Day 12 – Back home, and already thinking about the next leg

Lille – London St Pancras – London Euston – Stafford – Stone

I was up early this morning, checking train times in the UK to know what the chances were of making it home, given the reduced service levels. It looked like Stafford was a safe bet, from where I could get a bus back to the boat.

I’ve not departed from Lille Europe before. It was less than a 10 minute walk from my city centre hotel, which was ideal, as was the quick customs and security process. I’ll certainly use this route again where I can.

I felt sad to see all the security fencing inside the station building. I’m guessing that I as a UK taxpayer I probably paid for it in some small way. After travelling through six counties without even noticing the border beyond a pinged message from EE, I was reminded how isolated our island is, and of course now more than ever.

Inside Lille Europe station

The Eurostar departed on time, and arrived in London a touch after 10am. I knew that there were trains running out of Euston at 10:20 and 10:40 so got a move on down the Euston Road in the rain. I arrived at 10:18, but the departure boards didn’t even show which platform the 10:20 was going from so I had to wait for the later service.

It was surprisingly quiet on the train, which was bound for Liverpool. I was expecting it to be really busy with so few services running, but evidently people have heeded the advice not to travel unless they needed to. Most of the people around me were speaking French, so I guess they had got off the same Eurostar that I had.

In Stafford, I swapped to the 101 bus service for the final few miles back to Stone. There are no trains at all on that route today, but the buses run every half hour. It’s a route I know well as it is part of one of my regular boat/car shuffling moves.


The stove has been lit on the boat and as I sit here typing, everything seems to have survived intact. Most importantly, the pipes didn’t burst in the cold weather and if anything else has gone wrong I’ve not spotted it yet. Oh, and it’s raining, indeed it was raining as I emerged from the tunnel into Kent and intermittently all the way home.

Bream on her Aston Marina mooring


It feels like I need to debrief a little. I’ve hauled more stuff around with me for these 12 days away than I have ever carried before. Indeed it may well be the longest time I’ve ever been away from home (until next weekend when part 2 of this adventure is a 15 day trip.)

I think the only thing I didn’t take was the correct plug adapter for Belgium and France. The one I took, which works in the rest of Europe didn’t work there as they have an additional earth pin. However, the cable I bought in Antwerp saved the day, and will come with me on the next trip. In a similar vein I may take a booster pack for my phone battery. The iPhone has rarely been out of my hand (I’ve taken over 1800 photos) so juggling battery life has been a constant challenge.

The things I took that I didn’t use were a mouse for the laptop, the pen for the iPad, my earphones, a spare pair of jeans, a t-shirt, raincoat and my first aid kit. That’s not bad at all for a first run out. The newly acquired baggage worked brilliantly and is highly recommended. Thanks to Nick and Caro for steering me on what to buy.

My travel bags

Planning the next one

I really missed my MacBook. I’d taken away a work laptop, plus an iPad, which I’d been using for the diary and general email/browsing. In retrospect I think taking just my MacBook instead of both of those would have worked better, but only if my work laptop had been left somewhere that I could remotely access it if needed, maybe at Mum’s. I did less work on the move than I’d hoped to as phone connections on many trains were pretty rubbish. Broadly speaking, tethering to my phone was better than any of on-train wi-fi barring ÖBB in Austria.

It might also have given me a bit more free time. I find doing things on the iPad so much slower, which is why I’ve got so far behind on this diary at times. It’s also why I never managed to add maps to these posts. I never found a really good way to do that on the equipment I had with me, but I will revisit that over the next day or two.

I’ve just read that the weather in Finland is not great at the moment. I do need to keep an eye on that. My next trip starts a week tomorrow and while nothing at all is booked, I am aiming to go as far north as it is possible to go by train (the terminus is Narvik in Norway, though the actual most northerly point is a little way before that.) I’ve always known that the weather may play a part in that trip, and there is a contingency plan. Whatever happens, it will start a week tomorrow…

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  1. Celia Lyon

    It’s been brilliant following your trip, Steve. Lots to add to my bucket list.
    I’ll catch up with Caro and Nick on the baggage discussion as I need to get something for myself.
    Norway is a must do for me – the Oslo to Bergen railway and the Flam line. And definitely want to go up north, Trondheim, Bode, Tromso. Look forward to seeing how far you get!

    • Thanks Celia. That part of the trip is looking a bit tenuous at the moment – Finnish railways are going on strike from tomorrow until further notice. Given that my route south is through Finland I’m looking at the feasibility of swapping over trips 2 and 3, so heading for the Iberian peninsula next week. That messes up a plan to go to a gig in Madrid at the end of the 3rd trip but nothing needs to be decided/committed to until a week today when I get onto the rain. I’ve got a sleeper booked from Stockholm to Narvik leaving a week on Tuesday but cancel it right up to the time of departure. Not ideal as we’re right at the end of the Northern Lights season, but on the other hand it will be warmer a few weeks later – it’s forecast -7C tomorrow night in Narvik!
      Baggage is Osprey and I love it already. This is what I bought:

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