Ticket to Ride.

 

New ticket machine

Well over a year ago, our local buses began introducing new ticket machines. As with anything new, it all began rather badly. The bus drivers didn’t seem to have a clue, we passengers were just as clueless and for quite a while, it tended to be a case of ‘get on the bus’, listen to the driver state We don’t have any tickets!” as you vainly flashed your bus pass in his general direction.  I couldn’t quite make out what you were supposed to do with these new fangled ticket machines, and if they didn’t have any tickets, hadn’t installing them on every bus been rather a waste of time?

Kerri in the meantime seemed to have picked up the idea behind them straight away, as she held her pass directly in front of the small window, albeit with no response from the machine for her efforts.  All I kept thinking to myself as we journeyed along ticketless was, what if an inspector boarded before realising that I hadn’t actually seen an inspector get on a bus for years.

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Slowly over time, the new ticket machines have begun to work as they should. At least I think that they began to work as they should. Firstly, tickets were actually being given in response to you flashing your pass in front of them as you boarded. However, I was bitterly disappointed when at last I was handed one of the new tickets. They are simply a thin squarish waxed piece of paper, with little to commend them.  Boring was my initial thought. As a passenger, there’s very little you can do with them once they are in your hand. Compared to their rather colourful predecessors, they are rubbish. How many hours have I happily whiled away my time during my bus journey, absent mindedly rolling those wonderful tickets up into a tight roll between thumb and forefinger in one direction, and then reversing the whole procedure? Or forming them into a smiley or talking mouth for the amusement of my children when they were younger? I can’t possibly do any of that with the new boring bus tickets.

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Not that your actually given one every time you board a bus. It’s often the way that you ‘scan’ your pass, only to receive a curt nod from the driver (and a green light from the new ticket machine, that is if its working of course) to indicate that your allowed to continue up the aisle and sit down. Ticketless of course.  So, its still all rather confusing, sometimes a ticket is handed over, other times not. Sometimes your pass causes some response from the machine, sometimes not.  How are they supposed to work?

There has been no information provided about their usage whatsoever for passengers, we’re all obviously supposed to be mind readers or Einstein’s, and immediately know exactly what to do.  Some drivers have vainly tried to help of course in their own way, though I suspect that most of them haven’t a clue either.

“ Place your pass in front of the machine (or on top as it seems as if, depending on which bus company you board, these new ticket machines are all very different to each other in layout, just to confuse you even further) and it will register it.”

Ahh!  Register it!  Now the penny begins to drop! Sifting out types of users! Paying and none paying!  Pass and none pass!  Will it eventually come to pass (pun intended) where we pass holders are only allowed on certain buses at certain times because we don’t add to the bus company’s profits? Will we be relegated to old rusty buses that crawl along at a snails pace to cut costs? Will we be banned from peak time buses, relegated to (what will probably become known as) The Oldies Bus? I know this, there’s always a reason why new gadgets such as these new ticket machines are introduced, and I have that horrible gut feeling that for us pass waving passengers, none of it is good news. We may even arrive at a time when trying to board vainly waving our passes at the driver, all we hear are those well known words uttered by another senior in a land far away….

“You shall not Pass!”

Technogran Sad smile

Throwing caution to the winds.

Is anyone else diving out the door at the first opportunity whenever the sun peers through the clouds or is it just me? Following the lousy summer we’ve had so far, I simply can’t bear to waste a moment of it. Throwing caution to the winds and not caring if I looked like mutton dressed as lamb, I even went as far as donning my pedal pusher trousers and my open toed sandals. Even the raincoat and umbrella were left at home!  Foolhardy? Tempting fate? Once again my destination was the doctors and I had allowed a good half hour for my walk down. I can walk a lot faster when K is not with me. She is going swimming this morning with Day Care and I confess that I really envied her as she set off. 

For once I had remembered to grab my watch but a quick glance reminded me that I hadn’t made allowances for the frequent stops along the way I was tend to make these days taking snaps with my phone. I had to adjust my walking speed accordingly and although my doctor is always running late, the one time that I risk it and arrive late will probably be the one time that she is running to time. It’s a gorgeous day. Everyone I pass seem so cheerful.

Good morning! Isn’t it lovely to be out in the sunshine?”

Yes, and not before time!” I reply.

Following my stint at the doctors, I pick up my prescription and saunter down to town, no longer having to rush. Nearly every person I encounter is dressed either in shorts or cool summer clothes. Its so colourful after the dingy sight we’ve all become used to of raincoats, umbrellas and the like. I linger outside Websters furniture shop, peering in the windows at their recliner suites and chairs. I ponder for what must be the hundredth time on how they manage to be about the only shop in Brighouse that has survived. I have yet to see any customers in the shop purchasing anything. Most of their stock is very expensive and yes, okay, the best quality, but this is hardly what I would consider an affluent area. Yet I reason to myself, someone must be buying it for whilst other shops have died a death in our town, Websters marches on.

Merrie England scrumptious home made apple pie.

I enter Merrie England and stand at the ‘take away’ part of the counter to order a Turkey Salad on Gluten free bread. As usual, its quite full and there are probably as many customers sat outside in the back area enjoying the sunshine.  I was tempted to linger myself and have one of their delicious decaff cappuccino’s but had second thoughts, seeing as I intend to walk home and not waste any of this glorious sunshine. Trouble is, I am stood directly opposite the display of their fantastic home made apple pies, which are sorely testing my willpower. At last she hands me my sandwich, I pay and saunter on to Hartley’s bread shop for K’s order of a Chicken Tikka and onion sandwich with salad cream on white bread. (Yes, she has strange tastes, my daughter.)  I also purchase a side salad for my lunch and a piece of Quiche.

My walk home is very enjoyable, I’m in no hurry and anyway, its slightly uphill with some steep bits, so I take my time, greeting people who are busy in their gardens as I pass. We’re all mostly a friendly bunch, its one of the reason’s I like living here, practically everyone knows everyone else and that’s the way I like it. By the time I arrive back home, I’m lathered and have to open most of the windows to compensate. I’d much rather be too hot than cold though, and I quickly set too making my Quiche and salad lunch. It’s been so enjoyable, being able to throw caution to the winds for once and leave that blasted umbrella at home!

Technogran

Down the Tube….again.

Our transport is late.  Eventually I have to resort to ringing the ward to find out where it is. K has spent a fruitless watch at her bedroom window for what has seemed like hours, her coat already on, knelt up scanning the cul de sac outside for signs of our transport. Finally it arrives and we make the journey to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary and my eventual venue, Ward 3. It’s not a Ward in the true sense of the word, and seems to be divided into two entirely separate parts by a door half way along the corridor, the first part is the Oncology area and the other is for Haematology. A reception desk greets you as you enter staffed by a friendly receptionist who ushers me into a side room filled with comfortable looking recliner chairs, two of which are currently occupied a lady and a gentleman who, judging by the colour of the contents of the bags slung atop the pumping equipment are both receiving some blood.

We sit down to wait for one of the nurses to fit me with a cannula. I am already late. I note that these particular chairs are actually superior to the one’s in the McMillan unit’s chemo ward, they are higher backed and much larger. Trying out the controls, I am horrified when the chair begins to rise up in the air. It turns out after trying out the controls, that they ‘tip up to help you stand’ as well as reclining. S comes into the room and asks me to place both of my hands in a bowl of hot water in order to bring my veins to the fore. She’ll be lucky! I think silently to myself.  An attempt has been made to make the room look more attractive to be spending time in by the inclusion of two large prints on the wall, the right side has a poppy’s in a field print, and the other a very large map of the world which K is very interested in, spending her time asking me ‘Where’s Spain, or where’s Australia?” as we wait.

A lady of American origin complete with an enthusiastic smile comes bustling in to ask us if we would like a drink.  

“Coffee? Tea? Orange Juice?” she asks, and goes bustling out of the door to a trolley parked outside in the corridor. When our drinks arrive, K has  to resort to holding my cup to my mouth seeing as both my hands are otherwise occupied soaking in the bowl of hot water. At last S returns and pulls up a stool to sit in front of me, and after placing my left arm on top of a bleached white pillow, she begins inspecting my veins in the back of my left hand. She seems to be taking her time, tapping each one carefully as she goes.

“Its a large needle.” she offers in way of explanation, “and I need the best vein.”

“S, you shouldn’t have told me that!” I reply. Eventually she chooses to try a vein which runs along the side of my wrist, stating that it looks the best out of the bunch. I am left handed, but the veins in the back of my right hand went AWOL last year in protest at all of the cannula fitting they had to endure.

In order to take my mind off the ‘big needle’ I ponder to myself how we have become a like a kind of big happy family during the course of last year and this. The staff have become so familiar because they work here at the Huddersfield Royal Chemo department as well as at the McMillan unit, spending their time toing and froing between both, and their days are filled with fitting cannulas in various veins, supervising chemotherapy or blood transfusions for patients who are anaemic, and occasionally dashing to the aid of a patient who has had a bad reaction.  At last the cannula is fitted and the bustling American tea lady escorts us down to the CT department waiting room. (I am not familiar with this hospital, and certainly not this area we are currently in.)

I try not to move my hand because it hurts at the wrist bone where the cannula is inserted. There are a few other patients sat waiting along the sides of the small waiting area, a woman and her husband over in the far corner and whispering to each other, and an older black man. They are both having to drink the aniseed tasting liquid that I have also usually had to drink on my previous visits to have a CT Scan. I wonder if I will also have to drink some as I contemplate the old gentleman sat across from me. He is so thin that his skin looks like tanned leather stretched across his skeletal frame, his fingers as they hold the cup are more like long thin claws, and his legs look to be merely bone through his trousers.  Atop his head he wears a flat cap with small tufts of curly grey hair peeking out at each side, and because his face is so thin and skeletal, his eyes seem to be popping out as he gazes around him.

I am called in by one of the CT staff. They always wear maroon overalls. I don’t really notice much about this scanner, I don’t notice which make, or anything much about the room as I am ushered onto the bed. By now its an all too familiar routine. Head on the raised pillow. Arms placed behind your head.

I’m just attaching the contrast dye” she states “Let us know if it feels uncomfortable.”

The table containing my now prone body complete with hands stretched out above my head, moves backward and through the doughnut shaped contraption.  It begins to hum and spin around.  A familiar female voice states

Breath in and hold.” I comply. “Breath normally.” I comply. The table and I go forwards. The spinning slows. The hum lowers. The table and I again reverse through the doughnut.

“Breath in and hold” Again I comply. That’s strange! I think to myself, I haven’t experienced the awful metallic taste in my mouth and the feeling that my whole body is on fire when the dye is injected. Perhaps they use a different one here! “ Breath normally.”  I also ponder why these machines always use a female voice and why its the same voice no matter which make of scanner you happen to be under. Must be the same actress used by them all, or perhaps  its a certain member of the medical profession?  My heart sinks as one of the staff states over the tannoy,

I’m injecting the dye now Mrs L, so let me know if it feels uncomfortable won’t you?” I wonder to myself what they would do if I began screaming at the top of my voice. They would have to come dashing out of the room that they always retire to. I feel a cold sensation running past my wrist, a horrid metallic taste in my mouth and suddenly my whole body feels as if I’m stood in the middle of a fire. Its a good job that it only lasts a moment or two.

“ Breath in and hold” the machine instructs. I and the table move backward. A whirring sound and the doughnut is spinning above my head.  The whirring stops slowly. The spinning stops. My table containing me moves forward and out from under the machine.  A member of staff helps me to get off the table and I re-join K outside.  Although we are supposed to wait for the American tea lady to escort us back to Ward 3, my cannula is hurting and I need the toilet. We decide to throw caution to the winds and find our own way back.

SOMATOM Perspective

On our return to the ward, the lovely American tea lady bustles around our chairs, asking which sandwiches we would like for lunch, and which pudding, a jelly or a yoghurt? We choose a sandwich apiece, K chooses one of the jellies and I choose a yoghurt. She also brings us a drink in the form of tea. No one arrives to take my cannula out. No one seems in any hurry to see the back of both of us. We both eat our lunch, by now K has adjusted the chemo chair that she is sitting in so that the leg rest is up and I am pretty sure that once she had finished her lunch, she’ll be asleep. The lovely American tea lady is so helpful to everyone, I tell her that she can transfer to the McMillan unit.

I am thinking to myself that the reason why no one is in any hurry to remove my cannula is probably because they are waiting for the CT results to come through before allowing me home, and I prove to be right. Some time after lunch, the registrar visits me and informs me that he has got the CT result and yes, it shows blood clots on my lungs. I have therefore to continue with the daily Fragmin injections (sigh) until further notice and that he has given me a months supply, and also that he will inform my GP that I will need the injections in the future on repeat prescription. As is usual, I tell him that I am not keen on this make of injections, not that I had any love for last years Clexane, but these are not as easy to administer yourself seeing as the needle does not auto retract inside the casing, and I am going to have to be careful not to accidentally touch it when placing it in the sharps tub, and anyway, why have they changed it? (This is why medical staff aren’t keen on me, because I speak my mind on every occasion and ask endless questions about everything.)

It’s exactly the same thing, just a different make we have decided to use, that’s all.” he reassures me, probably silently thinking that he hopes to never have to deal with me again. He also informs me that because this is the second time I have had blood clots, when my chemo is completed I will have to take Warfarin for the rest of my life. Sigh. As soon as he has been to talk to me, S suddenly appears and promptly removes the cannula from my hand, and at last I am free to take a toilet break! We can now wait for our transport back home, and the receptionist kindly escorts us to the waiting area below. Eventually our transport arrives and we are taken home. That’s most of the day gone and I am back jabbing myself in the stomach every day for the foreseeable future.

(P.S. I am not really keen on doing blog posts about my cancer treatment etc, as I am pretty sure that some won’t be keen or interested to read about any of it. However, because its become such an integral part of my life at present, it equally seems silly not to mention it, and besides, some who might be having to begin the same fight might find it useful. I am willing however, that if my readers don’t particularly want to read about any of my treatment, to post all of my Cancer related stuff in a separate blog that you could go to and read if you wanted to, or ignore if not. Please can you all let me know, and then I will keep this blog for my other light-hearted moans and groans about other subjects? Thanks.)

TG

Calling people names.

 

butterfly

I’m not quite sure how the conversation turned to the subject of people’s names as we all sat enjoying the welcome sunshine and our lunch outside the Flutterbites Cafe after our walk on Saturday. I suppose it could have been me who stated that I was, and always had been, useless at remembering peoples names, or there again, it could have been her. However the subject was broached, I had to confess that I was terrible with names and recalled to her how it had taken me ages to ‘get a hold’ of her particular name.

You don’t look a Gerry” I offered in way of explanation for the many countless times I used to refer to her as Gillian.  I also confessed how I kept insisting that Paule was Paula and calling her by that name, but we both agreed that particular faux pas was in all probability because Paule was a male name, and would explain why I kept insisting on adding on the ‘a’ to convert it into the feminine. It does tend to annoy people when you can’t get a handle on their name, especially as time goes by and the first few weeks of acquaintance turn into years and your STILL getting it wrong. They don’t usually confront you with it of course, tending in my particular case to just avoid talking to you as much as possible, or scowling at your constant inability to get their name right.  Rather like Pat.

We both decided that in my defence, Pat is one of those people who quite simply doesn’t suit her name. She doesn’t LOOK like a Pat. It’s probably why I continually insist on calling her Margaret. She looks more like a Margaret. It suits her. As we discussed the ‘Pat’ problem, I glanced over to her, sat as she was as far away from me as possible,  and mentally filed away the fact that she was called Pat, therefore I should try my best to ignore the fact that she didn’t LOOK like a Pat and get the name firmly fixed in my mind, if only so that she would perhaps converse with me more or at least give a greeting whenever we all met up on our Saturday walks.

I’ve been often embarrassed by my lack of being able to remember or recall someone’s name, but our lunch time conversation at least confirmed that I wasn’t alone and that she had also found it difficult to associate some people with their given name. The conversion moved on to other subjects but as I pondered over it later, I realised that I must ‘LOOK’ my name because its fairly rare that others have called me Sheila or Anne. 

TG Confused smile

I should have stayed in bed.

 

She want’s to go to Halifax to sell some of her old DVD’s so that she can trade them for another. I’m not happy about going anywhere, but as usual I allow her to talk me into setting off to catch the bus. It’s already  beginning to spit with rain as we set off and I am sorely tempted to turn around and go back home.  Seeing as the bus is late at least we use our passes and by the time we reach town the rain is absolutely pouring down. Being ruled by the weather mood wise is one of my many Achilles heels. I can feel myself sinking into resentment and ill temper as we struggle to put the umbrella up and make our way through the puddles to the shop. She trades in her few wares but she hasn’t made enough vouchers and so I have to make up the difference by giving her money towards her longed for purchase.

As I wait outside the shop others quickly pass by clasping their umbrellas or huddled under hoods. No one is loitering, all are hurrying and scurrying past on their way to wherever they must be, dripping raincoats, scowling faces, black looks. I decide that my ordeal should be rewarded with a purchase for myself, a new pair of jeans from Bon Marche and maybe some new pyjamas, so when she emerges triumphant from the shop clutching her precious prize, we brave the wet cobbles and motor onwards and upwards to my chosen store. After finding some attractive pyjamas, we discover that they don’t have my size in my chosen jeans but hey! all is not lost as they have two pairs in stock in their Huddersfield branch! 

We decide to cock a snook at this ill fated day and continue onto Huddersfield. After all I reason to myself, it surely can’t get any worse can it? Arriving in the bus station, we see that the bus to Huddersfield is just pulling out of the stand, but he is having to wait to depart because other buses are in front of him. Looking like two demented idiots, we gesture and wave to attract the drivers attention, hoping that he will open the doors and let us on, but…… he casually ignores us and drives off.  Steam is literally coming out of my ears. We now have nine minutes to wait for the next one.  Leaving her waiting at the bus stand, I stomp off to the shop for some sweets to calm my tattered nerves and a drink for us both whilst we wait.

During the journey to Huddersfield, the rain really belts down in bucketful’s so that by the time we arrive at Huddersfield bus station, there are rivers of it running down everywhere and you have to take extra care where to walk.  Jeans finally purchased, we quickly find a cafe for some lunch and a welcome shelter from the rain. Even she looks ready to burst into tears, and nothing ever fazes her.  I feel like death. I ache from head to foot and feel so tired. As soon as we have finished our lunch, we return to the bus station for our bus home. I look around at the other people waiting for the bus at our stand. They all look so forlorn and fed up, blank dismal faces peering out from hooded raincoats which are dripping with raindrops onto the already puddled floor. We would all have been much wiser to remain this day tucked up in our warm beds, listening to the rain as it beat against our windows outside.  We should have all had more sense than to venture out on this particular day of all days seeing as it was Friday the 13th.

TG

A Chance Encounter.

As I stroll along the road towards the supermarket, she is coming towards me accompanied by a man that I presume is her husband. I haven’t seen her for an age. How long? I can’t remember but its a long time.  She recognises me despite the fact that I have changed so much. She hasn’t changed at all. Not one iota. In fact, it takes not a smattering of imagination to see her still walking backwards at the side of the traveller, needle in hand, stitching the ends of a rug as it emerges from my machine. She was one of my ‘sewers off’ (our description) or assistant, and we worked together for a while until she received the calling to be a nurse. I recall that time vividly because she wasn’t the only one who decided to enter the nursing profession. It was as if the finishing department had been visited by some nurse recruitment officer with a very persuasive tongue, and she wasn’t the only friend of mine to leave and take up nursing, though she was the only one who became a state registered nurse.  I can also recall at the time wondering if I wasn’t being prompted to take up nursing, seeing as everyone else seemed to be getting the calling, perhaps I reasoned it was a hint that I should also consider a change of profession?

I knew the question would come. After all, she was a nurse. I didn’t want to answer it. It’s strange how none of us like to admit that we aren’t well health wise, and as it was unlikely that I would see her again, I did toy with stating the usual.  ‘Oh, I’m fine!’ or some such and moving the conversation sharply onto other topics.

How are you?’ she asked. ‘Last time I saw you was in the Cardiac Unit, do you remember?’  Ahh, yes of course!

I told her the truth about my current battle.

Oh, I am sorry!’ How I hate it all. I don’t want any pity. Its why its so tempting to lie and say your feeling on top of the world.  Inwardly I grimace, but thankfully she asks about Kerri and how she is coping with it all. I relate about how she ended up nursing me last year and how she comes into her own if I am not feeling well.  How suddenly she becomes a different person, in her element with the tables turned. 

‘I’m pretty certain that she would have been a nurse Kath if she hadn’t had special needs, its sort of there inside her, a built in desire to care and I have been so grateful for her being there this last year.’

I know exactly what you mean! I always say, there’s always a reason why things happen. My Mum was in her early 40’s when she had me, and yet when she got older, she realised that if I hadn’t been born, there would have been no one to look after her when she became ill, and its the same thing with you.  Kerri was born to you for a reason, and now you are finding out why.

All those years that I had known her, I had never heard her say anything as profound as the statement she had just made. We parted company wishing each other the best, as she is now due to retire and I hoped that she would enjoy it all more than I have enjoyed retirement.  Will I see her again in the future?  It all depends. She has promised to stay in touch and visit in the future so who knows? But that chance encounter really gives you food for thought.

TG

A Picture says a thousand words.

I read lot’s of blogs where the author can write interesting stories that grip you, and that you just can’t resist reading without the need for the inclusion of a picture or photo with which to illustrate their subject matter. I have never tried to compose a blog post without a picture, in fact looking back, it was blogging that really encouraged me to never leave my humble abode without a camera stashed about my person ‘just in case’ an incident occurred that might be the prompt for an interesting blog post. Some bloggers are capable enough to be able to ‘paint a picture’ to their readers without feeling the need to include the subject matter pictorially. I find that I seem to need the extra impetus of a picture of my subject matter in order to spur me into writing or to give me ideas for a blog post but I do wish my words stood on their own. I can enjoy reading someone’s blog post who relies entirely on words contained within simply because as a reader, I then have to use my imagination to visualise the scene or the incident that the writer is describing without the visual prompt of a picture to guide me, I can let my own imagination run riot, fully imagining the people featured in the post, how they look and appear and this is of course usually made easier to do when the author make ample use of descriptive words in order to describe the scene and the persons appearing in it, and this is especially true if I have had personal experience of similar incidents in my life.

Could I do the same? Could I write a post consisting of just words that held my readers interest without a pictorial ‘clue’ or intro? Can I be descriptive enough without using a ‘trigger’ to entice my readers to stay awhile and linger? Indeed, would it be true to myself to use only words and not to rely on a pictorial clue as to the content?  Trouble is, I need to illustrate, not only the post itself, but also my thoughts and feelings.

What do you all think?  Do you always feel the need to include a picture or photo to help convey your story?

TG

Another day out in Wales.

Yesterday, we had another excursion to Wales, this time offering a choice of venue which were to visit either Betws-Y-Coed or Blanaeu Ffestiniog. I hadn’t a clue as to what either venue offered and hadn’t really made up my mind which one to choose until we arrived there. In the end we decided to remain on the train and not alight at Betws-Y-Coed, although in hindsight we may not have made the right choice. It’s now blatantly obvious to me that I certainly miss the detailed information that used to be supplied to every passenger on the GreenExpress Railtours and which helped you to not only be able to find your way around a venue that you were unfamiliar with, but in cases such as this where you were offered different venues to visit, helped you to decide which one seemed the more interesting.

Scene through the train window

Unfortunately, CompassRailtours  don’t provide a detailed information sheet and brochures about the venues that you are travelling to , so you are completely in the dark about the interesting places that each new venue offers unless you have visited before. All you are given is a simple synopsis of each venue.  Someone else on the train stated that Betws-Y-Coed was just a small village and that Blanaeu Ffestiniog was bound to offer more. After all, it had the Ffestiniog narrow gauge railway and a slate mine so surely it would be the venue of choice. We had just three hours to explore Blanaeu.

When we arrived, it was about 1.00pm or lunch time to my sidekick Kerri,  and all my readers will be well aware of what that means. First priority then was to find somewhere decent to have some lunch. Hmm.  Exiting the railway station, it looked as if the whole place was being completely overhauled. Areas were cordoned off with bright orange fencing surrounding road works and building works making the whole area look unkempt and messy. Right outside the station was supposedly a Hotel which also contained a restaurant called the Queens Hotel. We entered and then quickly beat a hasty retreat. According to the signage outside it was up for sale despite its obvious advantage of being right outside the famous Ffestiniog railway and I would have thought a veritable money spinner owing to its position and a prime choice for tourists to either stay at or eat in.

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As the current owners were obviously vacating the premises, it was run down and didn’t look terribly well looked after, in fact during the short time we were there, there was no member of staff around to ask about meals. Using my mobile and the Local Scout tile, I did a search for somewhere else to eat.  One of the choices was the King’s Head Hotel, so we set off using my phone as a map guide in a similar way to using a Tomtom in a car. It was quite a trek, and at one point we actually crossed the narrow gauge railway and saw the train pass us by.  However we were to be bitterly disappointed when we finally arrived at the King’s Head Hotel as it appeared to be closed!  What sort of place was this? Was nothing open for visitors?

We made our way back to the railway station and entered the fish and chip shop that we had spied earlier. I had been reluctant to choose to have our lunch there but in hindsight we would have been better to do so, as by now it was past 2.00pm and the cafe area where you could sit down to eat your fish and chips was now closed! We had to take them outside and eat them as best we could sitting on a nearby bench in a blustery wind.  Not only that, but at precisely 2.00pm, the ice cream parlour across the road also closed.  Didn’t these people want to encourage visitors and tourists to their town? What on earth was wrong with these people?  The whole place resembled a roadwork’s and there was little or no services provided for visitors! Where were all the gift shops etc.?  Where was all the hospitality and encouragement to return for another visit in the future? 

Note all the work taking place.

I have since learned via the web that our visit was actually ill timed as a ‘regeneration’ of the town was begun as recently as May this year, so we can probably put the whole experience down to bad timing, and hope that once the regeneration has been completed then things vastly improve.  I would have loved to have paid the Llechwedd Slate Caverns a visit whilst we were there, but wasn’t sure how far they were to walk to and therefore whether or not we had enough time.  An ideal opportunity would have been to provide a bus service that picked up visitors from the railway station and took them to the Slate mine.  If we ever return to Blanaeu Ffestiniog in the future then I will make sure that we pay the slate caverns a visit.

The only upside to our visit was that luckily the weather was kind to us as we ventured around the town, and the rain, although always threatening to put in an appearance judging by the dark ominous clouds, thankfully stayed away.  Enjoy my photos album of our day and as always just click on it to see all the photos and also as slideshow if you prefer.

TG