Postcard from Wales #1

To Whom is reading this, the following posts this week, will be written in the style of good old postcard style, unless I get really carried away and start to waffle like I normally do.

So today the first Postcard picture is this beauty.

Hello,

Arrived in Wales, with a nice drive through the National Park of Snowdonia. I arrived at my Hotel before check in so carried on driving through to Harlech, where I stumbled across a castle. I say stumbled I almost crashed my car has it appeared round the bend. I knew it was there, it was on  my list to do, but I never expected it to look like it did. It was wonderful. (Pictures on my Flicker Site) As I walked round this town, which is now on my list of retirement towns when I reach that grand old age, I stumbled across this shop (See front of Postcard) I have no idea what marketing person they hired as I looked high and low and could not find any more Ice Cream makers. So by simple deduction even if they were the worst they should also be the best. Anyway running out of room on this fictitious card. If the weather does the same tomorrow as it did today then Snowdon will be getting me trampling all over it. If not then it’s to the television set of the Prisoner at Portmeirion.

See you when I get back.

 

Driving a Steam Train

Well I must say that I have not achieved this little ambition, but with my 30th this year then any kind friends would do good to take note. I was for my birthday weekend going to take part in another love of mine and take to the water on a canal boat and explore the industrial heritage of our land as well as the usual several pints in a pub along the route.

For those who know me, and I hope I have a following of readers now, will know I love history and in particular have a strong passion for two era’s. The first being medieval and the second being the Industrial revolution, anytime from 1750 to 1850.

On Sunday I was drawn to Victoria Station which I must say is one of my favorite railway stations, I even like the inside, or at least part of it. Now I was out running on Saturday and I timed my run to end at Victoria so I could catch the wonderful sight of the steam train departing. I have already written this in a previous blog entry along with the turn out of events that shortly followed, so I won’t dampen my mood or yours and go into the nightmare that Saturday turned into. If you wish to have read then feel free to do so.

What this entry is about is my love of the period of steam. I wish I could be a small boy and stand on the bridges as the trains tunneled through, blowing their steam and smoke high into the heavens. I am about to embark on a holiday to Wales and there’s not going to be a joke about them being backwards and behind in modern living. I’m not about to offend the very people I will be staying with. In fact my holiday in Wales is going to take in sights and scenery of the age of steam and the progress of the age and I can’t wait.

Anyway on Saturday I was aware that the locomotive would once again pass through Victoria so I decided to head on down to experience the full atmosphere of what it would have been like to witness a steam locomotive pulling into an roofed station (even only 30 years ago where my dad would have seen it all the time. I’ve witnessed steam trains before but always in open stations) and by god I was peeing myself. I loved it, the noise and the heat from the engine, the constant release of steam that bulldozed out and bellowed up into the rafters hiding everything behind a white fluffy screen, the smoke that puffed angrily from the loco, it was the most thrilling experience I have had in many years.

Now I know a lot of you are saying “This man needs to be laid” (And I did seem to be the only person under 60 on the platform) but I think this wonderful sight should be experienced by everyone. The sheer science and engineering involved lay before me on the tracks, the very object that made Britain great and transformed the landscape and industry was stood proud by platform 3 and in those fifteen minutes I stood and watched I wanted to climb on board and be part of history. To think that I was thinking the same or feeling the emotions that people 200 years early had felt at the rain-hill trails, or as they had arrived at King Cross to board the Flying Scotsman. My tiny little brain could not imagine a whole station filled with these huge monsters as they geared up for their journeys as they bellowed to be fed by the men who quickly shovelled the feast of coal into their hungry bellies. To be back in time and seeing the eruption of smoke as the trains grew nearer to their departure time is an imagine I will only imagine and will never get to see.

Now I have no intention of becoming a train driver, or when I was a kid wishing to drive a train, but I do want to have a go and I would still pick the industrial age as the one era I would choose to live in. Next week I will be experiencing several railways and travelling on several steam trains, I’m wetting myself just thinking about it but railway travel is still in my heart and the age steam and watching these huge beats pump along the tracks will always make me stop in awe. Steam Trains are truly great and given any opportunity to see one, or experience there presence makes me very happy and giddy.

 

 

A little annoyed

A little annoyed is a understaement. A huge understatement. If it was any more under it would be popping out in Australia.

The day was going well, I had got up and had gone on a nice run only to pause at the end to wait by Victoria Station to see the Steam train depart. And by George what a departure, the smoke and steam that bellowed from the heart of the engine that was whisked by the mild wind was truly extraordinary. One minute the locomotive was there the next it was wrapped in a blanket of her own doing, and with a high pitch whistle and a slow ‘Chud Chud Chud’ the curtain of smoke lifted to reveal the shiny black boiler of a truly beautiful machine, and with another blow and large exhale of smoke it began to move, picking up speed and filling its path with glorious black and white clouds, and as I watched it vanish into the distance I thought what a thrill it would have been seeing these engines in a station every day and with that thought fresh in my mind I carried on running back to my house, for the nightmare that was about to happen.

By the time I got back to my house and reached for my keys, all I wanted to do was get back in, but my key fob had other ideas… the electronic button that allows me to open my door had decided to disconnect itself from the circuit board thus preventing the radio waves to transmit the signal to the door. I was outside, in shorts a little muddy as I had run through a park and all I wanted to do was the put the kettle on. My housemate was alway and I was not about to buzz other flats asking if they would be so kind as to allow me into the complex. I circled the building trying the doors, waiting outside for people to leave so I could gain access.

Eventually I got in, and straight into my flat to phone the agents. No answer. They seem to think that working Saturdays is beneath them. I phoned the emergency line. ‘Sorry can’t help you, don’t have a spare key’ Can’t help, can’t help so I am now trapped, no wait I am now imprisoned in my house I have no way to get back in so you’re telling me to sit tight till Monday when the office opens again. The response was simple and like the steam engine caused me to expel a lot of steam. ‘Yes’.

Yes, Yes, Yes…. You mean to tell me there is noting you can do. ‘No Sir, I don’t have access to the office as I’m just a sub contractor, if you were locked out of your flat then I could let you in by changing your locks’.

Well that was good to know, as if and when I was ever in that situation I would know whom to phone. ‘I could call a management person but that is £125.00 call out charge’.

£125.00 for what, coming to the office which should be open and opening the key cupboard to give me a new key is going to cost me a third of my weekly wage. This was not a good start to the weekend. After being pissed off yesterday and extremely annoyed in the evening I thought that after listening to Stereophonics I was in a good mood and felt good, felt fit and had enjoyed my run, seen a bit of history puffing through Manchester and was looking forward to the holiday, the holiday that was the first one in 11 years. But now my evil key fob had decided to bring me smashing down to the ground so quick that I had to take time out to put boots on to kick objects, so I didn’t break my feet.

I decided to agree to the £125.00. I have to, my housemate is away, I’m working tomorrow, and when I return from holiday my housemate will be working and it will be the weekend again and I need that fob to gain access to my apartments front door. With a fob I can’t go out, I can not leave my house. Some my argue that is worth £125.00, others and this includes my good self will argue that the agents should drop the call out as it was there equipment that has failed and thus not keeping to the terms of the tenancy agreement.

So to say that I am little ticked off is an understatement. Thats £125.00 that I never had, I can’t afford that money, that was holiday budget money. March is going to be a hard month as it is with insurance, MOT and Car service and the fact that I have no income until the middle of April does not bring me any happiness. I also have a hotel to pay for and petrol to put in my little car, credit card to pay plus the electric and water.

So at the moment if you imagine me as a cartoon, I am slowing burning with anger and as I type away at the board in front of me that anger seems to be for ever-growing. Hopefully at 4 O’Clock when the new fob arrives I will have calmed down and treat myself to seeing the Steam Train pull into Victoria, but for now I am one angry guy who is finding it hard not to throw this portable computer across the room.

 

A big Thank you

Well today I got a phone call from Vodafone, not from Dave or Allen or John who said they would phone back. This was in fact a call from the Vodafone twitter team member who I had emailed after she saw my rant on twitter. She had handled the case several weeks before and now is disappointed that it is still not resolved but now promises me that she will  be on hand to sort out this issue.

This can only be seen as a result.

Lets hope she doesn’t let me down.

Last Day

Today is the last day of my three-month short-term contract at work, and after today I will once again be left out in the cold trying to fend for myself.

The thing about last days, is you know they are coming and you try to prepare for them, unless you get called into the office and are promptly fired and told to leave the premises.

I have been prepared. I packed all my stuff away and cleared out my locker, I booked a holiday (first one in 11 years) to celebrate and relax as it has been quite a stressful time and friendships have been tried and pushed to the max which is not an experience I wish to repeat as I almost lost some good friends.

The other only item that I have not done is to get another job to go into at the end of this one, so as from next week I will be jobless, with an MOT, Insurance, Service, and a life to pay for.

I am glad to be out of there, but I will miss that regular income coming in every week, and because of these past few months I have now decided I want to change career. Not move out of the arts but do something else. Maybe work in a museum, or telly, or become an administrator, or office worker somewhere in the arts.

In other news I have now after a week got the 5K to under 25 minutes on the road and to celebrate ran 7K. You can help me celebrate by….. Well you know the score, my Just Giving Page link is to the right, under the heading my links. Who would have thought raising money would be harder than me trying to run 10K

The Bigger They Are the Less They Care

Well today I have had enough of Vodafone.

I phoned them up, and as per the rubbish they told me that should (according to them) have fixed my issues have (as I informed them wouldn’t) not actually worked and once again I am back to square one.

So I phoned VF to tell them to get a suit, not some student or team leader who had a different script to ring me back, and for this issue to be resolved by the end of the week.

That should be pretty easy! Surly, as they have been working on it for 6 months apparently. If they don’t then I am withdrawing all my business from their network.

When I told them this they did not seem to care one little bit.

So Come Friday I will be looking for a new operator and reading what new phone I should get myself, as if any bookies are out there I will put a grand on them not sorting this shite out.

In other news I have now got the 5k on the street down to 25 minutes. Thats the same time as in the gym, and thats with running up hills and on uneven surfaces so I’m very happy about that. So happy that I ran an extra 1km today when I got up at 7am before a 14 hour stint at work. Go team ME!!!

My Progress, and some one eyeing up my dinner

Well, I have achieved it. I have gone to gym, or ran everyday this week. And I feel good. My tyres are still sitting around my waist however depending on the day they feel like there deflating.

I write this as I went on a 5.5 K run around my block with hills, and steps and completed it in 30 minutes. Five minutes slower than on the treadmill but I put this down to the fact that the treadmill is flat and even. Even so if I keep this up then completing the 10k in 1 hour 10 minutes is well in sight.

However this post is not just about my conquests at the gym, it is about the walk back via Tesco’s to buy some fruit and juice for the morning. As I ambled around the aisles I saw soup. I like soup I thought, I will have some soup as a treat and so I picked up a can of soup, and saw some nice Ciabatta. I’ll have some of that, and before I had counted the calories in my head my arm had reached out and my hand was snatching the fresh loaf and placing it in the basket.

The Self checkout was closed, so it was to the good old serviced checkout. I ended up with an old man serving me. As he slowly passed the items over the scanner he paused as his wrinkly hand got to the bread. He looked up and questioned the item in his hand “What’s this?” It’s Ciabatta I replied shocked that he didn’t know what it was. Then I thought maybe he comes from a background where they think Hovis and Warbartons are a type of bread and not a brand.  This has happened to me before when some one questioned the item of veg they had in there hand and astonished that Sainsbury had not informed there check out staff what am aubergine looked like.

The man who we will call Terry, as I think he looked like a Terry. He looked like he was a simple man, and had come from an engineering background and married to Dorris. Terry was probably doing this job to top up his pension amount so he could take his grandkids out a little more ever since their mother had got involved with the smack, the two kids Dennis and Lucy had never been the same. It all started when Kevin walked out on Sarah after Lucy was born claiming she wasn’t his and in a desperate hope Sarah turned to Mic who started to pimp her out, from there it went all day hill and now Sarah’s Dad was working in Tesco’s to try to pay the debt that his daughter created.

Anyway Terry carried on placing the items into the bag “Ciabatta, That looks nice and crusty. Mmm with soup that looks a nice meal and some fruit for afterwards” I thought it was strange that he was speaking my thoughts of why I had chosen my shopping basket items but carried on unphased on our peculiar this was narrating the thoughts of the customers journey though the aisles, amplifying there thoughts on how they made there shopping decisions. Or maybe he was just licking his lips as all he had to look forward to was Dorris’s Cheese and Ham on Hovis as all there earning had been spent paying Glen the dealer off.

After that I went home, ate and promptly fell asleep.

I like exercise as it’s good for. It’s allowing me to let of a lot of steam, and is giving me energy as well as creating a paradox of making me tired and therefore allowing me to fall to sleep when my head it’s the pillow instead of tossing and turning for half the night. I am also waking up at 8am with no artificial alarm, just the good old body clock.

What is also good about exercise is that people can help donate to your charity. Like Christies, and sponsor you for running 10k. So once again me being subtle as every then if you click HERE you can donate at my just giving page If every one who reads this post gave a pound it would treble the total amount raised to date.

 

Thank You

 

Terry is not a real man and has been made up for comic effect, all bit a dark and rather sick one, non the less I hoped Terry and his family made you smile. I often create biographies of people who I meet it entertains me.