Travelling to Bristol with a small child

For the record, we’re not travelling to Bristol again by train. What a nightmare. Delay, after delay after delay. As if the morning wasn’t hectic enough with Emily deciding her Picasso moment had to shine through with my red nail varnish she found in my bag and painted everything in sight including herself, her pretty little outfit, the wall, carpet, table, my make up bag and the mirror. As if, if that wasn’t enough, our journey to Bristol was a total pain-in-the-ass. This was our second visit, first for Emily, she was in my bump the last time, and both times have been ridiculous. Transport seems to just go to pot when kids are on their summer holidays.

After the nail varnish incident, we left the house, no breakfast eaten or tea properly drunk, washing up done, pleased that the sun was at least out as we dashed to Tesco to pick up some sandwiches and treats for the journey. Ramsgate to London was a dream. Emily fell asleep 20 minutes before we got to London’s St Pancras which continued for 2 long hours. Bliss!

The journey in London was mayhem. We had a little over an hour to travel 4, maybe 5 stops, what could possibly go wrong? Everything it seems. The wheel on the pram decided it would sing us a merry tune that grated on our nerves for the next 24 hours until some WD40 came to the rescue. People dawdled as they walked everywhere on the underground. People forgot how to operate lifts and stood nonplused waiting for the door to magically open. Trespassers thought that day was the day to ruin commuters journeys everywhere. With minutes to spare, we managed to get to our train, hot and bothered, no peep from Emily, as Sam had to negotiate with fellow travellers to shuffle around so we could try and sit together as others had decided they wanted to sit in our seats and not budge.

The train to Bristol, although smooth, involving one of the best takeaway teas ever, was delayed which meant we missed the train on the other end to our hotel, but thanks to 1 helpful member of staff, and the rest completely useless, we managed to get another train to another station for Sam’s brother to come pick us up. It was all a dash against time, but we got there in the end, an hour later than expected.

Admittedly the journey back wasn’t bad, but travelling via train to anywhere needs a lot more planning. We had booked the same train to Bristol but at different times, as I needed my ticket to go from Ramsgate whereas Sam needed it from Bristol as he travels to London everyday for work. I assumed we’d have space to store the pram wherever and have plenty of legroom, but unlike South Eastern trains, this is something Great Western Railway doesn’t, unless you pay a fair amount more to sit in first class. Our tickets weren’t expensive as we had booked months in advance via The Trainline. I did have to use my Oyster card in between journeys as my ticket wouldn’t register properly on the underground which was a bit of a faff.

Pro’s

  • The journey isn’t too long, only 1 hour and 44 minutes from London Paddington to Bristol Temple Meads.
  • If you book your tickets in advance, you’ll save more. Keep an eye out on deals on websites including The Trainline.
  • Bring plenty of snacks and entertainment for all the family or it can become expensive.
  • Book your tickets together and reserve your seats together. If you speak to the train instructor they may be able to shuffle you around but only if there are spaces.

Cons

  • Check your journey the day before your journey and again a few hours before you leave. If you’re stuck due to train errors, you need to cover yourself.
  • Leave plenty of time, anything can happen.
  • Avoid travelling on the weekend or at busier peak items as this can heavily affect your journey.

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