Extinction rebellion? But only on their terms!

To be honest, unlike a certain US president, I fully believe in the need to do something about Climate Change before its all too late, though I do feel sorry for the people in London who have been unable to get to work due to the protests, even more so those that were trying to use the Docklands Light Railway to get there, when the protesters stopped it running for a while, as logic says that public transport like that is one of the things they should be supporting, whereas I have far less (fine, pretty much none) for those using cars to get around, in a city with a pretty good public transport system, but anyway…

The snag for me, is when said protesters proceed to shoot themselves in the foot, and I dont just mean the light railway thing either.

I ended up (for my pain) watching the news for a while last evening, and of course the whole ‘Extinction Rebellion’ thing came up, both as a subject in its own right, correctly, and also because the main protest point in London is in Westminster, close to Parliament, where ‘another issue’ is a popular subject at present.

But ah, those shoot yourself in the feet moments?

Firstly, and given its now October, one with more need than the others, but hardly great publicity, a mass attempt at a cover up exercise, to try and hide just how many diesel generators they were using on Westminster Bridge to try and keep themselves warm. As I say, it was an evening (about 8.30) in October in London, so probably a wise move, and I’m sure the TV news companies were looking for any chance to do them down, but anyway…

However, other than that…

A couple were saying that they needed to get off the bridge, and make sure that their sports car that they’d driven to London in was still parked where they left it. So they want to protest about the wasteful use of fuel, and everything else that was damaging the climate, but they drove to London in a sports car. We are talking the capital of the country, and its not hard to get to London by public transport, if they’d really wanted to, but…

Then, some woman, of my age, or slightly older could be heard in the background, saying to someone with her, that she was looking forward to her holiday in Spain when the protest was finished. Well…?

As is the way with rolling news coverage, about 30 minutes later, they went back to the area, to discuss the matter more, with other protesters. Fine, the more views the better, absolutely. Snag is, this group of 4 younger protesters were asked what they had planned after the end of the protest. Up piped one of them,

“Well, the 4 of us have a winter holiday planned in Thailand.” was her answer, without an ounce of irony, or presumably putting her brain in gear? Yes, I stopped laughing, eventually!

So yes, climate change protest, which I can safely say I can see the need to get something done about, but presumably only on the terms that suit their own lifestyles? I know, might only be a small number carrying on like this, but all the same…

Video time. This might not be Queen’s greatest record (it isnt, seriously), but with the title, I just couldnt resist

Check the date!

I suspect this might get lost on my non UK viewers, especially with those who dont get to travel by train, but its so amusing, I have to go with it. Besides which, I need to keep in with Geoff Marshall, as despite all my health issues (sadly not April Fool), for when he takes this series to my beloved West Yorkshire. Yes, each county, and area in England has a least used station. This varies between the Sublime (Redcar British Steel) with about 12 users in a year, to the ridiculous (Oakham) with nearly a million users, but is the only station in Rutland, so…

He’s currently off in Ireland, doing one of his other rail projects, one rather obviously called ‘All the stations in Ireland’, but apparently recorded this in preparation for release today, with full permission from station, and related railway companies.

As you might gather from the date, and the video, Waterloo isnt the least used station in London. Actually, as you might equally have guessed from the date, its actually the busiest station in the whole of the United Kingdom. Therefore yes, its very wittily done. Before you ask, no, I havent got the details of the actual length of a Vicki foot, but I suspect if Geoff finds this, either himself, or through one of his many thousands of fans, we might find out!

So yes, please feel free to enjoy the Waterloo version of least used station

You can also enjoy the one he made of the actual least used station in London, Angel Road

Oh, finally, for anyone who cares, the least used in West Yorkshire, where I live? Pontefract Baghill, which the last I saw, has 2 trains a day in each direction. See you there, Geoff, maybe?

 

Blinded by a deed?

One of the things I enjoy about riding public transport in the US, is that it tends to be so wonderfully straightforward that nobody can get it wrong. Yes, in most cities I’ve been to, one fare serves all. You get on a bus (or a metro), and unless you’ve got a day pass, or weekly pass, the fare is the same. Seattle is a bit more complex (though not dramatically) than that, but LA is delightfully simple, I’m pleased to say. You just put your coins, or notes in the box, or register your pass, and on the bus you get!

Over here, its a whole different game! Its not quite every stop that you get on at, and get off at have a different fare, but there are lots of ‘zones’ involved, even in a shortish journey like mine into town. And pretty much, within town, most people do the same journeys, know the fare, and should have it ready, pay, and the bus can move on.

Oh, if only. You get people trying to say that they’ll pay the fare from the next bus stop where its cheaper, or that they are getting off a stop earlier than they actually do, to save about 30 pence! And of course, if its the getting on, you get a 2 minute discussion with the passenger, and the driver, before eventually said passenger slams down the right money, says something ‘less than delightful’ to the bus driver, and gets on. Either that, or glares at him for the rest of the journey, for making him pay the right fare. Of course, all this delays the bus, and annoys ‘passengers’ who have a connection to make in town, as some seem to do it every-time I see them travel.

The other thing that makes me a ‘grumpy old lady’ is the people who stand at the bus stop for 5 minutes or more, waiting for the bus to arrive, but only get their fare money, or pass out, when they reach the driver. What is so hard about being ready, folks?

OK, you’re getting this rant because this morning, I allowed 30 minutes to get somewhere, which should be a 14 minute trip. I got there with 4 minutes to spare!

Oh, funniest flat fare story. One morning I got on a bus at Hollywood & Vine stop, heading towards Glendale. A Man got on in front of me, deposited his fare (I believe it was $1.50 at time?) in the box, and sat down. No sooner had we pulled off, and he rang the bell, got off at the next stop, about 100 yards up the road, maximum. Seriously, he couldnt walk 100 yards (no, there were no visible issues, and he ran along street after getting off bus), had to catch a bus? Well…rolls eyes…?

OK, rant over, lets get to the song. This is actually the original version of this song, though many believe Manfred Mann’s Earthband were that. Wrong, lol!

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!

Running out of time?!

No, dont panic, or celebrate, if so inclined, no seriously bad news for me, just another fine example of how old age, and physical health is beginning to run me down. Yes, mainly my back!

As regular readers from the past know, one of the outcomes of my back issues which first showed up around this time last year (though it was September before I knew just what it was), was that I eventually had to cut back from a 5 day working week, to a carefully balanced 4 day working week. Monday to Thursday works fine, one day on, one day off, helps with the pain issues, on top of all the lovely meds I need. Snag is, to financially survive, I have to work 2 days in a row, Friday, and Saturday, which only sort of works, even with Sunday off afterwards. Fortunately, up to now, with flexi time build up at work, and holidays, every couple of months or so, I’ve been able to charge the batteries (I wish, for real) by having the odd Saturday off, to give me extra recovery time. Snag is, I dont take time off in height of summer, most people do, and I’m getting older, so…

To be fair to work, most of my issues arent related to there, its the bus journeys to, and from work that are the killers for me. Bumpy roads, less than well padded seats, and even with a brace on, the back aches because of it. Even more so, when, as of late, buses that are supposed to turn up, dont!

Normally, on a non working day, I’m able to cut back the level of meds I need (still not baby stuff), but the last 2, nope, too much pain, even with the brace on. I know, getting older, and it shows. Now, if anyone knows of any form of transport they can provide me with, that could give me some nice, smooth journeys to and from work? (Yes, aliens, a space craft/flying saucer would be wonderful, just saying…Yes, I wish!) Going to be even more ‘fun’ this weekend, as I’m working Friday, Saturday, Monday and Wednesday as per normal, and going to a meeting in Sheffield on Tuesday! Yes, think I might be aching a lot after all of that, just hope I get through! No, not enough in Saturday to at least get a break then, unfortunately. Its Summer holidays, lol…

But yes, believe me folks, getting old is just no fun! And this is all when the weather is lovely and hot! So when it gets cold, and wet, I dread to think? Another term you could use, as well as no fun, is a one word answer, a shame. Which is a very corny lead in to tonight’s video!

The wicked things we do

Tomorrow, instead of heading to Bradford, to do a normal, full day at work, I’m heading to Leeds instead. No, I’m not throwing a sickie, or anything, its work related.

In an ideal world, my back would allow me to work for nearly another 6 years, and retire at what is now the normal retirement age for British women, at 66. In truth, I would say, that even doing a 4 day week, as at present, my chances of doing so, rank probably as fair, but no more. So yes, on a pre retirement course tomorrow, to learn what I can do to make my future as easy as possible.

The thing is, it means I need to be in an office, just outside the center of Leeds, for 9.30 tomorrow morning. Yes, thats right, I need to get there right in the middle of the rush hour, and thats why I’ve done a wicked thing.

Its fair to assume that the 8.15 train tomorrow, from Huddersfield, to Leeds will be busy, and its quite likely some people will need to stand. Yes, the chances of me being able to stand, even with my brace on, for about 25 minutes, in one place, not good, or less! So yes, depending on your view of matters, I’ve either been practical, or wicked, and reserved a seat on the train, no pot luck for me! I cant do the same coming home, unfortunately, because I dont know exactly what time the course will end, and whether I will get out in time for the 5.00 shuttle, especially given my mobility limitations (its meant to end at 5.00), or need to be on 5.30 one, and that will affect the time I get back to Leeds station, and what train I’m able to get, so yes, wish me luck on that trip, especially as my disability is an invisible one! Hopefully my old commuting skills will return, and I can find a seat!

But yes, I know, I’m partially disabled (suspect I count as disabled, but prefer not to see myself as that, just yet), so I shouldnt be bothered by covering myself this way, but I do! But yes, it will be nice in the morning, knowing I dont have to scramble to get a seat on a rush hour train.

The video, talking of things wicked…

The simple way to save money

One thing I’ve learnt over the years is to always be wise with money, and try not to spend more than is really necessary. One new trick that I learned recently is that you shouldnt assume that the quoted rail fare online, is the best price you can pay for your ticket. On the popular routes, with advance fares, it generally is the case, but when taking a journey, where for whatever reason (mainly using more than 1 rail company) there isnt an advance fare, just paying the one offered to you isnt the best thing to do.

For example, today, I was booking the tickets for myself, and Eric, to go from Huddersfield, to Inverness in September. Yes, we’ve just reached the point where the advance fares for those dates kick in, and given his lack of patience in such matters… I got it done!

Thing is, if you go on the National Rail website, and look up the fare for such a trip, all it offers you is a ‘anytime off peak return’ for just over £98 each, using our Senior railcards. No other options, take it, or leave it. Thing is, if I tell you that I paid just over £75 each for our fares, quite legally…wow!

There are sites dedicated to fare splitting, in other words, the system works out the cheapest option for the journey, by using more than 1 ticket for each section of the journey, and then quotes you the price for the trip. If I say that my reduced fare figure actually includes about £5 worth of handling charges, relating to the saving made, and for them arranging your tickets for you, even more crazy! So yes, in theory, if I had the patience, and dedication, I could have done it for about £70! But no, thats too much like hard work, for the money saved, lol!

But yes, any ‘innocent’ just going on the railway websites (individual companies only offer same standard fare) would pay nearly £25 more than me, for the same journey! But of course, in an ideal world, the train companies dont want you to know this, and just add to their profits!

I dont know if this happens in other parts of the world, or if it is just greed on the part of our rail companies, but be warned. If you know your exact travel times, then go somewhere like https://splitticketing.com/ and check you’re actually getting the best deal possible. Sadly for me, split ticketing with airlines isnt quite so easy!

Right, video time. Rare to find Abba actually singing live, but I have. That song about what I’ve saved today, lol. I’ve cut the piece directly to the song here. If you want to hear the group talking beforehand, just pull the timer back to zero, OK?

Taking my morning train

A fortnight today, the biggest shake up to rail timetables in the UK in a very long time is happening. I wont actually be here to see it, the only ‘trains’ I’ll be worrying about on that date will be the Seattle Light Rail, to get me to the baseball!

In a sense, I’m told, it offers a massive improvement in rail services, which would be nice, but in truth, given Trans Pennine Express’s inability to run a decent service now, how they are going to run an improved one, no idea!

In honesty, I hardly use the trains nowadays, generally just once a week, on a Saturday morning, as there are bigger gaps in the bus schedule early on a Saturday morning, compared to the weekdays, or indeed, later in the day on a Saturday. So the 7.50 train to Bradford served me quite nicely! Sadly, its only going to do it one more time! As from 26th May, or if you like 2nd June as will concern me, that train will leave at 8.09, no use whatsoever! There is a bus at 8.00 which will beat that easily, but make it a very tight squeeze to get to work for 9.00. Previous bus? 7.30, which would have me in work by 8.30, but would mean leaving here 20 minutes earlier, and its an early enough start as it is! So no, doesnt work as an improvement for me.

And funnily enough… I actually now have a return visit planned to Blackpool in June, and formerly, there was a train from Bradford (or Halifax) that went all the way to Blackpool North, without changing. No, I’m not yet that physically limited, but someone who will be ‘chaperoning’ me is, so the change at Preston will be a nuisance for him. No, he’s not really chaperoning me, but a train trip, a couple of nights away, and a day riding the trams, he’s not going to turn that down. Irony, the Sunday service coming back, still a direct train, something at least!

So yes, in theory, all these train travel benefits, and they do nothing but hamper my plans! Ah well…

Right, video time. A spot of live Monkees. Well, 3 of them at least, as its a 1996 performance.

Didnt I have a lovely time, the day I went to Blackpool?

Well, hopefully a few of you at least have been eagerly waiting for the report from Friday night. If you werent, you’re getting it anyway! 😛

Beyond a few moments of, err, entertainment on the last section of the journey, from Preston, to Blackpool, in truth the journey was relatively unexciting. The ‘entertainment’, some very loud children, and the fact that we had 2 wheelchair passengers, as opposed to the train designed 1, caused some fun. But in truth, we arrived pretty much on time.

The hotel was pretty much standard budget hotel, with thin walls which we noticed overnight (people talking outside the room), and though in theory we had a second bed, it was so designed that neither of us, in perfect health conditions would have been able to get out, and besides, we had no bedding for it anyway! Survey comments done, lol! But fine, thats not what you want to hear about, is it? So after a meal together, Eric went back to the Trams, I went off to the Winter Garden, and through the time travel portal. Fine, not literally, but you get the drift? After an early false start, the staff worked out where we needed to go, and lo and behold, I was soon in a lovely, and short pink flapper dress. Fine, I wasnt going to care about length for one night, but more on that shortly. Thing is, flappers werent designed to have boobs, or big shoulders, and the zip wouldnt do up properly at the back. Anyway, as you will see shortly, I was quickly changed into another dress which was longer, with no zip issues, perfection! Well, I was flashing someleg, but…

Oh fine, like this!

Me in Blackpool

There is a better one of me, but it has someone else in the picture, and I’m loathe to use that without her permission. I suspect she wouldnt care, but to be on the safe side… If she grants it in hindsight, I will add it to the posting. So if you come here in 6 months time, see 2 photos, and are confused, you know why!

The evening was great fun, lots of lovely people that I was working with, equally a lot of nice people in the audience, including 1 wonderful gentleman I talked to for a while, who had originally come from Bradford! However, having flirted as an Usher prior to performance, stood on the stairs, we eventually got told that part of our work was done. I decided to give the film, Some Like It Hot a chance, but it didnt grab me much, so after an hour or so, I headed back to the refreshment area, got myself a coffee, and started chatting with a few others, until it was time for part 2, getting those who had paid for it, to the party upstairs.

All went smoothly, then a few of us went up to the Balcony, put on a bit of a show (very tame dancing, by Flapper standards, I suspect) for the guests for a while, then I, and a few others went back and changed into modern life again. One treat I had for a while, was to do something I’d never done before (and no, it wasnt to dance the Charleston), which was to wear a pair of those long gloves that go up to your elbow, and maybe beyond. I’d seen pictures of them, always wanted to wear them, and now I have!

End result, everything, and everyone was so lovely, I’m already planning on going back next year, however crazy, and unpractical that is. Might be a different era, but as long as it doesnt mean wearing something as revealing as what my past life self, the chorus line dancing, Clara Johnson had to wear, all should be fine. But no, I’m not going to suggest 42nd Street, or the like, just in case, lol! But beyond that, I’ll definitely be back. Fine, if it is that, I will probably still go back!

The journey home by ‘modern trains’ was a bit more entertaining. The train from Preston, back to Manchester was very crowded, but ‘Queen Bitch’ soon pushed a way through for me, and Eric, to our reserved seats, and someone was already sat in them! Yes, they got moved, probably not my most diplomatic moment of my life, but hey, its principle, and neither of us could have stood, anyway!

Then we get back to Manchester, running late, so going to be a tight push, or no go for our booked train back to Huddersfield. Only…I looked at the departure board, it had been cancelled! So anyway, the next train was going to be very crowded, (2 sets of passengers, plus loads of football fans), but I lined Eric up roughly where I thought the doors would be, and we grabbed 2 seats very quickly!

After that, out last night, with Ella as well, for the birthday meal. I wore the same dress as last week again, so I stayed in Flapper mode for the weekend. Oh, should I mention, this was all done in lots of snow!

In theory I’m back to work tomorrow, but if it had been today, I’m certain it would have been a ‘snow day’ off, with my physical issues. Tomorrow, who knows? Hopefully its better in the morning, I must say. Not just because I’m due back, but because I need to learn something for the following week, which I will probably relate later in the week, but until then…?

Yes, I hurt, partly because of Friday, partly because of the current weather. When (or strictly at this point, I guess, if) I do this next year, I’ll pace it better, all that travel, on top of everything else, in 1 day, was just too much now. Go down the day before, build to it, and have a day off afterwards to recover, before coming back, far wiser! But hindsight is a wonderful thing!

Video time. The frightening thing for me, this song is 50 years old, and I remember it being released!

Hanging On The Telephone

I’m not sure how many of my readers will remember the good old pre-internet days, when if you wanted to purchase something, you either had to go into a shop, send a payment by mail order (no, I dont expect people to remember that!), or phone up! Nowadays, its possible to do nearly everything online, and fine, despite my love of all things 1920’s and 30’s, I’m as guilty of doing that as everyone else nowadays!

However, on Friday, I was trying to order things online, but couldnt get the credit card to work, was getting some strange error message, truth be told. Mind, they were railways sites, which are being bombarded by visitors at that time, because of the weather over here, so that might have had something to do with it. Card company said it wasnt them, anyway, havent needed to make any purchases since, so who knows?

So, I gave one of them a call, given I need my new Senior Railcard in a fortnight (yes, still 60 over here, unlike pension age), I rang up, and got them ordered that way. Now, I didnt need to book the rail tickets immediately, but while I was in the mood, and had the time, seeing I was indoors, hiding from the snow and ice, protecting my back, I did the same with them, having had the same issue online. Rare kudos to Trans Pennine Express, I ordered the tickets early Friday afternoon, they arrived Saturday morning! Now, if only their trains were as prompt lol…?

Oh fine, I’d rather get to Blackpool by flying saucer/space craft, or by a 1920’s suitable steam train, but modern diesel trains will have to do, I guess? Mind, knowing me, I’d want an alien costume/body suit to do that. Oh, if anyone wants to get me one, especially friendly aliens, I wouldnt say no! Mind, whether I would ever get back out of one provided by aliens…?

But yes, fine, I’ll happily get back to being a ‘Modern Millie’ and booking stuff online again, I must admit.

Fine, video time. Two songs for the price of one! One is the obvious one, the other is Blondie’s comeback hit of 1999! All live!