A few months ago, it was announced, with big, bold headlines that the railways over here in the UK would be running a much improved timetable, and service, from 20th May this year. Me, who has suffered the whims, and incompetencies of Trans Pennine Express, and Northern Rail for far too many years, just laughed at this fact, and said on my blogs at the time that it would never happen.
Well, in theory, 2 weeks ago, it did. I managed to miss what was seemingly the first week of total chaos, as I was away in Seattle at the time. However, my first glance back at a UK rail service last Monday, told me the truth about what was happening. I thought maybe it was the fact that rail staff, despite it being in their contract to do so, didnt fancy working on a Bank Holiday, which led to numerous cancellations due to lack of train crew.
However, as the week went on, it became obvious that wasnt the case, it was an everyday event to have lots of train cancellations due to lack of train crews. And it wasnt down to sickness, holidays, or other absences, it was, as I forecast months ago, none of the train companies had the staff to run the new service, and yes, chaos ruled! Guess what, the train I would have caught in the old days, on Saturday, before they changed the time, and ruined it as an option for me, was cancelled!
So therefore, it was no surprise to me to get home last night, and read that 3 of the train companies in this country, have now admitted they cannot run the new timetables, and therefore have introduced temporary timetables in numerous areas to get around the issue. Thing is, some lines arent just going back to service levels before the new service was introduced, its far worse than that!
Given Northern Rail is one of those 3, its easiest to pick on their biggest failure, in the Lake District. The one line going into the Lakes used to be about 1 an hour in each direction, which they tried to improve on, for the summer at least. So, as of tomorrow, how many trains will be running on that line each day? Would you believe, a big round zero! Yes, a replacement bus service all day is as good as it will get. And given its a major holiday area, and summer is coming, the chances of those buses getting caught in traffic jams, and missing connections must be high!
Still, give one piece of kudos to Northern Rail, and the other 2, they’re admitting they’ve got it badly wrong. Trans Pennine Express are making a total mess of things too, but just not prepared to admit it! Cancellations by the dozen, long delays, you name it, they’re doing it!
Do you know the funniest thing about all this, a Japanese Rail Company recently apologized for their train leaving 25 seconds early! As to what they would make of our train service, I dread to think!
Right, video time. To have heard this song before, you either were a huge Gerry Rafferty fan, or just struck lucky, as this is from long after his Baker Street days. But the title sums up what the train companies would like us to do, but have little chance of us doing so. Oh, the blog title? Its the album title!
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!
Let me say that I’m currently on a bit of a subject drought for these, now I’m doing 3 a week, instead of 2, so if anyone has any suitable ideas for subjects they’d like me to discuss (excluding anything UK politics related), feel free to either post in comments here, or send them to email@example.com , and if they appeal, I might just go with them!
One thing that any number of the rail companies over here are hyping, is the supposedly spectacular new service we will be getting from next month! Yes, from experience, I laughed a lot, but after a couple of hours…
The one that has amused me the most, is the obvious local firm that couldnt arrange a booze up in a brewery, let alone a decent train service, Trans Pennine Express. Earlier this week they put out a promotion mentioning more trains between Leeds, and Manchester (6 instead of 5), which run through Huddersfield. They also mentioned that they would be speeding up services on the route between those 2 places, and Liverpool.
So being curious to see how they were coping with their current service, let alone this new spectacular promised one, I took a look at their live runnings through Huddersfield to Manchester at that time. Yes, I did check, and there were no delays that would have been beyond their hands at the time. And…
Of the next 5 trains (the following hour) through Huddersfield to Manchester, 3 were 26, 19, and 17 minutes late respectively. Another had been cancelled due to ‘staff shortages’. So get this right, they havent enough staff to run 5 trains an hour on that route, so they’re going to try and run 6! Going towards Leeds was slightly better, but 4 of those trains were promoted as being between 5, and 10 minutes late at the station! And I suspect most of those were 3 carriages long, despite their promise, when they got the franchise again 2 years ago that all trains would be lengthened, it hasnt happened!
To be fair, I’m sure all the other train companies are making similarly wildly optimistic claims about their new services too! Northern (the other local company around here) made all sorts of claims about replacing all their very elderly stock with newer trains by the end of this year, yet nothing seems to have changed with them. With the rare exception, the trains I catch on a Saturday morning to work are the same elderly carriages they were before!
So yes, next month, I have no great expectations on improvement. I hope I’m wrong, but when I wrote to TPE, via their site, asking them how they were going to provide all these improvements, given their current level of service, I got no reply! Probably cancelled the Customer Services ‘train’ too, lol!
So yes, I suspect most of these so called inprovements will no more come to light than the last lot, and will prove simply to be make believe. Hope I’m wrong, but…?
Which leads me to the video. No, not Bucks Fizz, though I was tempted. Instead a group, that had I actually been a young lady in the late 70’s, I’d have swooned over, as so many probably did. They didnt last that long, as their timing wasnt great, coming to fame just as punk rock hit town, and temporary put a lull on boy bands
I know, running a bit late with these this week, due to being away, and stuff. I’ll make up for it with one tomorrow anyway, so you wont lose out on numbers this week.
The journey to Newcastle was fairly straightforward, arriving almost on time, which is quite a pleasant surprise with Trans Pennine Express. Oh fine, they only done it because of planned lengthy layovers at Leeds, York, and Darlington, of far more time than needed to put down, and pick up passengers! Without that, who knows?
In truth, the only way I was able to find the hotel from the station was thanks to my Google map directions, which I’d printed off before leaving work on Monday, a blessing of modern life, I guess, but more on that later. The hotel was very nice, both food, and room, and I had good company for a few hours, of a writer friend, who I can now put a face to the words of! The one piece of depressing news is that I’ve discovered just how much the body is wearing out, as carrying the bag, complete with laptop about 500 yards is a far harder challenge than it used to be! I know, there’s wheeled cases nowadays, but seriously for 1 night away, ah well…? And whether thats more effort, and space than you’re allowed on some airlines as hand luggage nowadays?
So, Wednesday morning, I set out for Longbenton, and the office I was aiming for, again with my Google map directions in hand. Its fine, apart from the fact about 20 minutes later, I discover that said directions send me to the back entrance, not the one I need to be at. So, 15 minutes later (Yes, I was pretty much out of fuel by then, with the weight of bag), I stagger up to the right entrance, and meeting takes place.
Yes, a very good, and interesting discussion takes place, for a couple of hours or so. Then someone else offers to show me the ‘best way’ between the office, and the station. Yes, took about 10 minutes! I’m told that no one knows why Google Maps does what it does, mainly because most people dont understand how Google Maps work, lets face it! After that, the journey home was fairly straightforward in truth, arriving back in Huddersfield on time, not too hard when you have a 7 minute layover in York, and a further 6 in Leeds scheduled. No, wouldnt have been on time without those!
Ah, I hear you think, she’ll know where to go next time, right? Actually, wrong, because we’re going to rotate it around locations in the next couple of times. But hopefully, when we next meet at Longbenton, I remember not to trust Google Maps at all!
Anyway, despite the efforts of Google, I (eventually) found my way there. Closest video I could find, with a degree of aptness. I know, its just Anderson, and obviously without the lack of keyboards, does sound difference. So if you’re concerned about that, just go find one of them miming on Top of The Pops lol!
Given this is LGBT History month, I thought I’d better slip something in, before it disappeared out the door. I suspect some of my readers do actually come here for LGBT issues, others come here for all the vintage stuff, and others for the simply weird stuff I occasionally come up with! To be fair, most of the really weird stuff tends to go in the other blog, but not all of it lol!
So yes, given that fact, I’ve been quite busy with the LGBT group I’m a member of this month, with regular weekly tele-conferences to discuss what we were going to promote the next week to our fellow workers. Unfortunately for me, in one sense, I work later hours than every other member of the group, who all seem to do 9 to 5 (No, the video is neither Dolly Parton, or Sheena Easton), so generally these are called for 9.00, and I do them at home, delaying my exit for work, and meaning I have to pay for the involved phone calls myself! Therefore I’m delighted to say that tomorrow’s has been moved to noon, so I will actually do it at work, for once.
So instead, I spent money today for another purpose, a discussion about the history of the whole LGBT situation, in one of our offices in Leeds at lunchtime today. Got to meet some different people, who it was a pleasure to meet, and hopefully an interesting chat for all. I may be getting involved in something due to that, but as I’ve always said, the more I can do to show people that all we LGBT folk are no different to everyone else, the better. Subject to approval from my bosses, at least.
But yes, I did something new today, I actually caught (one way at least) a Trans Pennine Express train that ran on time! No, I jest, it has happened a few times before, but not as often as it should. As far back as I can remember (and thats going back about 50 years), there was always one main exit route out of Leeds station, and a couple of side routes added as time went on, and the station extended. But they were all on one side of the station, the North side.
Then the city developed business wise to the South, and there was talk of developing a South Entrance, to save the long journey round. A few years ago, it finally happened, though I never had the need to use it, until today. Yes, the time I saved getting to my destination today, dramatic! Even more amusing, coming back, I was on top of Platform 16 almost instantly, instead of the lengthy obstacle course to get there from the Northern Entrance.
When, and if I use it again, who knows? I suspect that if things discussed today come to anything, then yes, I will. But yes, it was funny today, not fighting through Leeds city center, but just coming out the back way, quite a lot closer to my destination. No, the train journey hasnt changed at all, and neither has the service, as the train coming back home was about 5 minutes late into Huddersfield, ah well…! And sadly, no, no sign of the famous station cat either!
But seriously, the choice to commute to Bradford, by bus, or to Leeds, by train, no contest, the current route is so much better!
The video, well for those who know songs from the 70’s, there’s a clue in the blog title. Judy Collins, live, what more could you ask for?
And no, for once, its not Trans Pennine Express! No, this time its the tale of a Northern Rail fail, and other events yesterday.
Saturday is the only morning where I need to get to get the train to get to work. Earlier start, plus public transport is a bit more limited early on a Saturday morning, so…Into Huddersfield station, train supposedly on time, all looking good, you’d think? Even less of a shock, the Trans Pennine Express services looks a mess, but nothing new there!
Thing is, I look out to the platform where the train should be, nothing there! Not a first, this is 10 minutes before its due to leave, assume its just waiting to pull into the platform. No, it wasnt. There were a couple of Northern Rail people stood near the platform, not looking like they knew what was going on, never a good sign. Well, time for the train to leave came, still no sign of it. 5 minutes after its due to leave, still no sign of it. So given my total lack of faith in Northern Rail, I headed off, and got a slightly later bus to Bradford. Only just gets me in the office by 9, but anyway…I got to Bradford Interchange, and apparently it had finally left Huddersfield, but was going to arrive 22 minutes late! Me, I got there 10 minutes before then! Seemingly left about 8.15, 25 minutes late, as a work colleague had the misfortune to wait for the train to arrive.
Funnily enough Northern Rail had a staff strike on Wednesday, trouble is, it might have been hard to tell the difference in service provided! And no, sadly, this isnt a first! But anyway…
There was something else waiting for me at work when I got there, my new chair. Specially designed for an old crock like me, due to my back issues. Yes, its nice, and yes, I noticed the difference at the end of the day too. No, it shows no signs of shocking, or brainwashing me, but hey, a girl cant have everything lol! 😛
Right, video time. In tribute to a rail company that cant provide the service its meant to (and despite that, in 2 months time, they will hoist up fare prices!), a group that were also waiting for a train that never comes!
And before anyone asks, thats 1 good farce, and 1 typical farce, which I will come to shortly.
The classic farce, technically twice over, was unsurprisingly First Buses in Huddersfield. The first was Wednesday, when I just missed the bus I was hoping to get, by about 20 yards, because the bus driver chose to ignore me racing for the bus. Or fine, racing as much as I can nowadays, with my ailments. No great issue, they’ll be another in 10 minutes, which would still be fine. 28 minutes later, 2 buses turned up at once! Mind, by that time, a third should nearly have been due, and indeed passed us on the way into town! Not a shock, as everyone got on the first 2 (different directions up my road, but both going into Huddersfield), but anyway…
Mind, the First farce (beneficially) continued, as the 9.27 Trans Pennine Express train was running 7 minutes late (the last of the 3 I was hoping to catch), so got it by the skin of my teeth. Just as well, because the 9.46 was late as well, and I would have been late on its normal time, so by then…rolls eyes…
The presentation went fine, as much as I can tell, I tried to entertain, as well as inform, and hopefully that worked for 10-15 minutes. Got a round of applause, which I hope wasnt just polite, anyway… No, sorry readers, no film of that presentation exists, so you’ll just have to believe me lol! But yes, praise for where I work, and attitude to transgender workers, and all that, played up just how lovely our office was!
I’m glad I stayed the rest of the day, some other very interesting talkers as well, I must say.
And then yesterday, in the end, I ended up in Leeds again. I know, dont go there for 15 months, then twice in 2 days! First ‘excelled’ themselves again on that journey too, the bus from here was a few minutes late, but nothing dramatic. Snag was, I needed to then get a bus to Bradford, to meet up with someone to get to a meal, and a play last night, and that was pretty much due. 8 minutes later, it finally turned up! So much for going a bus early, so I could draw some money for the evening. In fact, due to her inability to drive at a reasonable speed, and her desire to argue with customers, we rolled (finally) into Bradford 16 minutes late! I got some money out of a machine, and moved as quick as my body would take me to the office, and was only just late!
The meal was nice, the amusing moment being my first UK meal as a ‘senior citizen’. Yes, its 4 months away, but i’m sorry, a bargain is a bargain, and I’m close enough! :p Yes, not my first, because in the US, at Denny’s, if you have a British appetite, and a friendly server, you can get senior meals before you’re 50 lol! Been there, done that!
Ah, now to the play, which was a good type of farce, and very entertaining too, thanks to Cookridge Amateur Dramatics Society. Very funny, well acted, and set in the West Country, which explains the video shortly. Traditional stuff, lots of confusion over identities and the like, lots of other mayhem, and a delightful ending. Been there, done that probably, but about 20 years ago (or so), so it was fun to see one done from an audience perspective. For readers in the Leeds area, I gather there will be a Panto, sometime around February, so keep your eyes peeled.
Tomorrow, for the first time in 5 days, I need to find my way to the office again. Wednesday was the presentation, and I took today off, because I knew I’d be late home last night, and wouldnt want to get up early. Unfortunately, someone forgot I was off today, and woke me at 6.30 when I hadnt showed signs of life! Still, went back to sleep, all fine…
Oh, and one more thing for tomorrow, my new ‘old crock’ chair has seemingly arrived in my absence. I assume it wont look like a brainwashing, or electric chair, but a woman can hope! 😛
Right, the video. I was thinking of ‘Let Me Entertain You’, but then I found this. West Country, pertinent title for a farce, and…those of a sensitive nature probably shouldnt play it!
Yes, I know, shock horror, this old lady is contemplating doing something disgustingly modern, and getting herself a mobile phone! No, dont panic, its not going to be one of those ghastly smart phone things that does everything but launch nuclear missiles, its going to be the most simple thing I can find, but even so, me, and a mobile phone, gasp!
Equally, no, its not something I’m looking forward to doing with joy, only with pure practicality, believe me. But given I will, in 3 weeks time (starting 31st), be starting to work hours where 4 days a week, I will finish at 8.00, or just before, so in a security sense, I think a phone is a wise move. I know, I worked in Leeds until 10.00, and never bothered with one, but that was in the city centre, and well, this place is a little way outside of there. Its still a main(ish) road, and well lit, but there arent going to be a lot of people about at that time of night, so… Funnily enough, I know what that area was like 40, or 50 years ago, and believe me, you wouldnt have got me going anywhere near it then. But yes, its changed for the better, a lot!
Also, as I’ve discovered, though First buses are more reliable than Trans Pennine Express, thats not hard, and they arent perfect, so, being able to let work, or home know, if I have issues…
To be truthful, I have seen one in an Asda across the road from work, that costs £5, makes calls, presumably sends text messages, and beyond that, I really dont care! But yes, I will be putting the minimum amount on it, as rarely as I can get away with it, and…I certainly wont tell anyone that doesnt need to know, what the number is! I know, but I dont want my life controlled by my phone. Might enjoy being controlled, but not in that way lol!
Believe me, I certainly wont be glued to it, as the vast majority of people seem to be nowadays! Equally, believe me, if it wasnt for security, and safety, I wouldnt be getting one anyway!
Right, video time. Double treat tonight. Firstly, the original video, featuring the brilliant group, Rockpile, though for complex contract reasons, it was released as by Dave Edmunds. If you want the details, type the group name into Wikipedia lol!
But OK, to prove he can still do it (or could 8 years ago at least), here’s Dave sounding great live!
OK, lets try looking ahead, instead of backwards for once. Next week, for the first time in about 15 months (apart from a fortnight I’d rather forget), I will get back to the delights of commuting to work again. Yes, the word, delight, is being facetious, believe me. Its been clear to see that the ‘new’ Trans Pennine Express is no more efficient than the old one was, but hey, at least I know what I’m in for.
The main thing I know I’m going to miss, and in truth, the only thing I will probably miss, is my extended internet time, which I’m certainly not going to get, after next week, at least 5 days a week. I’m guessing I’m going to have to cut back on some things, possibly even cut out others, but I will see how it goes, before I make too many cuts. However, it has to be said, the amount I do now, will not be possible in the much reduced hours I will have, as from this time next week.
Equally, I must admit, having more money again will be nice, though I’ve got so used to not spending any, its going to be weird being able to do so again. But fine, thats at least a month away, possibly 2, before finances reach any sort of level where that will be possible. But it will come, I’m sure. The main blessing will be having the funds to get another chest of drawers, and maybe another small portable wardrobe, and sort my clothing out a bit more than at present.
I’m told the dress wear will be smart casual, so I have no problems on that front, and in truth, many of my tops, and blouses havent seen much action (other than those worn in LA, last year) since I left work, so all should be fine. First day, I need to wear the dress, but pretty sure that will be that, for posh clothing! No, pretty certain I will not be wearing high heels, before you ask!
It would be nice if I could do something fun this week, before I get back to the grind, but in truth, I cant afford it! I will get out tomorrow, to get my hair colored, but thats the biggest, and only excitement at present! With luck, the hair dryer will turn into a brainwashing unit, but…no, fine, I couldnt be that lucky! If anyone wants to treat me (ha ha), then feel free to offer, it would probably do me good!
But yes, this time next week, I should be on my way home, after my first day back at work! Yes, after 15 months, actually getting to say that, quite precious. Funny thing, it will be my first job where everyone has only known me as a woman, wow! Something to think about, for sure.
OK, the video. Well, yes, there is a clue in the title, though its a line from the song, not the name. Given that I used the original before (nearly 5 years ago, mind), I’ve found a rare bird, a live version.
Hey, who knows? At some point I might even get to meet the legendary station cat at Huddersfield, Felix!
Yes, I planned to write this blog last night, but simply ran out of time. As most will have noticed, yesterday was April Fools Day, which brings out all the pranksters, with stories that on any other day, you might think could be true, but on that one day of the year, no chance!
The first one I saw yesterday morning, actually featured a famous local celebrity, and a surprise transfer out of town. Even in these days of social media (and yes, she’s on Facebook), I’m not sure how many know about the famous Huddersfield Station cat, Felix. And yes, despite the name, Felix is a she! I’m yet to see her at the station, because I hardly use it nowadays, and on the rare occasion I have been, nowhere to be seen, probably sleeping!
But the big story, she’d been poached by a larger station in the area, Leeds, and was going to move there. It seemed from comments on her Facebook page, that some people hadnt spotted the date before commenting! Anyway, many of us did realise, and commented accordingly. In the end, a hasty denial that Felix was truly going nowhere, beyond Platform 8, was posted up on her page!
The other related story, that wasnt actually an April Fool, was the transfer of the Rail Franchises around here. Well, on paper, its transfers, in practice, its more of the same. The people who were running Trans Pennine Express, and Northern Rail changed their image, made lots of wild promises about improving journeys, both on punctuality, and quality of train services were provided, but I wont be holding my breath. We were promised a much better service by TPE a few years back, and nothing really happened! Maybe it will this time, but…I suspect it will turn into another April Fool, given the date it happened!
Oh, me, post up an April Fool, of course I wouldnt! Well, maybe…Yes, fine, I did. I claimed I would no longer need to use public transport, because I’d laid my hands on one of these.
Nice, isnt it? Yes, I wish, could certainly get to LA a lot quicker in one of those, for sure. And probably fly at a higher altitude than 38,000 feet too! Faster than 500 mph, or so, as well, I should think. But yes, sadly, I only own it in my dreams, ah well…
The video. Well you’d have to be a fool to believe some of the things posted yesterday, so I selected this