Ranty Friday

So, it looks like we are finally moving. To a bigger home, to accomodate the ever growing equipment that comes with having a child.

But this dear readers is not my rant, although I suspect in the coming weeks that I will get a bee in my bonnet over something that is related to moving. No. This rant is about the cost of travel.

train-tickets

You see I am lucky enough that I get discounted travel due to my job. However because I have to work, I need childcare. It is not financially viable for myself or The Husband to be a stay at home parent. It is also not financially viable to put Emma into a full time day care (HOLY CRAP ARE THEY EXPENSIVE!) so my mother comes and has Emma a few days a week. It is a godsend. Emma has a great bond with her nana, and my mother, who cannot just sit still and chill for anymore than 5 minutes takes the time to dust, do a load of laundry or the vacuuming, and we are very grateful to her. We continually tell her that she doesn’t need to do those things, but my mother is like me, stubborn and headstrong and well, doesn’t listen to anyone!!

So instead of forking out my entire monthly salary to a day care (YES IT IS THAT EXPENSIVE!) I pay my mothers travel to us. Currently it is £177.80 a month. Not a huge amount, and when she isn’t coming to care for Emma, she can use it to go to her hospital appointments, or into town to shop/sight-see etc. Its certainly a hell of a lot cheaper than a daycare!

Now that we are moving further out (2 stops on the train) I expected the cost of the season ticket I buy my mother to increase. What I wasn’t expecting was to be told that a season ticket between the two stations does not exist and therefore the cheapest ticket is a travelcard between Staines and Zones 1-6. The cost £295.30. WHAT!?!?

It seems that my mother is the only person who will regularly be travelling between Kidbrooke and Staines. Understandablely hard to believe that out of several million people living in and around Greater London, that this is the case. She also has no need to use the underground or buses, so why a travelcard?

I did my research and discovered that a monthly season ticket between Feltham and Staines is £87.20. Add that to the monthly cost of the current season ticket of £177.80, you get a total of £265. Cheaper than the cheapest ticket I was told was my only available option! By £30.30. Granted £30.30 isn’t a huge amount of money in the grand scheme of things, but that £30.30 is a weekly fresh food shop for us. It could be used to purchase Emma new clothing, or shoes (kiddo is a weed i tell you!)

My rant isn’t the cost of the travel, but rather the fact that I was told the cheapest ticket was a travelcard by a member of staff, when it actually wasn’t. It is no wonder that people get annoyed by the cost of train fares.

When I started on the railway, I was always told that when selling a ticket to someone, you give them the best available fare for their needs. To my knowledge this is still the practice today, so why hasn’t it happened on this occassion?

If it wasn’t for the fact that I did a little bit of research, I’d be paying an additional £30.30, when I don’t need to.

It is frustrating and annoying and I am off to ask South West Trains why there isn’t a monthly train only season ticket.

Reminder to all, do your research before buying things. Don’t just assume everything you are told is the be all and end all.

Baby on Board – A Royal Waste of a Badge

Several times a day I open my Sky News app to see what’s new in the world.

This evening Sky News had a story on Kate Middleton being given a “Baby on Board” badge.

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Really Sky News? Really?! That is NOT news.

Lots of pregnant women are given “Baby on Board” badges. Hell, even train companies have them. I have 2!

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Paul Harrison, Royal Correspondent says “The Duchess of Cambridge has been presented with her own “Baby on Board” badge which allows pregnant passengers access to priority seating on the Tube.”

Clearly Mr Paul Harrison has never truly witnessed what these badges get you when travelling on public transport. Which is absolutely nothing.

These badges DO NOT allow pregnant passengers access to priority seating on the tube. They should do, but they don’t. People look at you, with your pregnant belly, they look at your “Baby on Board” badge and then they IGNORE you. It is actually very rare that someone gives up their seat for a pregnant woman.

A friend of mine is pregnant, she also has SPD and has to use crutches to help her walk. Yet despite being clearly pregnant AND on crutches, she was often ignored, or pushed past by others scrambling for seats and once she was even shouted at by a man because she was sat in “his” seat and he demanded she move. She was so upset, distressed and scared that she moved so he could sit down. No one offered her a seat, no one stood up for her.

I’ve written about this several times. I had to start my maternity leave early because I couldn’t cope with the commute. The number of times I’ve been ignored on a packed train despite my 2 “Baby on Board” badges is unreal.

I am so glad that I don’t have to commute anymore. I have 2 days left until Flump is due (ha ha ha) and my Baby on Board badge has been retired.

Pointless Purchases

This morning there was a thread on my Pregnancy Birth Group about what items for newborns are the most pointless things for parents to buy.
It’d been started because someone found a baby wipe warmer, to ensure baby bottoms remained free from chills whilst nappy changing.

Other mums then listed what they found useful and useless.

Top and Tail bowls
Baby baths
Nappy bins
Cotton wool buds
Baby shoes

The list could be endless because every parent is different and has differing opinions and parenting styles.

My pointless purchase for expectant and new mums is a Baby on Board badge.
Now technically it’s not a purchase because Transport for London give them out free. (Thanks for that TfL)
However about 95% of commuters ignore them. Even the ones drivers use in their cars are ignored, sometimes drivers are just twatty.

I’ve written about this before, a few posts ago actually, but I feel this will be a never-ending broken record on this blog.

You see, this morning, it was unfortunate that my train was only 4 cars long instead of 8. That means that by the time it got to Feltham it was already full and standing.
I got on the train (because work commitments mean I can’t miss this train) and a nice lady standing next to me said “oh, do you need a seat?”
I looked about at the 8 people sitting in the seats (4 of them with signs on that said “please give this seat up for those less able to stand than yourself” roughly) and after a few seconds I replied loudly “yes, but it’s unlikely anyone will offer a seat, nobody ever does”.
At which point several of the 8 sitting down, looked up at me, spotted the baby of board badge I was wearing and promptly looked away.

I vented my frustration on twitter after one particular guy kept looking at me, then at my badge and then tried to avoid eye contact with me. Instead he stared out the window to his right, and every 30 seconds his eyes would dart left, look at me, and when he realised I was watching him, he’d go back to looking out of the window.
I’d decided that he was already an asshole. So were the other 7, probably more so, because they simply ignored me.
After a while, the guy asked me if I’d like his seat. At this point I was grateful, I was starting to feel lightheaded, my hands were shaking and sweat was running down my face like a god-damn leaky faucet.
So thank you guy, for proving to me that you’re not 100% asshole and that you have a conscience.

To all the other commuters out there, think of it this way, by offering a pregnant woman a seat, she is less likely to faint whilst standing.
Should she faint because no one offered her a seat on a packed and over crowded train, you’d have to pull the emergency lever, the guard would have to get through the train to see what this issue is and assess the problem. Then an ambulance would have to be called to the next station, the train would have to be emptied and you’ll all be delayed or stuck at another station unable to get on other already packed trains.

Think about that the next time you see a pregnant lady with a baby on board badge standing on a full and standing train.

Would you prefer 30 minutes of uncomfort or over an hour, possibly more of being delayed.

Your choice.

Pride, Prejudice & Pregnancy

It’s a truth universally acknowledged, that in the UK, on trains travelling into London, a pregnant women in need of a seat is rarely offered one.

Yeah, you heard right. It’s a rare occurrence now, and not just with pregnant women, but also passengers with crutches, passengers with the leg encased in plaster, and even passengers in Wheelchairs, where others sitting in the dedicated wheelchair section on the train, refuse to give up their seats.

As a pregnant woman I’ve been shoved out of the way by other commuters fighting to get on the train first, of course not that there is any seats spare for them to sit in.  It often reminds me of when a plane lands and as soon as it lands, everyone undoes their seatbelts and starts to stand to grab luggage from overhead compartments and queuing in the aisle to disembark. The majority of the time you’re not going to get any further than anyone else, because you still have to get your baggage off the plane (which won’t be done until the plane has stopped, been parked at the gate and it’s safe for baggage handlers to start unloading) and then once you’ve got your bag, you’ve still got to clear customers and immigration.  It’s a pointless exercise.

Anyway, I digress by talking about airline travel. Where was I? Oh yes, back to pregnant ladies having to stand whilst other passengers don’t offer a seat.

There are two arguments to this.

The first is, being pregnant is not an illness, and some commuters feel and wonder why should they give up the seat they’ve secured and paid for (often rail travel can be expensive, especially in the morning peak times) to someone else, who didn’t get on the train in time to get a seat. Why is it that all of a sudden a pregnant woman cannot stand, as she did before she became pregnant?

Well, to those people who have this view, here is my answer. Firstly, have you ever grown a child inside your body? No? Then you haven’t got the slightest clue on what happens throughout a woman’s body when she is expecting. Yes? The perhaps you should rewind your memories and remember what it was like when you were expecting.  The constant tiredness; the constant nausea; the blood pressure that acts like a Mexican jumping bean, going up and down and up and down. The additional weight you carry in front, which in turn causes your back muscles to ache if you spend too long standing in one position.  The sore feet, which often swell up. The varicose veins that can appear on the backs of your legs.  The spike in blood sugar and the drop in blood sugar as your body tries to regulate itself to not only give you the nutrients you need, but also ensure your placenta is carrying the relevant nutrients to your baby.

Secondly? Compassion and Empathy. What if that pregnant woman was your wife, partner, sister, daughter or grand-daughter? Would you be happy to let them stand on a journey, whilst you sit back reading your metro, drinking your overpriced latte and sneaking the odd glance at them? Somehow I doubt it.

The second argument is this. As a woman, you chose to get pregnant and therefore you shouldn’t expect any special treatment.

My answer to that is, are you freaking kidding me? Re-read my answer to the first argument and stop being a douche.

As a woman, on a packed train, who has had hardly any sleep due to constantly waking to pee and to try and get comfortable because of the pain in my lower back and hips, I can’t bring myself to ask someone who is sitting if I can have their seat. Instead of pulling up my big girl panties and asking, I feel slightly embarrassed and that I’m being rude. In my head I’m raging at those sitting, look up, see me and my baby on board badge and do nothing, but I’ve not got the courage to make a scene. For all I know that person sitting, could have a disability and could need the seat just as much as me. Who am I to judge?

However, what I do want to say is that if you are a commuter, just I don’t have the moral right to judge you; neither do you have the moral right to judge me. You don’t know me and you don’t know my story. To you, I’m just a woman, in a slightly too big navy coat (room to grow you see) wearing a baby on board badge. To me, you’re just another passenger travelling into the city. Just for once, think about what that baby on board badge means. It means a woman who may be tired because she’s not sleeping well, but still has to get up and go to work, to pay the bills.  It could mean a woman who has a high risk pregnancy, but can’t afford to stay at home or take her maternity leave early because she is in a low paid job. It could mean a woman whose blood pressure and blood sugar is yo-yoing and perhaps her feet are swollen and she really needs to sit down.

10 times out of 10, a pregnant woman who is standing on a train, tube or bus, would be extremely thankful and appreciative if you got up and offered her your seat. Raging hormones may mean she cries too, that comes with being pregnant unfortunately.

Remember that she’s not just a pregnant woman, she’s also someone’s wife, someone’s mother, someone’s sister and so on. Have a little compassion and empathy, because one day it could be you standing on a train and needing a seat for whatever reason, and instead of someone offering you one, instead, they’ll do what you did, they’ll look at you and then ignore you, probably all the while thinking you should have got there earlier.

 

 

Holiday!

Picking a holiday is difficult, where to go, what kind of budget, how long to go for, what kind of board, is the hotel rating good, what’s in the local area? So many questions. Our choices are limited, simply because my husband doesn’t like flying, and just as he wouldn’t force me to hold a spider, I wouldn’t force him to spend a few hours on a plane. To make matters even more difficult in choosing a holiday, neither of us drive. Picking a nice holiday that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg is difficult for us.

Next year, the plan is to go on a cruise. No need to fly, no need to drive, no need to worry about baggage allowance and best of all we can go pretty much anywhere in the world on a boat. Except we can’t, because cruises can get pretty expensive.

My ideal holiday would be a world cruise, but at a price tag of £39k per person for a 105 day cruise, visiting 35 ports in 23 countries, it’s unlikely that we will be cruising the world anytime soon.

photo courtesy of P&O Cruises

 

However despite the payout of quite a large sum of money per person to go on a cruise, it’s pretty good value for money. The cruise we’re looking at is between £849 and £950 per person, depending on when we go and what type of accommodation we choose. Yes, a hefty sum of money, which will require a hefty savings plan, but when you consider what’s included, then all in all it’s not really that bad. You can also choose to pay in installments.

 

Included in your cruise (visiting 5 countries) is your accommodation (which based on the photos on the website are pretty nice), then you get all of your food; breakfast, lunch, afternoon tea, snacks and dinner. Then there’s the on-board entertainment, West End/Broadway style theatre shows, Cinema, Comedy shows, Cabaret Shows and Live Music. Not to mention, the Tennis Courts, Swimming Pools, Saunas and Steam Rooms, Gym, Football pitch, Basketball Court and Dance Studio.

Obviously there will be extra costs, for example if you want to spend the day in the spa, then you need to pay extra for your treatments, or if you want to go into the port to see the local area, then you may have to pay out for an excursion to shore, or to visit local sites and eat in restaurants.

I’m excited to do this, even if it is 18 months away.

Who said cruise holidays are just for old people. pah!

Desert Island

You know that saying “If you were about to be stuck on a desert island, what 3 things would you take?”

It’s actually a quite hard question to answer. Would you take practical things like an axe, so you could chop down trees to make a log cabin? Would you take a few clean clothes and some soap? A friend? Books to keep you occupied? Medicine in case you get sick? Toilet paper? Cause let’s face it, wiping your bits with leaves probably isn’t the cleverest thing to do. What if some bug has laid eggs on that leaf?!? Ugh.

I would take a solar/wind turbine powered generator. My iPhone. Toilet paper.

The generator would power my phone in the day because it’s powered by solar power and during windy days/nights by the wind turbine.

My phone would give me access to news websites, social media, music, books, porn etc. I’d never be bored.

Toilet paper so I could wipe my bits without having to worry that some creatures eggs won’t hatch in my “gardens”.

But it’s not as easy as that.
What if my phone broke?
Or the generator broke?
Would I get 3G signal?
How much would my phone provider charge me? Because technically you’d be abroad….
Or I ran out of toilet paper?

Mind you, if I was stuck on a desert island with those three things, then I could use my phone to tweet/call for help. I’d be rescued within days.

It seems my idea of being stuck on a desert island is like several episodes of Gilligans Island.

Unrealistic.

driving around in my automobile

today didn’t start of too well if I’m being honest, however it has seemed to improve somewhat.
it started off with me being up early for work, and thinking that I’d get a later train….which turns out made me late, so I won’t be doing that again.
The train was delayed by a few minutes, and was packed solid, by the time we got to Lewisham I was irritable to say the least.
After 5 minutes of sitting (standing in my case) at Lewisham station, the driver announces that someone has taken ill, and they are waiting for medical assistance to arrive.  we are there for another 10 minutes, before we can set off.
We then make our way towards London Bridge, and just outside London Bridge a girl standing 2 people up from me vomits everywhere.  Poor girl is so embarrassed and apologising, however cannot stop being violently ill all over the place.  I pulled the emergency button (whilst everyone else kept staring at the poor girl and occasionally passing her tissues – which lets face it – a few small pocket tissues are not going to help clean up the masses of puke now making it’s way across the train floor)  and the driver calls for medical assistance at London Bridge, where we stop for another amount of time.
I eventually got to work late, to an inbox full of emails.
which brings me to my next subject.  reading emails, writing emails.  seriously it is not hard.  when you read something, make sure you understand it before asking questions that need not be asked. 🙂  and when you send an email make sure you send it to the right person. 🙂
2008 is looking to be a good year.
I shall be clearing off 1 loan, and then moving on to the 2nd, so within 2 years I should (technically) be debt free!  woo!
then I can start saving up to buy a house and be all grown up like.  i guess…..
I have a job I love, a team who are great, a wonderful boyfriend who I love dearly, family, good friends, despite the fact that I’ve been a bit of a bitch to most of them recently.
 all in all it’s not too bad.
now I just need to continue drinking lots of water (which I never do – although I did drink 8 full glasses yesterday!) and hopefully losing a couple of stone.
lets go 2008 – make me proud!

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