The Blue Hood.

 

The most annoying aspect of the whole scenario I am about to tell was that I wasn’t looking up when the blue hood boarded the bus.  Instead, I was probably staring at my phone like the rest of the human race seem to do these days and so I missed seeing the contents of the blue hood. Had it not ended up sitting in the seat immediately in front of me, I probably wouldn’t have even noticed it and this blog post would not be being written.  Instead, I looked up to see a huge blue hood, complete with arms issuing forth from it, one of those huge hoods where the occupant cannot be seen from the side view at all.

Who or what was inside that hood?  A girl? A boy? An alien? I had no way of knowing. Judging by the arm casually draped over the back of the seat, it was probably fairly young of age, we oldies don’t tend to sit arms akimbo in our bus seats as a general rule.  The more I looked at the back of the blue hood, the more curious I became. There was just a shape hidden underneath that hood, head shaped yes but that meant nothing.  Oh how I wished the object under the hood would turn around!  I was almost tempted to prod the shape in the back in order to cause it to do so,  but managed to stop myself in time.

It could be anything inside there!  I couldn’t even tell if it was male or female. Hmm. Perhaps I would eventually have my curiosity sated and be able to see the occupant of the blue hood when they alighted from the bus!  Keeping my fingers crossed that it would alight from the bus before me, I continued to sit there staring at the back of the hood hoping against hope for clues.  Ahh!  The bell rang, the blue hood arose from its seat in front of me, and much to my annoyance without so much as a glance back down the bus, got off and walked away, blue hooded top covering the whole contents apart from some legs which protruded from underneath. Drat!

So next time your busy on the bus or train, gazing down intently at your mobile screen, do remember the strange creature I encountered inside the blue hood won’t you? You never know what your missing!

TG

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Thoughts from the corner seat.

 

I don’t want to give the impression that I tend to spend a lot of time whiling away the hours sat in the Merrie England coffee bar, but I did find myself sitting in my usual favourite corner seat on Tuesday, contemplating some of the other patrons as I did so.  It wasn’t planned at all to even pay a visit, but suddenly I was overcome by an urge to sample a piece of their delicious home cooked apple pie, an experience that I wish you could all try out. Oozing with apple and surrounded by melt in the mouth pastry, its to die for, and this Granny shouldn’t even eat it!  Knowing full well that in all probability, I’d be wracked with tummy ache afterwards, I decided to risk it and found myself standing at the counter ordering a piece of apple pie (without ice cream or cream though!) and a small latte coffee.

Peering down the room as I waited, I noted that my favourite corner spot was currently occupied by a lady known to me.  I made my way down the aisle towards her just as she was just about to leave.  We made polite conversation and I then took her place in the corner to enjoy my treat.  Glancing around from my vantage point, I couldn’t see anyone that I recognised.  As I sat there observing everyone, I noticed a lady trying to find somewhere to sit.  As most of the tables already had at least one occupant, she eventually ended up asking another lady who was sat at a table in the middle row if it was okay to sit at her table.  She sat down. They obviously did not know one another.  After a few minutes of sitting opposite each other in silence, they eventually began a polite conversation, such as the one that took place between myself and the man with a Kindle on my previous visit to Merrie England, when I ended up sitting at his table.

As I watched between these two ladies who had previously been strangers to one another, it did made me wonder how many people had become friends simply by sitting at the same table and striking up a conversation with each other.  It would be very interesting to be able to find out wouldn’t it?

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

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

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