Opinion

Lockdown travel: when can I get the next train home to see my family?

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Hollie Richardson
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Train home during lockdown

While we wait to hear about lockdown restrictions potentially being loosened, one writer shares the one thing she would do if she could right now.

In the days before we went into lockdown seven weeks ago, I decided not to get a train to Yorkshire to live with my mum. 

The journey would have included a bus or Uber ride to King’s Cross, a two hour train to Leeds, then a changeover for another half-hour train journey to Harrogate. I could have picked the virus up along the way and I absolutely did not want to pass it on to my mum. It wasn’t worth the risk. Instead, I chose to stay on my own in my London flat.

But if I’m being completely honest, that wasn’t the only reason why I stayed.

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I get on really well with my mum, she’s probably one of my best pals – we speak over the phone most days. But that’s because we’ve learned how our relationship works best over the years.

There are some words (Brexit, Quorn) that we know not to bring up in conversation anymore. We compromise on watching a film neither of us cares about because we have polar opposite tastes. And we respect that we both really, really enjoy our personal space.

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I also know not to go home for any longer than a week at a time and I stagger out visits every two or three months. It works for us, I love going back. After each visit, I stare out of the window on the train back to King’s Cross and momentarily decide to pack up my London life and return home.

Of course, the reality of this quickly kicks in, and I laugh off the idea.

Lockdown: many women had to decide whether or not to travel home.
Lockdown: many women had to decide whether or not to travel home.

With all this in mind, I decided that staying at my mum’s during lockdown for an uncertain length of time wasn’t wise. I know the door is always open there, and she said I should go if I wanted to, but I think deep down she knew the best thing to do was stay apart.

She’s been using the spare bedroom (where I usually sleep) as her working from home office. I wouldn’t have been able to run off to an old friend’s for the night if things became tense. And I’d have done her head in with those “who’s that? What have they done?” questions each time Eastenders or Corrie was on.

Instead, we’ve kept up our daily phone calls and do a Zoom family quiz most Sundays. It’s been really hard listening to her worry or sometimes become despondent. Easter weekend was particularly frustrating as I had planned to go back for her annual roast dinner. But it’s also been comforting hearing her voice and laughter.

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I’ve been doing OK on my own in London. Like everyone else, each day has had its ups and downs. I’m fully prepared to continue lockdown for as long as we need to protect the NHS and save lives. But that doesn’t stop me from dreaming of the future. 

After seven weeks of worrying and having no physical contact with another person, it is getting to the point where I’m desperate to meet my friends in the park, give them a hug and crack open a bottle of wine. Perhaps after Boris Johnson’s announcement over loosening lockdown later this week, this little dream scenario could become a reality quite soon.

But my biggest dream is buying a train ticket and going home to see my mum. It’s as simple as that. I can’t wait to go back and do her head in. I want to do that more than I want the trip to New Zealand that I had to cancel. I know it’s going to be a while before I can book anything, and going on public transport will probably really freak me out, but this is what gives me the most hope. It’s the light at the end of the tunnel I keep hearing about.

Until then, I’ll just keep going like everyone else. I’ve been watching watching The Vicar of Dibley because I used to watch it with my mum as a kid. I sent her some flowers to let her know how much I miss her. And yes, we still manage to wind each other up over the phone, so nothing has really changed there.

But my mum is my home, and that’s where I know I need to finally be.

Images: Getty

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Hollie Richardson

Hollie is a digital writer at Stylist.co.uk, mainly covering the daily news on women’s issues, politics, celebrities and entertainment. She also keeps an ear out for the best podcast episodes to share with readers. Oh, and don’t even get her started on Outlander…