A couple of weeks ago we decided to go on a train trip to Birmingham. It was to be a quick 50 minute trip on the train, a wander around Birmingham and a meal before heading home. Let’s just say, it didn’t go quite to plan.
First of all we were going to park at the station. However, the saver in us popped up and we decided to park about a 10 minute walk away. What we didn’t realise is that due to roadworks; the car park had been reduced in size and was already full! Luckily, my husband's workplace was only around the corner so we parked there. The good news – it was free, the bad news - we were now half an hour away from the train station and would not make it in time for the train we had planned to catch. We were glad we hadn’t pre-booked our tickets too.
Upon reaching the station, a quick check on train times told us that there was a train already on the platform and ready to depart in 5 minutes time. We headed for the ticket machines and purchased our tickets. Youngest son (who eats constantly) wanted to pop into the shop and purchase snacks, he had already enquired as to whether we had bought our own (as we would normally do) but as the train was going to be a short 50 minutes we hadn’t thought it necessary
Once on the train, we found some seats and settled in for the journey. Within a couple of stations, the train was full and it was now standing room only. Then the conductor went chasing after a well-dressed person, clearly on their way to work, who had failed to produce a ticket. He whipped out his mobile phone and took a picture of him as he left the station. At the next station we stopped to pick up passengers and …… nothing. After 5 minutes there was an announcement. A goods train had broken down on the track ahead and there was no way around it. We were now stuck until a breakdown train could come and remove the Goods Train.
Two hours later and we finally got moving again. The train resembled one of those you see in pictures of India – there were people squashed in every available space and people sitting on the floor in the aisles. By the time we reached Birmingham, the train trip had taken us almost two and a half hours. Needless to say, there had been numerous conversations around the lack of food and drinks and we vowed to take some with us on every trip in the future, no matter how long the journey was supposed to be! Compared to others on the train, our lack of snacks was a minor problem. Some passengers were on their way to Stansted Airport and others had connecting trains they had seats booked on.
By the time we reached Birmingham, we were all absolutely starving. We went straight to the Bull Ring and into the first restaurant we saw – Nando’s. After enjoying a really nice meal and now fed and watered, we decided to wander around and do a bit of shopping, before heading off outside.
Then we had mid shopping stop for a Latte in Costa and we were ready to head out of the Bullring and into the town centre, only it was now raining. Well not just raining but absolutely chucking it down. People were sheltering in every door way. We waited and waited but it showed no signs of stopping. We decided to cut our losses and head back to the station to make our way home.
Thankfully, our train trip back was uneventful. It did last just the 50 minutes it was supposed to but the rain had followed us home and now we had a 30 minute walk back to the car, in the pouring rain. By the time we reached the car, we were all soaked through to the skin!
I’d like to go again someday, on a nice sunny day. The kids are not so keen. You can see the look of horror come over their faces at the mere mention of a train trip to Birmingham. I think that will be ingrained in their memories for ever. That is the positive side – a memory – we made another memory that we will all laugh about together in years to come.
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