On January 3rd, 2014 my brother drove me to catch the train from Wombwell station. Things were getting exciting now. I am heading off on my big adventure, leaving familiar places and family behind to go off to Europe and beyond for six months of travel.
My sister had previously demanded a complete itinerary of my trip so she could keep track of me. This was actually reassuring, to know that they are thinking of me and my safety.
Everything was packed, ready to go the night before as my train left Wombell at 7:55 am. The train was pretty empty, perhaps because it was so close to New Years Eve and the holiday season. British trains still have conductors who come to punch your ticket and here he comes now.
I was heading to Portsmouth to catch the ferry across the English Channel to St. Malo.
By now I was feeling confident about making train changes on the British rail system. Also, I didn't feel so intimidated by the tube connections from one London station to another, so I was feeling pretty relaxed as I set out on my long journey.
From Wombell I had a short ride to Barnsley.
I sat in the station waiting area as the commuters arrived and then boarded the train to Sheffield.
We arrived just as it was getting light. Sheffield is known for its industry and you could see evidence of this as we went past the warehoses and factories.
From Sheffield I had a reseved seat for my journey to St. Pancras in London.
Train travel is such a great way to see the countryside in England.
I had mixed feelings, as I saw the last views I would have of Yorkshire for a few years, flash by my window. I was excited to be off on the next part of my journey, but sad to see a county I had called home, and which was home to my Mum, brother and sister, disappear from view.
I arrived in good time at St Pancras. I had an hour before my train left from Waterloo for Portsmouth so I took some time to soak up the moment, checking out the architecture of this massive sttion.
I really appreciate the big electronic signs they have now. This really makes it so much easier to spot which platform your train will be leaving from. :-)
I hopped on the tube to London Waterloo Station. People were so helpful and I got there in plenty of time. Once again I was so grateful that I had chosen to travel with just a small suitcase and my purse. It made everything so stress free.
I caught my connection to Portsmouth Harbour and as I settled into my seat for the last leg of my journey I could finally really relax. I was looking forward to visiting Portsmouth for the first time.
As soon as I stepped out from the train station in Portsmouth I was met by the vision of a tall ship in the harbour.
What a wonderful introduction to the city.
I walked around the harbour area, the docksides here are full of history.
As I was walking around the old harbour a storm came blowing in and the skies opened. Rain poured and the wind blew as I took shelter in a tunnel leading to the shopping centre.
I eventually braved the weather and ran across the street to the taxi station and got a cab up to my hotel. The Duke of Buckingham was a welcome refuge from the storm. My room was so welcoming and the staff were great.
Marvin was especially helpful at directing me to the historical areas that would be interesting to see.
Immediately I came upon evidence of the history of the place.
This was where Admiral Nelson had stayed and I passed several buildings that were a part of his story.
I had been told that Portsmouth was full of history and beauty. This was the reason I had planned to spend a whole day here. The more I walked around the city, the more grateful I was that I had made the decision spend the night and catch my ferry on the evening of the next day.
The Astoria was so flamboyant.
I stopped off at the Library to get some idea of where my hotel was in St Malo. It was my last chance for internet before I arrived in France. Also it gave me a chance to warm up as it had started to rain.
Leaving the library, I crossed the square to the Guild Hall, which is a real treasure. It is a magnificent building set on a large square, with a statue of Queen Victoria in pride of place.
The sculptures at either isde of the stairs and the architectural details in the stone work were just exceptional.
Here is the sculpture of Queen Victoria seen against the backdrop of modern buildings.
From the Guild Hall it was a short walk to the Railway station where I caught a taxi to the Ferry Terminal.
I got there in good time and had a coffee break.
But, my ferry ride to St Malo on board Brittany Ferries is another story. :-)