Belated Chrissie love to you and yours!
I had a wonderfully chilled out time with relatives in Horsham – my Great Aunty Mary, Uncle Pio and their family. Getting there from London on Christmas Eve was a task though, thanks to storm action knocking out train services (floods, landslips, trees down and power cuts will do that).
But I have to say I was fortunate not to be among those who missed spending the day with their families completely, or spent Christmas Eve, Day and beyond with no power due to widespread outages in the south east of England.
- The desperate crowds at the Coach Terminal quickly ruled buses out as a last minute alternative option, after I arrived at Victoria to find pretty much all southern rail services were cancelled. I was seriously considering paying the stupidly huge cab fare or just having a lonely old East London Christmas with a bottle of mulled wine and some cheese, when I saw a train to Three Bridges.
“Three Bridges, is that anywhere near Horsham?!” I asked a random older couple also staring up at the screens. “Well, it’ll get you close” was the answer, and that was good enough for me!
My original ticket had been for the First Class carriage – and I did travel in that section, just standing up crammed against other stressed out people and their luggage, most desperate to reach Gatwick Airport for flights home/to Chrissie holiday destinations.
There was this anxious silence as our train trundled along at a reduced speed (for safety) and more anxious silence when we stopped for an extend period at Purley station… the driver finally announcing “ladies and gentlemen, we’ll have a decision in five minutes..”
The dreaded decision was to make eight packed carriages disembark, and head to the station car park for the one 50 seater bus to Gatwick.
Lining up in the tunnel waiting to escape the crush and get outside, I got talking to a woman – Susan, who was also bound for Three Bridges – she’d convinced her brother to come rescue her from Purley station instead –“Oh you’re going to Horsham? Well we’re headed just beyond there, as long as you don’t mind riding in the back seat with the dog we’ll give you a lift. Let’s get out of here and grab a coffee while we wait for my brother.”
Oh the relief! Oh the gratitude! Paddy the dog was a delight to snuggle next to for the car trip, and on a whim that morning I had bought a big box of chocolates, which I gratefully gave to Susan as I was delivered to my Great Aunt and Uncle’s front gate – Mary was waiting there for me, and tried to usher all inside for a cup of tea.
My Christmas Eve Angels understandably wanted to get home themselves though and so we waved them off – and I said a silent thank you for the kindness of strangers.