An End Has A Start

Rochdale Travel Blog

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The final bus journey of my 13 months away was on this little beauty from London. A strange feeling climbing on board, I can tell you.

My final bus journey is a time for reflection. National Express from London to Rochdale in five hours. There are to be no rest stops beyond a ten minute change of drivers at Milton Keynes. It’s like being back in Ecuador, only without the Latino music, Andean scenery and sagging suspension. Oh and with seatbelts - que bueno! I shut the world away beyond the earphones plugged into my iPod and watch the scenery drift by through the window.

London and the South are glorious under blue sky; it’s a cold morning, but a pale winter sun is riding high. By mid-afternoon however, speeding North through the Midlands, we are beneath an advancing mass of battleship grey clouds. Early evening and Manchester is night black and rain blown. I look though the water-streaked glass at the traffic lights and shop sign neon reflecting in the puddles.

I listen to a few songs that have been staples throughout the last thirteen months; some of these will forever connected to specific places. The one that means most is by Editors, ‘An End Has a Start.’ It’s the lyric in the chorus that I have latched onto and given my own meaning: ‘You came on your own, and that’s how you’ll leave, with hope in your hands, and air to breathe.’

This song will forever take me back to epic night journeys on Argentinian buses, chasing South through the vastness of Patagonia. I would listen to Editors and look through the window as we passed by each mass of lights, indicating a city. I’d watch the headlights of cars leaving the freeway, heading home, their journey over. I still had a long way to go at that point. The music helped to ease pangs of homesickness; a travelling companion in its own right.

Finally, heading North from Manchester I start to see landmarks I recognise. We head through Ashton, Oldham and then into Rochdale, the bus driver chatting ten to the dozen to a passenger near the front in a broad Scouse (Liverpool) brogue. The rain is lashing down with relentless force now, roadside puddles expanding into mini lakes, reflecting street light orange as we head into the town centre.

I step off the bus into the ice box of Rochdale bus station. An old lady with a strong local accent is sitting nearby; she immediately strikes up a conversation with me about the convenience of the London bus. At my bus stop, teenagers in school uniforms flirt with one another and eye my overweight backpack as if it’s something from another planet. It might as well be.

I haven’t told my parents I’m coming home, in fact I’ve actively misled them into thinking that I’m still in India. I walk into the house, rain soaked, and dump my packs near the front door, their final resting place for tonight at least. My parents and brother, who has (by chance) come round to visit, are suitably flabbergasted by my unexpected appearance. The family welcome is warm enough to dispel thoughts of the rain and cold of old Rochdale town.

It's good to be home.

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The final bus journey of my 13 mon…
The final bus journey of my 13 mo…
photo by: sarahelaine