She Who Must Be Obeyed and I decided we needed some sun after the very long winter we have just had and the relatively poor summer of 2012 (and 2011 and 2010 – in fact, when did we last have a good summer?). And in order to get this much needed sun, we booked a holiday in Egypt. Two glorious weeks on the Red Sea with absolutely nothing to do but enjoy the sunshine, the sea and … whatever else the resort had to offer!
We were about to embark on a search for the Egyptian Sun God – Ra.
With bags packed, flight tickets and passports safely stashed away in a pocket, we headed off to the airport. As we live quite close to a railway station, we opted to let the train take the strain (showing my age with that advertising slogan!) and transport us and our luggage on the first part of this adventure. I had purchased our train tickets for both legs of the journey in advance as we were catching the first train of the day (5.41am) and didn’t want to drag our cases to the ticket office which is on the wrong side of the railway. By having the tickets before we got to the station, we could just go straight to the required platform and not have to worry about crossing the railway, queuing with early morning commuters to purchase tickets and crossing the railway again to get to our platform!
We arrived at the station with plenty of time to spare (I don’t like to leave things to the last minute!) and joined the bleary eyed early commuters awaiting that first train of the day. There seemed to be something amiss with the trains as there were a lot of confused faces and people in high vis jackets standing around, but no one knew what was going on. A train arrived at our platform, but was too early to be ours and rather late if it was the last train of the previous day! Some people tried to get on, but were told not to. Then an announcement was made advising travellers that this train would be heading in the opposite direction.
Just minutes after this train headed off from whence it came, our train did indeed arrive at our platform. All the commuters already on the train were disembarking, whilst all those standing on the platform ploughed on as swiftly as possible to get to their usual seats. She Who Must Be Obeyed and I secured our cases in the very small luggage compartment and settled into a couple of seats close by.
Moments after we sat down an on-board announcement was made informing us that due to a fire in a signal box between our station and the airport station, the train we were on would be heading 50 miles in the opposite direction before taking a completely different route to London. A route which would not go anywhere near the airport! According to the announcement, it was made for the benefit of the passengers who had just boarded the train. The passengers who had joined the train at earlier stations (but who had now got off) had been advised that the train would be terminating the current journey at our station but it would be starting a new journey shortly.
So, confusion reigned once more. However, this raised a question, if the passengers and staff on the train already knew what was going on before the train arrived at our station, why were the passengers waiting to board the train not informed beforehand? Why were we allowed to get on only to be told to get off? A further announcement was made informing everyone that no train, for the foreseeable future, would be heading to London using that line!
Having disembarked, She Who Must Be Obeyed headed off in search of a taxi. The taxi ranks are on the opposite side of the railway, so I sat tight with the cases whilst we found out how we were going to get to the airport. Maybe we would have to walk; walk like an Egyptian! In the meantime, the train left the station in the original direction of travel, and after a few moments came back into the station on the opposite line. Some passengers, those who could be bothered, crossed to the other platform and climbed aboard the train from which they had just disembarked and prepared for a very long journey to London.
She Who Must Be Obeyed returned with some urgency, having just found two other travellers who were also on their way to the airport, and who were more than happy to share a taxi. There were no physical taxis outside the station as it was a bit early in the morning, but the office had called in some drivers. By the time we reached the taxi office, there were six other people waiting, but because we had found someone to share with, they were at the front of the queue waiting for the taxi.
Our taxi arrived and with a bit of clever juggling and squeezing, all four cases were squashed into the taxi along with all four passengers! So, finally, after a bit of a delay and some nervous moments, we were about to head towards the airport, but now, we were behind schedule. We had three journeys ahead of us; 35 miles from home to Gatwick Airport; 2425 miles from the UK (Gatwick) to Egypt (Hurghada); 20 miles from Hurghada Airport to Makadi Bay and, so far, we had covered half a mile! In 35 minutes!
Would we get to the airport in time? Would we get there without any more issues?
Find out next time!