Painting the world with a rainbow, and other holiday musings

Totally confused? Oh, I hope so, as thats the plan to make you read this, lol.

OK, catching up on the week so far. Yesterday was more memorable for the things that didnt go to plan, whereas today, with one exception, went pretty well to plan.

So yesterday, lets start with the usual culprit, Trans Pennine, and their non-express service. OK, lets say wonderful service from a member of staff from same company! Even more confused? Oh good!

We arrived at Huddersfield yesterday morning, to find our train was running 13 minutes late. Then it got to 18 late, actually left 16 minutes late, so yes, they have as much clue as a certain US president does, lol. Not surprisingly, it lost more time before York, and basically, we werent going to make our train at Newcastle, and all plans could have gone haywire from there. So, I thought I’d buy a coffee, and at least enjoy that on the journey, when…the conductor told us our train was actually behind us going into York. It was probably going to overtake it en route to Newcastle (it did!), so he got us off there, wrote a sweet message for the guard of the other train, we got on it, and sorted.

Well, apart from my coffee, which was the item I then couldnt carry, and half got lost in the transfer, but anyway…

Next, Edinburgh! I had rashly assumed all platforms were pretty much in one area, and that the transfer, even with limited mobility on our parts (Eric even more than me), it wouldnt be that hard. Unfortunately we were dropped off on a platform about half a mile from the main area of the station, and it was a challenge to get there. Thankfully, we had plenty of time, so survived.

The rest was straightforward enough, other than the amusement on my part, when I saw they’d put Eric down as Mr Carpenter on the invoice. I know, one name on the booking, twin room, so…Still found it funny, but thats just me? Hotel is lovely by the way.

Today, to Kyle of Lochalsh. OK, this is where the title comes into play. You could call the Skye line, the LGBT line, because we saw rainbows both ways, a very spectacular one heading there, less so coming back. 2 of the stations, the platforms are so ‘large’ they only open 1 door on the train, because thats all thats on the platform!

OK, first the missing hotel. Eric has got one of those ‘drivers eyes’ videos of the Kyle line, but the thing is, it was made in 1987! It therefore showed a building I first saw as a child, the Achnasheen Inn Hotel, on the platform of Achnasheen station. So, someone was looking forward to seeing an old friend again, right? Wrong, seemingly, as it burnt down in 1995! I did wonder if I was missing something, until I found out the news at the museum on Kyle station! Just glad I didnt say anything at the time, as locals would have thought me crazy asking about something that burnt down 23 years ago!

Oh fine, the missing ferry. No, not the one at Kyle, though that is definitely gone. Funnily enough, there was a large boat moored where the ferry used to leave from today though. But further up the line…

The first time I saw this corner of the world, by road, was 1971. We were using an old road map (about 1968?), and it showed the road crossing to Stromeferry, by ferry. I was navigating just fine, until we approached the area, and the signpost said something totally different to my map. Thankfully, wisdom prevailed, I followed the signposts, not the map, as the ferry had been replaced by a new road the year before! In truth, today, nearly 50 years on, I couldnt make out either point where the road met the ferry, so to speak, on either side of the water. Passing of time, and all that!

Tomorrow, so to speak, we go back in time, on a steam train from Aviemore, to Boat of Garten, and back. Lunch booked on the train, ooh! No, I havent bought a flapper dress with me, though maybe I should have done? Thursday, we head back south. More on those 2 days at end of week, I’m sure.

Apologies, but no video tonight. We do have wi-fi at the hotel, but its not quick enough to play videos, from You Tube, for sure. Probably would have gone with the theme from Rainbow, for those who wish to find their own!

Edited to add the video. Yes, the full length version, a first for me

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Not me, lady, more than my job’s worth

Thankfully my bed at the hotel was so comfortable that I was never Sleepless in Seattle (sorry, couldnt resist) even with my coffee drinking habits! However, when it came to Sunday, and Seatac (close enough to Seattle) Airport, things did get a bit shambolic.

There was a good, logical reason for having the extra night in Seattle when away, the fact that on the Sunday, I could get a direct flight back to Manchester from there, rather than having to start out at a silly hour, and changing somewhere. Silly thing is, it was cheaper to pay for 1 extra night at the hotel, than the difference in air fare I could save by doing that! Yes, the inaugural direct flights from Manchester, to Seattle, and back. However…

Check in desk went fine, and directed towards the place where disability passengers needed to go, to get taken through by wheelchair. Only thing was, after about 20 minutes of waiting, they decided they werent the ones dealing with Thomas Cook passengers, and advised to go try one of the other teams, and see if they were doing it. Another said no, and I have no idea about the 3rd one, as no one ever turned up with a wheelchair, and numerous people had been there longer than me!

So anyway, after about an hour of wheelchair denial, I took matters into my own hands. As I sadly couldnt find a Davros wheelchair, or even better, a Dalek carrier (I could have exterminated a few, happily, by then), I gave up, put my brace back on (I take it off for security check, as its very like a bomb belt), and headed for security myself, as best my legs would carry me! I got there, explained I would fail the security scanner, and why, and suggested maybe they wanted to do a check in privately, as the sign suggested. They took the other option, got me to go in the scanner, and fail (the security person was laughing as she told me she knew I was going to fail), and then they did the standard pat down thing. I then moved on!

The next amusing thing was, someone turned up at the gate, and asked if I needed a wheelchair to get me to the plane! I was tempted, but passed on that, as it would be a straightforward walk to the plane, and on board, no issue. Also, he probably would have expected a tip, and I was in no mood to tip them by then! Only snag was, walked down to the passageway, then waited, and waited,…and 5 minutes later, finally got to board the plane. Thankfully I hadnt removed the brace, so I hurt, but I survived.

After that, in truth, the whole journey was very straightforward. Even more amusing when one of the stewards on board the plane remembered me from last September! Hey, I’m not really a celebrity yet, honest. Unfortunately there was a child sat next to me, who literally screamed for 95% of the flight home, making sleeping on the plane even more impossible than normal.

In truth, this end of the journey was very easy, and I’d given myself plenty of time on my advance ticket to get the train, given we’re always the last ones off the plane, so if it had been at all late, it might have been a close thing. Nope, at the station just over an hour ahead of my booked train! I was not surprised to see that the incompetence known as Trans Pennine Express hadnt improved their service as claimed, the opposite in fact, and the train about 2 minutes later than my arrival there had been cancelled! Anyway, there was another between that, and mine back to Huddersfield, so I put on my best ‘disabled old lady’ routine, and asked if he would pass my ticket so I could get the one in between, and get home a bit earlier. To my amusement, he quoted the almost infamous line that ‘it was more than his job was worth to do so’. Irony is, if I’d been 30 minutes late, he would have had to do it, condition of the ticket!

Last fun item, I’d told Eric, at home, that I would ring him when I got back to let him know I’d safely arrived back. Phone rings, numerous times, no answer! No, nothing serious, he’d just gone out on the buses for the day, and had forgotten what I’d said I would do. Men!!! Yes, I was in bed about 8.30 last night, and apart from a bout of cramp in my leg, I slept for nearly 12 hours in all. Fine now, in that sense at least.

Yes, I’m sore, but recovering. Taken a normal days meds today, for the first time since flight day out, and even now I have a mild ache, despite that. I also seem to have damaged another toe on my left foot, I only hope its not broken, like the next toe along, and just painfully sore from wearing new shoes while away. But other than that…

So thats it, for the holiday blogs for now. Crazily, the next short trip away is at the end of next week, to Blackpool, but more on that Thursday. After that, September to Inverness, and then, November, to…? Well, it will begin with F, for sure, in one sense at least! Will have to wait for a wonderful lady to fill me in on that one! So watch out for that…

OK, video. Mainly in tribute to the ‘Wheelchair Pushers’ at Seatac Airport, though I guess a member of rail staff at Manchester Airport should be included. Less so though, he was strictly doing his job, at least, which is more than the Seatac folk were!

Taking a ride on a big wheel, and other things

Right, and so to complete the posting from Seattle scene…

Thursday, I decided that the little toe on my left foot wasnt going to stop being an issue anytime soon, so decided that was the day to ride the full length of the Seattle Light Rail, up the other extension since I was previously here, the one up to the University of Washington. I have to say that the extension at this end of the route (to Angle Lake) has been an absolute boon, as its nearer than the Airport station to here, and walk-able. Well, in perfect health, maybe, but I survived. There is one killer (but thankfully short) uphill stretch on the walk from here to that station, which I wont be missing now!

Coming out of the University station, I rather expected to be on the edge of the University grounds. Ah well…What I was very close to, was Husky Stadium, the home of the University football team. Well, seemingly in these days of glorious sponsorship, its now called Alaska Airlines Field, but will always be Husky Stadium to me! I hobbled a short distance further, didnt find anything more than sports facilities, so gave up on that idea. When I got back to the station, I did find a map, and the grounds were relatively nearby, but decided I wasnt going to push my foot by setting out again, in a totally different direction. So, defeated, back into town, earlier than planned. So I headed for a landmark with memories for me, that I knew hadnt moved, the rail station. Wrong time of day to see the Empire Builder train, though I did see a goods train trundling through the station, heading south. One of these days I will do another long distance train journey, though whether it will be the repeat Empire Builder again, or more likely, Los Angeles to Chicago (via Kansas City, please note), I have no idea. In theory, I could do a ‘Clara Johnson’ and travel by train from Oklahoma City, via Texas, to Los Angeles, if timed right, but I wouldnt put good money on that one. Requires a change in Texas, a slightly shorter one than I suspect Clara did!

After that, I headed down to the front again, and ended up seeing the city from on high again, this time from a giant wheel, hence the title of the blog! The last time I did one of those was the London Eye, with my mother, and that would be about 25 years ago! This time, it wasnt just one turn around the wheel, but 6, but then again it was a lesser radius, which probably explained why! Blonde moment, I realized eventually that I’d only looked in 1 direction for about 5 turns, so turned to take in the other side, and that was when the wheel stopped at the bottom lol! Ah well…

Yesterday, day time at least, was relatively quiet. Went and did the holiday shopping for others, and also found myself a new (much needed) handbag, that certainly looks vintage, even if it clearly isnt! I also found a gorgeous dress in another store, very 30’s, but a bit pricey for me (about $60, plus tax, however much that might have been), and was only a medium size, so I talked myself out of it. Hindsight to that, I discovered I wasnt quite as impoverished as I thought I was, so I decided to go back today, and see if it actually fitted, or not, and probably buy if it did. But no, someone had already beaten me to it, not surprised, it was gorgeous. Macy’s did also have some nice period dresses, but with them you’re talking over $200 each, plus tax, so didnt even consider it, way beyond my purse!

Yesterday evening saw the return to Safeco Field, and the Mariners, this time, all went far more smoothly. I also have to thank Melissa for the Goody Bag (not that she will see this) that was provided too. Must be a lucky mascot, mind, as I saw them win twice! Hobbled back to the Light Rail station just in time for a train to pull in empty, and run back from there, to Angle Lake. Still got my commuting skills, got a seat, no idea how!

Today, beyond the failed shopping trip, was the farewell tour. I didnt go right down to the water today, its a steep route down, and more critically, up, as I discovered on Thursday, so settled for a seat at the top of the steps, and looked out over the water from there for a while. Then back to the Light Rail, the ride out of town, and for now at least, the final farewell. In theory, if nothing changes in my life, I’ll be back in 6 years time (my post retirement trip), as this place will be my stop off point to Alaska. In reality, the way my body is currently falling apart, I wouldnt put good money on being in strong enough health for that, even with breaks en route, but we will see. Thats one thing I have realized, west coast trips really are going to be a no go, very soon, if not already! There will be 1 more, even if I have to drag my shattered body to LA, it will happen at some point! But Seattle…?

Tomorrow, I fly back home, back to work on Wednesday, blessed with a bank holiday this week, which enables me to do it this way. Covering as Team leader again for that week, should be interesting, once I’ve caught up on work emails at least! 2 weekends from now, is Blackpool! Then, as far as I know, thats it until a few days away in Scotland in September, couldnt afford more at present, anyway! Especially as, maybe in November…? You’ll have to wait on that!

Right, video time. Big clue in the blog title, absolutely! Live performance, nearly 50 years old, now I really feel old!

You know you’re getting old, when…

Up until now, when booking holidays and stuff, I’ve always tried to save every penny, by taking the lowest price possible. Well, except for when I’ve traveled by Premium Economy, for the extra room and stuff, but in the sense of the option which is non cancellable, but is just that bit cheaper than the more flexible deal, mainly with hotel bookings, I’ve always plunged for the non cancellable deal. In truth, of course, until last year, I was generally ‘young and healthy’ enough (thats a video hint, btw) not to need to worry about it. Well, healthy enough, anyway! 😛

I cant remember the difference for the Seattle hotel next month, but I know it was enough for me to be taking my chances with the cheaper rate! I just left the booking to a bit later, to see how the back was, and then just went for it!

However, when I looked at the trip to Scotland in September for a few days, I noticed that the difference between the cheap, non cancel rate was only about £20 less than the more flexible one, allowing the opportunity to cancel up to the day before, should I, or the person going with me, not feel up to the challenge. Fine, there will be a point where I need to sort out the rail tickets, so last minute will not be practical, but that much, to give the 2 of us (other is older than me) the opportunity not to panic if we dont feel up to it at the time, well…

So yes, for the first time in forever, I’ll be paying that little bit extra, just to be sure. Ah, the delights of getting old, lol! Sadly, unlike rail fares, hotels dont do senior discount cards lol!

Right, video time. One of those occasions when you dont believe the claim on You Tube. No, this isnt rare, colored film from 1932 as it claims. This is actually a Turner Movies colorization jobs from the 1980’s. Considering that, its not great, and I have no idea why audio is missing, unless Turner Movies really messed that up? So no, its not real color film of Clara Johnson (at 2:17 or so), but probably the best I can get!

A couple of old friends, revisited

Its amazing to think that in just 6 weeks time, I might be doing a blog on a Sunday evening, but be 8 time zones away, in Seattle. Strictly, at this time in Seattle (about 12.25 pm at time of writing), everything permitting, I should be at the baseball park, about to watch my first Mariners game. Its not the first baseball park I saw, that honor goes to Fenway Park, 16 years earlier, though only from a distant observation tower, Seattle was the first I saw up close, and personal. That first trip there, back in 2003 began my love affair with Seattle that has gone on ever since. I’ve been back a few times since, though not recently, and never been there at the right time for a game. This year, I’m planning on 2! This time around, I sort of wonder if its the last time, because with my less strong body, old age, and only 1 trip to the US a year, it probably is, unless I get to Alaska in retirement year, as I would most likely transit through there, with a short break either way, if I get that far, in a healthy state.

In truth, Seattle probably now only ranks Number 2 in my heart, after Los Angeles, but long before I ever visited there, I fell in love with this place. Maybe its because the weather is just so British, with all that rain? Well, I guess all those coffee places help too, lol! I’m sure I will see some new sights (I plan to visit the Uni, now that the light rail runs out to it), and some old friends too, like the Space Needle, Pikes Place market, and oh, some of those coffee shops lol.

But yes, its going to feel strange this time, when I get to say goodbye at the end of the stop, because this time, it might be forever, not just for a few years? But hopefully, one more time, just after retirement…?

The other old friend I plan to visit this year, well, I’ve been away a lot longer than just under a decade. More like 3 decades, in fact, if not slightly more! But yes, given a lot of my childhood holidays seemed to end up in the Scottish Highlands, Inverness holds a special affection for me. And indeed, after those childhood holidays, I went back a few times on my own too! So landmarks like the Castle, the river, and the Northern Meeting Park are all ingrained in my memories. But I’ve never gone back since then, because as tastes, and flight prices changed, I’ve been going abroad pretty much since then!

This year of course, due to cutting back on my work hours, due to my crumbling back, I can only afford 1 US trip this year. But the week was booked in September, and I can afford a short trip, so I’m going back! Mainly for some rail journeys, but I’ve now decided to renew my acquaintance with the city. I know, I said after Newbury that I shouldnt do things like that, but in truth, after over 30 years, there’s barely any details I remember, so I dont really see any issues on that front, in truth. But yes, in this case, almost certainly will be the last time. Still, given I thought I was never going to return…?

OK, video time. Inverness seems not to have produced many pop stars over the years, if Wikipedia is to be believed. But I found Runrig, and when I saw the title, assumed it was a cover of the Public Image song, but it isnt, just the same name.

Preview of 2018, only part. The year of being senior!

Very strictly, the answer to that question, is wherever life takes me, I guess? But strictly, for 2018, assuming I live out the year, some things will happen, some things may happen, and some things almost certainly wont happen, but it would be fun if they did!

Anyway, lets be boringly practical first, things that will happen, assuming the life quotient of course. The biggest, and most obvious one to mention, is that I hit the big 60 next March. I know, who would ever have believed it? But yes, the body is definitely now giving me more than hints that its not as strong as it used to be, so… Hard to believe, that 25 years ago, when a woman hit 60, she retired from work! Now, with a longer life expectancy for everyone, and things, its another 6 years to go! Still, gives me chance to build up my pension, I guess, body permitting. Lets face it, I’ve already had to cut back to 4 days a week, and the back isnt likely to get better, only worse, so…?

The only other definite things at this point, are the fact that I will be heading to Seattle in May for 8 days (yes, already decided the back will be up to that, fingers crossed it stays that way once booked), though that will be the only US trip this year. Yes, thats one cutback due to the financial situation. I thought I might be able to pull it off this year, for the last time, the double trip, but no, now know its not going to happen! I have got a few thoughts for a break in September, but will only be a few days, and will only be in Europe. Well, unless the work syndicate wins the lottery lol! So yes, I’ll be using an airport wheelchair (or 5) in May again on that trip. Hopefully, all will be a little smoother than last time!

The other is, of course, working on a group on LGBT issues at work within our section of the Civil Service. First actual meeting is planned for some point in New Year, but location and date, TBA at present. Quite an honor, quite a challenge!

The maybe’s look trip related. I might try to get to Ireland, for at least some cricket this summer, though sadly it wont be that first Test match, as its literally the week before I go to Seattle. But other games are planned, so time, and finances permitting, it will be nice to meet old friends again, and maybe make a few new ones.

Hey, another maybe, I might write another story or two lol! I really ought to, I have a few ideas, but getting around to it, but yes, I’ll risk putting it on the maybe list, rather than the unlikely one! The other maybe, is my first ever ‘senior citizen’ pass. Yes, the Railway senior discount pass still is permitted from 60, so if I travel on the Railways in September, as I might, I’ll get one then!

The unlikely ones, but not impossible? Well, the first one obviously relates to performing, in an acting sense. I suspect a presentation style performance might be more likely, probably on LGBT issues, but I suspect that will be it. Lets face it, who’s going to want an actress who hasnt done anything much in years, and now has back issues, which means standing for long periods for a role, is nigh out of the question! But maybe, out there is a director/producer who wants to do something crazy, and then, well…?

Then we come to the silly stuff, that ‘could’ happen, but you can be sure wont. Winning a lottery jackpot (I know, theoretically, but me, win anything, dont think so!), getting abducted by aliens, turned into a robot, or regenerating (well, if Doctor Who can do it?) as a young(ish) Clara Johnson might all be fun, but none are going to happen, I think we can safely say!

Lets finish with a dramatic, stat based thing. Look back through early film history, and you find a lot of famous actresses who passed on at 60. Clara Bow is one that immediately comes to mind! Now its fair to say that health matters have improved nowadays, and I have never been a famous actress, so I’m probably safe, but… Still, hopefully we will be doing this in a years time!

The video tonight, isnt a proper one, but it fits the title, and yes, its the Carpenters, so just rolling with it. Just a nice song, that hopefully you can enjoy.

So, one blog to go for 2017, as its back to work tomorrow. Any ideas for something you’d love to hear about, either from this year, next year, or Clara Johnson’s era, feel free to suggest in comments

Walking on the ‘milky’ way

Oh fine, if that doesnt give you a clue to the video, nothing will! A tale of getting older, and cutting back, so call yourself warned.

When I was young, or indeed while still into my 20’s, I used to walk miles on my days off, quite literally. Yes, in those ancient (facetiousness factor) days, it was nothing for me to just walk out on a Sunday morning, walk 4-5 miles or more, have a bite of lunch, or at least a drink, when the weather was fair, and then walk back again. In truth, if I wanted to go far, on a Sunday, back then, in Somerset, or Dorset at least, and didnt drive, you had to walk, there was no Sunday bus service at all! So I did.

Its fair to say that over the years, my walking has got a bit slower (though some at work might not believe that), and maybe a couple of miles each way was enough, but I kept walking, when I could.

But yes, now, since my back went wrong, I’m now finding that my limit, in 1 go, is down to about a mile, or just under! How do I know this, you ask? Well, according to Google Maps, the distance I walk in Bradford, from the Bus Station, to work, is approximately 0.8 miles. And yes, I’m beginning to ‘feel it’ at present when I near my destination. So in truth, not much more, which is why I’m using a mile as a guide, and I might have problems nowadays. I know, I was about 25 then, I’m 60 next year, with osteoporosis, but its still a blow to the ego.

Will it get better, will it get worse, who knows? I suspect that its more likely to be the latter, than the former, so I’ll settle for stability at least. In truth, any other year, I could book my holiday for May already. I just about have the funds, or will have after pay day next week, I know who I want to fly with, I know where I want to stay, but…its a me issue!

The thing about staying in hotels, is that they expect you to go out for the day, each day. Hopefully, fine, it wont be an issue. Equally, if you can tell me, that in an 8 day stay, there wont be at least 1 day where the body is suffering a bit, I’d love you. It might be true, but given that 2 working days in a row is about my limit at present (Holiday time would not be as hard on me, physically, to be fair), assuming I can get out for several (or more) hours each day of my stay, hmm? There is, to be fair, an apartment option, but that would mean getting provisions on arrival (using a UK credit card, in the US, not always easy online), and I suspect I might not be up to that, after a long flight. So the hotel would be better, now.

Oh, and then there is my own determination, and budget. In theory, the hotel offers a shuttle to and from the airport at all times, so I could use that to get the train into town from Seatac, but it wouldnt get me back, anyway. In fact, I could do a flat 0.7 mile walk to a station, which would be fine at present, but then, and each day…?

So yes, I’ll leave it a while to make my booking, just to see how far I might be able to walk by then. I will make the call by February, and see how I am by then, is the plan. Its not just that of course, it is the length of flying time (its direct coming back, but via LA getting there, adding several hours) as well, so we will see.

In truth, I probably ought to have a Plan C, involving either the East Coast of US (shorter flight times), or somewhere in Europe, but I’m trying to avoid working on thoughts like that at present.

But yes, getting old sucks, lol!

The video, a live version of the blog title!