Moaning about public transport is pretty much a hobby in England. The week would not be complete without a whinge about trains — especially delayed trains that make us late for work on a grey and gloomy Monday morning.
I’ll admit it, I’m the first to lament being late due to signaling problems, or that I missed that important meeting thanks to points failure (what now?!). Having commuted for four hours a day (two hours each way) for the past year, I’ve even got a favourite subject line for emails when a tardy train disrupts my morning flow: Train Pains.
While I’ve bitched to South Western Trains on Twitter when I thought I may be stranded in London or rolled my eyes when the guard said we’re running behind schedule, it’s important to remember the magic of train travel.
I absolutely love it when I see a family setting up camp at a table, unloading an impressive spread of M&S sandwiches and regaling tales from the day. Once upon a time, travelling by train was a luxury. It was an exciting adventure. An event.
I’ve started to learn to make peace with a late running train. When you consider the train journey as valuable time, not dead time lost to a tin on a track, then everything changes.
Instead of working myself up into frenzy about what my colleagues will think when I stroll in as they sip their third cup of tea of the morning, I'm coming to accept a late-running train and raise it productive work emails, a second-serving of the new podcast I discovered or a bonus 40 pages of my book. When else do you have an hour of undisturbed reading time? Perhaps you’re in need of some quiet or a nap? No problem. The gentle whirr and movement is the perfect lullaby.
The other thing I love about trains is watching beautiful countryside sail past. There’s nothing more magical than watching the early morning mist rise above lakes or cows grazing in the fields. In the same way a holiday allows us to view our lives at home in a new way, experiencing the vastness of our landscape and watching lives from afar instills a similar sense of perspective.
And how can I forget about the seasons? From crisp winter mornings on astroturf pitches to dewy Spring sunrises, they guarantee no journey is ever the same. You might do the same journey every day, but every day you will notice something you’ve never seen before.
Next time you commute, consider it an occasion. A chance to take yourself out for the day, to learn or see something new. To watch the world from afar and experience your country from a unique and, let's face it, rather beautiful place.