I was nervous for three reasons:
- Would they like me? (we hadn’t actually met before)
- How would Callum be on the 2+ hour train ride each way?
- Would Callum show me up in front of S and A and show me to be the bad parent I probably am?
I needn’t of worried. Well not sure on the first one but they didn’t throw things at me so I take that as a good sign that I was OK!
For the train rides, I was prepared – I had snacks, I had a sticker book, I had a colouring book, an activity book and a whole pencil case of pencils, I had a toy car and I had two story books! This kid WASN’T going to get bored!
Callum was very excited as soon as I told him he was going on a train. On the way there, he was more than happy to take everything in, stare out the window at the rainbow (“rainbow gone, where’s the rainbow?”), the cows (“I like cows”), at the sheep (“I like black sheep, baa baa black sheep mumble mumble wool”) and I fed him crisps, a few raisins and apple juice. He even came to the toilet with me without much protest! It was only towards the end of our journey that I broke out the first book (Mr Jelly) more because it was going so well, I didn’t want a sudden crash!
We then went to meet Sian in the main station (I only lost him for a brief 3 seconds when I was on the phone to Sian – he’d gone to pick up a train timetable because it had pictures of trains on it) and then make our way on the Underground to Covent Garden to find the Crème de La Crepe place (which we did just about) and wait for Aimee and Boyarde to join us.
Callum was so well behaved on the tube– again, fascinated and taking it all in. He walked without grumbling, pointing out the train posters in the tunnels of the tube stopping right in front of commuters who were surprisingly polite – I didn’t hear one tut! (more than I would have been when I was still a London commuter!), walking up and down the stairs holding Sian’s hand. Again, in the Crème de la Crepe place, apart from the odd growl at the neighbouring table, he was brilliant. I did fear a breakdown at one point when I cut his baked bean, egg and cheese crepe wrong or something equally as catastrophic but if anyone noticed they didn’t show it so think we might’ve got away with that one and he quickly got over it!
There was no way we could be so lucky on the return train journey home! We get back to London Waterloo Station, say our goodbyes to Sian (Boyarde had left us at the ‘restaurant’, Aimee at the Piccadilly Line) and checked the board! Delayed! Delayed! Delayed! Person hit by train means trains are delayed and subject to last minute cancellations and alterations! Oh joy!
Our train wasn’t even up there! It was meant to be at 16:04 (the time was currently 15:55) – the times of the trains on the board jumped from 16:01 to 17:01 with nothing in between! I spotted a supposedly earlier train (15:35) which looked to be a stopping train, which would mean much longer than the one we had booked but at least we knew it was leaving (albeit an hour later than scheduled) and who knew when our one or the next Bournemouth train would be.
As soon as the platform popped up I grabbed Callum and ran! We were getting a seat! Typically,we had to travel to the front 5 coaches – only when I was 2/3rds of the way there did I suddenly doubt whether I had understood the front of the train correctly, was it the coaches that would be at the front when travelling to destination or the 5 at the front closest to the station concourse? A fellow passenger kindly reassured me I was heading in the right direction and also commented he’d take Callum on his shoulders if it wasn’t weird (rather than me carrying him as I was), I was tempted to throw Callum at him as he was getting a tad (extremely) heavy but I wasn’t sure he was serious or I had heard him correctly! As soon as we reached the front 5 carriages and bypassed the First Class option which Callum was keen for, we all jumped on and I grabbed the first available double seats available.
The train soon filled up with many people standing or sitting in the aisles with their large heavy bags – I did feel a little guilty that we had hogged 2 seats rather than making Callum sit on my lap, particularly because I hadn’t paid for a ticket for him (don’t need to if under 4) but I was nervous enough of keeping him entertained without having to restrain him to my lap too. Again, I know that if it had been me in the aisles when I commuted to and from London and another person with a child on separate seats before I had children I’d have expected them to at least put them on their lap until the first station. Bad me! Felt even worse when a lady with a neck brace and crutches hopped back from further up the carriage due to some lady throwing up all over some poor unsuspecting girl unrelated to her! Honestly, I was just about to give up Callum’s seat when the gentleman behind me did first. Honest!
And remember all those people in the aisles – standing, sitting, big heavy bags? Well, just as Callum and I got comfortable, took off our coats etc, what does Callum do? Announce he needs a wee.Really Callum? Really, really? I wait 5 minutes “wee wee Mummy”. I look up the aisle to the toilet at the other end apprehensively! *groan*, *sigh* “come on then”, “excuse me, sorry, my son needs a wee, sorry, excuse me, really sorry, sorry, its my son he needs a wee, excuse me….” phew! we make it. Someone is wedged in sat leaning against the loo door, again “sorry, my son needs a wee”. Then repeat the above as we make our way back to our seat! Can’t complain though as he did ask and he didn’t have a single accident (wees or poos) all day – he asked every time (as annoying as it was, timed to just when I’d got a fresh cup of tea and the loo was outside the restaurant, up the stairs, across the courtyard where we’d inevitably got pounced on by the street performer!) and didn’t even he have an accidental dribble! Hoorah!
Thankfully, the part of the train that went to Bournemouth wasn’t the stopping service – that was the one that broke away at Southampton so it wasn’t as long as I was dreading. I managed to keep Callum entertained for most of the journey with all my supplies but there was the odd incident of standing up and saying “hello” to the people behind who didn’t respond so I guess they weren’t impressed, nor with the pointing at them saying “He’s sleeping” very loudly, also the occasional shout or scream of “NO”. Amazingly, I stayed calm at each ‘episode’ and managed to distract him quickly away from any persistent shouting or tantrum, though it was worryingly close at times.
Finally, it was with much relief that Bournemouth station arrived and we could get off the train before any big breakdown which I was sure wasn’t far away. Callum was obviously getting fed up towards the end saying “get off now?” each time we pulled into a station.
Still, he hung around on the platform long enough to wave goodbye to our train and we then started the slow, slow, slow walk back home in the dark! Our walk home took us past a chippy so, on a whim, I decided to treat us to sausage & chips as Callum still hadn’t had dinner and Stuart was out. Bizarrely , Callum also decided we were going to run all the way home – as difficult as this is when I’m wearing heels, it is highly preferable to the usual snail pace which would have meant very cold chips! Until the road on the entrance to the flats just before where we live rose up and tripped Callum up (mean road) so he decided to head butt it in return! So, it was a quick cuddle and carry home for the last push!
All in all, though, I consider it a thoroughly successful trip! Still, not one I’d be in a hurry to do again too soon!