Saturday, 18 June 2011

That new leaf...

Well, the idea was that I'd turn over a new leaf and start posting to this 'ere blog.
Hasn't worked, has it?
Never mind. I'm sure I'll post the odd bit of weirdness occasionally, and I'm equally sure nobody will pay a blind bit of notice. I'm not vain enough to think the world hangs on any of my words, let alone on every one!

Friday, 27 May 2011


Hello world!

I'm in Vienna now.
Flights were as punctual as they always are (i.e. both either side of half-an-hour late), with the usual lack of apologies.

Fodder in business on the Swiss flight from Heathrow to Zuerich wasn't up to much - a bit of salmon with some tasteless mousse (which is probably something they charge huge amounts for in posh restaurants, but I wasn't impressed) and on the Austrian flight from Zuerich to Vienna they weren't serving hot drinks "because turbulence has been forecast". Ho hum.

And to add to the day's weirdness, I got pulled at security in Zuerich because I had a sandwich in my bag. No, I don't understand that one either!

OK, time for a quick shower and then to bed.... See y'all tomorrow.

Off on my travels

I'm on leave for a week-and-a-half. :)
I'm happy about this. Can you tell? ;o)

So the reason I'm up at such a God-awful time of day (05.45? That's sleeping time for definite) is that I've just finished packing my suitcase and I'll be away to the station soon for a ride on the train to London and thence to Heathrow for those nice people at Swiss to take me to Z├╝rich where I'll transfer to their colleagues at Austrian who'll pop me across the border to Vienna.
And in Vienna is where I shall be for the next week or so. :)
I'm planning on doing some train-type things, but also hopefully some normal touristy-type things as well. 

If I can get online I'll let you know what I've been up to as and when I can. Might even post a few photos...

A fresh start...

It's been a fair while since I last posted anything to this 'ere blog. 

Partly that's been because, if I'm honest, my life is so boring that there's been nothing much happening to post about, and the other reason is sheer, old-fashioned laziness: even when there was something to talk about, I couldn't be bothered.

Perhaps I can make myself turn over a new leaf. 
I'm going to have another go at blogging here. Whether I'll find anything worth blogging about will be another thing, of course, but it's gotta be worth a try.

Thursday, 6 December 2007


Yesterday I got taken to hospital.

I was working my train through the countryside as normal when I started to suffer a really bad pain in my back, sweating and also vomiting - none of which are things you really want to be doing when you are driving a train at 75mph!

Anyway, after a rather foolish attempt to carry on after the first attack I saw sense and called for an ambulance, and ended up being rushed to hospital by the paramedic, being topped up with painkillers every so often in a failed attempt to deaden the pain...
  • Interesting element #1: Out here we don't tend to have so many ambulances; what we have are "community support vehicles", which translate into English as a large van full of ambulance kit and a single paramedic; I suppose they can staff twice as many of these as they can ambulances. If you're walking wounded, as I was, you also get to have a front seat ride on blues-and-twos through the countryside, along main roads and through the nearest large town, during which you can see just how bad British car drivers are at noticing what is happening around them and reacting to it - or, worse still, how they try to take advantage of the road space cleared by those few road users who do pull out of the way of the emergency vehicle.
  • Interesting element #2: A couple of weeks ago I was in Vienna, changing trains. Walking out of the station in towards the city centre, I heard a two-tone siren behind me. It gave two blasts, dee-dah-dee-dah, and was switched off. But... all the cars coming towards me pulled over, and then so did all the cars travelling away from me. And then an ambulance came past using only its blue lights, with all the traffic in both directions carefully giving it room to pass. Can you imagine that happening in this country? After yesterday's front seat experience, I can't!
Anyway, we arrived at the hospital, I got put on a trolley and taken into A&E.
A&E at that hospital was the same as every A&E I've ever been in: lots of waiting around and very little information. Eventually, after a couple of hours of lying painfully on a stretcher, a doctor arrived and confirmed the paramedic's initial diagnosis: I'd gotten myself a kidney stone.

At some time whilst I was in the hospital, the pain stopped. I don't know why; perhaps the painkillers the paramedic had given finally kicked in, perhaps the doctor's poking around had caused it to break up or moved it on, or perhaps the stone had finished its painful journey to wherever it was going - but whatever the reason I was extremely happy, I can tell you!

After about 5 hours at the hospital I was released and taken back home by my boss who'd driven out to make sure I was OK. And here I am today, still with no further pain (thankfully!)

I've done a bit of reading on the NHS and other associated websites today, and I now know that I need to drink a lot more water (or, at least, drink a lot more water at home - at work I usually drink 2-3 litres a day anyway), that kidney stones don't usually hurt whilst they're in the kidney but only when they start moving down towards your bladder and out of your body as they make their bid for freedom, and also now that I've had one I can expect to have others in the future.
Hopefully not too often!

What has been really nice, though, is the amount of people who've asked after me to see if I'm OK. Apparently the railway grapevine has worked with its usual speed and people all over the place have heard that I'd been rushed into hospital, and quite a few of them have been asking my colleagues if I'm OK.

It's nice to discover that people who barely know you care enough to ask after you, and it bucks you up rather a lot....

So, what happens now?
Well, I'm back at work from tomorrow, although I've agreed with my boss that I'll act as a standby driver for a couple of days (no real hardship for the company as I was already booked to be standby for three of my next four working days anyway) so that if there is a recurrence I will at least be at the station where medical assistance can arrive quickly and I won't be abandoning a train out there on the tracks with chaos resulting!
Hopefully, though, this particular stone has gone and it'll be a long time before I suffer another...

Friday, 23 November 2007

Ignoramii :-(

I know we're getting close to Christmas, which seems to bring out the worst in everyone, but I wonder why there are so many ignorant people walking our streets nowadays?

I'll explain....

At work, like many other railwaymen, I wear a bright orange Hi-Vis jacket. In the right light they can be seen for, ooh, about two miles. And yet on Wednesday whilst walking through the city centre wearing my nice bright-orange-highly-visible coat I must have had half-a-dozen people have to take last second avoiding action so they didn't walk into me.
Most of them had been walking straight at me, and looking straight at me, for a hundred yards or so, walking past other people and so could clearly see that I had nowhere to go; they'd have to walk around me...

The other stunt I've noticed more and more of recently is people who look at you but then pointedly look away, and keep looking away, as they walk directly at you - as if they think that if they look away from you, if they ignore you, you don't exist.

I'm 6' tall and weigh in at about 15 stone. When they walk into me they find I definitely do exist!

Final rant for this day: take a handful of people, two, or three, or four, walking together on a footpath wide enough for them but not then for anyone to walk past in the other direction. Why, oh why, do those people not gracefully give way to people walking the other way? Just like the ignoramii above, I've had people deliberately block the path until it's obvious that they're not going to force me into the muddy verge, or onto the road into the path of traffic, and then only give way with obvious bad grace.

And as for the woman who kept pulling her husband back alongside her when he was trying to step back behind her to make space for me and a couple of other people to walk past... What can I say?

OK, rant over for the day!

But... is it just me, or have you noticed the same behaviour? Comments welcome!

Monday, 19 November 2007

Watching the wildlife...

Wombling through the English countryside today, I found myself watching the wildlife, as a rural train driver often does.

The wildlife we see during the daytime tends to be rabbits, hares, foxes, more pheasants and partridges than a legion of shotgun-wielding hunters could ever catch, and occasionally the afore-mentioned shotgun-wielding, wax-jacket-and-flat-cap wearing hunters too.

But mostly what I watch are the birds. Out here in the sticks I'm privileged to see buzzards and kestrels on a daily basis, as well as the better known fluttery birdies and occasional unexpectedness such as the odd cormorant.

And it is kestrels who led me to the thought today's random witterings are about - or, at least, the little critters the kestrels hunt...

Driving through the Fens this morning I saw a kestrel hovering, presumably waiting for a chance to swoop down and grab some little critter which was quaking in the grass. And then the train turns up, the ground shakes, the little critter doubtless quakes even more - and the kestrel scarpers from the big noisy thing which is coming towards it very fast indeed... Then, when the ground stops shaking (once the train has passed), presumably the little critter shakes itself and wonders what the Heck just happened before running off somewhere it thinks airborne terrorists won't find it.

Coming back the same way later, I'm darned if I didn't disturb a kestrel hunting at almost the exact same spot (maybe 10 or 20 feet away, but no more than that). Possibly the same kestrel, and possibly the same small quivering critter in the undergrowth. Who knows?

But it got me thinking. And in my tiny little mind, the thought was this:

Do the little critters quivering in the undergrowth, hiding in terror from the kestrel-shaped shadow in the sky, feel the ground rumbling and think to themselves "It's coming, the thing that frightens off the monster in the sky!"? And, if they're intelligent enough to think in such a way, when they think of the train which causes the ground to shake and the kestrel to fly away in terror, do they think of it as some sort of miracle? Maybe even some sort of God?

Yeah, I know, I'm insane. It's a hazard of dealing with the "Great British Public" and Not-So-Great British management for all of your adult life!

(Incidentally, should anyone wish to use the idea as the basis for a story, feel free. It'd be nice if you could credit me somewhere, though. )