2019, the avenue I might be being taken to

OK, if anyone can spot the (almost) line of lyrics, I’m impressed. Well, there are a couple who might get it, but otherwise?

In truth, 2019 is probably the least pre-planned year that I’ve had in a very long time. Lets face it, the May holiday is not only usually planned by now, its either booked, or just about to be booked. This year, not a clue what I’m doing! And though September has got some tentative plans, in the sense that both Kate and I have agreed, both health permitting, that we will get together ‘somewhere’ at that point. Its fair to say that it will in all likelihood be either, Oklahoma, or New England, but beyond that…? No, no commitments!

The one thing that is sure, is that before either of those, there will be 2 trips to Blackpool. First one in just over 3 weeks time, which will be the pre-publicity event for the Film Festival in March, on my Birthday weekend. This time, the latter is already planned as a longer stay, from Thursday, to Monday, as I can do work, and enjoy myself for the whole weekend. Numerous anniversaries that week, and a theme of Hollywood glamour, which should all be a lot of fun. Seems quite likely I will get to have a ‘Clara Johnson’ moment on the Friday of that weekend, for which I might now be a little old, but will be a dream come true. But more on that at the end.

Other than those, most of the known events for the year are of the less cheery kind. Firstly, and most obviously, is the state of my body. How long the back is going to last, even on a 4 day week, even with TLC (including that heavenly flotation/sensory deprivation tank), I have no idea! There is also the fact that I now have big issues with 1 wrist, and I have a hunch the other might only be biding its moment, and…? Given that now, with my wrist damage, that I’d have issues preparing, and cooking a proper meal, on top of everything else, I have been told I ought to at least try for PIP (disability related) benefit payments, because lets face it, my mobility, in a stamina sense is also becoming a bigger issue by the month. I’m sort of determined I will get to March (for obvious reasons), but in a serious sense, what used to be a stroll to work is now getting a challenge at the end. Oh fine, it is a challenge, but anyway… If you want a resolution (ghastly things), that had probably better be mine!

Yes, any politician offering to reduce the retirement age for women can have my vote, lol! 61, I’d be thrilled, 62, or 63 I could see as a target, but beyond that, not sure its going to happen? No, I know, not going to happen in reality, but would help me so much.

OK, Brexit, lets try and be diplomatic. Especially given the government are seemingly terrified of having a vote on their escape plan, rolls eyes. I could give my view on the ‘threat’ from the government that if they dont win, Brexit wont happen, and say that not everyone would be sorry if that came to place. Its not what the voters were promised at the referendum (we found that out within a few days), so is it any wonder that hardly anyone, on either side of the fence wants to vote for it? Fine, I voted Remain, but besides all that…

Alright, lets get to cricket. This summer will see the first ever test match between England, and Ireland at Lords, a pretty historic moment for we Irish cricket supporters. Yes, I’d probably have got an Irish passport at the last renewal in truth, but my Irish ancestry is 1 generation too far back for that. Even more I’d love to do that now, as so many others are seemingly doing. Nothing to do with the Brexit chaos of course. And if you believe that…?

Oh fine, you want some silly wishes for the year, I guess? Things I’d love to happen, but are only likely in my dreams?

Lets start off with the obvious one, which actually gives me more issues than work? Yes, travel. What I wouldnt give for a cute flying saucer/space shuttle, if a passing alien reads this, to whisk me to work, without strain, oh please! There are some ‘Just Eat’ adverts on TV over here, where the motorbike delivery people have bikes that fly, wouldnt say no to one of them, either!

Clearly, with my health issues, I’d love a full body upgrade. Chrome robot look would be heaven, but a more human looking fembot body would probably be more advisable. If so, if it can come looking about 20, with pre programmed dancing skills, I’d love that.

Oh, and fine, I’d love that sensory deprivation tank to really mess with my mind, as well as heal my body. Brainwashed, or mind controlled, while in that pod, oh please!

Lastly, a sugar daddy, or mummy (I’m bi, lets face it) to put this ‘Broadway Baby’ in her own apartment, somewhere warm/hot all year round, would love that. But fine, who would want an old lady like me for that, lol?

Right, lets get to the video. That Friday night in March, in Blackpool. One of the show moments is a local dance team, performing from 42nd Street. (At least) 2 of us are hoping to at least make cameo performances on that sequence. Will be the closest I ever get to replicating Clara Johnson without that new body, for sure! No, I’m certain I wont be this good, but some of this might be involved, so…

 

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Retirement home, on the beach?

OK, fine, they think its all over, well it pretty much is now, lol. No, I’m not talking about the current government, though that might yet prove to be apt. But being strictly politically neutral on UK matters…well…? No, seriously, I mean my little break in the sun.

Of course, the sixty four million dollar question is, has the break in the sun done my back any good? Well, I’ve been taking less pills than usual, so I guess thats a good sign, but how long the effects will really last when I get back to the UK, who knows? I certainly havent missed not hearing all about the chaos at home over Brexit, and other stuff, for sure.

Yesterday, I headed to Vila Real De Santo Antonio as planned, and had a look around. In a sense, its more my sort of town than Faro would be, more peaceful, laid back, and dare I say it, old fashioned? Sadly I didnt get to Spain, as I reached the ferry terminal after town, and lunch, to see it pulling out for Ayamonte, across the river, in a different country, and given the next one wasnt for another hour in the off season, I didnt wait. That would have put me on the 2.30 ferry across, so earliest back at 4.00, and then needing to get back to Monte Gordo, all would have got a bit late for me. Maybe another time, maybe not, who knows?

Today, as I have done most days (gentle exercise, which is good) I took my stroll down along the front, and down part of the boardwalk, over the beach. I did some shopping, a little bit more than I’d planned, but nothing too dramatic. Oh, I got one of those coats, seems they had a zip up version as well for same price, so deal done! So I guess at some point soon I’ll need to go into work looking like a 30’s film star, lol. No, its silly really, I dont need a winter coat, but… Yes, I found the PIN for my credit card, but then found they only took cash, no cards, aargh!

I must admit, if, as I hope, I can retire somewhere with all year round warmth, then Monte Gordo has done a pretty good publicity job this week. I know its off season, but its quieter than the more popular end of the Algarve, its pleasantly warm, even in mid November (70 today), and cost of living is definitely lower than the UK too. But whether I will be in a position to make it happen, who knows? Will it even be possible once we’ve left the EU to move out here easily? Rolls eyes… Who me, a remain vote, well, you might think that, but I couldnt possibly say! 😛

Last amusing note, before I close for this holiday. There is a spa at the hotel I’m staying at. I did notice on their website that the spa does those body wrap things, and I’ve always fancied that. Go into my cocoon as the ugly caterpillar, come out the beautiful butterfly, yeah, I wish! So today, with budget sorted, I went to see how much it was. Yes, as I expected, way above what I had left, 80 Euros, for admittedly 80 minutes of pure pampering heaven. So, a fair price, but… To be honest, it was pretty much all above my budget, but I guess a 4 star hotel with spa (I’d say closer to 3, but anyway…), thats probably going to be the case. The thing was, they had a special offer for a hot stone massage, at 49 Euros. for 50 minutes of pampering, which I could just about scrape together. But anyway, being practical, I checked on Google, and it said not advised for people with Osteoporosis issues, so I ended up passing. Probably would have been fine, but better safe than sorry with boring old me!

It was funny tonight at dinner, I got asked why I was drinking Coke, when everybody else was drinking wine, so I explained about the painkillers, and all that. Again I wonder if thats just me being extra cautious, as I know people taking those pills, and drinking booze, and being fine, but…I am being boring, lol!

Tonights video is a song that might have passed most people by, especially as its now 33 years old! The late, great, Kirsty MacColl for your delight

 

Sitting on a railway station

Well, if I were to update you on what I did yesterday, you’d be bored stiff, because I did pretty much what an ‘old crock’ like myself should do, I had a relatively easy day. I went out for a gentle stroll (bit further than planned), had a bite of lunch, then headed back to the hotel again, via a stop for an Ice Cream. Fallen asleep yet? 😛

Today however, was far more amusing, which is the only reason you’re getting this tonight. My original plan had been to head into town (about 11.15), have a stroll, get a coffee, then head down and get the 12.30 bus to Vila Real De Santo Antonio, have a bite of lunch, then hop on the ferry, cross into Spain, just because its easily done (ferry takes 15-20 minutes to cross), have a look round, then come back again. No, as you gathered, I didnt do that!

Instead, as I got into town, just after 11.30, the seemingly slightly delayed 11.27 bus to Faro swung into sight, so I got on that instead! I will do the other trip later in the week, but for now… There may not be a bus every 10 minutes, but they do believe in comfortable bus seats over here, so nice! Fares are similar for distance as at home, for those interested, so it can be done, First Buses!

But the sweetest thing for me, was one of my fellow passengers, at least until Tavira, where she got off. To say this woman was the spitting image of an elderly Gloria Swanson (as in Sunset Boulevard era, or just later) was remarkable. Gloria (if I remember right) was tiny, under 5 foot tall, I believe, but in truth this woman wasnt much taller than that! Oh, and this woman was speaking fluent Portuguese, but other than that… She had the perfect diva attitude too (though I’ve heard nice things said about Swanson, so maybe she didnt?) as she showed when someone was trying to help her with her bags, after she got off the bus.

The rest of the drive to Faro was positively sedate, other than the song that got stuck in my head, this one

In truth, after just over 20 years, I didnt remember much of Faro, beyond the basic set out, but I suspect its changed in that time anyway. Bus station is still as ancient as it was then, mind, certainly no overhaul there!

At home, generally the bus fares are cheaper than the trains, and they take longer to get places, though because of the route the train takes, that doesnt work between Huddersfield and Bradford, because the train ambles round via Halifax. In the old days, the train was also more reliable, but that no longer happens! Here in Portugal, the bus fare was actually more expensive than the train (5.70 Euros, to 5.05 on train), takes longer to do the journey, even allowing for the long walk to the station (about a mile) from here. The snag is, Portuguese trains make Trans Pennine Express look reliable, and thats quite an achievement!

The train back to Monte Gordo from Faro was meant to leave at 3.00, and take 62 minutes for the journey. Even with a 20 minute walk, that should beat a 3.15 bus that takes 83 minutes for the journey! The thing is… The train pulled in from Lagos (yes, Nigeria isnt the only one to have a place of that name) at 3.03, about 4 minutes late, so we all get on. Then a minute later, we all get told to get off again. I have no idea what the announcement said, as it was only given in Portuguese, not a lot of use to most passengers who were tourists! Anyway, said train reversed back down the platform, and sat just outside the station. Just after 3.25, it plodded back into the station, we all got on (and stayed on) and a few minutes later, it set off for Vila Real De Santo Antonio!

I finally got back to Monte Gordo about 30 minutes after I should have, and still nearly made it into town before the bus passed me! Ah well…

Oh, and this leads to the second video of the day, the song I was singing to myself at the station, when I was wondering what the train was doing!

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

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!