Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Travel and things

Winter jobs, cutting up wood for either later on in winter
if necessary or for next year. Ian had some help too this
week by some friends who are leaving to go back to the US
soon. It doesn't seem five minutes ago since they arrived
and yet it is nearly two months ago.
Didn't get off to a good start this week as I got one of those virally things which resulted in a disappearing voice. Something that still amuses my youngest son, even now as it used to happen a lot when they were growing up and so he took great delight in Skyping me, just to hear me squawk. The virus meant that I slept rather a lot more than usual and didn't get much done that I should have got done. It is that bit that frustrates me the most. The days are dark and dreary at the moment, but still relatively mild and I suppose that doesn't kill off the bugs. I really need to get some solid work done but things keep cropping up that get in the way. I suppose I am going to have to get ruthless so I can see some progress and make sure I get some time off around Christmas time.

One of our cats and the chickens sharing a meal. I don't
think she has been catching enough mice to keep her warm.
The cat is the one on the right, there should only be brown
chickens or brown and white in this ark.
It is not just sore throats that make me sleepy, I'm finding it easier and easier to fall asleep on trains, buses and this weekend airplanes. It was quite strange this weekend to not be setting off in a bus up to Tartu at 7am on a Sunday morning, instead I got a lie in and we set off by car to the airport about 9:30am. Stranger still was taking about the same length of time to travel all the way to England, as it does for me to travel the far shorter distance up to Tartu. So instead of four buses and two 20minute walks, it was a car, airplane and rental car trip journey. It also means that I missed my lecture for the week, but I'm allowed to miss three, so I'm okay.

A statue outside of a church in Cesis, took last Sunday
on my walk around to try and fill in a few hours
One thing we do not miss about England is the traffic. Even on the Sunday afternoon when we arrived, the motorway was clogged with cars. At one point on the opposite side of the motorway the cars were at a standstill and I don't think there was an accident to hold them up, just sheer volume of traffic. Not something we deal with here in rural Latvia where four cars in a row is rush hour. We drove back today and set off at 4:30am and couldn't believe how many lorries were on the road at that time in the morning. There were two lanes worth of lorries most of the way. By 6am when we arrived at Luton, we were only too happy to get off the roads and be heading home.

Another picture on his own and why not, he did well! 
The trip itself was worthwhile though, as it was nice to see our youngest son all dressed up in his graduation gown and meet some of his friends from the course as well as his lecturers. It is strange to think that this was the culmination of the dreams of a nine year old. Despite having moved around a lot over the last ten years, we still have some of his early drawings of cars that he did, as his passion for drawing improved. You can see how far he has come on his facebook page (link). It is also strange to think how divergent our paths have gone, my son's course was in automotive design which was a little different to Ian and my courses in the natural sciences. Obviously children do not always follow in their parents footsteps. Seeing our son wasn't the only perk to the travel, it was getting to see his lovely fiancée and her daughter. The little one has even got the hang of calling us Grandma Jo and Grandpa Ian and we went and did the grandparenty thing of going into school with her to see where she hangs her coat and puts her boots - important to a little one in school for her first year.

A water tower in Cesis. For those in the
warmer areas further south, note there are
no leaves on the trees. It was quite a shock
to see England still so green.
I have found a few things have got easier with travelling, one is the hanging around. I no longer think that waiting for an hour is endless, now an hour feels quite short. Time just seems to pass by now. Not sure if that is a good thing or not. Another thing I have found is that pleasant people really make the journey itself more pleasant. The staff for Wizz air, did try their best, although Sunday was not one of their best organised days, but they are dealing with stupid rules. Allocated seating really does make a difference and I am fairly sure, it also makes boarding quicker. Hassling people onto the plane, constant reminders to quickly take your seats, does not necessarily make the boarding any quicker. I wonder if anyone really does make evidence based decisions on boarding. Has someone really monitored how long it takes? Wizz air also has a massive fail on its baggage policies. We watched as one woman was made to pack everything into one bag and ended up throwing a perfectly good computer bag away and yet she wasn't carrying a huge amount of luggage. Beware, Wizz air's restrictions on free carry on is very small and what would be considered normal carry on by most other carriers is considered large and as such will be charged extra for. Okay so this is explained on the boarding pass, but who reads all the gumpf on those things? Regular travellers with other companies are most likely to fall foul of this one. It's such a shame as it was a viable alternative to Ryannair and I'm not so sure now.

A bit hard to see, this is not just another
picture of the water tower but a picture of
a sculpture or something to play with, I
wasn't sure but those coloured blobs are
cup shaped and so I assume moves in the
wind? Maybe!
One pleasant woman today was a lady on the tills in "Real Food" in Luton airport, who offered to help carry trays for customers who were loaded up with baggage or make the tea or coffee from the self-serve section at the end. It is hard to carry a tray and wheel a bag around when it is loaded up with full English breakfast and tea and so she offered to help each customer (not sure if this is company policy or her own policy, but good for her anyway). Not that it was me who she helped, as there were two of us, one managed the tray and one managed the tea and we didn't have a full English anyway - not enough time. Not quite sure what would happen in the busy periods, but the pleasantness was nice. I was also called "darling" this morning by a very pleasant gentleman in the petrol station (gas station) - not bad at 5:30am. So thank you sir at Newport Pagnell petrol station, your pleasantness made the journey more bearable on a dark November morning. I know not everyone appreciates being called "darling," some would even call it sexist possibly, but I took it in the spirit it was intended - a friendly greeting to make life a little more pleasant.

This church has seen better days (in Cesis)
One massive fail at Luton airport are some of the departure gates, there were plenty of travellers with little ones today- it was almost like a kindergarten outing, there were so many, as Ian remarked. The problem was the stairs down to the departure gates and no staff on hand to help those travelling alone with youngsters, fortunately there were helpful customers who stepped in and Ian carried one ladies pushchair down for her. We seem to be making a habit of helping those with little ones, I helped a little chap on our arrival in the UK up some stairs. He was pulling a little suitcase along and needed help up the stairs, but his Mum already had a baby to carry too. Maybe if someone will pay it forward for our family with their little ones when they are travelling, that would be nice. I just wonder though, if all airports could not make their departure gates more accessible, it is not just those with youngsters but less mobile folk that would have suffered too. I guess for those in wheelchairs there must be an alternative route - or is there? 

Dark and dreary or mysterious, whichever mood takes you
One final thought for this week. I had to share this comment on Gene Logsdon's blog, The Contrary Farmer  "Eat real food with real pleasure. I’m pretty sure health and happiness follow" by Laura Grace Weldon. I like the idea of eating real food with real pleasure, I'm sure if we followed that lovely piece of advice our relationship to what we eat would be a lot less fraught and more healthy.

No comments:

Post a Comment

I love to hear your comments and will always reply, so go ahead, ask a question or just say hi