Most of my (flying) colleagues left Glasgow on Saturday, but I was staying over because my return train was booked for Sunday, noonish, well 12:30 to be precise. This becomes important. I woke up around 9 on Sunday, had plenty of time to enjoy a leisurely web surf and coffee experience before showering and packing. I checked out of the hotel at about 11:30 (more than plenty early) and got a taxi to Glasgow Central, the train station at which I had arrived. It was so early that my train was not displaying on the giant screens, so I went into M&S Simply Food for some nosh for the train, and was patiently sitting in the station watching the monitors. The trip back was due to be slightly more complicated than the trip there, due to the usual Sunday-ness of works taking place on National Rail (I assume) I was taking a different route home than I had taken there. When the trains for around 12:30 started displaying, I started panicking: there was no train for Edinburgh at 12:30, which was what I was supposed to take. I furiously started rooting around in my bag for the schedule I had from “thetrainline.com” (thanks to the blog commenters after my Manchester experience) only to discover I was in the wrong place: I was supposed to be leaving from a different station in Glasgow. Suddenly my being early was too late. I simply did not have time to guarantee that a cab ride to the other Glasgow station would get me there in time, and my whole trip (and assigned seats from Edinburgh to home) required me to make a connection in Edinburgh at 13:50. There was a 12:25 train leaving from Glasgow Central that would go to Edinburgh, and then I noticed, strangely also went to Doncaster, which was my next leg according to my itinerary: a booked seat from Edinburgh to Doncaster was in my itinerary. I boarded this train at 12:15 noticing that every single seat had a “reserved” card on it. I parked in the open area outside the loo until the train started moving, only then to then realize “were my tickets valid?” The ticket said “Glasgow Cen/Qun St” which I hopefully took to mean that it meant Glasgow Central OR Queen Street, which was indeed the case. Fortunately the train on this leg was nearly empty, so I stole a seat that was reserved only from Newcastle onwards, ate my M&S food and read my awesome book (more on that soon). It was only part-way to Edinburgh from Glasgow that it started to occur to me that this might be the exact train I needed to take from Edinburgh to Doncaster (it was). I waited until Edinburgh to move to my reserved seat, and sat there contemplating my mistake of planning. How had I not had the seat reserved from Glasgow directly to Doncaster? Had I mistakenly opted for “minimum time” versus “minimum changes” such that a 12:25 departure from Glasgow Central would have seemed inferior to a 12:30 departure from Glasgow Queen Street? This I will never know, but I will be more careful in the future.
The trip from Edinburgh to Doncaster was scenic to say the least, and only interrupted by yet another obnoxious person speaking loudly throughout. This time, instead of an American showing off to his work colleagues, it was a British (and clearly English, not Scottish) woman yammering into her cell phone for ages. Some drama had emerged in which her daughter, of indeterminate age, had been out sick from work (or school?) last week and needed apparently to get a doctor’s note to justify this. I was stunned on the one hand, seriously (to my British readers) is it still par for the course to have to get a note from a Doctor if you are sick? I have never had to do this in my life, and I thought it was one of the bygone trends from an earlier era. Regardless, I was subjected to about an hour of this woman first talking to the daughter, then relaying the story to any number of friends or family members with complete disdain: “I am her MOTHER, and she has CLEARLY been ill and is NOT LYING about it…” and so it went. As was the case with the previous trip, the assigned and guaranteed seat means that you do not have the liberty to escape from such things, which is a shame. I guess next time I should go for the “quiet carriage” in which cell phone use is discouraged.
I made it home without further incident, after the change in Doncaster and the remaining trip home, on a nearly empty train much to my delight. I finished my most excellent book, about which I will next write, and was home in time to enjoy a nice dinner picked up at the M&S at the train station on my arrival. Thus ends the excellent Glasgow adventure, with many lessons learned about the pre-booked reserved seating on British trains.