Category Archives: Railways

The first time ever…

If anyone was expecting me to start the final week of radiotherapy treatments with a health posting, well you’re going to be wrong. For that fact, you can either thank, or be annoyed with Eric, though in truth, as I will know far more after tomorrow, and probably more on Thursday, it would be a bit of a wasted exercise anyway. Though you could say both have a tunnel in common, but seriously…

I dont know exactly when the first time I travelled under the Channel was, though given it was with my partner who I parted from in 1999, you’re talking quite a while ago, but anyway… In those days we travelled from Waterloo, not St Pancras as you would now. Indeed, even my last journey on the Eurostar was prior to 2007 (as thats when the train service was seemingly transferred), though in truth it was before moving to Yorkshire in 2005, so…I could only have travelled from Waterloo, lol.

That first time, the only high speed section of the Eurostar route started at the tunnel entrance, and continued in France and Belgium. Yes, the whole UK section prior to then was over the standard rail lines, not the special high speed one you get to travel on now. Yes, I will need to try and put that fact right once I’m up to it, wont I? I have been on weekend trips to both Brussels, and Lille, and indeed Bruges (via Brussels) with her back in the 90’s, as well as with Eric to Brussels, in the early part of this century. I know, never been to Paris, but if I’m doing the trip again, I’m sure it will be Brussels again, because I’m awkward like that, and Paris has less appeal in truth.

Thing is, if I do it now, the trip to the tunnel entrance would be totally different to anything I’ve ever travelled, literally. St Pancras International, Stratford International, and Ebbsfleet didnt even exist when I first went under the Channel. I’m not sure what the set up was at Ashford back then, but I’m pretty sure it didnt have an entirely separate International station, but dont quote me on that! Seems that now the only section that isnt really high speed is the last section into/first section out of Brussels for about 12 kilometres, though that might have changed now from when the journey was filmed that I saw (care of Eric) earlier this evening. Beyond knowing its after 2007 obviously, I dont know when it was done, in truth.

Of course, the most amusing thing about all of this is the naming of Stratford International station. Why? Simple, there are no international trains serving said station! Care of Wikipedia, I gather the plan was to use it for the trains going further north than London, but of course they never happened (not even during Olympics!), so only domestic trains have ever stopped there! In theory I could get a domestic train that stops there (remember I used to live in nearby Leytonstone, change at Ebbsfleet, or Ashford, to travel abroad, but seriously…?

Either way, the UK part of the journey would be very different to my first Eurostar journey, that is for sure.

OK, video time. Most people of my age grew up on the Roberta Flack version, people younger than me will have grown up on more modern versions, but its right to say this is far more the version as originally written, for sure

Its down to the station, err, staff

In a way, I sort of feel sorry for the lovely guy named Geoff Marshall, and his partner Vicki, because every time I go to give them a mention in my blogs, someone else ends up stealing some of their glamour, and promotion situation.

The Rail Delivery Group have been running a World Cup of Rail Stations in last week or so, and yesterday marked the final, between 4 stations, 3 of which I’ve been to in my life (Bristol Temple Meads, Birmingham New Street, and Huddersfield) more than a few times, and one that I probably now need (according to Geoff, and station concerned) to visit, once I’m healthy again, Wemyss Bay.

Yesterday, to mark the day of the final, Geoff, and Vicki started the day in Bristol, then travelled to Birmingham, then on to Huddersfield, getting there in the early evening. To be fair, Bristol is a lovely historical station, even if it isnt Brunel’s first, its gloriously old, and a lovely place to visit. Birmingham is far more modern station, but its a fantastic building, all the same. Wemyss Bay looks glorious too in pictures, which is all I can go on for now. I might be slightly biased, but Huddersfield is another glorious old building, with modern facilities inside, but in truth, what I think helped to tip the vote heavily in its favour might have been a couple of the station staff. Yes, the pair of station cats, Felix, and Bolt!

I know, British people, and cats, who would have ever thought it, lol?

Anyway, to get back to Geoff promotion, today he started his annual event, involving all the tube lines, and a few other Transport for London groups, to make up 16 teams, so if you follow him, go on his Twitter account, and vote. First 2 first round matches started this morning, go on until tomorrow, and then matches follow from there until we have a winner.

After that, there is a possibility of a closed lines one, run by Paul Whitewick, so watch this blog, just in case.

As to the famous staff at Huddersfield station, I’ve seen Felix a few times in the past, when I was using the station, but I’m yet to see Bolt as yet, mainly because my train travel dropped off dramatically in 2015, when I got made redundant by William Hill in Leeds, but there is still time, so…

(Oh, just to mention, I also would have York and Newcastle high on my loved stations list, of those I’ve been to)

OK, video time. What is Huddersfield stations main claim to fame? Why, a pair of pussycats! This, seemingly is the original promo video, not the one that most people know for this song, ooh!

Trains are less around

Right, given there will be no further health issue news for general release before Monday at the earliest, and might be Tuesday before I feel like, or am in a place to release anything, as ‘family’ and close friends deserve to get it before the blogging masses, lets do something different today on both blogs, one serious (the one here), and one downright silly (apt for that blog) today, as I’m not saying I will ever get back to count, but for now.

A very few might even notice the very early posting time, but there is a reason for this too. A boring one, baseball. Tonight (UK time at least) is the first of 2 occasions when its possible there will be 4 play off games in one night. In theory, it could happen again Monday, but as 2 of the games would have to go to 4th match of 5 for that to happen, its less than likely, so…

So, as hinted, we are talking rail lines here, but some longer term visitors will already know, I enjoy scenic long distance rail journeys anyway. So… When I was young, the only way to see rail lines some way from me, was to plan holidays with something called a railrover, and draw up pages of station times to get connections, write by something called letters to hotels in suitable areas, and hope you could get the 2 to match up. Most of time it worked, a few times it didnt, but this was the 1970’s, so…

Now, all you need to do if desired, is go on You Tube, and you’d be stunned what you could find. I hope you cant find a full 40 hour plus film covering Winnipeg to Churchill in Canada, but beyond that…

Here in the UK, there are a couple of people called Geoff Marshall, and his partner/Wife?, Vicki, who in time have covered the whole network, post any number of helpful videos, and who seem a lovely couple in terms of the limited contact I’ve had with them. All The Stations is their best site on You Tube, go look them up, and stuff at least. But finally, this is it for them, they’re famous enough anyway, lol.

The other thing anyone who has known me for any length of time will know, I love rail journeys, but its the lines that are no longer with us that appeal to me far more than current ones. Thankfully there are another lovely couple on You Tube who have taken up the abandoned line challenge, Paul, and Rebecca Whitewick, their You Tube site being https://www.youtube.com/user/pwhitewick1

Go check it out, take a choice and watch a video or two, or more.

The thing is, this sort of thing isnt cheap, even more so for abandoned lines, hotel costs, video prep, and everything else, so they have a Patreon to help, and thats what I’m pushing now

https://www.patreon.com/everydisusedstation

Neither me, nor them (unless Bill Gates reads this, lol) expects you to pay a fortune, either as a one off, or monthly, but if you can help at all (or more)… I obviously cant with my health position, lol. But anything helps, so…they are a lovely couple, and if you comment on a video, you’re going to get a reply, believe me. And yes, you’ll be helping this old lady to get her fill of abandoned UK rail lines too, at a time when my mobility, and stuff is all compromised.

OK, video time. I know, their rough home area, thats it, but its somewhere not a million miles from Andover. A famous old group from Andover, then, the Troggs, though Wet Wet Wet made this more famous, but this video is so 60’s, when Beeching closed so many lines, and its set on a train too!

 

2018, part 2, the last pre-code lady

And so to the second half of the year.

In truth, personal things prior to September were fairly limited. Mainly because I was at work, through the school holidays, covering for those who need the time off.

One sad thing that did happen before then, happened in August. To many, it probably seems amazing that an adult actress from the early 1930’s had survived this long, but one of them had. But eventually that tie was cut, when Mary Carlisle passed away at the grand old age of 104. She was pretty sharp to the end, if less mobile, and for a while she had been the last, and all knew the link was coming to an end, but for those of us who love that era, it was still a sad moment when it arrived.

September saw me going back to a place I hadnt visited in nearly 40 years, Inverness, taking Eric away with me for a few days of fun. Well, as much fun as two people with disability issues can have, anyway. I managed to fulfil one ambition I’d had for about that long, if not more, by travelling the Skye Line to Kyle of Lochalsh. The fact that the last time I was there, the only way to Skye was by ferry, and now a bridge has been there for decades, all a bit strange. There are still a couple of railway lines in Scotland I’d love to do (Oban line, Fort William to Mallaig), and the Cambrian Coast line in Wales to a place I could never pronounce correctly (Pwllheli) that are a challenge for another day, health permitting. There are also a couple of very long distance ones in North America too, though they may be less likely, and trickier to do.

At one point I thought that November would see me doing a Transgender Awareness Week speech in Florida, but it soon seemed that someone was all talk, and no reality, so it never happened. So instead, I headed somewhere nearly as warm for the week, to the Algarve, to give my back some heat before winter kicked in. I wont deny I might have done a little bit of apartment prospecting while there, should the chance arise, and yes, if things work out, my old age could well be spent out there. There is a financial issue (not enough money), and a political issue (post Brexit residence rules) that may stop that, but fingers crossed… A lottery jackpot win before March 29 might be very handy! But lifestyle, and health wise, I could do a lot worse.

Then we come to the old chestnut, my health issue. In recent weeks my left wrist seems to have developed issues, probably due to too much typing, and stuff, for the last 40 years or so. So now I have 2 issues leaving me wondering how much longer work is going to be possible? More amusingly, due to coming 4th in a year long Golf tipping contest on Twitter, I gained £100 for my pains, and thought I’d give some new therapies a try, rather than frittering it on clothing, and the like. So yes, I got to discover just how amazing a flotation tank (sensory deprivation tank) is, and even better, the weightless floating does seem to do my back a lot of good too. Fine, the tank hasnt tried to brainwash me yet, though I’m still hoping!

Oh, and December saw the Works Christmas dinner, in a new dress, in a casino, and my first ever bet in such a place. Yes, I lost quickly, but it was a free £5 chip, so nothing lost really!

Lastly, and sadly, the Department I work in, in their wisdom, have decided to move our section out of Finance, and into a new Collection based group. So unfortunately, just as our LGBT committee were getting ready to do something really exciting, I’m out, as from tomorrow. I cant see me going quiet on LGBT issues, but it may give me less options now, though I have applied for something for the whole Department, not just Finance, but will be over a month before I hear about that. Ah well…

Right, tomorrow I will close the trilogy, with a look at New Year happenings (and possible happenings) on the first day of 2019. But until then, let me wish all my readers, those who arent there already at least, a Happy New Year in 2019.

OK, video. Just a quickie tonight. Its hard to find anything for Mary Carlisle other than a couple of full films, and sets of pictures. But I found this, Bing Crosby singing to her, 85 years ago!

Oh Mr Grayling, come over here…

For the non Brits here, he is currently the Transport Minister, dealing with our wonderful (not!) railway service, assuming he hasnt resigned over Brexit like so many others, lol?

Its been a while since I had the misfortune to need to travel on Trans Pennine Express, but today was an LGBT committee meeting in Manchester, so I had to take my chances. I did look at the live departures board before leaving, and it looked like they were failing to provide any form of decent service, and so it proved when I got into Huddersfield.

I actually went through the barrier at 9.10, to catch the 9.01 train to Manchester, and I still had to wait more than 5 minutes for that. Oh, and at that point, the 8.52 train still hadnt arrived, and wasnt even due for 10 minutes after the train I caught.

The train crawled its way to near Stalybridge before announcing that it was now so late (about 20 minutes) that it was terminating there, and that we could catch the next train to Manchester Piccadilly, which was right behind us. I dont know who told him that, because soon after we all got off, in the freezing cold, it was announced said train was delayed, and they finally admitted it was actually nearly 30 minutes behind us!

Fortunately, shrewd commuter syndrome hasnt deserted me, there was a stopping train to another station in Manchester, leaving about 10 minutes later, so I struggled across and got on that. I should have got to the meeting venue about 9.50, I actually got there at 10.28 Luckily I allow for TPE being so awful, so I only entered the meeting room 2 minutes late!

Funnily enough, getting home was only slightly better. I arrived at Piccadilly station, after the meeting, at 14.47. Yes, I got the 14.40 train, with ease, which actually left about 14.55! Oh, and what annoys me most, fares are going up by over 3% next month!

Not that the other local train company, Northern Rail are any better. I cant remember the last time they actually ran trains on a Saturday due to a strike caused by their obstinacy over an issue with the union, who have the support of the Transport Department!

Ah well… At least I have a session in the brainwashing pod, sorry, flotation tank to look forward to on Thursday. Or with luck, not remember it, lol!

OK, video time. Same song, twice over. Firstly, the murdered cover version, which I have to post, because it matches up to the TPE rail service

Secondly, a blatantly mimed version of the original version, but more recently ‘performed’. As live as a TPE train service, lol

Calling Gloria?

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!

The logic of Trump,honesty, and a likely farewell

Oh fine, I wasnt going to post again tonight, but enough has happened today to make it worthwhile, so lets roll with it.

The day started with some amusement, and helped to convince me that Trump followers really are idiots, or some of them, anyway. It actually started positively (if you ignore the earlier sighting on news of Trump doing a fist pump at a 9/11 memorial service, for heavens sake. Is he, and his fans complete idiots? Oh fine, seemingly, but more on that shortly.

Some very efficient service from a nice man at Scotrail assistance, means Eric will not need to walk miles at Edinburgh Waverley on the return journey, assistance arranged! But then to today’s journey, and the moment of idiocy. There were at least 2 signs, that I noticed, advising customers that there were no seat reservations on the train we were catching to Aviemore, due to, as I found out later, a printer issue.

So fine, no great fuss, got in a pair of seats, ready for the journey, and then… This American elderly man, wearing, you’ve guessed it, one of the dreaded M.A.G.A hats came up to us, and told us we were in his reserved seats. I politely explained, just as the conductor was again confirming it over the speaker system, that there were no reserved seats. His only reply (and its fair to comment, there was little sign of intelligence in his eyes, was to repeat what he said, and glare at us again. After 3 rounds of this, I decided that beating my head against a Trump fan, with an IQ roughly around zero, was a pointless exercise, so we gave up, and moved.

He then started bemoaning us to his wife, who miraculously pointed out to him that we were right, there were no reserved seats on the train. Anyway, one of his other companions/family members gave a face that was clean out of Redneck territory at the whole event, best described as a gurn. No, I’m not sure his IQ was as high as zero! Thankfully, we were only going one stop, so soon left them behind, about 35 minutes later.

The steam train ride was nice. Cant remember the last time before this I rode a steam train, definitely cant remember the last time I had a meal on one! Anyway, back to Aviemore at 14.08, and… we proceeded, after about 30 minutes wait, to get the 12.23 to Inverness! No, I’m not kidding, there was an issue with a freight train further down the line, it was running about 2 and a quarter hours late! Now, in this country, when you have this much of a delay, you get a refund on your ticket. Thing is, we were actually booked on an anytime ticket, which even though that wasnt our planned train, we could have claimed for the delay. Thing is, we had reserved seats for the 14.40, so if anyone checked, we werent actually delayed, but a few minutes early.

I’ll be honest, if worthwhile money was involved (£9.75 each), and I wasnt a civil servant, I probably would have gone for it anyway. But yeah, I can just see the headlines, if anyone found out, so for that much money, no go. Honest, but stupid, probably!

Lastly, after we got back to the hotel, and Eric settled down for a nap, I took a stroll back up into Inverness, one last time, probably. I cant see me being back anytime soon, and in truth, a few years after that, I probably, quite literally wont be going anywhere, lol! Body might last a few more years, but I suspect not many, and the odds on being back up here, not good.

So, when I was a child (as I have mentioned before), I had some distant relative who lived in the Highlands, at Kinlochleven, of a very similar age to me. She, as I suspect young Scottish children do, was from time to time, dressed in her clan colors, Maclaine of Lochbuie. At one time, I had a tie, and a plaque in said colors, but both have long since passed from my ownership in time, and moves. Anyway, I thought it might be fun to look for a dress, or skirt in said clan colors, but unsurprisingly, I couldnt find any, its not one of the popular clans, shall we say? But those I did, well over £100, so definitely not going to happen, regardless! Oh fine, lets include the clan name as a category, I might get offered a skirt, or dress in clan colors, though I wont hold my breath on that!

And thats about it! Tomorrow we head back down south, end of the break. Lets just say I’m looking forward to some lay ins, in the morning, for the last 3 days of my break! Eric, please note, lol!

I dont know what to say about video suggestions, to be honest. Last Farewell, Roger Whitaker, maybe?

Edited to add the video from home

Build a rainbow or two, with a missing ferry, and hotel?

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

70 years ago from now…

1948 was a notable year for a few reasons. In a personal sense, it was the year my parents got married, and stayed together for about 20 years or so. About 10 years into that marriage, I came along, and for whatever reason, they decided that was enough children for them, and no more appeared. It might have been that my father was at several of the nuclear bomb tests in the 1950’s (he was in Navy), and I was born intersex, that may have either put them off having more, or they might have been advised to do that, of course?

At the start of 1948, the railways here in the UK were nationalized, after years of deterioration due to the war, it was the only way that many of them could be rescued for public use. Of course, in the 90’s, they were privatized again, and I think most can work out how I feel about the outcome of that decision, given my comments on the local train companies around here previously!

A horse called My Love won the Derby that year, and much though I considered using said Wings song for this blog, I’ve gone for something way out of left field instead!

But why I’m writing this tonight, is for something that has celebrated its 70th Birthday today, the National Health Service! Strictly its called a free medical service, but of course, it isnt, we all pay for it out of our taxes, and other deductions, but because of that, its a case of service for all, paid to varying degrees, according to how much you earn. Some countries (Yes, US, I’m looking at you), have still not caught on to the benefits of this system, but anyway…

Its fair to say there have been many changes over the years since then, hopefully all for the better, but not being that old, I cant tell you what it was like back then. My first real experience (that I remember, so being born doesnt count) of the NHS would be about 9 or 10, when I wrecked my knees. I’ve been a few times over the years since then, though thankfully, other than the knees, not too much surgical matters have been required.

The amusing thing was, that today, I had an appointment at the local Doctor’s practice, for my quarterly meds check up. So yes, there for the anniversary, lol. The outcome was my prescription, with which I then proceeded to visit 2 pharmacies, who couldnt fill it! Thankfully, I have enough supplies until Wednesday, so I can collect them on Tuesday! In truth, the current weather makes it slightly less of an issue, hopefully that will last.

I wonder what they will be celebrating at the Centenary, as I’m pretty certain I wont be here to find out!

OK, video time. Any reader who can put their hand on their heart, and say they remember this song, I’m impressed! A few minor hits in the 70’s, and that was it. But yes, the name of the group seemed apt for the day!

 

The holiday experience

Before I leave Blackpool off the blogs for a little while…Some thoughts from the weekend.

When I was young, pretty much everyone, excluding the wealthy, used to holiday at home in the UK. For the wonderfully obvious reason that in those pre-package holiday days, most people had little choice to do anything else. So places like Blackpool, Scarborough, Southend (the 3 I now know best, now, and in the past), and numerous other seaside resorts thrived with visitors every year, in the summer. Its hard to believe that until the early 60’s, on a Saturday, the trains would run hundreds of ‘holiday trains’ to the seaside, filled with people going away for their week of leisure. To be fair, they had their day before then, with mass ownership of cars creeping in, but even then, there were enough people to make it worth while.

Then at some point  in the 1970’s, a travel company came up with the idea of package flights, to beaches abroad, and the entry into the Common Market, and the demise slowly began. Lets face it, why, when you have a week of freedom, would you risk the UK weather, when you could have almost guaranteed sun, for little more money. I never got involved in that initial rush, as part of a single parent family, holidays had to be basic, and stay that way. Even when I could buy my own, I tended to stay in the UK (or Jersey) of choice, apart from ‘family’ related trips to Ireland.  Apart from that, and a school day trip to France, I never went abroad until I was in my late twenties!

Since then, I havent often holidayed at home! There was the trip to Jersey a few years ago, and I noticed that numbers were less there, not surprisingly, but that really was about it. But UK seaside resorts otherwise, not at all.

Lets just say that I dont remember Blackpool at all from my few brief visits 30-40 years ago, so I cant compare it to then. And as I said at the time, March was such a flying visit, I didnt get to see much. Of course, this time I did. I’m not going to say Blackpool is a depressed area, it isnt, but at the same time, its seen better days! Yes, its heyday is gone, for sure. But thats progress, I guess? The pier was busy on Saturday, and was quite crowded at times, and that was nice to see. Where the big clues lay for me, was Friday evening, when we walked inland, into town, to get something to eat. I know most retail areas are struggling today, due to online shopping, and stuff, but the town center didnt inspire me to do more than have a meal, and get back to the guest house.

To be fair, the number of guest houses, and small hotels in the town, business must still be decent, but I suspect way down from the heydays, up to the 1970’s? I’ll give Blackpool its due, its trying, Saturday showed that. I’ve heard other places may not be trying so hard, but the times have changed against these famous UK seaside resorts. Who knows, it may swing back again after Brexit, who can tell? I have my doubts, but fingers crossed…

Right, video time. One of those ‘foreign’ songs that were all the rage back in the 1970’s. Most were re-recorded in English, as this song was, several times. But this quirky video, from the 1970’s, of the original version of the song, truly is quite, err, something!