Up to Scotland. The journey there.

Sorry I’m late with this post everyone, haven’t been feeling up to blogging much of late, anyway, here it is!

Set off on Friday morning to our local train station to catch the 10.58 to Leeds. Kerri had been despatched to respite the day before, complete with huge hefty case. Train arrived dead on time, and I landed in Leeds station with just under half an hour to wait for the Cross Country train to Glasgow Central. I spent the waiting time taking a shot of a Battle of Britain train stood at the opposite platform.

Battle of Britain train

Our train arrived right on time, and after spending a lot of energy pelting down the platform in the wrong direction looking for coach F, I finally boarded, stashed my suitcase in the rack and settled down into my reserved seat. Lot’s of lovely leg room to stretch my legs, and no one sat beside me! Yippee!

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For my lunch on the train I had taken a McDonalds Chicken Caesar salad and I could also plug my phone into the provided socket and enjoy the free Cross Country wi-fi all the way to Glasgow! How’s that for travelling in style? The journey up the east coast mainline is always enjoyable, especially when you begin to travel alongside the sea. I was lucky that I was sitting on the side next to the coast, and managed (though at the speed we were travelling it wasn’t easy!) to get some shots as we flew past which I’m including below as part of a photo album.

 

We absolutely seemed to fly all the way up to Glasgow, changing crew along the way. This is necessary because this train has journeyed all the way from Plymouth, and its quite a journey! We arrived in Glasgow Central early and my eldest son and his family were waiting on the platform. It was a tearful reunion for me, I knew it would be! I haven’t seen my two grandchildren for two years in the flesh, and they had both grown so much and are both far taller than me.

My eldest informed me that they had had to park the car some distance away from the station as a fish and chip shop outside had burned down, so there was no access for cars at that time as the fire brigade had closed off all the street. There had also been a big water leak nearby as well, so it was a bit chaotic to say the least.

We all had lot’s to talk about and before I knew it, I was being greeted at the door by Sandi the dog and all the cats!  A welcome cup of tea, then we set off to the supermarket so that I could buy some bits and pieces in, such as my gluten free bread and cereals etc, then we all spent the night watching Prometheus on Blue Ray which I had taken there with me so that they could watch it.

Tomorrow, they planned to take me to the Kelvingrove Art Museum, so I was really looking forward to that!

TG

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An enjoyable run-around.

Yesterday we went on one of our much missed run arounds. We haven’t been doing any since my operation in February. As it was such a glorious sunny day, we decided it was about time we did another one, if only to see how Bradford has changed since our last visit there. Beginning with the usual bus ride to Bradford, where we noticed that the route the bus used to take in order to arrive at the Interchange had now been blocked off to make a pedestrian precinct in front of the Town Hall. On arriving at the Interchange we proceeded to walk towards Forster Square. The area previously intended for a new shopping centre has temporarily been made into a park of some sort. Hmm. Lack of money apparently.

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A day out in York.

Right outside the Railway Museum, you can board a road train which transports you to the Minster. As K is always reluctant to walk and I needed to reserve my energy, we gladly took advantage and boarded it to ride to the Minster. It only costs £2 per adult, so well worth it, and unlike our previous trip on a road train in Bridlington, there were no wet seats or rain lashing into the carriages either! On arriving at the stop outside the Minster, I gazed up to see it peeking through the summer clothed trees. I think its the very first time I have been able to take pictures of York Minster in glorious sunshine!

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Off on a lone adventure.

When I got up this morning, I should have been busy tidying up the flat and doing some ironing.  I say should have because the moment I looked out of the window at the glorious October blue sky, and urged on by one of my blogging friends I threw caution to the winds, thought ‘Dang it!’ (or words to that effect) and armed with my trusty camera, set off on a lone adventure to who knows where.  I had no idea where I would end up, I did have some letters to post so that quest would have to feature in which direction I took, but as for the rest I would let fate decide where I eventually was to land up by catching the train. So whichever train arrived first, I would venture there.  This glorious October weather was far too good to waste!

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The Trouble with buses……..

A bus waits to sail past us... How is it that every time we go to catch a bus we have either just missed one, see loads of buses going past us in the opposite direction to the one that we want to go, or worse, the one that we desperately need to catch misses? You can guarantee the bus incidents above will occur every time we set off to go somewhere,  and if I were a gambling Gran I would be tempted to place bets on the following occurrences,

     We complete our shopping at precisely 10.15am or alternatively 10.45am which coupled with the fact that it takes approximately 5 minutes to walk to the bus station means that we arrive just in time to see our bus leave and go sailing off into the distance.

    We land down at the bottom of the ‘cat steps’ (after just missing the bus that circumvents our estate) only to see the alternative bus sailing off into the distance which inevitably means a half an hour wait whilst other buses, namely the limited stop bus going in the direction in which we want to travel, but which doesn’t happen to stop where we are patiently waiting, goes sailing past us and is usually accompanied by lot’s of other buses also sailing past us heading in the opposite direction and which (you can guarantee) if WE were waiting for would undoubtedly be none existent.

    When we stand waiting patiently for our bus (the one following the one that we saw disappearing into the wide blue yonder as we arrived at the bus station after a shopping trip) another bus inevitably pulls up at our stand a few minutes prior to the expected arrival of our bus, thereby blocking the ability of our bus to pull into said stand at the allotted time in order to pick passengers up, and so our bus departs without us leaving us all  once again watching it go sailing off into the distance.

Buses waiting to sail away See a pattern emerging here dear readers?  I really believe that my daughter and I must be the unluckiest bus passengers in the whole of the country! Perhaps someone has placed a  curse on us to endure a life of eternal bus stop waiting or perhaps we should try a spot of sailing instead.  After all, we spend most of our time watching buses sail away into the distance!

TG   

Footnote.  If any of you are wondering why I haven’t been posting on here of late, its because my ‘everyday diary’ posts are now going to my alternative blog site at http://technograns.blogspot.com.

Why? Because I can use  some brilliant themes over there and also there is less spam as well (although its harder to comment.)

Of course I can post to both at the same time using writer and so I might continue to do that ( whilst remembering to disable the twitter plug in for one of them of course!) I will keep posting on here until such time as we know the impending fate of Spaces in the Wave 4 updates and therefore whether or not our blogs are to get some kind of Facelift.

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To Carlisle and back again, with Oliver Cromwell.

As always we were up with the larks yesterday, ready for our journey by steam up to Carlisle. J arrived in time, and we then set off by taxi to Leeds railway station. This wasn’t by choice by the way but by necessity, seeing as because we were journeying on a Sunday there were no trains running to Leeds at that time in a morning from our station. On arriving at Leeds J and K had a breakfast in McDonalds, (I had already eaten mine at home) and then we made our way onto platform 8 to wait for the train to arrive.  There were lot’s of other passengers waiting for it as well.

Bit blurred but I was excited! Eventually the Oliver Cromwell came steaming into Leeds station. We were stood at a spot on the platform where we thought our carriage (J) would stop as usually the carriages are in an order of A, B, C behind the engine with  the lower letters usually coming at the back of the train, but when the train arrived our carriage was next but one to the engine, so we had to sprint down the platform in order to board.  We made ourselves comfortable, J and K with their backs to the engine, and myself  facing forwards (although this seating arrangement changed during the coarse of the journey.)

Then we were off! With a whistle and a puff of steam, the Cumbrian Mountain Express pulled by the Oliver Cromwell and consisting of 12 coaches, departed Leeds City Railway station precisely on time. The weather wasn’t too bad when we began our journey,  but it did become misty and cloudy as we joined the Settle-Carlisle railway  and so visibility over the Yorkshire Dales from the train was somewhat hampered by this. I tried to take lot’s of photos through the window and had planned to take some from one of the carriage doors with the window down so that the resulting shot wasn’t hampered by the reflection and dirt on the glass, but I had to abandon that idea seeing as most of the train enthusiasts on board were stood at the doors  poking their heads out so that they could see the entire train and wearing huge goggles to stop the soot and grit going in their eyes. (and J refers to me as sad!)

We all pile back on board

We were all allowed a short break at Appleby whilst the engine took on water, in fact we had two water stops on the way up to Carlisle. The engineers on board use a water tube (similar to the ones that firemen use to get water) and they then laid  it out along the platform to the engine from a water wagon parked at the station. It gave us all a chance to stretch our legs and take some more pictures of the Oliver Cromwell. (although you are hard pressed to get a shot of it without also getting other passengers in, as they all clamour around for a photograph stood in front of it.)

A window with a view. from the train. It’s a wonderful train journey to make, the scenery is absolutely  breathtaking and I would have loved to have taken  more pictures from the train than I  did, but I wasn’t sure how they would turn out because the windows were none too clean, and the further on we journeyed the more the visibility outside worsened. You couldn’t make out the furthest hills and mountains at all, and I still intend to do this journey when the weather is fine so that I can really appreciate it all.

Eventually we arrived in Carlisle on platform 3. We three ran quickly to the front to get some shots of the engine before anyone else was st0od in front of it, then we made our way out of the station. We hadn’t much time. Just under three hours isn’t long enough to see everything, so we fairly quickly made our way to Carlisle Castle and after buying our entrance tickets, (thank goodness K is a member of the Heritage Trust!) we made our way to the keep. Some of you will no doubt remember that K and I had visited the keep at Carlisle Castle keep during our last trip there but it was still enjoyable to look around it all again. Of course there were plenty of K’s favourite stairs to negotiate but she didn’t complain and tackled them without the usual moans and groans. (mind you, after the York Minster tower climb she did, these would seem like a piece of cake!)

J and the 'cursing stone' He is six foot tall! After exiting the castle gate, we returned via the under the road concourse so that J could see the cursing stone there and all the other interesting things that line the walls.  J wanted to look around the shopping precinct and so we then spent a boring time following him around as he went into different clothes shops. *sigh* (For those readers who may not know this, J is a nightmare to shop with!  He will go in a shop with little idea of what he is looking for, look at just about every garment they have on display, including a detailed examinations of it, the price etc, move on, same again, repeat, out of that shop, into another, repeat, etc, etc, whilst a bored and fed up Mum and sister look on.)

He usually ends up buying nothing, and as in this instance we were ‘clock watching’ into the bargain, K and I spent the majority of this time sighing and rolling our eyes at each other in the usual manner that we do whenever we happen to find ourselves in this unfortunate situation. We try and avoid if if at all possible. Eye-rolling

Oh no! Not another shop! Besides which we hadn’t come here to shop! On top of that, my back was giving me jip again. Eventually he sauntered into a branch of HMV where he purchased some CD’s which of course he could have easily bought at home in one of our branches. *Sigh*  We began to retrace our steps back to the Railway Station, and on the way, walked through the market where K bought a Hog sandwich with stuffing’ (I had a taste and it was absolutely delicious!) and I foolishly was tempted by a stall selling marshmallow kebabs which consisted of five or six white and pink marshmallows all on a stick which were then covered in hot chocolate sauce! It was absolutely fantastic as you twirled your ‘kebab’ in the chocolate sauce, and apparently according to J, I ended up with chocolate all over my face at this point (he didn’t take a photo of me in this state though which in hindsight was a shame)

I suffered for it afterwards though as by the time we boarded the train for the journey home I was feeling quite sick.  Oh well, I always make a point of buying or eating something whilst visiting a place that I can’t get at home, and we certainly don’t have marshmallow kebabs around here! On arrival at platform 4 from where our train was to depart, we could see it being pulled into position by the Oliver Cromwell. Then the engine had to be unhooked from the carriages,  reverse out so that they could return back down to the other end ready for the return journey. I tried to capture all of this manoeuvre on my camera,  but as always others were stood in the way intent on doing the same thing.

Oliver Cromwell stitch

Once the engine was hooked up to the front, we all piled on again.  By now the weather had let us down as it was raining, and for the remainder of the return journey it rained consistently. It also became quite dark as well. K and I shared a bottle of wine (J didn’t want any) and actually he spent most of the return journey standing at one of the nearby doors with his head stuck out watching the train. Funnily enough, he didn’t end up with a black face as most tend to do, but we were at the far end from the engine so maybe that was why.

When we arrived back at Leeds, we had quite a wait for our train home, and so J sauntered off for a smoke outside the station whilst K and I had a toilet and then sat down on a bench to wait. As it was the Leeds Festival there were lots of youngsters walking around the station in high spirits so there was much shouting and raucous laughter going on. I was glad when the driver and conductor arrived and we were on our way to be honest.  I was feeling really tired and longing to get home to bed.

It was 23.00pm by the time we landed at our station, so we hailed a taxi for the rest of the journey home. J admitted that he had been disappointed in Carlisle, and wished that we had gone up to Edinburgh instead. (he was given the choice) So we will probably plump for Edinburgh next time we go ‘up north’

TG More pictures of our journey from Leeds to Carlisle HERE. p.s don’t forget to click on the blue hyperlinks for more info will you? Enjoy!

A Step too far in York

On Saturday we set off for another visit to York. We had originally intended to visit Fountains Abbey near Ripon but as I couldn’t seem to find a way to get there via public transport, that idea had been quickly abandoned, and we decided to return to York which is one of our favourite venues for a day out. Besides which, K wanted to push J forward as a volunteer in the Yorkshire Dungeon when the lady torturer asked for someone to demonstrate all her torture equipment on. So I booked the tickets online and then picked them up on Friday from the FastTicket machine.

That's where complaining gets you! Saturday morning arrived, it was dull but warm, and we set off full of high spirits to catch the bus to take us to Huddersfield train station for our train to York. Our tickets were reserved on coach B, seats 31,32 and 36. The train arrived, we boarded coach B to find some people sitting in our allocated seats. There were no reservation cards in the seats either. Some gentleman sat opposite insisted that they too had reserved their seats but had to sit wherever they could! Huh? Excuse me! A reserved seat means that you are guaranteed to sit together in that particular seat! Someone obviously hadn’t done their job properly and you know me by now, I know my rights!

Leaving J (who had his ‘oh God no! My mothers starting again! She has her ‘thunder’ face on!) sat sheepishly in the first seat he saw, K and I marched down the train to find the conductor. He was in his room right at the end. I knocked and he came out and examined my tickets and the reservation numbers. “Come with me” he said. Hmm. How was he going to handle this delicate situation? Turf them out of our reserved seats? Or (as I secretly hoped) seat us in First Class?  We marched back up the train following him. He reached the folks sat in our reserved seats. Saw that there were no reservation tickets in the back. Asked me how many of us there were. Beckoned us to follow him and for my pains and complaints we ended up in spending the rest of the journey sat in First Class!  It was obvious what had happened. When a train arrives at the end of its journey and is cleaned and tidied for its return journey, all reservation tickets are usually placed in the correct holders at the back of each seat. Some dickhead had not done this.  So all those passengers with reserved seats who meekly got on the train and when they saw that someone was sat in their seats, they just sat elsewhere were idiots in  my opinion! Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t the passengers fault who sat down in those seats, it was the fault of Transpennine Express staff not doing their job properly!

SNC12506 We soon arrived at York station after a very comfortable journey where J finally admitted that it paid to complain as he  had so enjoyed lowering his first class seat to reclining position and generally had made the most of our situation. Whilst K and I had a toilet break, he waltzed off for a smoke outside the station as he usually does, then we went and booked some tickets for York dungeon from the travel office. We then walked from the station towards the Minster, our first intended port of call. On the way there, we decided to take a walk around the Museum Gardens nearby where the ruins of an old hospital and Abbey are to be found. Here J made a firm friend of a squirrel. A kind lady gave him some cashew nuts to give to the squirrels and he then spent the next hour coaxing a squirrel to eat out of his hand whilst I took a picture of the whole proceedings! Meanwhile poor K had to just patiently wait.

Eventually after a lifetime of ‘clucking and coaxing’ with me trying to get a good picture, we left the park and continued on towards the Minster. If ever you visit York, you MUST take in York Minster. It is a sight to be seen, you can’t really do the building justice with your camera simply because you can’t get its vastness in one shot. We went inside and decided to partake of the ‘Do Everything’ visit which allows you to go up the  Central Tower, visit the Undercroft and the Crypts as well as the general walk around the vast Mister itself.  And it was here where I made my biggest mistake.  I must have left my brains outside because I completely forgot that K has bother with spiral staircases in ancient buildings. We were warned that the climb was not suitable for certain categories of people to take, namely anyone with breathing difficulties i.e hay fever (step forward youngest son who is chock a block with his hay fever) anyone with heart problems (cough!) or anyone who suffered vertigo or a fear of heights.

York Mister from the Central tower climb We began the ascent with K in front. 275 spiral steps. Most of them very steep and narrow. K bravely soldiered on with J behind her and myself bringing up the rear of our trio. At first it wasn’t too bad, but by the time we reached the half way point, which brings you out onto a small narrow walkway on one of the roofs of the Minster, K was beggared. She rested and had a drink. Then we began the last leg of the climb. Hmm. What had I been thinking of dragging poor K up here?  We plodded on.  Now I began to really panic because she came to a point where she said that she couldn’t go on and would have to go back. Of course we couldn’t do that because there were others behind us coming up and anyway there was no way that you could pass to go back down. J was brilliant here. He and I coaxed her to just take another step. ‘We’re nearly there!’ he kept telling her despite the fact that all you could see above your head was the continuation of spiral steps!

What sort of uncaring mother was I? How thoughtless to expect my poor Down’s Syndrome daughter to climb 275 spiral steps up the Central Tower of York Minster! I felt awful to be honest. Eventually we emerged at the top where there were seats provided, and K sat down with a drink and a well earned rest. The return journey down was absolutely no problem for her but it was with some relief to all three of us when we landed on terra firmer again I can assure you! My legs were so tired they were shaking as we made our way around the rest of the Minster. We had a short break outside before looking around the Undercroft (well a smoke break actually for J). K made friends with a huge St Bernard dog who she insisted was Beethoven. (from the film.)

Please all ignore the sweat pouring from my daughers brow!

By the time that we finally ended our tour of the Minster it was time for some dinner so we made our way to McDonalds and from there we then found our way to the York Dungeon. I couldn’t take any photographs in there but they have now introduced a new feature where you all get a photo taken as you start the tour of the Dungeon. One of you has to position yourself in the stocks whilst another pretends to be the executioner with the axe. So we all ‘hammed’ it up for this picture before negotiating the dungeon itself.  This time, K clung onto J instead of me as she went round. At the same time she had her hands over her ears so that she couldn’t hear the blood curdling screams. Again, i would encourage anyone visiting London, York or Edinburgh to visit the dungeons, it really is good fun. The staff in these places really do ‘ham it up’ as they walk about with pretend blood all over their faces, dishevelled hair, costumes and big stary eyes! J thoroughly enjoyed the whole thing!

Oh no! Not much progress at all! Flying Scotsman By the time that we emerged from there it was about 16.00pm and we still hadn’t visited the Railway Museum! So we made our way back to the train station (the railway museum is right next door) so that I could check up on my beloved Flying Scotsman to see just what progress had been made. I was to be bitterly disappointed though as it turned out that it still looks exactly the same as it did last year on my last visit! They are now asking for more donations as replacing the boiler and all the other necessary work has cost a great deal more than envisaged previously. I will try and send something to help. It is supposed to be back doing the Scarborough run next year, but……………its not looking too good at the moment!

We had some tea. Well should I say K and J had a Burger King meal each sat on the platform at York waiting for our train home and I just had a cup of tea.  I did have a few of K’s chips and one or two of her chicken bites that she offered to me, as usual J offered me zilch. This despite the fact that we had bought him two t-shirts in York because the one that he was wearing had a hole under the armpit causing him to have to keep his jacket on in the heat of the day! It was quite pleasant sitting on the platform cooling down as we waited. Soon our train pulled in and we clambered on board.

Cross country train arriving at York Station.

The journey back was very uneventful. Our seats were this time correctly ticketed and reserved and J and K both nodded off for most of the journey, so I spent the entire time gazing out of the window at the lovely scenery. On arrival in Huddersfield, we walked up to the bus station and were soon home. Our legs were already beginning to ache. K took a shower as soon as she could, I had acquired a rather nice blister on my left foot which really was painful, but we had enjoyed a wonderful day. I was full of praise for K and how she had battled on up those stairs! Is she the only Downs Syndrome person to attempt and do that climb I wonder? Does she deserve a certificate of endeavour! You bet! More pictures HERE.

TG smile_regular