You obviously cannot come home unless you have a home, but even if you do, what home is less obvious than it seems. Home being a single house is probably a modern idea, and would not apply to many. To an ex-pat home is probably a country; to a great many home is probably a town or village left an age ago. As for me: I am not sure. What I am sure about is the house I have come home to is cold enough to make a summer’s day in Skegness seem balmy.

The return is from a set of train trips with Bev to seek work and see family’s. Pitching shows and seeing siblings.

First leg was to Harwich, Essex, to see Bev’s sister Lisa; and try and sell to the Sea Shanty festival. Second leg was to Ramsgate, Kent, to see my brother, Basil; and try and get a show into Ramsgate Week, and sell a show to the Royal Temple Yacht Club. Last leg was ‘home’ via Baildon.

The trip started with me meeting Bev at Shipley Station, where we sat in sunshine, drank (coffee) and ate (pork pies), and I pointed out birdlife and points of interest; and that’s is what we carried on doing. It were good.

Leg One

The journey down was relaxed, at least the way I remember it. Highlights were people watching at Leeds Station and watching a stunning sunset between Peterborough and Ely; the first time in a long time I have watched the sun sink below the horizon.

The only disappointing thing was that East Coast only offer 15 minutes free WiFi access, so a long held desire to follow the familiar trip on google earth was scuppered; in fact my first experience of using WiFi proved a disappointment. The only two places I could get on line were the two places we stayed; who both let me have a pass-word. South Eastern trains promised it but did not deliver; and everywhere else was no coverage or pass-word protected.

We were met at Ipswich by Lisa’s partner Cath. They are a nice couple, with three cats, and some fascinating relatives.

Friday we had fish and chips, with a fish the size of a shovel blade. Saturday we went round Dovercourt in the afternoon, which looks run down but had some really good stuff in the charity shops, and in the evening had chinese with Cath’s family; where the men had a heated debate about what bird was doing the dropping on Tony’s well swept driveway.

Sunday me and Bev walked along the sea-wall to Harwich. We went in The New Bell drank and talked. The pub is very good, but is up for sale. It is a venue for the sea shanties, and while I could not do a show there I did find out lots of stuff I need to know if I am going to do one elsewhere.

Next we went to the The Hanover Inn. Everyone looked at us when we went in, but we sat at the bar and joined the chat. At one point a bloke was told to stop swearing because There’s a young lady sat there!. There was a pause, I lent back on the bar-stool, and looked up and down the bar. It got a good laugh from everyone apart from the person who slapped me on the head.

Leg Two

The cheapest faire to Ramsgate was from Ipswich, changing at Colchester and Stratford. This is daft because Dovercourt is the same distance from Colchester and Ipswich, and Colchester is much easier to get to by train! We were lucky to get a lift from Cath’s parents, Tom and Mary, otherwise it would have been a pain.

This part was the only really stressful bit for me. I thought Colchester Station was one of the worst signposted I had ever used, until I got to the abomination that is Statford (domestic) and Stratford (international). These are separated by a building site for the next Olympics, and linked by a bus, a half mile walk, and two signposts. God help you if you have never travelled through London before; and God help anyone who has to use the gimcrack, one lift and one escalator, joke of station laughingly called international. I can see people drying here when someone in a crowd trips on the stairs.

The train to Ramsgate was one of the new high speed jobs; but the free WiFi did not work, so I could not check details of the meeting at the RTYC, and we had to change at Ashford because of the delays on previous changes, so were an hour behind. I appreciated the train better on the return; it is very fast and smooth, and the seat pitch is good, but the is one toilet and no catering.

We got a taxi to the hotel (The Comfort Inn, £40/night for both of us), did a check and change, and made it to the yacht Club in time. It was a good meeting. Bev used to think me introducing here as my manager was a bit of a joke, but she does manage to stop me when I am talking too fast and explain the important bits to the, often bemused, listener. I have probably missed the chance of producing a new sea show as part of Ramsgate Week, but selling them Curry & Kipling is a real possibility now.

The hotel had a four-poster bed, and I got lots of bruises while Bev had fun. It had a self at the bottom that Bev noticed when we first sat on it. She said it might be dangerous, so obviously I twatted my shin on it the next day and caused much amusement to the audience; but the posts gave a much bigger laugh. I waked the same spot on my right thigh 3 times in a row on a corner of one end post, so I tied a towel around it; and promptly waked my left thigh on the other end post. Bev was biting a towel and her shoulders were shaking, obviously sobbing in sympathy.

Meeting Basil the next day was a highlight for us, and probably Basil. We were invited to dinner at his works, where we had a mavellous steak and kidney pie, and watched a white squirrel in the garden. Later we all went to the Artillery Arms (best pub in Ramsgate) and the Belgium Bar. After Basil went back Bev and I walked on the cliff top, looking at the moon shining on the water.

Leg Three

Sold a Red Head Book to Andy, on his way with his mate Brint to see Arsenal trash Leeds. Well when I say sold I actually got two and a half tins of Wife Beater lager, three cans of Strongbow and a large packet of beefy Monster Munch. He also asked me to name the cultural highlights around the football clubs he could remember, and praised me to his mrs on the phone. After they got off to meet a mate at Wakefield we got talking to Carlisle fan Martin, who married a Bradford City fan.

Good trip.

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