So today is the day of days, as I’m finally on the move towards Tokyo. I am doing my best to adjust my mental state to being on the move, living in the moment and trying to stop worrying about things that I simply can’t control. It normally takes me a couple of days to get properly into this state as the problems of everyday home and work life recede in the distance behind me. So by the time I reach Warsaw (later this week) I hope to have my train mojo sorted out. I read a great blog from Robert Twigger recently. He feels travel brushes the rough stuff off your personality and improves you as a person, and I’m inclined to agree with him.
So just to update you on my progress. I took the East Coast train from Edinburgh down to Newcastle in the morning. A very smooth 90 minute journey. I travelled on the Aberdeen to Kings Cross train (seat 55, coach M for the log book), and there was a fine vista of sea views with a low winter sun peering over the hills behind me once we reached the Borders. Mrs Richards from “Fawtly Towers” would undoubtedly have been impressed, as any train closer to the sea would actually be in the sea.. “Toad in the Hole” was on the 1st Class menu, but I abstained as I was meeting an old friend for lunch in Newcastle.
I headed out to North Shields in the afternoon to catch the overnight DFDS ferry “M.V. King Seaways” to Imjuden. (Just in case you are a ship anorak, it used to be known as “M.V. The King of Scandinavia”). The ship is full of detailed models of the boat and I’m reminded of that scene in “The Spy Who Loved Me” where James Bond (Roger Moore, sans safari suit) suspiciously eyes up Herr Stromberg’s model of his latest supertanker (the one that swallows nuclear submarines). What a film – perhaps my personal favourite, as it is my favourite Bond and favourite Bond car. Don’t get me started, but if you were a small boy in 1977, seeing Q drive the Lotus Esprit off the ferry in Sardinia was pant wettingly exciting.
The boat is pretty comfy and has a mixed bunch of passengers, but on this trip mainly Dutch Christmas shoppers with bags of presents from various slightly dull British high street stores. I wonder how they market Newcastle as a glamourous mini cruise destination in Amsterdam?! Dutch men like a good smoke, and the decks have a gentle fog of rough shag and cheap cigars. No sign of the “Geordie Shore” community today, so they are either asleep in their cabins (unlikely) or out partying in Newcastle. I bet the DFDS marketing analysts have a proper segmentation of who travels when, but of course it’s a secret to you and I. I mention this as this time last year I recall someone actually managed to set fire to one of the cabins in an alcohol fuelled misadventure.
If you are wondering about “The Columbus Club”, sadly it’s not a secret explorers society but the ship’s main nightclub on deck 9. It’s well run and offers the possibility of a freshly made strawberry daiquiri or a half litre of foamy Heineken. I’m really only here to people watch, as this boat has a club within a club – a “deluxe” Commodore Club class with suites and a private lounge. I’m treating myself for not much cash and mindful that my next boat will be Korean, and I’m sharing a dorm room with seven other passengers in third class. I’m getting a bit mean in my old age and the £800 for a very simple private cabin with a mat on the floor felt totally wrong. More of the consequences of this decision to come in a few weeks time!
Finally, just in case I forget, just a note to thank you very much for reading my blog, and especially those who have managed to motivate and inspire me to crack on with this new route. Please do feel free to share it with anyone you think might like it..
(Apologies for some slightly rough formatting here – I’m trying to sort a few things out)