Travels and Tribulations

Posted at 8:43:50, 24/6/2003

Oh man... what an epic journey on sunday night!

After my first visit to Dovestones with Ella we were driving back to Derby, intending on getting chips in Matlock. It started really when we spent nearly 2 hours queueing near Glossop because of a pile-up on one of the main roads between Manchester and Sheffield. After finally leaving the queue I was heading up a steep hill just outside Charlesworth, a small village near Glossop. I noticed that my car was making strange noises so I stopped to have a look. I couldn't really see anything so I started off again and immediately I heard a louder noise, it stalled and I couldn't start it again...

Fortunately I'm a member of the AA (in fact I've had to call them out once already!) but a combination of the traffic and the difficulty of explaining exactly which bit of which unnamed road I was on (I had to give the same description to the first phone operator, their control centre and the driver!) meant that the AA van arrived 2 hours later. It was now 11pm and he told me that the fan belt had broken and then wrapped itself around the timing belt and he would have to phone for a lorry to take me home.

After much discussion we eventually decided that the best place to go would be Sheffield as both Ella/me could get to Derby/Malvern on the train the next day - I had to work and Ella had a job interview.

We eventually got to Sheffield at 1:30pm and collapsed into bed with the knowledge that we had to get up at 6:30pm to get the train in the morning, my car was now safely on its way to the Vauxhall garage.

Now you may think that I'd had enough of an epic and that getting from Sheffield to Malvern would be pretty easy... well...

First of all, I had a bicycle with me, secondly we'd been too tired to think too hard about how we were going to get to the train station in the morning. After trying to persuade my brother that he wanted to give us a lift (no chance of that!), phoning for a taxi (none available for some reason) we decided to get the bus.

Now if the bus driver had politely said that bikes weren't allowed on the bus then I wouldn't have minded, but hearing a very curt "No bike on the bus" followed (after my "I've got a train to catch" pleading) by "No way, no way are you bringing a bike on the bus" was not what I wanted! That and the fact that it was pouring it down with rain and I got a very wet arse means that I really don't like that bus driver...

But it didn't end there... by the time Ella had got to the station (I beat the bus because it was all downhill!) the train had gone. When the next one arrived the Virgin Trains "train manager" didn't like my bike either. In fact there was no way I could put it on the train because I didn't have a reservation. I naturally assumed that this was because the bike storage spaces were already full so I wandered over to the ticket office and asked to reserve a place on the next train to Malvern with my bike. The ticket guy promptly printed out a ticket reserving me a place on the train I'd just tried to get on (I didn't have to pay or anything), I walked back over and was let straight on.

It just seems so bizzare to me that the "train manager" had so little common sense or was so overwhelmed with beaurocracy that one small piece of (free) paper, that took about a minute to obtain from the ticket office would change the carrying of my bike on the train from an impossibility to being totally fine.

Seeing my connection from Birmingham New Street (I hate that station sooo much) pull out as I reached the platform and having to spend 1 1/2 hours in an empty waiting room having too-loud announcements blasting in my ears for the entire time (when they don't have any trains to announce they just repeat the no-smoking, don't-leave-your-bag-unattended, etc. messages over and over again) was just the icing on the cake...

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