Mellow Mummy: Pushchair + Public Transport = Agony : Taking life as it comes...

Friday 23 April 2010

Pushchair + Public Transport = Agony

I ache. My arms feel like I did a mammoth session at the gym. My lungs feel (in my sister's words) as if they have been cleaned out by a Brillo pad. I have bruises all over my legs and a particularly impressive shiner on my left knee. My injuries were sustained yesterday when I decided to be brave and take Lara into central London.

Lara and I joined a group of mummies and daddies for a picnic, smack in the middle of the city. Having been a commuter for two stints during my career so far, I can ordinarily 'do' central London with my eyes closed but this was the first time that I had been into the city with a baby in tow. I was nervous (and even considered not going) but I bit the bullet.

My troubles started before we had even started our journey. We had a swimming lesson first thing in the morning so with a bit of fore-thought, I had already bought my train ticket and car park pass to save time. The changing room at the swimming pool is tiny, wet and stressful on a normal day, not to mention when you're in a rush. We changed in record time (partly due to the fact I left barefoot and with my hair all over the shop) and left the pool with 13 minutes to catch a train from a station 2 minutes drive away. Plenty of time.

I got to the car only to discover I had lost my keys. I plonked Lara on the ground and ran back to rummage around on the floor of the wet changing room. Then, after about a 2-million-point manoeuvre to get out of the tiny driveway where I was parked-in by a herd of 4x4s, I drove at break-neck speed to the station. Arrrgh, the car park is on the other side of the level crossing and, naturally, I got caught at the crossing and had to wait for a train going the other direction. After the barriers lifted, I had 4 minutes before the train was due. I found a space in the car park about half a mile away from the station, strapped Lara into the buggy, put a bag over each shoulder and sprinted for the station – I could hear the train approaching.

I reached the station as the train pulled in. I grabbed the buggy in both hands and then hauled it up the stairs and over the bridge to the other side. A very lovely man ran up to help me but as we descended the bridge on the other side, the doors to the train closed. In a frenzy, I ran down the platform towards the guard, screaming at him to open the doors. He did! Phew, we had made it!

The journey was fine. Lara loved it but it took most of the journey for my heart rate to recover... Just in time for the arrival at Waterloo. We left the station via a little-used exit which involves an escalator and a small number of stairs.

Next, Lara got to experience her first bus. Buses in London are pretty easy with a buggy as most of them have lowered doors and a space to park the pushchair. Our bus was packed. We ended up standing in the corridor with grumpy people pushing past every few seconds. The buggy was all over the shop and kept bashing into my knees (hence the bruise). When we got to our destination it was a relief to get out and walk.

I shall skip over the next few hours. They were mellow, sunny, fun and relaxing. Good Stuff.

When Lara and I left, she hadn't had a real nap so I decided to walk back to Waterloo. The half-hour stroll in the beating sunshine through the back streets of London was wonderful. It brought back lots of memories of my working days and achieved the goal of getting Lara off to sleep.

As I strolled back over Waterloo bridge I started thinking about how to get back into the station. I know a million different ways into the station and could only think of ONE entrance to the station from the bridge that didn't involve stairs, escalators or both... and that one entrance would have involved walking three sides of a square along the taxi route. I'm pretty sure there must be a wheel-chair friendly or buggy-friendly way in but I couldn't think of it so I decided to use the same, little-used route that I had come out of seeing as it just involved a small number of stairs and an escalator. I carried the buggy down the stairs without waking Lara. We walked under the subway and then I swore, very loudly. The fricking 'up' escalator was out of order! By this point I was so close, I was sweating like a... who knows what... and I just wanted the journey to be over. I grabbed the buggy and took on the escalator by foot. It felt like the longest escalator ever known to man. About 1/3 of the way up, the lactic acid in my arms and legs started to kick in – I looked up and saw there was a long way to go. I had to push myself to get up those stairs. I was driven only by the fact that with each step, the light got brighter and I knew I was closer to the concourse. I almost collapsed when we reached the top.

The adrenaline pushed me to the train, I flolloped (yes, this is the exact word for what I did!) into a seat and Lara looked up at me and gave me a sleepy grin! It was all worth it.

I am entering this blog post into the Tots100 Blog Hop - Baby's First Day Out.
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