Ten days ago at 10 a.m friends picked me up to catch the first train for my odyssey. At 6.30 p.m a daughter picked me up at the suburban station of my hotel town. We hugged in joy and relief. Will ignore the hell of Waterloo at rush hour. We lunched and dined with old friends. On the Friday a son and his wife picked me up for the journey to Suffolk, venue for grand-daughter’s marriage. It takes two people to drive in South East England, because you need a full-time navigator to circumnavigate the red lines on the GPS, equals traffic snarl-ups.
Our B & B was in a stately home, 500 year old trees, including a huge cedar. That night I, my four children, and one wife, had a joyous, exceedingly rowdy dinner. The wedding was equally joyous, despite the extreme heat. My great-grandson, only two, presented the rings on a small cushion to the registrar – was I proud! And holding back tears, his grand-father, my third son, died in February. The next day a delightful buffet held at the bridegroom’s parents’ home. Both families really love each other. Then a trouble-free run South, daughter chauffeur this time, dropping eldest son at Heathrow. Back to my hotel, expecting anti-climax, but not what I had to suffer!
I was booked in last September, friend due to stay, hotel requisitioned for Afghan refugees. Booked hotel in Windsor in October, she had a horrendous accident, looked as though she would be paralysed. But fit enough to book to meet again, Sunday, for three days. She has Covid, quite badly. Although I had lunch, felt like a glass and a snack. No food, Madam. But all the Afghans still there were eating what looked like delicious food, why not me? Their food is sent in at government expense by outside caterers. I had a boring couple of days. Could not be bothered to go into town. Have snack lunch in hotel. No chef Madam. I attacked the manager, totally uninterested in other guests, said I could order food from outside!
So, Wednesday, daughter arrived to take me to the station. Waterloo, some fire somewhere, had to stand in line 45 minutes for a taxi. St Pancras horrendous, no special treatment (as in Paris) for first class Eurostar passengers. Talk about herding cattle! I was ‘corralled’ with others needing assistance. Desperate for toilet and drink tried to get information. Just wait, Madam. On train, did not calm down till well on way to Paris. The train was late, taxi across Paris. Wrong platform given at Montparnasse, found correct one, TGV about to leave, Grabbed by a guard, he snatched my case and we had to run! Could not reach my 1st class carriage, all seats (illegally) filled. Next exchange my ‘minder’ could not find me, when she did we had to made a dash for next train; miss it, two hour wait, and people meeting me. And I had got gung-ho about travel! Will I go to UK again? Watch this space.
A Moodscope member.