The Perfect Day After the Nightmare Journey

Some authors love going on school visits and I’m one of them! The only thing I hate is the journey there. If it involves more than two hours of travel and includes the M25, I prefer to take the train. Now, as I live in the deep south (of Kent!) if I’m going anywhere north-ish of London I drive to my local station then have a train journey of an hour and five minutes to London, followed by the underground, then another train journey and finally a walk or a taxi. I know that sounds complicated but if all the trains are on time it works like a dream and I get to read or work or sleep or listen to music or whatever on the journeys, which I find so much better than driving, or worse, being stuck in a traffic jam!

When I did a school visit to Kingshott School in Hertfordshire recently, I felt a nice surge of relief that the first train was beautifully on time, and from then I was confident that nothing could go wrong because I’d allowed plenty of time to make the connection. But when I got to London Bridge underground I found myself faced with a wall of about 300 silent, still people, and an announcement repeated every thirty seconds apologising for holding customers at the ticket barriers and explaining that it was in order to prevent overcrowding on the platforms.

After ten minutes of standing like a statue with the silent throng and feeling horribly boxed in as others joined, my heart started banging away, and grew louder with every subsequent passing minute. I was going to miss my connection. But there was nothing I could do. It was too late to leave and get a taxi.

Finally the crowd began to move. I can’t say that it surged. It kind of shuffled with urgency. I was certain I’d never get through in the first ‘wave’ of people but I was lucky, they shut the barriers just behind me and I ran down the escalator. I then managed to squeeze myself and my big ‘author bag’ onto the already crowded underground train and started counting manically because this is the only way for me to avoid claustrophobia  or worry that the air’s going to run out!

Finally I got to Kings Cross and power walked what felt like miles to the mainline station and subsequently to platform zero – the furthest away – it had to be – and got on the train with one minute to spare. I was then picked up at the station at the other end and taken to the school. But what a horrible journey! Does anyone else get neurotic about being late?

Here are some snap shots of the perfect day that followed the nightmare journey!

 I like to bring drama into my presentations! Check out the boy at the front!

 Talking about some of the books

Comparing the front cover design on a foreign copy

 And of course, we always have to dance!

23 thoughts on “The Perfect Day After the Nightmare Journey

  1. i hate being late, i can’t stand it. oddly enough though i mostly don’t mind when others are a little late, as long as i’m there with a few minutes to spare.

  2. Hi Ann,
    Great post and great pictures! I would love to be at one of your author events! I am totally with you on the train thing. What panics me is that you can’t rely on estimated timings at all. I always leave really really early for things, just in case there is a tube derailment, or something. The trouble is that you can never tell how long the tube derailment could take, so you could still end up being late! Or sitting in traffic jams when you know you need to be somewhere. The run to my son’s school has roadworks at the moment so it can take anything from the normal 15 mins, to up to an hour! It’s terrible as it is key that I’m not late for him, but 45 mins early is a long time to waste. Time I could be working! Anyway, sorry for the long ramble! Hope you are well.
    Michelle x

    • Hi Michelle, Lovely to hear from you! Yes I agree that the flip side of the coin is getting too early to places, which is such a waste of time. I hope those roadworks are completed soon for your sanity’s sake! Ann xx

  3. Hi Ann,

    Your school visits look SUCH fun.

    I’m an early bird. I usually end up hanging round in coffee bars or lurking in the car down a side road whenever I go anywhere as I’m far too early. The only time I’m ever late is when I go places with an author friend – she who shall not be named. We somehow managed to always get lost or get on the wrong train.

    Once we found ourselves on the non stopping service from Reading to Exeter St Davids. We only just managed to get back off in time, much to the amusement of the other passengers.


  4. I HATE to be late! The problem is my family… My parents are ALWAYS late for stuff like synagogue, outings etc but they manage to be on time for the “important” stuff, school pick-up, classes etc! I just HATE being late, I get really worried and stressed and AAARGH!

    The pictures are brilliant! Looks like such fun! 🙂

    Fab post xxxx

  5. I’m always late! Dreadful habit, I know but I always try to squeeze too much in before I leave to go anywhere. I always try not to be late for school visits and events – that IS stressful – but most general life things, I tend to think what’s five minutes here or there, the world’s not going to end. Great post and lovely to see the pictures of the school visit. Anyone out there who ever gets a chance to see Ann at event you’re in for a treat – she is BRILLIANT! Lxx

  6. I’m actually never late – I’m one of those totally obsessive people who leave two hours earlier than they need to (well, I’m maybe exaggerating, but you see what I mean.) In fact, my friend and I even have this game where every history lesson on a Friday we race our teacher to arrive at the lesson before he does… it sounds mad but it’s hilarious too! Today we ended up sprinting, completely breathless, all the way through school, people staring at us as we went…!

    • Georgie, this is amazing, because you’re exactly reminding me of ‘my’ Georgie from the Silver Spires series. Her books is called ‘Drama at Silver Spires’!!

  7. I don’t mind being late! I’m not overly bothered! But I hate long journeys in cars. Grrrrr 😦 But I love plane and boat journeys! They’re so fun! Great post, I’m glad you had fun at the school visit anyway!

    • Yes, you’re right, Shakira. What I like most is getting the least likely person in the room to join in with the dance. It’s usually a teacher, and I’ve never failed!

  8. As Ella rightly knows, I am ALWAYS late.
    Well, the thing is, in this modern society of punctuality-obsessed-people, early is considered on time, and on time is considered late! And as I am never ever ever early, I can’t win! I’m always late.

    Oh, bum. I just realised my dad said to meet him outside at 1.15 and its already 1.22! Whoops, that’s me – late again!!!

  9. I hate being late!

    But my parents usually are, and that gets on my nerves!!!

    On trip days, I’m literally gripping the edge of the seat in front of me and biting my nails and looking at the time every five seconds.

    Once we came so late to school on a school trip that my class was shouting at me from just inside the school to “hurry up-we’re just about to leave!” All I could think was “phew-they haven’t left!”. It was a trip to go horse riding, and I love horses and I’d never been horse riding before!

    I hope your school visit was good!

    Great post!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s