I arrived home yesterday evening after a most memorable two days away, journeying to and from the beautiful city of Cambridge. The weekend started at 5.00 am on Saturday morning and a reviving cuppa. At 7.15, my husband drove me to Scarborough railway station where I boarded a train to York, arriving with plenty of time on my hands to grab a takeaway coffee and ‘people watch’, while waiting for my coach that was to take me to Milton Keynes, where I was to change coaches for Cambridge.
The day was grey, threatening rain, but inside I was excited at the prospect of a day of travel. I love sitting on coaches or trains, gazing out of the window at the passing world, and daydreaming. I was often told off by my teacher at school for doing just that during lessons!
I decided, as it was rather cold at the bus stop opposite the railway station, that I would wait inside for my coach, so I settled myself on a bench, situated next to a policeman, who was standing watching the folk in the station, some chatting together, coffee in hand, others rushing to catch trains. I imagined he was hoping there wouldn’t be any trouble, though he looked rather important standing there looking like a Sentry at Buckingham Palace! He didn’t look worried! After a while, a lady came up to him and started chatting amiably. I had no idea whether they actually knew each other, but she sounded as though she had known him for years! He was politely answering her questions and nodding in the right places! After a couple of minutes, her friend came up to them and animatedly informed the policeman that “My friend will flirt with anyone in uniform!”
I boarded the coach and settled down for a few hours of blissful peace and rest, with the knowledge that at the end of my journey would be a delightful evening with friends. I was on my way to a house concert by two great musicians Peter Banks (from After The Fire, my favourite band!), and James Weaver, who called themselves Cafe Musica. I knew there would be friends there who I usually only communicated with on Facebook, and it was so exciting to be meeting them again for real. We only really met up at music gigs, so I sat on my coach with great anticipation of a wonderful evening to come.
Several hours later, I arrived at Milton Keynes Coachway, which at first I thought was a very large greenhouse! It was pouring with rain and I was glad I could walk off the coach straight into the warmth of the coach station. It had rained for the whole journey. Above the driver, and behind him, was a screen facing the passengers, which showed the road ahead from the windscreen. I had never seen a film before of ‘A Coach Driver’s View of the Road Ahead’! But all I could see were the windscreen wipers flying across the screen!
At one point in the journey I needed the loo, and wondered whether I could possibly wait until I got to Milton Keynes, as I didn’t particularly relish the idea of using the loo on the coach. But when you have to go………it was literally a moving experience! I actually slid from one end of the cubicle to the other, landing on the wall behind the toilet and hoping fervently that the passengers sitting outside hadn’t heard! I managed to hold on to a conveniently placed rail to avoid landing in the toilet, and was very thankful when I got out and no-one looked oddly at me!
From Milton Keynes, I boarded the coach for Cambridge, knowing my hosts would be meeting me at the other end. At the coach stop on Parkside in Cambridge (the photo at the top was my view!), I was met by car, and we drove to the venue, a beautiful house which was a converted barn, with high, vaulted ceilings, lovely beams, and was lit with coloured fairy lights. On arrival, I was greeted with music, as Cafe Musica were rehearsing. Some friends had already arrived and there were hugs all round!
I gazed at my surroundings. There were doors leading off to…..where? Some led to stairways, some to more rooms. It was such a lovely quirky house, and in the lounge where the concert was due to take place, there was a balcony around the room under the huge ceiling. On the right there was a massive fireplace with a huge log burner. The band were playing right in front of it, and thankfully, it wasn’t lit!
How lovely it was, after the rehearsal, to share a meal around the table before the concert, and such a world away from simply communicating online with comments on Facebook. To be face to face with such lovely friends, chatting, laughing, and eating together in such a beautiful setting, was wonderful, though it was through Facebook, and a mutual love of music, especially the band After The Fire, that we had met.
The concert was brilliant, great music, banter, chatting together in the interval over drinks and cake! Delightful!
It was hard saying goodbye to everyone at the end, but after a day of travelling, I was glad to get to bed! I slept in a lovely little room with a low, beamed, sloping ceiling. My friend, who hosted the concert, told me as she showed me my room, “Don’t worry if you hear scuttling during the night, it’s only the mice in the roof!” And she reassured me that they wouldn’t come into the room! Fortunately I didn’t hear any scuttling, the mice must have been wearing slippers! Maybe it was my ‘coach lag’, but as I fell asleep, I thought of making tiny mice slippers out of the tops of cotton buds………
The following morning dawned bright, with the sun making a brave effort to shine through the clouds. After a delightful breakfast, my friends drove me to the centre of Cambridge, where I had an hour of meandering before catching my coach…..a delightful prospect! How uplifting it was to walk the graceful streets of this beautiful city, gazing upwards at the lovely buildings, with the backdrop of the Sunday morning chimes of the church bells creating a welcoming atmosphere.
My heart felt so full of joy and gratitude! I grabbed a takeaway coffee and wandered past the market, and a curious round church.
I also couldn’t help noticing how many bikes there were in this city, parked against every railing! I thought to myself that the citizens of Cambridge must be very fit!
I strolled through some lovely streets filled with delightful shops, and determined that one day I would return and explore them properly.
As it got close to the time when I had to catch my coach, I started to panic slightly that I couldn’t find the right road. I had a map on my phone, but couldn’t work out where I was! After a while I asked a lady how to get to Parkside and this lovely woman (who I decided was an angel!), guided me in the right direction. (I had been headed in the wrong direction!). I made it with time to spare.
I had another nine hours of coach travel before arriving home, and during the journey I couldn’t help thinking “All there ever was, and all there ever will be is this coach……!” I felt I could have slept for a week! Towards the end of the journey, with an hour or two to go, a young man sitting opposite me started whistling very cheerfully. I was just about to hit him with my handbag, when, luckily for him, he stopped!
But during the journey I also had plenty of time to think about the lovely evening i’d had and how wonderful it was to spend time with friends, eating, listening to music, hugging, chatting, just enjoying being together.
Facebook can be such a blessing, a way of meeting people, keeping in touch with family and friends, and I have had reason to be very grateful for this social media, but how much more delightful it is to meet friends face to face!