The Vagaries of International Travel, a lone tree and a Cornish Pasty.

I almost went to Poland a month ago, almost…

I was going to Łódź to see a band called “Beyond The Event Horizon”, I’d just taken delivery of their latest, indeed their first album and was delighted to find out that as part of the tour promoting the album they were playing at Łódzki Dom Kultury. Now, anyone who actually reads my posts here will know that I like Łódź and I like concerts at Łódzki Dom Kultury.

A plate of pierogi.

My plan was to arrive mid-afternoon, which was lucky because that’s when the flight was scheduled to arrive, have a few drinks in Chmielowa Dolina and then go to Łódzki Dom Kultury for a plate of pierogi and maybe another beer before the concert started. Saturday I’d spend in Łódź being a tourist and I’d fly home on Sunday. Well, that was the plan and it all started out OK, I’d got my bag, passport, tickets, boarding pass etc. I had even packed my knickers and socks… I caught the train out of Chesham and it rattled down the Metropolitan Line until it got to Liverpool Street Station where I got off and there the adventure fizzled out.

It was Friday 24th February, the previous night there had been a bit of a storm over the south of England, we had had very strong winds for a couple of days but on the Thursday night they came to a head. Friday morning dawned bright and clear, there were a few scudding remnants of cloud but the sun made an appearance and the day looked good.

As I walked up onto the concourse at Liverpool Street I looked towards platforms 4 and 5, the usual platforms for the Stansted trains and I could see one had just arrived, a great crowd of people were trooping down the platform having just alighted; then I looked up to the departure board to see how much time I had before the next train…

The next train…

The next train was delayed, hmm, oh well, not to worry, I had built-in a small margin into my travel plans. After a few minutes the next train was posted as “cancelled”, the one after that was “delayed”. This didn’t look good. A railway employee appeared by the ticket machine for the Stansted Express, he began to advise people that there were currently no trains to Stansted Airport, or Cambridge for that matter and several other places north and east. Then the notification appeared on the train indicator followed almost immediately by an announcement over the public address system. A tree had fallen across the railway line and all trains to and from Stansted and Cambridge were cancelled. Bugger!

There were no offers of replacement busses, just the advice to stay on the concourse and listen for further announcements. So I stayed on the concourse and listened for further announcements and they all said that the next train to Stansted was cancelled. I stood, I paced, I kicked my heels, I paced, I stood. OK, I could afford to catch the next train and still, just, be in with a chance of catching my flight. The next train was cancelled, the one after that would deliver me too late to connect but I hung around anyway and that train was also cancelled.

Oh well, can’t be helped I suppose.

I cursed the tree; it has stood all through the storm the previous night and then, sometime just before I arrived at Liverpool Street it had decided to fall across the line, taking the 25kV catenary out in the process; oh well, can’t be helped.

Actually I was quite angry in my way but manifesting that anger would not have changed things so I accepted the chain of events with what good grace I could muster. I went over to The Pasty Shop kiosk on the concourse and bought myself the biggest steak pasty I could see, small consolation. I took my pasty outside and consumed it in the sunshine. Post pasty I went back into the station and wouldn’t you know it? Trains to Stansted were now running again. With a heavy sigh I returned to the Metropolitan Line platforms to catch a train back to Chesham.

The first train in was a Hammersmith train so I boarded it intending to get off at Baker Street and wait for the Chesham train there. On a whim I got off of the train at Kings Cross, went up into the outside world and walked down the Euston Road to Euston Square Station. The sun was out; it was a lovely day and slowly my mood improved. At Euston Square I descended once more to the Met Line and caught an Uxbridge train to Baker Street where I was met with the information that the next Chesham train would arrive in four minutes.

Later that afternoon I went to Chesham’s Red Squirrel, or should I say Mad Squirrel as they have rebranded themselves, brewery shop. I may have imbibed one or two more beers that I usually would have…

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