Our ferry ride ended at 12:30 am without further incident, except that we waited too long to disembark and so the room that they had given us was locked when we went up to get our stuff. I found someone to unlock it, but was so rushed by then that I didn't take a picture of it like I wanted nor did I search it for any lost items, hopefully we didn't make any donations to the ferry corporation.
We took a long walk and short bus ride to the train station, and here's where the worst part (so far and hopefully overall) of our trip began. The earliest train we could get out of Holyhead (which is in Wales, by the way, so cross that off our list, right?) was at 4:30 am. So we were in the bus station for four hours. If you ever visit Holyhead, I recommend that you don't spend much time in the train station, because it is a terrible place to spend 15 minutes, let alone 4 hours. Okay, it wasn't that bad, but in terms of nice places to stay with your kids for four hours in the dead of night, it is not high on the list. The one redeeming factor was that the internet there was free and of high quality, so we got to check our internets and Cait even called her sister in Washington on Google Voice for free. Our kids were exhausted but wouldn't go to sleep because it was so bright and yet so cold in the terminal, even using our best "get the kids to sleep" tricks, which is a combination of nursing and walking around for Lulah and playing iPad until you drop for Atticus. Neither worked.
In an attempt to get Lulah to sleep, I walked outside of the bus station into the cooler night for a stroll. We saw a footbridge over the nearby river, so we walked over that. On the other side I asked my way to a restaurant, where their main offerings were fish and chips, hamburgers and chips and fried chicken and chips. I got some of latter two with some pounds that some nice people gave me when all I could find was Euros and Dollars. Some people are really kind. I walked around some more with the food looking for a gas station that was rumored to be nearby with snacks, but was unsuccessful. I returned with the food, but it was not greeted with excitement, because we were sick of cheap UK food after a total of two days. I write about that in a little detail because I feel like walking those very foreign and strange streets (they were narrow cobblestone roads winding up a big hill) after getting stir crazy for hours in a hostile bus station, and coming on a little restaurant only to not be able to buy food because I had the wrong sort of money, and get bailed out by the kindness of strangers, it was all a very surreal experience that I think will stick out to me on this trip. It's really what traveling is all about, if it has any purpose (of which I am not convinced): to push you out of your comfort zone, out of the familiar into a new place and new situations to force yourself to stretch. Alas, I didn't take my phone with me to get pictures, Anyway, moving on.
By the time I returned, Atticus was going crazy, iPad or no and Lulah demanded to be carried around constantly. So we settled in for another hour or so and tried to keep our kids from waking up any of the other 20 or so passengers in the same situation as us.
The train did eventually come, we settled in and eventually, everybody got some sleep, even though there was really nowhere comfortable for kids to sleep, except the floor and nowhere comfortable for adults to sleep, period. I still don't understand why places designed to be sat in for long times by tired people can't be made more comfortable to sleep in, such as the non-driver seats of cars and train and plane seats. Just put a head rest in the right place against a wall or bulkhead that cradles the head and you'd be golden. Oh well.
|That is Atticus there on the floor|
We did miss our intended destination because we reacted too slowly to the announcement of arrival and didn't gather all our stuff rapidly enough. Very fortunately, the next stop was nearby in Manchester, and even though we missed the train we would have taken at the original station by only seconds, another train that would get us to London and then on to Cambridge left with us aboard a little bit later. We all slept some more on this train until London, where we walked over to King's Cross to catch our last train to Cambridge. Overall, it was a six and a half hour train ride and we made it at last to Cambridge.
In Cambridge we were met by our friend Jessica. I had never met Jessica and Cait had only met her for a minute at a CSA collection point. While she is the sister-in-law of our dear friend Charla, our real initial acquaintance came through our mutual participation in liberal Mormon and feminist Mormon internet groups. Jessica is a ubiquitous voice in all sorts of forums and, through our shared connection with Charla, and mutual interests, both Cait and I started chatting with her fairly frequently. The chance to stay with her in Cambridge, where she lives while she studies theology at Cambridge and shares the parenting responsibility for four lovely girls along with her computer programming husband, Tom, was one of the main pushes for us choosing to do the Europe trip before going to Morocco.
She drove us through the consistently crazy streets of old town Cambridge which are consistently crazy like the streets of old town wherever. We were so relieved when we walked into her home in the suburb of Cherry Hinton, a real, lived in, comfortable for everyone home. We'd only been traveling a few days, but they were difficult days and we were ready for a break. For the next few hours we met everyone, had a lunch full of veggies and good bread (things we were already desperate for) went to the park, ate yummy lasagna for dinner and played around with all their cool toys until we all fell asleep fairly early, still exhausted from the day before.
In summary: Terrible train station in Wales, long train ride to Cambridge, arrival at our Cherry Hinton Oasis.