My Friday journey from the south-east coast to the Alps starts with a morning train ride
This is what I saw out of the train window.I saw a twinkling early morning sea. The tide is out.
Beach huts are huddled together. There is a heavy frost on the ground, it’s cold but bright. I love looking out of the window watching the world go by.
We roll past the ruins of Pevensey Castle, built on higher ground, commanding a view across the fields and to the sea.
We’re speeding along now, the coast on my right, low lying land grazed by sheep to my right. I see a heron perching still in the quiet of the morning.
Passing towns now, peering into back gardens, marvelling at the disused gym equipment, children’s trampolines, bird-feeders, the multitude of sheds and summer houses, the winter lawns, the smart conservatories.
Neat gardens, abandoned gardens,tiny postage stamp sized gardens, sprawling suburban gardens. They are all here. I can see them all clearly in winter, the fallen leaves exposing them. I see lines of washing being hung up.
Moving in land now, away from the flats of the coast. I see ploughed fields and gently undulating countryside. I see cows and sheep – all facing the same direction.
A pheasant’s bright orange-brown colouring is glimpsed. I see drainage ditches and small streams twisting and turning. And a pair of swans.
I see a brick works, the orange tiles and bricks neatly stacked up in wooden crates. I see a demolition team working on an industrial building, now a mere shell. Thundering through Level Crossings.
Railway buildings and sidings disappear from view. Scrub land runs alongside the train tracks. I see the gates of Harvey’s brewery, tucked in next to the river in Lewes.
Car parks, offices and industrial buildings fly past. Agricultural buildings, there’s an old disused barn. Horses breath in the frosty morning.
Glimpses of allotments, empty on a winter’s day, sheds in various states of repair, rows of cabbages and leeks waiting to be picked. The sun is higher in the sky now, blue sky dotted with clouds.
Pulling into Gatwick now, it’s all hustle and bustle. Station announcements, hubble and bubble of a dozen languages to a backdrop of construction work.
That’s it, I’m through security. Hard surfaces and bright lights surround me. Spend. Shop. Buy.
The sales are on, but what would the flight attendants say about carrying a 6ft Harrods bear onto a plane. Would it fit in the overhead lockers? Or maybe I fancy my chances of winning a shiny red whooshzy car.
I play the guessing game. Where is that person travelling to today? I look out for my fellow passengers. We’re in sturdy winter boots and warm coats. A few weekend skiers with their helmets attached to their rucksacks. That’s it, called to gate now.
Along and around corridors. Up and down escalators, more travelators. There we are, the plane is being loaded. Sit back, an hour and ten minutes and you will be in Geneva.
A winter’s home. Two homes. Seemingly worlds apart.