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

Luce Smith

End of the summer

Posted by: Luce Smith, Sun 21st Sep, 2014 | 11:49am
inflight photo by Rene Schwietzke
inflight photo by Rene Schwietzke
I just did a, what I call, holiday. Such fun! I won't bore you or make you 'wel gel' but I will tell you I had a lovely time. The 4hr commute was bearable, despite the plane having no inflight entertainment. I know it might sound a tad snobby, but really? I've been on shorter flights and they have had at least one TV for every 6 rows of seats!

I did get why they don't though, after the seatbelt signs were removed, the trolley service appeared. Cheaper to buy 3 drinks than one, so the wine was flowing, as was the Baileys, and cider. Who needs inflight entertainment when you have bored children and boozey adults around you! Another good money saver.....

I chatted to a lovely lady, who told me all about the island we were going to, and how they have been many times and love it. The conversation quality decreased on the 2nd round of '3 for £10' red wine, and by the time the plane landed, the lady had nodded off.

Anyway, a week of sunshine, a dodgy coach tour to windmills that turned into monasteries and caves (very clever marketing), nights that ended after midnight (I thought if you weren't in bed by 10pm, the next day didn't exist, but I was wrong), and waiters that on bringing you the bill, brought shots of local wine to down, (including the waiters themselves) and pretend to enjoy. The holiday was a good one. Roll on payday though!

The regular commute now seems a tad disappointing, especially, (and I promised not to mention the dark, dark mornings, but feel it's important as it's fact!) as it's not even proper daylight yet! There are no signs of sunglasses, more thermos flasks, and long boots becoming popular again. It's the season of supposedly Autumn. Although saying that, the trees are still very green, so perhaps they're also hoping to drag the summer months out as long as possible. Wouldn't blame them.

Sadly, and don't stop reading, or else I'll call you a Christmasist, I have returned to find a tree growing in the window of a shop at the station. I think it's a sign that this is in the countryside, and not certain it's advertising Christmas, despite it being a full 98 days away.

I'm moving on swiftly. Who cleans the windows of trains? Inside and out? It's just that this one next to me is all smeared and untidy. I was going to pen a letter to the cleaning company and suggest they use the old fashioned product of vinegar and newspaper to make a better job of it. That would be awesome, getting on a train that immediately made you want to eat fish and chips. Mouths would be watering, lips would be licking, and I bet, especially on the return journey, many calls would be made to their partners using these words 'don't worry about cooking tonight darling, I'll pick up some fish and chips'. I would put money on it!

I am seeing a new fashion trend already this season, and it has to be stripes and bold. Shirts, ties, handbags, they're everywhere. I guess I had better get shopping so I look the part, as I couldn't possibly sit here looking like summer was still around and I hadn't caught up with the latest look. Shame on me. I shall get online immediately and purchase new workwear. I say immediately, I mean after payday. I don't do buying with no funds, and refuse to be bullied into having a credit card. So I have learnt the skill of saving up, and spending using actual money. "No, I don't wish to open a loyalty store card account thank you madam, as I am scared that if I do, I will look like you, and really feel that getting up two hours earlier than needed to apply the foundations of a small village onto my face, then add a gallon of black onto my eyes, sprinkle with glitter and paint my lips, only to add a bit to my front teeth, is beyond my skills". Another reason to shop online, or with care! Not so much fun though if you are wanting a bit of entertainment.

Next stop please, save me!
Sun 21st Sep, 2014 | 11:49ammore...
Luce Smith

A Study In Fraud

Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 11th Sep, 2014 | 9:10am
Ski Park Les Planards photo by Ines Saraiva
Ski Park Les Planards photo by Ines Saraiva
Brilliant. I had a fear of not having anything to share, then sat down, and hey presto, I have lots! Sitting next to a Mother and daughter, currently discussing whether or not a two week holiday will be enough for 'the girls' . Little chalet, few friends, lots of ski-ing, it's got to be done.

Of course it has. But have you got enough money? Yes, I have my student loan, it will come through on the first day of the student term. How silly, of course money isn't an issue, students are loaded! This term's longer too, so they get £300 more. Yes that makes sense. A grant is given in the following year........I then see she is holding her new purchase. An iPad Air.

The real decision though, is, who to take to the theatre this weekend. I mean, Jenny's ok, but she may not get the story, and it's annoying having to go through each set. Kate can't come as she's loved up and has forgotten about her friends for now. Simon was going to come but he now has to work. The mother went out drinking the other night. They went for dinner and had a really good night out. They got the train, so it made it easier.

Sorry, I need to interrupt myself. The two in question have just shown the nice ticket man their tickets. On his exit, they then whispered that he didn't need to know they would be staying on for a few more stops, he wouldn't check again. Well my friend, I want to tell the ticket man and share this news. The more people get away with on train fares, the more my monthly pass will go up in price to compensate for the losses? I therefore feel it's my duty.

Should I ask the two ladies why they are being fraudulent? Are they low in funds since visiting the Apple store? I want to find out why they feel it's appropriate to be so unruly.

Wow, have you seen Breaking Bad series? Well they're buying the whole box set for Christmas. It's amazing. There are 5 series, and they're getting the lot. I can't comment personally, but I have seen the Christmas word popping up quite a lot this week. I don't think it's time to panic buy yet though, will wait a few months for that to take place.

A lovely clean shaven chap is now in the seat, reading his Kindle. I would imagine he's reading a very interesting and informative novel on how the science of the earth matches that of the cornflakes in a standard 750g box of cereal. He may also be reading an autobiography of a celebrity, such as Jeremy Clarkson. Haven't quite sussed him out yet. He's wearing a clean, ironed suit, polished shoes, and what looks like a schoolboy's tie. He has nothing about him which suggests he has any likes or dislikes. Am I going to have to break the silence? I think, actually, that he works with lawyers and is doing his first year placement. His phone rang and his tea will be ready when he gets home. Perhaps he's one of the Waltons, he would make a good John-Boy. Shall I test out the good night procedure? I'm showing my age aren't I? Although the word showing, just auto corrected itself to read showgirl. Now that's something I haven't been in this life as yet. Might it be a bit of fun? Dare I? I'd need a student loan I imagine. And a holiday for two weeks. Next stop please!
Thu 11th Sep, 2014 | 9:10ammore...
Luce Smith


Posted by: Luce Smith, Fri 5th Sep, 2014 | 6:19pm
photo by marc falardeau
photo by marc falardeau
Ooopsie daisy! I just did a silly, on a train. It's the end of the day though, so it must be expected, right? I laughed out loud and giggled. Lots, for about half an hour. I just couldn't keep it in! I was watching an episode of a funny on the iPlayer, and it really made me laugh! I don't even care if I got odd looks, like with my cans of Gin, it's just jealousy! Perhaps I should stick to swiping through the news pages, may be the safer option.

I'm on the festival train today, lots of make up, lots of big bright and bold colours, and wellies. I feel a little plain sat between them. Oh no, a small child has seen my iPad and is now attempting to grab it through the glass screen. No, it's mine, and not suitable for quaver and chocolate fingers! It must be a tool used in the house to keep them occupied. Sorry, but it's still a no. Should I put it in my bag so they can't see it any more? Or should I continue to use it and meanwhile teach them willpower, and my self interest? Am I mean? yes, it's getting worse now, in the form of a scream. iPad in the bag immediately,

If there was a trolley service on here, I'd be most grateful. I could murder a bottle of pop. Thirsty work sitting here, on a busy train, in the heat of bodies. Yuck. I wonder how often the seats of trains are cleaned, or the part people put their heads on? Are they washed daily? Weekly? I need one of those lace chair top covers to put on before I rest my head. Or I guess I could wear one of those shower caps you get in hotels. That would work. Would it be drawing attention to myself? I don't think so, just honking of hygiene.

A bread roll is now being attacked and savaged by the child who was eyeing up my iPad. Is it going to be shredded? Yep. Ah, bless.

I did it by the way, completed my bucket list item, and very glad it's done! I did a triathlon. No training, bar painting my toenails. I was shocked at the size of the event, and how professional it was. If I'd have known it was the biggest in the UK there is no way I would have signed up! I thought I would bottle it, hence me keeping quiet, but on waking up the morning of the event, it was sunny, dry, and still. No excuses. I turned up, registered and hooked my bike up in the designated racks. I set out my running stuff, helmet etc, and went to the pool. Registered and sat waiting, with a very silly hat on. The nerves were unbelievable. I was so scared. What was I doing? I felt so out of place, I had no triathlon gear on, fancy gadgets, or even a drink. Where were the cans of gin and tonic when you needed them the most?

Anyway, the whistle went, and I swam. It was very chaotic. The worst bit was having to count my own lengths! Far too much going on in my little head. After I had done the required lengths, I was relieved to get out, and popped into the cubicle to add cycling clothes, ditch the hat, and run out to get my bike. I put my helmet on, grabbed an energy gel, and ran off to the mounting line. Oooo err.

Once over the line, I hopped on my bike, and peddled off, ripping open the energy gel, and squeezing every drop out. Was a pleasant bike ride, a few big lorries, and the odd rabbit to avoid. I saw some lovely blackberries, but felt it was inappropriate to stop and pick them. I didn't have a container either, so would make a mess in my pockets. I peddled on.

Back to the park, I hopped off the bike before the line, like a good girl, and went to hook my bike back on the rack, and gallop off on the running route. My legs were like jelly. I couldn't see any spare legs going, so attempted a jogging style movement. It hurt. Never has 5km seemed so impossible. The sun was bright, hot, and I doubted I would reach the end. I sang a few songs, out loud. Tried to smile at the marshals trying to encourage us, but struggled. Come on you can do it! No, I can't. It's so hard! But, I eventually got through the finishing line, ripped off my timing chip asbo tag and left the vicinity. Cycling home was agony! Adrenalin that had kept me going, had gone. I got home, and sat in the sun, in disbelief.

The train journey to town was odd, I just sat there, all spaced out! I fit in quite well with a few other commuters who also looked spaced out, but from the previous days festival! Such fun!
Fri 5th Sep, 2014 | 6:19pmmore...
Daniel Belcher

Lets Take A Ride

Posted by: Daniel Belcher, Wed 3rd Sep, 2014 | 12:55pm
Well it's over for another year again and we already cannot wait to 2015. This years headline act a Bingley Music Live certainly sent us away with a memory.

It was a mixture of nostalgia for some and good old electronic magic for others. The Pet Shop Boys, like their Friday headliners Shed Seven made their name and their music in the 80's and 90's - but it still sound pretty impressive in 2014.

The set was big, with a great sound, electro masterly from the keyboard and computers of Chris Lowe along with the distinctive, almost operatic voice off Neil Tennant. The preceding 30 years certainly hasn't reduced the impact or the flamboyancy.

The crowd were teased with a stage wide video screen for the first 2 tracks which only added to the drama - you could see glimpses the duo behind the meshed screen. Then on the opening beats to the third track the screen whooshed up and revealed a blaze of blue lights and Neil Tennant's show stopping black feathered custom. From then on it was hit after hit, Suburbia, Opportunities (let's make lots of money) - it when on and on - booming out with heavy base and cracking top notes, all sharp and electric.

As with Nile Rodgers last year the atmosphere with the fading sunlight and luminous crested moon added to the closing set - the night sky blinded by lights and noise to finish 3 days of musical joy. While the second stage, along festival eateries, bars and tented shops were being silently packed up - everyone one in the place was bouncing in front of the main stage. Only 364 days to go!
Wed 3rd Sep, 2014 | 12:55pmmore...
Charlotte Booth

Bingley Music Live 2014

Posted by: Charlotte Booth, Mon 1st Sep, 2014 | 12:53pm
Saturday's Bingley Music Live crowd waiting for Example
Saturday's Bingley Music Live crowd waiting for Example

Music correspondents Liv and Claire behind the second stage
Music correspondents Liv and Claire behind the second stage
Mon 1st Sep, 2014 | 12:53pmmore...
Charlotte Booth


Posted by: Charlotte Booth, Mon 1st Sep, 2014 | 12:40pm

Mon 1st Sep, 2014 | 12:40pmmore...
Yorkshire Times

The Green Room Bingley Music Live

Posted by: Yorkshire Times, Mon 1st Sep, 2014 | 12:37pm

Mon 1st Sep, 2014 | 12:37pmmore...
Yorkshire Times

Backstage Interview With Gaz Coombes

Posted by: Yorkshire Times, Mon 1st Sep, 2014 | 12:21pm

Here's one of our correspondents Lucy Appleton when we went backstage to speak to Gaz Coombes. Interview to come soon....
Mon 1st Sep, 2014 | 12:21pmmore...
Claire Woof

Bridie Jackson and the Arbour

Posted by: Claire Woof, Mon 1st Sep, 2014 | 12:15pm
Hailing from the North East, Newcastle based four-piece Bridie Jackson and The Arbour are an all female group of folk-influenced musicians. I'd first heard of the group when they performed at the one and only Glastonbury Festival, having beaten over 8,000 contenders to win the 2013 Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition.

Their first appearance at Bingley saw them take to the second stage and showcase their unique sounds. We had a catch up with them after to chat all things folk! Interview coming soon....
Mon 1st Sep, 2014 | 12:15pmmore...
Daniel Belcher

Sort of homecoming for Shed Seven

Posted by: Daniel Belcher, Mon 1st Sep, 2014 | 12:00pm

The opening afternoon to this years Bingley Music Live was greeted with a downpour, but it did not seem to dampen the crowd as the main stage was in full swing by the time headline act Shed Seven took to the stage. To help matters the showers had given way to a clear evening and the atmosphere was set for a heady mix of guitar anthems for the Friday night headliners, which had made the York based band stars in the early 90's with 15 chart hits and 4 successful albums, making them very much a major part of the 'brit pop' scene.

The set consisted of their hits Going for Gold, Getting Better and Chasing Rainbows to name a few - the energy on stage was electric as leader singer Rik Witter pretty much throw himself into the crowd - who responded with cheers and whistles. Alongside was guitarist Paul Banks, who had a cool Noel Gallagher style presence on stage and delivered those raw electric notes.

Shed Seven are known for the hefty songs along with fellow brit poppers Blur and Oasis - and they certainly did not disappoint, their authentic sound and clever sing along voice lyrics punched out into the audience, and it was a fabulous way to end the first night for ever popular festival. The ears are still ringing.
Mon 1st Sep, 2014 | 12:00pmmore...
Luce Smith


Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 28th Aug, 2014 | 9:58am
Potato with Herbs and Balsamic Vinegar photo by Heather Kennedy
Potato with Herbs and Balsamic Vinegar photo by Heather Kennedy
It's been a full on commute for the past few journeys, with some interesting, and odd, people on board. First of all were the masses of passengers who had attended a conference at the first direct arena in Leeds. There were loads of them and I wondered what they had been to see. I didn't have to wait too long, as the majority of them still wore their name badges, which also gave away their conference details: "God's Kingdom". Oh good, nice people then to share the journey with. Kind of. The couple next to me kept telling off the young boys who weren't part of the conference, to stop swearing. Another conferencee (is that an actual word?, nope, but I like it, so it's staying), chipped in, and said "if you don't know you're saying swear words, then there's something very wrong". He then tutted in disgust. The boys sat very still, and said nothing. Gosh, won't put my music on just yet, I may be needed to act as a mediator.....

The same couple next to me then had a big conversation about how hungry they were. Shall I do those potatoes in balsamic vinegar that you love? No thanks, I can't stand them. What? You like them, you eat them all the time when I make them like that. No thanks, I don't fancy them. How about a bit of quiche then, with a baked jacket? We'll see when I get home. Let's just get home. Wife went and sulked. Lucy tried to stop herself laughing out loud. Who needs TV for entertainment, get on ya nearest train!

My next commute took me by surprise, as I sat next to a gentleman with dark glasses, carrying a stick. He started talking and asked me which station it was. We ended up talking for the whole journey. He was a lovely man, who had a very soft Australian accent, despite living over here for nearly 30 years. He shared stories of his family, his love of cathedrals, his folk/country dancing, and his frustration at not being able to play any musical instrument at all! It's so nice to have traditional conversations. No texting, no music, no iplayer films, just good old talking. I was sorry to leave, and knew he had a good few more hours to travel back home to Surrey. It did highlight for me just how unfriendly trains and stations are, for those with hearing, or sight difficulties. Just saying.

Back to a normal commute today though, and it's eerily quiet. Have I missed something? Was there breaking news I have ignored? Have I still got my pyjamas on? Possible answer is that the weekend was extra long, and people exerted themselves doing DIY or ice bucket challenges. If anyone dare challenge me they will find themselves immediately removed from my Facebook page. I am what I call boring.

It's so annoying when people, (especially on ye olde Facebook) post a status saying, I can't believe what's about to happen. Then can't disclose it yet, but hang on.......Sorry, but I am really excited/scared/nervous about something that I cannot reveal! I think I can justify my reasons though on a personal level, and hand on my heart, haven't, and won't be posting such a status in the meantime! My reason is that I am already trying to find ways out of what I am about to do. If I keep it quiet, my theory is, that if I don't do it, then I won't be letting anyone down, and won't be a disappointment. If I do do it, then I will reveal it, with great joy, amazement and happiness! It's a bit of a secret, as only one of my dear friends knows. However, my fear/nerves are stopping me from listening to other commuters or even being bothered to look at them! Breathe.

Oh, we have a cyclist boarding the train. It's great when commuters choose the busiest train, which is already rammed by the final pick up point, to take their bikes onto. I'm not sure who feels more put out, the cyclist for having to disrupt everyone to get their bike in the designated bike slot, or the people, who feel sorry they can't budge to let him get the bike in! You should see their faces if there is a little bit of mud on the tyres. You can see the other standing passengers thinking 'this Gucci number is clean on today, and I have a meeting with the chief exec regarding a new contract. Touch me, and you will regret it'. Such fun!
Thu 28th Aug, 2014 | 9:58ammore...
Luce Smith


Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 21st Aug, 2014 | 6:04pm
Gin & Tonic photo by Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures
Gin & Tonic photo by Jason Tester Guerrilla Futures
I'm sitting in the same seat. In the same carriage. On the same train. Monday to Friday, my train routine barely alters. I say barely to suggest that there are exceptions to my days. Not sure there are but it does sound more hopeful and less ageing!

I'm actually very grateful for the routine today. I took a risk, and had a train journey up to Scotland at the weekend. The ride up to Carlisle was beautiful. I spoke to some lovely people, and saw the most breathtaking scenery whilst the sun went down. The next train from Carlisle to Dumfries, was a different story altogether. I was a little weary by this stage, and debating whether or not it would be acceptable to start on my 2nd can of gin and tonic.

I boarded the train, and boy what an eye opener. I was expecting a quiet journey, and hoped to enjoy watching the colourful sunset. Instead, I was faced with what I can only imagine, is a club 18-30's holiday. It was loud and garish, and to be honest, a little frightening. Is this the Scottish version of a booze cruise? Is this the tanked up train, or a private party I have gate crashed? Carlisle is obviously a better night out than their home towns, as I doubted this was a one off, as the conductor/ticket staff didn't bat an eyelid.

I decided to keep my gin in my bag, and was very glad to get off at the 3rd stop! Scots rail isn't for the faint hearted!

The quiet train this morning is very welcome, and a lovely easy way to start the week. I wonder if any of the commuters are flexible when it comes to seating arrangements? I shall make it my duty to observe and feedback.

Everyone likes a bit of value for money, and the commute back yesterday certainly gave that. What was supposed to be a 45 minute train journey home, turned into a 2hr and 10min journey. I should be grateful for being able to enjoy the experience for longer, but I'm not. It meant cancelling an appointment I had, and also meant I had to sit cross legged for the whole time. And it meant double the trains too, as the one I originally caught was delayed more than one on another platform, so we were instructed to run to platform 5. On arrival to platform 5, the train was clearly rammed, and the conductors were saying no more were allowed to board. This didn't deter me, I kept going up the platform, and slid into a carriage. I then had to use my balancing and resistance skills to remain upright and dignified, as the train left the station.

At the first station stop, we hit another problem, the train went past the station platform and sat by the scrapyard for 10mins. The conductor attempted a passenger announcement, but sadly failed due to the system not working. He also told us that the signalling had failed, so we had just gone through red lights. That filled me with such confidence for the rest of I my trip home. Which took forever, and ended with the train having to wait outside the final destination station due to there not being any platforms available.

It gave me an opportunity to chat to the few commuters that were with me. Luckily, most had a sense of humour and weren't that annoyed that the journey home had taken twice as long as it should have done. More annoyingly, Northern Rail (other leading train transport companies are available), posted delays and updates on their Twitter pages but not on their web app. I must write to them and share that frustrating fact.
The issues the train company experienced, were of signalling and electric problems in Shipley, followed by a broken down train in Bingley. At least it was still daylight when I got home ........

Almost home, "can I check tickets and passes please?" Sure, the train's almost empty, the fare dodgers got off earlier and I am just settling nicely into my book, which has reached a very dramatic time. My heart rate rises. What if I miss the eastenders dum dum dum bit of my book, all to show a guy my wonderful smiley train pass pic? I think I took a deep breath and tutted out loud. Sorry. Totally uncalled for and disrespectful of me. How very dare I? So I let him view my pic for longer, so that it feels worth it from my point of view. Don't think he appreciated it, but I did also try to mirror the look I am wearing on my photo. Then got the giggles.

I wonder what it's like to be a grown up, or if I could match the expectations that go with the title. Maybe I will have a day in the life of, next week and see how far off I am. Such fun!
Thu 21st Aug, 2014 | 6:04pmmore...
Luce Smith

Someone Is Humming

Posted by: Luce Smith, Fri 15th Aug, 2014 | 8:02pm
photo by Sigfrid Lundberg
photo by Sigfrid Lundberg
Someone is humming. Not a song, just humming. It's an odd hum too, almost like a nervous hum. An 'oh gosh this is so very dull, how can I create attention' hum. It works. I fire both my eyes at him, in what can only look like an evil glare. If my eyes could speak, I would undoubtedly get clobbered! Perhaps he can sense my softer side and I will be able to get off this train in one piece and still alive. I very much hope so.

I ran to my train. Not because it was about to leave, but because I had to go and powder my nose. Like a Lady. I walked through the carriages to the one where the bikes can be stored, buggys can be left, and toilets are located. To my disappointment, the red light was on the door, which means it's in use, right? No no no my friend. Today is what I call my lucky day. The red light is actually reading 'not in use'.

Not in use? How is that helpful? I now don't have time to go back onto the station to use the ladies toilets. I am stuck. Guided here under false pretensions that I would be able to enjoy the rest of my journey. Or the rest of my Vimto drink. I now have to sit very still, music pumping in my ears as a distraction, and attempt to sleep, so that I will soon arrive at my destination. I can then take a detour via a leading supermarket, and use their wonderful toilets. I might even have a shop around and purchase an exotic item, in celebration of my new found freedom and comfort.
If I make it.

Young love. So beautiful to see. Young couple who have had an afternoon shop, arrive on the train with a maccy d's. It smells heavenly, but after she eats the chicken nuggets, a loud burp follows. My respect for the couple departs, and I now find them annoying! Public shows of affection on a busy commuter train are refreshing, but I am soon reminded of the business passengers. A gentleman (no, make that a guy), is on his phone, discussing the terms of the current contract. He isn't shy. The call ends and he loudly says words which must mean he isn't very happy! I look over in disgust, and think he may apologise for swearing in front of a lady. Me. But he doesn't. He just puts his hand through his balding hair and shakes his head.

My attention returns to the young couple. They are now discussing a recent text, and what the response should be. The signs reading 'keep your feet off the seats' are ignored, and wet feet put up. Nice, for the next passenger.

The business man next to me has got his iPad out of the briefcase and is working on his report. I'm being kind. He's actually playing some weird candy crush game. It must have been a long day at the office.

I am saddened to notice that a passenger has cuts on their arms and at the top of their chest. It changes things. It makes me wonder what it is that has meant they can't communicate, or why they can't be heard. I only hope that it was in the past, and that the scars are just a reminder of how strong they are or what they've been through to be how they are today.

I can't dwell on it though, I've just been kicked by a passenger opposite me, and pushed aside by a wet umbrella as someone got off. Yuk. I shall take a deep breath, and wonder what the guy in the seat by me is going to have for his dinner. All I can see is a tin of pedigree chum, a bag of spinach, and some tagliatelle. Hope it's not date night!
Fri 15th Aug, 2014 | 8:02pmmore...
Luce Smith

Road rage

Posted by: Luce Smith, Fri 8th Aug, 2014 | 9:28am
photo by oatsy40
photo by oatsy40
It's a day of feeling smug. Whilst everyone is sipping on their lattes and eating fine croissants on the train, I am having a lovely pear and celery juice. Get in! I win on the healthy pre-breakfast start. Which would work, if there was actually an audience to show off to. There isn't, because it's the wonderful season of school holidays!

I call it Sod's law. The one time I am not eating rubbish or drinking a gin and tonic out of the can (yes, it happens), no one is here to witness my unusual healthy start.

However, there are perks to the school holidays I have found. The swimming pool is almost abandoned. Which means I get to swim in the very slow lane, without being splashed by the faster lane swimmers! It also means, that if the slow lane has an almost non-mover in it, I can switch into the middle lane without causing a huge disruption or inconvenience to other swimmers. Pool politics are very important when lane swimming, and those who go, will know what I'm talking about!

It also means that the trains at this early time are much quieter, and more relaxed. So much so that I have nodded off twice this week! There is also potential for it to happen today too, but I will try and hold off......

I managed to get through the ticket barrier at both ends of my journey, with an invalid pass earlier on the week. Not intentional, I completely wasn't thinking of my rail pass, and as I wasn't reminded at the barrier that my ticket was out of date, it didn't occur to me! As soon as I did, I was straight to the ticket office to renew my monthly pass. I don't want a criminal rail record now do I? The months don't seem to be a long time any more, and I do not like seeing 'Sept' written on the pass, it's like the days are galloping by!

The only good thing about seeing Sept written is that it's a lovely reminder that my weeks holiday isn't far away!

Not convinced I can get away with painting my nails on the journey. As I haven't brought any nail varnish remover with me, and the tracks aren't straight or smooth, I might look a bit silly. I feel I need to add a bit of colour to the morning tho' as there is definitely an autumnal feel about today.

I get to collect my hire car after work this evening to head onto the motorway and join the car commuters. I don't have masses of road patience, and find that if stuck in traffic, sit still, and scream as loud as you can, for as long as you can. Bet you end up laughing at yourself, and at worst, creating a bit of a smile to other people also stuck in the traffic!

So if you hear someone screaming whilst driving down the M1 this evening, don't panic, it's just a road rage coping mechanism, that has been tested and works. I dare you to try it, but would recommend you make sure your window is tightly shut! Go on.......
Fri 8th Aug, 2014 | 9:28ammore...
Luce Smith

Smile and Nails

Posted by: Luce Smith, Fri 1st Aug, 2014 | 7:59pm
photo by Nic Senior
photo by Nic Senior
On my walk to the station, about once a week, maybe once a fortnight, I walk past a guy. He is quite slim, walks at a good pace, and always with his head down. We normally walk past each other at the same point of the walk. I always do my usual silly smile, and say hi. It's normally quite early in the day, so I'm aware a lot of people aren't at their best just yet. I got a slight nod of the head in response. This happened for a few weeks. Then something changed, and it took me by surprise. Walking past him in the usual spot, he looked over at me, and smiled. It was the most amazing smile! His whole face lights up, and these lovely dimples appear on his cheeks. I was buzzing for the rest of my walk, as he had appeared so sinister before. That smile must melt a few hearts am sure! Since then, I have had that amazing smile every time, without fail, and it makes my day! I wonder if he is aware of the impact of that simple, non verbal smile? He should be on an advert for something, it would sell regardless what it was! I saw him this morning, which prompted me to share his smile with you. So, if you see people looking lonely, or sad offer a smile, and you never know what you might find!

On the train this morning, is a young girl who has just got a job as a telephone admin worker at a bank. She deals with queries on ISA accounts, but hasn't the authority to action anything. She is enjoying her job, but it's an early start, she has to get the train at 7:45am. Last night she put that new colour of nail varnish on her nails, and it's gone on really well. She may wear it out tomorrow night, adding a top coat to it before she goes. Her last call last night at work was so annoying. He didn't get that she could only send him a form to complete if he wanted to access some of his ISA. She couldn't do it there and then, it wasn't their policy. He kept saying it was his money, and if he wanted to move it, he would. She said she was on the phone for over 15 minutes, and was glad when the call ended. I am glad too, as I know all this from being in earshot of her talking on the phone! It fills me with great confidence that the staff at banks, where people are trusting and give them their wages etc., are sensitive about people's financial situations, and that all calls are treated with the highest confidentiality. It has put me off ringing my own bank now as I don't want my queries, or requests to be on the 17.36 service to Doncaster. I shall glare at her next time, but I might only get scratched by her new nails......

Now le Tour is over, I wonder when all the promotional material will be removed? What's the next big event, Christmas? The big run up normally starts earlier every year so it seems, August might be the next month to target! Jingle bells....

All is calm on today's commute, school holidays have meant more seats on the outward journey, but the return is normally full of families, and tourists. It's quiet, and almost lifeless. Are people deep on thought, or still asleep? Speaking of which, I think I will just have a 5 minute nap. Wake me up when I start dribbling, or twitching, I don't want to be on you tube just yet!
Fri 1st Aug, 2014 | 7:59pmmore...
Luce Smith

Birds Are Singing

Posted by: Luce Smith, Fri 25th Jul, 2014 | 12:01pm
Birds in the sky photo by Susanne Nilsson
Birds in the sky photo by Susanne Nilsson
I can hear birds singing. Not the tweet tweet song, it's more beautiful than that. Is it a twill? A trill? Who knows, not me, but it sounds heavenly. I can hear them, then I can see them. They're cheeky little chaps aren't they, making such beautiful sounds, yet playing hide and seek at the same time. I wonder if they can hear one another, and so try to sing in time? Or as a choir? Perhaps they are deaf and can't even hear themselves sing, which would be a real shame. I wonder if they wonder why the leaves don't sing? Or the trees? Perhaps they do if you're a bird.

I see them flying into the bushes, then high up into the clear blue sky. I see them flying solo, and also in teams. I say teams, but maybe they aren't aware of the other birds, so just see it as flying alone. Maybe they race one another, who can get to the telegraph pole first. The prize being?......being able to poo on the innocent bystander underneath. Which is nice. Going back to the relaxing sound of the birds though, it really does make you grateful for the sense of hearing.

The clouds look remarkable. Some are just there, in the sky, with no real shape to speak of. Some have magnificent edges, and seem to be formed by an artist. Carefully drawn to leave you staring up at it, losing yourself in the clouds. The fields have been cut, and you can almost smell the delicious aroma of freshly cut grass. I take a deep breath in and close my eyes. I recall doing forward rolls down the playing fields when the grass had just been cut, at primary school. Ending up looking like a scarecrow! That brings a smile to my face!

I see people walking their dogs along the back streets, some strolling, whilst others speed by like the world's about to end. I see the cars beginning to fill up the roads on their journey into the city. I see the mess coming out of exhausts, and feel grateful I can't smell it. I can feel the heat of the sun through the window, and close my eyes again. It's all very peaceful and calm. I can feel myself breathing. Inhale. Exhale.

I don't hear any conversations and open my eyes to look out of the window again. I can smell nicotine. A passenger has just sat down next to me, after getting on at the last station. My breathing quickens as I try to get rid of the horrible smell. I try to focus back on the clouds, and regain the sense of peace and tranquillity. The moment has gone. The train has now filled up as the final station stop is reached. There is a sense of unease, and I find myself fidgeting about in my seat. I should be grateful for my seat in fairness, as many are left standing. I'm not though, I want to get out, and run in the fields.

The commute has been quite pleasant this morning though. No music down my ears, no talking, and no listening. I haven't been focusing on people, but on the surroundings. I am like the mindful Queen now, and just hope that the rest of my day continues in a similar way. However, I am quite aware that it won't, and that I should enjoy the moments I have just had, and keep them safe.

The mind is a funny old thing isn't it? It can be trained. Even on a northern rail train. Perhaps a Metro too, who knows. I shall test it out again. I wonder if my mindful commute can be felt by other commuters? Am I oozing with mindfulness? Am I glowing with the mindful allure?

Yikes! Such pressure, and it's not even 8am! I need coffee. I think I am still half asleep. 'Til next time............
Fri 25th Jul, 2014 | 12:01pmmore...
Luce Smith


Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 24th Jul, 2014 | 5:15pm
Magenta by (3)
Magenta by (3)
Have never seen anyone asleep en-route to the destination before! I couldn't stop staring! Then almost giggled out loud. Would someone wake him to alert him of the fact that the train was going no further, and that if he stayed on, it would take him to Bradford? Luckily, he stirred, and did the casual "I wasn't asleep, I was just shutting my eyes" look. It didn't work, he was clearly in a deep sleep. I feel I ought to ask him if he is burning the candle at both ends. He was in his mid 50's so may well be trying to do the youthful thing of watching films until the early hours, then jumping out of bed and running to the station without a coffee. Fatal mistake.

I will keep an eye out for him in future. He wasn't wearing a wedding ring so may need a gentle talking to. I feel I could play that part. Not the wife part obviously, as we haven't even met! But I feel a duty to help a fellow commuter with his life. He could be having a delayed MLC (mid life crisis) or even a second MLC. It happens.

In this heat, commuter conversations are somewhat lacking. I mean, the smiles are there, at a push, but the chance of talking? Impossible. It's like the heat creates an invisible zip to the mouth. Perhaps they are scared that due to being hot, sweaty, and cooped up in a small train, they don't trust they can say nice things to anyone, so feel it's safer to keep quiet. I don't think it's a bad thing really, as I have been observing body language, and facial expressions which has kept me amused for almost 9 minutes.

There's the classic 'I'm pretending to be engrossed in my book' look, but really, he is glancing at his watch and keeps looking out of the window. Maybe he isn't interested in the book, or perhaps he has read a word and doesn't understand it? Maybe he is quietly reaching out for some support with his reading skills but is too shy to put his hand up and ask for help.

Then there's the girl who is just staring at the window. At first, I thought she was looking out at the beautiful views of Yorkshire, then I discovered that she was looking at her reflection, and checking her appearance. Silly me.

I wonder how many people are on this train, without a phone in their hand or lap. I would say about 30%. I would say the majority of people now have super duper smart phones, but I do still see the occasional brick. Good on them!

One lady in front of me has the most annoying cough. I mean really annoying. I like to think of myself as a reasonably tolerant person, but when it comes to the commuter cough, I struggle to keep my cool. Cough. I want to stare at her. Cough cough. I want to ask her if she wants a drink (I don't have one, but someone on this train must want a quiet ride home?!). Cough. Ok, it's now getting a bit much. Cough cough. Dear God, please cure this lady's cough, or make her want to get off at the next stop, regardless if it's her stop or not. She needs to get better. Amen.

Or is God testing my patience levels? Dear God, please make me more tolerant of this lady's poor health, but also, please make her leave immediately, Amen. Cough. I can't do this much longer. It's a tickle cough, and I am getting agitated. Cough cough. I can feel a spark of rage in me, and fear for what words might come out of my mouth. Cough. I need music therapy, so put my music on and hope to drown out the cough with loud dance tunes. It works, and I am now mad at myself for being so cruel, am sure she doesn't want to cough either......

Next stop. The cough gets off! Woohoo! I see some relieved faces, and pretend that it hasn't bothered me one bit. I am a Saint.

Thank you God, but please make sure she uses another form of transport tomorrow.
Thu 24th Jul, 2014 | 5:15pmmore...
Luce Smith

Friday night

Posted by: Luce Smith, Sat 19th Jul, 2014 | 11:35am
photo by Tejvan Pettinger
photo by Tejvan Pettinger
That was close. I am not a big fan of the fast walk/skipping jumpy run to catch a train, but it's Friday, so it's important. The idea of looking at all fetching at the end of the week ran out on Tuesday. I just had to get the 17:26. Which I did, along with half of Leeds so it seems! I'm not alone in being out of breath though, so that's always reassuring, I can smile at fellow 'I've just run 200 yards to catch this train' people and appreciate the area that I manage to bag. I even manage to get a handle to hold onto, which is definitely a bonus. I hate swaying around and having to trust my own balancing skills to stay upright, as one day, I will be the laughing stock! Actually in all honesty it wouldn't happen as you are so squashed in you have no choice but to stand upright. The only problem with that, being that if you have an itchy knee, it becomes rather difficult to do anything about it. Bending over, whilst being stood up with no room to move a centimetre, is not an option. Ever.

However, there area people who do try to do things whilst in this almost static position. Such as go to get a mobile phone out of their trouser pocket. Or try to have a conversation on a phone, which obviously isn't private. I have so far this evening, heard that Adam needs to put the oven on at half past, otherwise it won't be ready when the film's on. I also know that the girl next to me is meeting friends at the pub at 7:30pm so if he doesn't pick her up from the train station, then he might as well forget going with her, and he can go on his own. I think I rolled my eyes at this point. Hopefully, the smile I think that automatically appeared on my face, wasn't noticed. I didn't get slapped anyway, or spoken to in a rude way.

I get to sit down after 17 minutes, which is nice. I look around the carriage. One lady on her phone is actually trying to have a quiet conversation. Maybe she doesn't even want to talk to the person at the other end, I think she's secretly hoping that the train will go through a tunnel making her lose signal. Sorry, been through the tunnel now, but perhaps she could drop her phone? That would work wouldn't it?

The lady opposite me has already made me smile. She must work for herbalife, as she is wearing a massive badge saying 'lose weight now'. Rude. I wish I had a Kingsize Mars bar to eat in front of her, licking my lips and enjoying every naughty moment of the fat and calories that herbalifer's can only dream about. Or melt it down into a liquid, and slowly sip throughout the week. Must pack one next week just in case I see the badged lady again. That makes me smile, I think I get a bit more evil by the end of the week, and less forgiving. I can't bear to listen to small talk, so plug in my earphones.

It makes the commute more bearable, and your thoughts can drift away. Until a small child lands next to you with her young mother. The eye roll thing happens again. Is this journey set to test my patience or what?! I take a deep breathe, and exhale. I repeat it. I can do this. What harm can be done? So I spend the rest of my commute with my face in my book. Yes, an actual book, with paper pages that I have to turn once I have got to the bottom of the right hand page. Terribly traditional I know, but I like to stick with old fashioned things occasionally.

By the time I reach my destination, I feel ready to embrace the walking position, and stride off the train for my plod home. I wonder if the poor bugger managed to pick up his girlfriend from the station? I would not like to be on the wrong side of her if he hasn't!
Sat 19th Jul, 2014 | 11:35ammore...
Luce Smith

Commute Commeet?

Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 17th Jul, 2014 | 5:38pm
Sardines by Andrew Malone
Sardines by Andrew Malone
It's a very warm evening, and the train is rammed. There are windows on the train of course, but these take a magician to open. Or a designated member of the train crew, who won't be seen for a few minutes until the carriages allow movement!

So we all sit like sardines in a tin. Silly phrase really as do sardines actually sit? I would have thought that they are lying in a tin? But in fact the tin is really a coffin, so then they are dying in a tin? Which makes the whole thing sound like a very sad affair, so I shall move on quickly......

There are lots of workers in this carriage, mostly looking like they have had a tough day in the office. No one looks around to suggest they would like a conversation, so the train appears to be quiet. However, there is a rather loud conversation in the seats behind me, about the contract of a staff member and the awful picture on their staff id badge. 'You look like Lindsey Lohan, but don't be offended. No one looks good on the pictures'. The conversation then moves to when their next hair appointment is and what the hairdresser did last time. Then to the friend who has just got engaged, after sleeping with the managing director on her first job after uni. He's really nice though, despite him flashing his cash around.


The guy opposite me is reading on his Kindle, not looking amused.

The train gradually lowers in passenger numbers, and people can now afford to breathe. I'm wondering if this is a good time to crack open my can of gin & tonic? Will people look and stare, and think bad of me? Or will they be thinking what a good idea it is and wish they were me? The latter of course.

The guy on the side seat is staring out of the window. Deep in thought about life and how he can create an app to result in world peace. The best inventions were created in normal life situations. I should congratulate him now before he becomes rich and famous and can afford a car. Or helicopter. He is probably not thinking in reality, but it's much more fun trying to work out what could be going on in his head!

The lady opposite me is in sleep mode, but keeps flicking her head up like she is trying to fight the sleep! Or trying not to snore. I am waiting for sleep talking to happen, as that would be most entertaining, and definitely one for YouTube!

The next station stop is......mine! Finally the end of the rails time. Which means I must pack up and prepare to move my legs again. Not sure what you turn into after being stuck in a tin, so I shall brush my hair, apply lip balm, and give it my best.
Thu 17th Jul, 2014 | 5:38pmmore...
Luce Smith

From a "Tour Maker" - Le Grand De-party

Posted by: Luce Smith, Tue 8th Jul, 2014 | 10:27am

The Tour de Yorkshire is over! Wowsers!

Of course, it was an eventful day in so many ways.

I woke up, and the rain was hammering on the window. Really? It will clear at 8am, so the radio presenter said. I got up, and packed my bag, including a spare set of clothes (my Mum trained me well!).

I decided to make an effort, and to shock most people, i did my hair and put on a splash of makeup. Not sure why, but just roll with me on this one. I walked down to the pool, and was signposted to Aireville school. I signed in, and waited with a small group of off-routers. It was good to talk to them, and of their reasons for volunteering. One said he went to all the formula 1 events, so thought he would give this a go, and join his sister in being a tour maker.

We met our supervisor, and our location was about to be revealed. I took a deep breath. I have an umbrella, and food & drink, it will be fine. 'We've got....Skipton High St!'

I was not expecting that! Looking at the map of the icons of where we were to stand, it appeared to be very close to the route, so not sure what the on-route volunteers are doing!

We walked into town, via the pool, to collect a bottle of water, and a cereal bar, courtesy of Asda. We looked at the spectator hub by the canal basin, which looked very bare at 7am. Then to the High Street, and I was amazed to see that people were at the bottom corner, already in their fold-up chairs. Almost 5.5hrs to go until the riders go past. Dedicated cyclists!

We walked up the High Street, and into the Town Hall car park, where the alternative spectator hub was. The screen was already up, and a few stalls. The rain had stopped, and apart from a cool breeze, it was an ok day.

All my team went to find their designated spots, and then decided a quick brew was in order. By 8am, town was filling up slowly. It was a good atmosphere. It was soon time for things to start happening, and police and other support vehicles began coming through. People were outside the pub just up from where I was standing, beers already in their hands. I had thoughts on this, but smiled anyway, and decided not to offer any help. Against the grain of a HOST, but they were pretty much ok!

I was introduced to a little boy by his mother, who was telling him that if he lost Mummy, to come and find me, and I'd help reunite them. I was asked where the toilet was a million times, and also asked when the barriers would be coming down. I smiled and said a cheery good morning to passers by, which was returned by a smile and hello. Wonderful.

The caravan came along, or the sponsor vehicles. I was then hurried off to another location, where there was some trouble, and we were needed for extra support. Yikes! Off we trot......

Turned out to be sorted out. By the Police!

Back to my spot, and then to the crossing, as they closed off the crossing points. I chatted to the policeman, who wanted to buy my green tour maker jacket off me, for £1. I looked at him, and said it was definitely worth £2? He agreed, and said we'd exchange at the end of my shift. Brilliant!

I saw Ian White, the tv presenter, checking out his hair and tie, up at the Town Hall balcony. He didn't ask me for an interview, which I thought was rude.

After the madness of the freebie throwing, we had the commentary of where the peloton were. People were now on the High Street, and not needing any help. I had a text from my cousin in New Zealand saying the race was coming through Addingham, and where was I standing! I did a big wave as the race came through, and hoped my cousin could see me. She texted later saying she couldn't see me as there were too many people! Yes, there were a few....

People got very cross when they couldn't cross the road. A worker from a popular supermarket in town got quite irate, which I thought was funny - how long has she known about this?!!

We were allowed to leave, and check out off duty by text. I went round the hubs with a few from my team, and we chatted about our experience.
The hubs were busy, especially by the canal basin.

It was amazing to see so many people turn out for a specialised event, Cycling isn't everyone's cup of tea, but that didn't matter.

Seeing it on the tv that night was mental. People lined the route from Leeds to Harrogate. In their hundreds/thousands. The sun came out, of course, and by 5 o'clock, was cracking the flags. I just needed to sit down!

Only two incidents on the day, a lady fell through a roof and a boy got minor injuries from a sponsor car.

I shall add this event to my cv, and be proud to have been a very very small part of it. So sad that Cavendish was injured, it kind of puts a dampner on the day. Bless him, he must be devastated, never mind in heaps of pain.

So, I shall sign out, and remove myself from being the eyes and ears of the event. It was a lot of fun, I met heaps of people, and thoroughly enjoyed having a laugh!

I guess now for the rest of the week, we shall hear about the cost of this event on the councils, and the accidents, bike thefts, and increasing numbers joining cycling clubs. I shall just get on my bike, and peddle off, into the sunset.........

No autograph, no memorabilia, not even a photo of Beckham in Greggs (did that actually happen?) Time to get back into a normal way of life for us Yorkshire people. Wonder what the topic of conversation will be tomorrow morning on the commute to Leeds? I might stand up and give a presentation. That will make the journey go faster!

Such fun!
Tue 8th Jul, 2014 | 10:27ammore...
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