A little time to kill.

 My hair appointment was not until 12.30pm. It was only 11.30am, and I had already been loitering in several shops to the obvious annoyance of the staff. No one wants a customer who has no intentions of buying. I had a good hour to wait, and in our small town, there’s only one place to do that when your alone and in dire need of somewhere to wile away an hour or two, the Merrie England coffee shop. I’ve blogged about our Merrie England coffee shops before, they attract a varied age group, some young mothers with their offspring, some older patrons who frequent the tables to meet up and enjoy a good natter, some lone patrons such as myself, who maybe just fancy a coffee and a sit down before going on their way to elsewhere.

As you walk in, the counter, always filled with appetizing goodies such as their delicious home made apple pie to give just one example, is on your left. The Merrie England staff are always attentative and I was served immediately.

Tea and a Gluten free Turkey salad sandwich please.”

The sandwich has to be made to order, so I was instructed to go and sit down and one of the staff would bring my sandwich to me once made, and so armed with my cup of tea I looked around for an empty table. No luck, but I noticed that my favourite place had one man sat in it, engrossed in looking down at something in front of him on the table. Carefully navigating my way down the aisle between the tables, cup and saucer perched precariously in my hand, I made my way to the right hand corner at the back.

Is it okay if I sit here?” I asked the man.

Yes, of course! I’m going soon anyway!” he replied. Sitting down opposite him, with my back to the rest of the other tables, I placed my shopping bag on the empty seat beside me, noting as I did so that the item he was engrossed in on the table was a Kindle. Hmm. That peaked my interest immediately because as I’m such an avid reader, I’ve been considering getting one myself. Always strapped for storage space in our tiny flat, I’m constantly having to recycle my books practically as soon as I have read them. But how to open the conversation about his Kindle? I decided to act dumb.

Is that a Kindle your using?” I asked.

Yes it is!” came the reply.

I’m considering buying one myself, as I love reading. Have you found yourself reading more since you bought it?” I enquired, genuinely interested in the answer.

Yes, I think I have. It’s the convenience I suppose.” he replied. I then asked him if you could now get most books on the Kindle to which he replied the affirmative.  Shortly after, he rose and left and I hoped that I hadn’t made much of a nuisance of myself, asking my questions of a stranger, but I simply couldn’t sit at a table with someone and not make polite conversation, its not in my nature to do so.

As soon as he had vacated the corner seat, I moved into it, finding it still nice and warm. People were still leaving and arriving, as soon as one table became vacant it was quickly filled with new faces, all earnestly engaged in conversation with each other. Deciding to do an experiment of sorts, I took out my phone, and took a picture of them all, enjoying a tea or coffee and a good natter. Would anyone notice?

I think I already knew the answer, and its why I prefer to sit tucked away in the corner seat.

It's always crowded.

 Technogran

A Day out in Scarborough.

Here she comes!

On Friday we enjoyed a day out to Scarborough and travelled there on the Scarborough Flyer pulled by the Duchess of Sutherland. We have done this excursion in the past, setting off from Huddersfield, but as the route has been altered due to works on the line causing the excursion to be diverted through our little station, it was a forgone conclusion that we would take advantage of the situation.  The train was roughly half an hour late arriving at Brighouse, but she soon caught up so that by the time we arrived at York we were on time.

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The weather was fairly cloudy and we had endured some rain whilst waiting for the train to arrive, but as we arrived at Scarborough it had brightened up somewhat, although it was still overcast. After taking some shots of the Duchess (which isn’t easy to do as everyone else is busy doing the same thing) we made our way down through the main shopping street to the front. I always like to go down to the front at Scarborough via the steps, as you get a lovely vista of the whole bay, the Castle on top of the hill, the harbour and of course the beach and shops.

Scarborough from the steps

Scarborough tends to be one of those seaside towns that I have often spent a day in, yet never stayed for any longer. It’s a bustling fishing port as well as a holiday destination. We walked around the harbour, taking in all the sights and sounds and taking photos along the way, ending our journey by walking along the walkway to the lighthouse building where the statue of the diving girl stands facing the harbour entrance out to sea.  There are lot’s of boat rides to take, one on a small version of a pirate ship, but I wasn’t sure how long it would take so we didn’t bother. Besides, Kerri was on the hunt for a t-shirt to add to her now not inconsiderable collection, and I intended to get yet another fridge magnet for my own collection.

Scarborough Harbour stitch

Following a short gaze out over the choppy sea towards Cayton Bay, we made our way back along the walkway to the shops along the seafront in search of some t-shirts. We eventually found some and she bought two, one white and one black. If there’s one treat I never miss whenever I’m in Scarborough is to visit Pacitto’s Ice Cream Parlour on the seafront for a Knickerbocker Glory. You simply haven’t lived until you’ve tried one! Kerri had a chocolate milk shake. We then decided to return to the shopping area above via a very steep narrow street which was quite a climb!  After taking a well earned breather at the top, we made our way slowly along the shopping area, paying a visit to the Brunswick Shopping Centre, where Kerri took a look at the mobile phone shops to admire a Nokia Lumia 710 that she wants for her next phone.

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As it was now raining,  we quickly made our way to the railway station and enjoyed a decaff cappuccino  and a hot chocolate apiece in the station cafe, and then once the rain had stopped we ventured along the platform so that we could take some more photos of the Duchess as she patiently waited for us passengers to return and climb on board.  We departed Scarborough dead on time, but we were again held up during the return journey owning to signalling problems along the way, and we arrived back at Brighouse about ten minutes late.  We’d enjoyed a wonderful excursion to Scarborough pulled by one of my favourite steam engines, and as always on these day trips, we’d also made some new friends who were sat at our table during the journey.

I am hoping we get the chance to go on the Leeds to Carlisle excursion this year before it ends, as for me it’s the ultimate steam engine excursion to be on, with those spectacular views of the North Yorkshire moors and the breathtaking journey over the Ribblehead viaduct.  Enjoy my photos taken during our day.

Technogran.

Downhill all the way.

Yesterdays walk was not really all that enjoyable as far as I was concerned. We all met up in the bus station as we so often do, and from therein there was a lot of confusion as to exactly which bus we were supposed to be catching in order to arrive at the start of the walk. S was supposedly our walk leader but he didn’t seem to be too sure about the bus either, and the fact that our departure displays are all incorrect (see my previous post) didn’t exactly help matters. As most of the other walkers are car owners and don’t frequent the bus station as I do, I had to keep warning them that the information via the displays was wrong.

Watch your step!

Worse was to come when the bus actually pulled into the stand and we asked the driver. He didn’t seem to have a clue where he was going, but despite this we all took fate into our hands and clambered on board. I had to laugh to myself, imagining us ending up anywhere where we would be doing a sort of ‘mystery walk.’ As it turned out, the bus was the correct one, and we set off in good spirits only to end up turning round when it was decided that the walk leader was leading us all up an hill that was far too steep for some of the members to tackle. I quietly sighed to myself.  Recrossing the road, we then set off down a lane and at last seemed to be on our way. Trouble was, the route wasn’t really all that picturesque, having a large estate on the right hand side and not much of a view on the other. I hadn’t taken my camera with me (must have had a foretaste that there wouldn’t be all that much in the way of spectacular views to warrant it.)

The walk leader had on top of his head, one of those straw boaters which looked a little ridiculous to be honest with you, seeing as the sky was overcast and grey. We also had to watch our step walking along the path as there were many loose stones to trip up the unwary. The lady in front of me very nearly fell over one such loose stone. The only thing of note worthy of a quick photo was two horses who were resting in one of the fields as we walked past. One of them had a hood over its head for some reason. I took the shot because I knew that Kerri would love to see it.

Hooded and not

Eventually, the vista in front of us opened out somewhat to allow a view right across the valley towards Southowram and we could see as far as Clifton and even Scholes from there. It was still overcast but it was beginning to brighten up somewhat. We all took a breather half way so that some of the walkers could have a sit and a rest for a few moments, then we continued onwards down into town.  After arriving back in town, three of us, myself included decided to lunch at the Ship Inn, whilst the others went to Wetherspoons for their meal.  For me, it had been a rather disappointing walk on the whole, and I don’t think I will go on another walk around Rastrick again.

View from the top of Rastrick

Technogran

Bus Station Woes.

 

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I’ve blogged about our bus station in the past.  It’s not all that old and is supposed to be a shining example of bus station design, with its unusual ‘big dipper’ shaped roof. It’s certainly something you can’t ignore if you happened to be driving past our little town on your way to Halifax. We passengers who have to use it have been less impressed. When it was first completed there simply weren’t enough seats. They provided just four seats to every stand, with the result that waiting for your bus became almost a scrum to the death if you needed to sit down for any reason. Many of the younger passengers had to resort to sitting on the low windowsills which wasn’t ideal or comfortable, not that the provided seats were any more so. You have to be near fainting with the cold or heat, or loaded up with a huge amount of shopping before resorting to actually sitting down on one of the seats. After some vigorous complaints from those hardy passengers with bottoms like steel who can endure sitting down, our seat tally has since been doubled and we have been generously provided with eight to every stand.

I have concluded long ago that whoever designs bus stations never actually use them themselves. The seats are made of metal and are not shaped for comfortable sitting, so they are freezing in winter and akin to sitting down in molten lava in summer. The ambient temperature of the bus station itself is not helped by the fact that it consists of windows from ceiling height to nearly floor level, none of which are double glazed.  In winter you daren’t sit down for more than a few moments for fear of freezing to one of the seats, you have to keep walking up and down the long concourse just to keep yourself moving.  In summer, someone could make a roaring trade growing tomatoes seeing as the station so resembles a huge green house. As I sat baking yesterday waiting for my bus, it was 72% outside the bus station and roughly 90% inside. I had to keep my eye on my sandwich which was in my bag in case it began to toast.

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In order to avoid the pitfalls of our bus station, we local passengers have, over the length of time that we have had to use it, learned to try and time our entrance to just before our bus is due to arrive to avoid freezing to death or being cooked.  And mentioning time brings me to the latest saga which has been taking place for at least the last few months with little sign of anyone from Metro bothering to put it right. Our bus timetable displays are constantly wrong. Not only wrong, but to confuse the unwary passenger, they contradict each other. We have two types of information displays in the bus station, the two largest one’s are hung from the ceiling, one at either end of the station, and the other smaller displays are sited just above each stand door, and only show the arrival and departure times for that particular stand.  In order to try and send every passenger who uses the bus station stark raving bonkers, the large displays tell an entirely different time to the one’s above your stand and neither are correct.

You enter the bus station, firstly gazing hopefully at one of the larger timetable displays with the vain hope that someone from Metro has paid the station a visit since your last attempt to catch a bus in order to fix the wrong displays.  The large stand might state that your bus is due in 20 minutes from stand D.  You make your way down to stand D and look up at the timetable display above your stand only to note to your horror that your bus is due in 10 minutes.  Either that, or its not even up there. Which one is correct?  Have you time to dash off to the shops for that item you’ve just remembered or not? It must be a worse situation for anyone who hasn’t used our bus station before and is not aware that Metro are on a ‘drive every passenger in Brighouse insane’ campaign.  They must think they are hallucinating and probably if they have any sense, will find another route to get from A to B that doesn’t necessitate using our confusing bus station at all.  Meanwhile the rest of us who have little choice but to endure every trick in the book that Metro can devise to thwart our journeys, are beginning to compensate for the wrong times stated by the displays, by simply ignoring them completely.  We arrive at the bus station looking as carefree as possible ( for the cameras and to annoy Metro) and make our way to our stands with the vain hope that we have managed to time it right.

They won’t get us down or turn us into gibbering idiots with all this confusion, no matter how hard they try!

Technogran

A visit by a Duchess.

Kerri and I have had a hectic morning this morning. Up at the crack of dawn, showered, dressed, we hadn’t time for a lavish breakfast, a small bowl of Fruit and Fibre for me with a glass of orange juice, and a breakfast bar and orange juice for her, backpack added and following a quick wash of the dishes, my bag complete with camera for me.  We were out of the door for 09.00am precisely and as the sky was a gorgeous unbroken blue, we bravely had only our thin raincoats with us.  Setting off down to town at a fairly brisk walking pace, we made good time.

“We won’t get a good spot to see her if we aren’t fairly early.” I reasoned with her as she grumbled to herself walking down, trailing behind me some several paces at least. As is usual, I ended up nearly breaking my arm by having to hold her hand and gently ease her along at a more steady pace than she takes under her own steam.  Finally we are through town and walking up to the station. As I thought! There are already plenty of others with exactly the same idea as us!  Ahh!  Two are stood in a very well chosen spot at the very end of platform 2.  I shout out to them from the walkway.

“ Which platform is she arriving on?”

“ Platform 1 but you won’t be able to budge on there as it’ll be packed, and you won’t get a good shot, that’s why were over here!”

Good thinking, so we continue on around the road and join the other platform on the other side. Kerri plonks herself down immediately on a seat whereas I saunter up to the two men in the advantageous position at the edge of the platform, and as is usual in these situations, we swop stories of our journeys, sightings, love of all things steam etc. Apparently they have been coming down here to get shots of the Duchess every week for the last three weeks. Not only on a morning such as today, but also at night when she returns. In fact, they are planning on returning tonight at 21.30pm. Of course it will be coming dark by then, but they both have expensive SLR’s that put my little point and shoot to shame, so I would imagine that they will still get some good shots.

The platform opposite where the Duchess is to pull in is now packed with people, not only the photo enthusiasts, but also all those who are boarding the ‘Scarborough Flyer’ for it is this excursion train that the Duchess is so ably pulling.  Some of you may remember Kerri and I also going on this excursion ourselves a few years ago, setting off from Huddersfield.

“Why is she coming through Brighouse anyway?” I ask my two new friends. (Kerri is still sitting on the bench fiddling about with something, probably texting on her phone.)

“ Because They’ve been doing work to the line and so she’s been diverted through here instead.”  Hmm. Wish I’d have known all of this. Kerri and I had planned to do this excursion again to Scarborough and we could have boarded here in our little home town!  And what a wonderful day weather-wise for a trip to the seaside!  As its turned out, I’m feeling fine following my chemo yesterday.  Isn’t hindsight wonderful!  I would have been fine for a day trip today to lift my spirits!

At last we see her coming round the bend in the far distance, a thin  plume of steam issuing straight up into the blue air from her chimney.  Camera’s begin to snap, people lean forward at angles to try and get a better shot or glimpse of her as she arrives, now decked in green livery, which personally I am not all that keen on, I preferred her in that gorgeous maroon when we road behind her a few years back.  She zooms past me and I forget to move my camera at the same speed as I take the shot, so its all blurry.  Sigh. As is usual with these excursions, she’s pulling behind her some nine to ten carriages, the middle one’s are Pullman dining carriages for those who are travelling first class and will have had a cooked breakfast since boarding and will also be getting a three course dinner on the return journey.

Note here she is decked in Maroon livery which I think suits her better.

We dash up to the other end of the platform in order to get some close ups as she waits for all the passengers to board and gets some steam up for the off. In the cab, a young lad is looking out of our side. It gladdens my heart to see the youngsters getting involved with steam train driving, or the mechanical side of it all, we need to keep all of our old skills alive or who will carry it all on when the drivers and engineers who have worked so tirelessly on keeping this part of our heritage going, are no longer around? 

She begins to pull away, a short whistle and she’s off! How I wish we were on board!  We wave to all those lucky enough  to be peering at us from their comfortable seats in the carriages and I silently wish them luck with the weather when they land in Scarborough for their day out.  We all begin to disperse, in our particular case, now off to do some shopping whilst we’re in town, others to wherever. It’s not often our small station see’s the sight of a steam engine, its a big event and one that I am so glad I didn’t miss.

Here’s a photo album for you to see the shots we took, as always, Kerri has managed to pull of a much better shot of the Duchess as she passed under the bridge than I could muster, despite getting my arm in it. I could crop it out of course, but hey! Its part and parcel of our natural amateur photos!

Enjoy.

Technogran