Saturday, November 08, 2008

No place quite like home

It must be an age thing: no matter how lovely the surroundings or how scintillating the company, ten days seems to be my limit before I start to feel a desperate need to be within my own familiar walls. So, sad as I was to leave the adorable Millie, it was with a certain relief that I boarded the train at Paddington yesterday and headed back to peaceful and colourful Devon.

The train line from Paddington to Devon passes through some beautiful countryside and it was at its best yesterday with glorious autumn colours seen in clear, bright sunshine. This was a far cry from the snowy scene I woke to on my first morning in London.
I usually make very detailed travel plans but, not knowing how long my daughter would need me following her operation, I had an open return ticket for the train. I didn't expect to have any difficulty in finding a seat on the Paddington to Plymouth train outside the holiday season and strolled nonchalantly down the platform only to discover that every carriage was full. I eventually managed to find a single vacant seat but there were many people standing in the aisles.

My heart sank when I saw that my compartment was occupied by what I judged to be college students
. I love young people, I spent a lifetime working with them, BUT cooped up for two hours in a railway carriage? I misjudged them completely, they were all perfectly well-behaved, mannerly and charming and not English! I am ashamed to admit that a group of 50 or 60 British students would not have provided such pleasant company as these young people, who chatted quietly, shared their magazines and snacks, offered their seats to older passengers, carried bags and helped people off the train and were generally just nice to be around. I don't know who they were or why they were travelling to the South West - perhaps they were heading for Exeter or Plymouth universities? They had North American accents and some were speaking French, so my guess is that they were Canadian. They were certainly a credit to their families and nation. It was like travelling back in time to England before the development of Youth Culture.

I have lots of photographs from my London trip and a book review to write up so there will be more Random Distractions in the next few days.


  1. Welcome back home!
    I too, have become a homebody who loves to return home to my uneventful life.

  2. Good to have you back, M.

    Re young people in the UK: there are some exceptions, thankfully! As you know, I'm involved in an educational awards scheme in London. The focus is on schools and colleges that are encouraging and enabling bright young people from the capital's most socially and economically deprived communities to go on to university. Each year, students and pupils from the educational institutions that have reached the finals attend an awards ceremony at a prestigious London venue. Despite having few if any of the advantages of their more affluent peers, these young people are, invariably, determined, intelligent, aware, articulate, courteous and well turned out - great ambassadors for their schools and colleges and for their generation. So there is hope! (Perhaps we should invite Andrew O'Hagan to next year's ceremony . . .)

  3. Welcome back, M. We've missed you!

  4. Thank you all, it is good to be home.

  5. I think coping away from home for 10 days is excellent, M. My limit is about 5. Look forward to more photos!


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