arrived in Basel to find there were no trains
through France because of a general strike.
It appeared that trouble had been brewing
for some time but I only heard about it after
I arrived in Switzerland. The student protests
in Paris were a long way away but Winchester
was even further away.
caught an overnight train to Cologne. The
view as we ran alongside the Rhine as the
sun came up was amazing. Arriving in Cologne
at about five thirty I wanted something to
eat and drink. There was a kiosk on the platform
containing a cheese roll and the largest lady
I had ever seen. There did not seem room for
anything else. I bought the roll and a cup
of coffee. The next train took me through
Aachen, Liège and Brussels to Oostende.
that afternoon was a scene of absolute chaos.
The area between the railway platforms and
the ferry departure point was packed with
people stranded by the lack of ferries from
French ports. After a couple of hours I finally
found myself on the deck of a ferry. I tried
to get to the cafeteria but it was impossible.
Finding somewhere to sit was no easier. An
argument broke out at one point between some
British passengers and some French people.
Dover trains were running one after another
to London but the one I caught had no buffet
car. Rushing from Victoria to Waterloo, I
arrived just in time to catch the next train
to Winchester. No buffet there either. That
should have been the end of my problems but
I had reckoned without my parents.
got home after nine that night, tired and
hungry, to be told I was too late to get anything
to eat! My mother even complained that I had
not phoned to say where I was. With no money?
If I had reversed the charges on a local call
I would never have heard the last of it. From
Belgium? As if she was really worried about