Like many good disaster films - such as Sunshine and 28 Weeks Later - it only takes one small mistake to start the dominos tumbling.
With the east coast railway line having problems, the conference organisers offered a choice. A bus into Newcastle station as originally planned, and a bus across to Carlisle to get onto the west coast line.
Umm ... a thirty minute journey to the local station, and the flooded line will have either cleared or they'll have a bus substitution in operation ... versus ... a two and a bit hour trek in an old minibus across to Carlisle, and then a long journey down to the south east. Oh, and the west coast line aren't accepting east coast tickets!
Got as far as Newcastle Central station only to find there were NO trains running south, and no bus substitution since the motorways were blocked and the drivers wouldn't drive on flooded roads. And no hope of a taxi connecting stations either.
Oops. Suddenly the Carlisle option didn't seem so bad.
So a few of us chose the easy route. It sounds and feels like a plot from Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress. As wikipedia summarises ...
Along a rough stretch of road, Christian and Hopeful leave the highway to travel on the easier By-Path Meadow, where they are forced to spend the night due to a rainstorm. In the morning they are captured by Giant Despair, who takes them to his Doubting Castle, where they are imprisoned, beaten and starved. The giant wants them to commit suicide, but they endure the ordeal until Christian realizes that a key he has called Promise will open all the doors and gates of Doubting Castle, from which they escape.Next plan involves a quick call to Amex and booking on the BA flight from Newcastle to Heathrow (with a view to getting a refund on the unused train ticket) and a trip on the Metro out to the airport.