Thursday, 18 January 2007

Couldn't organise...

...a bun fight in a bakery (I believe that is the polite way of saying it).

It has been windy today, there's a surprise, it's been windy for the last few days but granted, it was a bit gustier today - so everything comes to a halt through lack of planning or failure to implement contingency arrangements. I'm sure you know where I'm going with this...

Good old British trains, no explanations, no help!!! :o(

Due to the adverse weather conditions (gosh, I'm even sounding like a station announcement) I had been checking travel details on the Internet at work. Afterall, tonight was to be Nicola's first crop of 2007 and I didn't want to get caught up in any rail disruption. The best laid plans of mice & men...

BBC travel advised that my line had problems between Barking & Grays (good old Tilbury loop on the Fenchurch Street line) and could be subject to delays. So I set off for home early - left work about 4.45pm, normally a 40min journey, plenty of leeway for some delay - no problem. Even if there were hold-ups I should still be home in time to grab the car and get to the crop on time <#noise that the computer on family fortunes makes when the answer is wrong#> First stage of journey; Stratford to West Ham via Jubilee Line - slight delay but arrive with about five minutes to spare for a train that would take me all the way home without changing <# that noise again#> WRONG. Indicator board shows the time as fast approaching 5pm but we are awaiting services that should have arrived almost two hours previously. Next train due, only a couple of minutes to wait, will only go as far as Grays (three stops from home) but it'll be most of the way home. The second train listed would take me right home but there was another 10 minutes to wait and when there are don't take the chance! Wait on platform (short trains this time of day) horrid drizzle and it's a bit blowy but nothing out of the ordinary, glance at indicator board and the data does a flip - train 2 is now train one and train one (that was) has been further delayed. Great, things are looking up, no broken journey, and as the thought goes through my mind the train pulls in. Not too crowded but standing room only, just the same. Arrive at the next station, still standing but I'm on my way home so who cares... Just as the doors close a tannoy announcement is made, something to do with Grays but the doors are closed and we are pulling away before anyone can hear the message. Two stops later I get a seat. Not the fastest of journeys but I'm on my way. I thumb through my latest craft magazine and wonder if I've got a suitable photo for the crop page that Nicola has prepared...

Arrive at Grays (only three stops to home, yipeee) folk get off, but folk on the platform are hesitating about getting on - not a good sign. The doors close but we don't pull away. Everyone then starts straining to hear what is going on the drivers cab. From his side of the converstaion he is not a happy bunny and he repeatedly tells whoever he is talking to that he has a train full of people and needs to know what is going on. Then we heard the dreaded words "so I'm to terminate the service here and return to London..." The intercom crackled to life and he very apologetically asked us to leave the train - he believed that a replacement bus service was in operation for us to continue our journey (believed? why didn't he know, why hadn't he been told for sure). Out into the drizzle and where are the staff? Who is going to tell us about these wonderful buses? Quickly making his way to the underpass to the other platform we saw a member of staff trying to beat a hasty retreat - too late, we got him. Although what help he was is still being debated by the jury... When asked where the buses were he asked where we wanted to go and then waved a hand vaguely to indicate the other side of the street.

There was actually a bus sitting waiting at the end of the line of bus-stops and not too many people waiting to get on, unfortunately, neither was there a driver for the bus. When you are uncertain what is going on you tend to lose track of the time but it couldn't have been too long when a second bus appeared (and from somewhere so did the driver of the first bus).

Although the distance involved to get home from Grays is not huge we had three stations to call at all separated by dark, wet, country lanes. I phoned Diane and told her I might be late for the crop. As we pulled up at Tilbury Town we saw a train pull out heading in the direction that we were travelling - what was going on. The driver saw it too and was not happy as he had been called out to provide an emergency service but the trains appeared to be running. We continued.
The next stop is East Tilbury. This is a great place, there is only one road in and the only place that it leads to is the Thames, so the bus had to turn around in order to head for my destination which was next. To get into East Tilbury the road crosses the railway line - you know, flashing lights, barriers and all that stuff and yes, we got caught at the barriers on our return. But you are on a Rail replacement bus, I hear you say, why do the barriers need to close if there are no trains. Once again, WRONG, as we sat there a train merrily trundled past heading towards London. In the meantime, Diane had phoned back to let me know that the crop had been cancelled because a lot of folk were having problems with the weather...

We finally arrived at my station. Still drizzling, no crop to look forward to, not much on the telly as far as I could remember, not a good evening (yuk, pooh, huff). No way was I in the mood to go home and start cooking (only for me, hubby is nights tonight) - CHIPS :o)

There is nothing nicer than a fish & chip shop on a grotty evening, windows steamed up but shining bright, and even better if there is not a queue. A tray of chips with lots of salt and vinegar (in times of and things don't seem quite so bad.

It'll all still be there tomorrow so for now, anyone want a chip?

1 comment:

Chrissie said...

Do you know, I really enjoyed reading that!! Your writing about travelling on British Rail is brilliant (because you understand and know it so well).

And the "Yuck. Poo. Huff" made me LOL

And the fish and chip shop bit was beautiful.

Just a fab bit of writing!

Sorry you missed the non-existent crop. And I'll have a chip please.