I was feeling cocky as my train powered through the Lancashire countryside en route to Bolton. The day had gone perfectly so far: I’d had a good couple of hours at Hebden Bridge; Salwick station had been successfully bagged; and I’d managed to get a bonus sugar rush from a very sweet Mars milkshake that I’d bought on impulse from the WHSmith shop on the platform at Preston.
I thought the rest of the afternoon would be nice and straightforward. All I had to do was get to Salford Crescent in time for the 1743 to Wigan Wallgate, one of the two trains each day which stop at Clifton.
I was feeling especially smug after spotting that, by taking an earlier train from Preston and changing at Bolton, I would get to Salford earlier than if I took the direct Preston to Salford train. I would have a twelve minute connection into the 1743 – ample for Salford Crescent’s single island platform.
It was an uneventful run to Bolton, where I duly alighted and searched the departure board for my next train. My heart sank: the Manchester Airport train I needed was running late.
Twelve minutes late, to be precise.