How to travel on a British Train

The wonders of British Train Travel

trains

It would appear that travelling on a train in Britain is becoming more and more difficult. For some; its an everyday struggle. The price of  travelling on public transport is continually rising.  It would appear that it can cost up to the price of a small farm animal to travel on a British train.

I will not get into it – but the metaphorical suggestion of a small animal is quite apt, because the experiences I have had on trains is similar to visiting a petting zoo.

For one there are never enough carriages, everyone is squashed.

Let me paint a wonderful picture…no matter where you are, whether you and the rest of your wonderful fellow passengers have managed to get a seat or are left standing up: the experience is the same.

During your train travel experience you are most likely to experience at least one of the below:

  1. it smells of swear because air conditioning is broken
  2. someone chatting extremely loudly on the phone
  3. prams that contain screaming babies (who sadly are usually brats for some reason)
  4. sticky toddlers stuffing their faces with quavers
  5. bikes propped up – these generally fall over when the train jolts and stops abruptly. (I have actually been hit several times by other peoples bikes falling over and have received somewhat cumbersome bruising. I then thank the genius person that invented those rather funny fold up bikes –  I secretly laugh at  people for having them- but in terms of train travel – they are ok.)

Then you have those people who sit in or under the luggage racks – depending on the train, where it is going and whether there is a large amount of women who have over packed for a weekend at their friends, parents or partners – 5 pairs of shoes is not OK for three days.

Of course my first choice is to sit in a seat – however I have been known to sit in a luggage rack when there is no sitting or standing space.

The other annoyance in the space front is the wondrous 1st class section which lends itself to nearly 1/4 of the train carriage! It is always empty… nobody sits in there. But if you sit in there you get a fine if you don’t have the right ticket. Bloody madness.

Story 1:

I was on my way to Leeds to see my best friend Chloe. I boarded the train at Leicester where I found that there was no room at the inn in terms of seating. The prospect of standing for the two and a half hour journey was neither appealing or was going to happen.

The luggage rack had of course a rack to place luggage and then a space underneath for large suitcases, children, dogs and any other emotional baggage one has these days.

I slipped underneath and made myself at home with my book, some coffee and a delightful snack, usually sushi for some reason – excellent snack.

Unfortunately half way through the journey a rather large man who had an impressive beer belly – he had obviously invested a large amount of time growing it – perched on the luggage rack opposite mine. I was then greeted with a view of his delightful belly button that poked out every time the train jolted – due to his ill fitting t-shirt. He would smile down at me in a leering manner – I felt most uncomfortable.

Then to add insult to injury I was then joined at the next stop by two teenagers who squeezed underneath my luggage rack. I was then faced with being continuously elbowed as they took self portraits of themselves (selfies as they are otherwise known as) together and then proceed to YES upload them on facebook labeling them: My train Journey.

I was thankful to leave the train: Just before I jumped off I was greeted with this horrific entrepreneurial quick fix to life.

British trains' answer to falling bikes.

British trains’ answer to falling bikes.

Yes, a hanging bike rack – may I ask how you get your bike up there?

I can barely lift my bike up a kerb let alone, lift it, suspend it and hook it on to this stupid contraption.

I left the train in disgust.

Story 2:

I travel on trains quite a lot – it easy to jump on the train home to go home and visit the parents and I don’t own a car because I currently learning to drive.

On one of my delightful trips home to see my parents – if you go during the day with a railcard it is a lot cheaper – only £10 return!! However, this time usually brings out the strangest of people.

I have managed to get a seat – I like the ones with the tables I can stretch out my legs, spread out my things on the table and pretend to be intelligent, intellectual and studious (well i did that when I was a student – whip out an academic people – yeahhhh people’s eyebrows go up)

Let me paint a picture:

Next to me and by the window (so to my left) is a woman typing on a laptop. Opposite me is a women playing on her phone. Next to the women playing on her phone is a man playing on his ipad, wearing a Nike tracksuit ensemble, wearing gold rings and drinking Stella.

The moment I sat down, I wish I had not – they say don’t judge a book by it’s cover –  I know.

But 5 minutes into the journey – after I have opened by book and begun reading (note it was not educational), the tracksuit man starts trying to read the blurb on the back of my book by ducking and turning his head – moving closer and closer to the table in the middle of us. He then burst out laughing. This carries on continually for 15 minutes.

Soon he grew tired of trying to stare out my book blurb. He then moved on to the woman next to me. After taking a large slurp of Stella he actually pushed the laptop screen forward and said to the women ‘doing work is for boring people’, the women who is of course shocked rightfully ignores the man, pushes the lid back up and continues typing.

The bad man then pushed the laptop all the way down – turning it off and coursing the women to loose all her work and not being able to turn her laptop on.

But a pat on the back for her she just says calmly: ‘Please don’t do that!’

He then takes another slurp of his Stella and asks the women next to him if she would like to go back to his because he could show her a good time!

By now – I was pondering my next move – I mean do I move seats, do I tell the conductor or do I sit tight and hope he leaves at the next stop.

I dismissed the first two ideas thinking that it could cause me more trouble than it was worth and luckily to he did disembark at the next stop – but not before asking the woman next to him again back to his house.

She refused politely.

After the man had left – I stupidly announced to the train ‘Bloody hell that man was mental’

Nobody was amused.

That’s the problem with British trains – nobody is friendly!

Story 3:

Yet another trip down to see my parents involved an amusing experience with food and drinks trolley. It does puzzle me how the train service is allowed to get away with charging it’s customers £1 for a mars bar, £4 for a terrible sandwich which has probably traveled on the train since the early hours of the morning – poor thing it must be all sweaty and droopy by the time someone consumes it.

Anyhow: the food manager as they are called who risks death to manager and protect the food from harm during its scary journey down the carriage aisles was asking people if they wanted any food.

However, instead of just speaking in a normal voice.

This food manager broke into song – a song he had made up about the food he managed.

Due to my shock all I remember is:

‘Buy a lion bar for 80p and hear it roar’ where he subsequently roared loudly….

lion1

I was scared for life – although it did bring a smile to my face.

If you ever get on the Leicester to Stansted train – you may be in luck. You might meet a man that manages food and sings.

Train rules:

As a result of the last three stories I have come up with some excellent rules when travelling by trains in Britain:

  1. Always try and find a seat – wonder up and down the corridors if necessary to avoid children taking selfies and fat men’s belly buttons
  2. Buy a fold up bike – this reduces the amount of bruising to other passengers
  3. Pack lightly for weekend trips – leaving more room for other people’s bags and people’s bums
  4. Do not sit near anyone that is drinking – safe yourself
  5. Do not listen to loud music – i frequently ask young teenagers ‘Do you want me to sing along? I can hear every word?’
  6. Read and mind your own business – if you don’t you could be engaged in awkward conversation
  7. If you come across a food manager – apply ear plugs
  8. Eat smelly food like Sushi and then no one will sit next to you
  9. Buy a first class ticket – then you will be alone as no one else sits there

OR DON’T GET ON A TRAIN AT ALL – I WARN YOU TRAVELLING BY BUS IN BRITAIN IS WORSE.

Lady on the train: What’s that matter? Have you never made love before? (Don’t Ride on Late Night Trains, 1975)

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I’m having Fish tonight…

pixar-nemo

Despite the title I did not eat fish, however for some reason random quotes from Finding Nemo are stuck in my brain.

Every so often I blurt out – “I can speak whale” in the most civilised of conversations. But what is wrong about lightening the mood in one’s conversation and letting others know your advanced skills.

Of course much to my joy it was announced that “Finding Dory” would be released in 2014… it is a long time to wait but at least at the depressing age of 22 I have something to look forward to next year.

Finding Nemo is just one of those films that has some amazing quotes that you can just crack out at the most amusing quotes in random social situations; let me give you some examples:

1.       You see someone swimming in the swimming pool they look a bit out oJust keeping swimming, swimming......f puff, tired and a bit drained.

What do you do?

You start singing “Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming, hoooo hahahahah I love to swimmmmmm!”

2.       When someone asks for directions – why not do it Dory style?

The conversation would go like this:

Person: Excuse me do you know where the nearest shop is?

You: I saw a shop

Person: You did?

You:  Yeah I went by it not too long ago. Follow.

[few seconds later, I would start zig-zagging on a street pathway in front of the person and continually glance back at them]

You: Would you quit it? What, the ocean isn’t big enough for you or something like that? You got a problem? Huh? Do ya, do ya, do ya? You wanna piece of me? Yeah, yeah! Ooh, I’m scared now! What?

Person: What? You said you saw a shop?

Me: A Shop?

Person: YES.

Me: Hey, I’ve seen a shop. I went by it not too long ago. It was this way. It was this way…

Person: Wait a minute, you already told me which way the shop was.

Me: I did? Oh, no…

Of course after your little joke it would be nice if you could either show them where the shop is or if they are really attractive offer to buy them a coffee – who knows that might be how your relationship blossoms. But, before you know it you’re married with 6 children and you don’t have any fun anymore. Jokes aside – try it.

3.      You’re in a shop there is only one tray of doughnuts left (you know those trays you can get for like two pounds in asda (other shops are available)) someone else is staring at the tray of doughnuts too…

Run, grab the tray of doughnuts and shout MINE MINE MINE MINE (whilst doing some kind of impression of a seagull)

mine

4.      Of course there are a range of angles you could take whilst shopping in a supermarket (I am using food examples because this is supposed to be a food blog)

When looking for fish in a supermarket – go up to the fish counter order your fish and then start muttering loudly:

“I am a nice person, not a mindless eating machine. If I am to change this image, I must first change myself. Fish are friends, not food.”

 Politely retract your order and walk away still muttering.

OR

Bruce finding nemo

          Shout: “I’M HAVING FISH TONIGHT”

If you are with a friend – your friend should then say whilst dragging you away:

Friend: He really doesn’t mean it, you know! He never even knew his father!

You: Just a bite!

Friend: Now you hold it together, mate!

Friend 2 (if you have one): Remember, INSERT NAME HERE Fish are friends, not food!

                                                                                                                                                                              You: Food!

5.       When a friend asks you for directions – why not speak some whale? I think this would work especially well when tensions are high – you know when the Sat Nav has failed, you are late, you can’t remember how to read a map because that was GCSE Geography and that was sooo many years ago and you can’t get SIRI to tell you where to go because you don’t have any signal – yeah that kind of moment to lighten the mood….

 Friend:  Let’s ask someone for directions?

You:  [about the person you want to speak ] Maybe he only speaks whale.

[slowly and deeply, imitating the whale]

You: Mooo… Weeee neeeed…

Friend: INSERT NAME HERE

You: …tooo fiiind theeeeeee iceeeeeeee rrrrrriiinnnnnnkkk.

Friend: What are you doing? Are you sure you speak whale?

I can speak whale

You: Caaaan yoooou giive uuuus direeeeectioooons?

Friend: INSERT NAME HERE. Heaven knows what you’re saying! See, he’s moving away.

You: Cooome baaaaack.

Friend: He’s not coming back. You offended him.

You: Maybe a different dialect. Mmmmoooooowaaaaah…

Friend: INSERT NAME HERE! This is not whale. You’re speaking like, upset stomach.

You: Maybe I should try humpback.

Friend: No, don’t try humpback.

You: Woooooo! Woooooo!

Friend: Okay, now you really do sound sick.

You: Maybe louder. Rah! Rah!

Friend: Don’t do that!

You: Too much orca. Did it sound a little orca-ish to you?

Friend: It doesn’t sound orca. It sounds like nothing I’ve ever heard!

So there you go – how to live your life by Finding Nemo a fun way to pass the time, annoy your friends and of course annoy people you have never met.

Also to keep you happy: this is when Ellen DeGeneres  found out that Finding Dory was going to be made: click here

This is when I found out Finding Dory was going to be made:

Finding Nemo Excitement 2 Finding Nemo Excitement 1I went through a range of emotions when finding out that there was going to be a second Finding Nemo film!

I went through a range of emotions when finding out that there was going to be a second Finding Nemo film!

“If you are what you eat, then I only want to eat the good stuff.” – Remy (‘Ratatouille’ 2007)

Just call me Nigella!

It would seem the world has become most obsessed by fine dining, programs such as BBC’s MasterChef and Great British Menu take the prime- time television slots.

I personally cannot understand what the point of fine dining? I even looked up the definition just to gain some further understanding:

Fine dining restaurants are full service restaurants with specific dedicated meal courses. Décor of such restaurants feature higher-quality materials, with an eye towards the

“atmosphere” desired by the restaurateur, than restaurants featuring lower-quality materials. The wait staff is usually highly trained and often wears more formal attire. Fine-dining

restaurants are almost always small businesses and are generally either single-location operations or have just a few locations. Food portions are visually appealing. Fine dining

restaurants have certain rules of dining which visitors are generally expected to follow often including a dress code. (Wikipedia, 2013)

I have gained nothing from the above definition accept that fine dining requires smart clothes, small food portions that look nice, following specific rules, experiencing a particular “atmosphere” – is it a happy or a sad one? and small locations – sounds squashy. To be honest this does not appeal at all. It sounds like a nightmare. Oh and add to that it costs about a million pounds for one mouthful that claims to be a main course (slight exaggeration).

Anyhow, like every other person I watched the most recent series of Amateur Master Chef – I have been INSPIRED. But not in the way you would quite imagine – I have been inspired to make large portions of food, arranged in an alright fashion on the plate and wait it fills you up. Shock Horror.

I have used my trusty tea saucepan to make all of my dishes.

Seafood - Squid, Prawns, Mussels - you can buy it from anywhere. This is how Sainsbury's chose to package there's!

Seafood – Squid, Prawns, Mussels – you can buy it from anywhere. This is how Sainsbury’s chose to package there’s!

Seafood Pasta: Taken from BBC Good Food

  1. Heat the oil in a wok or large frying pan, then cook the onion and garlic over a medium heat for 5 mins until soft. Add the paprika, tomatoes and stock, then bring to the boil.

    The cooking process

    The cooking process

This is what a pan of tomatoes, onion, garlic, stock and paprika looks like… bubbling away nicely.

2. Turn down the heat to a simmer, stir in the pasta and cook for 7 mins, stirring occasionally to stop the pasta from sticking. THROW SOME OF THE PASTA AT THE WALL.

The new cooking sport: Pasta Throwing invented by Hannah Tucker

The new cooking sport: Pasta Throwing invented by Hannah Tucker

You basically throw the pasta at the wall to see if it cooked – all the starch and that. WARNING: not advisable if at home with parents, mother’s could explode…

3. Stir in the seafood, cook for 3 mins more until it’s all heated through  and the pasta is cooked, then season to taste.

Cook Garlic Bread that you have bought in a shop.

Cook Garlic Bread that you have bought in a shop.

4. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with lemon wedges.

The finished fine dining article

The finished fine dining article

So there you have it a fool proof easy dish to make that does not require any posh clothing, posh ingredients, an “atmosphere” or a million pounds to be spent on buying it – and it is defiantly more than a mouthful – ‘that’s what she said!’ God I can hear Mr Richard Green saying that in my head (see When Polly couldn’t put her kettle on 3rd of may blog).

This is me of course enjoying my amazing creation of Seafood Pasta - just to prove I do eat my own food

This is me of course enjoying my amazing creation of Seafood Pasta – just to prove I do eat my own food

 

“Leave the gun. Take the cannoli.”  The Godfather (1972)

The day Polly could not put her kettle on.

I am a huge tea drinker and we are not talking your average ‘I can’t function if I don’t have a cup of tea in the morning’ kind of tea drinker. I am the kind of back to back chain drinker that will drink and drink and drink tea until the constant calls to the bathroom get annoying. But that’s what 15 cups of tea a day can do to you. 300 tea bags in my house lasts less than 2 months.

I am that person that likes all of those fancy teas that you can’t pronounce.

I am that person that drinks tea with the tea bag left in (who even does that?)

I am that person who will make you a cup of tea when you walk into my house – even if you don’t want it.

I am that person that goes to the dentist and has to get a regular teeth cleaning because my teeth are stained from so much tea.

Anyway enough about my tea drinking habits, I decided to write a blog because something terrible has happened. It is truly terrible.

The kettle has broken… I mean I haven’t got a back up.

I didn’t prepare for this to happen.

Whose kettle breaks?

My mum has literally had the same kettle since I can remember. Maybe I offended it? Did I fill it too much? Did I boil it too much? Who even knows – the kettle is made by Hyundai for god sake.

So now this is what I have to do… every-time I want a cup of tea. I have to fill a saucepan, jump up and down and around until it has boiled and pour it in with out spilling it – nightmare.

The day my kettle broke

The day my kettle broke

I know you all think I am mental but for some reason tea just isn’t the same. I am a tea bag, water and then milk in kind of girl.  But unfortunately the saucepan method is making my tea frothy…

The froth effect is similar to the kind of froth that you get in a jacuzzi when there is a large amount of people in it. Apparently someone told me the froth is basically peoples sweat after it has reacted with the chlorine and water.

So the saucepan is making me sweaty tea…

I can’t be having sweaty tea in my special tea mug and I can’t be serving sweaty tea to my house guests – now can I? So totally wrong!

Tea in my special mug! Yeah...

Tea in my special mug! Yeah…

The other reason for writing this highly entertaining blog is my friend Mr Richard Green – who has put up with me for nearly four years.

Richard is one of those people who could fart and it would be cool – no seriously it would be.

He could write in blood and it would:

A: be amazing

B: everyone would think it was normal

C: become the next big craze

Sickening I know, but that’s Richard for you.

However, he is slightly disorganised in life – but aren’t all those creative people? Like Oscar Wilde and all them lot – I bet you J.K Rowling was messy the day she started writing Harry Potter on napkins on the train – I bet everyone thought it was just her littering as she discarded napkin after napkin.

Richard has actually started using a technique similar to that of Oscar Wilde (so I am told by a source).

Richard lures me in (with tea of course, but not the sweaty kind) where he basically sits me down, to what I think is a conversation but he actually secretly noting down – in his massive head – all the amusing things, slightly interesting, genius and random things I say. It is like Harry Potter when you can watch people’s memories, you dip your head in what I am going to call Dumbledore’s personal face bath and then you go a magical memory journey. In this case Richard stores them under his curls and then they just appear in an essay he has to write (he is doing a master’s in creative writing).

As a result he gets a wonderfully high grade AND then he gets praised for what is actually the genius of my own brain.

Thuis basically sums up mine and Richard's relationship - I am saying something - probably of pure class - and Richard is completely and utterly embarrassed

This basically sums up mine and Richard’s relationship – I am saying something – probably of pure class – and Richard is completely and utterly embarrassed

So my blog has been birthed out of YES the genius of my brain and now I am going to make a cup of tea… in a bloody saucepan.

“I bet James Bond didn’t have to put up with this kind of shit” Notting Hill (1999)