Monthly Archives: August 2013

The Chaos that is Public Transport

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Recently we’ve read a lot about late trains in the news, but what about late buses? Surveys should be done on how often they are delayed. As a regular passenger I think I shall do my own.

At a time when Stagecoach recently reported an 8% rise in profits to £2.8 billion, how much of this is being filtered back to customers? Fares have been slowly rising for some time and travel times are worse than ever. I can’t believe my taxes line the pockets of the managers and yet nothing changes for us, the customers.

Today my bus didn’t arrive, resulting in what would have been a 25 minute wait. I had to take a taxi to get to the hospital in time. There was no complaints line given at the bus stop, I suppose because they would get so many. I had to spend 10 minutes in a telephone queue (which I am paying for, thank you Stagecoach) to see when the damn thing would actually arrive. I had to pay an extra £7 in cab fare due to the bus I was expecting not turning up at all.

Yesterday I ran for a tram and even though I got to it and pressed the door button, it just drove off. I was then charged a ridiculous fare on the next one for what was a 10 minute journey. Because it was now late, there were drunkards wandering around town, leading me to get harassed waiting for my connecting bus. A tall, lanky individual swaggered up to me with a beer can in hand and aggressively shouted at me for not talking to him, and then for walking away. Where was the next bus stop? At the other end of town. By the time I got there I only just made the bus. As soon as working hours pass in my city, buses descend into chaos, with one coming every half an hour for a busy route. Sometimes people are queuing across town.

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It is claimed a bus driver actually said this on a forum!

When I got the bus the day before that it took 40 minutes for a 20 minute journey because the bus driver, although 15 minutes late, took the usual two rest breaks. These stops are especially infuriating when you need to get work or just want to get home at the end of a long day. The driver turns off the engine and reads the paper or goes out for a smoke as time ticks by. I am not against drivers having a break, but twice in half an hour on a busy route is ridiculous. I have not had any trouble with female drivers however. They have been punctual and don’t seem to require rest breaks.

Stagecoach adverts on the back of the bus make me laugh: “Craig is looking at the car drivers and thinking how stressed they all look”. More like “Lydia is looking at the car drivers and seeing how relaxed they all look. Lydia is still on the bus getting late for work. Where are you?”

In comparison, First bus drivers don’t take any breaks at all in their schedule, yet still manage to turn up on time. Unfortunately you pay higher fares for this privilege and they come less often.

I am so fed up with having to take these excuses for public transport that I cannot wait to drive. I enjoy cycling because then I have control over journey time instead of helplessly being delayed while a driver chats into his mobile.

Customers must be wondering when profits are going to make a difference to their journey time or whether transport is just another black hole for them to pour their ridiculously high taxes into. I get taxed so much when I do extra work that there is no financial benefit, and then at the end of it I have to sit on a snail form of transport with a driver that stops for a break so often that it sometimes takes double the time necessary to get home. I’ve done the Euro Millions in a desperate attempt to win and free myself from this daily misery.

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A Decent Dessert and Drink in one

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Something I have just discovered is the beauty of stewed fruit. Peaches, nectarines and plums are in season in England right now so it is a great time to do this.

It is healthy, easy, cheap, tasty and uses up leftover fruit. The plums I had were hard for ages and then went mushy before I got a chance to eat them all. But luckily with this recipe you don’t need to throw them away.

You simply put a plum per person in a pot with a tablespoon of water per plum. Add a sprinkling of brown sugar (well apart from that it’s healthy!) and then for a treat halve a vanilla pod, slice it finely and pop it in. Add a sprinkling of ground cinnamon too.

Simmer until soft and enjoy the sweet fruity aroma. When it’s done, you can drain the fruit juice off into a mug and enjoy it with the plums, which you can add to yoghurt. I’d recommend enjoying it with vanilla or plain yoghurt. It also goes well on toast, on muesli or on pancakes. Delicious!

  

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Lunch idea – try this!

Featuring cottage cheese with chives, yellow pepper and sweet orange tomatoes, seasoned with basil and pepper. Delicious, healthy and cheap. It will fill you up for about two hours. If you want to keep full longer, try adding some avocado or having two extra slices.
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August 25, 2013 · 12:41 pm

Rituals – what are yours?

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Every evening if I have the time, I like to treat myself. It follows the same $(KGrHqF,!okFCfH0YIJ8BQonLu8fv!~~60_35pattern each time. I’ll heat up a wheat bag to soothe my cyclist muscles, make myself a herbal tea, or hot chocolate if I’m not feeling full (to ensure I’m not hungry at night) and take off my makeup, sometimes put a face mask on and apply night cream while watching a drama or absorbing documentary on catch-up TV online. Then when that’s over I read a magazine/newspaper as I brush my teeth. keep-calm-and-get-off-facebook-and-do-housework

These small things give me a great amount of satisfaction. It’s nice to have time out for yourself at the end of a day’s work and slowly wind down.

On Saturday mornings I also have a ritual. If it’s not raining I’ll go for a run. If it isn’t I meditate, for self-improvement and greater awareness. Then I’ll set about cleaning the house as much as I can before lunch. In this way I start the weekend feeling alive and happy.

What are your rituals?

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How to Feel Whole Again

Isn’t it strange how when someone you love is gone you feel like you’re missing half your heart?

So it was when I lost someone dear to me, when relationships ended, when I was single and longed for someone to hold and now, with my boyfriend away on holiday these past few weeks – that feeling of being incomplete.

It’s something we all experience. I was watching my guilty pleasure, Don’t Tell The Bride, last night and the couple were hearttearsdevastated to be leaving each other for three weeks, even though they were doing it to get married. The groom-to-be is given £12,000 to plan his future wife’s wedding, with hilarious consequences. In every episode there are tears, sometimes from both of them as they part. Because when someone we cherish leaves us we think of the space that opens up instead of rejoicing at the time we had together/looking forward to our next meeting. But it does make us appreciate them more as we realise how much they do/did for us or what an effect they have/had on our lives.

The only thing that makes my heart feel whole is when I am helping the lady I work with at the weekend. In focussing on her needs I can take the focus off myself. I can forget about the “I” and it makes me realise how selfish I am in daily life, always considering my needs before other peoples. This weekly meeting reminds me to think of others more, to be more considerate and to listen. Sometimes you can tell if someone is a carer. It can rub off on their personality.

So if you’re struggling to cope with loss, help others and keep busy.  Spend time with friends. With them you may miss that special someone less as you focus more on your current situation and surroundings. Missing someone is relating the space they leave behind with yourself and in doing so you don’t stay in the present and you don’t think of others.

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How to Baffle a Bully

There’s always one isn’t there?

Or maybe more. According to anti-bullying charity, Ditch the Label, 69% of young people will experience bullying. Children have even committed suicide, often due to a new phenomenon known as cyber (online) bullying, and it doesn’t stop there, with a quarter of office workers experiencing it.

When I was younger I used to get really upset by people trying to humiliate me and put me down. But then I grew up and saw it in a new light.

In my experience, there are four main reasons for it:

1. It makes them feel socially superior

By showing you up, they feel like everyone is on their side, laughing with them. They think they appear more clever as imagesa result. They don’t.

2. They feel threatened by you

Perhaps they feel that you are more qualified or perceive you as superior, this leads to point one – they need to ensure that they are back on top in their minds. So take it as a compliment.

3. Revenge

It gives them a kick for that time you did something to offend them.

4. They’re having a bad time and need someone to take it out on

They see you as a soft target. Don’t be one.

So, how do you deal with it?

 – Pity the bully

Their lives must be unhappy to behave like that. Perhaps they envy you, perhaps they need help. But don’t make it your problem. Perhaps they were badly brought up. Feel grateful that you were brought up to be polite and bullyingrespectful to others.

– Don’t let them change you

Sociopaths have high self esteem. If this is to blame, they think they’re amazing, so why shouldn’t you think that about yourself as well! What makes you different makes you beautiful. Christina Aguilera had it right in her song about the issue. 

 – Don’t lower yourself to their level

Maintain your personal integrity. Don’t try to behave like them in revenge. For example if they are swearing, don’t lower your standards and swear back. You know you are better than that.

 – Don’t let them win

They want an emotional response from you. Don’t let them have it. When I was at school a student told a girl in my class that her headband looked like toilet roll. She responded “if toilet roll was all I was wearing you’d be happy to see me in it wouldn’t you”. The boy was not expecting a comeback and blushed – the joke was now on him. She then wore the headband for the rest of the week. Think on your feet and show the bully they haven’t affected you. This is how you win.

 – Don’t give them ammunition

They’ll try and collect things you say or do to use against you later. Make sure you don’t say anything they could use when they are in earshot. Make sure you behave appropriately for the same reason.

 – “Love thy enemy”

This is age-old wisdom and it’s true. Treat them like anyone else – you do not want them to think they have got to you, this may be what they want. Bullies teach us how to deal with adversity. With their challenge we can grow stronger.

 – Don’t bother with revenge – they’ve got it coming anyway

People who bring negative karma to others usually get it back themselves. For example, someone who is rude to you may be rude to a teacher and be disciplined. This is why there is no point in revenge, the consequences of their behaviour will be felt at some point or another.

 Develop your confidence

With unshakable confidence they can’t make you doubt or think negatively yourself. Taekwondo really helped my brother with that. Self defence also means you know you can protect yourself should the bullying get physical. I got confidence from my grades and my sister got confidence from dancing exam results.

 – Stand up for yourself

If it starts affecting you or your work don’t be afraid to address their behaviour with them privately or tell someone with higher status if this is unsuccessful or if you feel too intimidated (e.g. teacher, manager). They may not realise they were upsetting you. Make sure you have a log of specific things they have said/done with dates. If there is no result take it to the teacher/manager again, or take it to a more senior level if you feel it is not being addressed. Explain what you have done to attempt to rectify the situation. Again make sure you have dates and stick to the point. When addressing it with the bully or a superior, be clear that it is nothing personal, you just wish to be treated with respect. Don’t suffer in silence – they wouldn’t.

Finally, as the comedian George Carlin said:

Try and laugh at how ridiculous they are – it always makes things easier.

“You know the type, loud as a motorbike, but wouldn’t bust a grape in a fruit fight.” Rapper Jay-Z

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A walk in the scenic Peak District

I went for a lovely walk around Castleton with a friend today. We started with ice cream and fish and chips (fish and peas for my slightly more healthy friend!) After working for 12 days straight it was a great way to unwind.

I couldn’t help feeding my unwanted food to a cat who excelled at begging. How could you not give a morsel to those eyes?

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Then we got lost on our “12 mile” walk and ended up doing 3 miles. I celebrated with a cream tea at the end. Apparently there are 838 calories in a fish and chip meal, and who knows how many in the other snacks. I probably consumed my calorie content for the day and only burnt off 250 but life is short (and will be shorter if I eat like this without doing exercise to compensate, hence why I will be off on my second MTB ladies ride tomorrow!).

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Cream tea – the staple diet of Yorkshire cafe goers

A Roman fort

A Roman fort

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All you need is a map, a route planned, some money for train fare/parking fees, walking boots, a light raincoat, a bottle of water and snacks. A phone with GPS also helps if you’re not so good at map-reading! Set off before lunch for optimum parking space. I’m so lucky to have this amazing countryside on my doorstep. If you’re taking a bus be warned, they stop about 5pm. If you live abroad and visit England, be sure to visit this part of Yorkshire if you can.

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August 18, 2013 · 8:47 pm