This Valentine weekend marked the start of the half-term holiday and the date for Ali & James’ Hen and Stag parties, ahead of their wedding in April.
James had arranged a full weekend of alcohol fuelled games and paint balling in the countryside with 17 of his mates near Derby and Ali was having a more genteel celebration at a bar in Leeds on Saturday with both Mums, both sisters and some good friends.
Laura had asked if Storm and I would stay with her, while Marc was away with James, to help her with Summer. I’d offered to take Summer to Rhythm Time on Friday morning and so we were up quite early.
Summer and I headed off together and spent a lovely half an hour singing and playing with instruments. This allowed Laura to go with Storm to do her weekly shop without struggling with a toddler who thinks that its really good fun to escape and charge up and down the aisles with Mum in hot pursuit.
Dandad was pestered all afternoon to play with her and at one point she was demanding he ‘Come Upstairs!’ whereas Dandad just wanted to sit quietly. At this point the harsh tone of command changed to a softer one of concern ‘Are you alright Dandad?’. ‘Hold my hand Dandad’. Once she had hold of his hand, the harsh tone returned as she pulled on his hand ‘Upstairs Now!’
Saturday morning, Laura and I headed off by train to Leeds leaving Summer in charge of ‘Dandad’. As we left she was ordering him to ‘pout’ so that she could apply some lipstick! Poor Dandad.
We had a lovely afternoon celebrating with Ali and her friends and family before heading back home.
Our journey home though was a disaster! All was well for the first ten minutes of our journey until just west of Mirfield when the train ground to a halt. The overhead announcement informed us that due to signalling problems ahead we would have to return to Mirfield. The train reversed and stopped. The overhead announcement suggested that those travelling locally would be best served heading for a bus in Mirfield as it was likely to take some time to repair the problem. The doors then opened and about three quarters of passengers got off and disappeared down the station steps.
The announcer then said that all those remaining on the train should get off and wait on the platform and await further instructions. Now this seemed a slightly ridiculous idea. The train was warm, had padded seats, was well lit, whereas the platform lacked any shelter, had a couple of steel benches and was dimly lit, no facilities whatsoever, no human to ask for assistance, and it was freezing.
When challenged the guard said that it was a Health & Safety requirement that all passengers wait on the platform. There were about 50 passengers, amongst which was my pregnant daughter, several elderly people, and a high percentage of women travelling alone. No-one was dressed to cope with freezing temperatures and soon teeth were chattering and passengers were getting quite anxious as train after train was shown as ‘cancelled’ on the electronic announcement board and people began to talk about whether we would need to find somewhere to stay for the night. Several trains passed by on another parallel line heading west which baffled us.
After about half an hour the original guard, stepped off the train that had been idling beside us, and advised that we could get back on the train to keep warm. Some sense at last!
15 minutes later,he asked that those travelling to Manchester get off the train again and make their way to the other platform where a Manchester bound train would stop and pick us up. Apparently the other line followed a different route to Manchester Piccadilly along the Calder Valley and via Victoria and Salford Crescent stations.
Passengers struggled with cases down the steps and through the underpass and then up steps at the other side to again stand out in the cold to wait for a train that would be along shortly whereupon this train made its way very slowly to Manchester.
When we arrived into Manchester we were at least an hour and a half late and had missed our connection to Chester and had another thirty minutes to wait. Again the waiting area was draughty and unheated and all shops closed so no chance of a hot drink or a snack.
Finally a lovely warm train took us home. We’d thawed out by the time we arrived into Chester some two hours later than planned at 11pm. We were very relieved to be home and not holed up in some strange hotel for the night.
After a good night’s sleep Sunday morning was spent doing housework, dog walking, painting, and playing. Storm and I left early afternoon to return to the boat for some peace and quiet.