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Wandering the World

Stories and tips from around the world.

New Zealand Day 1

Leicester to London

As a photographer, snow is something that can be good for picturesque landscapes matted with pristine blankets of white. As a runner, snow can produce a challenge when it becomes compacted and results in slippery surfaces - even when it isn’t it can cause wet feet. It’s not the only downside though - when travelling in the UK it doesn’t take much snow for the railways to grind to a halt.

I’ve gotten into the habit of travelling down to London the day before a flight - only when flying from London of course. It makes it that little bit more relaxed, and a room for the night tends to be cheaper than parking at the airport too. With snow on the cards it was a concern that I might not make it there, or that might flight could get delayed or cancelled.

After a day of working from home, I made my way to the local train station, and one change later I was in first class, drinking tea on my way to London St. Pancras. The advantage of having gotten cheap first class tickets was that it included tea and biscuits, and was quieter for reading.

In London it felt colder, but this was brief as I was soon on the tube to Hounslow where the heating meant stripping down to my shirt. When I got there, I thought the bus stop I needed to use was pretty easy to find and a minute later had hopped onto the bus.

After only a couple of minutes the bus announced what the next stop was - it wasn’t what Google Maps told me it was. A quick check later and I found I’d gotten on the right number bus, but in the wrong direction. I got off at the next stop, crossed the road, and waited almost ten minutes for another.

When I reached the hotel the check-in process was slow, and as normal I spelt out my surname to ensure it wouldn’t cause confusion. When I paid I thought it odd that it sounded more than I remember it being when I booked. I figured I’d check this later.

Once in the room I dropped off my bags and checked my booking and found they’d overcharged me by almost £30. I was tempted to just live with it and get to sleep, but instead I decided to get it sorted. I headed down to reception and explained I’d been overcharged, after checking my details the receptionist spoke with someone else and three hotel employees disappeared off into the back room for the next few minutes.

When they returned it transpired that there was a Dave Poole with a booking for the same hotel, that same evening. Even though I’d spelt my name out to them, they’d given me the wrong room. In order to sort it they had to check me out, refund me, and then check me back in, and charge again. By the time this was over I’d lost a good twenty to thirty minutes that could have been used for sleep.

“What time are you leaving tomorrow?”

“Er… I need to be gone by 05:30 as I need to be at the airport for 05:50”

“I was going to offer you a complimentary breakfast, but that starts at 05:30. Could you leave later?”

"No, I'm leaving just before then at 05:24 for the airport shuttle"

"There's a 05:44 shuttle - it only takes ten minutes. Oh, but that's too late."

She shrugged her shoulders, and apologised. Finally I could go to the room, and to bed.