So how many times have I travelled to England? How many times have I caught buses and coaches and gone on the underground? The answer is loads of times. You’d think being older I’d be wiser. But no, I was in England again for two weeks from the end of May into June (2019) and still managed to make some travel boo-boos – and an especially HUGE one.
Blind AND Deaf?!
Ist travel boo-boo: The plan was to meeting my daughter at lunchtime to go and see the Wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition at the Natural History Museum. We were meeting outside Blackfriar’s Underground station. The day before, she’d told me exactly how to get there. I had a choice of two buses. One was closer to her home.
The next day, I promptly forgot about the closer bus and walked to the further one. I went up to the top of the double-decker bus to the very front seat to enjoy the ride. Lavington Street was my stop. I’d boarded the bus at Lavington Street the day before to go back to her home, so was feeling chilled and confident. A woman’s voice announces the stops and I was also keeping a beady eye on the names as they came up inside the bus. But suddenly I realized we were at Waterloo, which is the end of that particular route! How had missed my stop??!!
So……I clambered down the steps and got off the bus – at Waterloo! “No need to panic”, I told myself – you can laugh here if you want to… I had plenty of time, so I thought if I just get myself onto the South Bank of the Thames, I can walk back until I get to Blackfriar’s tube station. That is what I did. It only took me about 15 minutes. I could also have got the bus back again but wasn’t sure how often they go and it may have taken longer. Initially, Sal and I couldn’t find each other. So many stations have more than one entrance/exit. But I did have data on my phone, so we soon linked up and headed off to a quick lunch and then the exhibition, which was wonderful.
Logging onto WiFi on public transport?
2nd travel boo-boo: On my last day in London, a friend had suggested a visit to WisIey Gardens. She would meet me at Surbiton station and we’d drive from there. Again, my daughter had told me exactly what to do. I had a choice of two buses to catch, one of which was closer to her home. Then I was to get off at Drummond Road and head to Bermondsey Station where I would go on the Jubilee line to Waterloo. From there, there would be lots of trains to Surbiton. I didn’t write anything down. It sounded so easy. Surely I would remember it all.
But the next day, I promptly forgot about the closer bus stop and walked to the other one. Then while on the bus, I saw Drummond Rd stop but didn’t remember why it was ringing a bell. I got off at Bermondsey and had to walk back to the Station. It wasn’t a big deal though.
At Waterloo, I got a train almost straight away to Surbiton. I logged on to the WiFi so that I could let my friend know that I was going to be early, but it failed to send. Obviously, I was doing something wrong. So I thought, no problem, I’ll just go out to the car-park and look out for her. I waited and waited. No Marie. Eventually I asked if there was perhaps another car-park. There was – but I had to be allowed back through the barriers. We found each other at last. She had sent me a text telling me which way to go out of the station, which I hadn’t got of course.
Anyhow, all was well and we had a lovely if rather brief time at Wisley Gardens – very expensive sandwiches though! The gardens are well worth visiting. https://www.rhs.org.uk/gardens/wisley
On the way home, I managed to successfully log onto Wi-Fi. I hadn’t scrolled down far enough.
Someone please screw my head back on!
3rd travel boo-boo: The biggest one happened on my last day in England. I felt so organized. My bags were all packed and ready in the hall, as was my handbag. While my sister and her husband looked at photos of my grandson on my mobile phone, I made a quick visit to the loo. Then it was time to go and I helped load my luggage into the car. My sister was taking me to Thornhill to catch the Airline coach to Heathrow. We’d just parked when it pulled in. All of us passengers were aboard in a matter of minutes.
I settled into my seat. And then I suddenly had this horrible feeling that I didn’t have my mobile phone. I emptied everything out of my bag. Not there. The horrible truth dawned; I hadn’t gone back into the lounge to get it after going to the loo. How could I have done something so stupid, so careless?
Amazingly, I felt quite calm. I had my iPad. I would log onto WiFi at Heathrow and send emails to my daughter, sister and husband in the hope that at least one of them would see these. My thoughts whirled: “my phone can be couriered back to South Africa; we all managed without mobile phones before; don’t let this be a big deal; would anyone read my emails this afternoon?; maybe there are still old-fashioned call-boxes somewhere at the airport – I can still remember my sister’s home number – I think…”
At the coach station, lo and behold, there was a callbox – hooray! I put in some money and dialed what I thought was my sister’s number. But it just kept cutting out – and didn’t refund the coins I’d put in either. (Afterwards, I checked and I’d got the first digit wrong; it was a 1 not a 0.)
Having got myself through customs etc., I got going with sending emails. I was sure my daughter would be the first to answer. Check – nothing. Check – nothing. And then one came in from my daughter saying not to worry, it could easily be couriered to me. My husband had asked me to send him a text when I’d arrived at Oliver Thambo airport in Johannesburg. I knew he was out for supper and that he wouldn’t be checking his emails till the morning. Thank goodness for Facebook! Via Messenger, I sent a message to a friend and asked her to phone my husband and tell him what had happened.
Then it was time to go to the boarding gate. I checked again and there was another email from my daughter saying that my sister and her husband had driven to Heathrow with my phone – what angels! (I realized that if I had got through to them, they wouldn’t have been there to answer their home phone anyhow.) They had given my phone to Virgin Security and I was to listen for an announcement. I’d just read this when the ground staff at the boarding gate called my name out – and there was my phone. I felt like giving the man a big hug! And then we were boarding. All was well. I heaved a huge sigh of relief.
Moral of the story: Write everything down and check you have all your things, especially your phone, before you go anywhere.
Read more ‘Tripped’ stories here: https://footeloosefancyfree.com/category/tripped/