the trip hit warp speed today, in looking back this will actually be the most stressful day of the entire trip. we are up early and on the road just after 9am to drive back up to shannon and catch our afternoon flight back to england. it is raining, misty, gray and we were up until after 2am the previous night, talking, pouring over maps, drinking tea. We know that ireland is over but none of us want it to be. So in the morning we are quiet. We stop for gas, the cd's repeat themselves. by now we know all the words. and somehow we get off schedule with the time because suddenly it is noon and we are not yet at the cliffs of moher and the whole schedule somehow is wrong. the rain continues, we push on to sea, have to see the cliffs. none of us have so much as a raincoat, nina is carsick from the combination of the ford drive suspension and the crazy ireland roads. we make it to the edge of the country, see the cliffs, jump back in the car and scramble for shannon airport. it is crazy. we are 20 minutes later than we should be and still have to drop off the car, checkin for the flight, security, kids to the restroom, diaper change and board the plane first since this airline does not assign seats. I dont think i breath from the time we hit the airport until the plane takes off it is so nuts. But we manage.
From Luton airport we catch a shuttle bus to the England Rail to take us back to edgeware. We are okay buying the train tickets, finding the platform, but somehow we dont realize, being from little tiny pgh, that there is more than one train, and so the next one that shows up, we step onto and alas, it is not the right train. We realize around central london that we are way past where we want to be. Mind you we have just traveled from ireland so we have all the kids, all the suitcases, the strollers, the car seat, the carry on bags on this public transport train and it is evening commute by this time. We struggle to get off the train and it takes us too long and the doors are closing with nina stillon the train. what a nightmare but we soon learn there is an emergency button and you can force the doors open and push the kid out the door as is demonstrated by a very cognizant fellow who realizes what has happened. After that we have a little lesson with each kid about where we live and how to find us should we ever get lost.
So that should be the end of the trauma, but no, there is a 20lb per person penality for overriding your train ticket so we have to clear that up, cross the station and wait for a train going the opposite way. And we do the same thing. Train pulls up, we get on, this time it only takes a few stops before i realize the same thing has happened, just in reverse.
So there is a girl standing next to me sniffling. I dont know if she has the flu or was just kicked out of her mums house or caught her boyfriend cheating or what, but even though she doesnt seem up to talking, i absolutely must know what the story with the trains is so i can figure out what i am doing wrong and so i start hitting her with the questions. At first, like many english people, she is reluctant to give up the story. The deal is that people want to help you, but there are so many needy lost souls travelling around the city that if you are too friendly you could easily end up spending your entire day acting as a tour guide. So the response is usually polite but brief. But brief wont do it for me tonight, not when i have just spent over 2 hours on trains going in circles literally. Anyway, she gives up the info, they call out the stops for each train when it arrives and if you dont hear your stop, you should skip that train. I smile and say thank you and inside i hope that her problems work themselves out and the minute the next stop comes up, i haul all the gear including all of the kids thank god, off the train and we walk with our stuff straight over to a minicab station and pay a nice fellow to drive us back to our hotel.