The Journey Down to the Start

I didnt expect to write a post about the journey down but it didn’t go without a hitch.

I’d booked my train tickets down to Penzance back in June when they became available and at the same time i reserved a bike space on the Glasgow-Birmingham New Street train, though that reservation was made over the phone. I know I was given a reservation number and probably a booking code to get the tickets from the machine but in the process of moving house this went missing. I called up thinking I could easily get the reservation number by just giving my name. Unfortunately no names were attached to any of the four fully booked bike spaces so there was no way of proving one of those spaces was for my bike. Uh oh! I raced down to the train station an hour early to see if the station staff could help.

I’m disappointed I didnt make a note of the man’s name but one of the gentlemen in the Virgin train office really went out of his way to get hold the train manager of my booked train to explain the situation, come up with a plan B if i couldn’t get on, and come up with a plan C if plan B also was full. Plan A was still my booked train. All four spaces were booked and two of these bikes were due to go from Glasgow-Birmingham New Street. One of those spaces could’ve been me (I knew I’d booked but since I hadn’t received an email confirmation either I didn’t trust the call centre person had actually clicked “book” at the end of the call). So plan A was to wait until 2 mins before departure and see if all bikes turned up. If they didnt, I was on the train.

So I went and stood waiting, full of anxiety. If I got to Penzance later than planned I’d’ve had to stay there instead of my booked b&b in Lands End.

The train manager came over to me at 10 minutes before departure and asked if I had a seat reservation. That I did! So he let me on anyway. What an absolute gem. Two amazing people so far that day and it wasn’t even time for elevensies.

Getting towards Birmingham I was now worried that the call centre man had told me a lie when he said I didn’t have to book a space on the Birmingham-Penzance train. I rushed to the ticket office when I got there and asked if this was correct. It most certainly was not correct! There were two bookable spaces on that train and one spare on a first come first served basis. Panic stations!

I had an hour to wait for the train so I tweeted the Cross Country trains account asking if they could help. And help they did! They left a message on the train manager’s phone explaining the situation but couldn’t speak with him directly. That didn’t matter because as soon as he saw me he asked how far I was going and pointed out the bike carriage space. Win!!!

The two bookable spaces were taken but the spare one was free. Thank goodness, panic over, I was going to make it to Penzance as planned.

Only slight issue was the lack of food. I’d eaten a baguette at Birmingham but couldnt face another on the train. I was due to get to the hostel after 9pm when everything would be shut. Not the best nutrition plan before a big day. I didn’t want to panic more, I couldn’t do anything about it.

However, when I got to the (really wonderful) hostel the owner offered me a tin of beans to go with the well stocked kitchen. So beans and scrambled eggs on toast were eaten and a decent night sleep was had.

Quite a day which had initially been planned to be a non-day. Thanks to everyone who went out of their way to really help me out. You’re all wonderful human beings.

Small note: getting off at Birmingham there was only myself and one other bike getting off. So it probably was my space afterall.


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