Tigerlilly Quinn: Our journey down..

Friday, 15 June 2012

Our journey down..


So anyone who follows my Twitter feed will know our journey down to Devon was not the best advertisement for British Rail. 
Tom and I use our local intercity rail service frequently, Tom gets the stop from our house to his work (a five minute journey) everyday and I use it to get about Bristol with Wilf without having to navigate buses as most stops are 15 mins from wherever you want to be.
The morning of our journey we rushed around finishing packing, leaving instructions for our neighbours in regards to our cats eating habits and sorting the recycling in time for Tom's sister Ruth (who was travelling with us) to arrive and set off to our local station to start our journey. 
As it usually goes we were feeling a little stressed, checking I had the tickets ten million times, my wallet, my phone, the camera..etc. I remember clearly Ruth saying 'as soon as we're on the next train from Temple Meads we can relax' famous last words!
When we got to Temple Meads we realised our train was running 15 minutes late, which wasn't too much of an issue, the journey was only supposed to be an hour and a half with no changes so although we probably said things like 'typical' and 'this always happens' it left me time to get myself a large latte and us to share a packet of crisps. Our train arrived eventually and we set off down the platform to find our carriage, we had reserved a table and all four seats so we could sit together and have a pleasant journey down (we even had a picnic)..finding our carriage Tom got on with our suitcase as Ruth helped me on with the pushchair to dismantle as we got on. I waited in the corridor as Ruth went to find the seats and Tom return to help me dismantle the pushchair and get out…
They both returned to help with the chair but saying we couldn't sit down as people were in our seats and refusing to move. I said something like 'what? But we have booked those seats did you show them that?' it was a genuine shock that anyone would act that way. As I said it a random man came up to me and said 'you can wait until Taunton its only ten minutes' I repeated to him (with Wilf in my arms) 'but we've book those seats' to which he replied 'yer but they're disabled, just wait here (in the corridor) until they get off in Taunton'.
I cant really remember what happened exactly after this, knowing two of the people were disabled clearly made it not as clear cut but they were still our seats. It turned out two of the people were disabled and two were their 'helpers' (two grumpy looking girls in their early twenties). There are disabled seats on the carriage (their disabilities were mental and not physical) and also extra single seats dotted about the carriage. Despite this no one seemed to either offer up two seats together or the disabled seats for them. Eventually, as Tom was dismantling the pushchair in the cramped corridor a man walked up to me and said 'I'm sitting by myself please take my seat'. I thanked him but was still really upset, that wasn't the point. We had pre-booked and reserved as we had a small baby and luggage and wanted a stress free journey. I needed to be able to feed my baby and ensure he was happy, we even booked him a seat of his own so we could have a whole table seat together.
As I entered the carriage I saw a few single seats dotted around the place and a lots of passengers eager to look the other way and not offer any help. I didn't want Wilf to sense I was upset so I just decided to head back to the corridor with him and wait in there. It may sound like a over reaction but I felt really hurt, I guess its because I had Wilf with me and I needed him to be ok. Usually this situation would be annoying but this felt different, I guess that instinct that you have to look after your baby made me feel so overprotective and upset that anyone could deny a family with a small baby their seats.
About five minutes after this Tom came back to say they had moved, the two helpers had decided to sit with each other further back in the train (!) and the two disabled passengers in the table seat opposite. I wasn't sure if the carriage thought we were in the wrong for asking for our seats when passengers with specials need were in them but one, there are disabled seats on the carriage, two the 'carers' should have booked a table seat if they wanted to all sit together and three, if it was so important that they be together why did they them go sit with each other and not one with each disabled passenger??
Wilf of course was oblivious to all of this stress and sit there babbling away and smiling at everyone, an old couple in the seats opposite gave us both cheery smiles which I was appreciative of. That whole experience put a massive dampener on the journey and when the 'carers' got off (and hour later not ten minutes BTW, this is partly because it should have been 40 mins and the train made a detour around Weston..I know trains don't usually make detours..but it still it wouldn't never have been ten minutes) they gave me a lovely scowl. 
So thinking that was the only thing that could go wrong we started to de-stress, only the train by then was getting progressively later and later (for whatever reason) and we were now an hour behind schedule. So as we approached Exeter (a stop two stops away from ours) they announced quickly everyone travelling to Totnes would have to get off now and get another train as they were not going to stop there anymore, we had about two minutes to grab the suitcase, pushchair (one part) and back pack, I was left on the train with Wilf in his other half on the chair whist Tom got back on to help me (in the meantime the train started filling up again and I wondered if we would ever got off in time..)
And then after THAT the train we had to get was also late..well it was a stressful journey.
I think when you have a baby you have to not let on to them if you are sad/scared/upset and I was keeping it together for so long, thinking calming thoughts, singing to Wilf as we stood on the platform watching the arrival time of our next train getting later and later..that when we did finally get to our holiday cottage..well I very nearly burst into tears there and then. As it was I waited until bedtime and then in the dark I did shed a few tears, more as a release than anything. 
When I was a small child (maybe 6?) I was on a train journey with my parents, elder brother and baby sister, we had also booked seats all together on our train. With a full carriage our seats had been taken up by a group of men who were drinking. They refused to give up our seats and even when my dad and the ticket inspector told them to move they pretty much said 'what are you going to do about it??' a few passengers offered their seats here and there, not many, I think the British public are good at ignoring a situation. I remember feeling very scared and its a memory thats really stuck with all my life. That anyone could talk to my dad, my lovely dad like that and even when the ticket man, the man in his official suit that keeps everything in order cant stop them, well its scary for a child. I remember not wanting to sit away from my parents, and neither did my brother, so my mum had a seat with my baby sister (who was under one as I remember) and we stood in the aisle together. I hate that those men who will probably never remember doing that made me so scared and upset my parents. I guess this experience also brought that back for me, Wilf will never know this event happened (unless one day he reads about it on my blog) but if he was a little older perhaps, I never want him to see people making his parents upset or scaring him.
Really people are awful sometimes.
(I will be back with some holiday photos and to share happy times but I think I needed to write this down as some kind of therapy!) 
I had no photos to illustrate this post, it must most probably be us with glum faces or something! Instead here is a picture of where we were staying

18 comments:

Vicki Oliver said...

It's things like this that always upset me. In situations where you feel really upset and the more you hold it in the worse it gets and you end up feeling silly. I guess it comes from the build up of little stresses. I once had a panic attack and pretty much passed out on a train. People (mostly commuters in suits) actually got up to walk away from me instead of helping, I guess they didn't want to be bothered or maybe thought it was catching! In the end a really lovely lady picked me and my bags up and got off with me, even though it wasn't her stop. There are people out there who care about others. And you are probably one of them and would help or move if you saw someone struggling, so it comes as a shock when you're not treated the same.

Well done you for keeping it together. Now the stress is out I hope your holiday is lovely and stress free. xxx

Claire said...

eeek, your journey sounds like a nightmare! I remember travelling from Bristol to cheltenham with my little boy and hadnt realised it was race day. Train packed, I was stood up near the luggage rack with wilkie in my arms for half the journey until a gent gave his seat up for us. When I was getting ready to get off, my pushchair was covered in empty beer cans! grrrrr. Hope you have a good holiday despute this! x

Claire said...

I mean't despite this! not despute!

Nell said...

Just discovered your blog via Lou at LittleGreenShed. I can't believe I've never been here bere - we live only a hop, skip and jump away from eachother (we're in Bath) and our babies are so similar in age. I'll definitely be back regularly!

Situations like this are horrendous, and for people to just turn a blind eye is foul too. When I was about 7 and a half months pregant (with a big old belly) I got on a train to find my reserved seat taken by a (very able, young looking) woman in her 50s. The train was rammed and I was getting shoved all over the place so I told her that was my seat and I needed to sit down (it was very clear I was heavily pregnant) and she grunted and huffed and eventually got up, but I got some terrible looks. This woman was far more able to stand than me, and if people were so bothered they could have offered me, or her, their seat. But no. Rather scowl and turn away. Infuriating. I didn't care though. Man, I needed that seat!

Hope the rest of the holiday is awesome and fun and beautiful. xxx

hello DODO said...

eeuurrgghh this sounds so stressful!! Especially with littl'un and loads of luggage! >.<
I had to travel from Windsor to Cardiff once on my own with terrible flu. My train I had a booked seat on was cancelled and so I had to get the next one...with no booked seat and stand up for AGES! I was very tearful!
Hope you've had a lovely relaxing stress-free holiday :o)

Lil said...

aww chick, having a child myself with disabilities I would NEVER take someones pre-booked seat and use it as an excuse (if they had a baby or not but especially if they did) grrrrrrr, anyway these 'carers' sound like morons and I find it helpful to rememeber that its not personal they are just completely socially inept. Like somone else said above when you are the type of person who would help a stranger out its horrible to be confronted with the opposite behavior. Trains are preety craopla these days, my brother flew to the US with Freya recently and I think a 10 hour plane journey with a baby was less stress than negotiating the way to the airport :)

Helen said...

Oh gosh, there is nothing worse than having your reserved seats taken by somebody else! If I was them though, I would be so embarassed and move instantly. I remember getting the train down to London once and the electronic reservation signs above seats weren't working so it said that all were available. This poor chap got on and asked this man to move out of his seat and shown him the reservation ticket but he was all 'No, it's not my bloody fault the signs aren't working, I'm sitting here now and I thought it was free so you'll have to find somewhere else to sit'. The ignorance of some people! I can't imagine how it must have felt with little Wilf in tow too.

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@vicki I cant believe that!! How can anyone just ignore someone that needed help like that? Ack people can be awful sometimes. Thanks for your support xx

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@claire OMG this happened to me too! (on my other awful train journey) the first time I travelled anywhere with W (he was 3 months) I wrote about it on my blog. I will now NEVER travel when there is a sporting event..our experience was exactly the same, and I had reserved seats on them to! xx

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@nell I just can not get my head around people not giving up their seats for pregnant women AND it was your seat! What is wrong with people? xx

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@hello Dodo that sounds truelly awful :( I think I would have cried to! x

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@lil thanks so much for saying that, part of me felt very guilty like we were in the wrong but It was the rude 'carer' people who were to blame for he situation. I felt sorry for the disabled passangers as it wasnt their fault either. Also I can imagine that being true, although flying scares the crap out of me! xx

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@helen urgh people are just plain rude and selfish sometimes, I guess if your the sort of person that would never dream of doing that its even more of a shock! xx

a_f_p said...

That's the great shame about Great Britain: people have no empathy for anyone else's situation; we've become very good at looking after 'Number One'. One of my favourite things about Australia is that on public transport, young men would shoot up out of their seats the moment an elderly person/disabled person/pregnant lady/mother with child/or even just a female (of any age) boarded the tram or train, in order to offer up their seat to them. When I first arrived in Melbourne, I would always be too slow to react to allow the aforementioned types of people my seat, as two or three Aussie blokes would already be on their feet! Now that's how it should be!

SianLouise said...

Stories like this make me really lose a little more faith in humanity. I'm so glad you managed to keep it together for Wilf because a scared baby would have made the journey 100% worse even if he won't remember it. I come across so many inconsiderate people on my commute to work and they always seem to pick their moments when you've been having a really bad journey, they're not this bad as I never have a baby with me and I see it happening to other people too. It looks like you had a lovely holiday in the end, the place where you stayed looks beautiful and I hope the journey home was a bit better.

SianLouise said...

Stories like this make me really lose a little more faith in humanity. I'm so glad you managed to keep it together for Wilf because a scared baby would have made the journey 100% worse even if he won't remember it. I come across so many inconsiderate people on my commute to work and they always seem to pick their moments when you've been having a really bad journey, they're not this bad as I never have a baby with me and I see it happening to other people too. It looks like you had a lovely holiday in the end, the place where you stayed looks beautiful and I hope the journey home was a bit better.

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@andrew I think the UK needs to learn from Oz then! That sounds so lovely

Tigerlilly Quinn said...

@sian louise thanks so much lovely x

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