looking in my crystal ball

maybe my post yesterday was just a weird prediction of impending doom because….??

my train was delayed this morning by one and a half…yes, 1.5…HOURS!!!!

90 long… painful… minutes stuck… sitting… going nowhere…in cicero…of all places!!

must, MUST change something!

some people think all i do is complain…and moan …and take on too much and then wonder why it all goes south..

i don’t see it that way, i am happy to be here, i love LOVE my job and am really getting into it now…but my commute has got to be tweaked before winter.

if it goes smoothly 1.5 hours is tolerable…but when it gets fucked up like today and turns into 3-3.5 hours? that feels like england and i don’t want to go backwards…

loving summer in the city

i apologize to anyone who’s been looking for an update about my life here. i can happily report that my life is now… more real? i don’t have much time to think about what i want, should or need to do because i am usually out doing it.

i have thoroughly enjoyed my long hot summer going back and forth between the illinois prarie 

and the city of big shoulders

every morning on the train ride in i close my eyes and open them at random moments and know exactly where i am…and know in a definitive, been there a million times kind of way. i know what is down the side street and around the corner and that if i keep going that i’ll find a really good coffee shop/diner/bakery or that i used to go to a bookstore over that way…

that feeling was always missing in england….

on the last ten minutes into the city i enjoy a stunning view of the chicago skyline…in sunrise and now increasingly in foggy, pre sunrise clouds…no matter-it fills me with pride and anticipation for the day-getting off the train, joining the crowds, emerging into the hustle and bustle of the big city. i particularly enjoy walking through the great hall at union stationi walk past her most mornings

so there it is, an unplanned update-i had planned to write about how i’ve been replaced on facebook-the man i shared my life with for a debatable number of years has now changed his status to “in a relationship” with another woman.

not sure how i feel about that.

i don’t want to go back….not for a second….but it does make me wonder if….

if he (the trainlover) had taken that step to move here….who knows??

change of plans

last week i posted my proposed agenda for this week.  what transpired is slightly different…

  • monday- i went to london and then headed north to stevenage-stayed overnight in a chain hotel-swam in a huge king sized bed with four pillows dreaming of cats, a turkey carcass and a sick puppy
  • tuesday- i presented at a meeting in stevenage then headed back into london-raced across to woolwich passed through grenwich which reminded me of a visit there with my 2 sons in 2000~~~ then headed north to leeds arriving at 9pm, stayed in a nice, unique hotel, snuggled down in a single bed and woke up to what i thought was pouring rain but turned out to be the shower next door and a sunny, windy day
  • wednesday, today i’ve had a productive visit with the less famous phil jackson, wasn’t able to find my favorite deli in all of england and headed home disappointed, tired and wanting to just be not moving….

i have tomorrow off, one more trip to london on friday and hopefully i can fit in my 20th visit on monday or tuesday…

here’s the map

delayed, slow, delayed, cancelled, delayed, crawl, delayed!!!

when i started this research job about 15 months ago the travel seemed exciting~fun! i even started a public transportation page to try and document my wacky adventures. the reality has been a generally tiring, frustrating experience interspersed with a few stunning visuals that i embed in my brain. later when i am stuck waiting for a train or squished in a corner train seat, legs aching to be stretched out i recall the lovely fields of sheep…cows, horses, pigs…the  rolling hills, sunrises and sunsets as an antidote.

my travel experience has become an endless routine of hurry up and wait. it’s amazing how standards slip, the unacceptable becomes acceptable and you rationalize that a situation is not as bad as it could be or as bad as what happened last week.

this week has set a new low, the limbo bar is one step lower. one morning i set out for Leeds. i left my house on the bus which gives me one opportunity to jump off and catch the local commuter train which i did because the bus was crawling in traffic-one word explanation-rain. i got to town with 5-10 minutes to spare only to find my train was delayed….usually they give an expected arrival time. is it delayed 3 minutes or 10 minutes? enough time to nip to the loo or 30 minutes? enough time to have a good browse through the magazines or get something to eat. nope my train just says “delayed”

it was delayed 35 minutes, not a good start….. here’s where the rationalizing comes in because i was meeting sarah and her train was cancelled~lucky me! that train journey was 2 hours so total door to door? 4 hours on public transportation and i still had to get home.

our meeting went a bit longer than we’d planned but that’s okay because i had an open ticket. we arrived at the station, at 5pm-the height of rush hour even in Leeds. i only had 6 minutes to get my train so i raced in, weaved in and out of the commuters, asked a train guy which platform and the train pulled in. i glanced around and noticed there was a lot of people expecting to get on…a lot of people who apparently play this game everyday because when the last passenger disembarked they shoved and squeezed (in a very polite british way, of course) onto the train until not one more single person could get on…the aisle and vestibule was full all the way to the door.

now i could have joined the swarm-i don’t mind standing- but i am not going to stand for an hour to the next stop crushed between people doing god knows what on their phones or worse blabbering on and on and on…so i thought okay, i’m hungry, i’ll go get something to eat and wait for the next train-even though it wasn’t due for another hour…

one hour later i’m standing on the very same platform feeling quite happy because the platform was considerably less crowded than an hour ago…the train pulls in and me and a few other savvy travelers head to the last cars which were tantalizingly empty…there was a reason they were empty-they were blocked off because as it was announced…”the last three carriages are not in use on this train due to insufficient train crew to service them” fffffff….i ended up standing for an hour but i had the vestibule all to myself. 4 hours after i arrived at the station to return home i actually walked in my front door….4 + 4 =8 hours of public transportation for a 3 hour meeting.

just to emphasize that UN-randomness of that journey, the next day i had to go london. i was in possession of the magic ticket-an anytime ticket!! so i took my time getting started set out to the bus and watched it drive away just as a i rounded the corner, waited 20 minutes and got on thinking no problem i have an anytime ticket. about halfway tto town the bus came to a complete stop interspersed with occasional crawling…to make a long journey short, the 25 minute drive at night/early morning took at least 90 minutes….

during that trip on the bus i had plenty of time to consider my options and one of them was to turn around and go home…i did stick it out though…caught the 8.30 train which encountered a “switch problem” around watford junction..translation…crawl…i arrived at the office in london close to 11am…another 4 hour journey.

going home was uneventful-a brisk 2.5 hours. leaving london i had a really lovely view of the BT tower lit up with the countdown to the olympics in the distance behind the camden rowhouses-chimneys which were behind the rail yard, tracks. i remembered my first glimpse of england in 2000 when me and my kids took the picadilly line from heathrow to ealing. it was that feeling of awe, seeing something for the first time that reminded me of how hard i have worked to get the opportunity to be delayed by trains in england.

back from the coast

i would call myself a city girl, i grew up very close to the second biggest city in america-i lived for about 10 years near the biggest city in america and i don’t think i ever lived anywhere that i couldn’t thow a rock from my front door into my neighbors yard…so traveling to some of these remote ish country hospitals is kind of interesting.

it’s always the same, the view from train is progressively more fields of cows, sheep, pigs and horses and less houses and buildings. it’s not a bad thing and in fact it’s quite pretty. yesterday i went to great yarmouth, the end of the line in a lot of ways, this map was helpful for me to see where i’d been

i’m still trying to get past my first view of great yarmouth which was of trying to get off the train and get around the middle aged woman holding a can of strongbow (beer) at 10 in the morning…waving good by to the younger woman and baby as they were waiting to get on the train…sarah just whispered “i think this is a deprived area”.

we went to the hospital and were met by a really dedicated and friendly bunch of doctors and nurses. they seemed nervous to meet us but really gave us a warm welcome and shared alot about themselves, the area, and their patients. their equipment was as good or better as what we have at the “palace” (that’s what i call the new hospital in birmingham”.

sarah aked if the area was deprived and they said oh yes definitely, high unemployment, poor road access so no prospects of attracting industry, heavy smokers, drinker and druggies and obviously that impacts the kinds of patients you get…they had some unusual stories about some of the patients they get-people found unconscious and without ID laying on the beach…people falling off piers and ferries…people who try to get around traffic jams on the single lane road by driving in the ditch and then their car tips over and they drown because they didn’t realize they are in a marsh and the ditch is full of water…

they have a ferry to holland and we discussed a case in detail where a dutch man had to be winched off the ferry because he developed this dramatic swelling in his face that started to affect his airway…not something you see everyday…

sarah and i were supposed to do a presentation at 12.30-here’s where i learned the very important lesson about checking your equipment. we arrived rushed and late to a little room packed with doctors and a few nurses, their laptop was set up and we had their special encrypted memory stick but….big BUT here….i saved the presentation on my laptop in 2007 version and their laptop only had 97-2003…. big oops!

while all these people were waiting i had to set up my laptop, negotiate my 3 passwords and then finally when it came to life what picture on my screensaver comes up on the big screen for everyone to see??? this picture of me and james

mortified! the only thing worse would have been me in a bikini….

i was nervous and shaky and sarah didn’t know quite what to so it was a rocky start but  30 minutes later we had a long discussion and the staff themselves were lovely and very appreciative. a few thank us personally and said it as very informative…

i have been to this part of england once before, when the train went through ely i thought i need to stop at rosie and dolly’s on the way back-

but i got there 5 minutes after they closed…i really think i should plan a day trip for myself….

what is in norwich anyway?

well, i’m sure that thought has been swirling around in your brain all weekend…to be honest i didn’t see a whole lot in norwich except the train station (as usual) and the spires of the cathedral. on the taxi ride to the B&B there were plenty of leafy winding roads. here’s where we stayed

i stayed in the little annex on the left side and sarah stayed in the main house. as i said before it was very nice and the full english breakfast (without baked beans!) was absolutely mahvelous!!

i picked up a bunch of brochures about canoeing and steam trains etc…but the one that really caught my eye was this one~~colney woodland burial park

it actually looks like a really nice place~~~although the big marble angel that i am going to demand my kids have commissioned to mark my final resting place may appear a little out of place.

if you watch the little video, the man says it’s open to the public and that 45% of their visitors are just enjoying the woodland not actually dropping granny in the ground…so, kids get in the car…. we’re going to the burial park for a picnic!

the most amazing 15 minutes of my whole 2 days in norfolk was when i changed trains in ely. i was saying something about my daughter to sarah just as we pulled into the train station and i saw this sign…

i laughed and said ha, and her name is rosie! (although nobody calls her that anymore, it’s strictly rose) i thought it looked interesting and as i made my way under the tracks and over to platform one with my heavy backpack, i stepped inside a great little shop crammed with all the stuff i love! homemade quilts, things to put on the walls, things to hang up, hair stuff, earrings…you name it. i really wanted to buy a door mat that said home sweet home but with my upcoming trip home and that blasted backpack i didn’t think i could carry it.

 i assumed (incorrectly) that they would have a website because everybody has a website these days but i did find another person who loved it too! check out some better pics here

for a few brief moments, i thought if they had a shop like this in birmingham perhaps i could start making some glass pieces to sell there….

i dragged myself away and had just enough time to get an orange callipo and a bottle of water…it was a scorching 80F!! i proceeded to thoroughly enjoy my ice pop on the train…maybe a little too much for the locals!

i’ve had a pretty crappy weekend~~tired, aching back and female related troubles but besides the finals of the world cup…i just watched one of my very favorite movies…that cheered me up alot!!!!