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?

 

Advertisements

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.