Homeward

As I travelled about over the past several weeks, I did my best to hold on to two useful tenets; see the good and hope for the best. By and large they both proved to be reliable companions, right down to the homeward leg of my journey.

That bit started in the skinny vestibule of a Cardiff bound train. I shared that standing room only with a young Irish couple, a twenty-something backpacker, and a man and a woman in charge of an intricately decorated two tiered wedding cake, which the woman held aloft in a flimsy cardboard box. Over the course of our two hour journey, and with no need for any spoken agreement, that cake became our collective responsibility. If the train took a bend too fast or lurched suddenly, we all encircled it. Any abrupt stops, our hands went straight up to protect it. Suffice to say, it made it safely to Cardiff. Seems we all saw the good in that cake.

Next was a coach to Heathrow. I’d booked a ticket but in my haste or weariness, I’d clicked on the wrong departure time. When I discovered my error the 1:40 PM coach I actually wanted, not the 1:40 AM one I had a ticket for, was already fully booked. Surely I could just take the next one and still make my flight. But my new friend Tracey at the coach station told me that it was fully booked too. My hope for the best was wearing thin. But that’s when I became Tracey’s wedding cake. She radioed a driver who hadn’t gone far. He’d detour back to the station so I could jump on his coach. He was going direct to London not Heathrow. But at least I’d be in the city and if I moved quickly enough, Tracey was confident that the Tube would get me to the airport in time.

But along the way we hit a major traffic snarl and relying on the Tube looked less promising than first thought. So I came up with Plan B. Cancel my existing flight. Book another. Stay in London for a bit and try not to think about what that would cost me. But then when the coach finally pulled up in the city I found myself staring at a long line of cabs, and a gaggle of drivers chatting on the footpath. That’s how I met Terry. ‘No problem’, he said, ‘I can get you to Heathrow in time, but it’s going to cost you a bit’. I did the sums in my head. The price of a new flight, plus a London hotel, or an it’s going to cost you cab fare. I decided to go with Terry.

Next minute we were winding through tiny back streets of the city I’d never seen before. Terry told me he’d been driving London cabs for 25 years and it showed. He also told me he’d never left the place, except for the time when he and the missus went to Wales for their honeymoon, but that was far too remote for his liking. I made it to Heathrow 20 minutes before the Bag Drop closed. I paid Terry the 80 quid and then thanked him for the wondrous tour of London.

With only the long haul flight to go, I figured hoping for the best and looking for the good should make that part easy too.