We made it to my parents’ house for Christmas. We shouldn’t have. We should have got stuck at any number of stages on our journey—as West Oxfordshire shut down, then Oxford train station, then St Pancras, then Calais, Cherbourg, St Nazaire—but we did. As K said: at each stage we simply could not be certain that we would make the next one.
But we did. Christmas with my Mum and Dad. Words cannot express how simultaneously gobsmacked, overjoyed and vexed I was. Obviously, they started to drive me crazy at around midday on the second day with them, but we made it. There followed two weeks of Christmas decorations, silly card and domino games, my Dad’s expert patatas bravas, the sea only a hundred yards away, and Spanish cider and cava chilling in the fridge.
Oh, that Spanish cider. It took until our third day, following a journey of over two days, for me to be able to enjoy it, when finally a clinging, foggy cold that fell upon me like the snow as we left Witney was burned off by the latitutes. I’ve never had a cold that began on a Friday and was still a serious problem on Wednesday before, but then I’ve never spent two developmental days of such a cold on futons and sleeper-trains before. I had it lucky, as K. went on antibiotics for a suspected ear infection as I came off the paracetamol. I do wonder how much they clean those pillows on the trains.
The heroes are most definitely j4 and addedentry (for a futon and some space for us to practically abandon our car), with honourable mentions to hatmandu and brighty (ready to receive us with open arms, should Oxford prove unreachable) and similarly htfb, julietk and my sisters-in-law. Thank you, everyone. Plus the train driver at Oxford who looked a bit like Robert Peston, and drove through a foot of snow like it was no big deal, Phil Mercer of BBC Oxford who did double shifts despite developing a nasty, hacking cough, and the staff at almost every understaffed, overattended rail station we passed through: Oxford, Paddington, St Pancras, Gare du Nord, Gare d’Austerlitz and beyond.
Lots of us were busy, each of us having the worst day in years, and we just got on with it. And K. and I made it to my parents’ house for Christmas.