15 July, 2012
Fast Train through France
Part of the preparation of putting Malua in the water was to install a number of new items purchased over the past few months. Because of the lack of security at the marina offices I decided after committing to go and see my sick cousin in Worcester that I could have a few items sent to their address. The number of items increased so it was obvious that I would again need my large suitcase, empty to start with.
Bright idea! Take the cruising guides we had used while in the Med to the UK and post them surface mail to home. After going through the bookshelf the suitcase was full. Little did I realise the weight of these books. I was back into the regime of heavy cases but this time I was travelling by train so no limit except for me to carry up and down the many stairs associated with undergrounds/tubes and trains.
The route was Port St Louis via the TGV to Paris, Eurostar to London then local train to Worcester. The only train to make the connection left Arles at 6:53 am in the morning. No bus from the marina so the marina organised a lift at 5:30am to Arles.
I slept through the first alarm but as usual on important days like these, I set a second which woke me 10 minutes later. I rushed to make the car.
I arrived early at Arles station and caught the local train to Nimes then the fast TGV train to Paris. After some negotiations through the station I found the International train line and settled down to wait for the track number to be displayed. The earlier train was delayed and 20 minutes before my train was to leave I asked for the track number but was told to wait. I thought that was not right and set about finding the boarding area. Well it was full of people from the early train and the one after mine. I struggled through the congestion and finally got through passport control and x-ray security to rush towards the open doors and the platform when a man stepped in my way and said..... "Sorry this train is closed and leaving". I pointed out that the doors where in fact open to the platform and I was in time. "Sorry I will book you on the next train".
Now, I knew that I had timed my connection with the train to Worcester with one hour 10 minutes in hand so a delay of 30 minutes I could still make the connection.
We arrived at Kings Cross and I had to get the tube to Paddington. But first a ticket. Fine I had the money but not the correct change. Now the British are a proper race of people and would not take your money without giving you the chance to object so enter you money in the machine BUT if you put too much in, the British don't like that. At my first attempt the money is refunded. OK start again, get to the same screen... You have paid too much do you accept that no change will be given... press Yes or No. What a choice with only minutes to get to the tube.
OK get to Paddington. Now get the ticket I had prebook using my British credit card which had expired. Please enter card and the 8 numbers and letter of your booking. "Sorry you did not book this ticket with this card." Clock ticks on and the train is waiting.... Insert next card.... "Thank you for purchasing a ticket on British Rail." and out comes three tickets. Find the carriage and seat number.
Run for platform 3 and the train to Worcester. The guard is standing with his flag as I pass him and 3 1st class carriages and attempt to find my carriage C. The guard blows his whistle and I jump aboard. Stow my bag somewhere and walk two carriages down to find my seat. I did not need to go to the gym today I have lost more than enough perspiration rushing to Paddington but I had made the connection and I was on my way to Worcester, arriving 16 hours after setting off. A two hour flight would have done it but I would not have again carried my 30Kg of cruising guides.