Firstly, the children went to visit Grannie & Gramps. For the whole week. The extent of my duties were to travel to Peterborough to dispose of them, and then be on time to collect them at the end of the week. Clearly I failed at the latter: personal failure rather than something I can blame on the trains, but not so disastrous as to mean I didn't get them back. The children, that is.
Secondly, I'd decided to treat myself to a first class ticket each way when travelling alone. I decided that I could blow the entire £56 I have earned this year on such a treat, only to discover it was only £6 more than second-class each way. Still got £44 to spend...
Not that I was going to spend it on dining at the table, of course. The first journey (back from Peterborough) was an adventure: what did first class really mean? Clearly it offered wider seats and, I noted, a table at every seat. One of the most annoying things about train travel is not having a table, particularly if you want to work at your laptop, or marking papers, or your five-year-old wants to colour in endless pictures. Anyway, I was sharing a table with three other first-class virgins, who were heading to Edinburgh for a hen night. I can now categorically state that champagne does not help when writing sermons (the latter had to be completely reconstructed by my husband in time for an assessed service the next day). But I had a great time!
For the journey back to collect the kids I took full advantage for first-class freebies. I discovered Newcastle has a First Class Lounge. I could get free orange juice, tea, coffee and biscuits - although I had not left enough time for this before the train left. Then I realised that these were also provided on the train itself. I did pick up a copy of The Times and exploited the trolley service as much as possible: bottled water, fruit, packets of biscuits. Perhaps - just perhaps - I took as much as the extra £6 it cost. Certainly the kids benefitted from the snaffled biccies on their journey home with me!
The only downside to half-term was the misery of stress back home. Whilst I enjoy all the travelling and seeing the world, how I long to be established and settled and providing a concrete future for my children. Yet uncertainty abounds: husband's job, house rental, house purchase, education standards. Should I get a job and stay here? No sooner do I decide something than I un-decide it.
Still, the children are back now and I realise just how much I live for them. And, thankfully, they also seemed quite glad to be back with me too.