Aug 23rd

My Coach Holiday

By Ann R
As you may have noticed I have been absent over the past few days, this was due to me spending five days in Kent.

I must admit that, years ago, I had been put off coach holidays as well meaning people would see me on my own and insist that they accompany me, that was very nice of them but when a person tells them that they are alright they really ought to listen and take heed.  Anyway, enough of that.

Last autumn I joined the Friends of Hereford Cathedral which, for those of you not in the UK, is something that we have at different religious buildings throughout the country. The annual membership goes towards the upkeep of the building and that it why I joined, I have no faith at all, so it did amuse some of my friends.

Just before Christmas the newsletter arrived with details of trips, talks and the annual holiday which was in Kent.  My eyes lit up as I had only been to one of the places that they were going to, so I immediately booked up.

Needless to say that is where I have been for the past five days.  We set off at 8 on Monday and headed to Ledbury to pick up a few more passengers, then we were on our way.  

After a lunch break at Reading Services we then headed to Chartwell House. After a few hours there we were on our way again and soon arrived at our hotel in Ashford.

Tuesday we spent in Canterbury, Wednesday morning - Hever Castle; afternoon - Biddendon Vineyard; Thursday - Rochester and then Friday it was time to return home, calling into Penshurst Place on the way.

Over the next few weeks I will give a more detailed story of each place, I have learned to much over these past few days and I just hope that I can remember it all.

Kent is a beautiful county and we were so lucky as the weather held for us, it was sunny, slightly cool and the only rain we saw was a few spots while we were in Rochester.
Jun 25th

Down Memory Lane

By Ann R
Last Saturday I went on one of those special excursion trains (not a regular National Rail service) to my home town of Bournemouth. I knew that it was going to be a long day before I booked it. The train left Hereford at 6.00am and picked up passengers at Ledbury, Great Malvern, Worcester, Kidderminster, Stourbridge, Rowley Regis, Birmingham International, Rugby, Northampton and Milton Keynes.  Finally we were on our way but it still took three hours from that last pick up until we reached Bournemouth. The man opposite me was a train enthusiast and he explained that our train was using different routes where possible to avoid the passenger routes.

Finally we drew into Bournemouth Station at 1.30, which I noticed now has that new name.  It was always called Central Station when I lived there but on looking it up on the internet yesterday I saw that the name had been changed two years before I left home. That had obviously missed me by.

How the area has changed.  I left there in 1969 and my last visit was in 1996, when I swore that I would never go back again.  However, I had weakened and, with seeing various pictures on the internet the changes were not so much of a shock this time.  Great chunks of buildings had gone and modern structures had taken their place.

As we only had three and a half hours to see the place I caught the bus from the station down to the pier.  The old swimming baths had gone years ago, every year we used to go and see a summer show there. On the opposite side used to be a nice little shelter where I did a fair bit of 'courting'.  That had gone and all I could see was a fun fair and aquarium.

Walking through the gardens, taking photos along the way, I stopped to take one of a pillar - the same pillar that I had stood on aged about three with my father holding me.  He died three years later so it held a special memory for me.

I still cannot believe that I lived up the road from St Peter's Church and never set foot in it.  I would often cut through the churchyard but I have no idea why I didn't go into the church.  It is beautiful inside with painted walls and lovely stained glass in the Gothic revival style.  A grave in the churchyard contains the heart of the poet Shelley, also Mary Shelley (authoress of 'Frankenstein) is buried there.

Heading on up to the road where I lived (this was near the centre of the town) I was surprised to see that what had once been a road full of lovely individual shops was now one restaurant after another of every nationality you could think of.  The biggest laugh I had was when I arrived at the old registrar's office (which is where my parent's were married and my birth was registered).  It is now a strip club - aptly named 'Wiggles'!

After a quick pub lunch I headed slowly back to the station.  I am not a lover of the heat and it was getting to me by then, so I sat in the shade of the station and did a lot of 'people watching'.

Soon our train appeared and we were on our way home again, with a slight delay because of a signal box failure, and I finally crawled into bed just before 1.00am.

A long, tiring, but really enjoyable day and also it has helped me come to terms with the changes and I want to go back for a few days now and explore properly (using National Rail this time!). 
May 20th

Motorways and Electric Cars

By Geoff J
Saw several supercharger (fast charging) points are to be installed about 100+ miles apart on motorways. Would have to drive that far and back to get my electic car charged up! Consider those at Dover and m25 etc - the locations of key superchargers for a desparate electrified motorist would, it seems, invariably necessitate a drive through the Dartford Crossing!
Has some cleverclogs deliberately done that so as to boost revenues. Why not put them in every motorway service station and allow big-business type charities to run them?
Apr 14th

Hard Shoulder

By Geoff J
Driving along the M25 yesterday I noticed the inner lane was coned-off and the hard shoulder had disappeared. Speculated what I should do if my car became faulty and was reassured that there were some areas of green bank patches to "glide" into and other spaces where one could get the passenger side at laest off the motorway. NOT TOO HAPPY.
Then about 100 yards away in MY track I saw a stopped car - was able to see there was nothing in the next outer lane so I moved over. I then passed two cars (did not notice any hazard lights) and their "stopper" van with hazard lights on.   
Of course, there was no pile-up when I passed...but later???? Result = came home from Arandel via A22 and A25 (passing Godstone, etc).

Shortly, I expect to hear of serious accidents on the M25 (ie the no hard  houlder  parts). I had understood that hard shoulders are danger us to stop in. HOW MORE OR LESS DANGEROUS ARE NO HARD SHOULDER M25s, etc???????????????????????????????????????
Sep 26th

Off the Cuff...

By phillip J W

I know - I usually turn out with something a little interesting in the comments department, don't I?
Well I'm incrediblly busy at presant but dear Mary was kind enough to give me a wave this morning & I thought I'd at least show my hairy face!

We're madly packing, planning, arranging travel insurence & checking boarding arrangements for a couple of 11 month-old twins, us & a bale of luggages - it takes all the time we have.

...I know, we have a few days to go yet, but it IS only days & we've not seen Cherry-the-cat to her temperery holiday while we're away yet!

Right - thats about where I am today; thought you'd like to know; don't want you worrying.
xxx
Phillip

Aug 19th

Cars and retirement

By Ryan P

Blackpool

I guess there are lots of reasons to sell your car.  Some people upgrade to better models, maybe they’ve been promoted or come in to some money; there’s nothing like selling your old banger for something a bit flasher!  But on the flip side, so many people have to sell their pride and joy because of a run of bad luck and are doomed to use public transport until their fortunes change.

Me?  Well I fall into a category many of us will someday fall into, retirement.  I’ve been driving a MG MGF 1.8i (a two seat sports car) for the best part of the last ten years.  I’ve never crashed it or so much as scratched it and I’ve always took care of it like it were my child.  Now it’s not that I’ll be swapping my driver’s license for bus pass anytime soon but my wife thinks I’m too old to be driving a sports car!

So my wife has recently started piling pressure on me over the last couple of months, ‘sell your car’ has become the dreaded phrase I hear her say every day.  I’ve been resisting but I know she’s right, I’d love to keep the MGF as a second car but we just can’t afford it and we really need the space for the grandkids.  Another factor is the raising price of fuel

So I started advertising on Twitter and Facebook, but with most of my own friends having families of their own it was looking like I was going to have to advertise in the local paper or with auto trader.  It was then that a friend recommended trying Deal4yourwheels sell your car page.  So, I visited their website and strictly out of curiosity I entered my cars details into their system.  I was actually impressed how quick the entire process took, from logging on to the Deal4yourwheels website to having the quote displayed in nice big numbers on screen, took about five minutes.  No, that’s not a taxi drivers five minutes either, it’s a genuine 5 minute process.

It turned out that that they valued my car at £893, which isn’t bad.  Sure I could get a little more by selling privately but to be honest I couldn’t be bothered with the hagglers and timewasters not to mention the process and cost of advertising in the papers or magazines.  They even offered to come and collect the car free of charge, which was great seeing that I was a good 2 hours drive from the their nearest depot.

A time was arranged for the car to be collected.  Before I knew it, I was standing there on the driveway, handkerchief in hand and a tear in my eye, waving off my car whom I had nurtured for the best part of a decade.

Well, at least I’m almost £900 better off.  I’m going to use some of that to go down the pub and drown my sorrows!  When I sober up we'll be able to buy a new family sized car and take the kids on day trip to Blackpool.

So this experience has left me curious about how other people deal with transport as they approach retirement?  Is it time scale down or finally get that Porsche you’ve been saving up for the past 50 years! 

Jul 8th

Weather - or whether not.

By phillip J W

I never was that good at enjoying a lot of sunshine. I suppose i must have spent my time on French beaches, or playing ball on the sand at Brighton in my time, but somehow it all seems another world now.

Today turned out simelar to the previous two days The temperature rose as it did at the weekend. Bright sharp sunshine that began to remind me of the discomforts of Balmain last year.

Having begun to visualise with a degree of interest sampling Australia again, today I’m not so enthusiastic about a second visit now - unless we go in the very middle of their ‘winter.’

I still would never look forward to the actual journey, but I suppose it could be made faster & smoother.
At present this heat though is making me feel slightly sick & I don’t want that in Northumbria let alone in Sydney.

If I can go in the midst of their winter then perhaps - just perhaps - but a repeat of the persistand draining heat of even their Spring....
No, I think not.

Feb 5th

Travelling Light II

By Colin L

I am probably the last person to find out about this.

For the last 7 or so years that I was in the States I had a pay-as-you-go cell phone. It was clunky and very basic but did the job.

When I returned to the UK I retired the half-brick and got a nice shiny Samsung. Still pretty basic apparently and still pay-as-you-go.

Reading the instructions (not something I normally do) I found that my phone had a slot for a micro SD card. The penny dropped.

I bought four 2GB micro SD cards and a card reader from Amazon and transferred the contents of my USB drive onto the micro SD cards.

Now when I am waiting at a bus-stop or at the Doctors or queuing at the supermarket checkout I can listen to my CD collection :).

Better late than never!!

Jan 19th

Fly back.

By phillip J W
I love to hear the geese fly. Over the valley they go, confident & assured of their route. They always have friends beside them who they chat to, & the whole group to chivvy each other along & laugh with as they go, to keep the cold from their thin legs; And all afternoon I miss their going.
Jan 18th

Durham & Back

By phillip J W
I went down to Newcastle early today, arived at Eldon Sq Bus station & quite on a whim I got on a bus up through Dipton, Anfield Plain, Sandhough, Hampsterly, The Ox Inn, Oxhill & Stanley. In all these areas the residents still play-out the part of the "Down Trodden Poor", the "Working Class." It’s a little bit pathetic to see. It’s in their faces and their dress; there’s a sullen resentment, as though it were natural to be beaten. Out past Mary St. and “Brenda’s Fish & Chips” down Tyne Rd, Craghead Aged Miners Homes, through South Stanley, Avon Rd, and “The Charlow,” Thompson Buildings, Edmond Biers, Sacristan & so into Durham Bus Station around 12.30. I did some more pictures walking up over the bridge then went into the covered market for a repeat of the all-day-brunch I had there in 2004. Around 2.15 it was spitting snow again so I got a bus to bring me back by way of Framwell Gate & Pity Me, Chester-la-Street, [where the snow was getting steadier,] over by The Angle, through Gateshead & back into Eldon Sq. I was back in the house by 4.30. Totally shattering, but quite nice to know I went.
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