The sleeper train and other stories
Fresh from our engagement, with a shiny ring on the third finger of my left hand (remember the ‘thumb’ doesn’t count), Danny and I boarded the sleeper train at Paddington, 11.45pm on Friday night.
Never has there been such excitement! (mainly from me). After all, having not travelled on a sleeper train since the early 90’s in Europe, I was expecting a cabin filled with 2 other sleeping people, threadbare sheets and barely-there pillows. Instead we found we had our own cabin, our own sink, complementary tea and coffee and a hostess that promised us a wake-up call (with breakfast) 45 minutes before we arrived at our destination.
I also, rather embarrassingly, came to learn that our neighbours, a lovely couple from Didcot, were also aware of our excitement (mainly mine), as even before we met and started talking they’d learned that we were engaged and that I’d thought the adjoining door (locked) between our cabins was our private shower. So – as you may have guessed – sleeper cabins are not soundproof. (A good lesson for the future guest house proprietor, methinks).
Sitting in the bar car chatting to the aforementioned couple till 3am was a rather lovely, pseudo Orient Express, experience. There’s not very many things I love more than the gentle lull of a moving train. I find it both soothing and exciting, and I couldn’t think of a better way to travel.
Danny and I had felt for a long time that we should take the sleeper to St Ives in order to be able to share that experience with potential guests, yet I never imagined it would be so much fun. Granted, we do have a lot to celebrate at the moment – an engagement, a property completion, and a new business – but even without all that it would have still been a wonderful experience.
To those of you that think you couldn’t possibly go as far as St Ives for the weekend do think again. It’s easy, utterly pleasurable, and really not that expensive.
Wandering around St Ives at 8.15 in the morning like hobos with our suitcases and backpacks, Danny and I were taking photos, running around on the beach, and chatting to anyone that would listen.
I can’t possibly articulate how exciting it was to pick up our keys from the estate agent on Saturday morning, followed by the swift descent into panic (mainly mine) at the realisation of the mammoth task ahead of us.
Measurements and decisions, struggles with the boiler and radiators, freezing fingers trying to write notes and finally a well-earned siesta just about summed up Saturday. Despite all that however, when we awoke to blue skies, a breathtaking view, and a slightly warmer house it was enough to kick start us into doing the whole thing again on Sunday (without the siesta).
There is a lot to do. I don’t think I’ve ever faced the opportunity to write so many lists (or eat so many Cornish Pasties), and that’s saying something. The irony is that this is the bit we have been looking forward to for ages, the ‘fun’ bit – the bit where we get to take this shell of a property and turn it into something truly unique and very special; and I definitely need to spend some time re-discovering that.
As an aside, you might think that picking up the keys to Little Leaf was a reality check, but coming back to London on the (not so elegant) Sunday afternoon train there’s an element of it not being real, even though (and I don’t say this lightly) I have only 4 weeks left in London.