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We went to Battle today, which we had planned to do yesterday but were so tired we decided to push it back a day. Last night we also consolidated some more of my luggage, getting my normal clothes into a small rolling suitcase. The only problem was my uniforms which I bring to schools when I observe and give a little presentation about my school. Unfortunately I was heading up north to Darlington (see left) later that afternoon to visit family friends and would have to leave straight from Battle. This meant lugging all my luggage to and around Battle, and the train station is about half a mile from the abbey which marks the battlefield. Luckily it wasn't too bad, but it definitely was not fun going uphill.
We entered the abbey and went to buy our tickets. We did ask if there was anywhere I could leave my stuff, but the only place was out in the open and would've been unattended. Once we got onto the grounds, it was time for lunch and we devised a plan to see the area and watch the luggage (and stroller, diaper bag, etc.): only two of us would go and do the quick, 10-15 minute walk at a time.
I went first with the older of the two cousins (Freddy, who's 2). As you can imagine, walking around an English Heritage site with a 2-year-old can be a bit boring for them, but as long as you're continually pointing out things for them to look at, it's not bad. I must have said "Wow Freddy, look at the castle" about 40 times, but I was impressed he did the whole walk with only a decent amount of coaxing ("Come on, let's go see daddy, he's this way"). It was cool spending some time with him, as the last time I saw him he had just been born and I had been the first in my family (the American branch) to meet him!
The battlefield itself wasn't anything particularly spectacular to look at, but I'm told to do it properly you need about an hour or 90 minutes. We had less time, AND two small children. As you can imagine, the going was slow and the 10-15 minute walk ended up being 25 minutes.
After we each had gone around, we packed up and started heading back to the train station. The only problem was that Chey had been about 5 minutes getting back to our base at the Abbey's cafe, and we were only leaving 15 minutes for us to catch the train out of Battle. It was crucial I make this train (1344, arriving at 1526), because I'd then have to use the underground through London to get to London Kings Cross for the 1622 train to Darlington (which would get me there the same time Dan was getting in from Birmingham). Long story short: a lot of well-laid plans wouldn't work if I missed this train.
As the station came into sight, we saw the train pull into the train station, then pull out again! Although I had missed the train, it turned into a blessing as I had time to buy a ticket for London to Darlington, then plan a new route through the underground which (with a bit of running) got me into Kings Cross with 10 minutes to spare! Unfortunately, it was the Thursday before Easter weekend, so my train was standing room only (see the picture left). Luckily, my train was an express to Edinburgh so it only stopped at York on the way up, at which point I got out to take a picture because the pedestrian bridge was where Harry Potter first receives his train ticket from Hagrid.
Luckily everything worked out in the end and I managed to sit on my luggage for a portion of the 3-hour journey to Darlington, so it wasn't too bad!