A few weeks ago, I took the sleeper train to Cornwall for the first time in years. I remember all the uproar a few years back when it was feared that the service could be scrapped as part of the Great Western franchise renewal. The service was losing a lot of money but the campaign to save it combined with the fact that it was in the news so much ensured its survival. There is such a sense of adventure linked to overnight travel. I have travelled on overnight trains through Transylvania and the DMZ in Vietnam but I must admit that taking the sleeper to Cornwall was as exciting.
There is something romantic about train journeys and overnight trains especially. I always think about the Orient Express. And of course, Agatha Christie.
I left London Paddington on Friday evening. My cabin was perfect. Compact but with all essentials – hanger for coats and clothes, small sink, a complimentary bag of goodies (soap, toothbrush and toothpaste, shoe polish, refresher, sewing kit, etc.), towels, extra blanket… I took the upper berth, changed into my pyjamas and settled for the night. I must admit that I didn’t sleep that well. I was far too excited. There is something great about going to sleep in one town and waking up in another. It saves time. It’s convenient. I had ordered a continental breakfast and although the morning call was early, the cup of tea was much appreciated. I got off in St Austell and had to wait about 30 minutes for a bus to take me to Newquay. The fare was fairly cheap (£2.70) and it took about an hour. From Newquay, I had a get another bus to my destination.
Interestingly enough, I slept extremely well on the way back, nursed to sleep by the rhythm of the train and the tracks. And after a journey home to drop my bag and have a quick shower, I went off to work.
I could have taken a day train but I would have had to take extra time off work on the Friday and I wouldn’t have had as much free on the Monday. There is an airport in Newquay and flying would probably have saved me money and time but I’m not the world best flyer (hence 2009 is a non-flying year for me) and to be honest, by the time you get to Stansted and pay to get there as well…
I guess there are pros and cons to all options but there is something about the sleeper train and I do think that travelling is a much part of the experience as the holiday or break. Travelling is not just about your destination… Travelling starts when you leave your home.
I’m planning another trip to Cornwall in the spring… and for me, it will have to be the sleeper!