I used to commute into London for work. I stopped doing that regularly just over 5 years ago. But I still get a mild buzz each time I do. Yesterday, I had to go into London for a conference. Marc and the children dropped me off at the nearest train station (in Egham), I bought my ticket and stood on the platform waiting for the train. The sky was a beautiful blue so I had left the house without a coat. I had to change trains at Clapham Junction (which unbelievably I have never done before) to get to Victoria. That station is huge. Not sure where I might need to go to catch the next train, I followed the throng of people figuring the majority of people were going in the same direction I was so they would lead me in the general direction. They did. I found my platform and my connecting train was late which is good because I was late. I got a seat and sat back enjoying my own private world induced by my iPod and reading.
I disembarked (I love that word) from the train at Victoria and set off on the "short" walk from the station to the venue. I walked all the way around the block due to assuming the address represented the road the hotel entrance was on. Bad assumption, as this is rarely the case when in London. I arrived late (about 20 minutes) and went down 2 floors into the bowels of the hotel and made a quiet entrance in the back of the classroom.
I learned quite a bit from the morning session (all about testing usability of intranets) and hope to use much of it in the job. Lunch was a very civilised poached salmon with steamed veg. I was surprised when I came up from the basement to discover that the beautiful blue sky had turned dark grey and the heavens had opened up. Rain was pouring down.
I went back into the afternoon session, which wasn't nearly as good as the morning had been but there were still some nuggets of useful information so all in all it was a good conference.
Then came the time to leave. I darted for the train station without getting soaked to the bone. I took advantage of the fact that my train was not departing for 20 minutes. These days the station station is a bit like going to a shopping mall. Of course, I chose the book shop, WH Smith and picked up Lionel Shriver's new book, The Post Birthday World. I board the train and settled back to enjoy the trip home.
This nirvana was rudely disrupted when I changed trains at Clapham Junction and the train I board was more like a sardine can. I had to stand in the aisle and it is very difficult to balance hand bag, briefcase, juice and large book when hanging on for dear life in the aisle of a packed train.
Luckily most travellers disembarked (oh, I got to use it again1) at Richmond (the 1st stop after Clapham Junction) and I got to sit down. Well, I thought I was lucky. the man sitting next to men was falling asleep and leaning on me more and more the deeper he slept. Fortunately, he got off at the next stop. The enjoyed the remaining 20 minutes although I was freezing.
You will remember I hadn't brought a coat. the train was cold and I waited for Marc and the children to pick me up at the station for 15 minutes or so. I reckon my lips were blue by the time I climbed into our car. I announced I was freezing and Sebastian said "Well, that's what you get for going out without a coat on. I'll bet you take that into consideration next time." It did take him about 3 goes to say consideration properly but he told me!
Glad I don't do this commute everyday! Despite the brief moment of nirvana, I like my 5 minutes down the road!