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Blog: A rolling series of articles from our correspondents, wherever they are...

Luce Smith

The Wrong Shoes

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Wed 20th May, 2015 | 10:40am
Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne 2014 photo by brassynn
Kuurne-Brussel-Kuurne 2014 photo by brassynn
Cycling shorts, Lycra Jersey top, helmet, gloves, carrying water bottle, wearing what I can only describe as 'the wrong shoes'. I know people commute and brave taking their bike. I know this from when that guy put it in the toilet cubicle last year so as not to exceed total number of bikes allowed on a train. But everyone I've seen with bikes, has been dressed in cycling gear, from head to toe. So what is this, I ask myself? He gets in the train like there's nothing wrong, no one else seems to have an issue with it, so I shall try to move on.

Actually, I heard something shocking today. I discovered that a care home had given a 93yr old anti-depressants, to aid her sleep at night. I found this really hard to digest. Is this where we're at now? Is this the slippery slope of care? I was speechless when someone shared this with me, and I don't do speechless very often. I'm going to change the subject now, but just be aware, that this happens. In the UK. In our lifetime. Grim

I don't know why, but I've been a bit afraid of cycling since the whole cycle mania that seems to have appeared from the TdF era last year. I used to love a little spin on the old bike, but now find there's too many on the roads! One funny thing though, is how when you see other cyclists on your route, you suddenly become Miss Popular, and they all smile, nod, checking out your bike.,,.....but had I have been on foot, I would have been ignored. Are they secretly smiling and saying "hello" because they are thinking "I hope your bum's as sore as mine". Or because they have just come freewheeling down a 17% gradient hill, and know that you are just about to hit the climb? It was a great bike ride anyway, and I shall be going again next weekend.

The train is delayed. Due to......problems another train had. Nice. It's ok, I can do patience....I can!! What I can't do, is stand the Twitter feeds that a train company feed into Twitter. Due to not having enough carriages........or, due to a member of staff not turning up.........? Is that professional? I mean I would hate to be booked onto a flight, and once gone through tickets, passport, security and duty free, be sat on the plane, only to be told that the flight can't go ahead as the pilot has got a verruca, so needs to see his GP straight away. It could happen!

I mean, I guess I value their honesty, but perhaps they could start making changes as opposed to keep on tweeting the same issues. I wonder if they've ever sat on a train when the announcement is given? They may realise just how stupid they look.

My parents took an 11 hour journey to France this week. I did suggest to them, that in that timescale, they could have reached Singapore, but they weren't bothered. Is this what happens when you retire? You take long journeys to travel a short distance? Or is it just my parents being funny?

I have got people coming to view my house! Finally! I have done a deep clean, gardening, put the heating on, and bought a house plant. I think that should nail it. So nervous, it's ridiculous! Almost as nervous as the thought of my exam in 3 weeks time, but I'll pretend that's not happening just yet. I hope, that whoever puts an offer down on my house, will be chain free, otherwise I shall lose the will and patience skills will have to be permanently tattooed onto my brain.

I have never seen so many Frozen people in my life! I say people, it's my lack of knowledge of who the character is in Frozen who wears a dress, a tiara, and has no bum. Or any flesh really, no wonder she's frozen, she has zero body fat! But back to the millions of Frozen peeps, it must be a show in the city centre, because they're everywhere! Shame they didn't all communicate about outfits though as they're all wearing the same dress! Is that a fashion faux pas these days, or is it expected at one of these? Aren't there any other characters that they could dress as? I mean, what about the boys? Do they have to wear blue dresses too?

Liar! A guy and a little boy, were walking past one of those mobile pizza vans, but a vintage van, so looked cool. The little boy asked what it was selling. The guy said, 'just coffee'. I nearly laughed out loud and say 'what?' How mean is that? I didn't know whether to go with the guy, and say, fair play, well distracted, a wise economical move. Or, side with the kid, "well, that doesn't smell like coffee, and why would you have ketchup or mayo in your coffee?" You heard it here first.......
Wed 20th May, 2015 | 10:40ammore...
Luce Smith

Heart Warming Thoughts

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Wed 6th May, 2015 | 2:59pm
photo by Benjamin Lehman
photo by Benjamin Lehman
It's not what you see, it's what you don't see that matters. I know, a little deep for a Smith blog, but I do have my reasons.

From the very start of my commuting days, it always saddened me that people spent time texting, or playing games whilst travelling, instead of meeting new people, learning new things and what I call, socialising. I still think about the guy in the red coat, who I spoke to on my way home last year. He had a terribly annoying cough, and I later found out he was coming home after his appointment at the hospital, only to be told, there was nothing they could do to cure his cancer. It was so sad, but it was a privilege for me to meet him, and for him to share such personal information with a perfect stranger.

During my commute today, (Percy's on detention until he learns to know and adhere to the road speed limit), I found myself staring at people, wondering about their mental health, and how they cope with it. Yes, everyone has mental health, it's just that sometimes it goes a bit haywire, or unpredictable. In my opinion of course, it's not a sweeping generalisation, everyone must be allowed to share their views.

I watched stranger on a bridge last night round at a friends (still no TV, and still no desire to own one. Just saying, although I did find it helped me nod off on an evening! Or was that the red wine...., anyway).

#findmike

What an amazing scenario. Where was I six years ago, as I don't recall it at all. I guess I wasn't tuned into Twitter at that time, and only used Facebook to connect with friends who'd realised that the sun shines a lot more outside the UK, so had taken a one way ticket!

I know I'm going on now, but bear with, I'm blonde so my concentration span is obviously on a short timer.... I mean, how many people do you walk past every day, and actively acknowledge them? I know I walk past heaps of people and don't think twice about what they may be thinking.

In case you didn't see it, or are unaware of the whole #findmike, to keep it short, this guy had had enough, walked onto Waterloo Bridge (yes I had to google it as my geography for down South, is, well, embarrassing) and was about to jump. A guy spotted him from afar, and sensed what he was about to do, so rushed over and talked to him. He didn't jump.

Such a wonderful heart warming event that reassures you about human nature. We are nice people, but life has gone into mega speed and we forget to take time for the simple things. The things that cost no money, or much effort, just time, and empathy. Who could you talk to next? Would it really hurt to take your eyes off a screen to say "hi" to a neighbour?

I'm guessing not. It's like the brownie guides, I promise that I will do my best, to do my duty to God, to serve the queen, to help other people, and to keep the brownie guide law. Is that right? Have I remembered it correctly? Gosh! I got a good house keeping badge whilst a Brownie! I will make a good wife they say.....mmmm well, not yet obviously.

So go on, put the kettle on, and have a natter. But a word of warning, whilst the kettles boiling, keep well away. Why? I reached over to clean the kitchen whilst the kettle was boiling (us girls can multi-task), but I reached over the spout (is it a spout on a kettle? Or is it only on a teapot?) and had a hot flush! Not one of those hot flushes, I have those to look forward to, but a steam burn. Yowch! I did the cold water thing, then cling film. 5 days later I go to the G.P. surgery and they are a little surprised I hadn't been sooner! Well, I say, that's what you get for being a vet's daughter! It'll heal itself like it would in a field in the open air....zero sympathy, and only animal dressings in our first aid kit at home!

So in my case, what you saw very much matters! I shall go on a kettle boiling course, which may be a bit like kettle bells? Actually, if a kettle did have bells, it may have deterred me from getting burnt!

Ha ha, such fun! But I shall leave this deeper than normal blog, with this; commuting is about linking up, and not just from one location to the next.
Wed 6th May, 2015 | 2:59pmmore...
Luce Smith

Tour de Yorkshire

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Wed 6th May, 2015 | 2:47pm
TdeY 2015 Peleton 2 photo by Don Barrett
TdeY 2015 Peleton 2 photo by Don Barrett
I think the tour de Yorkshire was put on for me, as I was a very respectable tour maker for last years Tour de France, so didn't see much/any! I hadn't planned on going to watch the race, but the rain stopped, and the sun came out. Yes, I'm a fair weather cyclist! Cycling or spectating!

So I dashed out and drove to Ilkley, expecting heaps of traffic. It was fine. I walked through past the Grove, which had been pedestrianised, no traffic. I headed up towards the Cow and Calf, and found a wall to perch on. Perfect.

I was amazed that the road wasn't closed, really surprised. I was also surprised at the lack of health and safety in place. No barriers, nothing. Was this due to lack of funding? Or was it decided on a risk assessment that it was good enough to let people onto the roads? And dogs....

I waited for about 45 minutes, beginning to hope action would commence soon before I gave up. Then the big cars came, then the motorbikes with bright blue lights. Oh good, a push bike will be en-route shortly? How many motorbikes? And not a freebie in sight, a great sign it's the Tour de Yorkshire! There was so many motorbikes, it was such a shame. Cycling is green, environmentally friendly and natural, so to see all the fumes was horrible, so was the noise. Ok, so I'm aware I sound like a grumpy old woman but bear with, it's just a phase?

The cyclists finally appeared and looked like they were on their first mile! I'll bet this was different at the top of the hill, but these guys are relentless. It was good to cheer them on, and support them, even if I was opposed to the motorbikes! After the majority had passed by, I wandered back into Ilkley. Many were still by the pavements, with deck chairs and wine, was there more to come? I wasn't bothered, their wine had created wine envy in me, and I needed a bottle shop!

Walking back to Mr Percy (who is in a lot of trouble as he was caught speeding last weekend on a road that was unrestricted, so I'm now £85 lighter, and get to spend 4 hours looking at road kill), I saw an ambulance in the middle of the road, someone on the floor, and a police motorbike. Uh oh, I didn't like the look of it, and didn't want to stare, but it was right by the road crossing which I needed to use. I crossed over and said a prayer. There was a couple on the other side and I stopped to ask what had happened. The bikes had raced past, and the lady stepped out onto the road, into the motorbike :(. What a horrible end to an exciting day. I did feel however, that the red wine was now justified.

I can now say I was part of the TdeF and the TdeY. What's next, the tour de Iceland? That would be a challenge and a half! Can you buy snow tyres for a push bike? Can you?

Until the next Tour, I shall return to writing my essay and sipping red wine, a tour in itself?
Wed 6th May, 2015 | 2:47pmmore...
Luce Smith

Chains

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Fri 1st May, 2015 | 5:07pm
Chain linkage photo by Max Klingensmith
Chain linkage photo by Max Klingensmith
I've just realised something. I don't actually know what a blog is! I've written them for over 6 months now, without even knowing what one is! At a guess, I would say it's a shortened label for its actual title of a bloggerendum? Like a whole load of words all thrown into an article and questioned. No, it can't be that, let me ask my google friend. Of course it's a weblog. Why didn't I know that? It's still not clear though, it's a log on the World Wide Web. I could therefore say I do business internationally? I'm an international blogger. We all are, I know, but let me have that title just this once. Then I'll let it go I promise.

I feel I had better write with all my readers in mind,and have it in all of the languages that exist. Otherwise I'll get done on the issue of e&d and I don't want that, I want these to be accessible for all. Is there an audio version of this? If do, it almost definitely should start the blog by saying 'Ey up'..... Sorry, I shall focus. Ish!

I'm now part of a chain. I've never been part of a chain before! I feel like I'm really getting into gear for the tour de Yorkshire, haha, I'm laughing at my own jokes now! I'm not volunteering this time, as there's no caravan float for entertainment so I flatly refused. I'm not joining a cycling club either. Nor am I sending a letter; do you remember those chain letters that went round? What year was that, 90's? Gosh.

Anyway, I'm diverging massively. I've decided to sell my house and buy another. It sounds so simple doesn't it? If only! Packing and moving doesn't bother me at all, what annoys me is the chain you or the other person is/are in, and the links connected. I wish I was a first time buyer again! That was so easy, see a house, like a house, play monopoly and buy a house. Now, it's see a house, like a house, put own house on market, see if someone likes your house, buy a house, they can't find a house, your people can't sell their house....noooooooooooooooooo!

Alternatively, if I was flash with cash I could just keep the house until I got fed up with it, imagine that.....

"You're having a toastie? Is that going to be enough darling? I won't be home too late, but really I don't think a toastie is an actual dinner. Is it? Well, I won't be back before you leave, so see you later on."

"Shoulders? Or we could do arms? Up to you mate, I'm not bothered. I did chest yesterday, but can do again if you want to do chest? Yeah I had a protein shake an hour so am good to go. You want to do arms? That's cool mate yeah, see you in 20."

"Put Esme in the seat darling, and Sofia can have the booster seat in the back. Yes of course darling, that's how we always do it when we take them to ballet class. Now are you sure you've done it right? Just check that the belts are properly fastened won't you darling? Yes I know you know, but I'm just double checking you have done what you know! It can be a handful at times trying to get it right but I'm sure you have done it right. Oh, and the orange juice and cucumber squares are in the blue lidded Tupperware box in the fridge on the 2nd shelf, did you get them? Brilliant darling, then I think you're good to go! Enjoy and have fun, and send them my mummy love ..."

It must be mobile phone fun this evening! What a joy for me! The funniest thing though was unspoken. A lady opposite me, quite well dressed, was picking up the freebie newspaper from the floor. She opened it, then turned her nose up like it smelt? I tried not to look over with my questioning look. She flicked a few pages, then the nose turned up again. I wondered if I'd missed anything so I took a deep breath in. Mmm, there is a smell, but not sure what. Not even sure if it's nasty or nice! What on earth is it?

I recognise it,and it's not one that makes you look under your shoe, but it's possibly not far off. I look at the lady next to the lady reading the paper. Ah ha! Got it, she's wearing equestrian clothing, the long coat, jodhpurs and boots. I feel complete now I have matched the smell with the cause! Phew. I'm happy, but newspaper lady isn't. The newspaper goes to the floor and she begins to text. What? We are in the almost Yorkshire Dales, we do have horses around. I'd love to see a proper farmer on the train, in all his gear. Fabulous! With his dog of course.

I shall put an end to this bloggerendum, and sign off. Or blog off.
Such fun!
Fri 1st May, 2015 | 5:07pmmore...
Luce Smith

High Speed Commute

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 27th Apr, 2015 | 10:52am
A Fast 30 photo by Ben Grey
A Fast 30 photo by Ben Grey
I have devised a new concept for the park and ride services. I call it, park and run. For some reason this week, the time from realising I must leave the house, to the time I actually leave the house, has been somewhat different!

It has, of course, had repercussions. It has meant that poor little Percy has had to go from over 12hrs peaceful sleep, to immediately being started, revved, and floored for the drive to the train station! Poor little thing. How to empty a tank of fuel quicker than usual! Luckily, my route doesn't take me through too many 30 mph limits, in fact, only two, so at least speeding doesn't occur as well......

It has meant I have parked up, tucked the wing mirror in, and galloped to the platform, hoping I haven't missed out on my connection. Of course, I haven't, in fact, I got to the platform and the train was only just pulling in. Maybe I need to reassess my 'leaving home' time. I get it from my mum, she is always mega early for trains, planes and automobiles. Whereas my dad is the opposite and doesn't shudder at jumping onto a train as the doors close!

So I have left Percy basking in the sunshine whilst I commute to work. But it's Friday, and for some reason, these morning are much more bearable than most. I'm not even bothered about getting eye contact with other commuters! They can amuse themselves I'm quite sure. I mean, I must look quite a sight listening to some some top tunes, wiggling away on my space limited seat! I can't help myself, and if singing out loud is frowned upon, then this will have to do. Who can actually sit still whilst listening to doe banging tunes, with the sun shining? I challenge anyone to try it!!

Studying is still going ok, although with other things going on in life, I fear my last essay is going to be a little rushed! But people have been found to work better under pressure, so hopefully I will be one of those on this occasion! Exam in 6 weeks, and I cannot wait for that to be over with; I shall not be worth knowing the days beforehand that's for sure. Yuk.

I wish I didn't care about them, but I do, and I have paid for the privilege to take an exam at my ripe old age! I shall embrace it with a big smile, knowing that it's my last one for this degree. I won't quite say it's my last exam ever, as there is a possibility I will want to study something else next year. What else are you meant to do on an evening after work?

I think Friday is more relaxed on the trains, many more people read the freebie newspaper and seem more at ease. I still daren't speak to them yet! Maybe next week, when the forecast is set to 'turn' and we remember we live in England, and should be just bloomin' grateful for any bit of good weather we receive! That's when people will look at each other, and tut......

Such fun!
Mon 27th Apr, 2015 | 10:52ammore...
Luce Smith

I Got Zero Easter Eggs

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Sun 12th Apr, 2015 | 7:00pm
Leeds Town Hall photo by Djenan Kozic
Leeds Town Hall photo by Djenan Kozic
That is so unfair. I'm on the train home. I'm writing my shopping list for this evening, and thinking of my gin and tonic to accompany my tea. There is a man sitting directly opposite me. He is wearing a leather jacket, and is carrying an oversized high street store carrier bag. He's drinking out of a can. The can is only my lifesaving gin and tonic. I'm tempted to snatch it out of his hands and tell him it's not his. My heart beat quickens up. I want one! I won't be a spoiled little brat though, I shall play fair and smile sweetly. It's quite funny actually because unlike me, he is hiding the evidence. Be a proud ginner I say!

I feel like it's the end of term, end of school. Graduation day even! Why you may ask? It's because I've only just gone and completed my two month gym contract. I set out to do two, and I did two. Was I tempted to keep on for another month, to keep dry whilst at exercise? During April showers? Nah, skin's waterproof, and if I don't stop now, I will then feel I have to go until the summer, and then Christmas and then......

So, the new gym is at my house, and God's garden, weather permitting. It's ok being a country bumpkin, but even my limits are a light shower!

Easter was fun, I got zero Easter eggs, and it wasn't due to me saying don't buy me one! Cheek. However, kindly, a new staff member came in after Easter with gold wrapped chocolate eggs for the team. I don't know if she counted them, but I possibly took more than my fair share. Still, most people had these as secondary Easter eggs so I didn't feel too guilty!

I had a fun commute, on my old track/commute, but at the weekend. I was accompanied by my Dad, so didn't get to overhear too many conversations. Dad did comment on the type of train used though, as it wasn't the 'usual' one. The reason for the journey, was, as my Dad calls it, a 'Dads & Daughters' evening out. He reminds me of being musically aware, and we go to the Town Hall for the orchestral concerts. It's funny, the whole of the Town Hall is packed with the typical older generation, white British couples. You sit quietly, listening to the old dears coughing, then rummaging in their trusty handbag for that mint humbug they put in before they left the house just in case.

What really makes me laugh, is how they all stamp their feet in applause once a piece of music has been played. Is that politically correct?!

What's also funny, is the facial expressions of the percussionists, especially the drummer, my personal favourite. They really give it some!

Another thing that tickled me, was the pianist, a young lad, so talented, and so passionate about his music, he doesn't even need his music in front of him. He played fantastically, and the audience applauded appropriately (hands and feet!), and he was presented with....a huge bouquet of flowers. Would he like flowers? Wouldn't a barrel of beer be better? Or a voucher for perhaps trumpet lessons? I know I'm being very sexist here in suggesting flowers aren't suitable, but do they think who they are buying a gift for, or is it Margery, who always buys flowers for the soloist and has done since 1957? Just saying...

The concert lasted longer than usual (being recorded for Radio 3, so added more pieces), and I walked down to the station with Dad. Looking at the departure board, I spotted a train home, with just under 2 minutes until departing, so just over 1.75 minutes before doors would close. 'Run!'

He was off! Like sprinter Mo! I hesitated in shock at watching my Dad peg it through the concourse! I was impressed! We both got through the ticket barrier, onto the platform, and found seats.

Luckily, the return train didn't disappoint in terms of entertainment. People who had been out for a good few hours kept us wondering who would crumble to the floor first, or be kicked out for being aggressive or noisy. I should have picked up a can of gin and tonic to join in! Instead, once home, I was grateful to live in the peace and quiet. Slippers, cocoa, bed, with the last movement from the concert singing around in my head, and the drummers facial expressions still making me giggle! Such fun!
Sun 12th Apr, 2015 | 7:00pmmore...
Luce Smith

Cake And Mindfulness

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Fri 27th Mar, 2015 | 5:25pm
birthday cake photo by jamieanne
birthday cake photo by jamieanne
What happens if you don't follow the Lent rule 100%? Did it happen in biblical times? So I've given up chocolate and bread. Today's stress levels have meant that I almost broke the no chocolate rule. I saw the chocolate cake sitting on the spare desk. It was brought in by a staff member and offered to all. No thanks, I said cheerily, I've given up chocolate for Lent, but thank you.

My smile faded. My mouth watered. I watched everyone tuck in. I tried to stare at my computer screen as a distraction. The cake was watching me. If you really listened carefully, it was calling me. I got up and walked past it. It looked soooooooooo good.

I sat back at my desk and tried to work out what I was to do. If I eat it, it will be delish, and I will enjoy it. But, I will have failed to remain true to myself, as I have given it up. Not just for any reason, but for Lent. Which should mean something. I weighed up the options in my head. Nope, keep off the cake. I looked over, and showed the cake my hand, 'cos I ain't listening.

You can tell I am missing my choc fix! I'm giving something else up too. At the end of this month, I shall cancel my gym membership. I can't do it. I have been going, but not enjoying it, especially of late as it's been nice outside. I've surprised myself once on the treadmill, and have done a good (ish) workout. I don't like the lack of fresh air though, and I don't want to get fitter or faster. I'm every personal trainers worst nightmare surely? What would you like to achieve during our session today Lucy? Well,I would like to smell the fresh air, see a bit of wildlife and move about a bit.

I'm flabbergasted at the 'breaking news' this week. Not a natural disaster or the usual terrible news that fills our front pages. Nope, the news to be prioritised, is that of a member of a boy band, is leaving. Shocking. How did we get to the point where news got this ridiculous? I mean, I think it would be great if newspapers printed a positive story on the front page and another on the back page. This way it makes people more hopeful that there is some good around. I'll mention it to a few editors.....

How do you communicate with spotty loud mouthed teenagers, who speak rubbish, use rude words, and forget that some of us have had a long day at work and just want to be peaceful? I'm thinking smiling sweetly may make them feel sorry for me and they'll hush. It didn't work. Shall I stand up and scream as long and hard as I possibly can? Bearing in mind my lung capacity is huge? No, I daren't. I shall pretend it's not unpleasant.

This week I attended a mindfulness taster event. I read a book on it last year, and found it fascinating. All about living in the now, and enjoying 'the now'. The book taught me to stop, look and listen, even if I wasn't learning to cross the road. It really is very simple, yet so sad people have lost the natural ability to do it. We have to make time in our days to switch off.

The room was full, which I wasn't expecting. There was a mix of ages, but not a great mix of gender. We all sat around the room, apprehensive to be honest! Two hours was set aside for this session. The trainer introduced herself, and explained what we would be doing/learning. We then did a basic mindfulness practice. It was so calming.

I have to admit, my mind wandered and I started thinking how I could rearrange my furniture to give more space in the lounge, but I returned to the calm state. It was only 3 minutes, but felt a lot longer. She said we would normally do that for at least 10, minutes. Some mentioned their thoughts wandering and the trainer asked where we thought the thoughts would go. I said any longer in that state and I would have done all of my Christmas shopping!

It was a great session, and good to see new faces. There was one lady who, I think, thought it was a load of rubbish and turned her nose up. That's fine, we are all unique individuals. Thank goodness! So next time I wish for the out of bounds chocolate, I shall instead, stay calm and focus on my breathing. Then dive into the bag of Revels? The heat is on, is it much longer until Easter?
Fri 27th Mar, 2015 | 5:25pmmore...
Luce Smith

New Coat

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Fri 20th Mar, 2015 | 8:33pm
Raspberry coat photo by Jessica Spengler
Raspberry coat photo by Jessica Spengler
This is a first. Since doing this new commuting regime, I have had zero problems with the trains. Today, there is a delay. Please await further announcements. Fine, but you tell my mouth it may have to wait even longer before it gets a cup of tea! I'm also beginning to cross my legs too, but I think this is because I know I have to wait!

No explanation is given as to why the train is delayed, just that it's late. Well, brains, I can see that. The clock on the station clearly has gone past the time the train was meant to depart. Nearly ten minutes later, the train appears. I have to stand up, but it's ok, you can see a lot more when a little higher!

There's an announcement on the PA system. Welcome to the delayed train.....the voice then tells us why it's been delayed. Problems in the loop. There has been an incident of trespassing. Is that all? I thought for an awful moment the driver had decided he had worked too many hours and stopped to have a break. The announcement then continues to tell us where the incident occurred, and that if the train stops..........we know why.

In this case, I'm now having words with those trespassing, in my head. I'm telling them that if they don't get home in two minutes they will go straight to bed without any tea. Would that work or don't parents use that threat anymore? I guess it's more like they can't go online, or play that game.... I sincerely hope they have run fast, I would not like to be on a train if it hit someone. Yuk. Doesn't bear worth thinking of, although, sadly, it happens.

I shall change the subject quickly, and look forward to reaching my station stop! It's been an odd week. It's been a bit plain, lots of studying, handed an essay in, started a new module, and .....oh my word. I object. In a big way. A lady, wearing a good branded jacket, has just gone and sprayed deodorant under her armpits. On the train, in the main carriage, with other people around.

Trains have toilets? Couldn't she have gone and done it in an appropriate place?

It didn't help, that it wasn't even a particularly nice smelling deodorant in my opinion. Which of course is all that matters. I really force myself not to turn and stare at her. I grit my teeth instead. Have people no manners? Or respect for others? I want chocolate. Clearly a mood eater, and as Lent is still going on, I shall grit my teeth again. Who needs chocolate......who needs it? Me! Maybe I could buy that non dairy chocolate, does that count as actual chocolate? I guess I set the rules. I would probably only be disappointed.

I am actually a bit of a coat freak this week. I want a new coat, and can't decide whether to get a winter warm one as it was -3 the other day, or pretend warmth is on its way and go lightweight. I've been looking at all the ladies' coats in town and on the train, and nothing's jumped out at me as yet.

Shops on the high street seem to think you can wear zero layers in this country at this time of year, and I'm not young enough to live with that! I'll wait another week. What's the difference anyway, between a coat, and a jacket. Is there one? It's like the difference between test and exam. What is the difference? I like to know these things! Answers on a postcard please......
Fri 20th Mar, 2015 | 8:33pmmore...
Luce Smith

Lent, Frogs and Parties

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 16th Mar, 2015 | 3:40pm
Busy frogs photo by Raphael Quinet
Busy frogs photo by Raphael Quinet
I am a grumpy hungry person. I didn't even know it! However, this was discovered when a table wasn't booked and we turned up to a busy restaurant on a Saturday night. This was 8pm, and a table was promised in an hour. I can wait an hour. I can. It was close to 10pm when we got sat down, and luckily, vodka had curbed a bit of my hunger, so I was almost not hungry at this stage. We ordered our food, and the waiter then came by with a basket of fresh bread. It looked lovely, and smelt even better. However, I have given up bread for lent. So I could only sit and look at it. What a mean trick! Or perhaps a real test of my commitment to Lent?

Talking of which, the first week without chocolate was pretty tough, but I'm ok now; chocolate? What's that?! We finally got fed, and my mood went from grumpy to happy by the time I was half way through. Phew!

The gym has been fun this week. I have done a few classes to add a bit of variety, and they've been good. It's been funny to watch someone do their stretching and warm-up; in the changing rooms? Yes, not in the areas of the gym where this potentially could take place, but in the changing rooms where space is limited in between naked ladies, towel clad ladies, and ladies armed with hair straighteners! Still, it's a free country....

Another interesting moment in the gym was seeing a man working out with his guide dog. It was a beautiful thing to see. The guy was doing some resistance upper body workout, and the dog was stretched out on the floor beside him. I've never seen a blind person and dog in the gym before, but really hope to see more of it.

Home times have been ok, and Percy is liking his new lazy routine. I actually found a busy train yesterday, and found myself standing up for most of the journey! It's been a while since that's happened. I got home one night, and went to get my bin from the back yard. I almost put my foot on something, until it moved. I shrieked! What on earth is it? I got my torch out, and pointed it towards the moving object. I then got my phone out and started taking pictures.

Looking at the photos on my phone, I realised I had almost trodden on a frog! A bloomin' big one at that! On further investigations, I was disgusted to realise that I had been taking photos of not just one frog, but a double decker frog! It must be mating season, and I felt bad for interrupting! I apologised out loud (and hope the neighbours weren't listening), and went back indoors, closing the door with a bang.

I keep getting political leaflets through my door. Voting season. Who to elect? I don't like to be cynical, but what they pledge to do, how often do they actually happen? I mean really? It was NHS change day yesterday and there were heaps of pledges thrown out via social media.

I kept having to delete my automatic reply of 'when will we see this?'. Was I born cynical, or is it something I've picked up? I don't even know what cynical really means to be honest, but it's a word people have used to describe me in the past. Let me Google....mmm, distrust of other people's motives. In that case, when it comes to leaders of society, I'm very cynical!

However, I will do my research on the local electees and come to a decision, and vote accordingly.

I wonder if I look like I vote a particular political party? Do I look green? Or labour? Or Tory? Yikes! Is there a website that compares political parties, like Go Compare? That would be mighty handy for people like me! I shall check it out and if it doesn't exist, I have found a new project to work on!

Bring it on!
Mon 16th Mar, 2015 | 3:40pmmore...
Luce Smith

Personal Trainer

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 9th Mar, 2015 | 3:13pm
Treadmill photo by Farhad sh
Treadmill photo by Farhad sh
The start of the treadmill workout begins, and always makes me feel I can't do it, and that I will only last 5 minutes before admitting defeat and jumping in the hot showers.

Music pumping, lots of people in using the equipment, but am just not feeling it! However. I show willing, and set off with a speed walk. The girl next to me jogging, plugged into earphones, and looks like she's been there a while. I start to relax, wake up, and feel a bit more in gym mode, so I turn up the speed.

Turns out that the girl next to me is jogging about the same pace as me, so it's easier to keep going. Phew, I can do it! I then turn quickly to look at the girl as she attempts to slow down her treadmill. 'You can't stop!' I say, 'you're keeping me going!' And so she gets back to 'our' jogging pace. I smile. I actually said that out loud! It was really keeping me motivated though, knowing I wasn't on my own, so I was grateful.

Soon, it was my time to stop, but the girl next to me was still jogging with me. This could be awkward, what if she asked me to keep going too, and I declined? Would the emergency stop button work and I end up as a heap on the floor? Not a good thought! Luckily, she started slowing down, and I didn't stop her this time. As she left, I thanked her again.

I spent most of the afternoon in the public library. I haven't been for quite some time, up in the study area, so was intrigued. It was very quiet, but a peaceful quiet. The room was full, with all the computer stations being used. I was definitely the youngest by far, in fact I'd say at least 20yrs! I sat down, got my studies out, and set to work. It was such a productive few hours! No mobile phones went off, no one spoke loudly, and I was left in peace. Brilliant. It also meant that I wasn't distracted like I can be at home. I sit down to study, then think, oh, I'll just put the washing on, or, I'll just have another coffee, or, I'll just send that email.......I think it's the future, as long as the councils don't close them down I suppose.

I'm about to embark on a half hour fundraising activity. As usual for me, no training or planning has occurred. I've agreed (& I wasn't drunk), to cycle on the station concourse ( I have no idea what a concourse is, is it like an agility course? Race course? Who knows?),for 30 minutes, to raise money for a charity I volunteer for. It seemed ok at the time, but I wasn't expecting it to be windy, 3 degrees or busy! I'm sure 30 minutes will fly by, and I will only peddle as money flows into the bucket, no donation, no peddling. That's fair isn't it?

The train driver's wearing sunglasses. It's 6:30am. It's March, pre clocks going forward. By no stretch of the imagination is it sunny. The sun's not even rising yet. There's no excuse, and I need to have words. I also need to have words with a fellow gym buddy.

He's one of the gym guys who wears a woolly hat, his weights belt loosely around his tiny waist, and his pants sitting neatly under his bum cheeks. I wonder if the pants are there by accident, and that he hasn't the strength to pull them up properly after lifting a personal best? Bless, he must need another steak or two to get more strength. I would say he hadn't had his Weetabix, but that doesn't seem to be popular at the moment! Oh no! I've just seen him actually adjust his pants so that they are properly at the base if his bum cheeks. Gosh this guy needs a personal trainer. I put my hand up, I can get this guy into shape simply by grabbing the waist of his pants and pulling them up to where they should be. Just saying.....

Talking of personal trainers, the girl I used for motivation earlier joined me on the treadmills today. I daren't look at her as she may be angry, or not want to gallop further than necessary. She took me by surprise by saying hi. I said 'don't worry, I'm about to finish, so won't be bothering you!'. She laughed, then went on to say that she had just come back to the gym after a hip operation. She was just getting back into exercising again. Gulp. I felt awful, and selfish. I'd picked on the wrong person to keep me going on my jog! She chatted away and said 'where were you when I needed a personal trainer a few weeks ago, you would have helped me!'.

So that's it. I'm now going to change my career goals and become a personal trainer. I'll probably end up training people on the Olympic team with my knowledge and experience. Oh, but I need to lead by example, and there is more to life (my life anyway), than working out, so, perhaps I won't follow her advice. I'll just be me, because I'm quite good at that! Now, where are my sunglasses.........
Mon 9th Mar, 2015 | 3:13pmmore...
Luce Smith

I May Have Been Banned

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 9th Mar, 2015 | 1:55pm
The Yoga Master photo by Beverley Goodwin
The Yoga Master photo by Beverley Goodwin
I had a conversation on the train journey! I didn't start it either, it was offered to me! So of course, I grabbed it with both hands and squeezed every second out of it I could! It was jolly lovely, so much so, that I've decided that this half car, half train and a little gallop commute is the way forward.

Although I may have been banned from the service if I'd done what I wanted to do, but it wouldn't have been my fault........I was reading some posts on the book of faces, and one popped up that I liked. It was a few yoga stretches to do, to get you in the right frame of mind for the day ahead. It's only 6:13am, so most are still asleep, or at least at home!

It was posted from a couple I have followed for a while as they make me laugh. I commented on the status, saying I would love to do them (never done yoga in my life and can't think I would be able to be that flexible or patient), but was on the train to work. I also said that I would love to get the train carriage passengers to join in with me if I did! They replied saying I should, and that I would be a YouTube sensation. I giggled. Dare I? I'd love to, but don't think I have it in me, and the train's nowhere near full.......next time.

The commute this week meant that I was able to attend a dinner I was meant to go to in January, but, due to a signal down on the trains, I was delayed and had to miss out. Not this time. I picked my friend up in town, and we got ready at my house.

My friend came out of the bathroom and said she had never showered with a butterfly before! Oh? I thought everyone had a butterfly in their shower.

I explained.

In August, two butterflies decided to take residency in my bathroom. They didn't ask, they just moved in. After a few weeks, they were still there, clinging on for dear life. Are they alive? Hibernating? On the run and in hiding? Months passed and they didn't budge. A few weeks ago, the sun came out and there was fluttering to be seen. One clever butterfly flew out, I say clever, it was near freezing so it may not have lived too long after the great escape.

The remaining one decided to move into the shower cubicle. I didn't think it would stay long as I like a very hot shower, and one that takes forever, but it must like the tropical atmosphere! I'd forgotten to tell my friend about it, but luckily I don't think she minded, or thought I was weird. I didn't ask it to be in there! It's when I get the flower press out that she should worry......!!

I was so delighted with the week, that I celebrated by taking Percy the Punto, for a hand wash and dry.

I've never done it before, so I'll be honest, I was a little nervous. I also have no idea how much these things cost, and whether you need to pay by cash? I stopped at the cash point in preparation. £10? £20? Yikes!

I drove into the yard, and expected signs of instruction. Nothing, so I put my window down, and the nice man in the hi-viz came over. 'Wash and dry?' Oooop, can I ask for a perm? It's ok. He was European and possibly my humour wouldn't have been appreciated, so I said yes please. '£6'. Really? Ok, so I handed the money over, and was waved to the first stage.

Exciting! I watched him hose me down, and tried not to giggle like a girl. I moved onto stage 2 for a sponging. The muck coming off little Percy was quite something. Would they charge more for it being so filthy? They didn't even look at him when they told me the price!

Stage 3, and I was a little slow at this transition as I was busy thinking what other people did in their cars whilst having a hand wash and dry. Another hose down, with a different shape nozzle and a different spray shape. Then under the wheels and by the mirrors! This is good!

Next up was a bit of a rub down which I found quite fascinating for some reason! I especially like the part where the chamois cloth went through the press to dry out, and be reused. Simple things.

I got the thumbs up, and drove away with Percy, I hope, feeling like a new car. I certainly feel like I've just stepped out of a salon.

Such fun, but what if I hadn't shut my window properly......
Mon 9th Mar, 2015 | 1:55pmmore...
Luce Smith

He Is Wearing New Shoes

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Wed 25th Feb, 2015 | 6:15pm

He is wearing new shoes.

So new, I wouldn't be surprised if the price label was still stuck on the soles. They look very comfortable, very smart, and very mean to the credit card.

This commute has a very different passenger type to the one I have been used to, even though I upgraded to the luxurious London number towards the latter part. In fact, you'd think I was in a different part of the country!

These commuters dress differently. They speak differently, and they behave differently! These talk to one another face to face.

They do crosswords on a paper newspaper, with an ink pen.

They read broadsheet newspapers, the paper version.

They have laptops on their knees.

Phones aren't used for the duration of the journey, they can sit upright and don't seem to need to be texting someone about a colleague's choice of sock wear in the office today.

It's very quiet, and dare I say, civilised?

The rush hour train isn't like it used to be either. We aren't all sat down unable to breathe out. We actually still have spare seats! No 'can you move down please we're trying to get on', or, 'take that bike out of the toilets, what a stupid place....'. It makes me a bit weary to be honest.

I daren't put music on in case my ear phones leak and I am judged by my choice of music. I daren't look round the train to see who's onboard. I sit very calmly, and like a lady. Only with my skirt and trainers on, which I'm sure isn't the done thing.

The commuter bags are even different! All lovely leather laptop cases and briefcases. All matching gloves and scarves. I might try and brave a conversation soon.

I could start off with introducing myself as Lady Smith, purveyor of fine observations. I quite like that. Then, I could continue and ask how they are finding the train journey, and if it meets their needs.

I don't think this is the type of train for me to get out my can of gin and tonic, although, to see the reaction, it may well be worthwhile. I'm spending an hour of my day with these commuting people, I wonder if a sense of belonging will come to me by the end of the week?!

It's also week 3 of gym membership and despite not wanting to go. I am enjoying it. However, it does give one a mahoooosive appetite, so it's a good job I'm not on a weight loss program!

I have given up chocolate and bread for lent, and stopping eating it has shown me, rather disgustingly, how much chocolate I do eat, Yikes! The first two days were awful! My only saviour is still having a hot chocolate everyday. I haven't been tempted to eat the dry powder by the spoon yet, but give it a couple of days......

I have worked out how to use the treadmill without veering off when texting someone (part of my workout/time management), can use the cross trainer for 15 minutes, resulting in a sweaty mess, and have done a few classes, which has made walking a very difficult task for days afterwards!

Such fun!
Wed 25th Feb, 2015 | 6:15pmmore...
Luce Smith

New Routine

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 23rd Feb, 2015 | 9:04am
Fitness studio photo by Sten Dueland
Fitness studio photo by Sten Dueland
I am going to do something quite extra ordinary.

I'm going to have the best of both. Having a car is great, and my days are much better for me. Although I have to be honest and say that my studies have suffered. As far as I'm aware, it's ok to use your mobile phone whilst driving, to eat yogurt with a spoon whilst driving, and shout at sat nav. However, I have yet to see someone studying whilst at the wheel, so I haven't.

I have been thinking about how to get round this, and have come up with a genius idea. I will drive to a station, and do a shorter train journey. This will allow Percy to get out every day and meet new car friends. I can study for nearly an hour on the train in a day, and still get to the gym! Best of both, Hovis are right! Or if I say 50/50, then Warburtons win. See how I'm not promoting any particular brand there.....

Last week whilst on the treadmill, my motivation had stayed in bed, and I felt rubbish, so instead of going for a long shower and coffee before hitting my desk, I decided to pick someone from the treadmills in front of the gym, and do what they did. I tried to be selective over who I chose, but failed, as I ended up running for half an hour, which I don't do! What made it worse, was that as I left the gym, they were still running. I have now obviously named them Forest!

I have seen so many different types of people at the gym. There are obviously the hardcore muscle people, who lift a weight, make lots of noise, then walk out looking extremely proud of themselves. Then, there are the people who always go to the Gym and look like it. There are then, of course, a few who just come in for the classes, and leave straight away. Next, and the ones I like the most, are the ones who genuinely want to keep fit and get in shape. I have a lot of time for these people as they are real! They have a good balance of life, and are just making a few changes to keep going, so doing a bit of exercise. These people generally look knackered, but always have a smile in the depths of their sweat!

Wow, I am on a train, with new people to soak up, and new stations to stop at. I haven't done this journey for so many years. What if they don't like me and I'm seen as a scary person who looks ready to chill out all day? I might look like someone who doesn't work, and I'm just blagging it. I've never been on a train in gym wear, carrying my workwear! Ah well, no one judges on appearance do they? I did brush my hair.......

I have no idea what platform it will land at, or how far I will have to gallop from the station to the gym. I hope it's a reliable service though as I have a strict time schedule to keep to today. I can't afford to hear a 'we are sorry, but.....' announcement. Please.

Here goes, let's see how this works out!
Mon 23rd Feb, 2015 | 9:04ammore...
Luce Smith

Red Lights

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Sun 22nd Feb, 2015 | 2:23pm
Tail lights photo by Cori Redford
Tail lights photo by Cori Redford
This cannot be beaten. I don't know whether to laugh, or to cry. But first, let me say that I am sensitive and I am awfully sorry that there has been a severe accident, and I do hope that those involved are ok. However, let me shed some light.

I'm flying down the Otley road, thinking how wonderful it is to be doing so, and now appreciating half term! I am about three quarters of my way home. I see red lights. Brake lights. A long steady row of them. Uh oh.

I think of alternative routes. Let me say that again, I said, I THINK of alternative routes, I don't google, or satnav, I engage brain. Found one. Once able to, I indicate, and slide off merrily, glad to be moving again. La la la, lots of us doing this route, we're like sheep. One by one, by one. La la I shall be home for 6:30pm, dinner in the oven, pyjamas on...what a pleasant evening it shall be.

Brake lights appear. One, by one, by one.

Until the whole back road is choc-a-block with vehicles. Mainly travelling away from Leeds. Mainly. There's always one, isn't there. This particular 'one' is causing a tail back of traffic, already delayed, and we are at a stand still.

Various things happened next. Passengers got out and talked to each other. Car to car communication. One decided to be the leader, and suggested we all, reverse. All the way. I snigger. He just said that out loud! I mean, it's a single track country road, and it's muddy. This plan won't work, let's be realistic! Don't get me wrong, I am good at reversing around these types of roads. "Why", I hear you ask? Well, where I was living during my learner plate years, was about 2 miles up a single track lane, in the middle of nowhere. However, you often bumped into someone, and they would have a blank look on their faces, so, it would be your turn to reverse and find a passing point. I can do reversing! But, 4 miles of reversing, in the dark, with a trail of cars behind and in front, was, in my head, a very bad idea.

Engines switched off. I put the local radio station on. The main road had closed due to the bad accident, no news on smaller country roads. Apparently, the police had been informed.....,.

One car, about 4 in front of me, decided to do a 13 point turn, and face the other way to the majority of us. No idea why, but it blinded me with the head lights for the next 45 minutes.

Yes, that's how long it took for someone near the road entrance, to engage brain and reverse out, to let the huge flow of traffic out.

Yippee! 1st gear, 2nd gear, bring it on! Wooohooooooo! And yes, I shouted that out loud!

I finally got home, had tea and went straight to bed! I know how to live!

It can't get much worse than that can it?

Luckily the next morning whilst at the gym, I got a bit of entertainment, when someone came off the treadmill! It's ok, I didn't laugh out loud.

Definitely made my week!
Sun 22nd Feb, 2015 | 2:23pmmore...
Luce Smith

Commuting In A Cold Climate

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 12th Feb, 2015 | 5:33pm
Dancing Green III photo by Nilsson-Ehle
Dancing Green III photo by Nilsson-Ehle
I'm trying a fancy commute, aka a coach tour, in Iceland. Full days worth, and so far it's going ok, the guide is giving his spiele with lots of attempted humour and information. We were picked up at 8am, and now 10am, it's almost daylight. We're in the highlands now, and it's most odd: ice, snow, mountains, power stations.

Icelandic people, before geothermal heat was used, kept warm by burning birch trees. But in the late Middle Ages the forest was gone, and mini iceage happened. They lived in houses made of turf and rock, which were cold. So, they made small rooms to preserve heat, then introduced sheep. Until 1850's. Bringing sheep in generated heat for the home. For fire food they used peat and dried sheep dung! See how I can listen?!

Anyway, knowing this has not made me think of buying a sheep myself to cut down on heating bills. But I will bear it in mind if I start struggling! One good thing about going to a cold country in winter, is that coming home, our winter will feel warm! It's really cold, but I came prepared! I wasn't prepared for the grim smell of sulphur though! You put the shower on and get the amazing aroma of sulphur, which may sound ok, but if I tell you it smells of eggs, you may feel sorry for me!

Strangely enough, despite it being so very cold, the inside of shops and cafe bar restaurants, were really warm. No log fire in sight. Perhaps their walls were filled with sheep? It worked anyway, whatever they did.

We did the touristy things on our four days. We did the city tour, unguided, but fun, the Golden Circle, which was incredible, the northern lights which were, am I allowed to say, disappointing? The experience of going up into the middle of nowhere was fun, with the guide giving us the science behind the lights etc.

The buzz of about 4 coaches parked up, and everyone piled out, adding layers of clothing where possible. We all stood patiently with many setting their tripods up. No way was I getting my hands cold, I was going to see the lights, not photograph them. It was so very cold, with a strong biting wind. I decided to go round the other side of the bus, thinking how funny it would be if the northern lights were having a party behind our backs! I got back into the crowd, and all of a sudden, we were shouted to the other side where the lights could be seen. It was an amazing atmosphere, but nowhere near as picturesque as suggested by the inter web. Fun though, and an amazing green glow. After 50 minutes I couldn't do any more star jumps so hopped back onto the coach. I wasn't the first one to admit defeat to the cold!

The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon

Our final tour, was to the Blue Lagoon. I was apprehensive, thinking if photos in the brochures had been like that of the northern lights. It was -3, and I couldn't imagine removing my thermal layers to get into my swimwear and dip into the pool. We arrived at the location, and walked through the modern building, getting a wrist band to scan lockers and buy drinks. I went into the changing room and spotted a lady who had been in the lagoon. Is it warm? I asked, half hoping she'd say no and I could keep wrapped up. She beamed a big smile at me and said it was lovely. Ok, remove layers and shiver. I grabbed my towel, had a shower, and stepped out onto the veranda.

It was snowing. I hung up my towel, and made a dash for the pool. Oh my word. I defrosted immediately. Incredible. Being cold for 4 days was well worth it to experience this! The steam on top of the water was really atmospheric, but it did mean I had to swim for about 5 minutes to find my partner! It was an amazing experience, and a must do for anyone visiting Iceland.

So that's an item off my bucket list for 2015. Think it was more difficult than last year's bucket list, the triathlon! It was everything people said it would be, cold, amazing, and expensive. It was odd in that there weren't any big chains, like Maccy D's, but we did spy a few Subways. I didn't eat whale, horse, or snails. I did enjoy their chocolate though, which is always with liquorice! They like it, so every bar of chocolate you see, has liquorice in it! It was odd to see local shops/supermarkets selling a wide variety of things but absolutely no alcohol. I had to behave and go without having alcohol in my room. I even resisted the mini bar in the room, as I'm a true northern person, and don't pay the extortionate costs!

Back to reality though, work, studying, the hectic commute by car......I feel like I have had an amazing experience, and feel very lucky to have been able to go out there and see some culture.
Thu 12th Feb, 2015 | 5:33pmmore...
Luce Smith

End Of The Week

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Sun 8th Feb, 2015 | 3:54pm
fuel guage photo by Sean MacEntee
fuel guage photo by Sean MacEntee
How can 5 days be so stressful?

I mean, really, I think I miss being able to fall asleep on the commute! Instead, it's been replaced with singing so loud, that I may have to get double glazing on my car, for the protection of others! It's been such fun digging out old CDs to listen to in my car. I'm very traditional, and my car is a gadget free zone and always will be. And yes, it is new enough to have a USB and CD player.....

I remember my first week of commuting though, and found that exhausting, so hopefully I will get a rocket up my bum next week and feel alive again!

Not literally, obviously, that would be unpleasant -a bit like the gym class I thought would be fun this week. It was bums, tums, and flabby bits. It was a mad 45 minutes, but so much for the little black dress figure I was hoping for, it's turned out that the real effects of the class are being unable to walk upstairs, and finding bending down difficult!

Ouch indeed! All I can say, is that I hope the other class members ache like I do, but as they were probably 10 years younger than me, I guess they won't be affected. But, they were probably still drunk from their student night out and just feeling rough from the shots, why else turn up at 6:45am to do multiple squats with a hardcore group trainer?

So the drive into work. It's fab. I don't have to wear waterproofs, or wear multiple layers. I have mastered the frozen windscreen scenario, and worked out where to put my car at night. Now, car naming, feminine girly waste of time, or essential? Discuss.

I'm not a materialistic person, if I was, I would say that naming a vehicle was pathetic and unnecessary. However, my vehicle is my key to freedom and independence. It's also my key to reducing my pennies.... This new addition to my worldly goods, serves a purpose, and is with me for nearly two hours each day. If I am going to spend this time singing to my vehicle and allowing words to come out of my mouth when other drivers are simply, inexperienced, then I feel we at least should be introduced.

Should the name of the vehicle be a human name or an odd name? The first car I ever drove as a full licence holder, was Betsy. A yellow 340 Volvo. I still remember the reg number plate! I think if I have a named vehicle, it will look after me better. It also means I can shout abuse when it shows me the yellow light on the fuel dial. I thought I would test this out and see just how thirsty the car was. However, I wasn't able to, as two minutes into my journey home, the car beeped, and the words came up on the dash board telling me the fuel was very low. It didn't offer to fill it up for me. Rude. So, I took the car for a drink. It got me home, so I can justify that I've named this vehicle. I had to be careful, as it's a Punto, and a rhyming word may not have been appropriate! I've named him Percy, with the help of my 5 year old goddaughter. Phew, as I was ready for a name from Disney's Frozen to be suggested, as this is the most important thing ever to a 5 year old right now.

Percy is having a break though, as I endeavour on a 5 day adventure. I am, as we speak, treading on old ground, and on a train. My, what was normal, commute into Leeds. It's mid afternoon and I have the carriage to myself! Except I want people to look at my bag and wonder where I am going! Maybe the train will fill up at the next station. I'm also ready for a can of alcohol, and wonder if I have time to nip into the shop before getting my connecting train to the airport.....

I'm aware that I can't sing out loud on this commute, but was busted earlier. I was walking through town, music in my ears, lyrics coming out of my mouth, when someone joined the pavement unexpectedly. 'Someone sounds happy!' they said. Does that mean I should apply for X factor? Or that I should really practice miming? When will I learn?!

The gym class from mid week is affecting me worse today, with the most difficult task being, erm, going to powder my nose? It's a struggle, so maybe I will leave off the fluids so that this doesn't happen too much! I think gym classes should have a 'possible side effects' leaflet to accompany it, I could certainly name a few! But, positive thinking missy, no pain no gain and all the rest of it. I'm hoping that a long soak in the Blue Lagoon will fix me. So excited about this adventure that, because I have no idea what to expect, I'm a little bit apprehensive. Most unlike me, I love an adventure. I've even bought a silly hat for the occasion. Ready? Let's go to Iceland!
Sun 8th Feb, 2015 | 3:54pmmore...
Luce Smith

All Change

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 5th Feb, 2015 | 8:54am
traffic photo by Matthias Ripp
traffic photo by Matthias Ripp
It's all changed. Too many changes and so little time! Wowsersaurus, who would have thought that the end of two routines, would create such a different set of replacement routines. It's confirmation that I'm a true Brit, and possibly an old(er) one at that.

What did make me chuckle this morning, was seeing a guy enter the gym, whilst on his run. Surely a double door, and electronic turnstile would get in the way of a work out? No no no this guy is a machine, a guy who won't stop for anything, other than perhaps..no, he's a machine. Or is he today's entertainment? Maybe to ensure gym goers keep going, they ask a member to make an entrance to make people smile. It worked.

My swimming days, for now, are over. No more Mr Speedo. No more sharing showers with the opposite sex. No more waiting for the clock to get to bang on quarter past, before we can jump in. No more galloping across the fields to get to the pool on time.

My train commute days too, for now, are over. No more 'welcome to the Leeds train', or, 'we are sorry, but the 5;56pm train home, has been cancelled. We apologise for any inconvenience', no more earwigging on public transport. No more giggles at that sentence the lady said out loud.
No more 7 mile walks in my day. No more passing a high street supermarket when they have just put fresh bread rolls on the shelves, no more free newspaper! No more window shopping to pass time when I miss a connection. No more cans of gin and tonic.

Oh no! What have I done!

Two of the things that became part of my life have expired and I have been very brave and made some adult decisions. I have made small changes to hopefully improve the life I have and possibly be financially sound. I have had to rethink and readjust my timings for tasks and be quite logical. It's been challenging for my poor small simple brain! I admit it!

My daily routine is now thus: up, coffee, out. Defrost windscreen, drive.
Arrive in town after a clear road and radio on. Heaven. Quick skip into the gym, and do an hour, this is where I saw the guy run in. I might try it tomorrow. Now, I'm not a gym bunny, I love the outdoors, and walk a lot, but.......it doesn't make you gym fit! Day 1, was a bit strange, but I was keen, until I realised I was the oldest there, and possibly the one who ate all the chocolate buttons. It won't deter me, I can do this! At least it's not January where people will think it's a New Year resolution phase that will end after 15 days or so. This is it! I've joined for a month to see how I get on. I know where the stop button is on the machines, and I don't have to clean the shower cubicles. It's a win win, I just need to adapt. I miss the fresh air though, so don't laugh, but I drove home with my window wide open, knowing it was 2 degrees, but actually enjoying it!

I have enjoyed listening to the radio this week without earphones, but haven't found a station that I could listen to for both outward and return journeys, do such stations exist? Maybe I get bored. I get impatient, I know that, and sitting in traffic is not healthy. It makes me create words out loud that don't exist, and reminds me of how much like my Dad I am! Noooooooo!

I don't get it, why do people insist on leaving work at the same standard time, which creates tail-backs, frustration, revving of engines for no reason, and me yelling at the driver in front to get on 'cos he could have got a bus in there!! Why? Why do it daily? Why not stagger the end of the day? Make the roads less of a nightmare at, what I hear, is rush hour? I've renamed it mush hour. These people's brains are just mush if they think it makes sense to sit in a car, not moving, for minute after minute. Hence my early start. Hence my...no, I won't give away the return, otherwise you may follow suit and that will mean I have to have a rethink my daily routine, which on only day 3, I'm definitely not ready for!
Thu 5th Feb, 2015 | 8:54ammore...
Luce Smith

End Of The Line?

NEXT STOP
Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 2nd Feb, 2015 | 3:02pm
photo by Ambernectar 13
photo by Ambernectar 13
It's very exciting, very scary and I can't sit still or concentrate. Nothing to do with being blonde I hasten to add!

The London train is delayed, I say delayed, what I really mean, is that it's not moved from it's original starting point. So, I've got the Local train, which was setting off 12 minutes after the luxury number. It's so busy! I hope they don't feel they can't get the luxury train due to their residential postcode, I mean, if I can get on it and drink alcohol out of a can in public, with no shame, anyone can.

Reason for the London train's delay? Breaks stuck on! Ah well, good timing if you ask me. I have braved it, and gone and made a car purchase. Which ties in very well with the final date of my train pass being today, and my swimming membership also expiring this weekend. It doesn't however, tie in very well, with the small issue of the White stuff that has been failing from the sky and causing chaos on the roads. It's winter, it's snow, yet us great humans go into panic mode. It was odd yesterday, as it was snowing early morning, then a small thunderstorm? Don't think I've ever experienced that before, most odd! Almost magical.

I was meant to collect the car last night, but I was very grown up, and made an adult decision. I was wise and decided to delay it until today, to remain safe. I hear it's not acceptable in society, to actually wrap up your car in cotton wool any more, so, I've had to attempt being patient. It's possibly not worked out well for my colleagues and partner, though. I'm like an annoying kid, who is waiting for something very exciting and new to happen. Words keep randomly coming out of my mouth, in no particular order, and my face keeps displaying a silly smile and big eyes!

I will, like a kid, be exhausted by 7pm and need a nap!

The car buying decision was quite a process, and in-between that, I also had an essay deadline to meet. I think stress occurred in my life for a few days, but it had to be done right!

This then, is potentially my last commute. Unless petrol prices go up stupidly and I have to resort back to the train. I guess I could use my car as a caravan though and just sleep over in the works car park. That's safe isn't it? I'll make sure I have a thermos of tea, and a sleeping bag. It will surely be character building...

I am a little concerned regarding the ongoing costs of a car; how do people manage on a basic wage, and a car and bills, and food and drink and social life.....urgh.

Ok, this is now absolutely crammed full. I guess there are two trains worth of people all packed into this one. Deep breath, it's not the time to get anxious.

I want to stand up, sing hallelujah, then sit back down and pretend I haven't done that, I need a grand finale of some sort don't I?

I might be famous on YouTube and not have to worry about whether or not I can afford to fuel up my little car. Do you get paid for funnies on YouTube like you used to on you've been framed? I shall research.

Fear not though, my blogs will still go ahead, as I am about to sign up to a new thing for a month, and I am quite sure I will have comments to make about it, and......next station stop...
Mon 2nd Feb, 2015 | 3:02pmmore...
Luce Smith

Platforms

NEXT STOP
Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 26th Jan, 2015 | 9:23am
photo by Matt Buck
photo by Matt Buck
Why is he coming in on this platform? I wonder if he's been told to by the other driver, that'd be right.

Well, I don't see why we have to come in on 8, that's just typical, I mean for goodness sakes mate, why can't we come in on 6 like we always do?

That's right, send us along to 8 and right down at the other end of the station. I don't believe it. So now we've got to go all the way along, up and round to get to the other east coast platform.

I tell you, it's like the train has done a naughty! I try not to stare, but not sure if I cover it up as well as I ought. It's not like I'm on a classic train journey, it's the normal commuter train. Ok, so it's the London luxury but still, I class that as 'the norm' now that I'm a, what I call, posh commuter. I couldn't possibly travel on something with no leg room, or somewhere to plug in my phone to charge it up. Actually, today was a first as a ticket collector came round to inspect everybody's right to travel on this train. I showed mine, and didn't get a rude response as I had last time. I haven't seen the drinks trolley come round for a few weeks, I wonder if I'm not sitting in the right carriage, perhaps they only go a carriage a station, in which case I need to sit much nearer the buffet car. Silly name for it hey, it's not like a car in any shape or form is it? Where did it get its name? I know, back in the day, when trains didn't have any catering facility, they used to get to a place on the tracks, where they'd stop the train. A car would drive up to the train, and would pass the buffet onto the carriage where the buffet food was sold. Hence the buffet car being named.

I'd laugh if I was right!

So this couple who also travel on this London luxury, were obviously slightly disappointed to see that we were not only a few minutes behind schedule, but also slowly pulling up to the wrong platform. I wonder if they'll contact the company and ask for compensation? For the huge inconvenience caused? I'd love to have to reply to a letter like that. I'd take it proper seriously and perhaps reply to suggest that, to make these types of situations slightly easier to deal with, that they travel on a few different trains to and from Leeds, so that they can fully familiarise themselves with the station as a whole. That way, they wouldn't be deterred should the London luxury pull in on a different platform, as they will be able to navigate their way to the next platform of choice. Perfect.

What's worse, was coming home, I got the commute everyone likes to get, only I got lucky, and got a seat. Lucky, until I got a fellow commuter wedged in next to me. With, is there a nice way of putting it? Yes, there must be, hang on. Ok, with a rancid infused aroma spilling over every time she opened her mouth, which happened a lot when her friend sat opposite her and they got chatting. I know I sound like a right old mean cow and feel terrible for speaking so negatively of someone, but it was awful. Still, it did make me more determined to give up the commute, to grow up, and buy my first car. Well, I may not grow up as such, but will be brave and enter the world of car ownership!

After the bump last week, I still feel a Freelander is necessary, but well aware of the chuffing high tax and maintenance costs. Such decisions to have to make, I had no idea looking for a car would be such hard work! I'd find one I liked, then watch a review on WhatCar, be totally put off, and search again! First thing I learnt, set yourself a realistic budget, and prepare to barter!

Would I miss the commute? I think I would, but not as much as I would back in the day. When people sat down and had a conversation. When people knew how to socialise and greet people. When people had a long journey ahead, no technological gadgets to play with, and only the faces next to them to have to potentially make the journey fly by! I would have been a great train passenger in those days. Hate being with so many people yet not having a conversation. Such an opportunity to learn about different lifestyles, communities and cultures. Driving in a car on my own just means I get to sing out loud, and not have to always have my waterproofs in the bottom of my bag, just in case.

There will of course, be times when I question why that car moved into that lane, and didn't use indicators. I might actually raise my voice in places, depending on whether it's a woman driver or not......... Why have they done that? I now have to navigate around the ring road and back up.....yikes!
Mon 26th Jan, 2015 | 9:23ammore...
Luce Smith

Boom

NEXT STOP
Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 22nd Jan, 2015 | 8:53am
M6 Sunset photo by Henry Burrows
M6 Sunset photo by Henry Burrows
Driiiiiiiiving along in my automobile......
Dum dum. Dum dum dum, de dum
My baby beside me at the wheel.....
Dum dum du dum
Cruising and ....... BOOM!

Blood stained Dave decided to get up close and personal in his big wagon, without telling me.

Let me start from the beginning.
Picked up my hire car on Friday afternoon, to begin the journey down to Devon, where I visit my Grandad. They kindly upgraded my hire car to a bigger car, better engine. Thanks!
Picked up my travelling companion, and hit the road. We went via a garage to test drive a car I had seen, but more about that later.

The hire car was lovely. Powerful, not too sensitive, and knew how to handle the road. Radio on, snow on the windscreen, and away down the M1 we went.

The weather soon improved and the sun was shining. Which was nice. I was cruising along in the slow lane, after getting frustrated with middle lane hoggers. Why do they do that? Insist on cruising along in the middle lane when the slow lane is empty. Is it a status thing? Is it a code of road conduct only car owners know about, but one I shall learn in time?

A lorry/wagon, actually, is there a difference between a lorry and a wagon, or is it just which word you were brought up to say? Or is one used in one context....bear with, I shall Google....

How boring, it says they're interchangeable. Lorry, wagon, truck, no particular difference to write about. If I was Google, I would want to make something much more adventurous up, such as, 'wagon, a large drive-able vehicle which can be used for a variety of purposes such as transporting WAG's to see their footballing hubbys/partners, (which brings me to ask, what's the difference between having a boyfriend and having a partner?, I'm digressing.....). 'A lorry is the abbreviated name given to a lorrysaurusauto.......' See?

So this big vehicle is in the middle lane sliding up next to me. I see it, and think he should really be in the slow lane. Silly though in hindsight, as he must have over thought me, as he then pulled into my lane.

The next bit is a bit blurry, although I do recall asking in a loud and raised voice, what does he think he's doing? It honestly felt like we were suddenly, after the initial smash, connected by a mismatch of metal, and cruising along. He finally let go of me, and we both slipped onto the hard shoulder. Where I have to ask, where did that term come from, hard shoulder? Why isn't it dumping lane, or emergency lane? Or, 'oh knickers, my tyre's flat I need to ring a man to rescue me' lane? I will enquire, but shall finish the journey story first.

I stopped the car, and got out, shaking like a leaf. Really shaking, but still got a pen and paper out of my bag. The driver of the vehicle jumped down from his cabin. He was wearing white overalls, which were horribly blood stained. He got his bag and pulled out some papers. I looked at the side of the vehicle, and discovered the reason for his blood stained attire. He worked for a butcher/abattoir. Big gulp. Am I his next victim? Yikes! His name was Dave. It's not, I changed it for data protection and security, but let's call him Dave. He admitted it was his fault, and gave me details of his employer, registration plate etc. I was still shaking, but now wondering if the contents of his vehicle were dead or alive, or in between. Will go veggie this weekend and celebrate the legumes.... He told me to watch out when getting back on the motorway as it wasn't easy. Great, I can hardly wait!

I gave him my details, and hopped back into the car. To get back onto the motorway meant going along the hard shoulder right to the next junction, as they were doing work on it. My kind passenger had to ask a man in a yellow hat, if we could pass by, moving the gates across the way. He chatted to his walkie talkie and agreed. Slowly we went along, smiled sweetly at the yellow hat wearers, and eventually made it to the junction to the service station. I pulled up, switched off the engine, and rang the hire company. All good, and I decided to get back onto the road before I questioned it. The rest, so they say, is history. We made it to Devon, and I enjoyed a weekend of warmth, seaside, and swimming.

More importantly, was the test commute by car this morning. I set off, it was -3 degrees. Time was spent defrosting the car, but it was good to not have to walk to the station! It took the same time to drive to work, as the train takes. And was door to door, with the opportunity, which I took, to have tunes pumping, and me singing out loud. Brilliant.

Returning the car was good and bad. It had been badly damaged, paint and body work to the back driver side door. There were numerous forms to complete, but I was able to walk free from my nice car, and my adventure with blood stained Dave.

Sitting on here on the big blue-ish train
Dum dum de dum, dum dum de dum
Wondering whether or not to buy a car and risk accidents or keep commuting.

Poor blood stained Dave, hope he made it to his destination without wiping out more innocent hire cars! Boom!
Thu 22nd Jan, 2015 | 8:53ammore...
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