Three weeks since crashing the car, I’ve had a fair bit of time to reflect on what it’s like getting public transport to work.
And whether it’s 6 o clock in the morning or 10 o’clock at night, the quirks and joys of commuting are easy to see.
First of all, there’s the timetable. Within a week I’d ditched the train in favour of the tram purely because of the inconvenient times and frustrating platform waiting.
I don’t mind walking a fair trek out of my way if it at least keeps me vaguely in charge of my own destiny.
The tickets are a bit of minefield. Peak v off peak. Travelcards. Bonus excess cards. We’ve got it all. And none of it seems to save me any money.
Then there’s what to do when on the tram. Heaven forbid you speak on the phone – although silence is not quite as expected as on the tube, it’s still a heavy unwritten rule.
Anyone who breaks it is a trailblazer. I found myself unwittingly fascinated by the yarn a girl was spinning on the phone the other day to a friend who’d broken the heart of some guy. A real life soap opera.
Speaking of people, public transport is an amazing snapshot of city life. All ages, including the kids who climb on the handrails, shapes and nationalities. It’s pretty interesting watching them actually.
That is when I’m not checking out my phone like everybody else. My data has almost run out for this month already with three weeks to go thanks to public transport. Ouch.
I’ve even seen two former pupils. Naturally I kept my head down and didn’t acknowledge I’d seen them. They can’t find out I’m a real person outside school obviously.
(And to be fair I’d have no doubt embarrassed them in front of their friends. It’s better for everyone this way).
And the worst of all is when the service stops working. What do you do? Last weekend the trams simply stopped running and I found myself stranded six miles from home in the rain at 10 o’clock at night.
I did what any self respecting person would do…and inadvertently ran/walked the six miles home emerging like a drowned rat into our house about 11 o’clock.
So now we’re actively exploring a replacement car and I’ve got to say I can’t wait. Sitting in your own space, with the radio on, getting from a to b with the minimum of fuss.
Apart from the traffic. Urgh. Life as a commuter is perennially frustrating.
On our recent holiday to Austria, I thought it would be a tremendous idea to nip over the border into Italy and have a pizza.
My wife could have coffee, Sophie could have ice cream, Harry could have…er…bread(?) and everyone would be happy.
After all, it was only about 50km to the border. Simple.
Little did I know what I was letting myself in for…
Coming away on holiday is an absolute treat. Such a privilege to take a step out of daily life and travel away, in our case to visit our very generous relatives who live near Innsbruck, Austria.
The process of leaving home though can be a little bit arduous, a fact that was hammered home to us by our overnight stay at the Premier Inn, Gatwick where the four of us were crammed into a family room of four beds and a cot.
It did not go well.
“Daddy, I’m going to Scotland.”
So piped up a excited voice from the car seat behind me.
It was 2pm, Sophie had just woken up after her afternoon nap and we were four hours into our five hour car journey to Port William, a tiny hamlet in South West Scotland. Miles from anywhere.
So that was an experience…!
Arriving into Luton airport tonight at half 7, bedraggled, exhausted but very content felt amazing after the most incredible (and surreal!) few days.
If you go down to the woods today….
Do bears actually live in the woods? They do if you take them there and that’s just what we did when we took our very own Sophie Bear for a family break at Whinfell Forest Center Parcs recently.
There was a time when my wife and I used to enjoy long car journeys.
The opportunity to put the world to rights, listen to music/talks, work out what on earth we were doing and plan for the future.
With a 17 month old Sophie on board, everything has changed…
Not our actual car!
So, my chances of leaving on the motorhome with the others were in ruins.
But we did have a backup plan up our sleeve.
I went to bed on the 20th July worrying about it, but also desperately hoping we could make it work.
For the last ten years, I have always known when my passport was going to expire.
21 July 2015 has been etched indelibly on my mind ever since I last renewed it – the pain and relief I associate with the last time I renewed it a permanent reminder of when my occasionally haphazard organisation caused me (and various very gracious others!) a whole lot of grief!
Here’s what happened ten years ago…
I’m not particularly Welsh-centric. For that matter, I’m not in the least bit Welshaphobe.
It’s not so much I’m indifferent as I’ve never really thought about it
But actually, as an important member of our church group (a proud Welshman) prepares to fly out for a new life in Canada, it occurred to me that Wales has played a surprisingly significant role in Sophie’s life.
And here’s how.