Category Archives: Travel

Just a little too much excitement

Possibly, I need a break from public transport! Or, I need to travel at times when other people do not.

So far this week,

  • I’ve been accused of being a baby and child hater for asking the person in charge of the double buggy to move it from the doorway of the train, so I could get to the empty seats I could see and not add to the serious congestion in the doorway and aisles. Irregular train travellers, why do you not sit down when there are seats?
  • I’ve had bruises from a free-range suitcase on wheels on a bus. Smiley Student boarded bus, it took two friends to get all her luggage on, which included two suitcases on wheels. Smiley Student abandoned all of the luggage in a very haphazard fashion to get ticket… in the meantime, the driver drove round a corner, which went slightly down hill, and all luggage on wheels set off, bruising me as it went past. If you can’t control all your own luggage, you have no business being let loose with  it.
  • I have observed numerous discussions betwixt train managers and passengers, which are getting monotonous. (“No, your ticket is not valid on this train/this route/at this time.” “No, that area season ticket is not valid to any station on this line, yes, I know the lady (Me!!) over there has a similar looking pass, the difference is she pays the Out Of County rate to allow her to travel on a combined ticket.” “You really do need to buy a ticket before boarding this train, that’s the Nth time this week you haven’t, and the ticket office is open…”)
  • And, if I have to ask people to let me and other passengers get off the train before they get on it one more time, I am going to scream very, very loudly.

Wanders off for a nice, quiet, introverted, non-travelling rest of the day.

I wonder…

I have ended the working week significantly less tired than usual.

Yes, I got away three hours earlier than usual on Friday. That certainly helped! But, I’d put in some extra hours earlier in the week.

No, it’s not been a particularly different week. In fact, if anything, it’s been a pretty stressful week.

The main significant difference is that I have transferred all the contents of my work bag to a shopping trolley. This included

  • Three pencil cases
  • Two A4 folders, fairly full of paper
  • One Travel Scrabble set
  • One travel coffee mug and jar of coffee
  • One Lunch Box
  • One boiler suit or spare pair of jeans
  • One pair of steel toe capped boots
  • One Diary, small, but significant
  • Several items that didn’t belong to me, but will be returned to their owners when next I see them on Monday.
  • One purse
  • One Season Ticket for the Train
  • One Work ID badge
  • One small bag of medical items
  • One Bible
  • One Book for reading on the train
  • One coat/spare fleece

I’m not going into the details of why there is nowhere at work to keep any of these items. I don’t need all of them every day, but, I do need all of them in the course of the week. The final straw has been the realisation that I now finish most of my working days after our office has been locked, so I can’t even leave my coat there. The one day a week I can, I am liable to forget it’s there, and worry it’s in one of the four other places I’ve been since arriving. My left shoulder, and back, had been getting progressively achier since September, and the introduction of the new timetable, and are significantly less so today.

So, shopping trolley it is.   I am really surprised at how much less tired I’ve been in the evenings all week, and how much more energy I’ve had today. Now, it could be I am much more accustomed to my new routine in both jobs, and am less panicky about Sunday organ playing.

I was wary, initially, of using it on the train, but it’s only been a bit of a pain one day. It seems to be conferring eccentric middle aged woman status on me. The young man who was blocking my way to the only seat in the carriage looked set to argue with me for his aisle seat, but gave in when I pointed out the trolley and me wouldn’t fit in the window seat. He knew when he was beat, and shifted up.

So, what am I going to do with the new found energy?!

In which our intrepid heroine has adventures.

This going to weddings caper is quite exhausting…. Until recently, thinking about what to wear at all formal events was easy. However, the former way of life, and the attire that went with it being a thing of the past, this is no longer the case.

I spared you the detailed angst that went with the clothes shopping saga – at the time. I’ve recovered enough to give you the basic details!

The plan was for a dress, but finding one I liked within my budget, and that I was comfortable wearing,  just didn’t happen. So, skirt and smart top was the next plan. Finding one of each that I liked, was within my budget, that I was comfortable wearing and which went well with the other.  In fact, skirt was purchased! Then ideal top was found, but it did not go with the skirt, but it did go with several of the pairs of smart trousers I already possess. Skirt was then returned! (What d’you mean, I should’ve kept it?)

Shoes were actually easily chosen. But, they’ve been hell to break in! We’re not quite there yet, and I am glad I didn’t pay full price, as I seem to have paid almost as much again in plasters.

Then, with horror, I realised that the agony thus far described wasn’t over. I contemplated the accessories…..basically, I just don’t have any.  Nope, no handbags/clutch bags, no jewellery. So, I decided as I was only going to the church, these weren’t necessary. However, my work colleagues were horrified at this state of affairs, and brought in a load of necklaces andsmart bags for me to choose from.

Which I did.

No, I did not consider make-up. I have gone the last 40 mumble years without it, I am NOT starting now.

So, the day arrived, I got all organised, clean, dressed up, (feeling slightly not myself at all!) and contemplated setting off.  Walk, bus, train, train, bus. Essential items – house keys, purse, bus ticket,  train pass, A-Z of local city, certain items of a feminine nature we won’t talk about, hankies, card and present for bride and groom….. it slowly dawned on me that, like it or not, small backpack was just going to have be used (and shoved under a chair in church if need be!). This looking elegant lark does not work on a cool day in November, with two hours on public transport! It also meant I could shove the fleece I needed to keep me warmer whilst travelling out of sight. (What was wrong with a coat? Um. Two things. I only possess one, and it was at work.)

I had to remind myself I was not going to work, but remaining on the train for a further two stops,  to change to another train… then got lost went the scenic route to the bus station. It’s been a good while since I wandered around that town…

“It’s the bus stop before the Motorway Junction,” the church website had cheerfully proclaimed, which is OK, but not if you can’t actually tell it’s the church, until you’re whizzing past. Oh well, the buses are every 6-10 minutes, and I had allowed for such happenings.

The wedding was fabulous, and I met up with some great former colleagues… the coffee and cakes for those of us not going onto the reception later were a brilliant idea, and certainly much appreciated!

The reverse journey was somewhat easier, but I still got lost between bus and train station. Unusual, that. I normally have an excellent sense of direction.

I have definitely needed a quiet day at home to recover!

All good things

come, eventually, to those who wait!

So, it has finally come to pass that the holidays are upon me. No need to get up at silly-thirty o’clock tomorrow, no need to do battle with the railways for a whole twelve days. No need to think about being organised, or lunches, or anything other than my own life for a few days.

Mind you, the commute home was really rather ridiculous! I arrived at the station to find the train I was hoping to catch home had been cancelled, as had trains in the opposite direction, and the ominous sight of coaches sitting outside the station. The nice station staff (who know me) looked sorrowful, and pronounced my fate, without me even having to ask… the two sides of a triangle route home for me, the one that involves the only once an hour train  with only one carriage. “You might as well go and have a cup of coffee whilst you’re waiting” the nicest of them advised.

Luckily, a large supermarket is next to the station, so I toddled off there to get some bits and pieces, and arrived back to the miracle of A Train going on the direct route. It had obviously been a bad afternoon, as this was a Special Service, to get passengers from The City Where I Live, to The Town Where I Work. The plan being to get those passengers onto the buses, to The City Where I Used to Live, and to collect passengers to take them back to The City Where I Live. So, Hooray… I did not have to do the two sides of a triangle route after all, and actually got the whole of the Quiet Carriage to myself all the way home to The City Where I Live.

I am so looking forwards to a few lazy days…

Another Travel Conundrum

Having had a few weeks off, the thought of doing a train journey for pleasure is not as daunting as it is when I’m travelling by train every work day!

So, a friend and I are going to meet in a mid-way town, with a charming Abbey church, and things to see and do this week.

The sensible thing, in the Japes mind, is to take the rare direct train from my dear little local station – which would be £19.00. Same price as the more frequent train route going via a smaller city to the north of the town. But, in my perusing of the train ticket site as I also need to go to small city next week, it occurred to me that checking two different tickets, one from here to small city, then one from small city to mid-way town. £7.10 each. £14.20 in total. £21.30 for my week’s outings as opposed to £26.10.

Another small victory in the Japes’ constant battle to keep travel costs to the minimum!

Routines, me? It would appear so!

Pah. Try as I might to deny I am really a person of routine, this past three weeks or so has confirmed that on a day to day basis, unless I stick to a routine that works, things get forgotten, misplaced, and I get more than tired.

At least, on work days I need to have a routine that minimises thinking and maximises efficiency. (At least, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!)

So, a fortnight of changing travel arrangements has thrown me.. and in that fortnight the travel arrangements I’d changed from and fondly thought I was changing back to have changed, too!! It now seems I may be marginally closer to the better of the local train stations, now the new road has opened, and I’m going to test that out tomorrow morning.

Woefully, I have had my usual effect on bus routes. (I’m convinced I only have to use a bus route regularly for less than six months and it’s all change) I have carelessly misplaced two from my beautifully convenient bus stop at the end of the road since I last used it. Honest, I only had just over a fortnight off bus usage, the whole system can’t be sulking because I had a little variety… can it?!

To add to my discomfort, my work routines are slowly disintegrating. That happens at this time of the year, though, and thanks to the inefficiency of those I work with, I will at least be working as near a normal couple of weeks until the complete change (for four or five weeks,) then holidays!!!

So, if my own life has hit a bit of a limbo, so has work, and there’s no telling what will happen, on any front!!

And, by the way…

to all car drivers who give me thunderous looks, or yell at me for daring to cross the road as they are  turning the corner.

The correct use of your indicators would have alerted me to the fact you wanted to turn the corner, and I would’ve waited for you to do so. If you are so busy talking on your mobile phone, that you have no free hand to use your indicator, well then you are driving illegally on several counts, and I have no sympathy for you.

If you do not indicate your intention, then I read your intention as going Straight On, and I am free to cross the road.

Thank you.

Etiquette of the pavement…

Auntie Doris has reminded me of a rant I’ve been meaning to have for a few days now! After several days worth of  escapades with cars and cyclists and motorised scooters and the like, I would like to reclaim the pavement for the humble solo pedestrian!

Or, at least plead for some consideration for the humble solo pedestrian. Who spends a lot of time getting out of everyone’s way

Some parts of my walking routes to and from work do include sections of the pavement which are cycle lanes. However, I am aware of a growing tendency for many cyclists to assume they can cycle where they like, with little awareness of those of us walking. And with little awareness of the Highway Code.  My apologies to responsible cyclists, but I am encountering far more irresponsible ones, and my life is at risk!!

Then, there are pavements where cars think it’s perfectly OK to drive on them, because they are wide enough for a car, and the poor pedestrian is left wondering where to go!! Especially when the car stops, and the drivers asks you to move out of their way… and there is nowhere to go!! And there there are narrower roads, where cars park blocking most of the pavement, and their drivers think it outrageous that you want to be able to walk on the pavement, not on the road.

Then, there are those groups who walk in a line, hogging the width of the pavement.

I am on the slower side as a walker, I try do keep to one side or other of the pavement, so faster walkers can get past, but can’t always do even that in my efforts to avoid being mown down by cars, cyclists, motorised scooters.

It is a miracle I get home in one piece! Today it was a close run thing, and I have the bruise from the cycle’s handlebars to prove it.

Confused, but pleased!

I have three or four “train-friends”. We got talking on Friday, (as we often do) about the cost of travel, and one of them suddenly said – “You know what I’ve discovered, it costs exactly the same to get a weekly ticket to Site B Town, (where I work once or twice a week, as well as Main Site Town on the other days, but rely on the inter-site shuttle bus or going in early, and getting a Real Bus) as it does to Main Site Town. You have to make sure you ask for a specific type of ticket, not the straight-forwards Your Station to Main Site Town Station. They know about this at the main station, so the little local stations should…”

I pondered this, as this seemed be very sensible. It’s acceptable to get off at Main Site Town, a stop before Site B Town, and would save me more time!! And money.

Yet, knowing the huge difference in cost of the day tickets, and judging by the National Season Ticket Calculator, where the difference in price in a weekly ticket to Main Site Town and Site B Town is £14.00, I was frankly dubious, despite what my friend had told me. Yet, they are only seven minutes apart on the train route.

Still, nothing ventured etc. etc. I duly inquired this morning. Sharp intakes of breath, “It’ll cost lots more, we’re sure, as it’s Across the County Border… but as you’ve asked, we’ll check.” (Just to prove we’re right and you are wrong, was the subtext.” )

Stunned amazement followed. “You are right, madam, you can indeed buy the weekly ticket you want, at the price you’ve just told us! We didn’t know that!!” It was duly issued to me with all due speed, before they could find a catch.

What is scary is that I am now better educated in train tickets than the station staff…

Hello, weekend… not seen you for a long time.

I can report, with great glee, that the commuting is now much, much less horrid. Now I can read, which is always my preferred mode of occupation when travelling,  (generally my preferred mode of occupation any time, to be truthful!)  and I’m getting home at a more reasonable hour, I don’t feel  as if I’m spending more time travelling than working,(and wasted time at that, given my inability to read on buses) and resenting it. Which, I’m beginning to realise was a seriously corrosive feeling, having a bad effect on almost everything I was doing/thinking and definitely on my relationships with almost everyone I had contact with in the last couple of months.

I have also discovered that the train season ticket is less restricting than I had originally thought. I’d been reluctant to give up the bus pass, as it gave me travelling freedom on non-work days, which I had thought the train only option wouldn’t. But, as I was always too tired to do anything on non-work days it wasn’t working out that way… However, I can use this ticket to any of the stations in my region, (which is quite a size,) and not just to and from my local one.

And, my weekends are my own again.  I know I’ve had a couple of weekends to myself, but this is the first one since returning to work.So, once the washing is hung up, and the list written, I’m off to explore my new variations of travel, and taking myself off to Supermarket of Choice, which just happens to be by a train station I’ve never been to before!