Getting grounded

0715/12th January 2022

In contrast to January 12th, this morning dawned flat grey, like a prison wall.

As it turns out, prison walls are now PINK. At least some are.

It’s supposed to be soothing. If I had to live with either of these shades I would be permanently bilious.

Why didn’t I just say Battleship grey?

Apparently battleships are still grey.

It’s good to know that some things don’t change.

Ah God, now look where a can of paint led…

Given who I worked for and the aeroplane I was so in love with…how could I not have a picture?

No idea what colour it was supposed to be.

My travelling companion Tim noticed the paint as we strolled about the streets in some part of Sumatra.

Long ago.

That was before I developed an aversion to pink.

What put me off that colour was when my parents purchased a house in Florida which was the most pink thing I ever encountered. Even the ruddy oven was pink. Instant nausea.

My mother was fast with a paint brush and it was toned down but the oven door was eternally pink.

In a circuitous way, I suppose the mention of Sumatra does bring us to where I intended to go. Vaguely!

One day we drove back and forth across nearby train tracks…yes…to our surprise we discovered that a train does still come, occasionally to Cambridge. A sort of tourist train. At first when we heard the sound in the distance, we thought we were imagining it.

Train tracks disappearing into the distance and open roads have always held great appeal to me.

My mother was a great fan of trains, or perhaps she just preferred to travel by land. She did not like flying.

When I was banished back to boarding school in England, I often stayed overnight with relatives near Heathrow and I used to lie in bed listening to the sound of high speed trains rushing through the night.

Where were they going? Who was aboard and what were their stories?

Then I was sent to America which grounded me and I do not mean it made me mentally stable!

My wings were clipped. No more flying out to see my parents, no more “going home”.

Where was “home?”

There really was no such place for me.

Then as now, I studied the sky and I would watch contrails overhead, wishing I could be in one of those ‘planes, wherever they were headed.

Being grounded was no fun at all.

My first encounter with a train was terrifying as the great steam engine huffed into Paddington Station. What noise and drama!

But once aboard I decided this was a super way to spend time. I loved watching the world outside and when we got into the open country there were animals!

Whatever we passed was always interesting.

Returning from Seattle after 18 years, I was obliged to fly for many practical reasons. I was fortunate that the flight caught a strong tail wind, carrying us across the continent at record speed, landing a full hour early.

With frequent flyer miles, I had obtained first class seats, mostly for the benefit of the two cats we carried.

But it was clear before we got very far, that flying was something I would never do again.

Because of spinal and nerve issues, my body does not mold into an aircraft seat and while I tolerated being escorted through the airport in a wheelchair that one time, it is unlikely to happen again.

After I had been back East a few months, I took a train to New York City, to visit Tim who lives in Brooklyn.

Surely a brief train trip would be manageable?

The station noise and crowds were overwhelming and negotiating my way to a taxi rank was so hard.

There is no purpose in bemoaning one’s fate.

Apart from anything else, I really do like being where I am, with my cats. And I am fortunate to have a companion who is younger and able-bodied and willing to ensure I can stay where I am.

Though I sometimes feel great nostalgia for my travelling days, I am content to remember so many experiences that I know I was fortunate to have.

7 thoughts on “Getting grounded

  1. But while grounded, you take the most beautiful pictures of the sky! Now, let’s get back to THAT photo … is that you with the can of paint in hand? Precious memories!
    I wish we had more (reliable) trains in South Africa … the couple of times I were on a train, was so much fun!

      1. You were a very pretty young lady Carolyn 😉. The sight of that rhino must have been something special … I think the Blue train are probably the only reliable train in South Africa at the moment.

  2. I have had some memorable train trips. From London to the south of France aged 12 stands out. Excited to be sleeping in a ‘couchette’. Then much older, (36) travelling between countries in Soviet Central Asia, buying tea by sign-language from a man sitting by a samovar, and sharing a 4-berth sleeping compartment with complete strangers.
    Such a contrast to communting to school from Kent into south London on two trains each way for three years.
    Best wishes, Pete.

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