There are six of us sitting in the draughty waiting room at Fareham station. We all look somewhat miserable.
I am the least miserable because I am bound for the delights
of a Center Parc weekend with my (Not So Very Little) Welsh Boys and their parents so a three-quarters of an hour wait, while not ideal, is just One Step Along The Exciting Way.
I surreptitiously glance around
at my companions. Three are engaged in communicating with their mobile phones, two are eating (one a sandwich, the other is forking up some kind of healthy salad from a little plastic container). I think about my egg and water cress sandwich and buttered bun
wrapped in kitchen foil residing at the bottom of my colourful rucksack. Is it too early for lunch?
Of course it is, I chide myself. Do I not have it all planned? I will wait till I board the train to Warminster,
buy myself a coffee from trolley service, then enjoy my lunch. It will be a welcome interlude on a long journey. I will be, oh so glad, when I finally get to eat my lunch that I resisted temptation.
looking types in yellow high viz jackets arrive, clip boards clutched to their chests. They take a long time sizing up the waiting room which is impressive when you think how little there is to see - just four grubby walls and two racks of those horrid metal
seats so beloved of whoever designs station waiting rooms. He must have sourced a job lot on E-bay. Okay, you are protesting that he might have been a she but, honestly, I don't think so. No woman would have designed a waiting area so completely devoid of
I used to think that Cosham was the worst station in the world to wait for a connection. That was before I discovered the warm and welcoming Whistle Stop Cafe just outside the station, where
you could buy a reasonably priced cup of coffee and a delicious bun which you could relish at a cheery table reading one of the daily newspapers thoughtfully provided. Now, in the waiting room at Fareham, I think of Cosham with real longing.
The loos seem to be permanently out of order at Fareham. The cafe on platform 3 is not called a Cafe Express for nothing - there are no colourful tables with comfy seats inside where I can sit and read my book in contentment.
However on the bright side - yes, everything has a bright side, you just need to know where and how to look for it - there is a passenger lift. This means I don't have to struggle over the stairs of the footbridge to Platform 1 with my case and rucksack without
spilling the coffee I have just purchased, expressly, from Cafe Express on Platform 3. I do hope you are keeping up, stations can be such bewildering places, don't you think?
The lift, as always, is way at
one end of the platform. This is always the case I have found to my cost when travelling with Mr B whose need for a lift is far more pressing than mine. Mr B, however, is Home Alone for the weekend, albeit with a fridge stacked with all his favourite foods
and cricket on TV. He will be very pleased he is not sitting alongside me in this depressing waiting room.
I wonder if I should make a few helpful suggestions to the men with the clipboards. It wouldn't take
much, I reckon, to transform this space into the kind of cosy haven where Trevor Howard and Celia Whatsername had their Brief Encounter. I kid you not, had they met by chance in the Fareham waiting room Romance Would Not Have Blossomed.
Finally the 11.47 to Cardiff Central pulls in, bang on time. I bid a Not So Very Fond Farewell to Fareham and clamber aboard in search of seat B49. Mr B will be so pleased when I tell him that nobody had tried to nab my seat.
The weather outside, as my train flashes by, is still frightful. But I know that as soon as I arrive and meet up with my family, it will be Sunshine All The Way.