I moved about 5 and a half years ago, and whilst it was one of the best things I have ever done, the downside is that I am 300 miles away from some of my dearest friends. So, when I was invited to a wedding, there was no way that I was going to miss it.
Now, I have not travelled back down south since March 2006. In one aspect, the worry of being able to make the journey, the worry of not being able to go out drinking and the recovery time on my return all seemed just too much to deal with and as such, I allowed my illness to dictate my life. This is something I vowed would not happen and yet, there it is. (The cessation of my monthly adventures is a whole other story)
So, back to the wedding. I HAD to go, no two ways. My brother by proxy was getting married to an amazing girl and I could not miss it, not under any circumstances. So what to do?? As with anything to do with FM, plan plan PLAN
First off, I planned the outfits and luggage. Now this doesn’t sound a big deal, but the transport of luggage is uber important when you are travelling by train, especially when you have to make a change. I have a wheeled suitcase and agreed with the Wookie that we would share the one case with a shoulder bag for what we needed during the journey. We were going to be away from the Friday morning and back on the Sunday lunchtime so I packed just 2 outfits pluss the formal dress (all very tightly folded as all hotels will give you an iron and an ironing board. If you are not sure, ring ahead and ask prior to your trip) Usual packing rules applied, all toiletries in one carrier bag, makeup in it’s own bag and of course, tuck all underwear in your formal shoes!! LOL
So, the travelling outfit. This can be used both ways as all pride needs to be thrown out the window. Whilst being clean and tidy is an essential part of life, do NOT be a slave to fashion if you are not going to be comfortable!! Of course, check the weather too as you do not want to be too hot as you hit the London Underground. People do not realise just how hot it get’s down there and in addition, you may have to exert a lot of energy just to make your connection…and that is another story to be told later…So wear something light and comfortable (loose fitting if needs be) and you can always put on a mac or a jacket that can be easily carried on top of the case.
Depending on the length of your journey, you need to prepare. Disaster struck on the Tuesday prior to the journey when I was struck down with the flare from hell. It was so bad, I even had to call in sick to work, which is something I avoid doing at all costs. I had to be realistic, I just didn’t have any strength. Upon trying to go back on the Thursday, a colleague gave me a great piece of advice. “You have had this booked for ages, just think f the money you will waste by not letting yourself get well and then not being able to go at all”. Also, think on this, if you only charge a phone up to 50% of the battery, and keep doing this, after a while, the battery will not charge up fully at all and that is exactly what dealing with FM is like.
Ok. So you need to seriously consider the cost of your journey and the time of day you travel. I decided to invest in an advance first class ticket. No, not to be snobby, but to ensure that I had a seat, and a comfortable one at that. The added bonus of first class, is that there is more room, free coffee/ tea (although not great coffee to be honest) and the carriages are air-conditioned. With East Coast, you can also choose where you sit at the time of booking and even opt for a quiet coach (although smaller, they sometimes accomodate the buffet area so there may be a bit of traffic) As we booked waaaaaaaaaay in advance, for what would normally be £480 for a single journey, we got 2 first class returns for a total of £340! WIN!
Despite having all complementary food etc, we packed a lunch and some drinks. There is no point paying out rail prices when you can save some money with a little bit of forethought. And if you are foodfussy like me, if you make it yourself, you know you are going to enjoy it.
I mentioned times and I will admit to falling down on this slightly. No bother getting down South, and I took note of the Underground engineering works..HOWEVER..when you book a full journey, the companies do not take disability into account with regard to making the transfer from Waterloo to Kings Cross. In addition, the engineering works had MOVED location by the Sunday so we had to plan an entire new underground route which meant that we got to Kings Cross with only 8 minutes to spare (I am army-raised..if you are not half an hour early, it is too stressful) “Cutting it fine” is not my preferred process when it comes to travelling. I digress, if you can, get the earliest train available, you want to get one that avoids the London rush hour (for example, our train landed at Kings Cross at 9.30 and our train out of Waterloo wasn’t until 11 so we had plenty of time to make the transfer and didn’t have to battle the workforce)
Also, the earlier you travel, the less people are on the train and therefore, it is a lot quieter. (This is exemplified by our journey back, as we should have left Andover much earlier. We left at 7, and this meant hat we got the 10am train out of Kings Cross which was HEAVING) The earlier train you get out of main stations (I am talking 6/7am) the better. Also, if you can, make sure that you check out all routes for engineering works and alternative routes.
Another important thing to consider, is to be realistic about what you CAN do on your excursion. I attended the ceremony, but wsa going downhill rapidly and I knew we had the journey again the next day, so I made my apologies and left the wedding. I had made the effort for the most important part and my friends understood why I had to leave. Don’t push yourself more than you normally would if you have big journeys, drop it down by about 10-20%
So, in short, plan. Plan for any eventuality, and you will be fine.