then he said that we couldn’t ride there because we didn’t have first class tickets (keep in mind we were sitting on the floor in a space between cars!). I explained that we were told to go there, and he called me a liar. Things began to escalate, so I ended up having to purchase 2 first class upgrades so that we could continue to ride on the train. He then made us move our bags a third time, into a luggage carrier-car, complaining all the while that we hadn’t put them there in the first place. And because he was rushing us and bustling all our bags off the train to be run down to this special car, the bag containing all of Walter’s food and diapers ended up getting locked up, which meant my poor little boy had to brave the remaining three hours of the journey in a wet diaper and with no food. Can you tell we’re going to be writing a letter of complaint to the rail company?

There was a crew change in Newcastle and things began to improve. We made the most of our first class tickets by eating 3 complimentary lunches between us (we were also starving from a busy day with little time to eat!). We began chatting with a man sitting across the aisle from us, and I am certain that he was Saint Nicholas in disguise (his name being Nick). Every time Walter woke up he would just gaze in Nick's direction, remaining quiet and content for the whole journey. This gentleman then helped us carry all of our luggage into the central part of Edinburgh-Waverly station. We thought that was the last we’d see of him, but as we were heading to our Aberdeen train he appeared beside us and helped us carry all our luggage onto the train, even though he was staying in Edinburgh! 

Relaxing on the Aberdeen train

Still relaxing. Apparently Walter really likes trains!
We were able to use the disabled seating area on the Aberdeen train, which meant we had more than enough room for Walter, and we could just relax for the last part of the journey. Pippa & Andy met us right at our train and we were soon settled into Andy’s apartment for a very late night dinner and a good night’s sleep. It was so good to be with friends and to be able to relax!


  1. Oh my word, that man sounds horrible!!!! I'm glad you're writing a letter - what horrible customer service!

  2. That's utterly ridiculous. Which was the company? I had a really bad experience with Megabus UK. Nick sounds like a real blessing, though — the unexpected kindness of strangers on a day when it seems the world is conspiring against us is one of my favourite things in life. Praying that your travels to Germany are carefree!

    1. It was 'East Coast'. Still waiting to hear back on my complaint. The good news is that I was able to locate the university address of the fellow who helped us on the train so that I could send him some shortbread!