It probably won’t surprise many people who know me to hear that my escape from last-minute plans didn’t last long, but the spontaneous event was a pleasant and relaxing one. On Tuesday night I sent a message to my friend Tom to see how he was, and after a short exchange of texts we realised that he was taking his canal boat Spey along a canal which was fairly easily accessible from my flat (two short train journeys for very little cost). So at lunchtime on Wednesday I took myself off in the tattiest clothes I had with me and joined Tom and Mac on the boat for the afternoon. We pootled down the canal looking at things, catching up on news, and at one point using olive oil and washing up liquid to get tar out of my hair. Oops… Eventually we arrived at the place where Spey was being left for a few days and we hopped off, explored a little and then separated to find our ways home. I got back to the flat in the early evening and went for another run – just three miles this time, but surprisingly managable.
My journey back to university on Thursday was uneventful, as was my afternoon babysitting my adorable little baby. I’ll miss them a lot when I finish. The last definite afternoon is this Thursday as my summer job will take up the majority of my time in July. In the evening I was feeling quite tired and very reluctant to get dolled up and go out again, but I wasn’t about to waste an expensive ticket to a ball with several of my friends, and I’m glad I went. It was great fun and the meal was delicious, and although I did leave “early” (at 1am instead of 4am) I felt I got the value out of the ticket price, unlike the ball that Tamsin and I went to last week.
Friday was also a busy day, because I had to dash to Tesco to buy the food for my Live Below the Line Challenge and then get back for two different choir rehearsals. I sped from choir back to college and then spent four and a half hours sitting in a fluorescent jacket watching for non-existent fires. It wasn’t the worst way to earn entrance to the other half of the ball. I think the highlight for me was sitting in the Air Raid Shelter tent eating an excellent slice of battenburg and watching some Lindy Hop dancers. The ball was officially for alumnae only (although a very large number of students worked at it, and we all attended either the first or second half as guests in payment) so it was targeted at a slightly different demographic than most balls. That’s probably why I enjoyed it so much! I was also thrilled to see both of my college mothers and several of their friends who I hadn’t seen since they graduated two years ago.
Saturday morning meant another early start, so after the ball had started to wind down at 2am I snuck into my room with the acquiescence of a sympathetic fire steward, in order to avoid being turfed out with the guests and having to wait until 3am to be allowed back in. It meant I was a little less tired the next day when I was collected by Stumo and driven, along with two other people I hadn’t met before, down to our friend Sarah’s wedding to her now-husband Henry. I was very glad that Stumo had taken on the burden of organising everything and everyone, and especially glad that he’d sorted out a hotel room for me, because I suspect that left to my own devices I’d have been sleeping on the floor of the wedding venue, or possibly in a train station half way there.
There were quite a few friends I don’t see often attending the wedding, which was extremely traditional and delightful. I also met some of Sarah’s friends who were very friendly and interesting; she does seem to have an eclectic and welcoming collection of friends! I wasn’t terribly surprised to find myself falling asleep on a table at the back of the disco by about 10.30, though, so I was packed into a taxi and sent off to the hotel to get some sleep.
And all that brings us today, when I woke up refreshed and ate my first Live Below the Line breakfast of marmalade sandwiches (no butter), which I had fortunately remembered to bring with me. I said goodbye to the others staying at the hotel and set off to catch a train back to Cambridge. The journey only takes about 2 hours, slightly more on Sundays, and I’d left myself almost five, so I wasn’t anticipating problems.
And of course that meant that there were problems. I made it almost all the way without incident, but two stops before Cambridge the train failed to pull out of the station. Eventually we went a short distance, and then stopped in the middle of a tunnel and started to head back the way we came. An announcement was made to the effect that the driver hadn’t got a clue what was going on and that he’d tell us when he did.
To cut a long story short, there was some problem with the overhead lines further north and no trains were going to make it through to Cambridge in the foreseeable future. We were asked to consider whether our journey was urgent, and if not, to remain on the train as we would not all fit onto the three-carriage replacement train that was hastily summoned from somewhere. Naturally, every single occupant of our ten-carriage train was quite convinced that their journey was urgent. I hung back, not so much because I didn’t think my journey was urgent (although at that point, it wasn’t really – I could probably have walked it in the time I had before choir) but because I hate crowds. When I did get onto the platform I was just in time to see a woman being knocked down and trampled by an inconsiderate horde. I saw her again several times later, once when we were all on the replacement train and we managed to find her a seat on our very crowded carriage, and once when we had all got off the replacement train again since it wasn’t going anywhere either, and eventually she was put into a car and taken to a hospital to be checked over. What with that and the appalling crush and elbowing that happened when the rail replacement bus finally turned up (one bus, to take the occupants of what was now four large trains), I have lost a bit of my faith in humanity.
There were obviously not going to be enough coaches to take us all in the near future – only two turned up in the time I was there, which was at least two hours – so people started calling for taxis. I rang a couple of the local firms but they hadn’t got any cars. In the end I was invited to join a group who had enterprisingly summoned a taxi from Cambridge and negotiated a surprisingly reasonable price, and by walking very fast from the station where it dropped us off I manged to be only ten minutes late to choir.
And now I’m enjoying an unexpected evening off from rehearsals, as we’ve been released from this evening’s scheduled three hours. I’ll shortly be going to make some kind of dinner out of the food I bought at Tesco on Friday, although it doesn’t feel very imminently necessary since my “lunch” didn’t actually happen until our mid-afternoon choir break at 4.30. Dinner will be some combination of Quorn sausages, eggs and bread, because I am feeling too tired to cook anything more elaborate!