Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Heading South of the border

I'm on the train. Ediburgh, Newcastle, York, something else (Peterborough actually), and London KingsCross. Heading South, like the swallows. The carriage is a wonderfully charming amalgam of the regions we're passing through. Thick accents from thickly set ladies and tough looking lads. And smartly dressed elderly ladies on their way down to
London on their bi-annual pilgrimage (maybe The Sales are on?)

The other thing that characterises this train journey is the occasional waft of country smells that temporarily suffuses the carriage: from cow manure (I love it! It makes me think of the country side, and my grandmother's village in Northern Spain and holidays.), to burning leaves (unpleasant), to artificial fertiliser (very unpleasant).

I'm seated at one of those tables for 4 with 2 inscrutable but upper middle class foreigners. Who somehow, insist on speaking heavily accented English to one another. Posh enough to travel first class but relaxed enough to slum it in second. With the thick-set Geordies. And me.

I pointed out the Angel of the North to them, as we left Newcastle. And that has proven to be the extent of our conversation. I mentioned it a wee bit early so we had a few minutes of uncomfortable – almost reproachful – silence as we cranned our necks expectantly waiting for it to appear. I kept thinking "Maybe we've passed it already…" I don't know what they thought – as I said, they're rather unscrutable – but I could feel the impatience gnawing. But then we saw it! The Angel of the North.

Still, the most fascinating thing about them is the prodigious quantities and variety of food they have ingested so far. I know it's a four and a half hour journey and I've had a diet coke, a ham and cheese baguette, a punnet of Marks and Spencers strawberries and a kitkat from the train trolley (I know, first chocolate in 6 weeks! I didn't even care that it was half melted and made my fingers sticky.) But they're in a different league altogether. And yet they are so slim! Out of two orange Sainsbury's shopping bag, they've had bars of chocolate, a whole pack of what looks like oblong buns – what the French would call Viennese bread – with chocolate chips, and lately a peach! I think there's more to come. Actually, the husband is now chewing gum.

The BBC weather forecast this morning promised 22 degrees in London this afternoon, but so far the sky's grey mulch has pretty much clung to us. But the wellies are safely packed away in my suitcase. I'm still banking on sunshine.

Like the swallows.

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