Friday, 24 August 2012

The Longest Journey

Living in such a rural area in North Wales has it's good points and it's bad points.

Sometimes you don't even notice the bad points... until you have to relay on public transport!

Take last weekend for example. We were heading down to London to LolliBop which started at 10am and we had tickets for Sunday. I had managed to book us a cheap travelodge room for Sunday night, but that meant we had to travel down Sunday morning and of course being Sunday it made for difficult travel plans.

I did lots of research trying to find out which would be the cheapest and quickest way to London from our house. The problem was that most of the trains, wherever we travelled from (and I tried 4 main stations, some over 60miles away), didn't get you to London until after lunch!

Finally I discovered that the National Express did a coach which travelled overnight from Bangor to London and I thought that travelling during the night would be a good idea as the kids would sleep and we wouldn't have to entertain them.

Of course, not having my car as it is off the road, and being a family of 6, meant that we couldn't rely on anyone for a lift because they didn't have enough room in their cars, so this meant that we had to leave home on the bus at 4.45pm and we arrived in Bangor for 8pm with an hour long stop in Caernarfon to get something to eat.

So from 8pm until 1.30am we were stuck waiting at the bus stop, on a Saturday night! It didn't help that just after we got there we realised we'd left the coach tickets at home! I had remembered packing them in my bag but I had forgotten that hubby had pulled them out to look at them and had left them at home by the computer.

So we walked around Bangor, trying to find somewhere that we could use to print the tickets from my email again. But there was no internet cafe's and any shop or pub we went into couldn't help us. I even saw the security guard from work who was being a bouncer at the club and although he tried to help us, he couldn't and neither could the police when we asked two wpc's. Eventually I phoned National Express and explained our prediciment and the woman I spoke to was very helpful and said that because I had the email on my phone, she would phone the driver and explain that it was ok with them for him to let us on but ultimately it was his decision.

So once we'd sorted the tickets out, it was about 10pm and we sat on the bench by the bus stop waiting. Luckily it was a dry night and wasn't too cold, but we did see quite a lot of drunks walking past and even someone throwing up in a bus shelter which was thankfully no where near us! The police as well were aware of us waiting at the bus pass and they kept going past to make sure we were ok, especially as we had 4 young children with us!

Just after midnight, 2 out of 4 of the kids had fallen asleep but I began to worry about whether we were at the right bus stop, even though we had asked and been told it was. Finally at 1.30am, as the bus was 5 minutes late, I phoned National Express and was told the bus was running about 15mins late but that we should be at the right bus stop and because I had already phoned about the tickets the driver knew we were definitely there and waiting. Just after I hung-up, much to our relief the bus turned up and we got on and the driver knew we'd forgotten our tickets and was fine about it.

Considering the time of night, I was surprised at how busy the bus was and we couldn't sit together, but it had come over from Ireland and through Holyhead and Angelsey before reaching us.

Once on the bus, I was with the two youngest and as they were sleeping I dozed off as well. It was really strange though cos I fell asleep around 2am near Llandudno and when I woke an hour later we were just about to go through Birkenhead tunnel!

The driver decided he would go to Manchester Airport before Chester as he knew the Manchester cafe would be closed but Chester would be open for his break so he dropped us off an hour earlier and suggested we phoned National Express to see if they could get us on the 4am bus to London instead of the 6.20am but unfortunately it was full and we had to wait in Manchester Airport for 2.5hrs.

Finally we were off again and this time we were sat together and we all fell asleep, at least until 8am when the bus stopped at the services on the M6 toll for breakfast. After that everyone was wide awake and we had a stressful 3hrs trying to keep everyone occupied and playing musical chairs with tears and tantrums (and that was just from their dad!)

Eventually we made it to London for 11am... 18hrs and 45mins since we left home!!!

Personally, I would travel again by coach overnight, but then I'm lucky and can sleep anywhere unlike hubby who won't agree with me! But if we do travel again overnight, I will make sure that we don't have such long waits, 6hrs in Bangor was a killer!!! LOL

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