Wednesday, 22 December 2010

My Graduating Year Christmas I

I thought I'd keep a mini diary of what my Christmas as a third year university student of Lancaster University has so far and will have consisted of.

So far, I have recovered from illness, rang up train companies to ensure I have a case for refunds (yay!) and been hassled to ring various other people to make my displeasure known - UK, I mean you. And I still need to sort out my online bank account again, since they've done that thing where they think I need to activate it, despite having used it for years.

So my brother's Christmas present isn't here, I owe money to him for my share of the Grandparents' presents, and I've not yet even bothered considering looking for new boots that I desperately need. Well, maybe not desperately, but a little warmth wouldn't go amiss.
I also still have to get around to deciding or finding little christmas gifts for my two best friends, since I sort of want to. And said I would in their Christmas cards which I wrote weeks before actually giving them to them. Smart girl, me.

Today I wrote about 700 words to finish the essay I would have finished for last Friday had I not been ill, and tomorrow I shall post it. Hurray for me - no more work for Sandy until the last week of my holiday when I should perhaps start to at least plan which essay I'm going to do for him that term. I can start around week 2, I should think. I sort of forgot to bring my course guide with me, so I've still not finished the gobbets I was supposed to email him a while back, and I'm not able to start the next lot yet. I assume, we're supposed to. Either way, I hope he's not too angry at me for failing to do the third one when I said I would. I was just iller than I thought when I emailed him! :(

I'm currently in the process of planning my dissertation attack. I've just been through my sources, so that I actually know what I can and can't do, and I've just got to do some secondary reading. Otherwise, with the material I have here, I can certainly stretch it to at least 7500 words with a basic 3-chapter plan. I could just start writing it here and there, and hope to go somewhere, but that'd not work. Well, maybe if I just write one chapter on one particular version of the Life of Mary of Egypt at a time, which is really what I should be doing. I'd start with the original version, but I don't have a copy with me. So I'll skip onto the next one, which is anonymously written and fortunately actually translated into normal English from Old English. (I have one version and a half that's not been translated. And it's in verse. Yay.)

I've also persuaded the grown ups in the house to have a Christmas tree this year - we've not had one in years, since we used to go on holiday every year, and there was no point, then one year we didn't go away cause we got stuck in traffic, and then after that we just couldn't be arsed. Pretty much.
Only this year I'm trying to get used to things and make stuff a bit different, and since our neighbours offered us one of their trees for free, I didn't have to shout too hard for them to give me something to do. So we went and got one - it's a bit short, but it's a nice tree. Good colour, well fleshed out and shaped, and I should make a sweet little tree out of it when I decorate it on Friday. (I think they think I'm doing it tomorrow, but that's weird, since our tradition is for it to go up on Christmas Eve. Maybe they want it just out of the way - it's in the garage since we're forecast to have another 10 inches of snow today/tonight.

I hope it does snow purely cause I missed the chance to use this lot to make a snow man. Well, could still do it - it's thawing a bit, so it'd be wet enough to. But I'm supposed to be doing work today. Bummer.

Monday, 20 December 2010

What a "little bit of snow" can do.

After being an hour late getting up, I got a taxi to the train station, since I was freezing and I couldn't be sure the X1 would turn up or leave on time etc etc, and I had to queue to buy a ticket for the train.

The train was about 5 minutes late, and ended up about 20 minutes late at Birmingham New Street. BNS was swamped with people. The queue to get information was quite large, and more and more people were swarming into the station, hoping to get somewhere. All the trains on the board were delayed - one was over an hour late.
I found a train I needed to get, but it was 3 carriages, and all the standing room had been taken. I couldn't get on, and nobody was going to shift to let me on with my little suitcases.
I decided to wait, and to get the next one, an hour later.

I made my way to the platform that had been announced, and waited. A train to Plymouth was supposed to be coming to that platform a minute after mine - it was a delayed train from about 45 minutes before - and I was a bit concerned about how that train and my train were going to be using that platform at the same time as a parked empty one.
It was announced that my train was now leaving from another platform. About 50 people all ran up the stairs as best as they could with luggage, and across the station. We got there, looked up and saw a nice fat CANCELLED sign above our train time.

After discussing things on the phone, I went to buy a ticket so that I could go via London - of course, in hindsight, I should have shoved the rules where the sun didn't shine and just bought an underground ticket once I got there, but you never know with this things.
I forked out a horrendous £58.60 for a one-way ticket to Cambridge, a whole £8 more than my OPEN return had cost me. I was considering breaking down in tears at that point, and getting someone to feel chivalrous for me, but I didn't have time - a train to London Euston had pulled up at platform 3.

It was an interesting journey to London. It went smoothly - there were some nice people in my carriage. I sat next to a girl trying to get to Covent Garden to see The Nutcracker, a sardonic OAP with a suede jacket, and these two girls from Brixton... erm. Let's just say that they didn't fail to amuse and talk absolute rubbish <3 They were great, really.
We got to Northampton to be told we had to continue our journey on another train which was waiting for us "on the platform over the bridge".
We got on the train and waited. And waited. And waited until the driver's voice came onto the intercom - the good news was that the train was going despite the weather, and it was going to Bletchley, Watford Junction and London Euston. And that the train was working. And that the train had a driver. And the driver was sober.
The bad news is that the conductor hadn't arrived yet, and apparently trains can't run without conductors - even if the carriages are too full for them to get through if they bothered to look at our tickets.
We left about 15 minutes later with a cheer.

As we approached Watford Junction, a woman's voice told us that the train was terminating there. No mention of connecting trains, or why, or how to get to London Euston. Just that we were terminating. There was much outrage from the passengers in my carriage, mixed with bitter amusement.
We all piled off the train and made our way to the end of the station with any semblance of an information board. Then we heard a station announcement telling us all to get back on the train, there had been some "wires crossed". When we were first told by the conductress that we had to get off the train, I thought she sounded French.
When we were back on the train and grumbling, she came on the intercom to apologise for the misunderstanding and "information error" - unfortunately, her being flustered did not help to soften her accent and it was quite clear she was Eastern European and probably hadn't been told what ''terminate'' meant. *sigh*
I hate to sound racist by saying that, but there was not just an "information error" but also a "communication" error.

When I got to Euston about half an hour later, it was crawling with police - there'd been a security scare, as well as the circle line being affected by delays and such.
I was ok though - I just had to go one stop on the Victoria line which was running smoothly, to Kings Cross + St. Pancras.
I am not familiar with that part of the station - I have not been to Kings Cross in over a year, and it was a different part that was not under construction. I asked for directions and was misdirected into St. Pancras for a while, and there was no real way for me to tell otherwise - I could tell you what time trains to Bedford were leaving, or which Eurostar train was due in, but there was no information about any trains otherwise, and nobody was around to ask. I followed VERY poor signs to the SouthEastern train platforms, to find the passengers had been kettled, effectively, until an announcement told them what was happening with their trains - Havasham was cancelled, by the way.
I decided to break past the barrier and go around just to ask a very rude and short-tempered woman whether I was even in the right part of the station for a train to Cambridge - she helpfully snapped at me that I should have been in king's cross, next door.

I made my back the way I'd come, and looked for signs towards King's Cross, and found it. It was cold, lots of scaffolding and people and only one or two signs were saying where trains were going, what time, whether it was delayed and occasionally which platform.
Nobody working for the station was in sight. I just stood there with a small crowd and waited - our train was never given a platform. Some trains that were due and never updated to ''delayed'' or ''cancelled'' or given platforms were just taken off the board if it was 10 minutes after they'd been due.
Eventually, a woman I spoke to and I noticed a small trickle of people heading to platform 9 and decided to investigate - we asked a random guy in a visibility vest which train it was, and he said he THOUGHT it was the one to King's Lynn via Cambridge. We asked people on the train where they hoped the train was going, and they all thought it was going to Cambridge. We decided it was probably better to stay on the train, until we heard otherwise. Eventually, a driver said that it was indeed the train to Cambridge, and he hoped to leave soon.

I got back to Cambridge about 10 hours after I left my flat, and got back to my house about 2 hours after that - since the roads were so terrible.

Normally only takes about 5 hours...

Seems that there are only so many delays those electric information boards can take before the system just crashes and burns. And there's only so many members of staff that can take being asked questions- it's better to take them off the floor and out of the public eye so that they aren't murdered or something by fraught passengers trying to get home.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Hear Ye, Hear Ye, Excitement to Come Your Way

Well, my way, but whatever.

So I might have mentioned before that the history society - well, to start with me and my friend - were trying to get funding for a full-on Medieval fair. Well the guy *finally* got back to us (5 weeks later) and we're to do a presentation for it this evening. Eek!
Got a layout and plan in my head, and we know who'd be involved and why, and how it would affect us and them, and that it'd be for charity, if possible, and we'd get local school children involved and it's going to be huge and we need a field and lots of money cause that'd be awesome.

But yeah. I just can't wait. I'm all hyped. And if the meeting goes well, I can no longer boast that I "might be organising a Medieval Fair", I can say quite honestly that I am and that for once crazy off the cuff ideas are going to work =D !!!!

Yeah. Bit excited. I want a costume. :3

Once it's been confirmed, I'll update with what we'll actually be having done. But it's proper amazing.