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Luce Smith

Platforms

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Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 26th Jan, 2015 | 9:23am
photo by Matt Buck
photo by Matt Buck
Why is he coming in on this platform? I wonder if he's been told to by the other driver, that'd be right.

Well, I don't see why we have to come in on 8, that's just typical, I mean for goodness sakes mate, why can't we come in on 6 like we always do?

That's right, send us along to 8 and right down at the other end of the station. I don't believe it. So now we've got to go all the way along, up and round to get to the other east coast platform.

I tell you, it's like the train has done a naughty! I try not to stare, but not sure if I cover it up as well as I ought. It's not like I'm on a classic train journey, it's the normal commuter train. Ok, so it's the London luxury but still, I class that as 'the norm' now that I'm a, what I call, posh commuter. I couldn't possibly travel on something with no leg room, or somewhere to plug in my phone to charge it up. Actually, today was a first as a ticket collector came round to inspect everybody's right to travel on this train. I showed mine, and didn't get a rude response as I had last time. I haven't seen the drinks trolley come round for a few weeks, I wonder if I'm not sitting in the right carriage, perhaps they only go a carriage a station, in which case I need to sit much nearer the buffet car. Silly name for it hey, it's not like a car in any shape or form is it? Where did it get its name? I know, back in the day, when trains didn't have any catering facility, they used to get to a place on the tracks, where they'd stop the train. A car would drive up to the train, and would pass the buffet onto the carriage where the buffet food was sold. Hence the buffet car being named.

I'd laugh if I was right!

So this couple who also travel on this London luxury, were obviously slightly disappointed to see that we were not only a few minutes behind schedule, but also slowly pulling up to the wrong platform. I wonder if they'll contact the company and ask for compensation? For the huge inconvenience caused? I'd love to have to reply to a letter like that. I'd take it proper seriously and perhaps reply to suggest that, to make these types of situations slightly easier to deal with, that they travel on a few different trains to and from Leeds, so that they can fully familiarise themselves with the station as a whole. That way, they wouldn't be deterred should the London luxury pull in on a different platform, as they will be able to navigate their way to the next platform of choice. Perfect.

What's worse, was coming home, I got the commute everyone likes to get, only I got lucky, and got a seat. Lucky, until I got a fellow commuter wedged in next to me. With, is there a nice way of putting it? Yes, there must be, hang on. Ok, with a rancid infused aroma spilling over every time she opened her mouth, which happened a lot when her friend sat opposite her and they got chatting. I know I sound like a right old mean cow and feel terrible for speaking so negatively of someone, but it was awful. Still, it did make me more determined to give up the commute, to grow up, and buy my first car. Well, I may not grow up as such, but will be brave and enter the world of car ownership!

After the bump last week, I still feel a Freelander is necessary, but well aware of the chuffing high tax and maintenance costs. Such decisions to have to make, I had no idea looking for a car would be such hard work! I'd find one I liked, then watch a review on WhatCar, be totally put off, and search again! First thing I learnt, set yourself a realistic budget, and prepare to barter!

Would I miss the commute? I think I would, but not as much as I would back in the day. When people sat down and had a conversation. When people knew how to socialise and greet people. When people had a long journey ahead, no technological gadgets to play with, and only the faces next to them to have to potentially make the journey fly by! I would have been a great train passenger in those days. Hate being with so many people yet not having a conversation. Such an opportunity to learn about different lifestyles, communities and cultures. Driving in a car on my own just means I get to sing out loud, and not have to always have my waterproofs in the bottom of my bag, just in case.

There will of course, be times when I question why that car moved into that lane, and didn't use indicators. I might actually raise my voice in places, depending on whether it's a woman driver or not......... Why have they done that? I now have to navigate around the ring road and back up.....yikes!
Mon 26th Jan, 2015 | 9:23ammore...
Luce Smith

Boom

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Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 22nd Jan, 2015 | 8:53am
M6 Sunset photo by Henry Burrows
M6 Sunset photo by Henry Burrows
Driiiiiiiiving along in my automobile......
Dum dum. Dum dum dum, de dum
My baby beside me at the wheel.....
Dum dum du dum
Cruising and ....... BOOM!

Blood stained Dave decided to get up close and personal in his big wagon, without telling me.

Let me start from the beginning.
Picked up my hire car on Friday afternoon, to begin the journey down to Devon, where I visit my Grandad. They kindly upgraded my hire car to a bigger car, better engine. Thanks!
Picked up my travelling companion, and hit the road. We went via a garage to test drive a car I had seen, but more about that later.

The hire car was lovely. Powerful, not too sensitive, and knew how to handle the road. Radio on, snow on the windscreen, and away down the M1 we went.

The weather soon improved and the sun was shining. Which was nice. I was cruising along in the slow lane, after getting frustrated with middle lane hoggers. Why do they do that? Insist on cruising along in the middle lane when the slow lane is empty. Is it a status thing? Is it a code of road conduct only car owners know about, but one I shall learn in time?

A lorry/wagon, actually, is there a difference between a lorry and a wagon, or is it just which word you were brought up to say? Or is one used in one context....bear with, I shall Google....

How boring, it says they're interchangeable. Lorry, wagon, truck, no particular difference to write about. If I was Google, I would want to make something much more adventurous up, such as, 'wagon, a large drive-able vehicle which can be used for a variety of purposes such as transporting WAG's to see their footballing hubbys/partners, (which brings me to ask, what's the difference between having a boyfriend and having a partner?, I'm digressing.....). 'A lorry is the abbreviated name given to a lorrysaurusauto.......' See?

So this big vehicle is in the middle lane sliding up next to me. I see it, and think he should really be in the slow lane. Silly though in hindsight, as he must have over thought me, as he then pulled into my lane.

The next bit is a bit blurry, although I do recall asking in a loud and raised voice, what does he think he's doing? It honestly felt like we were suddenly, after the initial smash, connected by a mismatch of metal, and cruising along. He finally let go of me, and we both slipped onto the hard shoulder. Where I have to ask, where did that term come from, hard shoulder? Why isn't it dumping lane, or emergency lane? Or, 'oh knickers, my tyre's flat I need to ring a man to rescue me' lane? I will enquire, but shall finish the journey story first.

I stopped the car, and got out, shaking like a leaf. Really shaking, but still got a pen and paper out of my bag. The driver of the vehicle jumped down from his cabin. He was wearing white overalls, which were horribly blood stained. He got his bag and pulled out some papers. I looked at the side of the vehicle, and discovered the reason for his blood stained attire. He worked for a butcher/abattoir. Big gulp. Am I his next victim? Yikes! His name was Dave. It's not, I changed it for data protection and security, but let's call him Dave. He admitted it was his fault, and gave me details of his employer, registration plate etc. I was still shaking, but now wondering if the contents of his vehicle were dead or alive, or in between. Will go veggie this weekend and celebrate the legumes.... He told me to watch out when getting back on the motorway as it wasn't easy. Great, I can hardly wait!

I gave him my details, and hopped back into the car. To get back onto the motorway meant going along the hard shoulder right to the next junction, as they were doing work on it. My kind passenger had to ask a man in a yellow hat, if we could pass by, moving the gates across the way. He chatted to his walkie talkie and agreed. Slowly we went along, smiled sweetly at the yellow hat wearers, and eventually made it to the junction to the service station. I pulled up, switched off the engine, and rang the hire company. All good, and I decided to get back onto the road before I questioned it. The rest, so they say, is history. We made it to Devon, and I enjoyed a weekend of warmth, seaside, and swimming.

More importantly, was the test commute by car this morning. I set off, it was -3 degrees. Time was spent defrosting the car, but it was good to not have to walk to the station! It took the same time to drive to work, as the train takes. And was door to door, with the opportunity, which I took, to have tunes pumping, and me singing out loud. Brilliant.

Returning the car was good and bad. It had been badly damaged, paint and body work to the back driver side door. There were numerous forms to complete, but I was able to walk free from my nice car, and my adventure with blood stained Dave.

Sitting on here on the big blue-ish train
Dum dum de dum, dum dum de dum
Wondering whether or not to buy a car and risk accidents or keep commuting.

Poor blood stained Dave, hope he made it to his destination without wiping out more innocent hire cars! Boom!
Thu 22nd Jan, 2015 | 8:53ammore...
Luce Smith

Car Searching

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Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 15th Jan, 2015 | 9:48am
For sale!!! photo by Vetatur Fumare
For sale!!! photo by Vetatur Fumare
Ouch! I have just shown my season rail card to the lovely conductor.
It's valid and up to date.
The response was not expected, you normally get a 'Ta'.....
Today, I got, 'well you don't look very happy on there now do you?'

I smile and put my pass back in my bag, in the designated pocket.

Happy? Indeed, and if you care to view the windows open on my mini iPad, you will see that the mad car search is active! Last week's adventures on the tracks have definitely pushed me to keep searching auto trader. Although it's not easy.

There are so many cars! But, I have narrowed it down somewhat.
Can't be red
Can't be a Skoda (yes, I know they're VW but until the badge on the car says that, I can't shift my brand image ideas just yet, sorry)
Must be no older than 5yrs old
Must have done under 35000 miles
Must be in my budget, which will not stretch. Unless I see the old classic Saab convertible then, and only then, might I reconsider my finances!
It must have 5 doors, and I would like a CD player. Then, I can bring all my CDs out of storage, and into the boot. Fantastic. I shall also store my secret collection of shoes which I keep hiding in various places around the house. Otherwise, you get 'have you been buying shoes? Again? How many pairs do you need?'

So a car will serve many purposes.

I was impressed with the trains yesterday, as I walked to the station looking like a snowman. Would trains be running, or does snow on the line stop traffic? All on time and running smoothly.

Bless, he hasn't eaten today. Only two small cereals, and a banana. Oh yes, he forgot about the muffin he had as he left the house. He'll pick up a takeaway on his way home. Man talk going on over there, and I got bored listening to the remainder of the conversation as it was about films and TV programmes. Can't contribute or comment on either as I am rubbish with films, and don't have a TV, so on with my music......

I had to stand up! But I did it like a commuting pro. I edged my way down the carriage when they told me there wasn't any room. Says who?!! I like a challenge, which is just as well as the conductor came through after 5 minutes! I tried to get out of his way, but it wasn't easy! I asked those on the 6 seater if they would mind if I sat in their knees, they thought it was funny. I wasn't kidding. I edged my way in to allow the guy to pass.
It's ok, I refrained from sitting on knees! I behaved and stood all the way to the first station, where a seat then became vacant, so of course, I jumped in :)

I didn't recognise anyone, because this was the delayed train I wasn't expecting to get. For once the train delays worked in my favour!

So far this week, my commuting has worked out fine. However, I have booked a test drive tomorrow, so that will be fun. Never test driven before, are there some key phrases I am meant to use? Because so far, I can only think of the one spoken in Pretty Women, which is hardly a WhatCar review film! Not sure how appropriate it is for me to come out whilst chugging around the car park saying "this baby corners like it's on rails!"

I will behave and take a guy with me, in case they spy the blonde hair and think they have themselves an easy target. No chance, they will probably wish, by the time I leave, that they had put 'sold' on the car I am going to look at!
Thu 15th Jan, 2015 | 9:48ammore...
Luce Smith

Dark Friday

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Posted by: Luce Smith, Mon 12th Jan, 2015 | 8:51am
photo by ume-y
photo by ume-y
True. The train has stopped. Lights off.

This is a test.

Car 5 - train 1

First week back and I have gone from ring a commuter, to booking a test drive, more times than I would like as an already indecisive person.

On the Friday night train home. It approached the first station stop. The lights go out. Shortly after, the train stops. It's not funny. Pitch black and you can see scary faces lit up from the likes of an iPad or mobile. It's ok, I am wearing a smile. It's gale force out there. Definitely not ideal as I am what I call bursting for the loo, but dashed for the next train instead of going to the loo in the city.

It's been a good 25 minutes and I'm pretending it's all cool. It's Friday night, who would want to get home and start the weekend?

Lights still off, girls giggling. Guys pretending they're not scared of the dark. Two men in fluorescent jackets rush through with a sturdy torch. A few minutes later, they go the other way.

Then we hear an announcement, the driver is going to reset the train, and hopefully we will be on our way. The fluorescent guys go by again. And then the other way.

Lights still off, not even any fire escape lights. Weird

Another announcement. The driver really is sorry and is going to reset from the rear. Sounds painful. The train starts up, but not for long and we're still in the dark.

Then, the announcement no one wants. The train has broken. They have sent for us to be rescued! What an absolute adventure! Until they say it will be 'considerable time' before it arrives. No air. Still need the loo. It's hot, and unpleasant. Two guys have cracked open their beers. Why, oh why, did I not grab a g&t?

I might sleep and hope that when I wake up, I'm in my house. I remember actually, when I was about 6, we came up on the train from Devon, and I had fallen asleep. My dad had the bags, my mum had my sister so the train conductor carried me off the train and into the car! I wonder if he would do it again! That's put a smile on my face!

I guess we should be grateful. With the awful news coming in from Paris about hostages and shootings, a broken train is hardly anything to grumble about. The good old British. Oh my. Some, am I allowed to say, knob, has forced open the door and gone into the line. Really?

Are we that blooming stupid. I have heard of two incidents this week involving suicide on the tracks. Grrrr that's disgusted me. Ok, so the breeze was nice but what a knob.

The train guy came along asking if someone had got off and if it was a young lad. Yes. He thought so. I hope he's got to safety that's all.

On a lighter note, the giggling girls are asking what colour train we're on! It's red apparently. There is a grey one and a yellow one. Really? I go for brands myself, maybe that says something about me though!

Is this really happening? How to give Lucy a hint over whether to quit commuting and buy a car! In the year of commutes this week alone has been the most eventful! Or trying,

Deep breath. I want to engage with the commuters, should I suggest a game of I-spy? Or maybe we could start singing appropriate songs, such as....why are we waiting......

I'm actually slightly concerned that we are going to be bodged out of the way by another train. Yikes.

Maybe I could start doing some train speed dating? Now that would be fun, oooo. Lights on, just the safety ones. They work then.....

So my track dating as I will now call it. Bear with me on this, but if I am doing something, then the wait won't be so tedious and I will feel like I am managing my time effectively! To be fair, everyone's very subdued. Are they scared? Maybe I will sing a lullaby.

Thought, how do we get from this train, to the next? Honestly, that's a good question! Do we get a train that connects at one end and we all shuffle through leaving the broken one stranded? Poor thing, someone on here will be making a note of it in the old trainspotters notepad won't they?!

If the new train slides beside us, that could be a mind the gap challenge! Oh, sadly. And yes, I am a little disappointed, but it's going to tow us.

Boring.......

It's odd as it's so quiet. I don't mean in terms of capacity, but more of how quiet everyone is. Think they fear the worst and that if I am made to keep silent for much longer, I will commence with silly talk just to pass time, and I can do that quite well!

Who said commuting was a hassle and a strain, it's such fun! I've exchanged looks with lots of people, shared my wisdom, used Twitter to get updates from northern rail, and crossed my legs so tight that I think I've forgotten how to walk!
Mon 12th Jan, 2015 | 8:51ammore...
Luce Smith

Triple Time

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Posted by: Luce Smith, Fri 9th Jan, 2015 | 6:25pm
photo by Polycart
photo by Polycart
You know you're tired, when you put your earphones in, press play, but don't hear tunes. Then you see that you haven't plugged the earphones into said device.

It's going to be a long journey home. Strange really how the same journey can seem to differ in how long it takes, when in fact, it remains the same. 45 minutes is 45 minutes, but seems 85 minutes when I want to get off, and seems even longer when I'm tired. Weird.

I have got the busy commute train as Mr Tesco are kindly bringing me the contents of my basket tonight. I say basket because that's what the website calls it, but I would love to know how even the best packer can fit my goods into a basket, several maybe, but a trolley would be better. I wonder when they'll offer that as an option, 'basket or trolley madam, for your virtual shop?'

In fact, that would be awesome wouldn't it? To actually go down the aisles virtually and pick the items you want from sight. Brillo, will tell Tesco to make that change. They may even allow me to go round the store in one of the children's trolleys they peddle? Oh yes, that's much better, Mr Tesco?!!,

Sorry, the train has stopped, and I can of course see that it's dark, but I don't see a platform. People start shuffling, and getting their communication kits out (ok, mobile phones.....). What did I miss whilst singing along in my head to the soundtrack of Beaches? They're all at it now, so I feel it necessary to pause Bette Midler, and speak out.

Turns out there are overhead wire issues, but an engineer is on his way.

The engineer arrives

My journey has doubled at this point.

The engineer is working on it

The train will be terminated at Shipley

It gets better. We can stay on the train and return to Leeds, or wait on the platform for the diesel train they have requested. I opt to wait. Stupidly. My journey time in my head, has now tripled. It's dark, cold, wet and breezy. No shelter. No guidance or information.

Lights finally appear, and we all move towards the forbidden white line.

The train pulls in.

The train isn't one specially brought in for this. This is the delayed train that was meant to set off 25 minutes after ours left. This is a train that's already......full.

Glad to get off the cold wet platform though.

Such fun this is! After a few station stops, a seat becomes available to me, so of course, I take it. Not expecting the next part though. The person I sat next to, murmured something, got up and stood by the doors for the rest of the journey! What? I put perfume on this morning, after my shower. Didn't I? Gosh, was it something I said? Something I didn't see? Tell me, please? I ask the couple sat opposite. They don't think I said anything wrong. The lady on the seats opposite smiles, reassuringly, I think.

Ok, fine. Will possibly go and get some advice on what perfume to wear that's commuter friendly. Such hard work. Hope Mr Tesco is late, and not offended by my perfume choice. Or my cauliflower choice for that matter!!
Fri 9th Jan, 2015 | 6:25pmmore...
Luce Smith

Right?

NEXT STOP
Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 8th Jan, 2015 | 10:56am
Mobile User photo by Santos
Mobile User photo by Santos
Ready,,,,.steady,,,,,CHARGE!

Stride out into an almost trot through the barrier, locate train platform, speed past those you may be taking a seat from. Forget values and beliefs, and being kind to others. You haven't sat down on a train seat for about 9 hours, you deserve it. You're worth it. Getting a seat on the busiest commute out of the city is essential, so yes, I do deserve it. People seem to be walking faster, think I need to do some 'power walk passing others', training. There's a skill to it, and being slow, or clumsy in crowds, isn't helpful.

Never mind yoga techniques being all the rage, I need platform dodging skills. It should be a thing for 2015, to enhance commuting techniques to get higher up in life. It's a core skill.

I have that skill. It's all down to time management, being prepared, and focusing on the outcome. 45 minutes of sitting on fabric. Instead of 30 minutes standing up in the doorway, shuffling round when at a station to allow other people off, practising core resistance skills when the driver decides to brake, and having 20 minutes to recover before exiting the train. Sign up for lessons below.....

I've decided not to continue with my train snobbery, I can get northern rail or metro trains. The London train is nice, but it's not worth galloping for. It is of course, but I'm trying to convince myself that it's ok on lesser quality trains. It is, I get to listen to people on their phones, which is a bonus I know.

A lady is chatting to her boyfriend/husband as we speak. It may of course be her fancy man, but the conversation has yet to develop before I can decide. Oh my, he's done her ironing. What's he done, he must be after something......what've you done wrong? Hang on, done my ironing and you've made a start on dinner? Well, I hope this is a genuine dinner and not a guilt trip dinner?

She's gone quiet. Very quiet indeed. Oh, we're in a tunnel, she's lost signal. She's snotting I can hear her. Hope they're not tears, couldn't cope with that......oooop, almost back in signal land of 4G, the call will be resumed. It's not tears, definite snot, and cough. (Sorry, I didn't plan to write this content, but to say it as it is, live, in the now. I promise not to give more info though, totally not necessary)

Dinner is legitimate, but he is going out with the boys at the weekend, and she isn't invited. I just hope there's pudding and a bottle of wine, then it's ok!

Another girl is telling her mate how this one time right, she had got on the train, and right, it had been a really long day at the desk, and right, she was really tired right. So she was a bit like tired right, on the train on the way home you know, so had a Mars Bar (there are other chocolate bar brands, but this was her favourite, you could also substitute this for a Double Decker, or a Picnic, but not the hamper type, that would just look stupid). Anyway, so, she had the chocolate treat and it just didn't pick her up at all right, so she texted her mates and must have drifted into a nodding sleep. She kept waking up but was so tired right, that she didn't really pay attention to where she was right, so she like woke up, but guess what right? She had gone past her station! But she wasn't bothered right, coz she has loadsa friends in this place so she just went round to her friends house to get a lift home. She said there was a bit of an argument coz her friend had just stormed out of her boyfriend's house in a mood as he wouldn't tell her what he'd bought her for her birthday so she got into a right strop. She took her home anyway.

Phew. That was exhausting just listening to.

So good to be back in the land of commuting, but, with rail fares going up, would the comfort of my own four wheels, my own timetable, and my own smells and germs be more financially viable?

Bear with........
Thu 8th Jan, 2015 | 10:56ammore...
Luce Smith

The New King

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Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 25th Dec, 2014 | 2:44pm
Born in a Stable photo by Keith Williamson
Born in a Stable photo by Keith Williamson
Door 23. The new king is in a stable with sheep and cows. Health & safety would love that wouldn't they! It doesn't mention anti sanitiser sprays, or signs of where to put what type of rubbish. It doesn't even say anything about visiting hours, or the maximum number of visitors per bed.

The shepherds knew that this 'ere baby, was going to be their new king. Did it ever cross their minds that the baby would not be able to make any adult decisions for at least the next 18 years? I'm guessing therefore, that they shepherds were young and knew they had another 20+ years ahead of them. What were they expecting this new king to do I wonder? Just replace nasty King Herod? Who was before King Herod anyway, does anyone know? My historical knowledge definitely doesn't have that information stored!

Gosh, the luxury London train must have taken annual leave. It has left in its place, a slightly older version, in fact, it almost looks like it's from the 80's. Maybe it's a reminder of how lucky commuters are at this time of day. Ah well, any thing's better than a donkey ride to work I guess. On with the show.......

Door 24 Is a huge door! I know some advent calendars bizarrely go up until New Year's Eve now, not sure why? I'm also a tad confused. Door 24 says that the shepherds were poor, and that they smelled a bit. Not too judgemental then! It then says that the wise men were rich and important. Again, not at all judgemental! It didn't matter how smelly or clean the visitors were, the main thing was that they were all there for the same reason. To see baby Jesus, the new king. No pressure Jesus, but if you don't turn water into wine, and aren't able to feed the 5000 with 5 loaves and 2 fishes, then you're fired. Just saying. Plus, you need to be rebellious and turn tables up in anger in your teens, then also, just for the funnys, walk on water. It doesn't matter if you fail at this last task, as you will be able to swim a little, so not to worry, but do try your best.

The story then tells us that tomorrow is Christmas. When we celebrate the birth of Jesus. This is the part where the two main characters, Mary & Joseph, fade out into the background. They aren't mentioned any more. They've done their bit. They trotted along on a donkey, then went to be counted, got tired, and slept in a b&b. The wise men aren't mentioned any more either. So being rich and important still doesn't make you appear in the front of the newspapers. The smelly shepherds became part of the furniture, and possibly didn't have an issue with the smelly stable, or the smelly sheep and cows. It doesn't make a reference too if baby Jesus was smelly. Maybe the gifts from the wise men hid this aroma. Bloomin' hope so.

And that, my friends, is the advent story ending. So if you get stuck for conversation around the dinner table tomorrow, whilst eating your tofurkey (great food name as mentioned by Jonathan Ross to John Bishop as the tofu version of Turkey), just ask what happened to the bright star they'd were all following. Or if there was any frankincense lying around. You could also ask if the Angel Gabriel ever sat down! She appeared awfully busy flying around!

I didn't read anything about elves, or Santa, or reindeer, so the story told, is very different to the visual story we see everyday! Maybe after the water turned to wine, the cows turned into reindeer, and the wise men rolled into one big Santa. Who knows, but jingle bells, let's go and celebrate the fact that there will be no commuting for me for two full days! Ho ho ho! Merry Christmas!
Thu 25th Dec, 2014 | 2:44pmmore...
Luce Smith

Angels On The Line

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Posted by: Luce Smith, Wed 24th Dec, 2014 | 4:11pm
image by fanfreluche_designs
image by fanfreluche_designs
I'm on chocolate number 17 already, and still enjoying the flavour first thing.

Commuting this week has been most odd. I don't know if any of the wise men have been of some use, but I was delayed one hour. The delay was due to a technical/engineering fault. However, not having any communication from the staff, meant I stood on the platform, waiting, with the wind gusting through like it was a wind tunnel. Once finally on my way home, I was ready to follow that star!

Now in a dream, an angel told the 3 wise men to not go back to King Herod, and to keep following the star to Bethlehem. Good choice of instructions angel, he sounded like a meanie. It doesn't say who the angel was, and it would have been nice to thank them personally.

The next two days were disappointing for Mary & Joseph. The donkey finally got them to Bethlehem to be counted, but there were no rooms left. This I find a bit weird. They were told to go back to their home town, so did their house get taken over by squatters? Why was this home town so busy? Joseph begged. He would probably have put word out on Facebook to ask for help, but no such luck back in Roman times. Someone offered him a stable. Joseph wasn't overly keen, but I bet the donkey had a cheeky smile, thinking, finally! My prayers have been answered and I get to rest in the comfort of my own home!

Day 20. I got a picture of an angel on my chocolate. Never eaten an angel before and not sure how ethical it was, but the angel appeared in the hills, where there were shepherds. Did these shepherds not have the instructions to go to their home town to be counted? Or did they want to fight the system and stay put with their sheep. Naughty Shepherds, avoiding being counted.

The next night, an angel appeared. My 21st chocolate was a pair of wings this time, so not too controversial. The angel didn't fly in alone this time, there were a group of them. What's the collective term for a group of angels? A cohort of angels? A flock of angels? Apparently, they lit up the sky (am guessing they did this with their high-vis uniform, and head torches). They sang to praise the birth of the new born king. A bit early weren't they, it's only door 21, were they ahead of schedule?

Why isn't my train moving? Stopped at the station, people have got on, and.......we're not going anywhere. Are there angels on the track causing disruption? I wouldn't put it past them; a group of angels, possibly full of myrrh, and all giddy and excited? Anything is possible. I see the lovely man with the treats coming along the carriage, and the train finally lets its brakes go. Phew, don't want to be late today thanks. I can smell strong coffee, and that in itself, is enough to wake me up. Just as well as its not payday yet, so a cheap caffeine fix is always welcome.

Whilst eating chocolate number 22, I forget to look at the picture. I forgot, because I was appalled at the fickle shepherds behaviour that followed. They said they must go and see the King, so they left their sheep unattended, and legged it down the fields towards the light of Bethlehem. Rude! I don't think that was in their training manual, and I'm quite sure that it was never discussed at their last team meeting.

Maybe the sheep were pleased to get some peace and quiet for a while, and to enjoy the fields without having to be rounded up every now and again. I hope they had fun anyway, naughty shepherds. Did the angels warn them of this? Or were the angels in on it as well? The plot thickens, but bear with. Only 3 more days to go, and if today is anything to go by, it looks like everyone's just getting up and going! To a stable. To see a donkey, happily grazing in the comfort of his own home.

I cheated when I got home. I had a chocolate urge, I needed to fix, and without opening a wrapped gift for my friend, to indulge in some Cocoa based chocs, I opened door 23 and ate the chocolate. Well, if the shepherd was going to be naughty, so was I! I didn't even look at the picture on the chocolate, I didn't care. I just needed chocolate, and was very grateful for my advent calendar! Roll on New Year's Day when I can set myself a New Years resolution of eating chocolate before breakfast. That's definitely one resolution that won't be broken anytime soon!

2 more doors to go.......
Wed 24th Dec, 2014 | 4:11pmmore...
Luce Smith

Accidentally Singing Loudly

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Posted by: Luce Smith, Thu 18th Dec, 2014 | 12:33pm

What if I accidentally, on purpose, started singing loudly.

On the luxurious London train, in the quiet coach?

I have an urge to do that this morning for some reason! I actually think it's linked with the fact that it's getting busier than usual. Festive travelling perhaps. I must admit, for the last few weeks now, I have treated myself to this luxury London commuter train.

It's warm, it's comfortable, and if I wanted, I could have a Gin and Tonic, served in a glass. A far cry from my usual canned version.

Have I turned into a commuting snob?

Is there such a person?

I can't be, as I get a regular train home. So 50/50.

As I was saying, this train is normally quite empty, but not this week. Have they been sent home to be counted like Mary & Joseph?

Are they following a bright star like the 3 wise men?

My advent calendar has been quite a journey so far, where did I get to, ah yes, door 12.

The novelty of chocolate with my first coffee is now becoming routine as I'm now halfway through. I could make it my New Years resolution though I guess, to have chocolate every morning, sounds good!

Door 12 had something better than chocolate, it had gold. The sensible wise man decided that money was always useful. Good call wise man, in fact, why don't advent calendars come with a £1 coin instead of a chocolate coin? That would be useful too!

It doesn't say where the wise man got the gold from, which bothers me. Did he just 'find' it, or buy it in the really useful shop?

Did he wrap it up for baby Jesus? I ate the gold chocolate in hope it may turn useful somehow.

The next wise man, door 13, decided that he could go one better than his mate, he upped the game, and decided on taking Jesus some holy smoke.

Frankincense. Is that Cockney rhyming slang for something else?

Wikipedia tells me it's good for the skin,for rheumatoid arthritis, and a psychoactive drug! You can tell what kind of wise man this was, he was a geezer! He wanted baby Jesus to have a full and varied life....did my chocolate make me psychoactive that day? I didn't notice if it did......
Door 14 brought the most sensible wise man.

He decided to take myrrh for baby Jesus. Brilliant!

Wikipedia tells me it can be ingested by mixing it with wine. He must have known baby Jesus was capable of turning into an alcoholic (sorry, I meant he had the capacity to turn water into wine, which is a skill he would use in his late teens!).

So much for him being a sensible wise man, he just knew life might be a bit dull for the new King without some myrrhing times!

So all the wise men took what they thought was a suitable gift, and headed up to the Palace.

Maybe that's where all the people on this train are heading, some sort of Palace? Or are they getting in early to do their Christmas shopping?

Perhaps they're getting into work early so they can do a 4 day week. Wonder if any of them are carrying myrrh?

Shall I ask someone? Not sure who the wise men are going to see at the Palace, as last we heard, Mary was tired, sat on a donkey, and Joseph was possibly in need of a few Brandys. They were surely in the stable by now, which by any stretch of the imagination couldn't be classed as a Palace.

Door 16 was a lovely chocolate. I saved this until the end of the day for some reason, just for a change, and to prove that I'm not one to be stuck in a routine.

(Wow, this train really is filling up, what's going on that I don't know about? I'm intrigued/nosey).

However, the advent story goes on to say that when the wise men arrived at the Palace, and told King Herod they were looking for the new King, Herod wanted to know when they found him. He didn't want baby Jesus to be King, and wanted rid of the baby. Ooooooh, a little bit of competition and he already wants to play nasty games. Not sure where the bright star is at this point. Had the wise men been psychoactive enroute and done a little detour? Sounds like they may well have done.

Maybe that's what's happened on this train, the commuters have been led to believe they must shop at the break of dawn.

I haven't had that calling yet, and feel a bit left out. Perhaps a shock treatment will get people back to normal? And what better way than to hear me singing along to my soundtrack of the day.......bear with......
Thu 18th Dec, 2014 | 12:33pmmore...
Luce Smith

Stars

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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

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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...

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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?

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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

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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

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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

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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...
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