So I'm setting off for Southampton on the train on my own. It involves 4 changes (altogether) and 8 tickets. You can understand my trepidation.
Swansea to Cardiff there are 8 of us in the quiet carriage. I am lulled into a sense of security.
At Cardiff I have to change on to a crowded train but that's okay because I have reserved a seat. I, along with lots of others, embark, and I wander down the compartment, which already looks full. Very full, as it turns out. Including, I realise, my reserved seat. I panic and walk out of the carriage to stand in the in-between bit.
I check my ticket. Yes, that is definitely my seat number and, yes, there is definitely someone sitting in it. But what it doesn't have is a little Reserved ticket sticking out of the top as they usually do. I dither. I am in the right I tell myself. I'll just go and explain and ask the bald gentleman in the pin striped suit to move. Yes, that's what I'll do. I peek into the carriage again. Minutes have gone by now and I think, people will think I'm an idiot for not doing it straightaway.
Oh dear, what to do? I tell myself I am woman; I am strong. I peek in again. I can't see the man's face but from the back of the head he has a Phil Mitchell look. I peer down the carriage hoping a railway official will make an appearance but if he does and I use him to get my seat then will it look as if I've been unnecessarily heavy-handed when I could have just asked?
There is a young man sitting on the pull-down seat just inside the train door. I alternate between thinking he should be polite and offer me his seat and being grateful that he doesn't think I look old and decrepit enough to warrant it.
I give myself a good talking-to. I have a long journey; I need a seat. It's mine by right! But, apparently, there's been a problem and the train is only 3 coaches long when it should be much longer. So do reservations count in that instance? What if he challenges my right? What if he makes a fuss? And probably there'll be people getting off at Bristol and I'll have a seat then. But what if I don't? I have a three and half hour journey ahead.
More people get on at Newport. I end up standing in a corner, over-shadowed by and, staring at the backs of three men in black anoraks. All the way to Bristol via loads of stop I've never even heard of.
The rest of the journey is uneventful ...
Until I get to Southampton Parkway station where I am to be picked up. I think. Details weren't exactly finalised so I'm not sure if I am being collected and if I am by whom. I get off the train and follow the first Way Out sign I see. After crossing the bridge I reach the car park where I am a little concerned to see nobody.
I hover for a while before noticing that on the other side of the track is a more substantial looking train stationy type building. I cross back over and spot a woman just making a phone call. Could this be the person I am meeting?
And the rest of the training day really was uneventful but excellent. And well worth standing to Bristol.