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Luce Smith


Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 17th Oct, 2016 | 9:38am
Spider 1 photo by Iain Fergus
Spider 1 photo by Iain Fergus
I would have a whole lot more respect for spiders, if they did more than just 'killing flies'. Honestly, I would.

Shouldn't there be like a referendum/annual vote about it? "Ok so who is voting for spiders to have the power this year? And who is voting for flies to have power this year? Your vote is important, so please, text in your vote".

Maybe at the time, during the creating season, the flies were really bad. In fact, if God was going through his master plan whilst sat in a smelly stable or cow shed, and the flies vs. spiders debate came up, he would have chosen spiders to win. Same applies if he was sitting down by the lakeside and the same debate came up, spiders would win every time! Anything to get rid of those bloomin flies. This is of course before aircon and fly spray were invented.

But now, we have fewer flies, and in my opinion, not due to clever spiders keeping the numbers down, but due to improved conditions. Or is it? Has someone powerful got a partnership with the spider family, a bit like immigration, where they can only let so many flies in?

I don't like spiders. But I don't mind them either. After seeing the biggest one yet in my house, and smashing it to pieces, it was brought to my attention, that they are in fact living creatures, not created to scare the living day lights out of me (odd saying that, where did that originate from I wonder? Oh Google..........) and that I was being terribly mean.

Gulp. Yes, I suppose I was really. But the new age spiders are so big, and I'm a girl, are you sure we're meant to be nice to them and let them stay in the house?

Bring on the next spider that's spotted in my house, I can do this, I can be kind and......oh my, it's another gigantic number. I look around for something to throw on it, so as not to kill, but to trap it. Nothing suitable. I have to take deep breaths and step over the spider, to get a tupperware number from the kitchen. I go back up, and the spider hasn't moved. I don't see any flies, so wonder why it's here in the first place actually. Is it lost? Has sat nav given a dud instruction?

I tell the spider (yes, out loud), that I'm going to make its office space very small, and plunge down a small tub over it. Phew. Think I'm shaking a little. Now is the tricky bit. Getting the caged spider to now roll with me, and sit quietly whilst I transfer its bottom sheet onto new ground. Without an escape, I manage to sit the caged spider on top of the newspaper. Excellent. Progress is being made.

I'm shaking a bit more now, as I wonder what to do next. I can't throw it out of the window as it might backfire and come straight back at me. I have to take it out of the house and into the yard. I tell the spider as I'm walking down the stairs, that he's lost and I'm going to re-route him. We get outside and I place him on the floor. I have to bring myself to remove the tub so he can go and play freely, but it's not easy.

I hope no one can see me! I think about leaving it trapped, and perhaps the wind will pick up, blow the tub away and the spider can live happily ever after. I can't do that, would have been quicker to smash it with the yellow pages! No wonder the new yellow pages came out in September.....ready for spider month!

Lift up the tub, and run. I did it. Ran straight back in the house, locked and bolted the door and ran upstairs. Yikes, that wasn't easy, but I did save a spider. I feel empowered, and ready for the next one.

Ah, 1842, the phrase was actually used when you had the living daylight beaten out of you! Which is what I did to a spider, before I became a spider social worker. Ooooop. Ok, spiders are welcome to stay at all times ..........
Mon 17th Oct, 2016 | 9:38ammore...
Luce Smith


Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 29th Sep, 2016 | 9:08am
Shout! photo by Mark Wheadon
Shout! photo by Mark Wheadon
Are we really in a world where we have to watch every word we say? Every line that's written? Are we always this judgemental that we can't allow each other to just 'simply be'? (I used to have a T-shirt that said that, bizarre, was about 16yrs old, so that's now probably, erm, well, I guess on a rubbish tip. Is that where clothes go? I mean, it had a good life, ended up being a bit holey so was thrown away. I didn't know about the rag man back in those days, if they existed even).

Why do we have to critically analyse everything? Why can't we just take things for what they are, appreciate other people's views, and carry on with our own lives? Is it because our own lives aren't full enough so we feel the need to invite other people's actions and analyse them whilst enjoying a cold cup of tea? (It was hot, but obviously once you embark on someone else's life, the tales time out of your day, and your tea goes cold).

I know I'm on a bit of a rant, but it's a non specific rant, in that I'm not going to share the reason, but will rant regardless. I think it's one of my skills, in fact, I think I have many skills which are currently underused, and without having money to spare on life coaching, I shall have to navigate around life myself. This will mean I will hit barriers, make mistakes, have some fun and be judged.

Fact. I'm enjoying this, most therapeutic indeed! Maybe I ought to start up a new business as a rant aunt, the new improved, changed with the times, what was known as, agony aunt pages. It would be great! I wouldn't have to offer advice, or signpost, I would just have to read it and reflect. Or just press 'next rant'. It would be like a call centre, but you wouldn't need to press 5 for the right department, or hold whilst we put you through to the manager, you would simply get to rant, and someone (namely me, until the business) would listen. Brilliant!

A bit like my idea for a new app. Ready? Well, it was inspired by Pokemon Go. No, I haven't been on Pokemon, which is just as well, as I imagine I would be walking more miles than I already do! But the idea for some reason, got my mind working. I was sat at my desk, and I really wanted an ice cream, and we sometimes get an ice cream van (my colleague calls it the ice lolly van, which I think is a great name!) round the office grounds if it's good weather. Where is it at the moment? How long do I have to wait? Have they run out of flakes? Of course! If there was an ice cream van app, that could tell you where it was, then the e.t.a. would be known, and one could plan! I love it! Quick, copyright that immediately.

I've stopped ranting, bear with, normal ranting will resume shortly.

Like now. I mean, professionals get paid lots of money to do their jobs, whatever it may be. Yet many are reported as being rubbish. Then it's the unprofessional, unpaid volunteers that spend time doing things for others, who end up providing a service for nothing. Many organisations think that they have big problems (like too few staff, low pay, not meeting needs etc etc) that need mega bucks spending on it to be resolved. When in actual fact, the solutions are often simple, down to earth things, that cost nothing but time and goodwill.

Christmas (sorry, but it's in the shops and I'm already thinking of buying an advent calendar to start now, so that by the end of October, I will have Christmas done and dusted. Bring it on I say!) would be much better if no money was allowed to be spent. Would it be so popular if that was the case? No, because the economy would suffer, and thousands would still be in credit, and not paying it off until June the following year. I wonder if it will catch on. Till then, I shall continue to simply be.
Thu 29th Sep, 2016 | 9:08ammore...
Luce Smith


Posted by: Luce Smith, Tue 16th Aug, 2016 | 8:57am
Extreme Vacuum Cleaning photo by Mats Edenius
Extreme Vacuum Cleaning photo by Mats Edenius
I want Rio and I want one now.
Not one, not two but three hundred medals,
A gold one and a silver one, with bronze thrown in....

There's no escaping it. I've tried. People are talking about it, spending hours watching it, and even braving the odd judgemental comment. It's Olympimania time and actually, since the ridiculous poor effort in football, we are again proud to be Team GB.

It's been a bit of a learning curve for me, as I had no idea that Friday night games club activities were an actual Olympic sport. Who decides whether to grant a sport with an Olympic status in the first place? The Queen? Prime minister? Manager of the Olympic Sports Association (is there one? Just made that up.....). Reason I'm asking, is that I have a request for a new Olympic Sport to start in Tokyo 2020, and if agreed, then a training plan will need to get in place. Table tennis, is an Olympic sport, so I have discovered this year, which is a little odd, as I always think of games club from the 90's, bottles of rola cola and facing the parents when we were a little late home..........

Fencing, is an Olympic sport, with weird technology and digital equipment, which kind of makes it look like some cyber sci-fi game. It's just a bit bizarre. I did it at school, which I am aware makes me sound posh/privileged. This would be worsened if I was to add that there was a croquet lawn and room for a pony, so I shan't mention that just yet. Judo has crept in to be an Olympic Sport, as of when I don't know. But it has, along with kayaking.

Funnily enough, we are doing very well at swimming. Not surprising really is it. I mean, the weather is so awful in this country, that the only thing we can do is go swimming!

I say that, we also appear to be good at gymnastics, sailing, cycling, pommel horsing, sprinting .....but I still feel there is a sport missing. I mean, golf started off as an Olympic sport, then got dumped. Who was able to make that decision? And who decided it should return? I have questions! I also need to find that decision maker in order to put my request in.

Do you have to write in and they discuss it on a committee? Or is it an interview panel process? Whatever, I think Hoovering should be the next Olympic sport. I would definitely put my name forward to be a Team GB player but also individually too. I already have the equipment and the skill, so I just need to really be able to get sponsored so that I could work full time on my training plan.

It could be a bit of a track and field sport, lounge & garden. I think it would make great watching, a real spectators sport that everyone could identify with. It would be great for all ages too. I noticed watching the show jumping, that it seems to be a sport for the older athlete, which is really encouraging. However, in the Hoovering game, I feel it would be where the 30-40year olds would really excel and prove medal winners. As a country I think we would also fare well, being hardworking house proud citizens.....who don't sit around watching sport.......much.....

I'm not sure who I would want to team up with, as it's not a well known sport yet, but it could be. Don't you think?
Tue 16th Aug, 2016 | 8:57ammore...
Luce Smith

Fog On Ingleborough

Posted by: Luce Smith, Fri 5th Aug, 2016 | 9:27am

I'm on a weeks staycation! So this week, I bring to you a review of, in my opinion, the best peak out of the 3, Ingleborough.

I look out, and it's pouring with rain. Thanks God, you knew I wanted to walk up Ingleborough today, why did you have to throw this wet stuff down in abundance at me? I mean, really? I spent most of yesterday in the car, in the phlebotomy department, and in a chair, I need to get up and out! Is this really necessary?

I look up again, not sure what for, am I looking for God to wave down at me and go 'Ha ha!!, look at me all snuggled up and dry up here in heaven....'. Wait. Is God in heaven? Is that where he lives? Or does he just say whether you have earned your place in heaven? Am confused, my Dad won't be amused 'didn't they teach you anything in Sunday School?', well, they might have done, but I don't remember ever addressing an envelope for the attention of God, so I'm unsure of his residential address!

Where was I, oh yes, the wonderful rain.

I didn't pack for this weather, I intended to wear my (shock horror) shorts. Well, no one would see would they...did I even have a what I call waterproof? No, it's the summer, and as yet, it hasn't made a very good sunny impact yet. I'm waiting....

Maybe it sounds worse on the Velux window, perhaps it is just a passing shower. I go downstairs to see Dad looking out of the window saying, ' I can't believe you're forcing me to go walking in this!' Talk about role reversal. Dad, let's go back 25 years and see how many hills we were dragged up as children, with the only reward being a hot chocolate and a piece of Mum's flapjack! (Which is amazing by the way, and a well deserved slab of high sugar ingredients, but why flapjack as a name? Bit sexist really, what was wrong with flapmary? Sorry, I must Google....bear with)

I let my Dad off the hook, the dog runs out before me not caring one bit about the weather, and off we go with a pencil drawing of the route from Dad. 'Watch out for the fog' 'yes Dad'........

We park up and get walking across the fields in the wet grass. The air is lovely and fresh, not cold, and only a little damp. Good walking weather. The rain slows down and it's actually quite pleasant.

Gosh, flap, used 'to flip' and jack because that was referred to a small size, and they were small! Dating back to the 1600's. Also used to be known as a pancake? Why don't we have flapjack day I wonder........ Then in the 20th century, it's a word used for a compact face powder! I have no idea where that came from, maybe slapdash...... Ah well, educated you now :)

So, I'm walking along the path to reach the bottom of the climb up to Ingleborough peak. It's quite foggy, but as I start my climb, the fog rolls up and clears so that I can see the top. But it's only the top until you get to it realising it's the penultimate top. I go up the rocky steps and the fog returns. I can't not touch the summit of the hill, I would feel like a cheat.

I remember Dad's last words about the fog, and take a look back at the path. Ok, so straight to the summit, selfie, a 180 turn, and back down. The fog gets worse and the rain begins again. I look up to have words with God, but of course I can't see him. I'm not even sure where the dog is! Ah yes, down rolling in something that will probably smell of a toilet ;(

The fog is a bit scary, and I'm soaked. And lost! Where's the path I walked up? I look out and the fog begins to clear and all of a sudden, you can see the viaduct, clear as anything. Perfect, I ring home and get navigational advice. No Dad, am not lost, just took a different route back down. Ok, keep Ribblehead behind me, will do.

I walk through the boggy marshes, expecting to bump into the path sometime soon. 25 minutes later, I see a body walking up Ingleborough. He's on the path!! My face hurts from the massive smile of delight! I want to run over to them, but realise it's quite rough terrain still, and the fog comes down again. I keep going and finally, my feet touch the path. I am so relieved, I could kiss it!

We carry on back down, wondering how on earth we got so disorientated. My lovely other half won't be shocked, already knowing of my poor navigation. Ah well, soon be back to the car. It seems to take forever to get back down, and I pass a family with a map, who stop and ask me for directions to the top. Am I qualified to give this information??! I tell them to carry on up the path and reassure them they won't get lost.

Typically, the weather improves, and it's now sunny and dry. My feet are carrying what feels like litres of horrible field water. I need a shower.

We jump in the car and drive back.

Dad asks how it was, and was it foggy? Urm, well, you may have been right to warn me........
Fri 5th Aug, 2016 | 9:27ammore...
Luce Smith


Posted by: Luce Smith, Fri 22nd Jul, 2016 | 8:38am
photo by Susan Sermoneta
photo by Susan Sermoneta
It's early! Early,early, the train is early, go train, go train....there even have been staff available today! Another early inducing factor is that it's cooler today, so the tracks aren't melting and causing delays. Woohooo!

Yesterday was very entertaining indeed. The train was at the platform, but not opening the doors. As the previous train had been cancelled, there were two trains worth of passengers, waiting to board. Anxiously, and in the heat of the afternoon. It was the 17:36. Which soon became the delayed 17:36. The LED sign said 'Expected 17:38'.

A few minutes later, it read 'Expected 17:39'.

More people were gathering around the doors now, still no lights on the train, and as usual, no crew members to ask. There was a lot of shuffling, and a couple next to me obviously thought they had priority of boarding once the doors had opened. It was going to be a tough challenge, but I was going to board that train, and as I was in the queue before them, I would board before them. It's how it works, standard practice.

The sign now read 'Expected 17:41' and a few people had edged forward a few millimetres. I stood my ground, despite the couple next to me thinking they could elbow me out. I was watching their technique and it wasn't going to work on me, I was not going to get pushed out of line.

I saw the guy in front, all suited and booted looking like a Chief Exec, playing Candy Crush. I have yet to see anyone play Pokemon Go, but I'm sure it won't be too long now! 'Expected 17:40', great it shouldn't be long now.

(Ooooop, I just heard someone chewing gum really loudly with their mouth open and my natural instinct kicked in, with me turning and looking at the noisy chewer in disgust. I stay silent, but I think my eyes were quite clear in the message I was silently portraying! The noisy chewer then went to find a seat. Phew!)

Expected 17:42 now had lights on in the carriages, and any minute now, the LED lights around the open button, would light up. I prepare for the civilised boarding of the train. I look at the couple who think they ought to board before anyone, and feel strong. It's principle more than anything! The button lights are on, and the person in front presses it.

Here goes, the mad 'pile in' of rush hour commuting, I inhale, see my route, focus, and go! It's a bit of a shuffling mess, but I make it onto the train, in front of the couple who thought they would beat me. I feel very proud of myself as I also manage to dive into an available seat! Get me! Go Lucy, Go Lucy........

The journey doesn't stop there. I am sat opposite a face like thunder, and I'm not looking in a mirror thank you kindly. Oh my days, she looks so miserable, making previous miserable people I've commuted with look almost funny. I feel it's inappropriate to smile at her, which is just as well, as she doesn't engage in eye contact with me, or anyone sat at the table.

She sits in the aisle seat, and a guy asks her if he may sit beside her by the window. She does a massive silent tut, but it's very loud to me, and very reluctantly, gets up so he can get a seat. If she didn't want to move, why didn't she sit by the window in the first place?? Anyway, the train finally departs, and we're on our way.

Mrs Miserable is engrossed on her phone screen, not changing her facial expression at all. Perhaps it's true, if you do pull a face, and the wind blows, it stays??! The guy who asked her to move, is not so sneakily looking over to see what she's doing! Brilliant! Only I would like to know too, she can't be looking at anything funny that's for sure. Or am I mistaking her miserable face for her funny face, who knows!

Early, early coming into the final station, only there's now a hold up. No platform free. Early is now not so early. I might try and pull the miserable face......such fun!
Fri 22nd Jul, 2016 | 8:38ammore...
Luce Smith

Chicken Sausages

Posted by: Luce Smith, Wed 13th Jul, 2016 | 9:19am
Roasted photo by ag_agulto
Roasted photo by ag_agulto
Chicken? A whole chicken? Well what did you get one of those for? What else did you get? But what are we going to do with the whole chicken, it's only us? Did you honestly get a whole one or are you teasing me? Oh, I mean, if you want to eat a whole chicken then fine, but it won't keep. What a waste, why didn't you get what I asked you to get? Are you just having a laugh? You know what we said, why couldn't you just do what we agreed? Chicken. Ok, so what are we having with it then...... I think most people on the train are laughing right now, inside, at this bizarre conversation we are being subject to. I wonder if she knows we are all listening, or indeed if she knows she is talking with quite a loud voice!

Sniff sniff........sniff sniff.......sniff sniff......I look round to see who needs a tissue, and identify the culprit. Suit, tie, smart shoes, leather laptop bag. Surely there's room in all that for a handkerchief? I wish I had a packet of paper tissues in my bag to share with him, sniff sniff. Sniff sniff. Sniff sniff. Apart from the sniff, I don't really think he is showing any signs of ill health. No cold, cough, or sneezing, (I'm like the nhs choices symptom tracker....)!

Sniff sniff.

This is beginning to annoy me now. I find myself staring into his back, wishing he would stop sniffing, or blow his nose. Sniff sniff. On looking round, I catch the eye of another commuter, who looks as puzzled as I do! How can one smart looking business man, not notice his sniffing? His annoying sniffing? It would annoy me if I was him, I'd be wanting rid of the sniff! But no, sniff sniff, the sniff continues, sniff sniff, to the end of my journey. Am I getting grumpy? Ok, will work on my tolerance levels this week.

I have been very good at dishing out smiles though, especially on my way in yesterday. It was a busy carriage, with some standing ( I got lucky and got to park my bum), with lots of groups of people. Not so many individual commuters. One lady decided to read her magazine. Great, trains are great places for reading. But not out loud. Especially not, if the magazine being read, is a tacky celebrity magazine. Oh wow, the comments. I bet it's a bit like watching gogglebox. Kind of, only the comments made are from print, not the tv screen. It was like having an audio book playing, but with a supposedly bonus track, to have personal comments from this lady commuter.

'Why has she gone and done that? She's got loads of money coming in, two kids, and is always doing interviews on telly, why would she bother?' 'Have you seen this? She says she's lost two stone, and puts it down to drinking less alcohol. I mean, yeah, she looks slimmer, but if you start drinking again, it's going to pile on again, is she thick or something? Even I know that. Maybe she is trying for another baby, it doesn't say that in this, does it, I bet she is. Ooh, I wonder who the dad is this time'......... So we all got to listen to the magazine, for no extra cost. Bonus?

A bonus, was coming through the station after work, to have a company handing out free pepperoni sticks. Does it work I wonder, as a marketing tool? Do people go home, eat it, then add it to their regular shopping list? I definitely didn't. I felt sorry for the staff member having to do it though, so kindly took one to put in my bag. About 100 yards later, another guy was there throwing out pepperoni slices! It must be sausage day? You never get chicken sausages though do you. Why is this? Answers on a postcard please.....

Such fun!
Wed 13th Jul, 2016 | 9:19ammore...
Chris Longden

The News Of Doom?

Posted by: Chris Longden, Fri 24th Jun, 2016 | 11:17am
Image by @annaframe
Image by @annaframe
Is this a male/female thing? Or more about the fact that on awakening most mornings, I find it difficult to gather my thoughts. Okay, I've got a helluva lot tumbling around my head at the moment - but was there really any excuse for the little error that I made this morning?

My gentlemen friend got out of bed before me today. 'That's nice,' I thought. 'He's gone down to make the kids breakfast. Perhaps it's because I was so lovely to him yesterday.'

I got up myself, did the usual thing of tripping up whilst putting my knickers on and then heard a bit of manly chuntering drifting up the stairs. He then yelled to me;

"We're out!"

"Of what? Cornflakes or Shreddies?" I shrieked back. (I knew that it couldn't be milk, because the milkman came yesterday.) "Anyway," I carried on, "If you'd just do as you were told and write down on the shopping list what we need - we wouldn't have this problem!"

"EUROPE!" he yelled back.

The crazy thing is - that we're all interested in politics in this family. I went to bed thinking about the referendum. But awoke, fretting about the contents of my cupboards.

Meanwhile, the kids had overheard the "News of Doom" as the 8 year old had decided to call it. Then my 11 year old daughter entered the bathroom, kicked the washing basket and grumped; "I'm leaving this country, if I turn the telly on and Nigel 'Kermit The Frog' Farage is grinning all over his smug face."
(Oh - and we *were* out of corn flakes, by the way.)
Fri 24th Jun, 2016 | 11:17ammore...
Luce Smith

Tried To Write Several Times But....

Posted by: Luce Smith, Fri 24th Jun, 2016 | 8:41am
Jo Cox memorial - photo by Garry Knight
Jo Cox memorial - photo by Garry Knight
There won't be a blog this week. Just can't believe the events of last week, with the disgusting murder of Jo Cox. The way the whole world have been touched by this is just amazing. Utterly amazing.

I went to see the display of flowers where it took place, and spent some time reading the messages and kind words. The only light moment was reading some of the kids' cards. I don't feel it's right to repeat them, but they were funny.

The big vote will be complete and we will leave or remain the EU by coffee time tomorrow. I've made my mind up of which way to vote, and off to the polling station next.
Normal blog may resume next week. Not such fun :(
Fri 24th Jun, 2016 | 8:41ammore...
Luce Smith

The Yellow Line

Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 9th Jun, 2016 | 9:09am
The Thin Yellow Line - photo by Douglas Hall
The Thin Yellow Line - photo by Douglas Hall
I feel ever so naughty. I am about to write about a commuter who I have had to sit next to. Not really ideal, but not done before, so why not!

Standing on the platform, there is a clear yellow painted line, which everyone knows you stand behind. Health and Safety, but sensible health and safety. There is even an announcement on the PA system that reminds you to stand back, which is played repeatedly. Ok, a little annoying if your train is delayed and you have to listen to it numerous times, or if you make it to the platform with hours to kill, I dare say you would be fed up of hearing it. But it makes sense. Unlike the labels on peanuts that alert you of the fact that 'this product may contain traces of nuts'.....well, you'd hope so, otherwise you could take them to court using the Trades Description Act.

Anyway, back to the platform.

Everyone is at there chosen positions, which, until recently, I wasn't aware of. You see people have got clever. They stand on the platform where they know the train doors will be located once the train has pulled in and stopped. Give or take a few shuffles to the left or right. I have seen how this is quite an efficient method. We are all standing behind that yellow line, as we are a) obedient and b) would like to get to our destination as opposed to the train track.

A lady walks up from under the subway, walking with a bit of a swagger, and wearing her sunglasses. I already feel I ought to have made more effort wth my own appearance today, but I did well, I did brush my hair at least. Not only does this lady have it all, she then decides to ignore all health and safety and stands at the very edge of the platform. Over the yellow line we are all keeping behind. For a good reason. I know I'm staring at her, but I can't help it. She's not even blonde so I can't allow her any slack. How is she so important that rules don't matter, which are for her own good? (Am I ranting? I feel I am but am going to continue). I don't think I'm the only one looking in disgust. There are others thinking 'what a.......'.

It doesn't stop there. Due to seatage options (that's a fab new word!), I am forced to choose between standing up, or sitting next to the yellow line hater. I take a seat.

The ticket staff come round asking to see all tickets and passes. I dutifully show mine, but notice the lady is too important for that, and stares out of the window.

Imagine being that important.......

How can lightning have such a detrimental effect on transport systems? One strike and that's it, trains come to a standstill. Not only do they come to a standstill, but they then remain stuck listening to commuter problems. Such as how can they get to the rear of the train when they have a suitcase and the train is packed? Do they get off and re-embark on a carriage further down the train that's actually going to get to the airport? Will the train get going again to be able to catch the flight? Do I need to book another train ticket? Another flight?

I feel lucky. If I miss my connection, I will go and do a sweeping browse round a few shops until my next available train. I might even sit and read about the EU referendum. I will be honest and say that I don't know which way to vote. Many people have got their minds made up and won't read anything now, as they know what to vote for. Done. However, I am still learning and want more information before I feel confident about which way to go.

Funny. Some poor guy has obviously been gullible. When working in kitchens, you get used to the 'go and get some chicken lips from the fridge', 'have you got that long stand?' Or other such phrases that can create entertainment. But this guy is on the train carrying a plant. It's almost a A Dirty Dancing moment when she carried a watermelon. He carried a huge plant. And he looks very uncomfortable in doing so. I want to say something, but don't. At least he was standing behind the yellow line!
Thu 9th Jun, 2016 | 9:09ammore...
Luce Smith

Blueberries and Delays

Posted by: Luce Smith, Wed 25th May, 2016 | 10:21am
Blueberries photo by Tom Ipri
Blueberries photo by Tom Ipri
It's a busy one, but I squeeze in and manage to get a seat. I'm not sure if I regret it though, as the girl in front is sat next to her friend, and she has lots to say. Now don't get me wrong, I can talk a lot, but if I am ever heard talking such, well, I don't even know how to describe it, but if I ever sound like her, please put me down.

Nonstop from departure to arrival, were the words coming out of her mouth. I don't actually think her friend said a word, he actually could have been asleep, as she didn't require any feedback or responses from what she was saying. If she did, she gave it from her own perspective. Which is a bit cheeky really, and totally biased, but no doubt she would give reasons for this approach.

She was going to put some slap on when they got there, not too much as she didn't want to look like a slag, but felt now she is supervising, she ought to. She knows why the sink doesn't work too, so is going to close that area for ten minutes whilst she puts 'this stuff down', then hopefully it will clear. "Rachel doesn't really know what she's doing, but it's ok, as Steve knows now so he won't let her get away with it. Nick thinks he is moving up to be supervisor this year but everyone knows he won't be 'cos of what happened last year. I hope I get some good staff this time or else I may not come back next year. It's ok though as I was looking at working in London instead anyway...." Oh yes, please do, Londoners will love to hear you as much as I do.........

Blueberries. They're not blue. Or even close to blue. I've only just discovered this from smashing one with the back of my spoon. Is it common knowledge? Does everybody know that blueberries are actually greenberries in disguise? Would people be so keen to promote them if they had a name that was true in terms of the trading act? Porridge topped with greenberries....yum. Enjoy a greenberry and yogurt smoothie? Try snacking on some greenberries covered in a blue coat......that's what they are! Greenberries covered in blue skin.

So how did they get their name changed? Oranges are oranges through and through. What you see us what you get. But blueberries, well, they're just teasing you! I feel I should stand in a supermarket, peel lots of blueberries and ask customers to try this new berry, which hasn't got a skin, so it's naked I guess....nakedberry with porridge anyone?

I have not got time for this, somebody send a drone to pick me up and airlift me to where I need to be. I know I totally exceed the weight limit, but I'm desperate. I have to get somewhere super quick, and what happens?


I arrive at the station, and see that my train is delayed. So I opt for a different train, to find that that's not stopping at my stop for some reason. Fine, I'll go on the other train, which stops a few more times but reaches my station. I look at the departure board and head off with my speed walk. I make the train and text the person I'm meeting to say I'll be 13minutes.

Only I'm not going to be 13 minutes as the driver from my original train which was delayed, is due to drive this train, so we're now delayed. I want to scream, and I get very anxious. It's a hot, rush hour train, and I'm beginning to lose my patience. I think of other faster routes, but come up with nothing. I must look like a crazy woman as I'm rolling my eyes, tutting, checking my watch every millisecond and I'm very fidgety! If you saw someone with that description, I'm glad you kept quiet, as I was in no mood for conversation.

The driver made it over the platform, and we finally got powered up and moving. But only just out of the station, when we stopped for some good few minutes, and where I was able to take up my eye rolling, tutting and checking my watch every other second. Why? Why does this always happen when you're needed elsewhere? It's a good job 'that' girl wasn't on this commute as I may have had to put her scarf over her head. Which would no doubt have ended up with me being removed from the train by the men in white coats..... Such fun ;)
Wed 25th May, 2016 | 10:21ammore...
Luce Smith

Choral Tuesday

Posted by: Luce Smith, Tue 17th May, 2016 | 7:42pm
BIG ISSUE! photo by Michael Brace
BIG ISSUE! photo by Michael Brace
I'm going to rename today as choral Tuesday.

Walking down the high street at rush hour, you can hear 'big isshhhhhhhhhhhhhheeeeeeeewwwwwww' followed by the dulcet tones of 'free paaaaaaaaaayyyyyyyyypa'. So funny! I want to do a bit of dj-ing with this, could be a top record hit and proceeds could go to the 'Lucy foundation Trust'. It would sound pretty good with a bit of a beat to it. Big big dum dum, isshhhhuewwwwwww dum dum, free, free, diggity dig, bum bum, paaaaaayyyyyypa scibbidy doo.... Yes, I will have words with DJ someone hot and famous and see what's possible.

I had to give someone a quick snide look, to save myself saying words. Sitting on the bench on the platform, trying to relax after a hectic day and the guy on the bench is rocking back 'n forth. It's ok for a few minutes, then it's blooming annoying to say the least. How do I tell some stranger to sit up straight and sit still? I need to work on my communication skills as he wins this time, as I get up and pretend I don't need a seat. Grrrrr. That's so annoyed Lucy!

I'm also annoyed as I joined a beginners' running group last week, and run number one, was in the sunshine, rain, and snow (all in 35 minutes!). Run number two was on the treadmill being the weekend and I can't tell you how much I hated every moment! But had no motivation to run solo outdoors. Run number three is tonight and I'm tired, and lost my running mojo. Help.

Get ya free payyyyyyyyyyper, evening pooooooooost, not sure how this week has happened, but I seem to have been relatively organised! I even got a weekly train pass. I also sat and watched a lame pigeon. Is that the correct terminology? Basically, the pigeon was holding its foot/leg/claw up off the pavement and hopping along. A horse would be classed as lame, as would a sheep or cow. But what about a pigeon? I almost put that it was limping, but doubt that would be correct!

I did an absolute Stirling superwoman job at the main station. I was going for my train, but the earlier train had been delayed, so was just pulling into the platform I was heading for. I decided to charge for it. I galloped down the staircase, across the platform, only to hear the 'beep beep beep beep' of the doors. The next bit was in slow motion. I strided out the last two steps and jumped into the train, with the doors closing slowly behind me. Phew! I made it! And dare I say, actually enjoyed the thrill? Haha! Even people already on the train looked marginally impressed. Won't ever be able to do that again so I was enjoying the moment.

Bigissuuuuuuuuuuuuuueeeeeeee please. No thanks. I should buy it one day as I've never read it, has anyone? Can you read it online? That would definitely defeat the object I know, but still!

I'm early for my connecting train, and sit on the bench. I'm sat on it on my own. No one is rocking it. No one is singing to me to buy a magazine, or take a free copy of a newspaper. I start rocking on the bench smiling. Haha, it's payback time :)
Tue 17th May, 2016 | 7:42pmmore...
Luce Smith

New Commute Route

Posted by: Luce Smith, Sat 30th Apr, 2016 | 5:34pm
subway photo by Geoff
subway photo by Geoff
Oh dear. It's Monday morning, and it's been a great weekend. The train's on time, and I'm lucky enough to get a seat.

Waiting at the penultimate station stop, a passenger behind realises that it's actually his stop, so gets up and makes a mad dash for it. however, he is carrying a drink, which spills out all over the passengers on my side of the train, including me. Ah well, who doesn't need more coffee on a Monday morning?! That's what I think, until I start wiping it off. I inhale, only to realise that my Friday night has returned. It's beer. Grim. How on earth do I explain
this to my colleagues at work, as to why I honk of beer?


I brave my new commute on Tuesday. It starts off with an early 2.5mile walk, then a local train, then the main train to leeds. I allow myself enough time for the walk, but end up freezing on the platform, and being very remote, there's no coffee serving place or machine.

It's ok, will adjust my departure time tomorrow. The train is on time, and we arrive at platform number two. 5 minutes to get under the subway to my final leg of the commute.

It's on time! Hoorah!

Snow? Rain? Hail? I don't have the funds to go on holiday again to escape this bizarre weather, please, let's all be nice to each other and hope that God will send that big yellow round thing up in the sky. I didn't take my chances today, extra layer of clothing, vest number two in the bag, and sensible shoes. Oh, and an umbrella. That should cover all eventualities. If not I will have to trail round charity shops at the weekend for a bigger bag!

My alarm seemed to go off too early today and I struggled to get up. As I had plenty of spare time yesterday at the first station, I braved it and left 10 minutes later. A little ambitious for a new route, and I will admit to doing a bit of a trot where at all possible. Still, I didn't have to break into a gallop so it wasn't too bad.

Sat on the train, I was next to two girls who were sat with their hoods up, playing on their pink mobile phones. They had just got back from Turkey and feeling the cold. They'd also been feeling their new friend's bare feet on the aeroplane, which set them off in giggles. He was a hottie but after checking him out on Facebook, discovered he had over 3000 friends so might be a bit of an idiot. Such fun.

Coming back, I'd forgotten just how rammed the trains got, and stood there in the doorway unable to move my feet. A guy next to me kept apologising for moving, but he had to scratch his nose. He did this several times, and with no additional elbow room, it's no easy task!

Fido has just got on the train. It was Fido wasn't it, the guy from the 7-up advert? He must be absolutely freezing and feel like he has a bird on his head. Or perhaps that's the look he was going for? I feel like I am pretty boring stood next to him. Maybe I need to jazz my appearance up a bit, blue hair maybe? Tattoo on face? I'll have a think.

Today, I had a conversation with a fellow commuter, and you won't believe this, but he started it, not me! Lovely chap, talking about the minus one temperatures and how late the trains get, and how annoying it is when customer service staff always appear to know nothing. Helpful.

All I need now, is to finish the week with another lager spill, and life's complete! Such fun!
Sat 30th Apr, 2016 | 5:34pmmore...
Luce Smith

Graduation Day

Posted by: Luce Smith, Fri 22nd Apr, 2016 | 12:24pm
Mortar Board photo by David Morris
Mortar Board photo by David Morris
I'm still in limbo in terms of my commute, but next week, it all kicks in. My house is almost done, I now am able to use my bathroom, so long as I don't mind the grouting on the side being unfinished, or the tiling round the window.......

I used to stress over stuff that wasn't finished, but that element of my personality has left me. Just as well I guess!

I am reunited with my Fitbit again, but it's hard not to compete with myself. Last weekend I walked 45km, somehow. It wasn't planned, but the weather was so good, that it urged me to keep putting one foot in front of the other.....I wish every weekend was like that, just walking round country roads, listening to the wildlife, dodging boy racers, and speaking to complete strangers. Happy me. The distance definitely adds up, I've walked 117km this week, and that was just commuting and a few evening sunny walks. I'm horse riding again on Monday, and might ask the horse if he'd mind wearing my Fitbit. Actually, if it's the same horse as two weeks ago, I need to have words. He seemed to think it was ok to just stop.


No notice to rider at all. Luckily, I stayed on. Next time though.......

What a day for freebies that was! Got off the train and was welcomed onto the concourse with the usual daily print, and breakfast in a wrapper! I love promo days! I got two of these well known cereal makers bars and trotted off on my way.

Coming home, I arrived at said concourse, and it was afternoon tea promo time! He who does make exceedingly good cakes, was sharing his latest flavour and I bagged a very nice cranberry and oat number. Result!

Gosh he was in a rush! Waiting by the train, and the doors open. Passengers leaving the train all pile out and disappear. One very eager person on the platform can't wait. So he gets on with boarding the train whilst others are still disembarking, (I nearly wrote dismounting for some reason? Weirdo me). People look at him and their facial expressions say it all! He
doesn't seem to have any issue with it though, and carries on regardless.

Graduation day has arrived at last! Apparently, it's tradition to wear a skirt. I have followed these guidelines and am wearing a, what I call, dress. Apparently, it's going to be very busy. I might not enjoy it, but will have to go through with it now! I have heels in my bag, and nerves just about everywhere!

I've met with the olds, and we're all aboard the London train. Mum's not talking to Dad, as he was in charge of booking the tickets, and didn't get three seats together. Great, a domestic on the journey down to what is meant to be, a lovely day. There's a lady sat on the other side of the aisle, talking quite loudly to her Mum on her mobile. Dad finds this annoying, so allows himself to get up, go over to her, and remind her it's a quiet coach. I sink further into my seat. Mum looks oblivious to it, but being hard of hearing, I'd say that was a bonus right now! Family are so funny!

Next it's 'show us ya ticket' time. Dad gets the tickets out and Mum rummages through her bag to find her railcard. "Oh dash it". Dad's left his railcard at home. I say it will be ok, and given 10 days to show it at a local train station. No, no, no, Sod's law, the ticket staff member asks to see the

I say "isn't it obvious he's a senior railcard holder? (Surely he looks the type). No, sorry, must see it. Can't he bring it to the station in the next day or two? No. Got to pay the difference in fares, both ways.

I'm annoyed. What's going to happen when the number of people with dementia, at any stage, forget things like railcards. You shouldn't be able to buy a ticket without giving railcard numbers. I paid, but will be writing.

Talking of age though, I just had to do the coffee run as we're in coach B, and the coffee lounge is coach H. It takes some doing, walking in a straight line whilst the train's going from side to side! I make it down and secretly hope I will be nearer to reaching my daily Fitbit goal! I ask for a black coffee with two mugs and get a very (expected), strange look. I tell the steward that it's for my parents, and sadly, it's what happens when you reach that 'certain age'. He smiles and goes ahead with my request.

Phew! I look at the wine and decide it's perhaps a bit early, and maybe not allowed to be drunk in the quiet coach? I will be having plenty once I arrive at the ceremony venue though! Bring it on!
Fri 22nd Apr, 2016 | 12:24pmmore...
Luce Smith

Train Spotting

Posted by: Luce Smith, Sat 2nd Apr, 2016 | 6:50pm
Train Spotter photo by Les Chatfield
Train Spotter photo by Les Chatfield
"Av u gots a sweat on eh..? What ya's teckin ya coyte off fo? Eh?"

Brilliant. I am sat in front of two genuine original train spotters. It's confirmed the rumour. They do carry paper notebooks and pens to note engine numbers, times and drivers.

"Oh this must be Richard on the system, can tell is voice eh? By eck ee's steemin' along down ere in ee?"

(Spell check had issues with the last few sentences but I was forceful and took charge).

"No I'm not gonna go ta Derby, there's all gona see t'buses from Wigan, then in Booooolton, n end in Manchester".

"Eye' it wa on radio, her that used to be a cyclist, she's a professional jockey now".

"Is she? By eck how did that happen' eh? Bet she couldn't fix her puncture so's 'ad ta swap. By eck, what times's race then eh?"

I wish I could take a photo, but perhaps the image is enough. It's typical that's for sure!

That's spooky. I'm on a very busy train but due to me galloping through town as quick as lightening, I got a seat. Someone squeezed in opposite me, but had lots of bags. With my eyes, I looked at his rucksack, and then saw it move to the racks at the top of the seating. He then proceeded to get his rucksack from the floor and place it on the racks! Call me Matilda. What shall I do next I wonder? Remove someone's earphones? Force two people to shake hands? Brilliant.

My commutes have been weird. I got to the station last week only to be greeted with a "sorry love, no trains to Leeds, signal fault. You'll ave ta get next 'un ta next station, then swap n get delayed Leeds un".

Why thank you sir, what a fine greeting on such a cold morning and not even 7am. Please don't let this set the scene to my day ahead, as I am already tempted to go back to bed and have a duvet day!

As of next week, drum rolls please, my commute can return to normal. In that my house, dare I say, is ready to move back into. 9 weeks later. I've been reviewing my old routine and decided it was too 'bitty' n time consuming. I'm going to cycle or walk to a different platform, and just get the train. No bus. It's too much! I did manage 3 months of it, but I can't do it anymore!

Cycling is going to be a challenge though as I'm not peddle fit. I'm also a fair weather cyclist so will have to rethink on a day that's a bit moist. Now the clocks are kind to daylight hours, I feel there is a need to get outside. Also, without the need to study, I am freeeeeeeeee!

Perhaps I can take up train spotting? Such fun!
Sat 2nd Apr, 2016 | 6:50pmmore...
Luce Smith

Street Markets and Pools

Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 21st Mar, 2016 | 12:46pm

It's 34 degrees. It's sunny, and there is no need for thermals or waterproofs. (No, I didn't pack them just in case you're wondering!). The heat is definitely putting a smile on my face, which is needed, as I'm a bit grumpy. Grumpy because I'm not good at being kept inside, and not good at being told I can't do anything on my own. I know it's for my own safety, and I get that, but I'm still grumpy. I have a quick dip in the apartment swimming pool (more like an l-shaped puddle), keeping an eye out for dead rats and pigeon poo (yes you read that correctly), and my grumpy side dissolved. Phew.

I'm taken to the local Street markets, and boy are they different to UK markets. It's chaos, dirty, loud and lots of vehicles just randomly stopping when they see a stall they want to purchase from. They don't have stalls on pavements or any sense of structure, people are selling anything and everything, how and where they want. Many don't have much storage space for their stock, so they stick it in containers and carry it on their heads. Ok, so it's traditional, and normal to do this, carrying stock on heads, but my word, can they carry a lot. It's impressive to say the least. How do they do it in this heat?

The Road sellers/hawkers, take some getting used to. I was glad to be driven round by someone I knew, instead of driving myself. You pull up to a junction or set of lights, and you are pounced on by locals selling goods. Items they were selling included; fruit, bread, mobile phone cases, puppies, groundnuts, ice.....yes, puppies. However, they clearly weren't in great condition so if you got one, it wouldn't be a lifetime commitment. Poor things, I had to look away. It was advisable to keep windows tightly shut, as any chance of persuading you to buy, was taken. It was non stop and they don't like to take no for an answer.

Further into the day's journey, we went along the main road network, the N1. Lots of signs for churches, signs to vote for various MPs, and a road sign reading 'overspeeding kills'. Love it. The church signs are frequent, and they are everywhere. One shop was titled '100% Jesus'. No idea what they were selling! On the back of vehicles you often see 'call Jesus', but no number to call......! On the front of the bus, it read 'in Jesus' name'. Does that mean the bus journey is safer?! Another car must not have done well at school, as the sign on the back of his car read 'God Frist'. Brilliant.

What I didn't like about driving around, were the check points. Police stops were dotted around and you had to stop as the road had barriers. They sometimes just looked in the car and sent you on your way, but they often pulled you over for further inspection. They'd go through your bags, and really try to find something. They just want money, which is really sad.
It didn't help my peace of mind seeing that they had guns in their pockets. If they didn't have guns, they had knives, which weren't for chopping coconuts.

We got to an amazing resort though, so it was worth it in the end. The staff are kind, but the service is painfully slow. This way of working would not work in the UK at all, but might be quite funny to introduce for a bit of a change, to see how the British public would react! I could film it and start up my own YouTube channel. Oh the opportunities. We have the pool to ourselves, and as we have paid £8 each, we of course don't have to look out for dead rats or pigeon poo; this is a quality resort!

I definitely feel like I'm on holiday now, and grateful to get away from the hawkers. For now. Such fun!
Mon 21st Mar, 2016 | 12:46pmmore...
Luce Smith

To Ghana

Posted by: Luce Smith, Wed 16th Mar, 2016 | 1:16pm
Heathrow photo by Metal Chris
Heathrow photo by Metal Chris
It's only a 7hr flight. However, no direct flights from Manchestaaaaa, so a few options to consider. I opt for an early flight to Heathrow, and then a direct flight. Percy can have another holiday in jet parks, he loves it!

Unusually for me, I don't pack until the night before, knowing my alarm will be asking me to get up at 4am. I've never been this 'lackadaisical' about packing in my life! I've got things organised though, visa, vaccinations, and malaria tablets. I even went to my own home two days ago to collect my summer suitcase items. It wasn't an easy task. With three rooms of things being thrown into one room, it was quite a challenge to find all I needed! Did I succeed? We'll see when I start unpacking and realise I've left crucial underwear pieces at home!

Flight to Heathrow went ok, then a long transit time and I was tired. Must not fall asleep on chairs. Wish I could afford to go to one of the premier lounges and get a shower, that would be bliss! Strong coffee and berry porridge will have to do.

After doing a few laps of the terminal, and plenty of browsing, my gate is finally up on the departure screen, and off I go. I sit in the gate seating area feeling a little odd. I look around at other passengers waiting to go on the same plane as me and I soon work out that I'm a minority. I'm white skinned, and I see only two other white people. I get a very small taste of what it must be like for non white people in England. I have experienced this in a few meetings at work, and think it's great, that we are such a diverse country.

I chat to a lady who has been visiting her Mum in London, and now going back home. I ask if the flight is always this busy, and she nodded her head she smiled. It's always packed when I fly over she says. I'm pleased with this as it must be a good destination. I wonder if it's a tourist spot, or just for locals. As the crew call out passengers for boarding, I guess I'll find out soon enough!

Wooooooah! Everyone starts getting up from their seats, 'doctor, doctor, quick, he's stopped breathing', passengers are shrieking and there's a state of chaos. My heart races and I think the worst, that someone's died. What do you do? The crew rush over, and then one brings the gas canister.

Passengers are told to remain seated and things calm down. The passenger seems to be breathing now, and is taken to the front of the plane. Makes you think though, must be worrying for the crew, you can't just pull over and get an ambulance! I'm selfishly a little bit relieved. For a split second, the thought of it being a terrorist attack crosses my mind. I'm not saying I'm glad there's an ill person on the plane, but I'm just thankful it's not life threatening for all. Ok, maybe that does make me selfish. Oh well.

The plane lands safely, and we are asked to remain seated as paramedics need to board the plane to treat the passenger/patient and get him to a hospital. Fine with me, I sit patiently. But it takes an hour for this to happen, by which point, my 4am alarm seems a long time ago. Was it even the same day?

I finally get off the plane, reunited with my bags, and out into the arrival lounge. Welcome to Ghana. Such fun! Or it will be, after a well deserved sleep!
Wed 16th Mar, 2016 | 1:16pmmore...
Luce Smith

Back In The Saddle

Posted by: Luce Smith, Sun 6th Mar, 2016 | 2:19pm
Horses photo by Brenna
Horses photo by Brenna
I did a horse ride! It's something I planned to whilst in Australia at Christmas, but ironically got rained off. I was driving back to my temporary home last week and had taken the scenic route, and saw a sign for a riding centre. When home, I did some research (ok, I googled), and got the contact details.

I made a call the next day, and confidently booked myself in for a half hour private lesson one day after work. I was asked some very difficult questions whilst talking to them. Are you a beginner, novice, or experienced rider? Would you feel comfortable at a walk, a trot, and canter? How confident would you feel riding without stirrups? If you've ridden before, how long ago was this?

Big gulp. If I'm honest, the last time I did horse riding was whilst at school, so I just said 'oh, a good few years ago'. The truth of it is, when I started to work it out, it had been 20yrs. I don't feel that old though, so did the 'maths' a few times over to make sure no error had been made. No error, it had been two decades. How did that happen??? When it came to my level of skill, I said that after such a long gap, I would no doubt be a beginner initially. Fine, 4 days to go to find out.

On the day of my lesson, I was nervous and excited. What if I get kicked off? The ground isn't so forgiving when you're a bit heavier, and more aware of risks is it! What if I make a fool of myself? Well, I won't know until I try, so here goes. I'm given boots and a hat to try on, and find some that fit reasonably well. I'm then taken to my horse, Alf. I go to the stable with my instructor, and feel quite at ease. I remember the days of mucking out, cleaning tack, and sweeping down the yard until it's perfectly spotless and not screaming at the rats on the muck heap!.

I'm introduced to Alf and told that he will be kind to me. I should hope so! He's a big horse, with a shaved mane, so my options of grabbing onto that for dear life are already minimal. Ah well, come on Alfie old boy, let's see if I can remember how to mount up gracefully!

I lead him into the outdoor arena and I look into his eyes. Alf, it's me and you, be kind and I'll be kind in return. He looks quite placid, so I hop on. Whilst walking round and getting used to the feel of horseback again, I keep thinking of how long it is since I've been in the saddle, so to speak. Where do the years go?! Alf, apparently, has a cheeky side to him. He will be a lazy nose-to-tail riding school horse if he's allowed to be, but, show him you mean business, and he's up for much more. I'm not convinced, but when I use my whip to get him trotting with more 'oooomph' I feel his cheeky side. He thinks that's an invitation to trot off, out of control. No no no, I am the boss, and I rein him in. I don't think about it, just do what comes back to me as natural.

I can't tell you how much fun I had in that half hour. Walk, trot, canter, figures of eight, and not once did I fear I might end up on the floor. My instructor was very encouraging, and kind to me, saying she was impressed with my skills, despite the 'few' years it had been. Half way through the lesson, I had a very bad thought. I'm not going to be able to walk tomorrow am I? Will I even be able to get out of bed? Oh dear, what have I done?

I enjoy the experience and found myself beaming from ear to ear throughout the half hour. Love it. I dismount, thank Alf for being kind(ish), and take him back to the stable. I untack him, give him a big pat on his shoulders, and walk back to reception. Walking seems ok, but my legs are very shaky! I return the hat and boots, pay up, and book a second lesson in a few weeks time. As soon as I'm home, I quickly run a hot bath, and sink into it, praying it is healing all my aches and pains.

My alarm went off, and I had planned to go to the gym before heading to the train for work. However, even though I can get out of bed (big relief), I struggle with the stairs, and decide to postpone the gym. A long walk will be much better!

What adventure can I set myself next? Jet skiing in January, horse riding in February, and as I'm on my way to Ghana as we speak, I can only hope for something like....I don't know! There's talk of a mole sanctuary? And the local polo club? My sister will no doubt have it all planned out. Another week in a temporary home, yippee! Such fun!
Sun 6th Mar, 2016 | 2:19pmmore...
Luce Smith


Posted by: Luce Smith, Wed 2nd Mar, 2016 | 1:10pm
Clock photo by Dineshraj Goomany
Clock photo by Dineshraj Goomany
I'll be honest, commuting hasn't been a lot of fun of late. In fact, far from it.

I got to the platform with 12 minutes to spare, and the train was already there. However, with 30 seconds until departure time, and the train still in the dark with its doors closed, it wasn't looking good. There were quite a few of us hoping to get on, but none of us knowing if this would happen. I looked at my watch. It was 36 past the hour, and the train was due to leave at 24 past. Finally, the platform display changed the status from 'on time', to delayed.

Delayed? It's standing at the platform! How can it be delayed? There were a few young members of staff looking somewhat puzzled, and I decided to brave it, and ask if it was likely to be setting off anytime soon. He explained the problem to me. Our train was still linked to the train behind, the Sheffield train, and they could separate the two, but no one was available to test the brakes. So they had to wait.

We couldn't get on, and it was cold.

We waited.

We waited a bit more. People slowly began to leave the platform, choosing another train, or another form of transport.

I hung on.

I asked again, if it was going to be up and running soon. He looked confused.

The LED display status went from 'delayed', to 'cancelled'. Great.

I did some quick thinking on my feet and dashed to the station foyer (it's not a foyer is it, but I cannot think what it's called! It begins with c doesn't it. Oh well) to read the timings of my plan b. I was gutted to read the status of this train being 'delayed'. It was 09 past the hour now, it's been a long day at work, I'm hungry, and I have not got the capacity for hanging around.

I brave it, exit the station, and head for the taxi rank. I don't do taxis, but if my first two plans are unavailable, this is the sure way of getting home. Which I do, at last, no thanks to the lovely railway.

I say home, it's not quite my home. I'm now in week 5 of being homeless. Ok, so that's a bit extreme, but I'm unable to live at my own house still.

However, now the roof has been taken off and I've been able to see for myself, the real structure of the house, it's been a bit of a learning curve! I can happily report back that the roof is now safely back on, and I am told there is light at the end of the tunnel. Light, but still no bathroom, and with that being started this week, I should be able to enjoy a hot bath in my own house, by Easter. If I hear of any storms coming this way in the foreseeable future, I will strap myself to the top of the roof. If it is going to damage my house, it will have me to contend with first. That should be a threat in itself.

If the guy in front sneezes one more time without covering his face, I might have to pull an angry face of disapproval. Don't parents teach their children any cold or flu virus manners?

What happened to 'coughs and sneezes spread diseases'? I know the times of handkerchiefs are over, but they have been substituted by the tissue. Which are fine, so long as you don't buy the mega cheap ones. They're not good, in fact, not worth buying. Where does the word tissue come from anyway? I will of course have to find out.

So funny! The PA announcement told us which station we were approaching, which was mine (my temporary station). When he finished, the system made a peculiar sound, and everyone looked up. Has the train been kidnapped by aliens? Are we having an electrical fault and need to be mindful of where we are? The guy on the PA then simply said, 'Hello?' it went eerily quiet. No sound at all. I honestly thought he was going to come out in song and do the Adele number. I couldn't stop laughing! He didn't of course, and the train stopped and off I went. Imagine if he had have done though?

Oh my, 6 minutes to get over to platform 16. I can do it. I can do it. Such fun....
Wed 2nd Mar, 2016 | 1:10pmmore...
Luce Smith

Spare Change

Posted by: Luce Smith, Tue 16th Feb, 2016 | 12:36pm
photo by Sigfrid Lundberg
photo by Sigfrid Lundberg
Excuse me, can you spare any change?

Spare any change?

Spare any change?

I want to lower myself and sit next to him and respond like this:

'Spare any change? No, why, can you? Because I've just had to have major work carried out on the roof of my own house. I have worked very hard in life to get an opportunity to be a single homeowner, I have grafted hard. I am going to be struggling myself, so if this is the way to get a roof over my head, budge over, I'm joining you'

I don't though, I smile and say I don't have any. Which is very true. Too true, but I won't cry. Yet. I will no doubt wait for an inappropriate moment and the tears will come down......when I am least expecting them. But not on today's train journey. You see, due to a lovely dentist appointment, I am going into work later than normal, and very surprised to get a lower fare ticket. Why? I thought you were punished for having a lie in? Are you therefore saying that I pay more on the train when I don't even get a seat? I pay more to be crammed in as tight as possible? Another great invention from high profile people no doubt. A bit like the invention of the '50p each or two for £1', who was the brains behind the ingenious idea??!

Commuting this week so far, has been quite exciting. Due to Percy going in for his MOT, I had to leave him in a garage, and make my way to the nearest train station. Easy...ish. I was helped my local people though, who were very kind despite it being a damp morning, and still dark. Thank you, whoever you are!

I got a seat! I got a seat!! Exciting! This is an absolute honour, and I feel that paying for my train fare has been worthwhile! Gosh. I look around and realise, much to my disgust, that it has been weeks since I actually checked out the commuters! I have been so caught up in my own world, that I've failed to be observant. I'll give it a go now.

It appears that there is no "normal" type of person commuting this morning. College students, office workers, people who have run out of the door and not looked in the mirror (I fit this category), those who look like they work at the counter of a beauty salon, and those who look ready to see their working days behind them. I am happy to see someone reading an actual paperback book. Why does this bring me joy? I think it's because I enjoy it so much, and find reading such a relaxing hobby. But it's not a hobby I can do on a short commute. I need to be sprawled out somewhere, be warm, and have a hot drink, or wine, on the go. Ideally, I'd be in the bath with my book, but without such a commodity at the moment, I can just look forward to it!

Trains have been far from good this week. Late, late or packed. I stood on the platform for a 22 minute delayed train, in the freezing cold. I thought about going to get Percy, but it wouldn't have been any quicker. It would have meant I was warm though. I'd already bought and paid for my ticket, so not paying twice to get to work!

I've given up chocolate for Lent, (a typo, I just did suggest I was giving it up for Kent, but having not been there, I don't feel any duty to....), and I have to say, it's difficult. It's not helped by Easter being thrown at me in any way possible. I say Easter, but really, it should be renamed chocster. Do any of the items for sale give any purpose or reason, as to why we acknowledge and celebrate Easter? I bet Cadbury and Lindt (there are more brands of course), never dreamed of getting so rich from a religious occasion. What does the egg symbolise anyway? Jesus's state of being dead for a few days? Are Cadburys and the like going to scout through the bible to find other occasions they can introduce to us in chocolate form?

I get off the train, try not to dribble past the Easter eggs and Valentine chocolate hearts, and pass a guy on the street asking if I have any spare change. I take a deep breath, and decide to just smile and politely say no. Such fun!
Tue 16th Feb, 2016 | 12:36pmmore...
Luce Smith

For A Day Or Two

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...
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