Dot writes: I took a day trip to Leicester on Saturday. Not for the hell of it, you understand, but to go to a conference. Pre-children I would have stayed overnight, but these days the tug of home is very strong and the idea of solitude in a hotel room seems lonely and wasteful rather than adventurous. (I know – surely I should be gagging for the chance of a lie-in – but I am spending a lot of time at work right now and I miss my boys. And Ken let me have a lie-in on Sunday to recover. It was extremely indulgent. I stayed in bed until 8am.)
I enjoyed the conference and caught up with friends I haven’t seen for a while, but the conference accounted for only about a third of a day mostly spent travelling. I got up at 5 (too jittery to sleep any later), left the house at a quarter to six, took a coach, a plane, a bus and another bus, attended the conference, then walked back to the station, took a train, a bus, a plane, a coach and finally a taxi, and arrived home again at 11.05. I flew into East Midlands airport and out of Luton. It was all very complicated.
Some observations: the Skylink from East Midlands Airport to Leicester sounds like a glossy silver machine that runs at 120mph on a rail 20ft off the ground. It’s not. It’s a bumbly little local bus that potters around the villages for an hour picking up pensioners and their shopping. It is slow and friendly and waits for people to pass it on horses.
There’s something about travelling on my own that makes me feel compelled to talk to people. Some surplus of speech-energy, failing to be discharged in the form of “Sit down properly” and “Don’t pour your milk on the seat”, combines with a surprised and cheery realisation that I can speak without being interrupted and no-one currently needs me to take them to the toilet, and forms a frothy head of chattiness. If you see me on a plane, you might want to find another row.
If the Skylink charged as much per three minutes of bus ride as the shuttle from Luton Airport Parkway to Luton Airport, the journey from EMA to Leicester would have cost £30. (It cost £6.)
If you miss the 10pm Dalkey coach by five minutes because your wretched plane is delayed out of Luton (by about fifty minutes, for which time the majority of the passengers determinedly remained in the boarding queue, sternly ignoring the admittedly uncomfortable seats), the next coach isn’t until 11. If you have been up since 5 this is more than you can really take. However, if you are fortunate enough to mention it to an intelligent husband who has access to google, you can find a coach to Greystones that leaves at 10.30, get off at Booterstown, and be magically picked up by a taxi-driver who knew you needed him even though you were just walking along the road and not sticking your arm out or anything.