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.




Ikea, City Car Club, Schoolboy Errors (The Lion, The Witch) and The Wardrobe

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It started off so well…..

Good news: I have learnt that blunt green pencils don’t work well on green paper in highly sunny climatic conditions.

Bad news: We had to extend our Booking by an our because we were so late in picking up the car

Good news: This was seductively easy over the phone.

Bad news: We went to Ikea again – vegetarians hate meatballs.

Good news: Cheap wardrobe – happy child.

Bad news: For Ikea to deliver it would have cost £35 and taken 2 days.

Good news: City Car cost £15.

….and it ended well.

Shopping at Ikea without a car


So we need a sofa bed.

In fact we need a settee; our old soggy one now having been destroyed by the cats, and the detritus of our lives down the back of the settee now starting to overflow.  Nice.

And the bed element will come in handy for visitors to our diddy flat.

Having slept on Dot’s and also snuggled under a blanket watching TV 5 abreast, the decision was made.  From the smorgasbord of sofa beds on offer at Ikea, it had to be the Manstad (L shaped to the right).

So, not having a car, what do we do:

1. Buy on-line.  NO – not an option in Scotland.

2. Ikea Direct (I didn’t know about this, but having called the Edinburgh store they said it would be best).  This involves emailing your request.  Then Ikea gets back to you and gives you a quote.  WE DID THIS.  But no reply and we just couldn’t wait!!  (Audrey and my nephew Chris are visiting this week, as are Chloe and Rebecca…can we have the Manstad sharpish please?)

3. Visit Ikea: Boo.  Not my first option – not even my third…But hey ho.  My main memory of Ikea is of Tess as a little girl throwing up everywhere, especially on Brian: a kind of aversion therapy.  Especially for Brian. Anyway, so we go to the website to find out how to get there…

Ikea website gives us directions BY CAR  - nothing by public transport.  Thought you cared about the environment Ikea? Tess had a look around the internet and found that the Lothian Buses No 47, which goes right past our house, goes direct to Ikea.  Oh joy.

Downloading the iPhone application “edinbus” we could see we had 20 mins to the next bus departure from the stop 5 mins away.

Life was looking up. Seamless lives.

So – we get to Ikea.  We order our bed settee (boo – we have to wait a week or so – Audrey and Chris wil be on the floor), and buy another £150 of “stuff” we don’t need.

Even us public transport users spend money Ikea!!!!!

(Interestingly – well kind of interestingly) when we came home there was an email from Ikea Direct quoting the same price as we paid in store plus £20 delivery.  I wonder if I will have to pay this for our new Manstad?

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.

Getting to the ferry and a surprise meet with a celebrity chef!

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After a busy time packing and saying our goodbyes we took the car to the ferry..oh no – we were supposed to be selling the car weren’t we?  Well it turns out that if you are travelling to the UK and have cats forget NOT using a car!!

Eurostar = only guide dogs (we could have disguised Andrew and Oswald but I think they would have found it hard to stay in role)

Footpassengers on Ferries = P&O only.  But we needed to go to Hull with P&O =  No pets with foot passengers, unless guide dogs or hearing dogs. (We need to train the cats better)

Hire a car = yeah right! £1200 one way ( we could have made it much cheaper if we did two hires – one to port in Belgium and other from port in UK, but dropping the car some way from the ferry terminal and arranging transport between these points is a big pain).

Fly = only via Heathrow – we wanted to go to Edinburgh.

Removals company = they kindly offered.  Only £1500 – a snip

So – take the car and bring it back to sell – what a pain.

Ah well, at least there was a celeb on the ferry – nice one Mads (the really annoying Sophie Dahl can be found at:

It’s nice to be home

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So we arrived on the overnight ferry – tired and jaded…but what awaited us…