The Rail Journey South

12 Jun

So far I’ve done planes and automobiles. Therefore, it seems that a train is called for. And you can’t beat England’s rail system. Jenni and I hopped online the other night and bought me a first class train ticket to London with another continuing on to Brockenhurst.

This morning Jenni has dropped me off at the train station very early with directions on how to make my transfer as my train arrives at Victoria Station and my next train leaves from Waterloo Station. She tells me to make sure I know where my bag is and don’t talk to strangers (not really). I feel like she should pin a note to me saying, ‘If lost, return to Hull.’ I learned from my previous career flying many times a month and getting upgraded here and there that first class generally has a better class of men to meet. But that’s not all. On the train, first class will get you a morning newspaper, full English Breakfast, comfy reserved seat and free Wifi. That and the better class of men make it totally worth it. I sit down at my seat which is at a table for four. Across from me sits Paul who works in finance and is headed to London for a meeting. We have a great talk about politics and news. I barely use the free Wifi. Word to the wise traveler, don’t forego experiences just so you have time to search the web. You will miss out on so much. Also, take off the damn headphones so you don’t miss opportunities to meet new and interesting people. Take in the sites, sounds and smell of places. And look up every once in a while. Lecture finished, back to the story.

Paul is going to the Tube (the London subway system) and directs me to the ticket machine and into the correct station. Two stops later I’m having a coffee and waiting for my next train. Ninety minutes later and I’m in Brockenhurst, the main village in the New Forest. Nine hundred years ago William The Conquerer put aside the New Forest area for hunting. Now it’s a national park. I take a taxi to to my hotel in Burley. This was the one hotel I reserved prior to leaving the States. Although the plan for this trip was to not have a plan, when I began to simply peruse the options online, it seemed that many of the hotels and B & B’s had no availability this weekend due to the Jubilee. I thought celebrations would only be happening in London but, it turns out that she is the queen of all of England. And, as she’s proclaimed it a bank holiday, everyone has two extra days off.

I arrive at my hotel and, after a quick nap, Ohh, hoo witchy womanhead into the center of the village of Burley. Burley likes to refer to itself as the Witchcraft Village of the New Forest (although, as their witch was into “white witchcraft” she apparently couldn’t be seen after Labor Day). As my hotel backs up to the New Forest, I walk the path through the woods and come out behind a cider shop (this is not the cider from when you were a kid – or maybe for some of you, it is). Oh, I could spend my whole trip in this tiny, little one room shop. I stop in the tea house. It is 5:05 and they have just close but still offer to make me a cup of tea. Really? This is definitely not America (or even London for that matter). I love a small town. I politely decline and pop into the shops in town and make note of the bicycle shop where I am renting my bike tomorrow.

I then stop in the local pub for a quick glass of lager. The Brits are very serious about their beer. It’s not just beer, it’s lager or ale (or even a bitter). When I don’t know what to eat or drink, I always ask a local. I ask a guy ordering at the bar what I should get and he offers to let me taste his lager (not as dirty as it sounds). Wow, plays well with others. I sip and order what he’s having. I head outside and see him and his two friends sitting at a picnic table and ask if I can join them. It turns out they are rugby players heading to a big tournament twenty miles away. “Isn’t that the game where you try to kill each other?” I ask. “Yes,” they reply. We get into a long discussion on women’s sports. They mention that women’s field hockey is big there. They ask if women play ice hockey in the U.S. I tell them no and that they would be awfully ugly women with bad smiles if they did. They head over to their match and I head back to the hotel for a nice dinner in their dining room.

Once seated, the waitress asks me if I’d like wine. I order a white wine that looks nice. Next thing I know the waitress brings an entire bottle to my table. I tell her that I’ve only ordered a glass and she informs me that this wine only comes by the bottle. When I mention that I saw two prices listed on the wine menu I assumed one was for a glass and the other for a bottle. No, she says, one was the price of the bottle and one was the alcohol content. Seriously? As I’m sitting at a table by myself, did she not think to mention the whole bottle thing? You know, something along the lines of, “Hey lady, do you know this only comes by the bottle or should we arrange for someone to carry your drunken, drooling self up the stairs when you have finished your meal?” I waited for her to apologize for any misunderstanding and offer to remove the bottle from my bill (and my table) but no such luck. The bottle will be stored in the bar so that I can drink it over the next few days. Unfortunately, I’m really a red wine drinker and this would be the one glass of white I order for the whole year.

I head up to bed for an early night. Join me tomorrow when I go biking on the wrong side of the street in “Over the River and To the Pub”

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Closet Patriots | My Own Adventure - October 30, 2013

    […] Tomorrow, a train to Brockehurst in the New Forest where I meet Paul on the train (gotta love first class) and three rugby players in the pub (gotta love a pub). Read it in “The Rail Journey South” […]

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