17 August 2009

Mini-Holiday to the North

Today I started my mini-holiday visit with my parents in law in Lucker, a small village north of Newcastle. Getting here was all about the drama, but now that I'm here, settled, and no longer damp (I'll explain THAT in a minute), I'm so relaxed I nearly fell asleep eating my dinner tonight.

Simon and I departed Keighley on the 7:05 train. I left him at the Shipley station to go to work and continued on to Leeds. Unlike the other trips when I've had about 2.2 seconds to find and board my train before the whistle blows, this time I was waiting on the platform 20 minutes before the train even showed up.

As I got on the train, I noticed that the signs by the doors said out of order. I wasn't sure what that meant, other than I wasn't going to be able to know which coach I was on...and since I had an advance purchase assigned seat that might have been good information. Imagine wandering up and down the aisle in a plane until you find an empty! I soon decided to just board a coach and hope for the best, and ended up with a lovely window seat. I didn't have to get off the train at all until it called at Alnmouth where my parents in law and niece would be waiting to collect me.

We passed through some of the most gorgeous parts of the UK...York, Durham, random gorgeous countryside with random gorgeous white and fluffy sheep, etc. whizzed past my window as I fought sleep. Luckily for me, every time I'd relax enough to doze off Mr. Ticket Taker would want to see my passes, so I was sure not to relax at all.

At Newcastle a couple boarded and came to stand at the seat directly behind me. The man ordered the man that was already sitting there to vacate their seats, to which he responded that the reservation system wasn't working on the train. (Note to self: that's why the outside signs read Out Of Order). The couple repeated that they didn't care, these were their seats and he would have to get up. Not "could you please" or "if it's not too much trouble," mind you, but "Mate, I'm not playing with you here. If you don't shove off right now I'm gonna tip my tea right on to you, I swear."

The distance between seats was small. I suddenly became acutely aware of my surroundings.

"There's no need to threaten me, sir, there are no reservations on this train so I don't think I should have to..."

"I'm not playing, mate. Move. Get out of my seat. NOW."

Acutely aware of surroundings turned into holding anything that might be damaged by flying tea or other spoils of this tiny train war that might come hurtling into my non-reserved seat directly in front of this altercation.

Finally the seated man leapt from his seat and slammed his belongings down into the seat next to me. I started to protest that he'd nearly poured his coffee on me until I noticed the shade of purple that his closely shaved head and ears were turning,and thought better of it. He sprinted off down the aisle toward the next coach and I hoped he was scouting out a seat. In a few minutes he returned, collected his things, and took off again.

Whew, right? Nope.

Along comes Friendly Mr. Train Porter to discuss with the suspects behind me how the now very angry man felt threatened and afraid after the altercation and wanted to press charges.

Wait. Hold on, I'm on a train, not in a pub. WTH?

Turns out the bloke that hightailed it to another coach went straight to a porter and told on the rude couple now behind me. He told them that they had two choices: One was to disembark at the next station and continue their journey on the next train, therefore putting the whole matter out of the train company's hands and letting them off with just a warning, or stay on till their destination (also the other man's destination) and visit the police in the train station once they got there.

They were still on the train as I scurried off at my stop.

I'm here now, the drama is over, and I'm relaxing and enjoying the gorgeousness that is the NE of England. If you click on the picture of me in this post, taken reflected in one of the water features in the Alnwick Gardens, you can see what I've taken pictures of so far. And yes, I do love the macro setting. What?

Today was a trip to Alnwick Gardens and it started out rainy but soon turned into a perfect English summer afternoon. My niece, who is also staying here with my parents in law, had a good time running her fingers through every fountain there and then drying them off on various parts of ME, but I didn't mind. It's all part of summer holidays, and I didn't stay damp for long.

(Told you I'd explain it.)

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