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!

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!

 

Just wishful thinking?

So yes, despite the best intentions of my ‘wonderful’ local train company to do otherwise, I started my training course for my new, temporary role yesterday morning. I’d planned to get the 8.21 train, and have plenty of time to walk up to the office before 9.00. So I got the 8.13, which turned up at 8.27, and just about got there by 9.00, planned start time. Unfortunately, it took 3 of us who arrived just in time, a while to get in, as no one had explained how we had to do it, given that we didnt have entry cards. But we got there in the end, so…

Last nights train, coming home was late too, I hadnt forgotten Trans Pennine Express could be awful, but 2 out of 2 late, not a good start. Still, the trains topped it this morning, though not all their fault, to be fair. Train was late (about 7 minutes) arriving in Huddersfield, which was definitely down to them. I had 10 minutes, or so allowance, so fine, if it left. It didnt! Got settled on the train, to hear there was a slight delay, due to a signalling issue. Given it was the first train of the morning through to Leeds, they might have just discovered it, but anyway…35 minutes later, we heard the train was cancelled, no trains would be running through to Leeds, and they would try to lay on replacement coaches. Seemingly, about an hour and a half later, they did! But this wasnt much use for training course, day 2, from 10.00 to 3.00. Even if a coach had come along straightaway, the best I could have reached the office was 11.15, and they didnt even get close to that!

I rang the office when I got back here, let them know that I hadnt just had enough (one did yesterday, disappearing after lunch break), but just couldnt get to Leeds. I’m not sure the guy really took in all I told him, but he said to turn up as planned, post training in the morning at 9.00, so I will do as told (as a good robot should lol), and see what happens. Might just get trained in what was learnt today, might just grab their card back, and tell me to go, even if it wasnt my fault!

Of course, the irony then, I might yet get to be a long term clinical research guinea pig, which lets face it, I’d rather do anyway! Be ironic, if after all my frustration this morning with the train, that I got to do what I really wanted to do, wouldnt it? But yes, you know me, and luck, that would just be wishful thinking!

And yes, thats tonights video, would you believe?

How not to get to work, in one easy lesson!

Honestly, if I never travel with Trans Pennine Express again, after 3 weeks time, it will still be too soon. Though to be fair to them, it would be right to say that today they were only 50% to blame, the other half falling firmly on the shoulders of National Rail.

But, if TPE had been honest on the situation a little earlier, instead of 30 minutes after the train was due, I might have been able to rescue matters. Of course, if I had, you wouldnt be getting this bonus blog rant, so…

So, the story of my morning was as follows…

I left here at 8.30 this morning, to walk across (just under 10 minutes) to where I have to get the bus, when I make an early start on a Sunday morning, as the first bus from the estate is 9.08. As it happens, I could have got the 9.38, but more on that shortly.

The train was due at 9.18. At 9.12, it was showing as on time, quite a rare sight with TPE. But then, it started showing as later, and later, until…at 9.42 an announcement was made. Seemingly, there was a ‘slight’ over run on the engineering works between Manchester and Huddersfield, and to quote the announcer, they had no idea when a train might turn up, but they would let us know later, if, and when one would.

So, I did a rapid dash to a nearby Hills shop, rang work to let them know I wasnt going to be in by 10.00, funnily enough. I went back to the station, nothing had changed. So I gave up the fight, got a bus home, and gave up on the day, and a days wages. I might, even then have got to work very late, with a lift, but blamelessly (not knowing what a joke TPE was today) Nicole had made other plans, so that was that!

I know, I cant blame TPE for over running engineering works, and I dont. But what I can blame them for, is the lack of useful information. All they were doing on the departure board, was every minute, adding another minute to the expected arrival time. In the end, seemingly, the train arrived 61 minutes late! I expect it was ‘slightly crowded’ by then, rolls eyes!

So, TPE, please, just let us passengers, who you rip off so regularly know whats really happening with their trains.

No, given their utter incompetence, its not going to happen!

Yes, the video is dedicated to what I was doing today, waiting for the train that never came!

One thing I wont miss about redundancy

Well, I guess that comment isnt strictly true, I’ll miss the monthly wage (until I find something new), and I’ll miss some people at work too. But equally, I wont miss the crazy early starts, the very late finishes, and…Trans Pennine Express!

Yes, I know, I might have to go to work again in Leeds, but mentally, and physically, I’m hoping I can find something nearer to home. Might be easier said than done, but we will see. Fingers crossed, and if there are any Yorkshire folk reading this, who know of call centre, data input, or similar openings in the Huddersfield area, especially those that dont appear on the main websites, please let me know. Happily start on 27th April, in all honesty. Could start before, but I’m going to Hollywood on the 18th April, regardless, just saying. Temp work in the meanwhile for March/early April would be good too. Yes, I dont finish until the 28th, so nothing before then!

Of course, if any Hollywood studio wants to sign me up to play a member of the Harlow family in a movie…even better!

OK, personal ad over, lets start on the one thing I really wont miss if I dont have to commute to Leeds, Trans Pennine Express.

I’d love to say they are the worst train company in the world, and I might not even be exaggerating. Fine, somewhere in deepest Africa, there is probably one worst, but in the UK, no contest! Overcrowded trains, which are regularly delayed, sometimes by minutes, often by a lot more, and overpriced fares are just a few of their bad points. I’d love to name some good ones, but cant think of any!

So yes, if my new job means I no longer have to commute with this truly incompetent company, I will not miss them in the slightest! To be honest, the best thing related to them, is a wonderful Twitter site @ notTPE, which is dedicated to their incompetencies, in a funny, and delightful way. Unsurprisingly, the real TPE are not fans, as he tells the truth, unlike their Customer Service Dept. Fine, some of it isnt true, but its closer to the mark than the TPE version.

As I say, there may be some things I miss when I leave the job, but Trans Pennine Express wont be one of them.

The video, a train journey, in Norway, with the ideal Abba song

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Yes, right song, but not the artist you’re probably expecting! 😛

So fine, what can I say about the 2 days of Christmas so far? Yesterday was a fine example of Trans Pennine Express at their worst, though with a surprising twist to events. To be fair, before I left home, I knew the 7.17 train was cancelled, just because they felt like it, season of no goodwill with them, and all that. But, if the bus had turned up on time here (it is a First bus, mind), I might have got the 6.56 train, and all would have been fine. No, it turned up 5 minutes late, and the rest was history. I actually got to work with about a minute to spare to log in, but certainly wasnt ready for calls at 8.00.

The day was fine, the odd busy patch, but then, towards the end, when there really wasnt anything to bet on, things did calm down slightly. Then, getting home for Christmas. Unlike Chris Rea, I wasnt driving, but relying on TPE to get me home. Shock horror, the trains were running late. But, in a body blow for TPE, the late running train (only 10 minutes late at Huddersfield) was just about in time for me to run, and catch the bus before the one I was expecting to get. So I got home early with them, there’s an irony!

And so to today. When everyone finally got here, (part of Nicole’s family, staying at a hotel in town), it was time to open presents. A eide collection of items, including curling tongs (to do those Harlow curls), slippers (needed, my current pair are more than on their last legs), and numerous other things too, including a lovely brooch.

Oh, a picture of me on the day, oh fine, there is one.

me, at Christmas

Definitely a fine cleavage there lol!

You can guess the rest, a very good Christmas dinner, a quiet (of sorts) period since then recovering from over eating. And then…back to work tomorrow! Taxi to and from work, so was considering being saucy, and wearing a dress, but given the possible weather forecast, maybe not, gone for a warmer option! Besides which, might be a bit contro when I go out to get lunch in Sainsbury’s! Mind, there might be a bit of turkey around here, for a sandwich tomorrow, so…lol.

The video, yes, the old Shakin’ Stevens song, but not his version. This is an artist who has been around for about 40 years, and still having a successful career. Oh, and he’s from Yorkshire too.

Hope you’ve all had a good day too.