Sweet Lullaby of The Caledonian Sleeper
By Ed Rex
Stepping into the cold dark night of London Euston Station, I squinted through the steam that enveloped round the platform. A distinct mechanical hiss startled me and a figure came towards me huddling its clipboard to her. She lifted her ScotRail cap and peeking her brown eyes at me, she uttered the words that was to give me a journey I’ve always wanted to go on.
‘Caledonian Sleeper Sir?’
I nodded my head and she whisked me through the mist and glinting in all of its glory, was the train designed to glide sleeping bodies through the backbone of Great Britain into the heart of Scotland itself.
‘Have a good journey Sir.’
I climbed aboard and smiled, this is always what I wanted to do. I admit I’m a train addict but I’ve yet to have gone on a sleeper train. There were the visions of the olden days where people would wave goodbye to their loved ones and have ‘brief encounters’ albeit not of the third kind. Sadly, times have moved on and there wasn’t waving me off. But this IS still the Caledonian Sleeper and I grinned ear to ear as I was shown to my berth by the carriage attendant.
The attendant in his dashing uniform explained the rules and told me what would be on offer, and would I want Breakfast? Yes siree! As he went to see the other passengers, I gazed round. Sure I had my own bed, snug enough to keep me rocking to the sway of the moving train, my personal light for reading, my intercom button to call the attendant, my very own washbasin and many more.
All of a sudden, the lights outside my window started drifting, this meant we are on the move and I didn’t feel a thing. I rushed out of my berth to the carriage door, pulled the window down and hung my head out as we picked up speed straight out of smokey London. As exhilarated I was, travelling at midnight on a mysterious train thrilled me. Little did the rest of Britain know such a service was possible and this was going to be my well kept secret.
Changing into my robe, I wandered through to the Lounge car to find other people sat also in their robes reading papers, magazines and books. I smiled shyly at them and they shyly smiled back. With my cup of hot chocolate that I ordered, I watched the dark countryside go by and immediately got into conversation with a Scottish man from Fife. Truly an experience as I hardly understood his accent! But in the end, we chatted about Edinburgh, my destination, and he gave me a good few tips and possibly a few Scottish intonations.
Soon, people drifted off and feeling my eyes closing, I wrapped myself in my blankets and switched off the lights. The only light coming in was the waning moon still light enough to illuminate the moorlands of England. As the train rumbled and tumbled, my eyes fell immediately shut and I was at peace with the world.
With a wake up call of the train horn distantly blaring, waking me up as dawn arrived, I rubbed my eyes and felt refreshed ready to take on Scotland. A short rap on the door turned out to be the same attendant still immaculately dressed in his uniform ready to serve breakfast of croissanty goodness.
Standard at my berth door, sipping my cup of tea, I silently watched at the different variety of people stumbled out of their berths clutching onto their luggage, family as they squeezed past each other in the narrow corridor. I said good morning. It truly was. Just as it suddenly started, the hustle and bustle was all over. Now it was my turn to leave. I heaved my backpack onto my shoulders and gave my berth a glance, this truly was a sweet lullaby of a journey.
Stepping off The Caledonian Sleeper, staring up at Edinburgh, I immediately felt I have actually achieved and matured as a person. Sure enough, it was just a sleep on a train but you know what? I actually rode on The Caledonian Sleeper. Tell me many people do that.
About the Author
Ed Rex is an environmental expert Englishmen who has degrees in both environmental science andconsultancy. He is about to set off on an 8 month globetrotting journey hoping to become a travel writer along the way. We’re going to try to help him get there. You can also check out his personal website at http://www.rexyedventures.com