0:00
Loading
Date
Twitter Facebook Linked In RSS Follow Me on Pinterest
YorkPick Location

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

Luce Smith

Stars

NEXT STOP
Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 15th Dec, 2014 | 8:44am
photo by Kim MyoungSung
photo by Kim MyoungSung
The Romans probably didn't have chocolate did they? I wonder how chocolate advent calendars started. Did Cadbury start them? Hang on, let me google.......,wow, first advent chocolate calendar was 1958! Not sure if I thought it would be earlier than that or not.

So door 6 says people were ordered to go home to be counted. Like sheep? Not sure what method was used for this project, and I don't have inside knowledge. Did they sit in deck chairs at the end of a street and tick off a sheet when they saw someone? Or did they post a form for each resident to complete with an SAE? No, obviously a postal service like that wouldn't have been in operation. Perhaps Angel Gabriel got a group of her friends together, and they flew about and marked on the map how many people were in the area. Counted as seen?

Perhaps the job was contracted out to the shepherds, who were used to this counting malarkey. They would use dogs to round up people in each area and make notes. Whichever they did, if they did, it happened. The chocolate sadly got eaten before I looked at the image on it. Am guessing it was a calculator.

Mary and Joseph had to travel with everyone else to their hometown to be counted in door 7. Makes them sound like commuting snobs! What way did everyone else travel, I mean was a donkey ride seen as high class? The others had to make do with a wheelbarrow? Their own two feet?

A couple sat behind me this morning, and were definite commuting snobs. They made it clear by their behaviour and attitude. When one went to the toilet, the next thing you heard was, "who's put a bicycle in the toilet! Get it out immediately. What did you put it in there for?" I didn't hear the response, but the majority of us in the carriage looked around, then down, and smiled. Someone's in trouble! It was a busy train, and maybe the bike needed to spend a penny?

Door 8 says everyone was grumpy as no one wanted to go to their hometown. Why, were they on holiday? The chocolate (I looked this time, before I scoffed it), had a picture of sunshine. The door also says Mary was tired, and the donkey too. Mary was tired? She was sitting on a donkey! Poor Joseph had walked miles in the heat, and the poor donkey, had been trotting along to go and be counted. What had Mary got to be tired about? Had she thought about anyone else? I think she was being a little selfish really. Did she even offer to swap places with Joseph?

Door 10 and 11 go together. Three wise men saw a star. The star shone bright. On seeing this star, they saddled up the camels and followed it as it was going to show them to their new king.

I'm looking up at the stars now, and wondering what they are telling me. I think one is suggesting I buy some mulled wine. Another is saying, hold on tight, it's gonna be a cold night tonight but don't worry, I'll shine on you all the way home. I don't have a camel to saddle up, or a donkey. I will use my own two feet. I may pop in for some mulled wine though, thank you star.

I'm not into stars, I much prefer cloud gazing. You can play around with a cloud much better than a star, can't you. Did the Romans have better stars than the ones we get now? The big bright star that they were referring to, what happened to it I wonder. Did it end up being a shooting star and leaving town? Did it explode like a firework? Did it do what caterpillars do, shed its bright shiny skin but turn into a bog standard star? These are all questions I would like answers to please.

Maybe the next couple of doors will reveal the stars glory........
Mon 15th Dec, 2014 | 8:44ammore...
Yorkshire Times

On The 12th Day Of Christmas - The Colonel And His Elf

THE COLONEL'S JOURNAL
Posted by: Yorkshire Times, Fri 12th Dec, 2014 | 5:24pm
Fri 12th Dec, 2014 | 5:24pmmore...
Luce Smith

Roman Couture

NEXT STOP
Posted by: Luce Smith, Tue 9th Dec, 2014 | 7:58pm
Legionaries photo by Hans Splinter
Legionaries photo by Hans Splinter
The people hated being ruled by the Romans. So as a punishment, my day 3 chocolate was the imprint of the Romans headwear. I ate it all the same, still tasted delicious! I wonder if these Roman people would have preferred a busy commute, to the clip clop of horses hooves. I would quite fancy talking to a Roman instead of a business-suited chap, just for a change. He wouldn't sit there staring at his smart phone or reading his Kindle, he'd be more likely to want to talk to his fellow citizens and convert them. I would be a challenge he may not like to take on!

He may well like to take these three lovely ladies though. They have spent the day mooching around York Christmas markets. It wasn't as good as last year apparently. And all they bought between them, was a jumper that Margaret bought, from M&S! (There are other jumper shops around of course, and indeed ladies' clothes shops too, all down the High St of your selected town/city). She'd seen it in the store in her local town, but didn't buy it as she wasn't sure the colour would go with her new skirt. When she saw it again, she had to have it,and there was a 30% discount today..

... A Roman could approach her and suggest that his type of headgear would really make that jumper look amazeballs. Or that in Roman times, a jumper like that would make a wonderful blanket for a small child, or goat. The ladies had fun anyway, but were ready to get home, kick their heels off, and enjoy some cheese and crackers. It had been quite a walk around the market stalls, even if they were of poor quality.

I hope they will also remove all make-up plastered on in the morning, and cleanse and moisturise. I think they will, they looked like they cared about their appearance, what did Roman folk moisturise with, butter? Donkey poo face mask? Nothing about it in my advent calendar so far.......I'll skip to door number 4.

Wham. Angel Gabriel coming atcha!! Now, I don't know about you, but I don't see many angels on my commute. I don't actually know what an angel is. Let me use Wikipedia......

I see. It's a supernatural being. Well in that case, I see one in the mirror don't I?! Were the Mario brothers Angels then? They were fairly supernatural whizzing around in Marioland I seem to remember from my handheld electronic gaming days. Anyway, this 'ere Angel, visited Mary, (am guessing whilst still perched on the very uncomfortable, and slow donkey), and door 4, says it changed everything. I'll bet it did, how many angels had Mary seen until that point? Do we know? Does it tell us anywhere, or are we to assume that Gabriel was Mary's first?

Perhaps door 5 will enlighten us with the surprise. Maybe she (I'm assuming Gabriel is a lady angel right? Or are they unisex? Just asking......) is going to find out that Joseph is actually a secret millionaire and will actually be taking her to live with him in one of his 8 castles, and she will have someone at her side at every minute of her day, taking care of her every need, and will issue an American Express card so that she never need go without. Or that Joseph is actually wearing a suit, and underneath, is the Roman David Beckham?

It's neither of those. Door number 5, is another delicious chocolate, with a fine imprint of an Angel's halo. I wondered where mine had gone....

So Gabriel told Mary she was going to have a baby. "Really?" Mary replied, "I didn't think I had eaten that many pies this month, and did wonder why this bump was appearing". Even the donkey had groaned whilst she had been helped on by Joseph. "Well" she said, "I wasn't looking forward to traipsing all the way to Paris for this new IVF treatment my friend told me about, although, I was thinking of going for a bum lift whilst I was there. Never mind, I could go when baby is at nursery".

Angel Gabriel told Mary that her baby would be called Jesus. "Even better" Mary cried out, "Joseph and I were having so many arguments about what to call the new baby, this will solve everything if it comes out with a name label."

Now, this week, my work has taken me to antenatal clinics and baby clinics. I bet the ladies there would love to have their baby named on entrance to the world, saves someone having to cave in and say, yes dear, angelinageorginapatriciaemma smith is a wonderful name, what a good idea.

Rock on Gabriel, anymore good news? Yes. He's going to be the promised King.

I look around me on the train. Is there anyone suspiciously King looking? No. Imagine being at a king's first birthday. How's baby James? He's doing so well, he's growing faster than most children his age, and his maths is superb! Yes, baby Katy is reading like a 4yr old, and she's not even 1 yet. Ah, well my baby Jesus is doing great, he still can't spell, or tell me when he needs poo poo, but he's going to be a great King. The thought of it is too tiring. This door opening on a morning is exhausting work! If I was a Roman, I could probably allow myself a siesta right? Oh good, then I shall rest before the adventures of door 6 and beyond take place!
Tue 9th Dec, 2014 | 7:58pmmore...
Luce Smith

Excitement...

NEXT STOP
Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 4th Dec, 2014 | 10:42am
photo by William Hook
photo by William Hook
I go to bed, very excited, and almost wanting it to be Monday morning already. You may think that sounds a little peculiar. Two days off, consecutively, otherwise known as the weekend, about to draw to a close. What could possibly be the reason to wish the weekend away? Quite simply, I have a childless house, a mum who still thinks I'm a kid, and a chocolate advent calendar waiting to be opened. Door number one has been located, and I am ready to attack the cardboard!

I try to sleep, but can't. The joys of living alone, no one can see me creep downstairs (don't want the neighbours to hear), and tear the cardboard door open. I feel very naughty.

I open it up, and eat the chocolate. Mum's splashed out as it's a bigger piece than last year, I'm sure. However, I look behind where the chocolate was, and wait to see what image is displayed.

I'm disappointed. Nothing, no snowman, no wise man, no robin, and no sprig of holly. Gutted. I used to like having a pictorial version of the calendar, as well as the edible version! No wait, was there an imprint on the chocolate I failed to see? Did I eat the image before gazing at it? In my haste and chocolate frenzy, have I made a schoolgirl error?

I shall have to wait now until tomorrow morning now. What will I do if there is an image on the chocolate, I shall be gutted I missed the introductory piece! Will I be able to understand the story missing the first part of it? If it is an image-less piece of chocolate, then that will be ok, I haven't lost out.

6.5 hours to go until the alarm goes.

Oh dear, one really must attempt to grow up.

One day.

But not now, I go downstairs and put the kettle on. I find door number 2. (Who am I kidding, I found door 2 as soon as door 1 was open). I think it's from my show-jumping days, when whilst leaping over a fence, you are looking at the next fence. The horse was leaping, not me of course, although to be honest, I did leap on one occasion. I'm digressing.

I look at the chocolate before devouring it. I feel sad. There's a sprig of holly looking at me. Bum. Ok. So what came before the holly. Autumn? So maybe chocolate number one displayed a leaf? To set the scene! Gutted! Even more gutted that I'm actually gutted! It's an advent calendar for goodness sake! And a chocolate one at that admittedly, as the year mum got me one that only had glitter pictures, was a year she learnt that only chocolate ones would be allowed! Or else it was a threat to the mother/daughter relationship. Fact.

So, in my 30's, with a calendar, and ready to tell the nativity tale, (courtesy of a delightful cocoa solid). Day 1. This is the story of baby Jesus. He wasn't an ordinary baby. No, his mum got pregnant, discovered it too late, and quickly got Joseph to make an honest woman of her. Phew! All this whilst riding a donkey, couldn't have been an easy thing! Am guessing she had a skirt on, no helmet, possible no false eyelashes, and definitely no way to contact her Facebook friends to update her status!

Day 2. More than 2000 yrs ago, people were sad the country was ruled by Romans. And a sprig of holly. Were Romans spiky with red berries? My history knowledge is embarrassingly poor. To the extent, that all I know about Romans, is that they liked showing off their torsos, and they built straight roads. Or was that a fishwives tale? Advent is a time of learning, as well as increasing my sweet tooth at 6 am, so December will be a history lesson for me this year. As it will for you, as I won't be selfish, I will share my knowledge with you. But not my chocolate. Unless you ask nicely.

What will happen on day 3? Will there be a sword fight? A family meal? Or a shopping trip for Black Friday? I will end it now, before I digress. Again!
Thu 4th Dec, 2014 | 10:42ammore...
Luce Smith

Relax?

NEXT STOP
Posted by: Luce Smith, Fri 14th Nov, 2014 | 8:58am
photo by ralmonline alm
photo by ralmonline alm
Someone is stamping their feet on the train, and I'm not sure how long I can last without opening my mouth and allowing words gush out. It's such an annoying sound. The rest of the train is quiet and peaceful, it's the end of the working day, people are reflecting on their day at work. And engaging in relaxing.

I can't even think straight.

I may have to turn around and make it obvious I'm annoyed.

If anyone could see me now, they would think I was constipated . I am,verbally.

Please Mr leg stomper, stop stomping, before I am forced to allow the words to escape.

Thank goodness I am aware of my public appearance.

Must keep mouth shut.

This isn't funny.

I now have a commuter directly opposite me speaking loudly on her mobile. I've already glared. I'd like to say it was unintentional, but it wasn't. Just that sense, and manners weren't quick enough, so my initial reaction was allowed to go forth. I need to be monitored on these annoying journeys, am hearing about a personal situation. Regarding a father, his care, and his, and family concerns. Isn't there an element of privacy regarding matters like these, or do I need to get with the times?

I take a deep breath, and attempt a look at the phone scenario with what I'm hoping, is a face of inappropriateness in subject of conversation. Clearly isn't subtle enough as the conversation continues......

The cleaner had hoovered and things had moved. The cardio nurse, did I tell you about that? No, I don't want to hear! His blood pressure is falling, and the chair got fixed. There should be ground rules of train talk topics. I do not feel comfortable hearing this. He sounded quite cheery though, and hopefully he will relax this evening. That's it, the stomping of feet continues behind, as the talk of physios and other health care provisions are discussed. These two should be in their own carriage, labelled 'annoying people only'. I, of course, will be in the one labelled 'tired, short fused, and not afraid of speaking your mind' carriage. Which will also have a punching bag, and a minibar facility. Good way to relax after a day at work, and excellent to have the opportunity to release any tensions before going home and sitting down to the family table for dinner. I might email northern rail and put my suggestions forward to be included in the next board meeting. Maybe Virgin trains will want to suggest I put my idea to Sir Richard.

The phone call has ended. Would it be wrong to thank her for not sharing further details of her dad's medical condition or issues? Poor chap. Like he wants the whole of the busy commuter carriage to hear all about it!

The stomping has also stopped.

My face is now slowly getting back to the relaxed shape, and my verbal constipation urge has gone.

Wow, that was a tsunami of annoying things all at once in a short space of time and In a crowded place.

I am so glad I live in the countryside and can enjoy some deep breathing and singing out loud, out of tune. Sorry sheep, but at least I know more words than baa baa. I think they stamp their feet too don't they? In that case, I shall sing with the volume pumped right up!
Fri 14th Nov, 2014 | 8:58ammore...
Luce Smith

Last day of October commute

NEXT STOP
Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 3rd Nov, 2014 | 10:38am
British Legion poppy photo by Paul Simpson
British Legion poppy photo by Paul Simpson
Which bit to tell you about first?! It's been an eventful commuting week. Possibly due to half term, possibly to do with lighter mornings and darker evenings. Possibly due to a lack of motivation. Whichever, it's been quite a week. I shall share a little.....

Last night's commute was later than normal, due to a training session I attended after work. All was ok, sat down attempting to listen to my music, but Apple decided it was time for an update, so had to sit in silence. The train PA system kept saying we were at the station ahead of the one it was actually at, which was quite funny to watch, but not funny if it was an unfamiliar route for you! I overheard a guy order his taxi ASAP as he thought he was at his station. He wasn't. I would have liked to have heard that conversation. The conductor thought it was funny, and after a day of collecting ticket fares and answering mundane questions, I bet it was funny!

I am even more grateful for being the last station stop. Again.

Halfway on my commute, about 6 college girls got on, in fancy dress for a party for Halloween. They were tipsy, and loud, but quite entertaining I thought. They kept shushing each other and some hadn't been on a train before! They kept apologising loudly for their noise. I just said it was good to see people having fun. It did make me chuckle when all 6 went to the one toilet at the same time, luckily, the toilet cubicle is accommodating in size, did look a sight though.

A guy who had definitely been on the beer, was struggling to stay upright by the door, and was humming away to himself. Annoyingly.

Midweek, I got a train to go and meet a friend 'for us teas'. What an experience that was. The train was absolutely choc-a. I could only get standing room, but wasn't bad as I just had 3 stations to pass before my exit.

At each station, it was a bit of a game of human solitaire. You move there, and you get out. You move there, and then you can move up. One poor lady though, couldn't get through the crowd of people standing in the aisles, and by the time she reached our crowd by the door, the train beeped, shut its doors, and set off. I felt for her as she was very pregnant, so it can't have been a good experience for her. She rang someone and was being picked up from the next station. Which luckily wasn't far away. I was glad to be by the door so I could make a quick exit myself as missing the stop would just be wrong!

It's lovely to see so any people wearing poppies already this year. I found mine from last year, but then felt guilty as I haven't donated any money to them this year. So I went to find a poppy box, and put some money in. I don't feel such a cheat now!

Please don't laugh at this next bit, but I put paperwork in my iPad case, so it keeps flat and readable. One commute home, I got out my iPad, and sat happily away lost in some piano music by a chap called Yiruma, it's so relaxing. Two days later, whilst opening the post at work, I discovered an envelope addressed to me. Strange, was handwritten, and I didn't recognise the handwriting. I opened it up, and in it was........paperwork from my iPad case! It was a confidential document, and I felt very stupid for being a blonde (I can say that, I am one), but my strongest feelings were that of gratitude. So kind of someone to do that, make the effort to pick it up, Google the address to return it to, and post it. They left no message, so I have no idea who this kind and thoughtful person is, which is frustrating, as I would like to thank them personally.

If you're reading this, whoever you are, thank you very very much. I am most grateful.

So you see, it's not all doom and gloom despite what you read on the headlines. The train PA system is saying I am nearly at my destination, but after last night's technological and geographical error, I am actively looking out of the window to double check. Oh wow, look at those socks! On checking the train's geographical location a commuter's socks caught my eye. They look like a Rubic's cube! I look at him and smile. I wonder if he put them on this morning, knowing how much his socks would entertain me. Maybe I will be the first of many today who will note his sock status, perhaps it's his signature style. I must look out for him next week! Such fun!
Mon 3rd Nov, 2014 | 10:38ammore...
Luce Smith

Cancelled

NEXT STOP
Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 27th Oct, 2014 | 8:56am

I've been beaten! And I am, what I call, 'welgel'. My fellow commuter is drinking a can of gin and tonic. Others are looking at him with their faces suggesting disapproving behaviour is occurring. I however, am looking at him, and wondering how I can see if there are more supplies in his bag and if I have enough money in my purse to buy one from him! Well, it's Friday, and it has been a crazy week. I don't make any moves, but I am drooling, which is most ladylike I know.

Down in one, I want to shake his hand. He can join me on the Team Gin band wagon. Although, if I was going to be bold, and be judgemental, I would suggest that it isn't his first of the day, and it's only just gone 6pm. I would also suggest he has issues, he's playing candy crush for goodness sake! So that brings him down a few pegs in my estimations and I lose interest in him.

Does that make me fickle? Oh well, fickle I shall be.

Oh wow, this is a first on my commuting, but possibly now I've seen it once, it will probably be something I notice a lot from now on. I'm not a pervert, but the young lad sat opposite me with his girlfriend has a lovely pair of slate grey jeans on. He is relaxed and busy checking his phone. He must be feeling a draft though as his flies are undone! I know, very immature of me to comment, and even more immature of me to be giggling away to myself, but there you have it. A fickle giggling blogger is all I can achieve right now. It's been a long week!

Yesterday's commute wasn't too clever. I had to be in town for my early shift, and must have been dawdling on my walk to the station as panic kicked in, and I had to do a small gallop. I didn't miss the train though,but was rather warm for a few station stops!

Long day, and returned to the station for my train home. I looked at the board, cancelled. My train was cancelled. No one else's, just mine. Why? Train staff not turned up? Leaves on the line? Engine won't start? No one to ask, so I had to queue to speak with the nice ticket lady. Who told me that the next one wasn't likely to run either as there had been an incident on the track. A fatality. My anger swiftly diffused into empathy. Ok, so that changes things somewhat. I can go and get a drink whilst I wait. Like Billy no mates.......

I wondered where it had happened, what the situation had been, who was involved. I wondered if it had been intentional, or an accident. Who was being left behind to pick up the pieces? So very sad. Tough times.

PlanB, ring Boyf and suggest I gate crash his evening. He only lives a short train journey away. I tell him on the phone, that he's not my first choice of destination, but he is my second. I explained what was going on and asked if he minded. The response I got? "No love, that's fine, you know where the iron lives, and the pile of ironing is on the bench". "Oh, and if you want to start on making tea"......yes dear, after I have stopped at a local supermarket for some supplies, which yes, include cans of gin!"

So my day ends with a shorter commute, and a well deserved gin. I think about the rail incident, and feel a wave of sadness and emotion. Could it have been avoided? Or did that person feel it was the best way forward, and now they would be at peace? Who knows, what's done is done though.

My fellow gin drinker has got off. I wonder if that's normal practice from him? Is he a regular 'don't care what you think, I'm doing it anyway' kind of guy? Maybe. I shall look out for him next time!
Mon 27th Oct, 2014 | 8:56ammore...
Luce Smith

Watery commuting

NEXT STOP
Posted by: Luce Smith, Wed 22nd Oct, 2014 | 8:30am
Pride of Hull photo by Roel Hemkes
Pride of Hull photo by Roel Hemkes
I did a super-duper commute, but this time, not on rail tracks! I did an overnight commute which I think I deserve a medal for. I mean, it meant going to Hull for a start. Next, it meant queuing in a big long queue, to show my lovely passport. Then, it meant climbing on-board a big Boat.

It was obviously a Ferry, and a P&O one at that (although I am told that there are other varieties to choose from). What an adventure!

The cabin was possibly just that, a cabin. Like anyone sleeps in one of those? I haven't slept in a bunk bed since my boarding school days, when I was young, flexible, and had no fear. I remember jumping up to the top bunk in my school days, but with the ceiling so low, this wouldn't be possible without knocking myself out! Which, in my giddy mood, may not have been a bad thing for my fellow cabin mate......

Time to check out the boat and its fine facilities. There was a shop, and a bar, and a restaurant. Another bar and a coffee shop. A casino and another bar. Looks like I will be forced to indulge in some alcohol then! Stepping out onto the outside deck, was not as refreshing and wild as I was hoping. It's obviously a long time since my last trip on a ferry, before the smoking ban of 2007 that's for sure. I stepped out and felt like I was in fact, stepping into a smoking room. I wasn't going to let it stop me enjoying being out in the fresh air though.

I needed a Titanic Movie moment (obviously not the end part of the film, or indeed the real Titanic, just the iconic Kate Winslet and Leonardo bit. Sadly they weren't around, but hey, I can dream. I even stopped myself from belting out the Celine Dion number at the top of my voice. Sorry, lots of name dropping, but I want you to be with me on this one....

It was a lot of fun for us, travelling as a family of 8, and we didn't have too much trouble from those using the journey as a booze cruise. Hope they don't want to take any money back with them though, as it wasn't cheap!

Only a few people tripped over the small step into the toilets, and only a few people kept to their normal portion sizes on the buffet meals. Funny! There should be a course titled 'people watching' to study at College.

Back to the rail commute for me now though, which is kind of a relief. At least I know how deep the track is, and that I can't get drunk on here (no sneaky cans of gin as yet this week.....). It also means that there are staff around who keep an eye on things, and, maybe the most important thing, is that I am saved from the 'on board' entertainment duo!

Entertainment definitely doesn't mean skilled. Or in tune. Or even pleasant on the eye! No wonder the bar sales are so high, "maybe they sound better after a few beers", or "if we drink enough, they'll fade into the background". To be honest, and I've never played it before, but when they called out that Bingo was up next, I was delighted!

I was ready to ring Simon Cowell and tell him he was missing a treat here....his new duo that would make him millions. Sorry, rude. It can't be easy singing in front of a crowd of drunk people, (and I won't say young, the youth of today isn't wholly to blame), or in front of an older generation who are trying to relive their youth, but struggling with the settings on their hearing aids. I did feel for the younger kids though, because if you were over toddler age, and awake, the only activity available was running along the dance floor and then sliding along on your knees. Which got a bit boring after 5 minutes if I'm honest.....

Back on the train. I actually made a mental effort to look at all the people sat in my particular carriage this morning. It was quite amusing, and I did let out a bit of a giggle. With volume, and with possible suggestions of insanity not being too far away from me? Such fun!
Wed 22nd Oct, 2014 | 8:30ammore...
Luce Smith

Special commute

NEXT STOP
Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 6th Oct, 2014 | 9:28am
Never drink this beer, original photo by Andy Fitzsimon
Never drink this beer, original photo by Andy Fitzsimon
Ash hasn't got his visa. There's a hold up. He has some English money, so he should just be ok. Everyone's gone home but he likes it there. He misses his bath but he has a shower. Has someone took the dogs out? Yes I know they should give him some money but they ain't like that are they. That's great you don't have to go back for another 6 months, it makes it easier don't it? But you still have to go back'n see the GP about your knee if starts to hurts you again. You will go won't you? Oh it's our Melissa ringing, hang on.....

I'm commuting, but on a whole new level, and on a whole new train! It has plug sockets, and a table, like the posh London train. Only it's not the London train. It's a local train to a coastal destination. Sounds scenic doesn't it, and I won't spoil it by sharing the actual destination as it will spoil the read. I somehow feel out of place drinking my can of gin on this coach of the train. I should have gone for a Red Stripe lager, or Special Brew (which bizarrely auto spells as special few, which describes the passengers very well indeed!) I'm being mean, it's been a long day. Apologies.

The girl sharing my table, is doing her homework. She has written on plain paper, childcare apprentice, level 2. Oh I see, she's choosing her next course. She's also writing her GCSEs down too. On the science section, she writes chemistry and biology. What happened to physics? I love a bit of kinetic energy! Next is hairdressing. Silly word really, who dresses hair? It should be called 'Hair-arranging in a way you will never be able to create once you get home'. It's true. They show you the back and sides with a mirror, and you go wow, is that really my hair? What did you do? How can I do that? First of all Lucy, you need to look in the mirror and brush your hair. Oh bum. That's me out then, it's a rare occasion I do either!

I have stopped being nosey now and just listening to others talking.....it's dull if I'm honest and I think it's time to iPlayer some real entertainment. Someone in the seat behind me is doing that annoying cinema trick. Making lots and lots of noise with a crinkly packet of crisps. No wait, I hear snoring! Who is braving that commute tactic on a Friday night? I look round, but see no one asleep. I look round again, still no one.

I may have to make it obvious and get up on my feet to look. I want to give them credit for being quite a loud snorer! I'm going to suggest it's a bloke snoring, there's that hint of masculinity in it as the snorer inhales. Dare I ask who it is, am sure these guys will point me to the culprit. But I don't want to disturb him, I mean, I have only just boarded the train, and this might be the better alternative to what they have had to endure prior to the sleep. Ok, agreed, I will pretend I haven't noticed.

Should I check I'm on the right train, I don't see any station stop signs and that's worrying. What's equally worrying is that I am a little sleepy and my stop isn't the last one this time. I would be stupid to put a sign on me saying 'wake me at...' As I wouldn't trust these people! This isn't the Dales anymore, where we call a sheep a sheep.

Where did the word sheep come from I wonder, and how does sheep turn into mutton? I mean, you see pig, you eat pork, you see cow, you eat beef. Fair play, i get it, it joins the rest of the farm to fork tradition. But why don't you eat pig? Is it so you don't feel cruel? Perhaps if you ate cow and ale pie it wouldn't be as popular? You eat fish n chips though. Maybe it's an out of water thing. I may go to Greggs tomorrow (there are other High St bakeries) and ask for a roast hen sandwich with a pig roll, may as well have a large tea as well please. I wonder what they would serve me? It may be that I am shown the door. Ok, I get it, am outta here!
Mon 6th Oct, 2014 | 9:28ammore...
Luce Smith

He Is Smiling

NEXT STOP
Posted by: Luce Smith, Fri 3rd Oct, 2014 | 3:55pm
Smiley refraction photo by lemsipmatt
Smiley refraction photo by lemsipmatt
He is smiling. A big massive smile, and it's lasting minutes!

I want to ask him what's made him smile, then I wonder if my hair's sticking out, or if he has seen someone he finds funny. I want to turn around and do a 360 in case I am also missing out on a smiling opportunity!

I don't though, I behave, and sit still. He's still smiling though. He's not even reading anything, or got ear phones in, or got his phone out.

Perhaps he's had a promotion at work. Or been told the awful apprentice is leaving. Perhaps he gave a presentation today and it's won a new contract, meaning heaps of money for him.

Maybe he won one over on his colleague and it's in fact a smug smile, that's scarily lingering.

He may have a toddler at home, and can't wait to get there to spend time pulling silly faces and singing along to the new mobile toy his mum bought.

He may have forgotten to switch off the smile of course, the one he's had to wear all day, with people he cannot condone, and talks he hated giving.

Should I ask him how his day has been? What harm would it do?

It's actually refreshing to see a smiler, despite him looking a bit peculiar now. Others around look very serious, if not too serious. All focussing on their hand held gadgets, whether it's a phone, kindle, or old school handheld game!

It truly feels like a Monday morning, only it's not, it's early evening, and, it's getting dark. But that doesn't mean no time for smiling.

I wonder if I can get one person to smile, by smiling at them, then they can pass on that smile to the next grumpy person. It will be a smile chain. I started it, and wonder where it will end?

Ok, I didn't start it, smiling guy did, but he's now off the train, so I own it now. Who shall I choose? The cyclist? The lady in a mack, looking like she came out of a scene from Miss Marple?

Perhaps I could try the guy next to me who is so stuck in his book, I think I would have to do something a bit dramatic to get his attention. Like pinch his book, and say he can have it back if he smiles at me. The thought of that alone has me giggling!

I'm going for the cyclist. Noooooooo, the book reader gets up to leave, so I smile hard, and...................he returns the smile! Pass it on, quickly!!

Oh gosh, what just happened? I think this commuting lark is slightly twisting my brain.

Should I just be normal and read whilst on the train? Not sure if I can control my eyes to focus on one thing only when there's so much going on. Uh oh. No more from me on this one, I clearly need to have words with myself!
Fri 3rd Oct, 2014 | 3:55pmmore...
Luce Smith

Tea, Morecambe And Doors

NEXT STOP
Posted by: Luce Smith, Fri 26th Sep, 2014 | 11:05am
photo by Neil Turner
photo by Neil Turner
2 days, 3 commutes. No loyalty cards or national rail train miles collected. I feel hard done to, and will not like the increasing fee come January. I shall at least expect a cup of tea each morning, even if it is in a plastic cup.

The commute back to Leeds was somewhat entertaining. Listening to a group of lads discussing their trip to Australia in January. A groups of girls are just wanting to get hammered and carrying cans of Carlsberg. A couple are talking about the latest groupon offers, and that if he didn't have some food, they wouldn't be going to the comedy night as he needed a steak. Here here!I guess you could call me nosey, or an eavesdropper, but I like to call it sharing information. To those less fortunate than me, who have to drive to their place of work, or those who just live a few metres away, or even work from home, you're missing out! I am just giving you a taste of what goes on in the land of commuting.

I did my early shift, which went quite quickly, despite it being my normal sleeping hours, of 1-7am. I left and mooched around Leeds to try and keep awake. The outdoor market really is incredible. Where can you get a polystyrene cup of tea for 45p? Or go large and pay 60p. Love it.

I finally boarded the Morecambe train in order to get to Lancaster to meet my Uncle for lunch. I asked the kind ticket staff to please kick me off at Lancaster, as I had a fear of nodding off. They said they would. The journey was lovely even if I kept waking up as my head dropped, tiredness caught up with me and I decided that the first port of call would be to dive into some coffee beans! I did, had a lovely afternoon, and managed to stay awake and enjoy the return journey.

The early train is do-able, if I attempt a small gallop. I'm not in heels either, which is a definite bonus. At the platform, I have time to spare, but there are dozens of people waiting by the train. What's going on? A man appears, in a uniform, with a walkie talkie. He fiddles with a knob on the outside of the train, and one of the double doors open. There is a sense of relief in the crowd. We all look up at the clock, then back at the train. The lights are on in the carriages and the train is manned. Let's board.

The same man opens the same door, and fiddles. Only one of the double doors is opening. He fiddles again. The same thing happens. More fiddling occurs, and the crowd are getting restless, looking up at the clock, their own watches, and then the train.

Another man in a similar uniform stops by, and they both fiddle. Then the head shaking begins and people are asking questions. I look at my own watch. The other train leaves in 5 min, should I switch platforms to get a train that has opening doors? He gets onto his walkie talkie and a minute or two later, a man in a bright orange jacket appears. This is technical. I make the decision to hop onto a fully functional train, and see that others are in my line of thinking.

Two minutes before this train leaves, I watch the orange jacket man fix the train, the decreased number of passengers waiting board, and it sets off almost 15 minutes later than scheduled, but still earlier than the one I was sat on. I'm not annoyed, I'm practising being a patient commuter. Still a long way to go though!
Fri 26th Sep, 2014 | 11:05ammore...
Luce Smith

Upmarket

NEXT STOP
Posted by: Luce Smith, Wed 24th Sep, 2014 | 12:03pm
photo by Simon Pielow
photo by Simon Pielow
I struggled to get out of bed, but still arrived in time for the mega commute of all commutes. Ok, so I didn't just happen to make it, it meant a quick gallop down the road, and again down on to the station. I arrived with 1 minute and 27 seconds to spare. I boarded the posh train. No automatic doors sadly, but an arm workout to get it open! Which coach to sit on? Not first class, I won't be paying more for this luxury. Quiet coach? Not sure I trust myself to fall into this category. If I sit by another passenger, temptation to be vocal will happen. Or, if I listen to my music, the urge to sing will appear, and I don't often fight it off. Better keep walking.

Coach D, always a safe bet. I take a seat, with a table, and room for 3 others to join me if they wish. Which they will. I can plug my charger in too, wish I had known that, could have saved a few pennies on my energy bill at home! Will know for next time.

The free newspaper isn't any more upmarket than that on the regular train, it's not even got a hard cover. It's the same. Oh well, will read it later but will note to write to train company and suggest they at least have a different front cover so that others know I have travelled on a superior train.

I enjoy the ride, and it's a smoother journey. Weird, as surely the train uses the same tracks? Or does it have Mr Sheen at the front of each train? Will ask. I don't get any visitors, as it only stops at two stations, so not a great deal of opportunity to mingle, which is a shame. We don't even arrive at a superior platform to that of my normal train. They must know who I am. Saying that, no one can tell I have travelled upper class, I was hoping for a wrist band at least. I swoosh into the city with a swagger. It's just another day at the office, but I did travel in style, even if it did still stop at Keighley.

My return journey wasn't so much fun. I had to use a train with automatic doors. I didn't have the option of sitting in a quiet coach. I had to sit without a table. I even had visitors, all 5 of them. Which is fine, but the one I got next to me, was a cyclist, in lycra, from top to ......knee. He had a head of wavy locks, slightly grey, and sunglasses. For protection I think, as there was definitely no sun today, unless he had cycled from foreign lands of warmer climates. He decided that as a cyclist, he had earned more than one seat, so he boldly took a bit of my seat space too. He didn't ask, but I think he knew from looking at me that I also have the cycling allure, so knew he had picked a good seat. I tried not to glare to show my disgust. I did take a deep breath though, and regret immediately. This guy was a proper cyclist, as in he had been peddling, and working up an underarm aroma. It wasn't pleasant and I don't think there is likely to be an 'eau de bicycle' scent coming out for Christmas. I decided to get through the journey the best I could, which meant leaning on the window, and having a nap. On waking, the cyclist had gone, but didn't leave me a note. Oh well, I will have to hope his next commuter will be so kind and share their seat with him too like I did.

90 minutes to go and I shall be commuting again. I wonder if there is a name for someone addicted to commuting? I could be the first cummutitarian? There may be a whole load of us in England, or internationally. I need to get onto this right away. I may have a commutiforum waiting. Or A Gin.
Wed 24th Sep, 2014 | 12:03pmmore...
Olivia Bell

Behind The Scenes At Bingley Music Live

BINGLEY LIVE 2014
Posted by: Olivia Bell, Wed 24th Sep, 2014 | 11:00am
Wed 24th Sep, 2014 | 11:00ammore...
Olivia Bell

Bingley Music Live With Avec Sans

BINGLEY LIVE 2014
Posted by: Olivia Bell, Wed 24th Sep, 2014 | 10:59am
Wed 24th Sep, 2014 | 10:59ammore...
Yorkshire Times

Gaz Coombes Talks To The Yorkshire Times

BINGLEY LIVE 2014
Posted by: Yorkshire Times, Wed 24th Sep, 2014 | 10:56am
Wed 24th Sep, 2014 | 10:56ammore...
Olivia Bell

Bridie Jackson And The Arbour

BINGLEY LIVE 2014
Posted by: Olivia Bell, Wed 24th Sep, 2014 | 10:52am
Wed 24th Sep, 2014 | 10:52ammore...
Olivia Bell

The Yorkshire Times Interviews John Lennon Mccullagh

BINGLEY LIVE 2014
Posted by: Olivia Bell, Wed 24th Sep, 2014 | 10:46am
Wed 24th Sep, 2014 | 10:46ammore...
Luce Smith

End of the summer

NEXT STOP
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

NEXT STOP
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

Triathlon

NEXT STOP
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...
Yorkshire Times AdvertisingYorkshire Times Charity of the Year 2014