Mother’s Day is fast approaching and I always smile to myself when I remember this story. It’s about kindness and I love telling it so I hope you enjoy it too.
A few years ago, on Mother’s Day, I arrived in London from Australia on the start of My Big Adventure. I was a 50+ mature aged backpacker, travelling on my own for 4 weeks. I was staying with my daughter for her 30th birthday and visiting other friends in England, Denmark and Sweden during my adventure. I love travelling and usually have my handy husband with me but unfortunately he wasn’t able to come with me this time, so I was on my own for the first time in years. I’m very proud of how well I coped given my first day was so eventful.
This is my Mother’s Day story which shows just a fraction of the excitement I experienced and, looking back on it, I’m grateful all over again for the kindness shown to me by complete strangers.
No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted. Aesop
Where do I start? I left Australia for the huge flight to London via Hong Kong and I arrived in one piece, ready to be let loose in London for a few days. At Heathrow airport I managed to get my backpack on and found it hard to walk after sitting for so long and it suddenly felt much heavier than 16.7 kgs. I collected my rented Wi-Fi device, found the Heathrow Express and caught the train to Paddington.
So far so good, remembering it’s 7am on a Sunday morning and I’d been on the go for days!
Then things turned bad…I couldn’t find my hotel which was supposed to be just a five minute walk from Paddington station. Well it was if you went out the right exit which I obviously didn’t do! I then wandered around the back streets of Paddington for ages looking, looking, looking. My backpack now felt like it was 50kgs and I was starting to suffer. Where was Grant when I needed him?? I went into a nice looking hotel, wishing it was mine, and asked for directions. The concierge was helpful telling me it was too far to walk and I’d need to get a bus. He kindly printed off the directions for me and wished me well. This was kindness number 1.
I retraced my steps and looked for the bus stop number but was getting tireder by the minute (and closer to tears). I sent my daughter who lives in the UK, a text telling her I was lost and wandering aimlessly around Paddington, thinking that someone else should know – just in case! She was worried about me but couldn’t do much to help me out from where she was. I saw a few black taxis drive by and decided that I would flag down the next one I saw. So I did, and that led to kindness number 2.
The driver could see I was worn out and at the end of my tether. When he found out I was from Australia, he told me all about his recent visit to see his niece in Moreton Bay. As luck would have it one of my 3 daughters lives in that area, so we had a lovely chat. We chatted on and he decided I must have taken the wrong exit from the station, which he reassured me was very easy to do especially when you are tired. So nice of him not to tell me that I was a silly old fool.
He dropped me at my hotel and it really was just a few minutes walk from the station. I checked in but couldn’t get into my room until 2pm (it was now 8.15am) and they offered me the use of the pool area to freshen up and store my bags. I got to the pool area and collapsed onto a bench not knowing what to do first. Just at this moment a lady came out of the pool and smiled at me reassuringly. Cue Kindness number 3. I made some comment to the effect that I didn’t know where to start. I must have looked a bit worn out because after her shower she started talking to me and asking questions about my travels. She then offered me the use of her room as she was checking out early but the room was held until 12. It didn’t take much to persuade me, so that’s what we did. Some would think I was foolish for accepting this offer but I’m a trusting soul.
Jill and I chatted away like old friends. I met her family in the adjoining room and was invited to join them all for breakfast as they had a spare booking due to her mother being unable to join them. We had a lovely ‘family’ breakfast and I told them it was Mother’s Day in Australia so they thought it was very appropriate to have me join them. I was very pleased too.
By this stage I knew my travel phone had fallen from my pocket in the taxi when I crawled in. I had been too exhausted to take off my backpack so I had crawled into and out of the taxi like a snail! My daughter was calling me to help me with directions as she was worried about me but as I’d lost my phone she couldn’t get onto me. Thankfully I also had my regular mobile phone with me and she sent me a message to tell me the taxi driver had managed to ring her using the number he found on my travel phone in his taxi and he would drop the phone back to the hotel later in the day once he knew what name to leave it for. I collapsed in tears at the kindness from total strangers and Jill gave me a big hug telling me there were still nice people in the world. Kindness number 4.
I regrouped after Jill and her family left and decided to go out for a walk, otherwise I’d fall asleep and it was still only lunchtime at this stage. I made my way back to Paddington station and saw where I’d gone wrong earlier in the day. I caught the tube into Piccadilly and wandered the streets in the warm May sunshine. Everyone was out enjoying the day, the deck chairs were out in the park and I sat down in one to have a little rest, only to be told by a ranger that it cost 1 pound 50p for an hour. So I moved on. I watched a military parade with a full band playing and sang along to God Save the Queen. I went to Buckingham Palace and asked random people to take my picture using my phone and camera. I’m a very trusting person! I walked and walked and the sun shone brightly, life was good. I figured after the start I’d had to my day nothing could go wrong!
The weather turned colder after lunch and it started to drizzle but I was determined to do a London Walk so I met the guide at the appointed place – exit 4 of Westminster tube at 2.45pm – with about 20 other people and we walked for 2 hours learning all about the Westminster area. It was very informative. I met a lovely American lady and we got chatting along the way. She was very surprised I’d only arrived that morning and was out and about already. Little did she know! I then retraced my tube trip and got back to the hotel after 5pm, safe and sound. My travel phone had been delivered by the kind taxi driver and my room was ready. All was right with the world. I contacted my husband and my daughters and had dinner from room service, managing to stay awake until sleep took me at 8pm.
I’m sure you’ll agree my Mother’s Day was very special indeed. I’m reassured there are still kind people in the world who will help out a stranger in need.
That was just day 1 of my 4 week Big Adventure!
Happy Mother’s Day to all the lovely mothers out there. 😊