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A Journey from Hell

Nancy Bright-Thompson's trip to Brighton with Aunt Maud is anything but pleasurable

I had planned well in advance to take my aunt Maud for a trip to the South Coast . Although not in a wheelchair , mobility is an issue for her. She went to Roedean and always enjoys a visit to her alma mater. It turned out to be the journey from hell. Victoria Station is a building site and our driver was unable to drop us off at the entrance nearest to the Brighton trains. You might have thought the red route restrictions would have been relaxed but no we ended up dropped off near the passport office.This meant I had to negotiate 2 suitcases and Aunt Maud on a 5 minute walk and then the station concourse.

The Brighton trans are on the right of the platforms and we fought against a horde of people coming off the trains. We had a problem at the barrier as you get so many tickets marked this is not a ticket that it took some time to find the right one. When we did the platform did not have any sign so were unsure whether this was platform 15 so we decided to exit and see again. No one was able to help us but after leaving we returned to find it was.

The train was so crowded that we could not find a seat. Fortunately a Chinese fellow had more respect for the aged than most Brits gave up his seat for Aunt Maud. I do not exaggerate when I say that he train was as crowded as a tube in the rush hour though the journey was of course much longer and our next worry was where to place our cases which did not fit in the racks. At Haywards Heath we were forced to alight and take a bus to Brighton . Just before we joined the M23 I saw rather a pathetic group roadside by a bus. Apparently this had broken down and they were to be transferred to our bus. Our driver could not have been more disagreeable shouting at a young French woman that she could not stand upstairs. Eventually the other bus driver implored him to take as many as possible as he could not drive his bus. It did not occur to. the driver that it was not the passengers fault that the train did not go direct to its destination and the replacement bus has broken down, I do not think most people would accept his so good humouredly.

Our problems had not even ended then as the bus stopped finally some distance from the station at the rear. This meant we had to walk to the station and through it to get a taxi. I had booked a flat in the Brighton Marina as its close to Roedean. In our apartment neither The radiators nor the tv worked and as the letting office had closed there was nothing we could do. Fortunately the one thing that neither Southern Railways nor the lettting office could affect namely the weather rescued us it was a brilliantly warm day. Aunt Maud and  enjoyed an invigorating stroll and cup of tea  on the coastal walk form Brighton marina to Rottingdean just under her school.

My husband Phil and I know in our  equestrian world a dynamic young woman who has  just started a property management service . By the sound of it she’s going to be a busy girl

We had lunch overlooking the Marina which was lovely in the sun, The waiter was extremely helpful. Pavel is a Slovak . I honestly but naively thought that after the Olympics the British attitude to service had changed. It has not . Maybe even its worse. As with the South African World Cup and the fear of crime, a  sporting authority and volunteers give a totally misguided impression of a country as efficient courteous  and crime free for a short period then traditional problems resume.

I am not one to big up travel writing . I know many of my colleagues are ” on the tap” for free tickets and a generous review can mean a free subsequent stay . However I do feel I am doing some good by exposing inefficiencies and poor service and just possibly the relevant people might even investigate and improve their poor standards.

About Nancy Bright-Thompson

A widely-respected travel editor, Nancy is a past president of the Guild of Travel Writers (GTW). She and her husband Phil now run a horse sanctuary in East Sussex. More Posts