As it always seems to do the old annual jaunt to North Wales crept up on the Pink lady and I rather rapidly.
Normally I look forward to it but somehow I’ve done the old knee in and walking hasn’t been fun of late. Now I’m using a stick to walk – well two legs as well I don’t actually hop around on stick – and that rather dampens the usual long walks.
Still, it has it’s advantages. As I’ve been taking the bus part-way to work I’ve found that limping on with the stick ensures I always get a seat no matter how crowded the bus is.
Of course, besides the obvious pain at times and not being able to walk the distances, it does have drawbacks. Three times I’ve been helped across roads I didn’t want to cross! Hey ho!
Anyway back to the old Holiday.
The morning of the holiday I got up at my usual time of 7am and a lot of the moodiness had gone. I did a final check on the packing, had a spot of breakfast. Been on the toast and marmalade at weekends. I quite like that with black coffee. Of course I would normally have cereal, toast and white coffee at the weekends but the ‘fridge broke down a little while ago and being ‘fridge-less is a little awkward. Damn things just aren’t built to last these days. Only had it 25 years. I did think of fishing out the guarantee but the Pink Lady suggested I might well be wasting my time.
Anyway, where was I? Oh yes, the holiday…
The Pink Lady and I agreed to meet up at Tesco’s. The sun was shining and as the time came to make my way to the rendezvous I began to feel the holiday spirit flow a little over me, despite the ache in the left knee.
Once I got to Tesco’s I sat at a bench and waited, watching people go by.
At about the appointed time the Pink Lady turned up and left me with her bags while she went and got the munchies for the journey.
Once that was accomplished we were off to the station to catch the train.
Immediately, the station announcements were full of cancelled and late trains but ours seemed to be holding up. Something of a relief as we would have 5 minutes to change trains at Newport Quay and we wouldn’t want to do that…
But then the first blow hit. Our train was on time but the one before it wasn’t so ours had to wait until the other had taken its passengers on board which led to us losing 6 minutes on our journey.
Throughout that journey I was a little on edge as to whether the time would be made up. I asked the guard when we’d just left Bristol Parkway whether we’d make up the time.
‘Well, I’m checking with the driver and if we only going to be a few minutes late we’ll try and get the connecting train to hold. There’ll be an announcement…’
He strode off. I wasn’t optimistic. I’d had the feeling of doom and gloom over me. Maybe over the years I’d been infected by Mr Gloom-Laden, who would have enjoyed this disaster that was looming over us. Of course, he would have shifted the fault to Mr Blameworthy. He seemed to enjoy that. Goes to show, the vast majority of Blameworthy’s travel arrangement go to plan. Old Gloomers seems only to focus on those that don’t…Quite unreasonable in my book…
Anyway, the train wouldn’t hold and we were late and needless to say missed it!
Oh dear, I thought, most unfortunate.
Ok, more like I almost threw my cap down on the floor and stamped on it. But I’m British, damn it and we are not all that demonstrative. Besides, with my luck I’d have done further damage to the old knee.
With a couple of wraps dangled in front of me by the Pink Lady, the food distracted me and I munched for a few minutes. The old adrenaline stopped coursing and I was becalmed.
The train recommend was the Manchester Piccadilly. Even with my poor geographical knowledge I knew that wasn’t going to be a straight through train. Further investigation proved me right and we would have to change at Crewe to get the train through to Llandudno. We would have 11 minutes for the change.
After our experiences so far that amount of time could be quickly eaten away by a late train. So, I found out that there was a straight through train which left at 1.36pm, just under two hours time.
The Pink Lady left the choice to me and I decide we’d take the straight through train. Despite the wait it seemed the safest bet.
The chappie at the Enquiries desk told me it was Platform 4 which was across from us. After a further bit of munching we made our way down the platform to find a bout 100 steps to climb.
The Pink Lady took one look at the amount of steps and came to a sudden halt.
‘I can’t be doing with all those steps!’
I sighed under my breath. What other course was open to us. Higher a glider, get an Abseiling team to whisk us up? Put on jet packs? None of those remarks I made out loud as a smack round the chops usually offends…
‘There must be a lift!’ she said.
Must there, I thought?
Fortunately, there was a lift round the back. Or rather, unfortunately. I hate lifts. It’s the confinement and fear that the doors may not open thus leaving me trapped in a metal and concrete coffin.
But not wanting to appear the grizzling coward I held in all the whimpering and wining when the doors shut. It was either that or tackle the steps myself and with the ol’ leg playing up it was the lesser of two evils.
After two or three prayers – rather a miracle for me being something of a non-believer – we came to a halt at the appropriate floor. That was where you have that long pause – or rather it seems like it to me – before the doors blessedly open. Happily they did and I was out of there like a whippet off the starting blocks.
Of course, there was the lift down to platform 4 to deal with. The Pink Lady wasn’t prepared to descend loads of steps either.
Eventually we found a seat on the platform, I checked the board for our train and listen to the steady cancellation and train delay announcements that sporadically echoed throughout the station. With all that going on I wanted to be sure about the info I’d been given…
By about 1.05pm I decided to check the main board. Call me suspicious minded but the day hadn’t been all that wonderful transport-wise so far.
I got to the board to find the train we wanted would now leave from Platform 3. Oh Joy! As I made my way back to the Pink Lady I thought about how I was going to explain this without getting a clout? Or arriving in Llandudno looking rather like a Panda!
I was in luck. The Pink Lady took it rather well. Any suffering on my part was around having to use the lifts. Ten minutes later we were seated on Platform 3, more or less where we were forty minutes ago.
The good news was the train arrived on time. The bad was it left about four minutes late! Dinner in the Guest House is at 6pm and it’s never advisable to get between a Fitrambler and his nosebag. This bad start made me think we would be cutting it fine for the train to get to Llandudno Junction by 5.14pm. The Shuttle train to Llandudno left at 5.28pm. Miss that and the next one is 5.50pm. That would mean we’d end up at Llandudno Station at precisely nosebag time. Really not on!
We trundled along until we got to Shrewsbury where the train was put on hold. This was so that passengers of a connecting train which was late could get on board ours.
I wasn’t happy, not happy at all. They didn’t hold the other earlier train for us but these other blighters were going to be given the privilege. How really unfair.
So, ten minutes passed but I didn’t see a single passenger get on; not one! This is the sort of thing that starts off paranoia and conspiracy theories…
Ten minutes later we were off again!
We got to Chester and based on my estimates on how long it would take to get to Llandudno Junction we weren’t going to meet the connecting train…
As we pulled out of Chester Station the female announcer told us our next stop would be Newport.
Newport? Newport? We’d damn well come from Newport!
Then she announced all the stations called at on the way. All the ones we’d been through and those we expected to go through.
Fortunately, being an old hand at this travelling game, I recognised she was talking a lot of rot and we were heading towards Flint which was the correct station.
I got to speak to the guard who told me we were unlikely to get to Llandudno Junction until 5.45pm or a little later. That meant we’d be late for dinner. Late for dinner! I’m never late for dinner. It’s just unheard of. Better chance of Big Ben being a minute fast.
I almost felt like rattling off a letter to The Times…which shows just how angry I was!
I rang the Guest House and informed them. Seemed the decent thing to do.
However, the Guard got it wrong. We pulled in at Llandudno Junction at 5.24pm. I hurriedly limped towards the connecting train possibly leaving the Pink Lady behind. But, bad mannered as that might seem, one of us needed to try to hold the train at least for a minute while she caught up.
By the time we got to Llandudno and the Guess House we had nearly ten minutes to spare before I could tuck in to a well-needed evening meal…
Fitrambler in paradise…