Around the bend – Trains, Sleep walking and Pigeons.
It had been my husband’s turn to choose a holiday. Already we’d had two weeks of sleeping on trains in the wagons-lits. We would wake up in the pre dawn at a station in yet another country and wander happily around some ancient city that was barely stirring, while he eagerly told James, our six year old, and I fascinating historical tidbits. As stars began to prick the evening sky, we would mount a train and be off again.
It had been fun, but rather tiring, and I had been amazed by the little fellow’s stamina and his cheerful attitude to it all. He chatted happily to any one, and he still gets postcards from a waiter that he helped clear tables on a boat on Lake Geneva and a taxi driver he’d made friends with in Budapest.
He would wake up sometimes in the pre dawn dark on a train and ask “Which country are we in, Mummy?” But when we got to Florence my husband found we couldn’t get a connection to Venice till the next day. We had been to Florence a few times before, at a more leisurely pace, but we still enjoyed the art galleries and the little shops of the Ponte Vecchio, and of course – the food! James fell in love with an old working carrousel in one or the squares and the pigeons that ate out of his hand, as they did in Venice. Sadly, you can’t feed them in Venice any more.
That night we slept in a narrow hotel not too far from the train station. As usual I had everything, except the clothes we would wear, packed and ready to go in our three well traveled back packs. They lay propped up beside the door, dark shapes in descending size.
James had his own little pull out bed beside our small double bed and he was snuggled down under the floral comforter. Even the sounds of laughter drifting up from the street below through the open latticed window, didn’t wake him, nor the gentle movement of the curtains in the warm night air.
I don’t know what woke me. But glancing up I saw the door to our room slowly open and in the patch of light from the hotel hallway I saw James! His hat and backpack cast a small bulky shadow as he walked out and closed the door. I leapt up and grabbing the quilt I raced out into the hall and caught up with him. Taking his small hand in mine I led him back into the room. His eyes were wide open but he was obviously asleep.My sudden departure had woken my husband, and as I locked and bolted the door he began to laugh, while also being shocked. James was standing there, wearing his hat and backpack …
totally naked!As I tucked James back to bed I decided to petition for a two or three day stop over somewhere as it seemed our young son was now on an ‘automatic’ pre dawn travel program. Needless to say, I lay awake for those last two hours before we went to catch the train!