Today has been…unproductive. And yet I’ve travelled 220 miles across country (and then some). I set out about 12 hours ago. Since then I’ve been in a van, a train, a coach, a tube and I’ve also walked. I’ve eaten very little and drank even less. These things happen. I have also come across many unusual people, heard a few random stories and learnt a thing or two along the way (about them, not necessarily about anything important).
It all started, really, when I was sat at the bus/coach station in Manchester (Shudehill, not Chorlton Street). I arrived to find a man asleep (from a distance without my glasses he looked like a bag which has been slumped over a seat) and an overweight couple.
The lady had bright hair – I’m talking blue, purple, maybe even a touch of pink. Within seconds of my arrival she was on her phone informing someone that she’d missed her coach. The taxi driver’s fault, apparently. He didn’t know where he was going, which she thought was rather ridiculous. They should have got the Metrolink (tram). They had to wait until 3.15 for their coach, they couldn’t go anywhere.
I wonder if the woman realised that there was a shopping centre a stones throw away, with cafes and open shops?
She sent her husband on a trek (we’re talking a hundred yards or so) to get a sausage butty. He came back and asked her if she wanted one or two, I sat there thinking ‘one, get one, you don’t need two’, thankfully she saw sense and went for the one. She wasn’t impressed with the coffee and tea on offer. Who knows what she chose to do about a drink.
They didn’t leave the bus/coach station the whole time that I was there. Their original coach departed at 8 am. I arrived in time for a coach that was due to depart at 10.30.
It didn’t. It arrived at 10.35, brilliant. I stood up at 10.20 (just in case, wanted to be at the front of the queue for boarding) and I wanted for half an hour before we even got through the doors. First the driver wanted a cigarette (really? you’re late and you keep us waiting because you’d rather talk to your mate for five minutes BEFORE smoking your cigarette? Thanks for that) and then someone had been sick (the other man turned up with a single mop, one mop, no bucket, no extra water. I’m not sure what he did with the sick or how he cleaned it up, but thankfully I avoided the back end of the bus so I never got to find out) and finally we were on our way. Unfortunately, someone got through my ‘don’t let anyone sit next to you ploy’ and I was forced to share the two seats with him.
He slept, thankfully. He was the perfect seatmate. Except that he was there at all. There’s just less room and it makes it harder to get things out of your bag and eat your lunch.
Which I saved until after I arrived.
Over an hour late. (We were due to arrive at 15.00, we arrived at about 16.05 and then I had to get across to my hostel.)
I ate my pineapple though, mostly because I had a litte sleep myself and when I woke up my mouth was so dry. I decided to eat pineapple instead of open my water and risk it spilling in my bag. (That would have been a disaster – books plus water equals disaster.)
I queued up to put money on my Oyster card. I queued up for at least ten minutes. Only one of the two machines that accepted notes was working. People were being let ahead who were paying by card or coins. I didn’t mind that, it made sense. When I finally got to the machine I realised I had £3.70 on my card anyway, which was enough to get me to my hostel. Oh well. I’m now topped up which will make tomorrow’s journey easier.
There was a woman in my room, the hostel is dorm rooms with bunk beds, so she was supposed to be there. She looked a lot older than some people who stay in hostels, which is a good thing. I’m hoping that means she won’t be staying out all night. I’m not sure about the other people in my room.
I ate my chicken which I’d saved from lunch. It wasn’t cold, which was good. But it was a bit like eating in a goldfish bowl. I felt like that anyway. The room was quite empty and the lovely lady at reception smiled at me, so I felt more self conscious about eating my food bought from somewhere else in a place that does sell food.
I went for a walk after that. I didn’t go far – Nandos. I wanted gelado. I didn’t even know there was such a thing as gelado (I’ve heard of gelato) but it was nice. Pretty much what I imagine gelato to taste like. So, ice cream, kind of. It wasn’t worth the £2.95 price tag. I paid, I ate, I left.
I went book shopping.
Well, I wandered along Oxford Street for a while. There’s something really weird about Oxford Street. It’s always busy, all of the time, and some people are a little bit crazy when it comes to crossing roads. Buses pip their horn at other people on the road. A road they’re entitled to be on.
I finally found Waterstones. I was going to go to a different book shop but that one was a lot further away and I didn’t fancy getting the tube (I’m £2.10 better off!). I’m glad I went to the Waterstones I ended up in. I’ve been to a couple in the area before, they were okay. This one was good, it was great even.
As soon as I found the writing books section (beeline for the writing books, no matter what, even though usually I don’t buy any) one of the employees asked if I needed any help, or something like that. Naturally I was just browsing, but it was nice to be asked. Looking back now, maybe she was overkeen. But that’s okay.
Whilst I was perusing that section, a young man and another employee came over. He was looking for a theory test book to study for his test…which is tomorrow. She handed him a big, thick, official manual. He looked a little bit put out, then asked if they had a shorter version. Of course they don’t. This is a theory test, the Highway Code, rules of the road. You can’t create a York or Cliff’s Notes version. They had a laugh about him reading it as he walked down the street. Too right if he wants to pass. I’m not sure he will.
Someone else was looking for a book on Health and Social Care, a very specific book she needs for her course. The first employee I came across was helping her, they couldn’t find it, though it was on their system as being there. I just so happened to be looking at books on Sociology and noticed a few up top about Health and Social Care, so naturally I informed them of the fact. The employee was ever so nice, they both thanked me in fact when they found the book they were looking for. The employee told us it was her first day, I felt like telling her she was doing an amazing job. But I didn’t see her again after that.
I finally settled on a couple of books in the Buy One Get One Half Price deal, and I left. It was dark. Not pitch black dark, city dark, which is actually quite enjoyable. The temperature outside was actually not bad, it felt like I was back in the summer again, only it was darker earlier.
On my way back to the hostel I noticed a Big Issue seller sat on the floor, I’ve supported the Big Issue in the past. I spent money on it every month for at least a year when I was a teenager. He wasn’t like the Big Issue sellers in my town. They all stand up, and they’re pleasant and don’t ask if you want a Big Issue. I prefer when they don’t ask. This man not only asked, but when nobody responded or bought one he said “somebody say yes” in a really snippy tone. I don’t care what sort of life he might have had, you don’t talk to potential customers that way.
I wandered around Debenhams after that, then walked home. Well, to my hostel. It’s been a good day. I showered and now I feel rejuvenated. I’m ready for tomorrow, an early start, breakfast on the go and hopefully a really interesting day to blog about.