I sat in the waiting room at Bodø station alongside a few other souls who had turned up way too early for their train. A charming little display of historical railway memorabilia harked back to an earlier era. The present-day station is a modern affair, with two tracks for passenger trains either side of an island platform, and a small freight yard.
I was leaving Bodø behind to return to Oslo, a journey which would see me on the rails for 18 hours or thereabouts. The first leg of the journey would last just under 10 hours and take me to Trondheim for an onward connection to Oslo.
My journey would take in the full length of the Nordlandsbanen, the 450-mile route that winds its way through northern Norway to Trondheim. I was pleased to be on a train this time, unlike my rail replacement bus experience a few days earlier.
September 19th, and over in the UK, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II was being laid to rest. A queue had snaked across London to view her lying-in-state, and there was no escaping the news, as TV channels cleared their schedules for the funeral coverage.
In far-off Norway, I couldn’t let unfortunate events back home spoil my holiday, so pressed ahead with my plans.
I did have the TV on in the background while getting ready that morning. The only English-language channel in my hotel room was Sky News, which was in full funeral mode, so I didn’t linger there long. Norwegian television had found its own angle, with late 90s boyband A1 being asked about the Queen on TV2’s breakfast show. It wasn’t a tenuous connection at all: Ben Adams met the Queen once when he was a choirboy at Windsor Castle, so there.
The next morning, I pulled back the curtains of my hotel room, and was greeted with a beautiful sight.
No, not my reflection, but the view from my window was pretty special.
I tore myself away from that panorama, and left the hotel to explore. I didn’t do much research before my trip, and I expected Bodø to be a quiet little village, tucked away and isolated. Not a bit of it – Bodø was a bustling town.
I stumbled out of bed at 6.45am, and groggily made my way to the bathroom, in an attempt to wake myself up with a shower. The early start was needed to get myself back to the railway station for the 7.58am rail replacement bus to Bodø. Yay!
It was so early that the hotel had not put out the full breakfast buffet, and I had to make do with some cereal and a croissant. I ate in a deserted dining room, with a solitary other diner who looked about as happy as I was.
I checked out of the hotel and headed back to the railway station, where I joined other intending passengers on the concourse. Tucked away in one corner was the check-in point for the sleeper train, just to taunt me.
Twenty years is a long time to work in the same place. Two decades of showing up to work on time each and every day, diligently working hard with my esteemed colleagues to add value to the business. Since the day I was on-boarded, I have relentlessly pursued corporate synergies and leveraged the opportunities and challenges that have arisen in my workflows.
(Did the above sound good? Please take my word for it, and definitely don’t go through my Twitter archive)
My lack of ambition was finally rewarded on my 20 year anniversary, when my employer offered to purchase a gift to celebrate my inability to get sacked. The only rule was that it had to be a single, tangible gift (no asking for a cash alternative).
I briefly toyed with the idea of buying Hornby’s new model of the Advanced Passenger Train, together with the additional coaches to make it up to a full length prototypical train, but I quickly realised that I would never be able to actually run it anywhere, due to lack of space.
Thoughts then turned to the possibility of a holiday and — because I have a brand to maintain — I started looking at train trips.