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

Luce Smith

For A Day Or Two

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Wed 10th Feb, 2016 | 1:02pm
Builders Equipment - photo by Wendy House
Builders Equipment - photo by Wendy House
I am now officially a mess. Why is it, that the days you are feeling less able, are the days which throw all the bad things at you with full force?! I'm tired and it's Monday morning. I had very little sleep due to hardworking boyfriend setting off in the early hours to work away. I got to work ok, and had a very strong coffee. Things seem ok. I get a text from my builder to ask me to ring him ASAP. I don't want to, it's going to be bad news isn't it? They will have found a dead mouse in the roof and decided they can't do the work as it will disrupt the family? I do a bit of pacing. I'm trying to hold it together in an office environment and feel my barriers are about to crash down.

I brave it and go out to make the call. I end up doing circuits round the office car park. I come off the phone shaking. This is not good news and I need to view the house before further action can be taken. Typically, there's no one in the office to ask, so I make necessary arrangements, and get taken to pick Percy up. It's quite sunny, so wearing sunglasses to hide my girly tears is not so obvious. We drive home and my heart sinks.

My nice clean tidy house is now a builders' yard. He explains a few things, and I try to take it all in. He asks about my shoes, and if I want to go up the scaffolding. Of course I do! I'm a country bumpkin! I speed up the scaffolding, then realise I am not sure how I go about getting down. Ah well, there must be a way.....

It's good on the roof, everything looks so different. Looking down into my house, sadly doesn't look so good :(. I keep telling myself it's just bricks and mortar. With news of cancer hitting two people known to me last week, and someone at work sitting with their husband in a hospital following a heart attack, this seems very material, and I need to get over it.

I go for a long walk the next day and put things into perspective. I then try to erase the quote out of my head too. It's irrelevant. It has to be fixed. I decide to head to the gym. I'm on the treadmill and really not enjoying it. There is a guy next to me and we're banging down at the same pace, left right, left right. I turn to look at him and ask if we're nearly there. He smiles and politely says 'no love, got another 20 minutes yet!' End of conversation.

I instruct the builders to go ahead with what's needed, and hurry away. It's too much to see, and I'm a wimp, so I drive off. The plan was to stay with said boyfriend for a week whilst my bathroom was being overhauled. It's now going to be a month or so. That's a lot of thank you ironing I am going to have to do!

Another guy gets on the machine next to me, and starts running with his gym buddy. I'm quite envious, it must be much better to natter and exercise. However, I nearly fall off my treadmill whilst earwigging into their conversation. He is sharing what he has for breakfast. 'Oh I have a chocolate bar'. His partner is shocked. What? A chocolate bar for breakfast? 'Yeah well it's better to have it first thing, then burn it off straight away. I have an apple and orange juice too'....and that makes it better? I shake my head in disbelief/entertainment. They continue to talk about food and I switch off.

I walk home just as the heavens open and whilst a tad annoyed, I have to be grateful to have a roof over my head, because I haven't at home! I hope the builders are courteous enough to clean up after they have made so much mess. Or do you have to pay more for that?

Busy commute train tomorrow so I shall ensure I am on top form and don't look at my phone for texts from my builder. Such fun? No, but I know I am lucky, so I shall stay positive! For now.....
Wed 10th Feb, 2016 | 1:02pmmore...
Luce Smith

Mod-cons At Home?

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 8th Feb, 2016 | 12:59pm
Television Detector Van photo by fairlightworks
Television Detector Van photo by fairlightworks
I wasn't expecting that. How can such a simple, everyday task (for some), be turned into a major structural job, which means I can't live at home for two weeks? This was not in my financial budgeting forecast at all! They say save for a rainy day, but what they hadn't calculated (whoever 'they' are), was for the damage that rainy days can cause to old buildings.

Note to self, I'm a girl, therefore have limited building knowledge (fact, not sexist). I would actually forget the word limited, I have zero knowledge in this subject area.

As I have had my bathroom ripped out, and I'm not posh enough to have two toilets in my house, I now am unhomed. Lucky for me, (unlucky for my boyfriend), I have to stay with him until my house is habitable again. This does not mean I get to come home after work and sit and watch the soaps. We must be one of few couples who live in two separate houses, and neither have a television receiver to watch. How many people live without such a thing, are there many? Students don't count, or old people who get let off on grounds of years of good behaviour!

Talking of televisions, at Christmas time, instead of getting a Christmas card from the TV licensing team, I got a rather snotty letter. Dear miss, it has come to our attention that this property is not registered with a TV licence. Blah blah blah, it then reads to say that they will pay me a visit. Oh good, that will be such fun. They can come round to my house, with or without a bathroom, (I don't think that's essential), and sit down to tell all the latest on the television programmes that I'm missing out on.

I, in exchange, will share what it's like not to have to go and make a cup of tea during adverts, I can do this at any time. Such fun! I then got a letter from them, saying I will be going to court! I can't believe you have to declare you don't have a TV. See you in court!

Talking of knowledge earlier, I'm not sure I shared with you, that after all my hours spent studying during out of office hours, and every Saturday morning in libraries, I have finally completed my degree and got my qualification! Wooohooo! I now get to go to the ceremony in London, wear a silly hat, beam a big grin, and wave!

Funny how you expect a typically dressed business person to behave, or eat certain things. I was walking past a headquarters of a large bank, and there was a very well dressed man standing by the gates, waiting for his car. He was eating a packet of crisps. Not just any crisps. A packet of Monster Munch. It made me laugh! I know there are other crisps on the market by the way, but it was such a funny sight! I expected him to be eating a packet of roasted vegetables, or a packet of finely chopped potato crisps with a hint of rosemary. It kept me grinning until I got to the train....

...where I found more people waiting to board the train than normal. I found out that the previous train had been cancelled, so there were two trains-worth of passengers trying to fit on one train. This could be fun. We got everyone on, and we were packed so tightly, that there was no chance of falling over! Only two stops to go. The only thing I kept thinking was, apart from health and safety, I hoped and prayed that no one was going to let off bottom wind! I know, it's not a very mature thought, but I'm being honest! I made it off the train at least, and was I relieved to breath, or what! I wasn't expecting that. Should the ticket price be the same when you don't get a seat? Or should you be charged a supplement if you want a seat?
Mon 8th Feb, 2016 | 12:59pmmore...
Luce Smith

This Week I Have Been Mostly....

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 21st Jan, 2016 | 9:40am
B & W Alarm Clock- photo by tripplehelix
B & W Alarm Clock- photo by tripplehelix
Oh my days. The alarm goes off and I have to get up and out of bed. I've done something unheard of in the history of my life. I've left the heating on low, intentionally, right through the night. I know, like, what's happening to me?

Actually, if I'm honest, I should really say that I have in fact had the heating on all night before, but usually because I've had a few vodkas, got home, thought how nice it was to have a warm home, and not turned it off! This time, I went to bed without any alcohol inside, and decided that it was far too cold to turn off the heating.

This is for a few reasons.

My house has been empty for two weeks, through the winter, and despite having people call round to make sure storm Desmond/Frank hadn't created further damage, I never requested the heating on. Also, after having two weeks of sun on my skin, I'm really feeling the cold now! It's ok, I don't expect sympathy, I know I was lucky to be able to flee away to a hot country. However.......goosebumps aren't attractive and I want my small attempt of a tan to last as long as possible! I know, I'll man up soon and re-acclimatise, too soon probably.

The following day, my lovely energy supplier sent me an email saying my bill was ready to view. Yippee! I can hardly wait, so I open the email, only to wish I hadn't bothered! Can anyone on the train see how disappointed I am? Or shocked? It feels like the fact of leaving the heating on overnight on one occasion, has added £180 to my bill. In reality of course,that night of indulgence isn't even on the bill. It will be a nice surprise for the next quarter!

What has happened, did I pay for the town to have its Christmas lights on? Has my electricity cable been hacked? (Is that even possible?!) I look closely at the bill, and see that the reading is an estimate only. Phew. Well, I say phew hoping that the reading will be a lot less than estimated. I look around. Do I look like someone who is extravagant with her energy usage at home? Do I? What about people who have to put heating on 24/7? What must their bills be like?

This is the first energy bill of my new house, can I afford to live there? I want to ask my fellow commuters what they pay for their energy bills. I want this to be a fair comparison though, so should really ask single people only, or single cohabitants. I look around. Are there any? They can't all be married with 2.4 children surely. They look like that, or students still sponging off Mum and Dad.

Help me?

Nothing, just a hood shoved further up my nose, as the train stops to add more people to the already overcrowded train. This is not a humane way to travel, surely. I see a couple next to me. It's ok for them to be up close and personal. It may not be their choice at this time or place,but at least they know each other! I, like many others, get a hood up my nose, my foot trodden on by a canvas shoe wearer, get bashed around when the train stops, and wonder what the person behind me is reading, as she tuts loudly looking at her phone. Such fun?!

Today, I got on a train, that had a seat for me to sit in. Such a luxury! I don't pay more for this luxury of course, but I totally embrace the moment, and feel very grateful. I don't even have to share the seat, I get two all to myself. Not because I've eaten all the pies, or forgotten to wear deodorant, just because I worked late so got a train that didn't hit peak travel time. Peak travel, in case you're wondering, only means that you may pay more, but you will never get a seat! Unless perhaps if you're pregnant. Which I'm not, I hasten to add, but do give up my seat for those carrying a smaller unborn person. I also do this for those who are unsteady on their feet, or who look like they deserve it. This doesn't happen a lot. Not because I'm a grumpy mean person, but because I don't normally get a seat to give up!

In the morning, I will be getting a train during rush hour. I will pay for my ticket, and I will get to stand all the way. I love watching those board the train who are non commuters. The look on their faces when they see that they can of course get the train they want to travel on, but to get a seat, is a whole different ball game; that's entertainment in itself! Bring on the alarm!
Thu 21st Jan, 2016 | 9:40ammore...
Luce Smith

Travelling Long Haul

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 21st Jan, 2016 | 9:08am
Manchester Airport Information Screens - photo by Buh Snarf
Manchester Airport Information Screens - photo by Buh Snarf
Once you have saved enough pennies in your piggy bank, you can then take it to the travel agent and make your travel plans and say goodbye to the pennies. Hello long haul flights!

You make sure you have all the vaccinations and immunisations recommended, and apply for the correct visa to enter the country you are visiting. You also need to make sure you have a good travel insurance, never skip this bit out, as what happens if you arrive at your destination, but your bags decided to take a different flight? Do it!

Once all the paperwork and planning has been done, it's time to pack. I am very good at packing my suitcase on the outward journey, thanks to my Mum, who was the teacher in this! Sadly, for some reason, when I pack to come home, my packing skills go out of the window. Perhaps because I don't want to come home. I always pack some underwear in my hand luggage, just in case my suitcase goes astray, a tip my a granny gave me, and one I will do every time!

Long haul flights require you to check in 3 hours prior to departure time. That's when the fun really begins, and you feel you are off on an adventure! You arrive at the airport, get to the correct terminal, and find the right check-in queue. I always wish I was travelling first class and able to go straight to the counter, passing all the queues of people. So unfair. But we Brits are good at queuing aren't we? The queues seem to go quite quickly this time, and I'm soon showing my paperwork to the lady who has spent her last 3 hours applying make up and doing her hair. All credit to her, I'm just jealous that I don't have the ability to do that, and even if I did, would never come out looking like that!

I get my boarding cards for each leg of the journey, and ask to have a window seat where possible. I do this, so that I don't have to get up each time someone on my row of seats want the loo, or a stretch. It does mean however, that you have to have full control of your bladder, as if your neighbour is asleep, you may find yourself having to hold it in for 9 hours or so! Note to self.

I say goodbye to my suitcase and hope it will reach my final destination, even though I am getting three different aircraft. Why don't you spell aircraft like aeroplane? What's the difference between aer and air? Please advise, it's bugging me! I want to say aercraft but spellcheck isn't liking it at all!

I leave the check-in desk, and venture to the area where only passengers are allowed. I prepare for a very long queue, a zigzag queue, waiting to have hand luggage and body checks. I'll be honest, I look at each person, wonder how they can wear so few clothes when the aircon is blowing a cold chill through the queues. Don't get me wrong, as I am visiting a hot country, I don't have a coat on, but I do have last year's Christmas present, my fleece hoody, as the cabins get so cold and whilst blankets and socks are provided and used, when you're tired and have no idea where you are, it gets freezing. The return flights aren't so bad, as you still have the sun glow feel on your skin.

I don't chat to anyone, which is unusual for me, but I feel it's a vulnerable queue to be in, and the staff give me the wobbles. It finally is my time to declare my keys, devices and remove my shoes, putting my hand luggage on the carousel. That all goes through the scanner and I am called to go through the bodyscan. I go through, and all is good. I decide this is a good point to start breathing again. Phew.

Manchester Airport - photo by eGuide Travel
Manchester Airport - photo by eGuide Travel

Shopping time now, and I do a good mooch of all the shops. Despite it being 6am, I feel I'm in the holiday mode, and that a celebration is needed. I've saved all my pennies, been careful with expenditure (this was booked before I even thought about moving house!), and am off work for an extra week after the festive season. I find myself at the bar, with a holiday lager. I'm not really a lager lout, but if I had vodka at this time, I may not get to the departure gate on time!

Time goes quite fast, and I check the departure screens and see my flight now reads "boarding, please go to Gate 74". I gather my things, and walk to towards the gate. Passing a gate for another flight, I am shocked to see two policeman each holding a big gun. I've never seen this before and never been so close to a gun. I got goose bumps and felt very uneasy. Is this what our country is like now? I know it's good and I should feel safe, but I don't, in fact I feel the opposite.

I get to my gate and try to forget about it. There are lots of people ready to board this flight, and I feel excited again. The crew are well dressed, and smart, and call people in seat row orders. When mine is called, I join the queue, show my boarding card, and start walking down the corridor to the plane. I step onto the plane, and am directed to the correct side of the plane. The first seats you walk past, are amazing. Spacious, and appealing. Oh good you might think, 11.5hrs on this won't be too bad at all. However, you keep walking towards your seat, and see that the seats change. You are now looking at seats with no leg room whatsoever. Welcome to economy class!

Once I find my seat, I get all I need out of my bag, and put the bag in the overhead store. You have inflight entertainment screens and can watch the movies they have, TV shows, listen to music, play games, and keep track of the flight path. You get your own set of earphones, a menu card, and magazine. I sit down and prepare for the long time I will be here. I make small talk to my neighbours and they ask to swap seats. The husband fidgets and will need to get up during the flight, so would prefer an aisle seat. Sure thing! I set my watch to the time of my final destination. This is key to avoiding any feelings of jetlag. Fact.

We take off in good time, and are soon thousands of miles above the ground. Wooooohoooo! After a while (my knowledge of time goes out of the window at this point), drinks come round. Next is breakfast/brunch, and it smells yum. I watch a movie, novelty for me, and I watch another after that.

Singapore Harbour - photo by Kiran Jonnalagadda
Singapore Harbour - photo by Kiran Jonnalagadda

We touch down in Munich, but only get off for an hour. Refuelling and boarding more passengers. Back on the plane, and 11.5hrs later, the pilot makes the descend to Singapore. I look out of the window and have never seen so many ships coming into the port. In fact I haven't arrived in daylight to Singapore for a while! We all get off the plane, taking our bags with us, and go follow the transit transfer signs. I need to change terminals, so hop on the very overcrowded sky train. Luckily it's only a 2 minute journey, so breathing isn't essential......

I wonder around the airport shops, just trying to pass time, and have a look in the butterfly house. It's nearly outside! I then settle down with a......beer. Two hours later, the departure board shows my next flight is boarding, so I stroll down the airport to the gate. I get to security again, and feel a bit scared. The crew don't smile, and I feel uneasy. My stuff scans ok and I wait in the lounge. By this point, I just want to get on the plane and sleep! We all board a new plane, and I settle down and try to get as comfortable as possible. I read my book. I read more of my book. By the time the pilot begins his descent to Brisbane, my book is almost read, and I'm ready to get off the plane, out of this seat!

Once off the plane, I get excited and forget I have spent nearly 24hrs in the air. Off the plane, queue through immigration, and sit by the carousel hoping to see my bag. Mine takes a while, but I grab it and head to the exit. Outside, I feel the heat of the sun, even though it's 7:30pm, I relax immediately.

Travelling done, it's time for holidays.

Long haul.........
Thu 21st Jan, 2016 | 9:08ammore...
Luce Smith

Australia vs England...

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 14th Jan, 2016 | 2:59pm
photo by Richard Rydge
photo by Richard Rydge
... and not just the weather. The weather is an obvious one, but not just because Australias see the sun and blue sky a lot more than we do! Rain occurs too, and when it rains, you know about it. You can't do any washing, as you have no drying area. You can still go out in the same summery clothes with flip flops, and feel warm. However, like the rain in England, you still get soaked to the skin! It's funny to be out in heavy downpours as it's not all doom and gloom, things dry out pretty quick once the rain has passed.

A difference which was highlighted on this particular visit, (after the UK began charging 5p for carrier bags) was the check-out experience in food shops. Not only do you get free carrier bags in Australia, but they also pack your bags for you, as standard practice. You don't get that question that really annoys me in the UK, of 'would you like any help with your packing?' When they clearly don't look like they care, or want to help. It's brilliant, and perhaps a reason why more men do the grocery shopping for their household over there, it's pretty easy!

Car parking is another difference. I mean, the Australians drive some big vehicles and many with trailers for their boats/jet skis/caravans. This means that the length of car space in car parks can be 3 times the length of ours in England. Charges for these car parks are often FREE, yes, free, especially during the holidays. As if! We have high parking prices for normal days and am sure they would double during such busy times in England, if they could!

Also in car parks you find toilets, public toilets, for free. They are well maintained, well stocked up, and clean. You do not get that luxury in the UK! Not only are they near car parks, but all along the coastal paths, miss one, and you don't have to walk cross legged for long before you see another. Brilliant!!! Why can't we have more of that in England?

Another facility along the coastal paths and kids play parks, are drinking water taps, and yet again, these are free, and plentiful. I did go to one and ask for it to be a gin and tonic with a slice of lemon, but I really was pushing my luck ;(

Bright ale photo by Lachlan Hardy
Bright ale photo by Lachlan Hardy
Talking of alcohol, you can't buy it in supermarkets over there, but in bottle shops, which are all pretty close to the food shops. They too pack your shopping for you. Luxury! They don't have the pub culture like England do, but they do have some. I haven't been to one this time, as you can get a beer in most cafes along the coast. What I did go to for the first time this visit, was a drive thru coffee shop. It was a highlight of my trip, and I'll definitely go again just for the novelty!

In England, the drive thru places we have always mean litter lying around nearby. Not the case in Australia, as they have lots of public rubbish bins, and also recycling bins to use. Recycling bins are great in Australia. If it's recyclable, it goes into one bin. Not like us, who have to separate the paper from the cans and the bottles...... Easy.

It's also a country that's not littered with cigarette stubs either. People smoke, but not as much as us Brits, unless there's a smokehouse I missed where they all hang out, in their cloud of nicotine. Like the smoking room they have in some airports, just a room of smoke into which you enter at your own risk!

The beaches of course, are like the pictures you see. White sands, blue skies, and crashing white waves. No litter, again. Unlike our beaches, which are beautiful.... if you are lucky enough to live near one, but most of us Northerners have a bit of a drive if we want to paddle in the sea. I did lots of paddling in the sea in Australia, swimming in it, and walking in the sand.

However, I have a lot of respect for the sea, and know that the waters are dangerous. The current was quite strong in places, and the waves can crash down on you unexpectedly! Which is fine if you are dressed for swimming! If not, you soon dry out in the high temperature of the sun....sorry.

There are flags to signal areas which are watched and staffed by the lifeguard crews. I still see David Hasselhoff and Pamela Anderson, even though Baywatch is now very dated! The theme tune always pops in my head, and I want to run along the sand in slow motion :). I know, I'll grow up one day!

On the topic of the water, I decided I wanted to go on a jet ski, but not as a driver. I wanted the thrill, not the responsibility, so found a local jet ski company, where you could "ride with the guide" and figured that would be the safest option. I went on a tour for an hour, with two families of 4, so 5 jet skis altogether. My guide was Ken, and we had such a laugh!

He complimented me on my inner thigh strength, which I thought was odd, how else are you meant to hang on, when he is going 40mph crashing over waves, and not indicating which way he was going next?! I held on to the handle at the back, and clung on for dear life! It was so much fun, I loved every minute, and managed to come back without falling in the sea, which he said was what normally happens. I will definitely hop on a jet ski again!

There was no BBQ meal, sorry to disappoint. No tan either, as when staying with young children, the shade is the safest place to be, and with a family member having a skin cancer scare recently, I want life to be for a few more years yet. With Queensland having the highest rate of skin cancer, you don't mess around.

Water in cafes is free flow in Australia, which in England, scarcely happens. Why give free water when they can make a profit I guess. It does make coffee much better somehow, with an ice cold glass of water. Very refreshing indeed. As are there bottles of beer/lager. It's ok, I didn't do the traditional pommie thing and get totally off my face before 4pm and make a fool of myself.

Not at all, I did manage to get to 12 noon at least, before my first chilled bottle of beer. It really is good to be away from normal routines and be relaxed, even my friend was impressed with my drinking skill. Everything in moderation. Everything but ice cream - one night, I could have done the Bridget Jones routine and eaten a full tub of the stuff! Novelty more than anything, as i don't have a freezer at home. It's ok, I'm aware houses in England have freezers too, but maybe I'll brave buying one later this month. Maybe.

You won't go hungry in Australia, like the UK there are hundreds of places to eat. However, it's quite normal for them to have a BYO policy. BYO is 'Bring your own". Not BYO food, that would be silly. It's obviously "bring your own booze". They provide glasses and there is a small surcharge, but nothing like our UK corkage charge. It's great, what you don't drink you take back home with you. Brilliant! But only if you get to the bottle shop before closing time.

I'm now heading home and my relaxed state is slowly disappearing. Not intentionally, but I must get back to the real world. Where I have responsibilities and chores. I'm hoping that Storm Frank you had whilst I was away, hasn't followed Storm Desmond, in doing damage to my property. That won't be a nice welcome home present.

One thing you can depend on in England, is that the weather will be poor. To be expected though in January I suppose. It hits you harder when you've had the sun on your skin for 10 days! I know I'm lucky though, to be able to get out there and see more of the world.

Back to remembering to take my own carrier bags shopping, and having to pack them myself at the supermarket. I can hardly wait :)
Thu 14th Jan, 2016 | 2:59pmmore...
Luce Smith

Off We Go!

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 7th Jan, 2016 | 11:06am
Manchester Airport photo by DFSB DE
Manchester Airport photo by DFSB DE
I have less than 24hrs to pack, clean my house, and prepare myself for the long haul ahead. Easy. Banging tunes on the radio definitely aids the packing process. I even begin to get a little excited! But the heavens have opened, and many flood warnings are around. Not just rural places either, but city centres too. It's terrible, and I really feel for people affected by this. I selfishly check my route to the airport on traffic live, to see if there are any closures or incidents. Nothing as yet.

My alarm is set for 3:45am and I snuggle down listening to the rain in my attic. Camping memories are brought up, and my Postman Pat telling stories to keep the family entertained. No story tonight though, full sleep is needed! I wake up and look at my clock, wondering if I have slept through my alarm. 3:01am. Yikes! Not long now!

Up, showered, breakfast on the passenger seat, and off Percy and I go bound for jet park 3, Manchester. It's a lovely drive over the tops. It's stopped raining, and it's dropped to 4 degrees. The heating is on full blast. I get to the jet park with the skill of google maps, only to discover that in the pre booked car park, it is 90% full. How difficult can it be to find a space? In the dark, for a blonde, and in the early hours of the day, it's difficult! It takes me over 10 minutes to find a home for Percy, but it felt longer. I take a photo of him, with the car park area code, so that it's not a maze when I come to drive home in two weeks, and walk to the bus stop. I wait, and look at my watch. Well, I arrived at the airport 3 hours prior to departure, but not at the check in. Will it matter? I keep waiting and know that the bus runs every 15 minutes. I see one coming, but as it gets nearer, read with sadness, 'dropping off only'. This is a situation where I feel my Granny's swear word is completely appropriate, 'oh knickers'.

A few minutes later, the same bus has done the loop, and is to my right. The driver calls me over, and I do the ever so attractive 'run to the bus like a girl with a suitcase on wheels and big hand luggage bag' run. Which is nice.

Phew, I am at the penultimate stage of checking in, and still got 2.5hrs to go before departure. My patience is tested though. There's a guy on the bus, who can't remember where he left his car. The driver shows good customer service to this poor man, but not to me, the 'itching to get to the terminal' customer! The driver gets off the bus. I have to take a very deep breath, and wonder if now is a good time to practice the 7/11 rule my Dad told me about yesterday? Breath in for 7, out for 11. I question it momentarily, but decide to get going regardless of my thoughts, just to stop me from jumping behind the steering wheel and driving myself to the terminal! Typically, (and I knew this would happen), out of the 3 terminals at the airport, the driver goes to mine last. I dash off and wonder how big the check-in queue is, knowing I haven't even printed off my boarding pass.

Just three people ahead of me! Wooohooo! This is good! I say goodbye to my suitcase, and am told I will be reunited at my final destination. I have two other airports to arrive into, and change planes once. Hence me packing underwear in my hand luggage, just in case! It takes forever to get through the checks for hand luggage, and I do what I'm sure everybody does and wonder where each individual is travelling to. Finally through to the waiting lounge, I have a mooch around, and grab a beer. It's thirsty work, and I have a long day ahead!

My gate is called, and I queue up with my passport and boarding pass at the ready. I, like the other economy class ticket holders, are walked through to the back of the plane, past the business class seats, and past the first class lounge seats. I'm not jealous. I don't think they are any better than economy class. They don't make the plane go faster, and they still have to queue. I am shown my seat, and realise that the last sentence is now a lie. I am jealous. Their seats are much better than cattle class seats. Unless I get an upgrade for free, I shall make do with being lucky enough to fly long haul, and make the most of it.

This always makes me laugh. They advise that to fly safely in terms of health, to keep hydrated. Why then, do they bring water in tiny plastic cups, and serve tea in a 5 year olds teaset cup? It's not like you have to buy drinks onboard, they're all complimentary, soft drinks and alcohol. Why isn't alcohol known as a hard drink, when apple juice and the like, are known as soft drinks? Anyway, that's how it is. The entertainment system is poor in terms of music selection, but I do find myself watching a film, which makes me both laugh, and cry. What will the couple next to me think?!

We hit turbulence a few times on the first stretch of the flight, but it doesn't faze me, it's quite exciting! I'm almost at the penultimate stop and am ready to stand up and go to the loo. The trouble with a window seat, is having the balls to disrupt two passengers twice in order to get out. If I don't eat or drink anything else., I should make it without needing to go. Should.......
Thu 7th Jan, 2016 | 11:06ammore...
Luce Smith

Ranting After Christmas

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 7th Jan, 2016 | 8:46am
Santa Claus painting by Gustav Klim via Flickr
Santa Claus painting by Gustav Klim via Flickr
What to do when you over hear a young father, tell his 6yr old daughter, that Santa is fake. At first, I thought I had heard wrong, it was rush hour in the city. He repeated it though when the little girl asked if it was true. I think my jaw hit the pavement. Is this what happens when parents tell the Christmas story? Or was he saying it so that she will be extremely excited when she wakes up on Christmas Day, to find a stocking at the end of her bed? I gave him 'the look' regardless of his reason. He saw it too, but didn't seem bothered. Who am I to judge anyway, I don't have kids so he's one up on me.

I had a thought today, does sat. nav. dilute arguments about the best way to get somewhere, or does it make things worse? Is map reading a good team building exercise of communication between man and wife in the car, or does it just fuel navigation based arguments? Sat. nav. vs. map reading for good relationships, which one wins? I am uncertain at the moment, generally due to the fact that I only argue with myself, or with sat. nav., so neither wins!

I finish work for Christmas, and still find it a little odd, that I am meant to wish people a Happy Christmas. I drive away listening to Christmas music, in the hope it will inject some spirit of Santa and festivities. I meet up with a friend, and discover that they too have yet to get 'a- christmasised'. Hoorah! It's not just me being a Scrooge! We discuss this matter, and decide to accept, that at this moment in time, we want to engage and embrace Christmas, but aren't planning to, it will just happen, if it happens.

Christmas Eve. I feel a buzz of excitement. It is a now or never opportunity to feel festive, and I decide to grab it with both hands! Despite the awful rain, I walk into town, and get shopping. Brilliant, no queues, no worry about parking, no 'out of stock' and no fuss. There are some lovely little shops, which help me buy gifts that are different, and a bit special. I end up going into town 3 times, getting drenched twice, but loving it none the less.

For this, ladies and gentlemen, is Christmas!

I start wrapping, and the radio station I'm listening to, is adding to the festive feeling. Bingo!

On Christmas Day, I am asked if I am packed and ready for my holiday. I tell them the truth, in that I've got the suitcase out. I then get a bit fidgety, and begin packing in my head whilst devouring a lovely bit of turkey to sort out my need for food. Yum.

Boxing Day soon arrives, and people feel more relaxed in that the big day is over, and according to shops I went into today, Easter is just around the corner. I kid you not, it's everywhere. So we're a nation of fat people, who annually overindulge and need to get to the gym in January, but then are encouraged to get eating more chocolate, to.....increase the waistline a bit more. I mean, are chocolate businesses in partnership with women's magazines and leisure centres? Like it's a vicious circle? Please, do me and you a favour, don't fall for either, don't be ruled by what you're told by people you don't know, who are out to gain profit from your weakness.

Rant over.

Rant back on, why oh why, do we not learn to not fall for the same tricks every year. I think I wrote this 365 days ago, but I will repeat to confirm its importance. Don't eat rubbish and be lazy. This only then fills magazines the first few months of every year, with which diet works, what to eat, what to wear, and what to cook. Surely you remember this from last year?

And the year before. And the years before that.

Why not shock the editors, and encourage them to be more creative in the first few months, and work harder to write articles that will sell to us clever peeps? Simply, by not buying into their thoughts, and having strong will. It will also encourage us to be much more creative when it comes to New Year resolutions!

No more 'I m going to lose weight' or 'I'm going to go to the gym 20 times a week'. Perhaps we can be a bit mindful, and gave resolutions such as, 'I'm going to smile at the first person I see who I don't know, every day this year', or that 'I'm going to take time to live for the moment'. I know it won't happen, but it would make me smile if it did.

Rant Over, I promise.

Santa isn't fake. He didn't eat the carrot or the fortune cookie I left out for him, but I know he wants to watch his waist/health line for next year. He's leading by example. Jingle Bells!
Thu 7th Jan, 2016 | 8:46ammore...
Luce Smith

Approaching Christmas

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 21st Dec, 2015 | 3:15pm
Mulled Wine photo by Karen
Mulled Wine photo by Karen
I can't christmasise. I'm not sure whether I'm happy or sad about it either. I've written and sent my cards, that was easy. I've thought about gifts I'd like to buy people too. I've even done browsing in an actual shopping centre, but still no festive feeling in me.

Is it because I'm going away after Boxing Day? Is it because I'm skint so can't afford what I'd like to buy if I could? Or is it simply that I don't like what the shops are selling? I haven't even had mulled wine! It's normally so well promoted in shops that I can't go past without buying, but I haven't seen it. I could look for it, but haven't, as I haven't fallen into the 'ah well it's Christmas ' mood just yet.

Will I get the festive cheer before Friday? Think Christmas Eve will help? I don't want to leave it that long though as stores will be very over crowded, and shelves no doubt looking depleted. There's still time I guess....

My house isn't even Christmas-like this year, and it's not because I can't find my tree and decorations. I know exactly where they are, but can't bring myself to set it all up. Am I getting lazy? I think I need some heat from the sunshine. I know it's a mild December, but we won't get a warm spring will we, this is England after all.

I'm interested in the guy that's commuted to space, by rocket space shuttle. Did he have to buy a ticket? Will he get a daily paper? Will he have snotty passengers next to him? Will there be an announcement over the system to inform him of his next station stop? These are all things I feel I ought to know. He will surely be writing a blog. Which will turn into a novel, which will in turn allow him to be very wealthy, meet celebrities, and never have to buy value kitchen roll again. I'm not sure my life will go in that direction, but hey, each to their own.

Maybe I'm not festive because I haven't had any sort of advent calendar? My Mum asked if I'd like one, but I thought no, at my age, I, sure it's not essential. But perhaps it is? Perhaps it helps to bring a bit of festive cheer each day, which then builds up and hey presto, welcome to the ready-for-Christmas stage. I could try to find one today,and zoom through the doors to get to the 21st. It would also mean I get to eat 21 small pieces of no quality chocolate, but chocolate none the least.

I think that will work! I'm going to try it regardless, I can't get any less Christmassy!

I've given in, and with advice from solicitors, have paid Percy's £100 fine, and sent my licence off for them to add three cruel points to it. However, that won't be the last they hear from me, as I have a follow up letter in my head. I want the police, council, and highways to focus on the section of road I was speeding on, and see how clearly it is marked. I won't suggest that it's a quick money earner for them but.......

I shall, of course, request a response in writing, and look forward to it very much! Jingle bells! I shall 'a-christmasise'!!
Mon 21st Dec, 2015 | 3:15pmmore...
Yorkshire Times

Storms

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Yorkshire Times, Mon 14th Dec, 2015 | 1:09pm
storm - toulouse V, photo by Andre Delhaye
storm - toulouse V, photo by Andre Delhaye
Desmond, you are so brave and strong, that you have accidentally blown my nice wooden gate off its hinges and snapped off two panels of wood. I know you will be keen to tidy up any damages, so if you could send me £100 I can fix it?

Storming, norming.

I love it. You're driving along, and you indicate to join a lane of traffic. You are kindly flashed to join the lane. And in return, you give them a double hazards. Why does that make me smile so much, I've no idea, but it does! It seems to be a relatively new technique for cars, unless I have been driving with a bucket on my head. Which I haven't, in case you're wondering.

Commuting is weird, I used to have such a set routine, but now, there are too many options and for a person as undecided as me, it makes it way too difficult! Back in the day I'd walk to the station, train to town, walk to work, then in reverse at the end of the day. Now, I can walk to get the bus, then the train, or drive to then get the train, or walk to the station and walk to work....argh!!!!!at least I am travelling in the same travel zone now and not crossing any dodgy borders.

Such decisions!

I'm going to get very angry in a minute. Whilst walking for my train, I end up behind a suit-wearing gentleman. He's carrying an umbrella and swinging it as he walks. Whilst swinging it, it stabs me in the knee. I think about my options, and wonder which to do. I see them as a) lie on the floor and scream loudly, b) do nothing, c) stand in front of the man and ask him if he is licensed to carry a weapon of knee destruction, d) throw my bag at him and shout about his violent actions.

I actually end up tutting loudly and saying excuse me even louder. He pays no attention. Fine, I shall remember him each time I see the bruise which will appear on my knee in due course.

I may write to all the large umbrella companies and suggest that on the tags of the umbrellas, they add a safety instruction on how to carry it without injuring a neighbouring citizen. I don't know.

My sister called me a weirdo today. She is buying a car, and I asked what the registration plate was. Normal question. I then reeled off Mum's first Volvo registration plate, and the second. Why do I remember them? Absolutely no idea! The information storage space should be emptied and filled with something I may need one day. I mean, what is my brain thinking? When are those details ever going to come in handy? It is hardly going to impress anyone! I shall make a mental note not to remember them from now on.

Unlike my own poor Percy. He has had a letter from the Police as he was going too fast on a road. He got flashed and the letter was sent to me. I can either go to court (does Percy come too? Or is there a good car park? If there is I bet it's a £1 a minute), or, pay £100 and get 3 points on my licence.

Percy has nothing to say. I mull it over. I don't think it's a fair penalty at all, and feel it should be challenged. Where does the money go anyway, is it given to charity? That wouldn't be too bad. Anyway, there doesn't seem to be a mitigation point. Court, or skint and high insurance.

I email them, and ask what my options are. It would appear I don't have many! What's really annoying, is that they say costs are involved if you go to court, but they can't tell you how much it is, or even a rough idea. So how do you know if you can afford it? Do you then pay the same fine on top? I know Percy did wrong, and he is sorry, but really? When you see what others get up to and don't get charged, it seems terribly unfair. I know I'm ranting but I wasn't going a million miles an hour. I shall sleep on it. I've never been to court, does that get put on a 'record' somewhere and I have to declare it every time I see someone in uniform?

It's all a bit much.

Christmas hasn't sunk in.

My trip to Australia hasn't sunk in, and both will be happening very soon!

Maybe Storm Desmond has blown away my Christmas Spirit? Bring it baaaaaccccckkkkk!
Mon 14th Dec, 2015 | 1:09pmmore...
Luce Smith

Emergency Aid

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Sun 29th Nov, 2015 | 2:46pm
Car entering high water photo by State farm
Car entering high water photo by State farm
I wasn't expecting that. You sometimes hear stories of it, but never seems to be something you witness or experience. I had trotted up to the bus station from the train, as I had used up all my gallop power at 6:44am. I queued up like a real Brit, and sat in my usual seat, after showing the driver my valid ticket to travel.

I was just checking some emails, when I heard someone a few seats behind me struggling to catch their breath. I turned around to see a lady and her daughter sat looking a little surprised. The lady wasn't able to get any breath, and I must have paused for a second or two, wondering where all the first aiders were. I also wondered during that brief time, why no one was helping her, it was a very busy bus, and many heads were turned, but no one moved.

Instinct took over, and I got up and the lady came towards me showing her back and pointed for me to start hitting. That sounds like violent behaviour, but I don't know how else to describe it. I began whacking her back. After what seemed like minutes, but would have been seconds, she started to get her breath back.

We all then sat back down and the bus carried on its journey. How surreal was that? Felt so strange, did it actually happen? That was bizarre. After 15 minutes, the lady walked past me when it was her stop, and thanked me. No problem I said, are you ok? Yes thanks.

And off she went. I still couldn't believe it. Weird. Why was I the only one who made an attempt to do anything though. Did I imagine it? Are you not meant to touch anyone due to health and safety?

Anyway, it won't happen again, it can't! Way too weird. In any case, Percy was in full use at the end of the week, so I couldn't play Super Woman again. What I did do though, was on my way to the swimming pool, let Percy go for a swim as well! It's no surprise the amount of rain that fell from the sky, that there was surface water on the roads.

There's water, and there's pools though! The road was flooded, and it wasn't a road I was familiar with, so I didn't know how deep it actually was. Luckily, there was a 4x4 coming the other way, so I let them come through first, so I could see if Percy would make it. It did, so off we went. It came right up to the radiator, but we made it steadily in 2nd gear. Poor Percy, when parked up at the pool, the radiator and tyre trims were covered in leaves, he looked a right mess!

Wind, rain, and now snow? How can that happen in such a short space of time? Ah well, the dark nights will soon be becoming lighter....as for the Christmas spirit, that will begin around the 20th December and not a moment sooner. Apart from mulled wine. that will get started as soon as I buy it, to the run up to the Christmas spirit!

Ok help me out here. A weekly pass using the bus and the train, equals £28.90. That's 7 days of travel. I know it's a good deal, but on a daily rate, it works out to be £4.13. However, when you only need to travel by public transport for a day, it costs a whopping £10.90! That's ridiculous! Even with my blonde brain and poor mathematical skills! How is that even possible? I'm suggesting immediately that people who often buy weekly passes are granted a discounted rate if paying by the day.

Goodness me. I'm going on a big sulk and taking Percy to work tomorrow to save some pennies, and yes, I will be following the speed restrictions on the roads! At least I won't be called to do first aid to a commuter whilst driving in, or have I just jinxed it? Oh my days, what a week!
Sun 29th Nov, 2015 | 2:46pmmore...
Luce Smith

Travel Tickets

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Tue 10th Nov, 2015 | 1:09pm
Gibson Ticket Machine photo by RV1864
Gibson Ticket Machine photo by RV1864
I've been commuting for exactly two years. Two years! Wow, it seems a lifetime ago when I used to walk to work, no travel required. How odd. In all my two years, I've never been told off by a train crew member like I did today. It's a good job I'm in an emotionally stable mood this morning, otherwise I would have embarrassingly enough, let out some eye tears. Yes, the crying motion you never want to do, but if you're feeling weak, they inevitably show.

I had got the first bus into town, as there's a big event at work, so I want to be in on good time. There was an earlier connecting train, and I managed to stroll onto it, and grab a seat. "Tickets and passes please". I get my weekly pass out of my bag, ready to show the nice man in uniform.

It's my turn to be scrutinised, "sorry, you can't use that pass on this train, it's a different company". What? All I did was ask for a pass to get me from home, to work and back again. I didn't say which company I wanted to use, I just needed a travel pass! I said that all I asked for was my journey, and that I hadn't got this particular connection before. I apologised and said I wouldn't get the return journey on this train. I looked at him. Was he going to say I needed to buy a single train ticket to work, even though I had a valid pass to travel on this journey?

Silence.

I told him that I didn't know it was selected trains only, or that the ticket had route conditions. He looked at me. "Well, you're not supposed to get on this train". I apologised and asked what I should do. He said he would let it go this time.

I feel like a criminal! Like I want to pay for a valid ticket for this train, but I don't. My bank wouldn't like me too much. I shall sit like a naughty school girl and hope he doesn't report me down the radio airwaves.......

Brilliant. This convo just happened in front of me as I was boarding the bus home. "How much to the village centre mate?" "£1.60". "I've only got £1.30 though?" "Well it's £1.60". He reversed and got off the bus. I almost opened my purse, but didn't. Smiled with the bus driver as he shook his head. See if that had been me, and I had been 30p short, I would have have simply said, "ticket for £1.30 please Mr bus driver", would have got off when he told me to, and walked the rest of the 30p journey. What is it, three quarters of a mile? Not far at all, especially as he was a young one. Bless him.

I am so glad I drive this morning. I was later informed that trains weren't running 'til at least 9am due to a technical fault, not a staff issue this time. Phew. I would have got slightly annoyed to say the least and would have had to indulge and buy a coffee from the station vendor. I might also have looked at getting the bus all the way. What is it with public transport these days, it's meant to be reliable isn't it?

I don't hate it that much I suppose, as it's good to give Percy a rest, and it does mean I can read on the commute. It also saves me a lot of money. I'm not proud of it, but yesterday, I got flashed. I don't mean a naked body type flash, just the one where you wish you'd smiled and wished the accelerator pedal hadn't got carried away.

However, when the letter comes through my letter box (I know it will, I am just waiting for the dreaded thing), I am going to write back, and ask that the fine is shared with the 3 cars behind me. As I got flashed, they all decided to give Percy a lot of breathing space and dropped back at least two car's distance! Bet they were feeling smug about it too. The annoying thing is, I did 30mph in the 30 zone, 40 when it changed, and back to 30. However, I thought it changed again after the bridge, to a 40mph. But am guessing the flash wasn't for them to capture Percy driving along looking mighty shiny. Ouch. More expense that I wasn't budgeting for this month.

Commuting is the way forward. So please Mr train driver. Turn up to work tomorrow......and electrics, please work 100% so that I can have some faith in public transport again?!
Tue 10th Nov, 2015 | 1:09pmmore...
Luce Smith

This Is A Scent...

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Fri 30th Oct, 2015 | 8:55am
Deodorant roll-on photo by Iwan Gabovitch
Deodorant roll-on photo by Iwan Gabovitch
This is a scent I do not recognise, nor is it a scent that is favourable. I'm being polite. The guy in front of me on the bus honks, there's no other way of saying it. I want to feel sorry for him, but I can't. Why do people think that smoking is a priority over personal hygiene?! Maybe he isn't aware of his personal aroma, can you smell it on yourself?

There should be an app on your phone that monitors your personal hygiene and when it reaches a certain level, it forces you to buy deodorant or shower immediately, depending on your location. Maybe I should create that app and be one a leading appists in this region. It could be a money earner, and I could work from home, which, now I'm in a different house, would be absolutely fantastic! I could definitely look into this. I think I ought to actually thank the guy in front for coming out on the bus this evening!

The bus was late, by 10 minutes, which means the chances of me getting home and out again to the pool, are pretty slim. I braved the Aquafit class this week, it was superbulous, a midweek treat that I will make a permanent feature in my empty diary. There was music, laughter, water weights, giggles, and concentration! The latter mainly from me, as what the poolside instructor was doing, wouldn't happen quite the same underwater!

Some swimmers wore socks, which I thought was a bit weird at first, but then I realised it must help with the grip. I may go a step further next week and wear my reindeer slipper socks, with actual rubber grips? Yeah, I will look a prat, but I won't slip over quite so much......

I haven't managed to locate any regular rail users yet but it's only been two weeks, so early days I know. Yesterday's train was funny, there was a delayed train and a cancelled train. Reason being? No driver. Well that's it, back to college to learn how to drive a train. Where does that happen, train school, I've never seen an advert for recruitment? Maybe they need drivers and HR staff.

I wonder what skills I have that are transferable or which I need to acquire! Customer service won't be necessary, perhaps a keen eye for detail, knowledge of which leaves create the biggest rail track risk, and a passion for time keeping? I wonder what the day in the life of a modern train driver looks like. Is it shown on a television apparatus that I still don't have? I know they did a programme on the tube, and am guessing there are heaps on steam trains, but regular commute trains up north? Is that another item to add to my to do list?

I'm learning to sit quietly on the bus, and not stressing over how long it's taking. It amazes me that a double decker does the route it takes as there are often some very tight squeezes and I'm grateful it's not daylight! It would be a journey of breathing in and not exhaling till you get off! Thankfully Percy is off any bus route, so is safe from that. Not safe from other vehicles though, I will choose a south facing house over a house with parking!

Never again do I wish to have a journey like that. Due to needing the car at work, I drove in. Fine, was early morning, busy, but traffic moving. Left at 4pm. Took over 90 minutes to do 28 miles. I was not amused, but I still made it I time for Aquafit no2! I had to drive again yesterday, and left at 6pm, to avoid traffic, and took a different route. Much better, but there was a sign on the edge of the motorway which read 'sign not in use'. What might I ask, is the point of that? I didn't learn it in my speed awareness course. I shall use my trusty friend google, and report back......

Bus 6 minutes late today which will mean an anxious me until I am safely on the connecting train I am aiming for. Just hope it's freshly scented, as my mood may not cope! Such fun!
Fri 30th Oct, 2015 | 8:55ammore...
Luce Smith

New Routines

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Tue 20th Oct, 2015 | 7:29pm
Upstairs on the Number 11 Bus photo by Dick Jones
Upstairs on the Number 11 Bus photo by Dick Jones
10 train journeys, (8 standing, 2 seated) 9 buses, 2 mega sprints from bus to rail, and 4 swims. This is going to take some getting used to! One thing I have discovered, is that bus companies don't believe in heating the bus! Freeeeeezing. So much so that I have had to give in, and buy a travel mug so that I get some inner warmth! Luckily, the bus station is two minutes speed walk from my house, so the travel mug needn't work for too long!

It's really odd, because on the bus, coming home, I'm not the last stop, so must not fall asleep! The same goes for the train, to and from work, I hop on and hop off, so don't feel I can get too comfortable. Which is just as well as standing up on a busy train isn't the place for comfort! On the plus side, there are trains running much more frequently on this route, so I don't have to wait another hour should I miss a train.

The buses are funny. A lady sat in front of me was on her phone, discussing how they should be cooking dinner, what time it was going and how much she wanted. She said how hungry she was and that she was having a packet of crisps to put her on. Why is it when someone opens a packet of crisps, the smell of salt and vinegar whoosh up your nose, and immediately, you yourself are now hungry? Soon be home.....

I've met a few neighbours, and am getting used to my new home town. In fact, I'd go as far to say that I love it here. I'm two minutes from the bus, so Percy gets a rest through the week, but I still say hello to him as I walk by, asking him to keep an eye on the house. Yes I know, that's what happens when you live on your own. You talk to things. I've even taken advantage of the bird table that was left, and encouraging wildlife to join with peanuts and fatballs. Neither of which are items I would even consider snacking on, so the birds can fill their boots!

I've been in touch with multiple tradesmen, and that's not sexist, it's fact. I've had to get a roofer, window cleaner, decorator, plumber, and log man, and that was progress in week one alone! I've learnt the art of moss away, and now know that my Dad was right, it stinks and should come with a mask! It's worked though, despite it giving me a big headache.

I've been on a few adventure walks already and found that people here must not like blackberries as there are loads! Either that, or their dogs have much longer legs, so when they need to....you know, well they taste ok to me. I've joined the local pool, and love the fact that it's a ten minute walk from my house. Amazing. I've paid for a year's membership, as there was an offer on of 25% discount, and think I've had my monies worth already! The best bit is when there's music on in the pool area. It makes the lengths much more bearable, and luckily for the other swimmers, it's impossible to swim, and sing, at the same time. Have you tried? I mean, I may be swimming wrong, or perhaps singing wrong, but I can't do the combo. I may be able to soon though, as I've signed up to an aquafit class next week. I remember doing aqua aerobics with a friend years ago, which was great fun, only it ended up with us being so relaxed we hit the pub. Nearly a healthy evening!

What I have noticed on my new commute, is just how many people do commute on a daily basis. Those who are just having an adhoc day out at a conference or meeting, stand out a mile. I'm also amazed at how many people pay high prices for their takeaway coffee from the station kiosks. Or does it just highlight how tight I am? Or should I say "money conscious"..... Since moving I have no idea how much the new commute and house bills will add up to, so in month one, I'm treading carefully. Hence my travel mug! But looking at it, I'm still not sure how the liquid will get to my mouth, as there doesn't appear to be a spout? Or something that looks like a drinking hole? I'll find out soon, but may take a straw in my bag, just in case.......

Have many of you been caught out in the 5p bag charge yet? I am blessed with getting mumsy in my old age and have carried a bag for life for sometime now....but, I do feel a bit of a thief having a bag with several stores' stock in it! I'm mindful to always get the receipt! It will test my bag for life though and I think its supposed life span may now have been reduced slightly.

I haven't joined in the basket theft at supermarkets yet, and am surprised to hear it in the news! Isn't it slightly obvious? What do people do with them afterwards? I guess if they take them back on their next shopping trip, it's not theft at all, more of a loan? Clothes shopping is weird without a bag, and Christmas shopping will look really odd! Sorry, but it's in the shops big time, so hopefully I haven't shocked you with the jingle bell word..... Ok, time to step up a gear and sprint to my next journey. Such fun!
Tue 20th Oct, 2015 | 7:29pmmore...
Luce Smith

Porridge

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Sat 17th Oct, 2015 | 3:08pm
Porridge and Raspberries photo by DurhamDundee
Porridge and Raspberries photo by DurhamDundee
Porridge. It's that time of year apparently, someone on the seat behind me said it last week. I thought I would test out her idea, and give it a go. The morning I chose to do this, was quite a busy morning. It was the morning of my move. The morning I say goodbye to my little house, and to friendly faces I am used to seeing.

I get the oats, gluten free I hasten to add, and add some dried fruit, milk, and start the timer. I got on with moving some boxes nearer the door, and had a sudden panic, that my porridge was growing bigger than the bowl. I quickly got to the microwave, but it was too late. What to do? I only left out one portion of oats, packing the rest up in the kitchen box, with parcel tape, and a label. I looked closely at the damage. It was salvageable, but only by scraping the microwave plate and replacing the porridge back in its rightful home.

It then occurred to me, that this probably wasn't acceptable in society.

However, porridge packed or not, if this had happened on a 'normal' morning, I am not the type of person, to chuck it all out, wash up and start again. I'd say fine, it wasn't meant to be, and grab something else. What is the norm? Do people scrape it back into the bowl? Do people eat it from the microwave plate pretending it's a terrible attempt of scrambled egg? It's ok for me, I live on my own, I won't dream of doing it if I had company, or if I was making enough for two, could save theirs, but not mine.

Come on, share your porridge exploding stories! Or do you get the ones you boil on the hob, or the ones you cheat and add water to, and leave in the container? The latter will never explode, mainly due to lack of content! Unless the porridge eater has been very clever, and poured two tubs into one, thus creating a double decker porridge portion? I am very sure this happens, as one commuter was telling her friend about it. One tub wasn't enough, didn't fill her up, so she tried two. This was too much.

I have the solution, have a plate of porridge, instead of a bowl. Simple!

Due to large amounts of mucky stuff leaving my shed, and finding itself in the recycling centre, via Percy, he was a bit dirty and smelly, so when I saw a car freshener in the sale, I popped it into my basket. That was a foolish moment I must have had. It had Tango written all over it, so I thought it would be fun.

I had been Tango'd! With full force, and after driving for a few minutes, my eyes started to itch. It did do the job though, and Percy did have a fresher aroma about him, which was essential, as he needed to make a good impression on his new street mates. Or have I ruined his reputation already? Ah well, the thought of the adverts that Tango used to do, made me chuckle, so it did have one bonus.

The Removal guys made me laugh, and they reminded me of checkout staff at supermarkets. Three guys were assisting me in my move, and the younger lad, who was just in it for extra cash, seemed to analyse or at least comment on every item he could see through parcel tape! Oooooooh, you like your fitness don't you? As he brought my DVDs down. Oooooh, you read don't you, what's your favourite book? Ooh this is a lovely house, why would you want to move?
Oooooooh, I can see why you wanted to come here, look at that view! Oooooooh did you get this in Asda? My mum has one of these.

Microwaving swimwear, is it possible? I haven't got my dryer sorted yet, and with being tough, so not putting the heating on, the house is cool. My swimming costume is still damp from yesterday's swim. I hate wearing damp swimwear! The thought of microwaving it crossed my mind. Would it work? Is it possible? Has anyone tried it? Does it ruin the swimwear or the microwave first? It's ok, I won't do it, this time....

The new commute begins on Monday, and today, I have decided to check it out. I'm on the bus, and it's a double decker variety. The bus driver smiled, and I gave him my money. I think that's quite common practice. I have no idea where the bus station is, and no idea where the train station is, but I shall find out! If I get lost, it won't matter too much, and my porridge didn't explode today so that's got to be a good sign. Such fun!
Sat 17th Oct, 2015 | 3:08pmmore...
Luce Smith

Light At The End Of The Tunnel

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Fri 11th Sep, 2015 | 9:42am
Light at the end of the tunnel photo by Alan Neufeld
Light at the end of the tunnel photo by Alan Neufeld
Hazaaaarrrrrrr! It has taken until today, for the phone bill mystery to unravel and be resolved. It's a good job I don't give up easily and fight for what I know and believe, is the right thing! World peace next? I have probably spent 2.45hrs in various stores, exchanged 4 phone calls with the regional manager, and exchanged 31 emails. At last, I get a result. One bonus is that the regional manager also ends up having to listen to awful music when put on hold, was cut off twice whilst awaiting an authorisation code, and was fobbed off. Am happy with that! The regional manager that made a special trip to sort this out for me, wasn't a sleepy salesman, so I could only be nice to him. I can't believe it's taken so long, but am pleased to finally get this over with!

There are now two lights I have seen getting closer, the end of the degree tunnel and the end of the house completion tunnel. It's all coming together rather nicely.....

I have got three business boys in suits surrounding me on the commute train. I would have possibly aged them a few years above their actual age, until they started talking. Cars. Fast cars, flash cars, wheel spins, and elastic bow ties. I don't know the link, but am sure that there is one. Oh my, they call 'proper ' bow ties manual ones! Brilliant! I try not to look amused though, as I am the eldest in this 6 seater spot, so someone's got to be responsible. Now they're showing pictures of our lad's new car. Wow, look at that, I bet he's well pleased in't he? Blah blah blah. I want to ask them if they had a good day at school, but they then talk about if they've been paid, what weights they did in their gym sesh, and who is off their chops. It's beyond me.

I am almost ready to submit my final piece of work for my degree, but it's not been an easy week. An email was sent round from my tutor, advising us that the format needed to be different. I spent hours editing, cutting, and pasting. Another email came round from my tutor, to apologise, but to say that the original version will actually be ok. A.n.g.r.y wasn't even close. I was exhausted at this point, and low motivation kicked in. How is that fair? Never mind, nearly there, so get it done, then send the letter of annoyance.

I have done an epic 23560 steps today. Not sure how, as I don't feel I've been anywhere. I still have to go over the 30000 steps but I think that will be achieved when I move house. Which is in three weeks! It only dawned on me that it's three weeks when I looked on the calendar, and saw that October is the next month. It's all happening!

Have I packed? No. Have I made any plans? Well, kind of. I plan to move house, go on a short break to a hot country, then start decorating and being all responsible. Or something similar. Oh my word, finally, my evenings won't be spent typing or reading, and my weekends can be spent exploring.
Yipeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee. Oh, I must write to the phone people and thank them for resolving their own issue. Such fun.
Fri 11th Sep, 2015 | 9:42ammore...
Luce Smith

Running

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 27th Aug, 2015 | 8:55am
Commuters - photo by Chris Marchant
Commuters - photo by Chris Marchant
Run! He is running so fast that I stopped for a good few moments. It's a good job the platforms are dry as it would be a bit hazardous if not. He is doing a, what I call, full speed gallop. I wonder what train he is about to miss, and if there is another today? Bless. I'd love to have followed him to find out, but I may get arrested for stalking, and to be fair, there's no way I can run that fast in a pencil skirt!

I have noticed, that along with more pesticides, fast food, and mobile devices, there appears to be an increase of people with freckles. I wonder if anyone actually monitors freckles and their appearance, is there a freckle association of research? Do they mean anything? Are they like stars, and you might see the comic freckle? Or the shooting freckle? Seriously, keep an eye out, you'll see what I mean.

Ok, do you think anyone else gets on the train after a day at work, and wonder how they got to the station that morning? Or is it just me? Can't be surely, I might go round the carriages and gather some intelligence to report back. I have, on more than one occasion, got on the train, wondering if I am on the right train, or if I did get the train in the first place! One day I will get to the station after work, and realise my car is at the office. Has anyone done that? Because I need to know. It would make me feel much better about myself and my well being. Talking of which, I have yet to take 30,000 steps in a day. I'm not far off though, I seem to run out of steam, or daylight. I need to make it a goal when I get up on a non work day. It can and will, be done, just for the scoreboard.

The trip to Devon went well, with an amazingly eventless 5 hour drive down (including a tea break). I braved swimming in the pool every morning, and was persuaded to dip in the sea one afternoon. Huge mistake.

Freeeeeeeeeeeeeeeezing cold water, took your breath away, then the wave took the last breath, and you had to recharge. It was exhilarating and something I will do again. Next year.

The drive back, sadly, wasn't too good. Wet wet wet, (weather not cd music selection), and so much traffic! The signs kept saying look out for bikes, but I didn't see any. After 3.5hrs, I had only just hit the M6, so stopped for a brew, and conveniently met a friend also travelling up North. Most bizarre, but great to have an actual conversation that was two-way, as I find talking to other drivers with the windows up, giving them some driving tips, isn't two-way at all! Back on the road, I'd had enough of all sounds of the radio so switched off. Saved fuel. At least it was a safe journey, so I shall indeed count my blessings.

Typing nails. I want someone to start a salon for office workers/administrators. They only need to have two nails in their shop, both index finger nails. My nails have grown so well, but my typing nails are weak, so now much shorter and out of proportion. I don't want to cut the other 8 nails to make them all even, I want some typing nails I can add on, whilst not on keyboard duty. I may take it to Dragons Den.

I know I will be a Dragon soon, as I have been ripped off by a mobile phone shop (not named, which means I am sensitive, which therefore makes me a professional). The tariff they said I would get, was not mirrored by the bill I have just received. I rang customer service, and was told to go instore. I went instore "sorry, we don't have a manager, try the store on the other side of town". "Sorry, we only sold you the phone. You need to go to the store of your network provider". "Sorry, we can't help, the company who sold you the phone need to deal with it. We can't help you". "Sorry, we can't deal with that instore. It's not an instore issue. You need to write to them at head office, who will investigate".

I know what they'll say, they'll say, " Yes, it was Miss Lucy, in the library, with Colonel Mustard and his latest technology. Sorry, we can't help you". Then I will get a text from them. "Thanks for contacting us today. How would you rate our service? Would you recommend us to friends?"

I now want to run away from the store as fast as the guy was running for his train, throw my phone under the train, and cancel my direct debits. Problem solved.

Such fun?
Thu 27th Aug, 2015 | 8:55ammore...
Luce Smith

Summer Driving

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 24th Aug, 2015 | 5:31pm
Rear view photo by Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious
Rear view photo by Richard Masoner / Cyclelicious
I'm commuting with Percy today so it's all a bit calmer. Don't have to buy a ticket, or show my ticket. It's going to be an interesting day as I venture to parts of the city I have never dared go before....... Rather, never knew existed. I set off from my office with google maps and all was good. I am allowed to say google maps aren't I, as I'm guessing there aren't too many other types? I may be wrong!

All was good, until the return journey, when I felt I knew better than the technology equipment telling me to stay on the road. I took the exit. Huge mistake, as I ended up on the busiest road out of the city, at rush hour. City centre, hot day, window down.

I was getting fed up with the radio station I was listening to, so did a bit of channel hopping. I came across some music I loved, so pumped the volume up full blast. What I didn't account for, was the driver in the lane next to me, looking a bit surprised. Was it because I am relatively youthful, sunnies on, blonde hair tied back, and going for it musically to Radio.....3? What can I say, classical music is fantastic when in the mood, and this was one of those moments!

Perhaps I should have kept the windows shut, and put air con on. However, I did read that this can lower the fuel level. As I don't know this for fact, but do know my bank balance doesn't need any more taking out of it, I'm driving as economically as I possibly can!
Such fun!

Once out of the blocked commute, I was steadily on my way home to green grass and blue skies. As the weather was so good, there were of course, lots of cyclists around. I like cycling, and hate cars getting to close to me, so am fair when overtaking, unlike the cars in front of me. Good job I wasn't on the bike, I would have kicked out in frustration/fear of being knocked off. Possibly not a good move I know, but still, fair's fair, there must be bike rage in this day and age?

Anyway, it's much more fun not overtaking cyclists. Why? It's more fun to stay behind and watch them struggle, as they know they have a car behind them! Although I'm sure they also think, hey, there's a car behind me, it may want to pass, but I own the road, so this is my pace. The psychology behind those in transit!

I finally did some relaxing mid week, and took myself off for a swim. I went to a pool I've never been to before and it was very different from my old usual place. Not so clean, very unisex, and a bit... basic. At least they had cubicle showers though, not just a row of them for anyone to duck under. The best thing about this pool, was that they had the radio on. It was fabulous. So fabulous in fact (sorry mr partner/boyfriend, used the word "so" to start this sentence), that I will now return for another swim. Makes such a difference, and no, it wasn't classical music, but hits of today. I think it may be called pop music, but I really don't know the difference. They didn't teach me that sort of stuff at GCSE music.

Speaking of which, we interviewed some young people for our apprenticeship vacancy this week. I kept being shocked when looking at their date of birth. 1993??? Surely they should still be at nursery school, as it makes me.....yikes!!!?

The big commute is upon me. I work on autopilot initially, as it seems to have a good track record so far. It's now 4:35am and I am 10 minutes into my 300 mile drive. There are road works ahead, with lots of different signs popping up. One read 'straddle lane ahead'. What on earth does that mean to a driver? I am slightly confused and surprised by the sign, but decide not to take any action and accept the consequences. But did it actually say that? Admittedly, I got little sleep so maybe it read something completely different. M1 bound, I soon forgot about it.

I then had another wake up call, when in the first hour of my drive on the M1, sat nav told me to exit at the next junction, and take the second exit at the roundabout. I did, because my brain was snoozing whilst sat nav was in the driver's seat. However, I came off the M1, over a roundabout, only to join the M1! I was still behind the same wagon carrying old cars! Made me laugh though, at sat nav and at me!

I'm glad I left so early, as the trip wasn't held up, and I didn't get the usual driver's Tourette's I normally get when in traffic, so a bonus. I did get a phone call though, from my solicitor. My buyers would like to complete in 10 days, am I ok with that?

Yes of course I am! Find me a man with a van, maybe two and lets get moving!

Such fun, and still got 125 days 'til Christmas!
Mon 24th Aug, 2015 | 5:31pmmore...
Luce Smith

Laughing's Good For You

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 17th Aug, 2015 | 9:45am
Horse Laugh photo by Bill Gracey
Horse Laugh photo by Bill Gracey
17240 steps so far taken today. Is that good? I know they recommend 10000 steps a day is good, but is there a maximum recommended number as well? They don't tell you that do they? I guess blisters, worn out soles, and fatigue would possibly be a good sign! I have "tret me'sen" to a piece of equipment that calculates my activity levels. If I had the time and inclination, it would also tell me if I was thirsty, and if I still had room for a second helping of apple crumble. However, I think I can still listen to my body or my mind, to share those kinds of things. However, I can clock up some kilometreage in a week that's for sure! That sounds odd but you say mileage, so I wouldn't want to be disrespectful to the type of measures used.

I have to admit to be totally engrossed in music from the 90's and also programmes on iplayer. For example, I watched a documentary on the YMCA, prior to which, I had no idea what it stood for! I also watched a documentary on the girl who was terminally ill, but didn't agree with the bucket list idea. It was really moving. I was introduced to TT races as well, and am amazed that they actually race at such fast speeds! They go flying, and I would admittedly, be rubbish at having a go myself, I would just LOVE to be sat on the back, screaming like a girl, because I am a girl.

It's been, what I call, educational. I have got five and a half weeks left of being a student, and should be studying hard, but when your mind's not on it..... I think the bank holiday will be a total study session. With gin. Would be rude not to drink like a student when I can declare my student status!

I was not expecting the reply I got from asking one of my very many questions. I wasn't doing a survey, I just appear to have a question mark following my every sentence! Let me set the scene. I had done a full day at work, then was covering for a colleague, doing some outreach work at a supermarket. After this, I got a taxi to the train station, to then get home safely. The taxi driver was very chatty, and we had lots to talk about. He was telling me how his wife looked after him when he brought lots of money back from his shift, and would massage his feet, and cook him tea. If the day's takings were low, he would slide in the front door quietly, shading his face and saying the day hadn't been lucrative. She yelled, and he had to find his own tea in their kitchen. He spoke of her with a big smile on his face, and mentioned their children. I asked how many he had, to which he responded, '5 kids'. Five? ' yes, 5 ma'am, it's so easy'! I am quite sure he hadn't realised what he'd said, but in my weary state, I couldn't stop laughing! Then he started laughing at me laughing! I won't ask that question again!

I laughed again on my drive home. I did my usual smile when I walked off the platform and onto the road where Percy was parked up, and set off down through town. Whilst at the lights, I noticed something in my rear view mirror. The driver of the car behind me must have been listening to Queens thunder bolts and lightening song. He was totally going for each and every note, hands in the air, then bouncing on the steering wheel, and mouth open wide. It was such a brilliant show, and he was totally oblivious to me spying on his performance. It was so funny that I didn't see the lights turn green, but neither did he, as I didn't get beeped to hurry on! Perfect end to a very long day. How many people have I performed to in a similar way?? Yikes!

My monthly income is bring stretched to the ultimate limit this month as fees for the house move are being deducted left, right and centre. I want to start my sentence with 'so', but my partner took the time to tell me his frustration of when people start sentences with the word "so...." Which therefore means I mustn't add to his list of people that annoy him. I already ask way too many questions for his liking! What's wrong with it though? Is it a sign of him ageing and little things are bothering him? (He will not be pleased with me if he reads this, so please, say a prayer for my health and well being.....). He also has a thing about when people say, "it's literally 10 minutes away". He will say, it's not literally 10 minutes away, it actually is 10 minutes away! Oh dear, it makes me laugh. Which in this blog, has been a reoccurring theme! Beats sobbing your heart out that's for sure.

Now, have I done enough steps this week, or do I need to fasten my device to the dog this weekend to up my score. Walkies anyone?
Mon 17th Aug, 2015 | 9:45ammore...
Luce Smith

You're Going To Love Me

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 6th Aug, 2015 | 12:27pm
Christmas presents photo by Hades2k
Christmas presents photo by Hades2k
You're going to love me, and you may thank me in gin, that would be acceptable. You have got 5 months to get used to the fact that Christmas will soon be approaching. You may already have started to get autumn/winter catalogues, which is always a start of the Christmas presence.

Who, I wonder, has remembered that last year, in the after Christmas sales, they bought wrapping paper, cards, an ornament for Aunty Ellie, and some perfume for their mum? Or will they only find them when they reluctantly begin to dig out the Christmas box in December, when they have already seen a brilliant gift idea for Aunty Ellie, and their mum has changed their mind on their favourite perfume?

I must get off, I must get off, I must get off......at a different stop! I had a bit of a different start to my day, which meant catching a later train than normal. Fine you might say, until it comes to parking Percy. He felt like Mary, there was no room at the inn. At all, none whatsoever. I had to drive on to the next station, in hope of finding a Percy spot. I did, and made my train. Phew! Coming home of course, I had to remember to get off at the penultimate stop, sounds easy, but we're creatures of habit and I didn't fancy walking back in the rain.

I'm walking to the train station, and my phone alerts me to an incoming text, then it loses power and won't restart. It's not the first time, but I have no spare cash, zero phone insurance (yes I know, I'm an idiot), and my early upgrade isn't due until October. I nip in to the phone shop, and see an eager looking lad at the desk. I approach him and share my dilemma. "Ooooh, you can get an early upgrade for just £8, but we can give you a £10 voucher to cover that".

Ok, I have half an hour to get to my train, so sign me up! What's that saying, 'if it's too good to be true, it probably is?' That was how it turned out for me anyway as an hour later, after the shutters of the store had closed and security were itching to get out, I too, left the building. I left with a broken phone, and a promise of it all being sorted out in 24hrs. I never hold much hope for these deals, but I'm willing to give them the benefit of the doubt.

It must be wedding weekend ahead, 3 of my colleagues are each going to a wedding, and I am as well. Mine's a very special wedding, and I am really looking forward to it. Apart from the fact that I haven't decided which shoes to wear, what accessories to add to the dress, and if I need wellies and a poncho! The wedding's not until 3pm, so I have plenty of time in the morning, right?

Ginger Dave is in Disneyland. It's not the title of a new film, or book, just a fact! It's someone's friend's friend, but it just made me laugh, so I thought I'd share it with you! Another thing that made me laugh, was a description on a very popular online shopping website. It read "frustration free" packaging. What on earth does that mean? As it happens, it ended up being like airbags inside the bigger than necessary box. Why do they always do that, send tiny items in gigantic boxes? Are they cheaper to buy than small boxes? Please someone, tell me the answer to this!

19 Fridays until Christmas has just been announced on a social media platform. Told you, jingle bells will be ringing before you know it :)
Thu 6th Aug, 2015 | 12:27pmmore...
Luce Smith

To The Big City

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Wed 15th Jul, 2015 | 10:08am
Speedy chippings photo by Mika Meskanen
Speedy chippings photo by Mika Meskanen
I haven't ever had a commute like this one. This one took place on a strike day, so it was dodgy before it started :)

I was going to the big capital, to assist a colleague and attend a meeting. I decided that as the train journey was a few hours, I would drive to Leeds and let Percy have a run out.

Big mistake. The roads were being resurfaced and so loose chippings everywhere. I slowed right down as Percy didn't want a pebble dash look. That was fine, I had plenty of time. The guy behind me didn't have time and he took it upon himself to ignore all the warning signs by the roadside and speed up to overtake me. I heard a few awful noises that sounded like Percy had been attacked by loose chippings. I said some words under my breath about the driver, then looked at my windscreen. Has it been damaged? What if it has, who pays? I would have to look later, the road went to normal Tarmac, so I resumed to drive at the relevant speed.

I was so annoyed, what if Percy had been damaged? Ignorant driver :(

Anyway, I parked up and by the time I got there, had forgotten to look for damage. I was now thinking of the train to the big city! I met my colleague and we sat at the desk, awaiting the pre-booked assistance. I'll admit, I was dubious about this service, but I was definitely proved wrong! The guys were great, polite, friendly, and helpful. I even went in the lift to the goods level, it was very exciting! We were taken to our train, the ramp was put up and we were shown our seats. Very professional. But what will it be like at the other end?

To my amazement it was as good as it was in Leeds, waiting there once our train pulled up. I was what I call, impressed. Not a bad service at all.

The next day was back to the usual commute. It had been a long day and I was quite tired on reaching the station. I checked the departure board, found my train, and saw the platform it had landed at. I proceeded to head to the platform. Only.,,,.....I walked to the wrong train! Never before have I done this! Ever! I almost hopped on, then saw it was clearly not my train, as it said 'Harrogate' on it! That would have been a fatal mistake! Note to self, always keep alert at the station and pay attention!

Oh my, I left the house a few minutes later than normal, and Percy and I are driving along, hoping to make it to the station in time. I get stuck behind a vehicle going 10mph less than the limit, and it annoyed me big time. I don't like to admit, but I shouted at him, at the top of my voice! No flashing lights, no beeping, no overtaking (would have meant going over the road speed limit, which of course has consequences that aren't an option for me!). Road rage? Possibly. What was he thinking though? I mean, it may not have been a man, but a woman would never have been so inconsiderate. Would she?

I made the train, and sat in my 'usual' seat. I had a gentleman join me on the seat opposite. He was wearing posh shoes, and a smart suit. However, he must have been in a rush getting dressed, as he had failed to do all his shirt buttons up! I know I should have done the ladylike thing and look away, but I can't be something I'm not! I had a little giggle to myself, and he then looked down, and proceeded to use his button skills! Phew!

I will just slip in here, that I had an email to alert me of my exam result being ready to collect. Really? That 6 weeks went fast! I got all shakey, and scared. Did I need to know? Can I handle the result? Come on, brave it. I passed! Just scraped through the exam, and as my coursework was half decent, I have passed that level 3 module! Woohoo! These open university courses cost a silly amount of money, but it was worth it. Just 2 more studying months left, then I can play out again! My lovely partner/boyfriend (still don't know which is the correct term), is under the impression that it will only be a matter of time before I signup for something else. Is he right? Possibly, but not to study. May get a little evening job, if I move house, to meet new local people and to get a few extra pennies! Prague was so good that I want to go again! And again! Mainly due to the Segways admittedly, but they were so much fun! I felt 19yrs younger, which is always a bonus!

The big city trip seems a long time ago now, and I get why people commute to and from London, but not me. I would get told off for talking to strangers! I may also ask for personal assistance, as the staff were so kind! Who would have thought that customer service could be positive?! I don't even think I saw them pick their nose! Such fun!
Wed 15th Jul, 2015 | 10:08ammore...
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