He had been looking forward to this day for weeks, the trip into the city. Travelling from his tiny little town into the bright lights of the city. He liked where he lived. It was quiet, it was safe, but he could walk from one side of town to the other in around 30 minutes, as he had done many times in the past.
The town had grown over the time he had lived there, with things coming and going, such as the various different brands of supermarkets that open up, prosper for a few years, before slowly declining after a lack of investment, before the next big supermarket brand took over and refurbished and relaunched the store, only to suffer the same fate a few years later.
It wasn’t just shops that had been built. Whole new housing estates had been built, both on old industrial areas and green field areas, but the town still had a clear border. You could see its edges clearly on a map of the town, where residential areas suddenly stopped and the countryside began.
Today he was going to the city. There would be some green areas, but nothing like the miles and miles of open countryside he was used to. They were small areas of green in the city, small areas surrounded by tall and imposing buildings.
He had already parked his car at the train station and collected his train tickets, now waiting for the next train due in the next ten minutes. He pulled his tickets out from his pocket again, a sure sign of an inexperienced traveller, making sure he had bought the correct ticket and that he had both the outward and return tickets. He put his tickets back in his pocket before removing his phone, checking the maps app one more time, making sure he knew how to get to his destination once the train had arrived at the city.
Time for the train
The train was due in 2 minutes, but the platform was mostly still empty, but then people started appearing from their cars in the car park and walking onto the platform. By the time the train pulled into the platform 2 minutes later the platform was buzzing with people. The train doors opened revealing carriages, already quite full. He suddenly realised he was being left behind by all the people making their way towards the nearest open train door. He ran a couple of steps to keep up and rejoin the queue of people emptying the platform and filling the train.
He stepped through the doors of the train and started looking for an empty seat. He couldn’t find one in his current carriage so he made his way along the centre of the train between the seats to the next carriage. As we moved from one carriage to the next he spotted an empty seat on his left. He made for it quickly and sat down before someone else took it.
He instinctively checked he still had his important possessions, his car keys, phone, wallet and the train tickets again.
The train doors shut and the train started pulling away from the station. He looked out of the window and saw some industrial estates whizzing past, slowly being replaced by houses, their gardens backing on to the embankment the train line was on. Eventually the houses got fewer and fewer, before the train broke through the edge of his small town and made its way through the countryside.
There were various stops along the way which followed the reverse of the previous journey, countryside to houses, houses to industrial areas, before stopping at the station, then the reverse again, industrial areas to houses and houses to countryside once more. There seemed to be less people getting off the train at each stop, with more people getting on, filling up the seats and isles.
He knew when they were approaching the city because this pattern stopped. It was a similar pattern of houses and industrial areas between stations, but the train had stopped breaking out into countryside in between.
The buildings steadily grew taller and closer together, indicating the value of every square metre of space was increasing. Eventually the train slowed for the last time as it approached the end of the line.
Other passengers were already collecting their things and making their way towards the train’s doors before the train had even reached the station. Eventually the train stopped at the platform and the people at the front of the queue at the doorway opened the door before the mass of people on the train made their way out of the train. He stood up once there was space and looked around his seat, making sure he hadn’t dropped anything. He checked his pockets for his belongings once more, double checking his tickets were there.
He stepped out onto the crowded platform and looked around him. People were now massing towards the turnstiles, trying to get through as quickly as possible, before joining the next queue, whether it was for the underground, or the coffee shops or even the toilets. That’s how you could tell it was the city. The queues were bigger.
The station was probably built in the victorian times, he guessed anyway. It had a huge arching steel and glass roof that spread across the multiple platforms, protecting the passengers from the wind and rain. The walls were made from red brick. He imagined what stories there bricks would tell, if they could talk, with the thousands of people making their way in and out of the city each day there was bound to be amazing stories that had happened here. The people running to make their train, making it just before the doors closed, then looking out at the angy people who just missed it by a few moments. The stories of lovers who met on the train, or who parted ways at the station, maybe even the last time they ever saw each other.
He woke himself from his day dreaming and headed towards the turnstiles, taking the ticket out of his pocket, before feeding it through the slot making his way out of the platforms and into the main part of the station.
Into the city
He looked at the queue for the tube, looked at his watch, before deciding today was a good day for a walk, after all, what was the point of going to the city if he couldn’t see any of it.
He walked out of the station into the fresh light of day. There were people everywhere outside too, making their way to the bus stops, hailing taxis or walking briskly along the paths.
He looked around, trying to get his bearings with the map he checked earlier, but decided he would just pick a direction and walk it and just explore the city first hand for himself. He had plenty of time before his appointment and he wanted to make the most of his mini adventure whilst he could.