Adventures in Hampshire

Manchester/Bath UK Trip Journal Day 7

Southwest Train (? I think?), Stopped at Southampton Station, Hampshire, UK

(about to be moving)

So I had to hike my happy way across the roundabout again, but I managed to do it.  I arrived at the bus stop, thinking I was too early, and then realizing that I had misheard the bus driver.  It was 20 past and 10 til, not 10 past and 20 til.  Of course, the bus was late.  But I managed to wave him down as he came, and I took the 40 minute ride back to Winchester.

Winchester is gorgeous.  I’d love to be able to spend more time there one day, but I wanted to make sure I caught my trains, so I didn’t go back to the Cathedral or the Castle.  I did stop in the High Street to get another pasty (chicken and bacon this time) and met a lovely woman there named Elizabeth, who is studying choral vocal and drama.  She was the one who suggested I get the chicken and bacon as opposed to something else.

Why is everything in this country up a bloody hill?!  Do you have any idea how hard it is to eat while walking up a steep hill?  If you haven’t tried it, really, I suggest you never do so.  It was awful.  I actually had to stop to eat and finish my water so that I didn’t choke to death.

Of course, I got turned around.  I was coming back a different way than the way I had gone into town, so I ended up following the first woman I saw trailing a suitcase.  Surely, I thought, she was headed to the rail station.  If she wasn’t, she was going to be in for a rude surprise when I showed up on her doorstep!  But yes, she was headed to the rail station, so I followed her and got to my platform.

Except there was a train already there and I hollered, “Is that the Southampton Central?”  The train conductor said no, it was the next train, so I waited.  And then there was this weird announcement that only half the train was going one place and the other half the other, and so while I was boarding, I hollered to the same man, “Can I get this carriage to Southampton?”

I think he was very annoyed with me by this point.

He said yes, I jumped on the train, and then proceeded to ask the women sitting next to me.  “Can I take this train?”  Clearly, I was very concerned about this.  It was the right train, and the right carriage, and I arrived at Southampton, easy peasy.

Then, of course, I had to figure out which train to get to Bath Spa, and so I asked yet another kind conductor, who said “Platform 4, Cardiff Central.”  There were a lot of us waiting for this train, and I was rather worried I wouldn’t get a seat.  But here I am, seated at a table in the train, facing forward, even (huzzah!), and I’ve got a few hours of traveling before I reach Bath Spa.  What I need to do is decide what I want for dinner, and if I want to eat on the High Street behind my B&B, or if I want to go into Bath proper one last time.

I’m not sure.  Part of me is so ready to say good-bye to the UK.  Not that it wasn’t lovely, because it was.  It’s just that I’m tired.  I’m tired of running around, of getting lost, of walking up bloody hills (!!!) and down hills, of the emotional turmoil of not finding what I wanted in Bath, but of finding what I wanted in Knutsford, Quarry Bank Mill, and now, Chawton.  Both are emotionally difficult on me, especially because I have so much invested not only in my work, but in my project and in my personal love of these two writers.  This means something to me.  Not to Dr. Amy L. Montz, but to Amy, lover of stories, the girl who grew up wanting to go to England.  But then, it means something to Dr. Amy L. Montz, too, because it validates so much of my work.  It shows how what I do is important and right.  It helps me formulate a thesis about these two writers, about literary tourism, and about the literary pilgrimage, in particular.

This is the reflective part of the trip, obviously.  I have a very, very long day of travel tomorrow.  I leave Bath at OMGo’clock, otherwise known as 6:13 a.m., for the early train into London Paddington.  Then, another train, this one to Heathrow.  Then, a layover at Heathrow (I’m leaving early because I don’t want to risk missing my flight, regardless of the buffer I’m leaving myself.  If one train’s late, the whole thing breaks down).  Then, an eight hour flight to Chicago.  Then, a layover before my final flight home.  But all of that to say that I anticipate I will do a lot of sleeping on the train, and a lot of blogging.  I want to try to fit all my ideas together and really solidify my thesis, or theses, if I break these into two articles.

I don’t think I can express how tired I am, to the bone.  I miss my husband, I miss my girls, I miss my car.  Seriously, I really, truly miss my car.  I want to be able to drive again, not walk around so much.  Yes, yes, I know this much walking is good for me, and I’m pretty much a trooper when I travel abroad, but I want to be a bit lazy once more.

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