Writing that last post about Notting Hill Carnival brought back memories of 1979 when we were in the process of moving from a very rural part of the south of England to Scotland. My husband had gone on ahead to start working there, and after overseeing the loading of the removal van, I packed our two very small boys into my first, (yellow but I had mine before James Bond did), 2CV and set off into London to board the Motorail.
Nobody told me it was carnival weekend.
I wasn't used to driving anywhere other than our local country lanes, so I had very precise instructions on how to get to the station, but every time I tried to leave the motorway at the allotted place, the streets were cordoned off because of the carnival. I can't remember how I managed to find my way, but I do recall the panic that was rising with every detour I had to make. I was sure I would miss the train.
It was due to depart during the evening and travel overnight to Scotland, arriving very early in the morning. I settled the boys to sleep. We set off all right but after a few hundred yards stopped. I didn't pay much attention, assuming it was something to do with signals, but after an hour or more I realised that was unlikely.
We reversed back into the station, and there we stayed.
There were no announcements. Nobody came around to say what was happening. After a time I happened to be leaning out of the carriage window to see if I could see any sign of activity when a man cam by. He told me the carriages of cars had derailed just outside the station and they were having to wait for a special crane to arrive to put it back on track.
We were hours and hours late leaving. There were no phone boxes in sight and it was well before the days of mobile communications so I couldn't let my husband know what was going on.
The next morning found me craning out of the windows trying to see road signs as they passed, to try to work out where we were. It wasn't Scotland.
By this time my husband was frantic with worry and, finding the arrival station completely closed with no information available, had phoned everyone one in the family plus assorted friends to find out if they had heard from me. Had I missed the train and stayed with them? Had it been cancelled? Now they were all frantic too.
I'm sorry to say it, but by the time we were safely reunited, our nerves were all so frayed that we could hardly say a civil word to each other as we set about moving into the new house.
Amazingly, though I should be well aware of how much information can be found on the internet, someone has a site devoted to the motorail services, including an old timetable.