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  • by Michael Rickard II

The Kindness of Strangers: Heading to Lincoln. My 13 Days in England

Copyright (C) 2018 by Michael Rickard II

“I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” Blanche DuBois, A Streetcar Named Desire.

After four glorious days in London, it was time to head to Lincoln for the Monster Conference. After consulting with the host at my bed and breakfast, I found the best route to get there via train. However, like any journey, things going smoothly tends to be the exception rather than the rule. Along the way I would get by thanks to some help from some kind-hearted people.

As I mentioned earlier, London has a fantastic mass transit system. I took a bus to South Kensington Station where I would take the tube to a train station. As always, I left hours in advance because when you’re traveling in a foreign country, you want to stack the deck in your favor should Lady Luck decide to walk out on you. Unlike Frank Sinatra, I wasn’t counting on luck being a lady tonight.

Travel Rule One: Always load up on food!

The bus arrived near South Kensington station so I grabbed a nice breakfast consisting of poached eggs with salmon. Add in some cranberry juice and an espresso and you had a great start to the day. I’d already fortified myself with some cereal before I left my Air BnB, but the more food in the belly, the better when you don’t know when lunch will be.

Poached eggs with salmon.

The Tube ride to the train station proved uneventful, but I was a bit overwhelmed by the various trains as well as the schedule. I’ve never traveled by train so this was a first. I had two hours until my train was scheduled to arrive so I sat down and talked to a couple whose son had just returned from China. They explained how to read the train schedule and I was ready. I found the departing gate for my train and waited. While I did, I met a couple from Lincoln who were in London to visit their daughter. They gave me some recommendations on good restaurants in Lincoln.

Busy train station

The train ride was a pleasant surprise as it was one of the rare places I enjoyed air conditioning in England. The ride was comfortable and I arrived at a station where I was going to catch the train to Lincoln. There, I met a professor who taught in London, but lived in Lincoln. I told her I was heading to Lincoln for The Monster Conference and she shared some tips on places to check out in Lincoln. She jokingly told me that the Grosseteste in Bishop Grosseteste University stood for in Latin, a joke I'll leave for the Latin scholars to figure out.

Lots of country scenery during to train ride to Lincoln

The train to Lincoln looked like something out of the Victorian era. Coincidentally, the professor told me England’s rails are largely from the Victorian age which means some areas can’t be traveled on beyond 20-30 miles per hour. Sadly, this train car (there was only one car for the trip to Lincoln) wasn’t air-conditioned, but there was a decent breeze. It looked like there’d only be a handful of people, but suddenly the train filled up and it was packed to the brim. This ride was a bit less comfortable as people were crowded and it looked like a busy subway car rather than a train. When we arrived, my professor friend arranged for a cab (recall I had no cell phone to call a cab) as there was no way I was going to walk to my Air BnB from the train station.

Another great Air BnB location.

Yes, I had to be cautious as I was in a foreign country, but I trusted my gut and was blessed by the goodwill of complete strangers. They made my trip a bit nicer and while I didn’t run into any problems, they helped me prepare better for when I arrived at Lincoln as well as provided some company for the journey. It reminded me not to be so judgmental the next time I see a goofy tourist trying to find their way around because this time around, that goofy tourist was me.

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