Friday, January 2, 2009

The little steam engine that couldn't...

I'm back in the U.K., and shamefully (from a blogging perspective) have been for about a week now.

Currently, I'm on a National Express train, heading from Glasgow to London. Free wifi is a fabulous thing, especially for a six hour train journey. Free wifi, power ports, booze on board... it doesn't get much better.

Except, it does. Today's train ride is brought to you by the letters "U" and "SUCKNATIONALEXPRESS."

Situation: a small plane crashed in Staffordshire. On the line. The small plane crashed on the train line, making all the west coast line trains (which are the ones running from Glasgow down to London) canceled. So all passengers on those trains were stuck on our east coast Glasgow to London line. Which was already an overbooked train. This is not the part that is National Express' fault. They cannot help the plane crash. But they can help canceling all reservations, which means that all the assigned seats are no longer assigned. It became an everyman for himself situation. Which again, we were all fine with in Glasgow. Because half of us didn't have seats, and were thrilled to be told we could sit down. I was one of those who without the canceling of reservations, would have been sitting on the ground outside the toilets for six hours.

But they didn't tell the people getting on at Edinburgh. Which seemed to be the entire population of Edinburgh. So you've got loads and loads of people overflowing on a train, people sitting in other people's reserved seats (which are no longer reserved), and it's just a mess. An absolute mess. People are angry and cursing and it's really, really unpleasant.

(I must pause to say that I'm currently about 50 feet from the North Sea, and as always, it's spectacular. I love the east coast train line down to London.)

(I must pause again to say that while the North Sea is on my left, the sun is setting on my right. Oh, United Kingdom, you are a gorgeous beast, even if all your shops are still closed on January 2nd.)

But that is my current status quo. I'm on a very crowded train.

It's been a busy week, post-USA. In that time I have:

  • Suffered some pretty wicked jetlag;
  • Done a freezing day in Edinburgh with Gabriella;
  • Done a terrifying ghost tour in Edinburgh that had us almost in tears;
  • Put Gabriella on a plane (well, replacement bus to the airport, as the trains from Central weren't running) to Holland;
  • Started submitting more writing to mags and journals;
  • Spent the weekend with Mom and Tom in Glasgow;
  • Celebrated my first Hogmanay in Scotland -- Happy New Year!
  • Recovered from my first Hogmanay in Scotland. They definitely don't mess around here about their New Year's festivities;
  • Mistakenly set my alarm for 7:30am instead of 8:30am, depriving myself of a much needed extra hour of sleep. New Year's Resolution: LEARN TO TELL TIME.
...and that takes me up to just about now, to sitting on this train. I really would like to get up, but am terrified of losing my seat, so there's a chance I will not use the bathroom between here (still about an hour north of Newcastle) and London, where I don't even know if I have 30p for the superloo at King's Cross.

Still, paying to urinate aside, I'm so happy to be back in the UK.

Though I leave it next week again.

For Paris!


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