Tuesday 28 November 2017

Chelsea Girl

A second trip to family in London in a few weeks, this time to bring granddaughter home with us, meant booking another train trip. With only a few weeks' notice, the scope for affordable First Class tickets between Peterborough and London was limited and we had almost an hour in Peterborough for our our connection, but we needed a trip to John Lewis anyway, so we planned that into the trip during our train change there.

We only had a short time in London before meeting our young charge from nursery and we spent it taking a bus to Sloane Square, having lunch in the top-floor restaurant at Peter Jones (also a John Lewis branch, of course, but we no longer needed to visit the shop itself!). We then had a stroll along Kings Road before making our way to the Underground to get near enough for the walk to the nursery. Off to Kings Cross we made ourselves at home in the First Class Lounge before boarding the train back to Peterborough and the connection home to Stamford.

Not much to write about really, but I want to make two points in addition to the fact that London is really not far away from anyone on or near a fast railway line: one is that there is always something to do or to see in London. Just visiting Chelsea is a pleasant way to spend a day, so rather than just nipping down, collecting child and nipping home we spent some time simply being there. The other is that, like our last trip a few weeks earlier we had a full catering crew on the trains in both directions and received the full advertised catering offering for our First Class fares, and the drinks and snacks supplies in the Lounge were also fully stocked. This really ought not to be news, but the catering situation on Virgin Trains East Coast has been so dire lately that getting the advertised food and drink has been a lottery, and now the odds seem to be rather more favourable at last. I'd still prefer my sandwiches on a plate - I do not think you can ever call a cardboard box "first class" even with a celebrity chef signature on it - and I'd like more variation in the sandwiches offered, but it is great to round off the day with wine or gin and tonic.

One tip for grandparents and other carers of toddlers: retaining surplus napkins for a future trip with a child does pay dividends when they knock over their fruit juice on the table! It is much easier to care for a small child in First Class, too, where there is more space both for them and for other passengers.  Travelling before the evening peak meant that we had a choice of table seats and could avid crowding other passengers.

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