The Journey Home

We’re heading home from the coast today after the better part of a week spent with my parents. I packed the children’s bags yesterday afternoon, and we spent the evening watching movies and recovering from a colossal roast dinner my Mum cooked for us all.

It’s been fun. We walked down to the beach a mile or so below my parents house, climbed over the headland to the nearest harbour, went out to the pub for lunch with my parents, wandered through seaside shops, raided several traditional sweet shops, and stayed up late every evening watching all manner of movies – talking Grandad into subscribing for Netflix in the process.

Last night we watched “Big Fish” – the Tim Burton movie about the last days of an old man who’s life has been defined by the stories he told his family. None of his family are sure where the truth ends and the stories begin, and as a viewer you never know either. The end of the movie is kind of magical, but I’m not going to ruin it for you. Everybody thought it was wonderful.

This morning we all threw our remaining bits and bobs into bags for the journey, before setting off for the station once more. After a short wait on the railway station platform, Grandad waved us off, and we set out on our way.

The first half hour of the journey was spent sorting children out with movies and TV shows. Our eldest has my Kindle, watching “Community” (best TV show ever), and the younger children are both watching “Supergirl” (new TV show) on their tablets. I spent an hour yesterday evening making sure everybody had copies of the shows they wanted on their respected devices – the lot of the modern parent, I guess.

MeÂ… I’m sitting writing this on the Chromebook. It’s rapidly become the “go to” laptop for travelling – it can play most movie formats, and it lasts for hours on a charge. At the moment it’s estimating 6 hours left – given that it’s been on for an hour already, that’s pretty good going. When I finish writing this I expect I’ll find my Kindle and read. I kind of promised myself to read more while we’ve been away, but inbetween chatting with my parents, watching movies, and looking after the kids, I haven’t read anything.

Two hours left on the train. Two hours until we arrive in Reading station, and look out for my other half on the platform. Her “time off” is coming to an end – this afternoon our house will once again be filled with mayhem, and my parents house will once again be quiet.

As ever, long train journeys are unexpectedly entertaining. There a young lad sitting diagonally across from us playing Championship Manager on a laptop – I can see high speed games of football whizzing past on his screen from time to time. For the first hour of our journey there was a middle aged couple sitting behind us, talking non stop about their plans to bag a table in the restaurant car. They raced off down the train a little earlier.

Somebody just “re-arranged” our bags in the baggage area – I have no idea where our bags will have gone – I can only hope there are no bags that look the same, otherwise we’re going to have all sorts of fun and games trying to figure out which bag is which. Two of our bags are patterned, but two of them are just plain black – with no labels on them. It always amazes me how people think they have the right to start throwing everybody elses bags around when they want to get their suitcase into the storage racks.

Every time we stop at a station en-route, both of our younger children say “is the next station Reading?”, and when I shake my head they reply with “how long left”. I have alternately told them “two and a half hours”, and “two hours”, but they still ask at the next station each time.

The train is now travelling at quite some speed – once we leave Devon I think it’s pretty much a direct train to Reading – flat out all the way. I think these trains top out at about 120mph, but they rarely go that fast – most of the time they cruise at about the 90 to 100mph mark. All in, it chops two hours off the travel time of doing the journey in a car (although saying that, we tend to stop for an hour en-route in the car for something to eat at one of the extortionate motorway service stations).

A lady just sat down across from us (bagging two ticketed seats that nobody is sitting in). She is wearing quite possibly the biggest furry hat I have ever seen. Actually, scratch that – she has dumped her unfeasibly large designer shopping bag on the seat, and wandered off. I bet she’s the kind of person that lays towels at the swimming pool before heading to the bar. Oh dear. She just returned and is now sitting, legs akimbo. I better avert my gaze.

Time to get the Kindle out maybe.

Three hours later, and I continue writing the rest of this from home.

We arrived at Reading station on time, and faced the curious problem that manifests on most train carriages – by the time we got our bags from the luggage rack that had been helpfully re-arranged by the lady earlier on the journey, six or seven passengers had got on the train, and had discovered they could not walk past us – and we could not walk past them. They seemed to think their own idiocy was hilarious, as even more people tried to get on while we struggled to get off.

Once on the platform, and having accounted for all of the children, I looked for my other half, and she was nowhere to be seen – and then my phone started vibrating in my pocket. She was stuck in traffic, and would meet us at the short stay drop-off car park. Here’s the thing – that we discovered a few minutes later during an explosive, rant laden phone call – there are many short stay car parks around the station, and we were in the wrong one (we just followed the signs). It didn’t help that when my other half screamed she was at the back of the station, she meant the front of the station.

The fact that I am now at home typing this means we *did* find each other eventually, and got the children home. Miss 12 spent the entire car journey relating the first eight episodes of “Supergirl” in extreme detail.

It’s funny – we had all predicted the girls would all sit down in front of the Wii U when they got home, having been away from it for a week. We were all wrong – they pulled on their running shoes and went out to play football on the green outside the house.

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