Despite my comments about the Air India flight, everything actually worked out pretty well. (Sorting out the expense report is going to be fun, though.) We landed on time; I picked up my rental car, scooted up to my mother’s house in Oxford, said hi, and went to sleep. About four hours later my brother woke me with the offer of beer, or Lucozade, or both(!); I chose Lucozade. I felt deceptively human, and took the four of us (my mother, my brother, and his wife) out to dinner at a new Italian restaurant. The presentation was awfully “chi-chi”, but the food was excellent.
This afternoon I set out on the next stage of my journey, by train from Oxford to Leeds. I hadn’t pre-booked this (which was a mistake), but I wasn’t worried: I walked up to the ticket machine and punched in “Leeds”, “Return”. And then I stopped, and I had a premonition… and without pausing to think about Sun’s travel policy, I chose “First Class”. (That’s £200 – twice as much as the regular fare.) Soon afterwards, the train arrived. It was full. Packed full. Standing room only. Hardly any room for additional standing passengers. (OK, not quite “Tokyo subway” packed, but close.) Except… there were three empty first class seats! Had I not chosen “First”, I would have found myself standing for over four and a half hours…. (Weekend journey times are longer, because of re-routing to avoid track maintenance work.)
So here I am at the Queen’s Hotel in Leeds. It’s visually stunning, with really strong art deco themes throughout. I feel as though I’ve stepped onto the set of “Poirot”; I half-expect David Suchet to appear in a silk dressing-gown with a tisane! It’s a shame that I’ll only be here for one night.