I don’t know why, but it never crossed my mind that train service in England might not run according to schedule. Oh sure, a few minutes late is no big deal, but a 2 hour round-trip getting turned into 7.5+ hours?! Never saw that coming.
My sister and I decided to take a morning train to Bath with Joe along for the ride. You know, Bath, the town much loved by Jane Austen. It was about a 1 hour train journey from Oxford, so not too far. It sounded like a fun day trip. Ha!
We got up that morning, rushed to catch the train (and I do mean “rushed” – I was sure we would miss it and we ended up being 15 minutes early… in hindsight, it would have been better if we’d missed it, in my opinion). We got there in time, bought our open return tickets, and got on board.
Joe has such crazy facial expressions! Here he was on his first train ride.
The train from Oxford went straight to Didcot Parkway (about 15 minutes), where we got off and caught another train to take us to Bath. It was supposed to be a 10-15 minute wait, but it ended up being more like 45 minutes. That should have been our first clue that something was off – the train kept getting pushed back and pushed back and pushed back.
But it came at last and we got on without any trouble. We were even able to find a 4 seat setting around a table, which was perfect for traveling with Joe.
And then the delays really set in. After 3 1/2 hours, I told my sister that I was planning to just get off, get lunch, and try to catch a train back. Any touring was out for us – Joe was tired (but still in a good mood) and I was tired.
So my views of Bath were limited. Extremely limited. I got lunch for Joe and I and the two of us headed back home while my sister did the self-guided tour. Our train ended up being re-routed to Reading, and from there I caught a train back to Oxford.
I will say that it would have been nice if they’d told us before getting on the train that it was going to be re-routed. We weren’t 5 minutes into the trip before they made the announcement. Granted, I’m glad that they re-routed us as opposed to trying to go through a flooded tunnel. Safety first! Most of my fellow travelers saw it that way. There were a few who understandably grumbled: they were catching the train from Bath to the very next station which should have been a 15 minute journey. Instead, they had to go way out of their way in order to catch another train back. Only one woman truly lost it when they made the announcement. She started pacing the front of the aisle, yelling into her cell phone about how ridiculous it was, how she now had no idea how she was going to get home, she had know idea when she’d get home, etc. etc. I wondered if perhaps she had an anxiety problem of sorts and couldn’t stand the thought of plans being changed. She wasn’t quite hysterical, but a shrill note started to creep into her voice and I and my fellow seat mates began to glance at one another, like, “Does anyone have some Ativan to give this woman? Or perhaps a stiff drink?” Thankfully, the train manager was able to convince her to step into the corridor. All told, though, she was carrying on for close to 45 minutes, first with her phone companion, then with seat mates, and finally with the manager.
I’m just glad that Joe is such a great traveler. He really, truly didn’t mind one bit. The only fussing was when we got off the train at Reading. He had to go into his stroller and he didn’t like that at all, but after 30 seconds of crying he’d fallen asleep. Poor guy!
I’m also glad to report that along every stage of my journey, at least one person asked me if I needed help with the pram, either in getting on or getting off the train. It was nice.
I’m a little sad that I didn’t get to see more of Bath, but I’m relieved that the delays were due to weather and not the result of an accident on the line. I’m also glad that it’s over and done with and, hopefully, I won’t ever have to travel 7.5+ hours to/from Bath again!