These are all the old page from the blog so, last post was around early mid July 2021
For those do remember the old blog, there was a gallery not sure if that will be coming back or not.
OK this is where it started.
the end! a new beginning
I have had a blog under the xendistar.co.uk url for several years but in the last few years it has been gathering dust as I was not updating it. It came to a head a few weeks ago when I noticed that a part from the front page nothing was working all the links seemed to be broken. As I looked further into the issue it got worse as there were another 2 web sites that I had with my wife that were also not working (they had been neglected for the same amount of time as this site). One of the web sites included our photo gallery (this was mainly traction kite flying from 2003 to 2008) which also was not loading.
So I took the decision to delete everything (making sure I had backups) and restart this blog hence where we are now. This blog will no longer be just about me and my attempts to loose weight (still losing that battle) but it would be a blog with my wife about live and things. I guess this is the first post and in the future the wife will be contributing. She is busy at the moment trying to workout why her Fitbit has stopped pairing with her phone and where the new cinema is being located in Cheltenham we live in Bournemouth!!
What can you expect, well I am not sure really, I can tell you it will not be a daily blog, it will not feature photo’s of my tea\lunch\dinner\breakfast. There will be a new photo gallery which will include some of those photo’s from out kite flying days. There will be comments about our favourite sports teams in Rugby (union variety) and Speedway but more on those in a later post. Basically what ever takes our fancy.
Let us know what you think
it is to slow
Now it is not that any of the issues were particularly difficult, but when you don’t have control of all the settings and you rely on others to do what they say , do what you ask them to do and have what they offer available and working (and they don’t) live becomes a lot harder. My day job is IT I don’t want to come home and have to start work all over again.
Thanks fully those issues have now been resolved and I can start moving the blog forward. One of the problems was the photo gallery , other than some small setup it ready to roll (or display). Initially I will be adding some of the photo’s from the old gallery and then hopefully in around two and a bit weeks uploading new stuff in to the gallery.
That lead me nicely in to the next bit of news, we are off on a little jolly soon and hopefully I will be posting about that, not going to tell you when or where yet, you will have to come back later and have a look.
Ok I have bored you enough for now so I will leave you with the image below, for no other reason than it is a nice bike and just in case you think so what, it accelerates faster than and F1 car and there are no brakes!!
Mad dogs and Englishmen
Go out in the mid-day sun or so the song goes but in this case it would be more appropriate in saying Mad dogs and Englishmen make their own travels arrangements for a trip across Europe.
It goes back to earlier this year when talk moved onto the annual trip the Speedway Grand Prix Championship held at the the Cardiff Principality Stadium. We had made the annual trip to Cardiff for the past 5 years for the GP normally staying at a camp site on the out skirts of Cardiff (we did try it as a day trip by car, you only do it once). But this year there were a few differences, first I did not have a camper van to stay in, secondly it was being held later in the year, normal dates was around the end of June but this year due to unavailability of the stadium (due to Rugby World Cup warm matches) the GP was being held in September and while I was working at the time I was on short term contract and with the contract ending in a couple of months I could be out of work with no money come the time of the GP.
So I decided to do what any other sensible Englishman would do, decided to go to the last GP of the season being held in Torun, Poland. But hey, I am not going on one of the many organised trips to the event, oh no, I am going to organise it myself, tickets, travel and accommodation, all on the internet, how difficult could it be?? Well keep reading and you will find out, at the end of the article I will post links just encase anybody feels like doing the same.
This article will be in several parts, not sure how many yet but it will cover from the point we decided to go to the our return and cover most things in between. We are hoping to take a few photographs and maybe a video or two so they will get posted as well.
So on a wet humid Sunday afternoon 9 days before we leave (day after the Cardiff GP which was a boring affair but means the Championship will be decided in Poland with a Polish rider leading the championship) I am knee deep in paperwork as we print out all those bits of paper I have paid for to make this trip possible, but we are jumping the gun as we have to go back to May this year.
Both the wife and I had done a couple of European trips to the old style Speedway World Championship (in those days it was a single event) before we married. And as I surprisingly came to realise as we were organising things it was 30 years since we had been abroad.
If we had more time I would of liked to have gone to the Prague Grand Prix but with just over 3 weeks to book everything including getting passports decide wisely that was just a little ambitious.
Our passports had expired many years ago so the first task was to get new ones. That was fairly simple as it is all done online except for one small items, the question have you had a passport before. The pair of us had had the old black passports and a couple of the 1 year tourists ones but we could not find a definitive answer online so had to call the passport help desk a couple of times to get an answer before we were told that no records exist of the old black passports so we should answer no to the question. So next job was to get photo’s, now this is straight forward……………well it is if you don’t have a eye problem. The way it works is that you go to one of those passport photo-booths, tell it you want passport photos, it tells you how to sit takes a photos and then prints them out with an ID code. The code you submit online with your application, job done. Unfortunately Karen has a eye problem which means it wanders and while your good eye is looking at the lens (which is in affect a mirror with a box and lines that you must line your face and eyes up with) her other eye is admiring the interior of the photo booth and then it will refuse to take the photos as you are not looking at the lens. After several failed attempts it was off to a local photographer who with a little coaxing was able to get an acceptable photos and Karen had her ID code as well.
The online forms were duly filled in, fee paid and then we waited, Karen got confirmation in a couple of days but I heard nothing. After several more calls to the passport office customer service desk it was decided that my application had disappeared into the ether. So I had to repeat the process and by now my passport application was 7 days behind Karen’s and she already had her interview date for an early Saturday morning in Portsmouth (around 60 miles away). At the second attempt my application went through and I phoned up to book my appointment, I asked if I could have it on the same day and same offices as Karen’s (save on travelling etc.), yes we have one slot left on that day, 5:15pm……………….Karen’s interview was 9:45am, a long day in Portsmouth was planned.
On the day of the interview, I sat out side the office while Karen went in (there is no waiting rooms as such) and she asked if there was any chance of moving my time forward? The lady on reception asked where I was and Karen told her I was in the car outside, the lady of reception told Karen to go and get me as I could be seen now. The pair of us were out of the passport office by 10:30 and our passport arrived a few days later.
GP Tickets and accommodation in Torun
While we were getting the passport I thought it would be a good idea to get the tickets for the event we were going to. I found a web site offering the tickets, they were slightly more than I had expected to pay but I just put that down to demand and even though it was still 6 months till the event tickets were in demand. So with ticket purchased the next thing was to sort out the accommodation. Now before I go further I need to pint out a couple of things, it made sense to book everything in reverse, start with where I am intending to end up and then work backwards until I got to a point when I knew I had to leave the UK. Secondly we were not flying we were going to by train, we had checked early on that Torun had a train station and they linked back to Germany so we were confident about being able to plan our travels as we wanted.
We decided that we wanted to arrive in Torun on Friday afternoon, the GP is on the Saturday. We would spend Sunday enjoying Torun and start making our way back home on Monday. So we started looking at www.bookings.com and ended up booking an apartments for 4 days 3 nights about 1 miles from the town centre direct . Now this was one of the easier things to book, got my confirmation now its the travelling bit.
Now I can own up to being a bit of an anorak in my school days being a bit of a train spotter (well what you expect when you school is next the the mainline railway) so it is no wonder that I choose to do this journey by train. Yes flying would be quicker and possibly cheaper but a health issue would probably mean it was a no go anyway. Going by coach was an option but I did not fancy all that time on a coach (if we wanted that we could do an organised trip which we did not want). So train it was, having already worked out that the there was a train route all we needed to do now was work out what trains we needed to catch. Now here my first admission of getting it wrong I was expecting to be able to do the whole train trip in one day (along day yes) with may be changing trains a couple of times. Well it is 926 miles approx from London to Torun and turns out the changing trains bit grew to having to change 5 times over *2 days, Day 1, London to Brussels, Brussels to Koln, Koln to Berlin, day 2, Berlin to Poznan and Poznan to Torun. Now we had a route we now had to find away of joining all the dots
At the planning stage I was not worried about getting to London I had several option of doing so, so all my timing were based on running from and to London starting at what time we arrived at Torun on the Friday. This was where the head ache started, well at least for Karen as this was hers bit of the trip to work out. We found a very useful web site called www.seat61.com (there were other which I will list at the end), this site offers lot of advice about making trains trips across Europe. We even contacted the author of the site who helped us when we got stuck with a couple routes. But as we mentioned earlier the entire trip outwards was going to be done on 5 trains
St Pancras 06:47 to Brussels 10:07
Brussels 12:25 to Koln 14:15
Koln 14:44 to Berlin (Hautpbanhof) 19:05
Berlin (Lichtenberg) 09:55 to Poznan 12:26
Poznan 13:50 to Torun 15:52
This is the final route and timings we planned, we did have one where we would leaving on the first Eurostar out of St Pancras but that left us with a full blown sprint at Brussels to make our connection, we decided that was not a wise course of action.
- not strictly true but more of that later
As I mentioned earlier I was planning this from London as I was not worried about getting to London. Well I was not but then I did start to worry about it, we had worked out that we could catch the early bird coach to London, it left about 02:45 in the morning and got to London around 05:20 but having thought about it this was not ideal for two reasons, 1) we have to book in at St Pancras a minimum of 45 minutes before departure. This was cutting it fine not only would we have to be on time arriving at Victoria coach station but we would have to hope there was no issue travelling the underground early in the morning. 2) Leaving at 02:45 in the morning we would get very little sleep that night. So we added an extra an day to our holiday, well in my case it is half day at the start and a half day at the end. We can now catch a train to London on the Tuesday night, we have booked a room about 400yds from St Pancras which means we get a good night sleep and fall out of bed early Wednesday morning and stagger up the road to St Pancras.
Accommodation Berlin 1 & 2
Having booked the trains we no needed to find somewhere to stay over night Wednesday into Thursday. We found the details of a hotel close to the station in Berlin so we looked them up on the internet and not only booked a room for the Wednesday night we booked a room in the same hotel on the return journey. Being close to the station (well at least one of them) will make life easier
It is now late August, the train planning and booking was almost done I started to have a bad feeling about the GP tickets I had booked. So I contacted the ticket agent and asked them when I would expect to have the tickets, a couple of days before the event sir!!…………um I am leaving 4.5 days before the event so when will they be with me, we will send them to your home address by the Thursday!!………………………what part of I will not be there are you failing to understand??
Now this was going to completely sink the entire trip, no tickets no point in going. So I spoke to the credit card company who said there is nothing they can do unless the tickets fails to turn up or are not what I ordered, they fully understood my anxiety over the tickets but there hands were tied. I decided to have a look around to see if I could find any more tickets, they were scares when we looked back in May I was not holding my breath. This time I went through KS Torun web site (the stadium in Torun where the event was being held), I know when we tried to look at the web site in May we could not access their web site, but this time we could and they had a couple of seats available. So now I had to broach the subject with Karen (it was not my idea of fun). Fortunately she understood the situation and agreed getting another two tickets was the only option. Fortunately purchasing these ticket was a lot easier and once purchased were available to download, so I now have tickets for the event in my possession.
I contacted the ticket agent I told them I did not want the ticket and requested a refund, I was told that a refund was not possible but I could resale them on their web site (I’m beginning to smell something here). So I duly put them up for sale at a price I thought they would sale at (which was less than I paid for them) and within 30 minutes they were sold (knew I should of sold them for a higher price). I have to now wait until after the event before I see any money (the smell is getting stronger).
The way I view it I have lost the money I paid for the tickets (from the ticket agent) but had I not bought a second pair of ticket for the event I stood to loose a lot more money as we would not of wanted to travel and not be able to go to the event, so we would of likely lost a lot more money on the tickets and accommodation we had purchased. If I get any money back it is a bonus.
I have bought a lot of stuff of the internet over the years and this is the first time I have been stung, I have learnt a lesson, it will not happen again.
T – minus 9 days
The last 4 pages has basically covered the last 4 and a bits months planning, we are now at the stage of getting thing ready. As I said earlier I was knees deep in paperwork I had to print off, accommodation details, train tickets (12 of them), event tickets and that lot is not just single sheet of A4, most of them are at least two pages plus.
I think with any thing you ever do for a first time you will find a better easier way of doing it a second of subsequent time. I know what we have planned is untested at this point but it certainly has not put me off the idea of doing it again (subject to how the trip goes).
I now have 9 days to teach myself Polish and German, I am not holding out a lot of hope.
T – minus 5 days
How thing have changed since we last went abroad, I know many of you can remember having to go and order your foreign currency from your bank or currency exchange of choice. Fitting it in during your lunch time or doing it during the Saturday morning shop. We had intended to order ours online but there was an issue regarding the availability of the currencies so a phone was made to the customer service department at 10 o’clock at night. The resulting confusion was cleared up and the currency ordered for collection in 4 days time.
Also received an email from the German train service DB (bahn.com) telling us there had been a timetable change for the train we were booked on. The departure time had changed by 3 minutes!! UK trains are luck if they arrive within three minutes either side of there timetabled time.
T minus 2 and a bit days
While some things have changed in the way we book and order stuff for our trips and holidays something stay the same, trying to decide what cloths to take and pack. Those mental notes you have made for the last few months are now materialising as piles of cloths around the bedroom. Unlike hot beach holidays autumn holidays make it more difficult to decide on what to take, do I take light cloths as it will be warm or warn cloths as it will be cold. It looks like the entire trip will be wet, cool but humid. The ideal combination to pack for …………..NOT.
The start to the trip started OK until we got to King Cross as expected. Very crowded underground (@ 8 pm) long walk from the underground station until we surfaced outside King Cross. railway station and the rain. The map had showed the hotel a short walk of a quarter of a mile from the station (yes it was a short walked as we proved the following morning). The rain, the mass of people, busy roads and we went off down the wrong road meant that by the time we found the hotel, my left knee was throbbing, I was hot and sweating not that you would of noticed from being wet with the rain. This was not helped by the fact that the daughter called while I was trying to convince google maps the the hotel I wanted was not the one it was saying I was standing outside of (it turns out that Google maps was indication the back of the hotel which was at the rear of the hotel we were stood outside of). The daughter was quickly dispatched with a promise of a call back once the hotel was found and we were in our room.
We eventually found the hotel, we booked in and quickly found our next problem, we booked a budget hotel (there are lots of them in the same area, no doubt all catering for the same early morning Eurostar Traveller). We were on the second floor with no lift and narrow twisty stairs. This meant we had to carry our bags up the stairs. It is worth pointing out that we both had tow along soft bags, I also had a rucksack, Karen had her hand bag and cpac machine (in its carry case, think laptop sized case). A bad knee, hot, wet and being unfit was going to make four flights of narrow twisty stairs difficult and so it proved to be. As I set of with my bags Karen could not even make the first step, fortunately the gentleman on reception said to leave her bag at the bottom of the stairs and he would bring up to our room in a few minutes. In the mean time I was learning how to eat an elephant, slowly two steps at a time, with equal amounts of swearing and groaning I made it to the second floor and our room. Shortly after arriving in the room a knock on the door announced the arrival of Karen’s bag. It was 9.20 which was roughly the time I had expected (hoped) to be at the room.
We had booked a room a budget hotel and that was what we got, we only wanted somewhere to sleep close to St Pancras. The hotel (and room) were clean. The room had en-suite toilet and shower, but if you book the same hotel don’t bring your cat as there will be no where to swing it! For us it served its purpose of getting a few hours sleep, I believe I got more sleep in the hotel than I would of done had we gone the route of an early morning coach to London.
I was awake before the alarm went off (set for 5am) I got up and started to get ready to depart. I am glad to say the transporting of the bags downstairs went a lot easier than getting them up the stairs and a lot quieter so as not to wake other guests. My wish to be close to St Pancras was proved correct by the fact that it took us 10 minutes to walk from the hotel to the main ticket hall at St Pancras Eurostar.
This was going to be a first for us, so we had no idea what going to happen, it was 30 years since we last went abroad. There was no real queuing other than what was caused as we loaded all our luggage onto the scanner. I breezed through passport control but the system did not like Karen’s passport and needed the assistance of the monitoring the machines to intervene. Once through this we had time to get a bacon and egg brioche roll for breakfast. We were soon on the travelator and walking down the platform looking for our carriage, good job we were in the second carriage I thought, that thought would come back to haunt me in a couple of hours.
Not sure what I had expected from the Eurostar, breakfast was not one of them. Ok it was only a roll and croissant jam and tea or coffee (and yogurt for those that like it). The journey was not quite as smooth as had expected, it was fast although no speed was shown on the information boards (home bound speed touched 298kpm). Apart from that the trip was just like any other train journey and before we realised we were pulling into Brussels Midi station on a rainy Tuesdays. Now was when that earlier thought of being fortunate about being in car two came back to haunt me, once off the train it was a very long walk past 14 other carriages (they are 16 carriage trains) to get off the platform and onto the main concourse.
Now for the wait
We had a two hour stop over in Brussels before our connection to Koln then Berlin. We did consider taking a walk around the vicinity of the station but as it was raining and dragging our suit cases after us despite being on wheels they were still heavy, this made the whole idea sound to unappealing. We did find out that there is locker storage on the station but by that time it was not worth it. We opt-ed to have a look around the shop on the station, many of them food stalls. On the whole the standard of food we found on all the stations was better than those we find in the UK.
The first Lesson
The first lesson we learnt is finding your carriage where you have reserved seats (you did reserve your seat didn’t you??), in Europe, every carriage has its own number and thus the seats in that carriage have their own numbers. But the European being clever (this was the same in Germany and Poland) is that there will be a board on the platform which will tell you where each carriage will be on the platform when the trains stops. All along the platform there are small boards with the letters A, B, C etc. and the information board will say that carriage 263 ( they don’t do Carriage 1, 2, 3 etc.) will line up with letter B. So know this you can position yourself on the platform with all the other 40 or so passenger trying to get into the same carriage.
The Carriage normally has a large Red LED screen on the side of the carriage giving the route number, and carriage number. Once inside the carriage you will also find the carriage numbers on an led screen at either end of the carriage and on the overhead boards in the carriage in most trains, we only one train (other than local commuter trains) that did not have this.
Don’t be surprised to find people seated in your seats, many people will just book a ticket but not reserve a seat and hope they get to sit down. Saw this happen several times (and once to us) but in all occasions we saw they gave up the seats with no issue.
From what we saw everybody travels with large bag of luggage, be that a roll along case with handle (to push or pull) or a large backpack, they are all large. Most times you will find the luggage racks at the end of the carriage full (unless you are getting on the train at the start of it journey), this means you have to place you luggage on the overhead shelf assuming nobody else has beat you to it. You may be lucky based of seat configuration to be able to put some large luggage between the groups of 4 facing seats where two pairs of seats face back to back. Leg room is normally quite good which allows for a small bag to be placed down by your legs plus some seats have room to allow you to place a small bag under the seat.
With these lesson learnt we were soon heading out of Brussels heading for Koln where we change trains for a Berlin bound train. The journey was uneventful as we took in the view of the country side (one of the reasons to go by train). We pasted many abandoned siding and railway work (we were to see more in Poland) and it was not long before were arriving in Koln and struggling down the train with everybody else to get off the train. Once at Koln station we quickly found our way off the platform and with the aid of the overhead boards found at each platform we found ourselves on the platform waiting for the Berlin bound train and staring at Koln cathedral. Now that surprised me, I knew Koln had a large cathedral but I had not expected it to be next door to the railway station, it is one of those land mark building that if you get the chance you would like to visit. Unfortunately we did not have time to visit the cathedral, just a few minutes to admire it and grab a couple of photo’s before our train arrived and we left Koln behind.
Berlin bound and the driver did not spare the horses as we shot along at 250kph for long periods of the journey, the journey was pretty much uneventful with most of our time spent staring at the countryside as it went speeding past. It was not long before we were rolling into the outskirts of Berlin with darkness descending it was going to hide what were were intending to explore on the next day and in a couple in a 4 days time when we stop over in Berlin on our return from Poland. That same darkness was to hide what a spectacular building the central station really is as we were to discover in the following days.
We had booked a hotel about 200mtr’s from the station, The Meininger Hotel, this is like you Travel Lodge\Premier Inn\Ibis style of hotel. Basically it offers bed and breakfast (comprehensive continental style breakfast) with basic room with on-suite toilet and showers. Whether this is a characteristic of all Meininger Hotels but this one was full of School kids, there must have been around couple hundred kids from several different groups\schools. Whilst they were boisterous they were not annoying. Once we had dropped our bags in our room, changed and tidied ourselves up we headed out to find something to eat, having spied a Pizza restaurant in the station we decided to have Pizza for dinner. This is when we got our first real glimpse of what Berlin Central station really was (more on that shortly). It had been a long day so once Pizza had been consumed it was back to the hotel and and early night.
Where did all the police come from?
The following day dawned damp and police every where, well as far as we could see outside the hotel entrance and surrounding roads (around 50 police vehicles). It was Berlin Unity day, a bank holiday in Germany where they celebrate the reunification of east and west Germany. We found out that a large demonstration was due to take place hence the police were out in force early on (we found out later that there is a police station on the other side of the railway station). We had planned a bus tour of the city and was advised to do the trip early as there was expected to be road closures due to the demonstrations. As it was raining it made sense to take the advice and do the bus trip.
Now every where the bus went the police were there including being stopped by a 20 vehicle police convoy motorcycle police out riders, all with blues and two on, every main junction there were police, roads were already being closed off, this was starting to look serious.
On our return the bus was not able to drop us off at the starting point so we had to walk back to the hotel passing more closed off roads. Having seen the crowds at the Brandenburg Tor (gate) and the Reichstag we decided to avoid those areas. We opted for a stroll along the river except for the fact that large areas were closed off and being blocked by police. We went into Spreebogenpark that ran alongside the river and on the other side of the river was the Kapelle-Ufer road, this was closed and being used as a car park for the police vehicles probably around 50 of them. It was along the river that we started to see police in full riot gear, police boats patrolling the river, police helicopters flying overhead and police spotters on the roof of building on the other side of the rivers, All you could hear were police sirens and see police vehicles with their blue lights flashing rushing around.
With dark clouds looming (of the weather variety) we decided to head over to Berlin railway station and explore the shops. Well the main entrance to the station on the Washingtonpl was closed by police so we opted to use the side entrance near Vipiano restaurant, it seemed like a good idea except the anti nazi demonstrators had taken up position of the outside seating area of Vipiano (where they could watch the pro nazi rally and throw verbal insults) and yes there were police there to keeping a watchful eye. There were police guarding the side entrance of the station, there were police patrolling the station all in riot gear. At one point in the late afternoon the police blocked the entire entrance to inside the station on Washingtonpl in or out of the building and were blocking people on the first floor going down to the ground floor, I think this was when the demonstration started to breakup. At this point we decided to seek refuge in our hotel and waited to see if the situation calmed down. I am glad to say that by 7:30pm things had calmed down and a lot of the police had disappeared of the streets although there was still a present to be seen but nothing like earlier in the day. With all the excitement and with an early start the following day, we decide that the Vipiano restaurant would the place for our evening meal.
What is a Railway Station?
I mentioned the Berlin central station or to give it its proper name Berlin Hauptbahnhof, (there are actually 5 station in Berlin starting with the name Berlin, so knowing exactly which one you want is useful). To call Berlin Hauptbahnhof just a railway station belittles its, think of it more as a multi level shopping centre married to a multi level railway station. Berlin HBF (as it is know as) is a 16 platform travel interchange and includes shopping and restaurants on three levels. The 16 platforms are split over 3 level plus there is also an underground trains. I have to say I have never seen anything like this, it was an amazing place and if you a stop over here for a few hours, guarantee you won’t be bored. Check this web page out for some useful info on the station https://www.seat61.com/stations/berlin-hauptbahnhof.htm
The next leg of our journey involved starting getting our next international train from Berlin Lichtenberg. Getting to Lichtenberg has threw us a curved ball as we found that one of the two the two local train from Berlin Hbf to Lichtenberg was not running due to track maintenance (about 3 weeks worth). We did not find out until we got to the second of the two station, Ostkreuz.. We spoke to two German DB train officials who gave us a route they worked out on their phone which we photographed. As we stood waiting on the platform wondering if we would get to Lichtenberg on time at local train pulled onto the platform with the headboard stating it was going to Lichtenberg, this was not the train the two officials said to take but we decide what the hell lets go for it. Luckily for us we arrived at Lichtenberg in time for our International train to Poland.
If Berlin Hbf is the epitome of a modern railway inter change then Berlin Lichtenberg is the epitome of a 1970 East German railway station. It would not be out of place as the setting for a Hollywood block buster involving a spy\political prisoner swap. While it was clean and presentable it had that old 1970 bland functional no frills feel about the place.
The view of the station was not helped when we arrived the Paris to Moscow express was sat waiting for passengers and the hostesses duly standing on the platform were your typical 1970 looking Russian women, nothing young or petite about these hostesses. The next stage of our Journey sees us travelling to Torun in Poland with a change of trains at Poznan in Poland. Having sussed out we were not on the Paris to Moscow train we waited for our to arrive and as we waited so the crowd of other passengers grew waiting for the same train. The platform notice boards changed and the station announcer crackled into live to announce the arrival of our train and a major rugby scrum followed to get on board the 5 carriage train. Fortunately we had reserved seats so we were not to concerned about trying to grab a seat.
When is a window seat not a window seat?
Now when I travel I am a windows seat person and when we booked the tickets and they asked if we wanted windows seats we said yes, well if you do the same don’t expect to get a window!!
My seat was on the outside of the carriage (window side if you like) but rather than a window I got the window pillar and about 3 inches of glass which I had to turn my head through 100 degrees to see out off. I felt like that kid at school who is sat on the opposite side of the classroom from the window when there was something happening outside and you could not see what is going on. My first views of Poland came via the window on the other side of the carriage, a view but not like being next to the window.
Thing were not helped by the fact the carriage had obviously seen betters days rattling and bouncing along the track and at a speed more associated with the local school run rather than international express trains. After a couple of bumpy hours we arrived in Poznan.
A 40 minute wait at Poznan for our connection train to continue our journey to Toran gave us enough time to grab a bite to eat. We were to find out upon our return that there are two faces to Poznan station (more on that later). We were in a section of the station which is under the platform and contains a shops selling food and drinks and a haircut!!Having found a small bakery selling some form of bread with melted cheese and bacon it was time to find our platform. This took sometime as we had to find somebody who understood English, eventually we had the platform information and went in search of the platform. With no lifts in sight it was a stair climbing job with heavy bags up to the platform. I made it to the top with mine and then had to descend back down the stairs to rescue the wife bag as she struggled up the stair. Our train was on the platform but nobody was allowed to board so we sat and ate of cheesy bacon bread things. This was the only train journey where we could not reserve our seats as it was classed as a local train journey. The train was only a two carriage train and the crowd was growing to get on board. Fortunately we got a couple of seats but there was a lot of people standing.
A lot of money seems to have been spent on the Polish railways, the train we were on was a modern style train (certainly better than the one that brought us to Poznan which was in fact a German DB train). All the station we saw had new platforms, signage, lighting, fencing but many of the station were completely rundown, I have no idea what the inside was like as we never got the chance to see inside but some were in a very bad state or repair. We saw at least two railway depots that had been closed down, the semi circular engines sheds with the engine turntable, all the building derelict. Miles of empty railway siding some had very old and rust railway stock (which I assume they were old Polish railway stock). This was a local train and stopped at just about every station between Poznan and Torun. Just as the number people standing started to reduce then we picked up children from a local school who used the train to get to and from school and thus the number of standing grew.
One of the reason for wanting to do the train trip was to get a view of Poland, we saw houses that were derelict, others that were not far from derelict but were being lived in to modern and other in the process of being built. At times it was a very strange mix. Roads that were little more than gravel track but they had signs with the road name on and house along the road.
Polish Problems comes in 3’s
Soon the train was pulling in to Torun, a clean and tidy looking station. We made our way out the station and then suddenly realised that we had not planned for this part of the journey. We knew the apartment was not far from the station but further than we wanted to walk especially dragging a case behind you. We had no idea if any of the buses that served the station went to where we needed to go, timetables were incomprehensible (as we found out again later). There was already a queue of about 20 for taxis so after much thought we had no option but to join the queue and hope that we would be able to get to taxi driver to under stand where we wanted to go. After about 25 minutes we were at the front of the queue and there were no taxi, several came in the station area but these seemed for pre-booked, we just hoped they were informing their control room that people were still waiting at the station. The situation was not helped by the fact that it was now 5pm.
A taxi eventually arrived and we tried to tell the driver where we wanted to go and showing him the address of the apartment on a bit of paper, here came problem number 2. Fortunately for us the drivers English was quite good and he explained that the address did not make sense. Eventually the driver thought he knew where the apartment was and we set off in the rush hour traffic. Eventually we pulled up outside a residential apartment block which the wife recognised from google maps street view. Having disembarked from the Taxi we were only a few meters away from problem number 3. Having found the main entrance we duly rang to intercom button to the apartment we were due to be staying at and…………nothing. We buzzed the room several time and nothing happened nobody answered, nobody came down the stairs to meet us, zilch. Panic was now starting to set in as we had no other contacts for the apartment other than the online company we booked it through. Suddenly we were startled by the apartment front door opening and a man and his daughter coming out. We took our chance and approached him and asked him if he knew anything about the apartment we were due to be staying at. Thank fully for us he did know about the apartment and the person who owned it and he spoke fairly good English. The man was able to phone the owner of the apartment and passed on to us how to get access to the flat. It seem as though a missing email and a flat mobile (my mobile) battery were to blame for the confusion, without the help of this guy (neighbour??) we would have really been up a creek with out a paddle.
Once settled in our thoughts turned to food, by now it was 7pm and from our quick scan of the surrounding there were no local restaurants or take aways. There was a small corner shop across the road so we went shopping for our evening meal, beer and some food for breakfast. The evening was spent studying the Torun bus timetable, it might have been easier studying nuclear science for the good it did us.
This is what we had come to Speedway for the final round of the Speedway Grand Prix at Torun Marianna Rosego Motorarena, the task was simple get public transport to Torun Plaza and then walk to the Stadium (about a quarter of a mile). So we walked to where we thought we had to get a bus from and waited, a bus turns up and between broken English and Polish we get told we are on the wrong route and we need to go back up the road and turn left. We ended up walking about a mile and not seeing any bus saying it goes to Torun Plaza. We found a bus stop with seats and decided to take a breather. Suddenly out of no where a bus with the headboard of Torun Plaza appeared, we thought everything was OK until we met the bus driver who did not give a s**t. At first he would not open the front doors (Polish buses have door halfway along the bus), when he did eventually open the door and we tried to explain what we wanted he just shook his head and pointed to the rear of the bus. By now I had spotted other people who had boarded the bus buying a ticket from a machine, then they stuck it in a second machine to get it activated. Unfortunately it was not that simple, there were a host of button and fares and we had no idea what was what, another passenger on the bus tried to help but without understanding each other language we got no where, the passenger spoke to a young girl who came up took some money off me, bought a ticket and then got me to activate it (it stamps a date and time on the ticket), she then repeated the operation for Karen ticket. We thank them both although I guess they had no idea what we were saying I think they understood what we meant. 10 minute later we were at Torun Plaza.
The Plaza while new was nothing exciting and to be fair pretty small compared to some UK out of town shopping centres, it was busy but certainly not crowded. They had a small food hall offering various take way style shops, we grabbed something to eat as this was likely to be the main meal of the day. After eating we took the short walk down the road to the Stadium.
I am not going to go into details of the actual speedway meeting, there are plenty of other place that have already done that, but rather just our view of what we saw and may help others in the future.
The fan zone was located outside the stadium which would have been on the 3rd and 4th bends. It contained the normal selection of meeting and riders sponsors, beer tent, food which was mainly fresh cooked large sausage on a BBQ and a roll. Monster (the drink company) had their normal stage setup where you get to meet Monster sponsored riders and they give away freebies. I had opted to stay way from the ensuing scrum that normally takes place when the freebies are handed (or thrown) out to the fans. The wife came away empty handed and had got an elbow to the head when another fan though they deserved the freebie she had just caught, as for me I managed to bag a Patryk Dudek flag which was thrown into the crowd, went through the hands on one fan, bounced off the head of another fan and landed at my feet, (apparently this did not go down well with Karen).
We had been told at this time of year it can be cold at the stadium and that we should wrap up well, they were wrong it was f^%$£” freezing. It was so cold that we both bought a hooded top to wear to try and keep warm, while it certainly helped the coldness still crept in into our body. So if you plan to go to the Stadium in October wrap up well it does get very cold. Now we knew our seats were on the 3rd bend but even though we were outside the stadium on the third bend by the entry gate we had to walk all around the stadium due to security fencing to get onto the other side of this security fence so that we could get to our seats.
Once in the stadium getting to our seat was going to be an issue for Karen, we were up in the gods three rows from the back and to make life harder there was no hand rail (H&S would have a field day but hey this is Poland). In the end Karen climbed the steps on all fours (she hates heights) and with very few people in the stadium it looked very steep. Finally seated we waited for the event to start, it was great, a Polish riders wins the 2019 GP series in front of 14000 polish fans was always going to be a party.
Once the meeting was over we had to decide how to get home (or at least back to the apartment) not knowing if the buses were still running this late at night we opted to get a taxi and we joined a very long queue. There were plenty of Taxi coming to the stadium but the problem was rather than coming to the taxi rank people were waving the taxi down before it to the rank so were jumping the queue, and so we waited. Eventually we were at the front of the queue, the taxi pulled up and we got in and showed the driver the address on the piece of paper we had and like the taxi driver yesterday, he was confused by the address. After a minute or so the driver seemed to under stand where we wanted to go out of the stadium. We checked if anybody else was going our way but we were on our own. This driver proved to be spot on and delivered us to the apartment without an issue.
In the morning
Sunday dawned bright and sunny, we had planned to go into the old town Torun which was a medieval town complete with rebuilt wall and gate house. The town was crowded and not helped that the local football team was playing at home so they were all in town lubrication their vocal cords before the match along with an escort of riot police (police are becoming a theme on this holiday).
If you like old building – towns with history you will love old town Torun, lots of old buildings (even a leaning one) there are several parks and a walk along the river and if you are lucky you will find the bakery that makes all its own bread and cakes. The cakes were delicious, never got the chance to try the bread though but they are open until 9pm on a Sunday. It is worth pointing out that a lot of shops in the old town were closed although there were still a lot of shops open.
Having found somewhere to eat we decided to head back to the apartment, we grabbed a taxi from the taxi rank, the driver understood English (at least we though so) and we got back to the apartment. As we had to be at the railway station for 9:15am the following day we asked the driver if he could be back at the apartment at 8am the following day or book another taxi for us through his control room, no problem 8am tomorrow here was his response. Happy that we had sorted a taxi to the station it was back to our apartment.
We were up early Monday morning, packed our bags and made sure everything was clean and tidy in the apartment before making our way outside the apartment and waiting for the taxi. Well 8am came and went as did 8:15am and 8:30am and no taxi. We tried calling another taxi company and they said they would send a car, nothing we phoned again and they promised to send a car again. By now panic was setting in as we were looking at missing the train. I managed to flag a taxi down at the same time as one of the taxi’s we phoned for turned up, it was now 8:50am. The traffic to the train station was busy but not to bad, We got to the station and made our way to the platform, it was not long before our train arrived. Thankfully it was not as busy as it was on the way to Torun. A sunny days made for a pleasant ride back to Poznan. I said earlier on our outbound travel that there were two side of Poznan station. When we arrived we had used the under platform subway to get to the other platforms, this was a dark dingy area that really did not shine a good light on the station. With a 90 minute wait for our Poznan to Berlin Lichtenberg International train. We made our way to the main concourse, boy what a different place. Bright, modern, busy and nothing like the gloomy subway we used before. We grabbed some lunch and then waited until nearer the time and made our way to the platform for our Berlin bound train.
When it arrived on the platform we were at the wrong end of the platform and had to make our way down the platform to our carriage and reserved seats. When we got to our seats we found that they had placed me in one pair of seats and the wife in the pair of seats behind, have no idea why. As all bar one seat was empty the wife sat with me and were were able to let the person who had reserved the other seat next to me that they could take the seat behind us They were all reserved seats and the other person was happy to sit behind. This train was made up of carriages that were better than the outbound train carriages, not so bouncy or rocky and my window seat was a window pillar again. Knowing what laid ahead at Berlin Lichtenberg (rail maintenance) we planned a slight different route back to Berlin Hbf. Our planned route worked perfectly and we were soon back at Berlin Hbf.
To keep thing simple we had decided to book the same hotel we had on our outward journey, still lots of kids in the hotel . We decided to keep things simple and our evening meal was in a Taiwan rice restaurant at the main station, it was something different. Tomorrow which was our last day of the holidaying part of our holiday (the last day would be spent travelling back to the UK) we had planned to shopping and sight seeing.
The following day dawned pouring with rain………….lots of it. Now if there one thing I hate it is shopping in the rain, outside you get wet and hot as you have to wear a coat, when you go in the shop you get hotter and have to remove the wet coat, go back out the shop and you have to put the coat back on again so it continues, this is not a day I was going to enjoy. We also had some Polish Zotty’s we wanted to exchange so we were on the look out for a Bureau De Change (or such like) as well. Iwon’t bore you with the details but I got wet and grumpy at the day progressed. Eventually towards mid afternoon the weather broke and the rain stopped, it was at this point that we did a bit of sight seeing, we went to Brandenberg Tor (gate). We had seen it earlier in the holiday from a distance but Karen wanted to see it up close.
Having done our touristy bits it was back to the hotel and the final pack of our bags (well almost). Evening meal we decided on Vapiano again and while in the station we double checked the platform and the location of said platform ready for the morning. We also decided that in the morning we would purchase a couple rolls from one of the bakery shops on the station for our lunch as the transfer of trains at Koln did not leave a lot of time to purchase food (34 minutes, turned out to be a very wise move). We headed to bed early as tomorrow was due to be a long day 6 trains, 4 countries.
We were at the station early picked up a couple of rolls and headed for the platform. At the last minute our train changed platforms but fortunately it was only the other side of the platform which was just as well as by now the platform was very busy with people waiting for the train.
Once the train arrived we boarded and found our seats and yes my window seat was again a window pillar (by this time I had given up expecting a window). It soon became apparent that we were running slowly the outward bound train his 250kph we were lucky if we hit half that speed, running slowly between signal and at time stopping. Soon the onboard display panel start showing a revised arrival time, we eventually arrived in Koln 25 minute late leaving us 10 minutes to get off the train off the platform, find the correct platform and then on the train. By the time we reached the correct platform the train was boarding. We jumped onto the first carriage and dragged our bags through the train. The train was leaving Koln station before we got to our seats.
The Koln – Brussels Midi train made good time and arrived in Brussels on time. We had a wait but nothing like the 2hours+ we had on the way out. Compared to St Pancras the Brussels Eurostar terminal is a bland bleak a fair. Fortunately we boarded the Eurostar on time and the train left on time. We had barely left the station before they started serving the evening meal, I was not complaining it was 5pm and I was hungry. Unlike the outbound Eurostar this train showed the speed at which we were travelling which topped out at 298kph as we zipped through the Belgium country side and meant we arrived at St Pancras on time (18:06).
We had an hour to rush across London through the late evening rush hour traffic on the Underground to get to our final connection from Waterloo at 19:05. We got to Waterloo and quickly found the platform for our train and boarded the first carriage which had spaces. This was not a good idea, we found out that the train was made up of two 5 car trains and at Southampton the front 5 cars would make up the fast train to Bournemouth while the rear 5 cars would make up the slow train to Bournemouth. As we left Winchester we dragged our case through 4 carriages until we found seats in the front 5 carriages and the fast section of the train. While doing this we found out that the passageway through the trains were narrower than that of the trains Germany and Poland.
We arrived home at 21:35, breakfast in Berlin, supper in Bournemouth, a very tiring day
So there it is, a brief account (ok brief 10500+ word account) of how we prepared, booked our trip and the how the trip its self went. So would we do it again and the simple answer is yes but there would be some changes and they would be trip dependant. So here are some suggestion if you are planning a similar trip (in no particular order):
Research your train options thoroughly before booking, once you have a route, double check and make sure there are no timetable changes for summer to winter timetable changes
Leave as much time as you can for transferring to another train, a minimum should be 30 minutes
Reserve your seats, the cost is not very much and will be worth it if you don’t have to stand or sit on the floor during a 3 hour journey.
Travel light, this was something we did not do and believe me while it was easier to drag the bags around behind us, it would have been a lot easier if they were half the weight.
Check your IT, I took a tablet to record a lot of this while on the train journeys but for some reason it lost work I had typed in and refused to charge when it went flat. My phone lost photos I took on it, not sure why or how but there were a lot of photos from through out the holiday that were missing.
Check out roaming on your mobile phone and note that this can really eat your phone battery of some train journeys as it looks for a signal so make sure you have power packs as well as leads to charge your phone.
If you have a lot of tickets on A4 paper get yourself some A4 plastic wallets to store them in. I would think twice about having the tickets on my on phone, your phone may go flat and we saw on several occasion a passenger franticly searching his phone for the ticket and the QR code on said ticket while the guard looked on impatiently.
Research the area you are staying at particularly if you are staying in an apartment like we did, lack of local restaurants, not knowing the how the local bus service caused us a lot of problems. The same can be said of how you access the apartment you are staying at, make sure you know how to contact the owner of the property before you arrive.
Make sure you have travel insurance that will cover the cost of additional tickets if you miss a connecting train as the train was delayed.
Google maps is a useful app to use especially on local trains where the train does not have an onboard display, you can find out where you are and how far it is before you need to get off. NOTE: this will eat your battery so don’t leave it running.
When you arrive at a railway station double check the train times, the platform it is leaving from and the route it is taking.
Mains plug socket adapters, we paid just over £6 for 5 from Amazon, local shop was selling them at £6.50 each,
Most train have usb or mains socket to allow you to charge your device but also have you own power pack and keep it charged.
Below are some useful web links that we used that may prove useful to you.
Useful web sites
www.seat61.com Train routing and planning across Europe
www.booking.com Travel and accommodation site
www.bahn.de German railway ticket and timetable info
https://www.eurostar.com/uk-en Eurostar timetable and tickets
www.omio.com German train timetables and ticket booking
https://www.hotelmeridiana.co.uk St Pancras hotel close to to Eurostar (via booking.com)
www.agoda.com Apartment in Poland (via booking.com)
www.meininger-hotels.com Hotel in Berlin (next to Central Station)
www.allcleartravel.co.uk Travel insurance (diabetes cover)
https://www.thetrainline.com UK train time table and ticket booking
https://www.interrail.eu/en Train routes and booking (although we never used them in the end)
I can finally confirm that I did get paid for the tickets I had to resale as they would not refund them, I got the full amount I sold them for (was expecting them to take a selling fee) but overall I still lost money, you live and learn.
Where are the ducks?
Earlier this year the local council started on a revamp of the two fresh water lakes at the local park, boy what a mess they made. The basic were they were going to dredged the lake (the larger one), rebuild sections of the edge of the lakes and prune, remove some plants and tied up some of the island to make a better habitat for the ducks to sleep on.
Well earlier this year we made the mistake of visiting the park as this work was going on We were not aware at the time), boy was it a mess. 80% of the biggest lake was unreachable due to ongoing works like rebuilding the edge of the lake or replanting. There was a section opposite the miniature railway station (which they have closed down) where they have completely removed all the reeds and reclaimed the some of the land, planted tree and bushes in the reclaimed area. In fact they have replanted around the edge of the lake so much so that once the plants are established you wont even be able to see the lake, let alone get to the edge and feed the ducks (assuming they come back (more on that in a minute). The one section of the big lake that needed work as come autumn & winter month it is water logged and you can not get to the waters edge even though there is access to the edge of the lake, they have not even done any work on. I will admit those that the section around the big lake outside the restaurant – play area has been nicely done, but the rest of it is a failure.
I am no expert but there used to be Mallard ducks, Canada Geese, two other type of geese, Moorhens, Pekin Ducks, Swans and a few others species along with your normal Seagull, Pigeon’s and Carp (the fish) in the lake. I don’t know what the numbers were but there used to be to many Canada Geese in the park (maybe 200 or so). they used to make a mess all over the park. if a little kid appeared with bread then he would be chased by around 20 or so geese eager to get there share of the bread and not worried if they bit the kids fingers or leg in the process. But to day I counted 9 Canada Geese, no other geese and some mallard ducks. The Moorhens and Swans were all over on the Saltwater lake (which they also dredged and made a mess off, see image later). The big lake was devoid of ducks, we did see some Carp swimming around and eating the uneaten bread left for the ducks.
The lake today, very few ducks or geese to be seen
Earlier this year, stuck in the mud, both vehicles whilst building an island on in the salt water lake
A new area with benches and tables was setup between the smaller lake and the play area for small kids (under 5’s or there about’s). Who makes an area where you can expect a lot of pushchairs, prams, small kids trikes, ride on cars etc. and fills it in with pea shingle?? I guess no council members have ever tried to push a pram through pea shingle.
Ok I am stopping now, I think you guessed by now that I do no approve of the “Improvements” to me (and the wife) they are a very large detriments to the park now. Finally a more pleasant image from the park today
Very bright leafs against the ever greens and the fallen brown leafs
Think we need training
As lunch time approached so did the gathering of men around the microwave to cook\warm up their lunch at work today. One guy who had obviously not used the microwave previously was pressing all the button in a vain attempt to get the microwave to start. Fortunately for the random button presser another worker showed him which button to press to set the timer up in 30 second increments with his instance meal being cooked (used the term loosely) in 4 minutes.
There then followed a discussion between half a dozen blokes about how difficult it was to operate the microwave, comparison with the microwave they have at home and the remembrance of earlier microwaves when a simple twist dial on the front of the microwave allowed you to set the time and another dial the temperature. Now these new fangled devices with their LED readouts, loads of buttons leading to endless menu’s and sub menus confuse the hell of of us men and require a degree to operate.
I bet you women out there are laughing your heads off at us men, with your superior air as you remove your defrosted meats from the microwave which have defrosted perfection without part cooking the meat or still being solid in the middle. The soup is hot, not luke warm or volcano hot. Well you can all laugh a bit harder, the office floor this took place on house’s the companies IT teams from programmers to system administrators, regardless of our occupation the microwave confuse’s the hell out of us men.
Sorry you are not qualified to use this device!
The Humble Mobile phone
I wonder if the engineers and designers from the 1970 ever realised what they were designing as they worked on the prototype of the first mobile phone, would they believe what the mobile has now become nearly 50 years later.
1983 Motorola sold the first mobile phone, it could make a 30 minute phone call, took 6 hours to charge cost over £2600 and weighed in at 1.1kg (2lb 6oz in old money). Today there around 40 main stream phone to choose from, call time runs into hours, standby time is measured in days, weighs only a 160g (5.5oz) aproximately and an out right cost of around £300 to £700 plus the call tariff of your choice. By any margin that is an impressive amount of change to just make a phone call. But it is what else the phone can now do that is really impressive. So here is a list of thing that the mobile is now used for:
Read and write email
Read and write text message
Access many social media site
Store contact details of all your family, friends and work
Watch sport and other TV related programs
Access your bank and being able to pay people
Order items online
Order your weekly food shop
Use as a Railway\Tram\Bus ticket
Use as a road atlas (as they used to be called)
Find a Girlfriend\Boyfriend or partner
Order your food in the restaurant
Monitor your health and fitness
Tune your guitar
Order your take away
Open the garage door
Open your front door and control the heating, lighting and other devices in your house
Learn a new language
Provide security access codes for VPN’s and other IT devices
Sex Toy (yes really and no I have not tried)
Read a book or magazine
Check the weather (anywhere in the world)
Check the time (anywhere in the world)
Start your car
Set it up to be able to see where it is when you loose it
oh, and make a phone call!
Most of us will do at least half of those on that list, the mobile phone has become such an important every part of our life. The mobile phone has become so much a part of their daily life not having access to it can cause all sorts of problems. Where I work the mobile phone is used for access to work emails out of the office and producing security codes for IT devices. We get phone calls from the users where there phone has stopped working or been stolen and they are at the point of pleading with us what can I do I can’t work, it is part of their daily routine and apart from the obvious not being able to work they are lost part of there daily process and seem completely lost as to what to do.
With banking & travel apps, family photo’s, friend and family contact details all on the phone you should really find out now what you should or can do if your mobile phone is lost, stolen or just broken, if your phone is that important to your daily life, then make sure you know what do do when you don’t have the phone any more.
Don’t think the original designers ever thought it would be a problem over 50 years ago, wonder what the next 50 years will bring?
Blink and you will miss it
Well 2019 has come and gone, a year of building on what I had I think would describe my 2019. Worked at getting a permanent contract at work, first proper holiday in many years are the main highlights for me although that is not to say I did not enjoy all the other bits that went on. Was starting to move in the right direction regarding weight and diabetes.
The new year will start with much the same intention as last years, carry on and move forward, move life to where it should be, weight down life up, diabetes under control. Plans are already in progress to move life onward’s and upwards, will just have to wait and see how they go
Poole Harbour looking towards Corfe Castle taken from White Cliff
This was the last photo of 2019, the weather has been pretty much the same for the last few days, dark damp and miserable and new years days it is the same, well at least it is not raining.
As 2020 progresses hopefully will be posting more on here and might even get the other half to post on here, she keeps telling me she will……………
Wind, rain and morons
Like the rest of the UK we have been battered by Storm Ciara, we have had a few strong gust around our away, wheelie bins falling over, fences falling down, the normal havoc you find in your garden after strong winds. We have been fortunate this time, no fence damage although we did loose the large cardboard box that the kitchen bin came in, large as in 3ft tall 15″ square box and fall of polystyrene, knew it been caught by the wind as there were bit of polystyrene in both the front and back gardens. The box was in the bin store at the front of the house, the gardens are separated by a 6ft high fence, no sign of the cardboard box though.
I was monitoring the local winds today while at home, there is a race hut (yacht and dingy racing) in the middle of Poole Harbour which has a live weather feed for all the yachting folk so I check it out when there are strong winds, apparently the strongest gust was at 13:09 this afternoon measuring 75.9mph, just a tad breezey.
I quite enjoy watching nature flex its muscle so decided a trip to the beach was in order, Local radio had already advised avoiding one area as people were going to the beach to watch the waves. So I must say I was a little disappointed, considering the wind was averaging 42mph the wave action was not particularly big. Wind was coming from the Sandbanks end of the beach straight along the beach towards Bournemouth Pier.
After getting caught in a shower we decide to seek refuge in a beach cafe where we watched a moron in action. I am not talking about the kite surfer or the windsurfer who were out enjoying the conditions (mad but not a morons). No this moron was walking his dog on the beach and throwing a tennis ball sized ball ( I know it was a tennis ball sized as he was using one of those tennis ball throwers), and he was throwing the ball out into the sea for the dog paddle\swim out to retrieve it, yes throwing the ball into the sea!! It was not a large dog either, the dog was enjoying itself probably to dumb to realise the danger it was in. I honestly could not believe somebody could be that stupid. It was not a one off either the guy threw the ball into the the sea several times for the dog, in the end they started to walk up along the beach again so he returned to throwing the ball in the direction they were going, just madness but at least the dog was no longer in danger.
Looking along the beach towards Bournemouth pier
From the promenade towards Bournemouth Pier, wind whipping the sand up
It should not happen
To me there are only two sports where those taking part really put their life on the line when they take part in their chosen sport. Those two sports are Rugby Union and Speedway, most of you will have seen rugby players crashing into each other other from watching the Six Nations which is currently in progress or from the world championship which finished in November. You will know how little protection the player wear, and how hard they crash into each other, it is quite common to see a player with blood pouring from a injury or a player being helped from the field after some heavy clash. When you compare the rugby players level of commitment and physical impact in this contact sport it makes you wonder why they do it considering the injuries that happen to players every year?
If you wonder why a rugby player puts himself through such physical contact, ask yourself why somebody would ride a motorcycle that can accelerates faster than an Formula 1 car from a standing start, can reach speeds of over 70mph and…………………..has no brakes. A speedway rider will normally race in a race with 3 other riders, all looking to win, all racing at high speed all very close together. Serious injury is seen as part of the job (being a professional speedway rider is a job the same as being a professional rugby player). Talk to most speedway riders and they will read of a list of injuries they have sustained as long as your weekly shopping list and many of those injuries had the potential to be life ending or have life changing affects on the rest of the rider life. Many rider are seriously injured in the sport every year and their life changed forever, some even pay the ultimate cost and loose their life.
So having put there live on the line in there chosen sport it even more upsetting when you hear that a sportsmen has lost their personal battle and taken their own life. With barely 6 weeks of 2020 past both sports have lost a sportsmen, in Rugby it was a local amateur rugby player lost his battle with life (he may have only played at amateur level but his commitment was no less that a professional) and just over two weeks ago speedway riders Danny Ayres lost his fight with life. I am not going into their personal life but suffice to say that they both suffered from some form of mental illness and the it just became to much for the both of them. Both left partners and families which have been devastated by these events.
If you are reading this and living with a mental issue, maybe you have been fortunate enough to get help and support, but if you are struggling, then speak to somebody, anybody, ask them to help you get help, the first step is to tell somebody then you can start your fight back from mental illness, please do it.
Below is a video of the biggest meeting that Danny took part in, in 2019, the British Final, Danny was not going to win the meeting (the winner got the wildcard entry to the British GP, a round of the world championship), but he wanted to win a race for his mum who had died earlier and 2019 and had supported him through out his racing career, you can see the commitment he puts into the race and what it meant to him (Danny has the yellow crash helmet).
I hope that both sportsmen find the peace they were looking for and that there families can come to terms with what has happened.
Thought it was time I stuck my head above the parapet been a few weeks since my last post and everything is currently doom, gloom and virus.
After Brexit everybody was hoping thing would calm down in the news and social media, we could turn our attentions to Easter, getting the garden ready for the long summer days of lounging in the garden, BBQ’s and booking our summer holiday but no, we have had to deal with storms, floods and a plague of locust. OK so we have not had the plague of locust yet (at least not in Dorset anyway). But we do find ourselves hunting for the lesser spotted toilet rolls for sale and it is not just a UK problem, it seems the world has gone mad for purchasing toilet rolls. Yes there is a background stories to to it, the Corona virus but from everything I have seen about the virus, toilet paper is not one of the things that you will need is you are unfortunate enough to catch the bug.
I am unfortunately in a high risk groups for the virus because I have an underlying medical condition, diabetes type 2 if you must know. So I am trying to carry on life as usual, going to work and keeping my ears open to all things corona and trying to pick the truth from the total dross and plotting what I hope is a safe path for myself and family through it all.
In other (good) news, we (the wife) and I had to go kitties sitting the other weekend. Daughter was out for the day so we agreed to go round to her place and make sure that her 2 house kitties got an evening meal (if she had put foods out for them before going out they would have scoffed the lot and then been sick every where) so we drew the short straw and agreed to go round and feed them.
Unfortunately I was not able to get a photo of her sister Ruby as she would not stay in focus for long enough. They are both playful terrors, climbing up your leg using there claws, hiding under the sofa and attacking your ankles and if you are very lucky one of them will sit on your lap purr like mad and fall a sleep. We played with them for a while, gave them some treats, puts their food out for them and then left and went home. When the daughter arrived home after midnight their food bowls were empty and were happy to see her.
Well that is about it for now, I am still trying to convince the other half to publish something on these pages, she keeps saying she will but their is nothing from her yet, we will wait with baited breath until she breaks her duck.
Look after yourself all, it is not nice out there at the moment.
Still Here II
Was browsing the Internet this morning and I read that there were some issue with WordPress and its plugins and unless you updated WordPress it could lead to your WordPress web site being compromised (this web site is built on WordPress). The brain registered the fact that I had not been on here for a while (over 5 months it turns out) so I logged in and updated the bits that needed updating then decided to put finger to keyboard with a little update.
The wife and I are still working from home, been nearly 6 month for the pair of us still working a full working week from home and in some cases doing overtime. Compared to a lot of other working people we have been very fortunate workwise. Both our respective employer have said they are in no hurry to rush people back to the office. I have only been to the office for half a day to get a new laptop after my old laptop decided that the outside world no longer existed.
We have both had along weekend and a weeks holidays (both employers said that we had to use some of our allotted holiday). We went the Lyme Regis and London Zoo on the long weekend we had. Couple of weeks later it was our week off , it turned out that we chose the hottest days of the year. We just popped out to local places (within a couple of hours drive). On the Wednesday we had a pleasant cruise around Poole Harbour, followed by a pub lunch and we intended to stroll around the bottom end of the High Street but after leaving the pub we found that the High Street was in the full glare of the sun (no shadows to hide in) we decided enough was enough and headed to the car park and home.
Had this guy pop into the garden the other day, Speckled Wood Moth, we get a few moths and butterflies in our garden, it a case of not having the camera to hand or being quick enough is the reason I don’t have more photos of them. Other than cutting the grass the other Garden jobs have not been done although we have purchased more plants for flower bed area we are intending to build.
Well that is enough from me for the time being, will try to be back sooner than 5 months next time
We had a Plan
So after our little train ride to Poland and back we decided that yes we liked this lets do it again so we soon we were researching places to go and by early December we had had a rough idea of where we were going to go. We had no dates that would be the next stage of planning but then 2020 appeared on the horizon and it was bringing a friend , an unwanted friend, Covid.
Like may other I was soon working from home, the wife started working from home about 5 days before me both fortunate that our jobs could be transferred to working from home (we work for different companies). Having spent many years working from home in my old job, I had strangely not enjoyed the experience working from and this working from home looked like it was going to run for 3 or 4 month. So some big changes had to be made, my desk gained two new monitors, a higher bandwidth broadband package was ordered. Karen had to work using her own personal laptop to start with and it was 5 months before the company laptop appeared. I was fortunate that I got a new Window 10 laptop just before being sent home, so within a couple of week I had settled down and was now helping to settle 1400 other employee into working from home and believe me that was no easy feat.
It goes without saying that our future plans are currently just scribbles on bits of paper and we now even be looked at until thing start to look better. We are still both working from home and will be for at least the next 6 months assuming life starts to show a return to normality, if not we will be home for longer. We have both gained promotions with work while we have been working from home, the wife went up a grade within her team and I have actually moved to another team with a slight higher position than I has previously.
We have both had our two vaccinations, our son had his first a couple on months ago (Astra Zenica) and was quite ill for four days, he is not looking forward to having his second jab in 6 days time. The daughter had her first today when I drove her to Millbrook for it.
Long term plans is simply to take each day at a time, we do have holiday booked but we will just see what we can do on the day, already had 10 days holiday, 5 days carried over from 2020 which I could not change so had 5 days at home!! Had another 5 days a couple of weeks ago and just had days out locally. Being stuck at home is doing nothing for my weight and I have the doctors in a couple of days so that is going to be interesting………NOT
This is the last of the old pages, Think I have lost two pages in total