One last chase –
Mummy was very calm, thinking we had three-quarters of an hour before we needed to be at the station. But as she checked one more time which carriage and seat, she then realised we had only half an hour. Panic!!! With so many trains and ferries and planes, we have never been so close to missing a train!
Jumped into Manuela’s car, raced to the train station which was only 10 minutes away. Thankfully Manuela had checked the platform and knew it was easier to go to the back of the station to get to Platform 17. Sure enough it was and so grateful that Manuela was there to help Mummy take us up the stairs while Mummy managed BIG Wheelie on the escalator – no time for lifts! We still had 10 minutes before the train pulled up and again, Manuela helped with BIG Wheelie. Time enough for a photo! LOL!
Phew! Safely in our assigned seat, all three of us fell into deep sleep on the two-hour train ride to Amsterdam before Mummy quickly fed us dinner – as it won’t be till 20.00 for the next opportunity.
The next part of the journey was even more nail-biting. We had 6 minutes to get off the train, get down from Platform 7b and run to Platform 2a. Mummy was all prepared. Handbag strapped across her body that had all the documents, backpack loaded with all the electronics and our food. By now she figured it was best to carry George in one arm (the backpack that broke would have come in handy), slipped my leash around her wrist and roll or if necessary carried BIG Wheelie. As soon as the train came to a stop, she made sure I was safely down, and after she was down, she turned around to get BIG Wheelie, when some kind gentleman handed it to her. After having thanked him profusely, she decided there was no time to look for a lift, so she lifted BIG Wheelie down the stairs (remember, she off-loaded in Oslo and she off-loaded in Düsseldorf – so a lot lighter but still cumbersome), George in her arms and holding my leash as we hurried along.
She spotted Platform 2a but did not see any elevators. There were also no step option – only an escalator. She took a deep breath and thought to put BIG Wheelie on one of the moving steps but it wasn’t proving to be easy. And I don’t like escalators. As I resisted and pulled her back while she was trying to steady BIG Wheelie, it fell forward. As she grabbed the handrail while stopping BIG Wheelie from catapulting down the escalator, she lost my leash. So up the escalator she went with George in her arms, putting BIG Wheelie right again while I was still hesitating at the bottom of the escalators. “COME, Darcy! You can do it!” Mummy shouted. She was hoping the man who walked past me would have helped but it seemed he almost didn’t see me. As she kept going further and further away from me, I knew I had to be brave and jumped on the escalator, at first just getting a feel of the moving steps, with my leash trailing behind me, I ran as fast as I could to meet her at the top. She grabbed hold of my leash and altogether we ran down the platform to the waiting train. Surprisingly, unlike all the other times, this Dutch commuter train wasn’t full even at rush hour, but it was still a typical Dutch train with upstairs and downstairs compartments. Mummy left BIG Wheelie near the entrance. By then she didn’t care if someone took BIG Wheelie but I think she knew the Dutch commuters wouldn’t. We found a seat as Mummy hoped and looked anxiously for any indication that we had got on the right train as it didn’t say anywhere on the listing that Schiedam was one of the stops. Thankfully it was.
The train to Schiedam was just over an hour. As soon as the train left Delft, we got ready to leave the train. The train conductor happened to be there and Mummy eagerly engaged him in conversation so to keep him there when the train stopped. She knew he would help her get BIG Wheelie down the train. She asked him where we would find the bus to Hoek van Holland – we have not done this part before. We had taken the bus from Hoek van Holland to Schiedam but not on the return. The train conductor not only instructed us but he offered to help get BIG Wheelie off the train. Been very lucky so far getting on and off but not so with the stairs.
We arrived at Schiedam around 18.43 and followed the signage to buses. It was already dark outside but grateful it was not raining. Mummy stopped to ask a man at a bus stop where to find bus 711 – and he seemed only too delighted to be of help. We needed to cross the street and to look for the 711 bus stop further along. It was a very busy thoroughfare and waited for a long while before the lights changed. As we got to the other side of the six lane carriage way, we could see bus 711. Please wait, Mummy said, please! And it did. The bus driver greeted us and we were delighted to find an empty bus. We got to sit in a proper seat with BIG Wheelie next to us – unlike when we made our journey over – when BIG Wheelie was wheeling her way around the bus while both myself and George needed to sit on Mummy’s lap, tired from the ferry crossing and wet from the rain. The bus whizzed through motorways clear of any traffic, and then as it turned into Hoek van Holland we started to see signage for “Engeland”! Yes, we presumed that was England. Yup! Reality, here we come.
We arrived at the Stenaline Terminal around 19.30 and we were not sailing till 22.00. Mummy parked BIG Wheelie outside the ferry terminal and walked us till we have both done our business – #1 and #2 – to Mummy’s delight.
Time to check us in. Passports checked and our chips beeped, we were handed a green tag to indicate that we had been approved for entering the UK. After Mummy checked in, off we went up the ramp. We both ran along – George happily – not tied to me this time. Will he or will he not go all the way? – that is the question.
Well, he made it to the last ramp. Well done, George!
As we approached the Guest Reception, both George and I began to recall what came next. George started to pant anxiously in Mummy’s arms. She promptly took us down to Deck 8 – and we heard a lot of barking and there was dog pee everywhere! Disgusting!
We entered Kennel A – it was full with big noisy dogs. There were only small kennels left but still big enough for the both of us in it. And they were missing duvets! What?!?!? Mummy went to ask at Guest Reception and a not-so-sympathetic lady just said – well they haven’t been delivered. Is that ok for humans too?
Mummy then found out that in Kennel B – there were mainly smaller dogs and except for one noisy Westie, all the others were anxiously quiet. Look a Maltipoo!
There was also a cockapoo but we didn’t get to meet!
Mummy asked to have us transferred and as she put on my leash, George jumped out of his kennel – and the door to the kennel was open so he ran straight out, up the stairs so fast that the staff who was standing there – did nothing!!! Mummy handed my leash over to the guy and she ran up the stairs chasing George!!!! Along the corridor on Deck 9, she asked a passenger if he had seen a little black dog. He told her in which direction he was headed and just then she spotted him running past the corridor from Guest Services to the restaurant area. He was trying to find the way off the ferry! LOL! He heard Mummy call him and much to her relief, he turned and ran towards her. Quickly, she grabbed him and brought him back down to the kennel. He really would prefer not to be in the kennel, I know, neither do I, but I wouldn’t do a runner like him. Even if he ran down instead of up the stairs, he would have had to run past that ramp and then a very, very long ramp till he ran out onto the street. In his madness he might have just done it!
We’ve never had so many dogs with us in the kennels all the times we’ve travelled on Stenaline Ferries. It is usually busy on Fridays and Sundays but this was also the last weekend after the holidays and everyone was travelling home.
So there we sat – at first we each had our own kennel but because George was so stressed, Mummy decided it might be better to put us together. The kennels were deep and there’s enough space for the two of us. This way at least he knows I am there with him and he has not been abandoned.
And with that we have left the continent … sailing towards England. To green parks where we can run, back to our amazing Honey’s food – missing it so much, and walkies with friends, lunch, dinner dates and our own beds.
We’re back in England – making our way home …
May’s comment: But I don’t want to go home – not yet. 🙁 The minute I walk through that door, the magic of all that we had experienced the last three weeks will be a distant memory. The whole Nordic trip already seems so far away as is – the only indication that we were there were the clothes that I brought to wear in anticipation of the Arctic weather. It was still cold in Düsseldorf – and very wet. Snow is much easier to deal with, in my opinion. Of course we hadn’t seen the slush.
But travel we must and it’s time to face reality … friendships will always be there, and there are other places to see. And thankful that only slight mishaps happened on the return journey. If it had happened at the start, I would have doubted myself. In these instances, if I had missed any of the connections, well it would have just delayed our return. 🙂