Not wired for sound

I am not sure that you can see this particularly well but this bike (not mine) has a bluetooth speaker in one of the water-bottle holders. The cyclist plays music from his phone as he pedals along. It’s handy on the canal towpath where other path users can hear him. I had some adventures with this cyclist. First he helped me to do a photoshoot with a banner at Falkirk Grahamston station where we arrived. He had been explaining that he didn’t like hills and was just out for a day instead of ‘sitting at home watching the telly and growing old’. If he didn’t smoke and did eat breakfast he might manage hills a bit better, but I refrained from sharing that insight.

The Avon Acqueduct

After the photoshoot I caught up with him at the top of the hill to Falkirk High (the clue is in the name). He decided he was going to cycle with me, all 30 miles back to Edinburgh. To my subsequent shame, I wasn’t too keen on that but didn’t object. We headed West and our first challenge was the very-long and very-dark canal tunnel. Happily I have integral bike lights which helped a lot and I emerged safely at the other end. My new-found friend didn’t. After waiting a bit, I went on and had a lovely ride. I sat to eat a sandwich at Linlithgow where a kayak race was starting and my cycling friend pedalled past with his bluetooth pop music. He didn’t see me then but I came upon him further along the canal, having stopped for a smoke. I stopped to chat and found, when I restarted, that I had a puncture. He very kindly did most of the repair for me. I was prepared enough to have everything I needed except wet wipes, which are environmentally un-friendly anyway. Half-an-hour later we were on our way again and I managed to get home, showered, changed and to the for a delightful concert that afternoon.


Missing the train

After a great weekend in Nottingham, where
I cycled over and back across the Trent as part of my bikingbridges project, I
managed to miss the canal towpath on the way to the station.  There are signs for it at most corners and I
still missed it.  Just by half a minute
but that’s a very expensive 30 seconds when you are travelling on an advance

I went to ‘discuss’ the problem with the
ticket office  at Nottingham station, who
were very sympathetic and said that they could sell me a ticket to leave on the next
train for £122.00.  Kindly they suggested that I should talk to the station supervisor before spending that much money and what a nice sympathetic man he was!  After checking with the train manager, he
gave me a free ride to Chesterfield, which is as far as his company, EastMidlands Trains, went.  How nice!  Now I only had to hitch the rest of the way.

At Chesterfield, the nice East Midlands Trains station man told me to check with the train manager before getting on the Cross Country train.  This shows such deference that it
is bound to work.  I would know who to ask as he would be wearing a white shirt. 
Presumably, it would be the same with a female manager.  Anyway, pushing my Miss Marple bike, I raced
up to the white-shirted man and breathlessly explained that I had the wrong
ticket.  He told me to get on the train
and we would discuss it.  So, on the train (phew!),
I explained my situation.  Very
reasonably, he wanted to know why I had missed the train.  I explained about missing the canal towpath
and being generally incompetent.  This was
a right answer as he sympathised with my being an eejit and, most importantly, being open about that.  As he would be leaving the train in Leeds, he
couldn’t give me a free ride all the way but found a cheap (£50) way of giving
me a ticket which would be accepted by the Leeds-Edinburgh staff.  So, I got off quite lightly. Next time, just
take more care with where I am going on my super-bike.

Sc(r)um on train

What has happened to people that some of them seem incapable of thinking more widely than themselves?  My train to London was cancelled and so a full trainload of people boarded the already-almost-full next train.  There simply were not enough seats for everyone.  A woman sat beside me and put her bag on another seat for her husband who already had two seats elsewhere in the train – just in case someone came to claim his seats – there do tend to be some reserved seats which are unclaimed.  When challenged she said that everyone had a seat, which was simply not true and mathematically impossible.  Never one to mind my own business, I told her that she couldn’t do that.  Amazingly another passenger joined in and the selfish woman took herself and her offending bags off, very surprised that her behaviour should be criticised.

Why did the whole carriage not join in? Is this a British thing?  It is a coincidence that the only voices raised in objection to this behaviour were those of two Irish women?


East Coast train passenger fun

I do like travelling on the East Coast trains.  They are predictable though, fortunately, not all the passengers are.  An Italian family boarded in Edinburgh with all their worldly possessions in huge suitcases.  Well, while East Coast trains are great and do have some luggage space (unlike some others) this family really needed a guard’s van for their luggage.  Great fun was had watching them try to fit themselves and their luggage into seats opposite people who, reasonably, protested that there was simply not enough space.  The people seeing me off on the train had to make their escape out the far end of the carriage as the bottle-neck (suitcase-neck) at this end created quite a problem.

A nice young couple with a baby in a carry-cot tried to fit themselves into their allocated seats.  Being the busybody that I am I pointed out that the other half of the carriage was unreserved and currently empty and suggested that they could find more space there.  With some reluctance they did and were glad.  What is this ‘British’ thing about sitting in the seat you are given even if a much better option is freely available?  Daft!