Over the weekend I traveled to Glasgow where I was working on a fitness seminar called Jump Live, it was all about training, nutrition and mindset. On Sunday myself and two other attendees (Ellen and Ellie) traveled back during Storm Ciara.
When we left the hotel we were a bit apprehensive about the weather but we’d checked and everything looked ok for travel so we went for lunch before our 3 pm train. When we got to the station at 1.30 pm it became apparent everything was not ok.
After being told we’d probably need to find a hotel for the night we were then advised to try and travel around the flooded areas to get back to Manchester.
So off we set to Edinburgh, to catch a train to York. Once on this train we discovered it was going to take around 5 hours (speed limits), however when we reached Newcastle the train was cancelled and we had to alight and catch another train to York. At York our train to Manchester was cancelled as it pulled into the station so we made our way to Leeds where we finally managed to get a train going to Manchester. Ten hours after we set off we arrived in Manchester and turned to Uber to get home!
We went through a lot of emotions over those ten hours of travel and on reflection learnt a lot of things which related right back to the seminar we’d been at on Saturday. Here’s my reflections on the longest train journey I think I’ve ever done (and I’ve inter railed round Europe).
- Having a support network makes things easier
We said several times over the journey that if any of us had been in this situation alone we’d have probably just sat and cried. What actually happened is we all kept pretty positive in the face of so many twists and turns and obstructions and stressful situations, because we had the support of each other and could keep each others spirits up and we knew that we weren’t alone. We actually made a good team and I know that in the future we could call on each other for support.
- Sometimes you have to rely on your gut and take risks
We had minutes at times to decide what to do- give up travelling here and look for a hotel, get this train to Leeds or wait for the next train to Manchester, go to this platform or that, stop to use the loo or hope there’s one on the next train. We worked on the basis of general consensus and gut feeling and made choices that went against what people messaging us were advising at times. In the end it worked out but at every choice we agreed if it didn’t we knew we’d made the best choice for us at the time so were fine with the consequences,
- You can plan all your like but you need to be able to be flexible
Every train we got on we had a plan of our next move, but delays and cancellations meant those goal posts moved constantly. We realised that whilst having that plan was important, being able to react to the changes and not get stressed when we had to change those plans was vital if we were to remain sane.
- There’s no need to rush things
Every time we reached a station we rushed to get to the next platform – and you know what, every train was late. We could have walked, could have gone to the loo or the shop and made our next journey more comfortable. Really we knew this at the time. We rushed because we were worried we’d miss the trains but in hindsight we realised we were rushing against our own self imposed time limits that we actually knew weren’t real.
- Be kind
The staff must have had a horrible day. It was not their fault but they had to deal with so many stressed out people. We encountered conductors and drivers and station staff who had done ridiculously long shifts in conditions just as tough (probably tougher) than ours. None of them snapped or complained, some of them thanked customers for their patience, all of them went out of their way to help each customer get to where they needed to. Passengers offered each other food and passed on information they knew. I didn’t see anybody shout or shove at anyone in an attempt to get on a train or anyone complain about standing for hours. People messaged saying if the roads had been safer (they really weren’t) that they’d come and pick us up. Being kind to one another makes things easier.
- Say thank you
On that note, I made an effort to say thank you. I tweeted the train companies we had interacted with and praised their staff, i randomly managed to thank one conductor who happened to be in a Facebook group I’m in. When people help you, appreciation can mean a lot to them and takes very little effort to show.
- Laughing makes things better
At times we wanted to cry- instead we laughed. In fact I’ve not laughed so much in ages. It made things better, just seeing the funny side of the situation.
- Your mum will always worry
I probably don’t need to explain this universal truth – they can’t help it and it’s nice!
- You can use stress to your advantage
We noticed we were full of energy right up until we got on the last train. As soon as we realised we would make it home our bodies just relaxed and we realised how tired we were. A little bit of stress can keep you moving and help you be decisive in your decision making- it’s not always a bad thing.
- Work with what you have
We had gin. That was it. A sandwich or other type of meal would have been more nutritious but we didn’t have any so we consumed what we did have and didn’t stress too much about that. There will always be ideals- ideally I will train, ideally I’ll eat this but when that can’t happen worrying that it can’t won’t help. Look at what you can do and work the best you can in the parameters available.
- Life is 10% what happens and 90% how you react
This was said on Saturday and when we were sat on a train to Edinburgh immediately came to mind. It’s so true. Sunday on paper was so stressful. Sunday in reality was tiring but quite funny, a story to tell, a great opportunity to get to know two people better, we were safe, we got home eventually and how we approached it mattered more than what actually happened,
- Gin fixes quite a few problems
Like really, it just does.