Golden Lesson 4 (and thinking about my lovely Mum and bus stops): Love is Experience shared

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It has been nearly a year since my lovely Mum died suddenly aged 81.  I am carrying her bus pass around in my wallet.  She loved her fee travel bus pass.  mum pass

Before  her bus pass she loved her National Tavel Tokens: a bag of “travel money” which could be spent on various forms of transport.  She used to keep quite a few to spend against her train travel down from York to Doncaster to see us.  national travel tokens

She also loved her taxi account we sorted for her when she was struggling to use the bus for all her needs once the car had gone.

She was very connected to her community and life, and these helped her keep connected

Though she was mobile and connected throughout her life. As a very small child I remember going into town with her and my sister on the bus.  The Number 1 from Tang Hall Shops (next to the phone box we used to walk to every other Sunday to call my Aunty Eileen).  I remember her playing games with us at the bus stop so we wouldn’t get too bored and agitated waiting 10-15 minutes.  And I remember us all sometimes running for the bus, out of breath and laughing.

And as a small child I went to so many places on a small seat attached to the cross bar of her bike.  It was a hard black shiny plastic seat.  Up to Muncaster to see my Aunt Lorna.

She used to cycle to Rowntrees to work an evening shift packing After Eight chocolates.  She said when the whistle blew at the end of the shift there were hundreds of bikes all coming away from Rowntrees rushing home.  She’d bring home a few broken After Eights for us as a treat, and her shoes would be caked in them.  It must have been 1973?  She had learnt to drive at aged 40 – about that time – but my Dad had the car.

after eitgh

I have often thought of that saddle on the bike.  We had the same type for our kids, and Tess and maddie remember moments on that saddle so vividly.

I wonder if it made cycling a ready form of transport for me – the norm?   I have always cycled quite a bit – not as a fanatic cyclist – I mean it would just be odd not to use a bike.  I have often used it as a main form of transport to work.  Even in London – cycling from Penge to Marylebone via Hyde park Corner in all weather.  I loved it.

Buses and bikes.  Just the norm as a kid.  Lots of shared experiences.

There’s a great quote in Saturday Night Sunday Morning by Alan Sillitoe: Love is experience shared. 

I wonder if the mobility experiences we have as kids pass on in some ways – making a certain travel way of life the norm?  I know many people who hate buses and bikes – have they had this passed on to them?  Never used them as kids and the occasional negative parental comment about “bloody bikes” or never dreaming to catch a bus.  Maybe my kids are having car-free-ness passed on?  We have experienced laughs and jokes in the car when we had one – but they are less vivid than the run to the bus, or the shared bike ride, or even the bus ride with other people around on the top deck and the walk to the shops.  And even our chats about being car free – they instil a culture.

By having these non-car behaviours it just seems normal to take the bus, or walk extra or get out the bike – not just jump in the car.  And the car is more hassled – so often the driver (Mum or Dad) is hassled or distracted (by driving!). (This is reinforced by research which shows that for people who commute by bike the happiest part of their day is their commute.  Yet for poeple who drive the worst part of their day is…their commute.)

My colleague Beth (see the BethLikes link on the right) is doing her master dissertation on this topic: why are younger people driving less?

I know I remember vivdily my travel as a child.  The black saddle.  The bus stop games.

I know i loved, and still love, After Eights.

I know I loved my Mum very dearly.

And I am pretty sure that if your kids are opened up to new ways of doing things they get some form of innoculation which keeps that thing living in their lives.

A mobiliy culture innoculation.

An experience shared……

And here’s a lovely video that made me think of our bus stop games with my lovely amazing Mum.




Car Free Family – 10 Golden Lessons

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The story so far:

Le Famille Cassidy leave Belgium to live in Edinburgh in late March 2010  – we have decided to be car free FOR A YEAR.  But the car was needed for the move : cats + international house move + using public transport was an expensive challenge!

But in July 2010 the car is taken back to Belgium to stay in its place of birth – the Car Free Clock begins to tick….

The posts so far have captured the drama and emotions, but the remaining question is:  did we make a year?

July 11 2011 was the day the tick would tock.  It would be 12 months without a car.

Tick. Tock.

The last post was February 23.

Tick. Tock.

Scotland swings like a pendulum do….Bobbies on bicycles two by two…

Tick. Tock….

Well, when the final tock ticked we were still car less.  Not a car in sight.

I rang Gardenlady on July 11 2011.  She was in Lisbon.  We didn’t even talk about the great Car Free Date – it was Lego and sun and the last 6 months.

Today is a beautiful sunny 20 May 2012 – The Cassidys are still car free (nearly 2 years), and we have learnt a LOT!  And we continue to learn a LOT!

10 Golden Lessons of the Car Free Year coming up – interspresed with stories of the last few months: house move, love, laughter, drama, crises, conflicts, tears, joy, smart cards.

A rollercoaster ride – not a car journey.


A day trip, pirates and reflection on the age of consent


So we wanted to go to York – about 2 hours away by train.  Usually we would drive down – about 4 hours?  Just easier.

The train was the option now: £70. We would have spent about £40 on petrol.

We usually have a bit of fun when travelling, but I do think train takes the (British rail) biscuit.  So many lovely journeys – I instantly recall loads of trips on Eurostar to London, and loads of trips to from York when I was a student travelling to/from Lancaster.

This day we learnt Pirate language, guided through by our Pirate Host Maddie.  We could have learnt Pirate in a car, but to be honest I would have been distracted and would have been a bad student.  Just a bit less stress on the train. Even managed a McKewans (the only time anyone has a can of McKewans is on a train isn’t it?).

We paid child fare for Tess, having just jumped off a bus where we paid full fare, and about to jump on another bus, in Edinburgh, where she pays half fare.  Tess is right – what IS the message to teens about the age of consent?  Seems to vary just a tad.  No wonder they are confused.

Dot and Brodie – a student away from home

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Brodie and Dot are our friends.  Brodie is from Fife.  Lovely rural Fife.  She is studying art in Edinburgh.  Her Mum, Dot, comes to visit often but still worries about how her daughter is getting on.  Very artistic Dot and Brodie.  Look at Dot’s jewellery link opposite: Dot Sim

Brodie’s transport-life is typical of many students.  In Edinburgh she catches buses and walks a lot.  Brodie also cycles quite a bit.

She also likes to go home to Fife to see friends and Dot and Flick the dog.  She does have an old car, which she had when she lived in rural Fife and needed to get around as a 19 year old.  She has it with her in Edinburgh but if anything its a bit of a nuisance – she only really uses it when she goes home on a weekend.  Even then she sometimes uses the train to get home.

Brodie qualifies for a range of discounts – if she took out a monthly contract with Lothian Buses she would get cheap travel by buses and also reduced price travel on night buses.  With Scotrail she can get some student discounts.  She can also get a National Young Person’s Railcard to get discounted rail travel.  I am not sure, but with her Young Scot Card she can get certain discounts…..Oh, and when she gets to Fife can she get a discount with Stagecoach buses from Leuchars? 

A bit messy all these different offers.  And some require a commitment up front: eg with a monthly bus pass she would have to predict how much bus travel she would make – but she also likes to cycle so maybe wouldn’t get her money’s worth.  Same with Railcards – a great deal – but a commitment up front.  

Would be nice to get the discounts – and incentives to travel – in more real-time.  Hard to do in some ways, but technology is making this easier.  

It would be also nice if lovely Dot could top-up Brodie’s travel account every now and then – just to help out a bit. Brodie would like it. Dot wants to: what a nice Mum.

(UPDATE 2014 – Lothian now have a mobile app which can carry single tickets.  This could be topped up by Dot.  Also there are a range of other ticket types available on the app.)


Buses in York – Buses in Edinburgh

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ok – I am obsessing, but this is quite a difference in cost!

It’s the teen thing too.  Tess travels for child fare in Edinburgh, but is constantly challenged for looking older than 15 (the cut off).

When is a teen not a teen – an adult?  Well airlines certainly like to class her as an adult….

And I do occasionally.  Bless her.

In Depth Analysis – Cassidy Senior and His Car

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So it’s not just this generation of Cassidys giving up the car.  Chris and Aud (aka Mum and Dad) gave their car up a year ago.  Chris was 83 and was less confident driving, and the car needed a lot of work after failing its MOT. Chris decided enough is enough.

Chris told my sister (Suzi) and I about his decision when we visited.  Audrey asked us to go to the “other room” where Chris was waiting to tell us “some news”.

Suzi and I looked at each other: after 50 years of marriage had they decided tom split up?

Chris is not a man of speeches.  This was an event.  Chris looked at us and started:

“Listen, I have something to tell you.  Now I don’t want you worrying, or talking us out of it, but me and your Mum have been talking and we’ve made a decision….”

My Mum later told me that she had cried when they decided to give up the car.  They had always had a car, struggling to keep it running at times as we were never flush with cash.

Audrey said that she felt that this was the end of their independence, their flexibility.

Since then they have got used to walking to the local shops for most of needs, with a weekly walk to the town centre (about 2 miles away).  Audrey says they are lucky that they have a nice local community, and the good buses.  Audrey catches the bus into town quite often too – always has.  Chris has never caught a bus and will never.  He has no knee cap on this right knee (awful accident aged four – in hospital til he was 13, crutches, callipers, nearly an amputation) and has always said that he would be unstable on a bus.  Can’t sit down.  This is probably true to an extent – but old habits die hard.

He walks to the pub everyday for his 1.5 pints.  Not bad at 84.  They say they don’t really miss the car, and Suzi takes them to the supermarket once in a while for  a big shop (Suzi lives an hour away).  But one thing is for sure, they feel better off – the car was a drain on resources.

What a car it was – Suzuki Swift – 21 years old and 50,000 miles!!!  One (very) careful owner