Becca Jane St Clair

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Lost in Lincolnshire! (okay, not really)

[The pink line indicates the route of the number 3 bus]

I had a fun adventure today.

Tim dropped me off in town at the top of the hill on his way to work so I could get photos of Sophie Wells‘ Gold Post Box (post later AND my paralympic post later) and then walk down the hill to run some errands.

I missed catching the 1650 bus back home by about 2 minutes. I didn’t want the 1720 because it takes too long, but between the 1720 and the 1750 there is a Number 3 that goes from Lincoln to Grimsby via Market Rasen that happens to pass through Dunholme (though it does it backwards so it goes Welton – Dunholme, instead of Dunholme – Welton like the 11/12). I got on, paid my fare, and got out my Kindle to read. My landmark for pressing the stop button when I go from Welton to Dunholme is the green fence around the primary school and/or the 20mph school zone section as it’s hard to miss even if you’re not paying attention between the jagged no parking lines across the road and the high fence. I glanced up partway through the journey, and we were in Nettleham (another nearby village). The 3 goes through Nettleham and out the back way via the police station, so I knew I still had plenty of time. The next time I looked up (might have been 10-15 minutes later), all I could see was shrubs and trees lining either side of the road. I assumed we were either on the A46 between Nettleham and Welton or on the road back to Welton, so I kept glancing out for familiar landmarks like the garage turn off on the A46, William Farr Secondary School, The Welton Co-op, Welton Village Hall, the mini roundabout, and of course, St Chad’s primary school and the green fence.

Never saw ANY of those places. I don’t even recall going through the mini roundabout in Dunholme by the pub (which is past my stop, but there’s still another stop before it turns back on to the A46). I suddenly saw the turn off for Toft-next-Newton, Newton-by-Toft and Newtoft (No, I’m not making that up!). I got confused, but thought maybe there was some odd backroads way into Welton I was unfamiliar with since I don’t usually use the Number 3 and in fact had only ridden it one other time out of Lincoln and that was after I had had an eye exam so I had to ask the driver to tell me when we were in Dunholme since I couldn’t see.

Anyway, he next village we went through was Faldingworth. I’m not too good with local village geography, but I knew Faldingworth was nearish to Welton, so again, I thought perhaps this was some back-roads way of getting into Welton and then Dunholme. I did send a text to Tim that said “Where am I? Am I lost? Passing through Faldingsworth!!”, but I wasn’t panicked. Yet.

The bus turned off into Middle Rasen….and then I panicked. Well, ok, not really. But I did start to think something had gone wrong, so I texted Tim again to let him know that I had somehow totally missed Dunholme and was on my way to Market Rasen where I hoped there would be a bus in the opposite direction for me to take back, or I’d have to take a taxi (it’s 9 miles). I also at this point really hoped I had enough money in my purse to handle the resulting bus fare from having the wrong ticket!

When the bus got to Market Rasen, I made sure I was the last person off and I talked to the driver. The conversation went something like this:

Me: I don’t know what happened, but I managed to completely miss the bus going through Dunholme. Is there a bus going back or do I need to find a taxi?
Driver: There will be one shortly going back, but it’s the last bus of the day. The stop is across the street [points].
Me: Thank you. And I owe you the difference from Dunholme to Market Rasen.
Driver: Don’t worry about it. OH, there’s the bus, you better hurry.

I thanked him again and ran across the street with my shopping trolley heaving with heavy bottles of water and managed to flag down the bus at the last minute.

Me: Single to Dunholme please. I managed to miss my stop.
Driver: Don’t worry about it.
Me: Thank you.

And this time, I PAID ATTENTION (and also had a text from Tim telling me what time the bus was expected in Dunholme and to set an alarm in case I got lost in a book again).


So, the moral of the story is: Always pay attention to where you are going when riding an unfamiliar bus route. Although I do wonder if the bus driver hadn’t somehow neglected to drive through the two villages as well, but I somehow doubt that he’d have been able to get away with doing that, so I really must have been off in la-la book land!

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Rail Strike

Rail Union Announces Strike Dates

Since I’ve gotten a half a dozen emails or IMs asking if this affects us – Yes, it does as Tim is a member of the RMT union. The strike will be April 6, 7, 8, and 9. Instead of doing 4 straight days of strikes, they have opted to do walk-outs in 2 4-hour stints each day. 6am-10am and… 6pm-10pm…basically, the busiest times of day (commuter time). The strike is a NATION-WIDE strike over policy changes. The way Tim explained it to me and his aunt is this – the company wanted to cut some corners and said “hey, we can let people go and still make all our safety inspections. We’ll just change them around so fortnight inspections become monthly, monthly becomes quarterly, and quarterly becomes annually”. The union doesn’t like that. There also were some issues in other regions where people got dropped a grade because their position changed and proper procedure wasn’t followed (if your position gets dropped, you’re supposed to keep your pay!)

There is still a possibility of the strike being called off, but if you are a commuter, I’d try to arrange for alternate plans on those days just in case!

Don’t worry about us. We’re still okay financially. The strike days actually only affect one days worth of wages for Tim, as the 8th and 9th are scheduled days off for him.

I’ve posted this to FB and LJ as well.


The Trials of Public Transit

As I mentioned previously, Tim and I relied solely on public transportation during our week in Washington, DC (save for the day my friend Maggie picked us up at the Metro station). We relied heavily on walking and the DC Metro with the occasional taxi ride or bus ride.

Public transportation in the DC suburbs is strange. While the Metro runs several times an hour from 5 in the morning until midnight every day, the Fairfax Connector and the Metro busses do not. The Fairfax Connector busses that ran past our hotel to the Vienna Metro station only ran for about 3 hours during the AM commute, and 3 hours in the PM commute. Trips cost $1.35 one-way, and while they accept SmarTrip, they do not accept the weekly Metro pass. They also do not give change, so you must have exact change or be willing to lose money.

We were only able to use the bus system in the mornings on two of the days, because we did not learn about the busses until several days into our trip. The hotel had told us that the bus system wasn’t reliable and only ran before 8 in the morning. This was not true, as the busses ran until around 9:30. There also were Metro busses that could have helped us as well….if we didn’t mind a 45 minute bus ride. After my experience in York (UK) with getting sick from riding a bus, I really try to spend as little time on a bus as possible. 45 minutes was just a little too long for me.

Thursday morning we made sure we got out of the hotel early enough to catch the very last Connector bus for the day. It was super easy, we just had to walk across the street to stand in front of the 7-11 and the bus was there right on time. 15 minutes later, and we were at the Metro. Much faster than walking!

We were really glad we had decided to time our trip back to catch the bus, because it started pouring down as we reached the Vienna Metro station. But we ran into a problem. We were running to catch the bus in the pouring rain and right as we got to the bus, the driver closed the door and switched off his sign! Tim and I assumed that it was because that bus wasn’t the bus we were supposed to take, so we ran up the entire length of the bus area. We got to the front and didn’t see another bus, but we did see the bus driver who wouldn’t let us on his bus pull away, now with his signs turned on! Unbelievable. Since it was pouring down rain, we opted for the $7 cab ride instead of waiting an hour for the next bus.

Another trip not covered by our weekly Metro passes was the Georgetown Connector. For $1 each way, it connected the Rosslyn Metro station with downtown Georgetown. Not a bad price, to be honest. The connector uses a mini bus, and there also was a larger bus that connected from Union Station, though I’m not sure how much that cost.

We purchased special weekly passes for the Metro for $25. It was valid for 7 continuous days of travel, provided you didn’t travel between the AM or PM peak/rush. This worked out well for us since the museums didn’t open until 10am anyway,and they had extended summer hours until 7. If you can manage to work your transportation around the schedule and avoid the “no travel” times (it’s not really no travel, you just can only take trips that cost $1.35 during the AM and PM rush), it’s a much better option over purchasing either a regular weekly pass at $46 or a re-loadable SmarTrip card. Even with only using it for 5 days out of the 7, we still managed to get our money’s worth out of it.