I'm home again but with a different account from the one I expected to relate.
Episode 1 - the journey
Travelling by rail from North Devon is never straightforward. The nearest mainline station is Tiverton Parkway, just under 50 miles away. The alternative is to take the little diesel train on the scenic Tarka Line from Barnstaple to Exeter and catch the London train there. The Tarka line is closed for repair work at present so we had no choice but Tiverton.
We were unaware that the Reading and London commuter belt has now extended to Tiverton and we arrived to find the car park full. There were cars parked on flower beds and grass banks and along the approach road to the station. There were barriers and a whole team of security guards to keep us out. One of these guards told us we would have to drive into the nearby village, park there and get a taxi back to the station.
The MM dropped me off with the luggage and roared off in search of a carpark. After an anxious wait, I saw him limping in to the station with just a few minutes to spare before our train arrived, the right leg of his trousers wet with what I thought was mud but turned out to be blood. With no taxis to be found in the village he had run the one and a half miles back to the station and tripped on an uneven path. Brave creature that he is, this did not worry him so much as the fact that he had left the car in the only carpark he could find in the village, underneath a notice saying that the maximum stay was 24 hours. We were planning to leave it there for four days!
Having mopped up the blood and tidied up the trousers as best we could, we decided we could spend our time worrying about the fate of the car, whether it would be clamped or towed away or if we might face a huge fine, or we could forget about it until Sunday and enjoy ourselves. We settled for the comfortable option. We had seats in the Quiet Carriage on the train and it was wonderful to travel without those intrusive, boring and embarrassing mobile phone conversations that usually spoil train journeys. My only regret is that I didn't know about this book before we travelled; I spent most of my time looking out at the countryside and it would have been really interesting to read about the places I saw. I shall certainly get a copy before our next trip to London in March.
Tomorrow: Episode 2 - Cinderella does not get to the Guildhall