Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Chugga-chugga, whoo-whoo


As a navigator, generally I'm pretty good. When I pay attention.

For 2 1/4 days,  I had managed to get us from Geneva to London, move around London with little difficulty the entire weekend - to dinner at Covent Garden, to the theatre, to St. Paul's Cathedral, a walking tour featuring Shakespeare and Dickens locales, back to our train station of choice, to and from the hotel in Croydon.

Was fine Monday morning getting us to Oxford, though the first two trains were delayed. The third train - from Reading station - was on time, and we missed it by about 30 seconds because of the previous delays. This, in turn, caused me to miss the connection to Cholsey when we finally arrived in Oxford. (D-L disembarked in Oxford to meet a writer friend, while I was heading to do interviews at a Royal Air Force base Benson.)

They announced the Oxford-Cholsey train would be late, too, and that's when things really fell apart. I decided to check and send some emails during the delay, and when I glanced up I thought they had also changed which platform the train would depart from. So I rushed over to Platform 2, and when the 11:07 pulled in I hopped on. It was supposed to be about a 30-minute ride to Cholsey. It turned into nearly 3 hours!

After 30 minutes, the train pulled into - not Cholsey - but Leamington Spa. I knew something was seriously amiss, so I got off, learned that I was going north instead of south, and prepared to catch the next train back to Oxford, then Cholsey. Except the next train was also delayed - by more than 40 minutes because of a passenger medical situation further up the line. Eventually managed to get to Cholsey, walk a mile or more into the little town, call a taxi, and get to my belated meeting at the airbase.

Lessons learned:
1) Trains in the UK are habitually late - unlike the Swiss trains, which are always on time, and the French trains, which are pretty much according to schedule;
2) I need to pay closer attention to which train/bus/plane I'm getting on. Should have realized that with only two platforms in Oxford, one was for southbound trains, the other for northbound.

D-L would add lesson 3: turn the damn smartphone off.

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