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

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...
Luce Smith

Two Wheeled Journeys

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Fri 10th Jul, 2015 | 9:00am
Segway Parking photo by David McKelvey
Segway Parking photo by David McKelvey
It's a really early commute. In fact, I'm not sure why it's not dark. I am a morning person, and I like to be on time. I like to be early if travelling by aeroplane, just in case. However, this time, I not travelling alone, and I'm not travelling with a like minded person. This person is a last minute packer, and very laid back. Recipe for disaster? Almost, but I'm wearing the trousers, I'm driving. So I end up sitting in my car, pretending it's cool and I can do 'late'.....

We make it on time, even though I get told off for driving slow, and we left Percy in his own little bay. Airport was heaving, and I was ready for vodka. I know, not even 7am, but I was ready!

No time to drink, the bars were really busy, so I waited until on the plane. As it was an early start, I just put my head down for 5 minutes shut eye. Which extended, and when I woke up, they were selling perfume. "Have I missed the drinks trolley?" Yes. Well, I shall pretend I'm not thirsty and carry on sleeping.

We got outside, and the heat was welcoming. Hello Prague! Only a 1hr 50 min flight, how good is that? The taxi to the city was funny, I tried asking the driver lots of questions, but he then said he didn't speak English! Gutted!

Arrived at hotel, changed, and out! What a beautiful city for those of you who haven't been. Especially in the hot sun, which lasted all 4 days. The best bit of the trip, was when we did a Segway tour, and yes, I know about the guy who invented them.....

I was a bit scared and apprehensive about them, I'm a girl, what if I can't steer them? In my younger days, we hired quad bikes in Wales, and we went round a corner on a dirt track, only I didn't go round the corner, I went into the hedge. Full speed. Needless to say, I did the rest of the quad bike hire as a passenger. I should have learnt my lesson. But, I was told it was easy, so I said we would go. It took me by surprise how they steer and operate, but once I'd sussed it, that was it, I was off! I loved it. So much fun. We did a tour with three other tourists, and we're out for an hour. Bless him, my lovely partner/boyfriend/companion, wasn't too confident, which wasn't expected. He does all sorts of crazy things! He got better though and we both had a fabulous hour.

Walking round the city, we laughed when we overheard a British guy ask his girlfriend if she knew where they were going. She said no, to which he replied, "so why are you leading then?!" Good point indeed!! However, saying that, with lots of streets and squares, I don't claim to be the best GPS companion, but I'm the first to say I'm lost! My sat nav skills weren't on my side, so Mr maps got us round and about. Grrrrrrrrr

Coming back to the UK was as expected, but due to storms, we did have a bit of turbulence. There was then a big delay at the airport due to the weather. I don't like queuing at the best of times, especially when it's been a long day and I want to go to bed! Wasn't too bad, home just after midnight, and driving to work at 6:15am. It's how I roll......

Percy was glad to see us, and he said he'd enjoyed a change of parking scene. Which is good, as, dare I say, without jinxing things, my house is now sold, subject to contract. I won't be relieved until I get the keys for my next house, but we're at least making progress. I will have to learn how to decorate; I think I can master it. I tried a few years ago, and enjoyed what I did, then got bored so went walking! Then couldn't be bothered to finish it so had to get a decorator in (& no, I didn't admit that I was the one who had attempted that wall in the kitchen.....). I have more patience now, I do, well, I will be more patient, needs-must basis!

My lovely Daddy, is cycling around the roads, on his new bike. He finally gave in, and bought a new bike, which replaces the 30+ yr old bike he has been riding. He's camping, and wearing silly shorts, and currently en-route to Edinburgh. Please, if you see him, give him a Mars bar (or another branded chocolate boost), and tell him to get home! Bless him. I should buy him a Segway, I think they're the future. Such fun.
Fri 10th Jul, 2015 | 9:00ammore...
Luce Smith

Nose Picking

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 29th Jun, 2015 | 11:31am
Nose Picker photo by moto man
Nose Picker photo by moto man
Ok this is weird. People are doing a lot of nose picking in public. I'm not being rude, or childish, but my observation has given good evidence of this new epidemic! It's more surprising that it's not the young ones, or the ones you might expect, no, it's the ones who are dressed in expensive business suits. I have to be honest, and this is not my biased opinion, merely fact based on data I have collected, that the majority of nose pickers in public are male. So there you have it, the research that has gone on this week on my commute! And you thought commuting was a chance to read or play games? Afraid not, much more important tasks to do.

Last year in the commuting world I remember around this time, not having to wear a jacket. I also think I had sunglasses on. I would like to say I'm disappointed, but in actual fact, because of my additional study duties, it's a Godsend! I know that with all the will power in the world, if it's sunny, I have to be outside, and no essay deadline will get in the way!

My exam now feels a long time ago, and I am now able to enjoy a few more of the hours in the day outside of working hours. I'm walking the dog much more (not my dog, but as good as mine!), and staying up much later as I am more relaxed. I'm still having to live in a show home environment, as the viewings for my house continue. I should be pleased, and I am, but now I have more headspace (post exam), I'm thinking I need to be selling up quick! The house has been on the market for 2 months, and it's had lots of viewings, lots of interest, a few offers (one I thought I'd misheard, but no, they were testing the water - big mistake!). It's a matter of time....

Oh my, the topic of conversation those two guys are on is dull! So dull I almost want to ask them to lower their voice as it makes us all a little, urm? I don't know, maybe annoyed that such a dull conversation can happen outside a dull office environment? Hello, we're out of work now? You don't have to tell the whole train about the strategic operation of the very high level infrastructure that is being coproduced at a corporate level to identify the proportionate sectors of the industry. I think I stared over at one point in disbelief at the acronyms being used, and thought it may have been a word game! But no, that may have had an element of fun in it, so that was a big no!

I am sat on the very busy commute train keeping my head down. Why? Simply because, I went to sleep with my hair elastic band around my wrist, and the metal part must have been having a party, as I have a big scratch on my forehead! It's awful! Not a good look at all, so whilst driving to the station, I was trying to come up with stories to tell my colleagues, about how it happened. The truth is too dull, but what are the alternatives? A sharp fly got me whilst walking home? I was trying out some new make up techniques for a film shoot/stunt practice? Or that I was confirming to myself, that having long nails would be too dangerous for someone like me, and I would end up harming myself.

I haven't tried to cover it up with make up but looking around, perhaps I ought to have done. Does everyone wear make up? I mean female everyone, but that's sexist, so I have to say everyone and be inclusive to all. Am I the only female on the train bare-faced , but scratched? I imagine I'd sound quite good if I was a vinyl. Natural, but scratched, DJ's would love me!

Naughty ticket man has got a malfunctioning ticket machine! Oh no, people have to do queuing. Hahaha I'm so glad I have my weekly pass! Yippee! I win!

At least people can amuse themselves in the queue by picking their nose ......
Mon 29th Jun, 2015 | 11:31ammore...
Luce Smith

Crying

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 29th Jun, 2015 | 11:15am
Sometimes I cry - I'm only human photo by MarLeah Cole
Sometimes I cry - I'm only human photo by MarLeah Cole
I have just seen a security guard pick his nose! I stared, purely because I've never seen a security chap do that! Made me laugh! I know it's totally vulgar, and inappropriate, but it was funny at the time!

This week, my commute has mostly been with Percy, who thankfully, passed his MOT with what I call flying colours, so that was good. For various reasons, the music has been way too loud, and I've sung at the top my voice. It's great therapy, and a good way to look silly to cars as they drive past. Which they do, as they aren't aware of the consequences of speeding, like I am!

However, today is train day, and someone in the carriage is sobbing their heart out. What do you do as a fellow commuter, what would society do? Ask if they're ok? Ask them to stop crying like a girl? Offer them a top joke of the day? Smile? or just pretend they're not disturbing the carriage? I guess it's not a rush hour train, that was over 2hrs ago. Makes you wonder what's going on for everyone, as they make the same half hour journey, day in, day out.
What's making them so sad? Work? Home? Friends? It's such a sad sound to listen to. Is everyone turning up the volume on their music systems, to block it out?

Oooooh you can tell it's the weekend, party night! Gone are the work suits and uniforms, hello smart wardrobe and shoes that look fabulous, but totally impractical for the purpose of walking, and I dare say they will be carried home in a few hours. I say carried, I mean the shoes, not the owner, although I guess it could be either, or both!

There's a guy in a work suit, with a bag, and busy on his phone. I think he's been working away all week, and so looking forward to seeing his partner/girlfriend/wife. What's the difference between partner and boyfriend? What's socially acceptable for each? Is one when you live with the person you are 'courting' but not married? Just wondered, maybe Google will help, but signal is poor so I won't increase my anger by waiting for a page to load!

The crying noise is still going on, and no one seems to be hearing it, despite its volume.

Ooh, exciting, the crew have been called to carriage 4. Are we allowed to be nosey? Do we ever find out why, when and who? I hope so, it could be exciting. Nothing. No news. Nothing at all. It's a no. No news, just an occurrence. Disappointing!

Uh oh, here come the young generation, with skateboards. How long have skateboards been around? I had one when I was about 12yrs old. It didn't do a great deal for me, in fact, I nearly ended up under a beige Vauxhall as I went flying down a country lane, and remembering that brakes weren't included. Oooops!

Anyway, these young ones don't look the type to be on innocent country lanes, think these are city skaters. Harmless though, whilst getting through a bag of haribo.....

The crying is still going on. Should someone actually ask if they're ok? I am sure the ticket person came round 5 minutes ago, shouldn't they ask? Or is it not ethically correct, or not in their job description? Possibly all of the above!

Who decides what the predicted word is going to be on things like word documents? Who says, ok. They've added a b, an r and an e, they clearly mean bread. Who made that decision? I want to be in that job, where I decide what that person is actually trying to type, but they don't have the mental capacity to be clear with what they want. Sign me up!

Nearly home now, and I am really ready for my first glass of wine this month. I think it's allowed on a weekend night, the school nights are so over! I may have to get some cucumber too, to put on my eyes as I sleep, (do people actually do that?) as they are going to look very messy.

Why?

Because the person on the train crying, is me. I couldn't stop myself. It was such an emotional moment, and I couldn't hold it in. Am not amused, I do crying at the best of times, but I never cry in public, never mind on a busy train. Still, you can't always control what's going on inside, as much as we'd like to! What would I have said if someone asked if I was ok? I possibly would have tried to say, in between sobs, that I just needed to get home, and hope that was enough to send them on their way. I bet it wouldn't have happened if I'd had a skateboard. Maybe I need that next time, just in case! I shall keep the security guys nose picking at the front of my thoughts from now on, that will definitely make things lighten up. Such fun!
Mon 29th Jun, 2015 | 11:15ammore...
Luce Smith

Lessons Learnt

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Tue 16th Jun, 2015 | 7:18pm
Thirty photo by cris.e
Thirty photo by cris.e
I have just one word to say to you, cowmmuting. I saw it first hand, whilst oddly enough, driving down the motorway! It made me smile though, and with the congestion on the M6 on a hot Friday afternoon, it was needed!

There they were, a herd of cows steadily making their way over a bridge, possibly to get their tea, or afternoon nap, who knows. But when you're traveling at 70mph or less, it certainly questions your sanity! Am I dreaming it?! I wasn't and it kept me going for a few more miles.

I had a little slow jog down at the seaside when I finally arrived, and had an embarrassing moment. Bet the locals are thinking, bloomin' northerners/tourists! I was jogging down the town centre, early morning, so really quiet, only deliveries of milk being seen. On jogging past a window, I saw something white flapping around.

Weird, what's that?

I looked behind me, as it seemed to be attached. On closer inspection I realised what I'd done. Put my knee length leggings on inside out!! Will my vest top pull down enough at the back to cover it? Or will that leave the front a little, erm, slutty?! Mmmm, no, I can get away with it, where the nearest public toilet? Free one at that, as I obviously have no cash on me! Down on the beach, I saw the toilets, and speeded up to get in and rectify my label issue! I did, and walked out with dignity. Close call. Must open my eyes and get dressed next time!

As I shared with you, that Percy ran away with me and got a small speeding ticket, it meant that I got the punishment. I took the offer of the £85 fine and the 4hr speed awareness course. It was a very hot afternoon, and I joined the other naughty boys and girls at the foyer of the venue. I had no idea what to expect. I wasn't expecting to see someone I knew though! Or two people. What a social event this is turning out to be!

We chatted about who was the naughtiest person in terms of speeding, and thankfully, it wasn't me! In fact, most people were surprised I had been given a ticket. Luck maybe?!

The course, was in fact, really good. I think it should be compulsory for all drivers say every 10 years, as a top up, and chance to catch up with new changes to the Highway Code. I now know much more about the rules of the road! One thing I will try next time in Percy, will be commentary driving. Apparently it keeps you focused, alert, and aware of your surroundings. I also think I'll be quite good at it! The main thing it taught me was that the more paint on the road, the higher the danger. This, however, is subject to the council's budget for such tasks!

Ok, the commentary driving isn't even something to consider, as I find myself interrupting my own conversation! That is a skill in itself!

However, I have found an alternative measure, I talk to drivers around me, and share my knowledge of the Highway Code with them. I share with them that, yes, they can accelerate past me, but can they see round the corner? Have they got money to throw away as they speed past in the wrong gear? Have they thought of the consequences? It's very empowering! I feel I need a sign to put in my car window saying, 'I've just got a speeding ticket, bear with?!'

It would therefore justify my careful driving, and my economical use of Percy. He is much prouder on the road now, but I'm waiting for some, urm, (sorry, I have driving Tourette's so trying to find an appropriate word)....incompetent driver to come smashing into me with their fast Audi or boy racing Clio. They'd better not, they had better become speed aware quick, or else.

Percy is off for his MOT tomorrow, and I have no idea of the procedure. I have told the garage that I may be blonde, but I won't allow them to rip me off. We shall see if Percy makes the grade. I'll be having words if he fails..........
Tue 16th Jun, 2015 | 7:18pmmore...
Luce Smith

Brain Food

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 8th Jun, 2015 | 9:57am
Biscuit Heaven photo by Smallbrainfield
Biscuit Heaven photo by Smallbrainfield
It was an early start today, as my volunteer shift was at 7am. Despite it being June, Percy said it was only 3 degrees, but am hearing rumours it will warm up soon. Anyway, whilst walking through town, I saw a Greggs wagon parked up. The driver was slugged up against the drivers door. He was parked on double yellow lines. On further inspection, he was fast asleep. Bless. I felt sorry for him, he may have kids at home, who are getting up, dressed, and ready for school, but he's missing out as his job has him driving at silly o'clock. He may have a partner/wife at home, who he won't see until the weekend.

Shame, that the working culture we have is so cruel. I walked past, and hoped he would soon be reunited with his friends/family. A little dramatic perhaps, I mean for all I know, he may have a horrible bedsit, enjoys the soaps, and thrives from his social club on a Thursday night! He may prefer sleeping in his van and getting away with parking illegally! Who knows.

Oh my, am interrupting myself because I am just seeing someone in black tights and sandals. Yes, you read it right, black tights, and sandals. She looks like she's a follower of fashion, is there something I've missed? Is this the new craze which has been happening whilst I've had my head in my studies? I shall pay more attention......

Now where was I, oh yes, Greggs. Whilst walking away from him, I then saw another vehicle issue that made me smile. It was a Tesco delivery van (there are of course other supermarkets, but this one clearly said Tesco), and it was pulling out of.......the hospital??? So a few things could have happened here, the van may have taken a wrong turning, someone is in hospital for a long time, and calling it their home, or, the driver had to nip in to have his toe nails cut. I mean I know society is wanting services in health care to be 24/7, but surely even doctors have time to do their shopping in their own time? Maybe not.

The day has dragged, and I have been so agitated and anxious. I walked down the high street and noticed a duo doing street performing. I've heard quite a few very talented ones recently, so opened my ears wide.

Wish I hadn't. It was so awful! The guitar was badly strummed, the vocals were out of tune, and the electric guitar guy looked like he was asleep! I almost went up and suggested they went home to practice. Practice makes perfect after all, doesn't it? But I held back, and said nothing, but walked on by without dropping any pennies, and I definitely didn't buy their cd!

Rubbish.

Oh yes, talking of rubbish, whilst walking to work the other day, I saw a school girl having her breakfast, and felt really sad. She was munching her way through a packet of bourbon creams. Yuk! I mean I am not a huge fan of them anyway, but a packet? For breakfast? Why isn't she sat down at the kitchen table, being forced to eat Weetabix, or stodgy porridge? I wanted to quiz her, and see what the situation was. I get that times are hard, and we are in financial panic, but really? I mean at least chose a decent biscuit! Why didn't the shop keeper ban her from buying them, and instead allowing her to have, erm, anything but! Poor kid, her blood sugars will be sky high, she'll talk for England, get sent out of class for laughing, then miss out on the learning. Then, she'll be my age, sitting exams, and wondering why no one ever warned her!

Mmmmm. Just so you know, I found an old pair of earphones, and have them plugged in. But.....haven't yet got any music playing! Just in case I miss out on such commuting conversations that are worthy of being repeated. But I didn't, as I am not even aware of my surroundings, just hoping that it's soon time for the staff tomorrow, to say, "right, put your pens down, time is up".

I shall run out of the exam room like a crazy chicken, and devour a packet of bourbon creams. Well, it's the future. Isn't it?
Mon 8th Jun, 2015 | 9:57ammore...
Luce Smith

The Value of Information

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Wed 3rd Jun, 2015 | 1:51pm

Recently, I have being doing some work which has involved asking the public some questions. This made me realise, that it will be a really sad moment, when we lose our 'current' older people generation. What on earth will the next 'older people' look like? I mean, we won't see too many flat caps am guessing. They'll be collectors items. Will socks and sandals be a thing of the past? I won't mind not seeing that for a while though! There won't be anyone to tell us first hand, what it was like growing up in the war. I feel like talking to all the older people I commute with (granted rarely on my early train!), to collate as much info as possible before it's too late!

They say funny things like kids do, and get away with it. For example, I was asking equality monitoring questions, and asked for their relationship status. The reply I got was 'yeah, it's all right thank you!' There wasn't a box to tick for that! Neither, was there a box for the answer I got later that day, to the individuals sex. 'Well, I'm 80 now and haven't had sex for a while, but I'd like to!'

Brilliant, priceless. We must keep engaging with the generation that are both educational and entertaining! I'm off to see my grandad at the weekend, and he is a mighty fine example of positive ageing. I think he may be in line for a 'supercentenarian' title at this rate! Super super super man!

My house still has the 'for sale' sign stuck outside. It makes me realise how little patience I actually have! I shall pretend it's not important. And, to be fair, until my exam is over, it isn't important at all. My old study skills used whilst revising for my GCSE's have returned, using acronyms. I can't help it, if it's something I need to know, it needs to be made fun, so I can hold the info. for longer than 5 seconds! As long as I don't say it out loud, I don't think I'll be arrested!

The two suited chaps today, sat on either side of the train aisle, were discussing walking weekends, with the wives. Except, it seemed to have more focus on local beers, than the wonderful Yorkshire Dales. There are other dales, but they were quite specific. I laughed, not out loud, to seeing two guys, sitting independently, both on their phones, only one had two phones in one hand. That is what I call a fine example of multi tasking! I wanted to peer over to see what he was doing, but thought better of it. He was young, and had a head full of hair gel, which may have caused me damage.

The train stopped at a station, but didn't move for quite some time. The PA system began, we are sorry for the delay, we are sitting at a red light. I should think so! Can trains do light jumping? It made me giggle. They didn't say when it was green, but we didn't stop for too long. We did get a lovely apology though for the delay. I was pleased, as I had stupidly forgotten my earphones, and was lost without them! I sometimes put them in my ears, but never play music, as I get stuck ear wigging, but I felt lost without them! Won't do that again, all because I changed bags.....!

As the revision is causing stress, I was taken to a carvery for me'dinner. I love a good carvery, all the effort taken out of Sunday, and no washing up, or eating left overs for breakfast. I got to the counter, plate at the ready. Want to go large for £1.50? No! Course not! I'm going to go large for eating more than I would have at home, paying more to get big is not something I would like to do, thank you very much. Anyway, I was indecisive. Irish beef, British beef, pork, gammon, turkey. Such decisions for someone who struggles with this.

Yes madam? My turn.

I asked for something not offered, I asked for the dark meat of the turkey. He looked at me a bit weirdly. Is it a no? 'You want the wing?' Yes,yes I do please. Sure thing. He started pulling the poor bird's wing off. I suddenly felt mean, what if it lost its balance and toppled over? I don't know if I'd laugh or cry! (The turkey, that is, am guessing the chef can cope on his two legs!) Knowing me, laugh! It was lovely, and I felt special. Which was nice. I also wished I'd asked for white meat too, as there wasn't much on the old wing!

So this week is more revision, more fear, and a long drive to Devon. With patience being at its lowest, I hope the commuters are kind to me this week! Such fun!
Wed 3rd Jun, 2015 | 1:51pmmore...
Luce Smith

Shoes To Prague

BRING IT ON!
Posted by: Luce Smith, Tue 26th May, 2015 | 9:51am
photo by evilgurl
photo by evilgurl
Scrolling for date of birth. It's getting to the point now, where I have to scroll much longer down the list than I used to. It would help my self esteem if we could just type it in and be done with it, rather than scroll through the 2000's, the 90's, the 80's....... Ah well, if I was designing the task, I would at least make it fun, with some odd facts about that year!

I was gutted. I left the house, and it was moist, so I had to quickly change my coat. On arrival to the ticket office, I asked for a weekly pass using my photo card. Only it was in my non raining coat pocket. Fear not I said, I took a photo of it, for evidence, just in case. "Sorry love, I need to see the card". What? But you have! It's here! He wouldn't budge. My train was leaving soon. I was annoyed. Fine, let me pay extra then, I was feeling flash with cash......honest. Not a good way to start the week.

Loud sneeze. Very loud, might I say. It was the loudest sneeze I've heard ever! Think the whole of the train heard it. Do I say bless you, or is there a better term for a higher level sneeze? Maybe they need to be knighted? Although if I turned around to say 'knight you' they may look at me a little odd.

I answered my phone. On the train, the busy commute train. It was only because the number was recognised as the estate agent. Here goes, "hello?" I had a viewing for my house, their 2nd time. Yikes! Exciting! Phone down, back to normal commute position.

I don't remember revising for exams taking up so much time! I am possibly spending more time worrying about revising than actually revising, but it can only get better. I guess I have forgotten! However, I have also been post exam planning; going on a city break in July. I know, it's possible that it could be moving house month, but hey, if you don't plan and book, you don't go. I don't know if you've ever tried to book a holiday on a mini iPad, but it's not the easiest task, so I did the traditional thing. I went into an actual travel agent. I spoke to someone face to face, and not once did she tell me to hold the line, or that my call was important and someone would be with me soon. Nor did she make me listen to terrible panpipe sounds. Bliss!

As I had specific dates, and a budget, my options were limited. It took a few moments to search through the system, and it came out with two possibilities (it had to be a location neither myself, or my boyfriend had been to). Florence or Prague. After a few more filters were put in, Prague was taking the lead. I messaged my boyfriend, who was only just alive after a typical bank holiday beerathon, He listened, commented, then agreed. Gosh, I should really take advantage of this shouldn't I, what else can I ask him?! No, I won't take advantage, I shall behave. Yes, let's book that. We went through the booking forms online, and the agent thought the cabin baggage of 10kg would be plenty, until I told her about my shoe problem, so we added an extra case. What?? I need shoes for 4 days and 4 nights, they need to be transported somehow......

So, we're off to Prague in July, only there's one slight issue, apart from the shoes. I don't actually know where Prague is. If you asked me to point to it on a map, I'd do a runner. I know, I shouldn't admit it, but I can handle the truth. I know it's in Europe, and I know it's a 3hr flight. I had to Google, too embarrassed to ask the travel agent, and discover it's the capital of the Czech Republic. I still couldn't point to it on a map, but I will, once my exam is over and my shoe collection can continue to flourish!
Tue 26th May, 2015 | 9:51ammore...
Luce Smith

The Wrong Shoes

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Heart Warming Thoughts

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

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

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

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

#findmike

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tour de Yorkshire

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chains

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

High Speed Commute

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I Got Zero Easter Eggs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cake And Mindfulness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Coat

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lent, Frogs and Parties

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Personal Trainer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I May Have Been Banned

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

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

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

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

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

I explained.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

He Is Wearing New Shoes

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

He is wearing new shoes.

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

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

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

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

They read broadsheet newspapers, the paper version.

They have laptops on their knees.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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