On the train again. But this time I have a little news before I start my usual rants!

Yesterday I had a rather unusual day: I was starting a Landscape Painting course, so I decided to go for a quick bite to eat before my course. Of course, nothing is better than sushi, so I headed across the road to Selfridges, which houses “Yo! Sushi”. As I sat down and started to select things from the belt, I thought the girl to my right looked very familiar. Then I realised, she was one of the “X factor” contestants – the girl with the husky voice who never wore any shoes. Not sure what her name was. One of the workers came to ask for autograph and she was very nice about it all. One thing only struck me: she is so young!!!

From there I headed to the Lowry in Salford Quays for my course. When I arrived, there were people and police everywhere. I casually started walking toward the theatre building when I was stopped. Once I told the chap that I had come for an art course, I was waved through. Only when I was in the building and I was asking directions to the studio we were using, did I ask the attendant what all the fuss was about: “Britain’s got Talent”, he replied! I am sure that I could have had a nosy around if I wanted to …. but I really am not bothered nor interested.

The art course was such fun though. I was really disappointed when we had to pack up. We were being taught some techniques that Lowry used to use in his paintings, and in fact, we had to paint an urban landscape, Lowry style. I think it is fair to say that Lowry probably was a little better than I am! But I don’t really care, it is fun and that is all that counts. I really do feel like I am a kid at kindergarten all over again when I start painting and drawing. I just love it! It really does give you a 100% break from the real world – you’re so busy having fun, that you don’t have time to think of all the worries in the world.

11 working days (including today), then we’re on holiday. I am really looking forward to it. I do think there is nothing like holidays to cheer you up, and keep you focused on something. I really do live from holiday to holiday – it must be the highlight of my entire life.

News in the HeskethHermolle household: We are buying a new car. Tim does a huge amount of mileage, so we decided to get a Mini Clubman Diesel that does 70mpg = 15.5 miles/litre or 24.9 km/litre or 4 litres/100km on motorways. And Tim does mostly motorway travel. Therefore very cheap to run. Now I know the questions in every one’s mind. Will Tim fit into the Mini? And the short answer, is “yes”. If our neighbour, Joe, who is 6’5” can fit into a Mini, then anyone can. But seriously, it is quite a bit bigger than you think it would be. Granted, the model we’re getting is the bigger model, but inside it really quite comfortable. The boot is tiny though. We could go away for a weekend, but no more than that.

We were hoping to pick the car up on the weekend, but they can’t do it then. They want to deliver it tomorrow night. Not sure we can do it that quickly though, because … and here is the next bit of news … Tim’s Honda Jazz is being sold to Lisa instead of trading it in. She has already renamed him (she says he is definitely a male car) Jack. So Jack is going to a good home. And we think (and hope) he will serve her well.

I am just looking out of the window on the train. It is so foggy. You can’t see further than about 50-100 metres ahead. And it has been like this for most of the way. All the fields are pure white with frost. Why doesn’t it just snow and get it over with? It’s been the coldest winter in years, but we have had hardly any snow.

This morning, before I got onto the train, I went to try and get a refund for the tickets we had bought to go to London first week in January, but couldn’t use due to all the problems they had with a plane crash and overhead power cables going down. I was served by the most helpful, but rather inefficient man. All he had to do was, take the ticket, copy them onto a 1-page form and get me to sign it. This took approx 20 minutes! He was telling me about how ridiculous it is that they have to fill in the forms in a particular way, how the ticket agents fleece people, how their call centres work, what a credit can be spotted on a credit card statement, how busy he is, how he doesn’t know how to look up the ‘reason for refund’ on the system, who with copy and forward my ticket onto the agent etc etc etc. I remained polite and smiled a lot. Did I perhaps encourage him too much?

I love watching people on public transport. There is always someone who intrigues me. Today, it is a man sitting opposite me, also working on his little Netbook (small laptop). I have never seen anyone so organised. He opens his bag and takes out his Netbook. Then he takes out a tupperware container that contains his iPOD, cables and mobile network card. He removes the bits he needs, then digs in his bag to find another smaller container that houses his earphones. Carefully he takes those out and plug them into his iPOD. Back he goes into the bag to bring out a third container, this container is just big enough to hold a few other memory sticks and storage cards. After some deliberation, he removes a memory stick and plugs that in. Now he is ready to work.

Me on the other hand, I try to shove everything I have to take to London into 1 small bag, because i don’t want to carry more than one. It is far too heavy as a result. Once on the train, I remember I have forgotten my computer cable, which means I can’t charge the laptop today. Will have to keep an eye on the battery. To find my memory stick, I would have to zip open every ‘secret pocket’ in my handbag and rummage around until I find it. iPod is in my bag with the earphones rolled up around it. The earphones came with specific instructions that they should never be rolled up around the MP3 player! But who has the time or inclination to store it separately? Well, other than Mr Organised sitting next to me?

Okay, conserving the battery now. Need to leave some battery juice for later when I will, no doubt, want to rant on about something or someone I saw in big fog city!

Now on my way back to Manchester and I am ready to rant! I am able to rant about 3 things:

  1. How rude some people are – one chap in one training course was using his Blackberry all throughout training. And when he wasn’t, he was staring out the window. If that weren’t enough, he had a nasty cold and was coughing and spluttering over us all the way through. He’d brought a roll of toilet paper into the training session, which is understandable, but to leave some of the used tissue on the table for someone else to throw away is just gross!

  2. My 1-2-1 training session with one of the most senior directors of the organisation went badly. Although on one hand she applauded the project and how well its gone, on the other hand she put forward demands and requirements for the system that simply cannot be accommodated, but wouldn’t listen to reasons why they simply weren’t possible. As an analogy, it’s like someone demanding a 5-bedroomed house, in central London, on a quiet street, with good transport links and private parking, but with a budget of £150k. It’s not even merely unachievable, it is completely and utterly impossible. However, I promised to make a call to the software suppliers, which I did this afternoon. They told me categorically that it wouldn’t be possible. Sigh. I knew that would be the answer.

  3. Lastly, I would like to rant about people that don’t move away when they get to the end of escalator. They get to the top (or the bottom for that matter), then just stop. Sometimes it is to orientate themselves, but don’t they realise that everyone behind them start to pile up, and then have to dodge them when they, in turn, get to the top (or the bottom)? Rhetorical question: obviously not!

Now I am happy to be going home. It has been another long day – it always is when I am in London.

Wait, I want to rant about a 4th thing:

(4) Why does Virgin think it necessary to increase the temperature on the train to tropical conditions. When i first sat down, I thought it was because I had been rushing. But my bottom now feels like it is on fire as the heat keeps pumping through. I am going to see whether I can at least move to an aisle seat.