And before I knew it, my visit to London was almost over. I had booked the sleeper to ensure I had time for evening plans after a working day. As it happened, the final stop of my evening was the champagne bar at St Pancras. It’s a wonderful setting by the snoozing Eurostars which almost makes the outrageous price of the drinks worth it. A short stroll to Euston later and I trotted along to platform 1 for the 23:50 Caledonian Sleeper. It was dead quiet – since they started letting passengers board from 22:00, most folk are often on board and in their beds by 23:00. I stepped aboard about 8 minutes before departure and found my steward. We had a lovely chat and I was very impressed to be addressed by name. Little did I know…
My first class ticket meant I wasn’t sharing. I’ve met some great people on the sleeper when travelling by standard, but I prefer a room to myself. On this occasion, the price differential was only £20. I popped along to the lounge car to get a whisky to go and settled down for a few minutes on my berth. It took me a while to nod off – and I was still up when we went through Milton Keynes. Earplugs ensured I eventually drifted off.
Little did I know that by arriving late for boarding, I waived my right to sleep! All the good wake up calls are distributed on a first-come-first-serve basis. In the past I’ve had success in requesting a late wake up call by asking for my breakfast to go. On this occasion I had forgotten. I was woken up at 06:00 – giving me almost 90 minutes to consume my scrambled eggs and stare out of the window. On balance, I would have preferred another hour of sleep – but nevermind! We managed an on-time arrival into Waverley, and I hit the platform before we had stopped courtesy of an eager conductor unlocking the central door system early. I was home by 08:00, having a hot shower and drinking a strong cup of coffee.
I haven’t slept this badly on the sleeper in some time – I normally revel in being smug about how well I do sleep on the Callie. I didn’t help matters by arriving quite so late for the train in the first place, and it became clear in the morning that this had shortened my night at the other end too. That being said, I still like the Caledonian Sleeper, which is the only true way of having an evening in London before going back to Scotland. Since the switch to Serco from First, the hard product has improved dramatically. (The soft product was always great – I love the crews). It’s rare that I feel irrational levels of brand loyalty, but when I get on the Callie at Euston, I feel like I am home.