I woke up yesterday to the sound of Oscar the Colombian shifting around the house. I’d slept on a couch that was no longer the 3feet long. It was just long enough for my torso, so I slept with my legs over the arm and my head crooked up against the other. I looked at my watch, it was 945. I needed to be on the bus at 1100. I hurredly started packing my gear. Luckily the night before I just slept in my clothes so I didn’t have to waste time getting dressed. I’d also been too lazy to get out my sleeping bag and just slept under my coat, again a time saver at a crucial moment.
My head kinda felt weird. And it wasn’t a hang over either. I reached up to touch my scalp. It wasn’t normal. Turns out I was wearing a Santa hat. It was a good night.
After booking my ticket and fiddling around trying to find my computer case I stuffed all my belongings into my different bags. Saddled up and went to leave. But first I had to say seeya to Michael.
I knocked on his door. I knew his girlfriend was in there yet the response I got was indistinguishable. Luckily I suspected the worst and left Michael to come to the door. I said my good bye’s to him and he walked me to the door. I set off into town.
I then realized that I didn’t know where the bus station was. Well I kinda knew, but I didn’t have the time or the mental capacity to work it all out. As I was thinking this a cab pulled up for some reason just beside me. I took this as a message from god and climbed in.
The taxi ride was pretty funny. There’d been a ‘santa run’ on that morning. a 10 km fundraiser where everyone was dressed up as santa claus. So there was santa’s everywhere. I figured I’d get into the spirit and got out my santa hat and put it on over my cap.
He dropped me at a starbucks right near the station where I was meeting Vanessa and Jillian to say bye. The coffee tasted good and I definitely needed it. When they arrived I was plugging my computer into a wall socket. In the rest of continental Europe they don’t have switches on the power points. So I’d got out of the habit of switching them thus my computer had spent the whole night plugged in but not charging.
Ironically I was explaining this to the girls as I plugged it in. 20 minutes later when we were leaving I realized that I’d again neglected to switch the power on after plugging my computer in. this was a pain in the ass. I was super far behind on my diary and really wanted to utilize the 3 or 4 hours I had in the bus.
We walked over to the bus station. And I just made it. I threw my bags on said bye to the girls and climbed aboard. The bus was pretty packed actually. So I had to share a seat after walking down the 5.5 foot high isle. Being a double Decker meant I pretty much had to squat as I walked down the aisle.
The bus ride was really beautiful. Apart from the fat lady infront of me forcing her seat back against my legs, which were obviously blocking its pathway the first 2 hours were really good.
It looked so cold out and we drove through one of the fiercest (man I’ve had a brain fart. You know when water freezes on the ground and on the leaves of everything, yeah one of those) and everything looked like it was covered in a thin layer of snow.
As a result I spent much of the first 2 hours staring out the window, half typing while my computer battery slowly emptied.
The first stop was Preston. I realized that I hadn’t eaten yet, it was about 1330. No wonder I was starving so I jumped off the bus and ran to the cafeteria. Here I realized how stuffed I would have been had the bus left. I’d left my bag on my seat and it was freezing, I’d also left my jumper there. All I had was my wallet my phone and my passport. The result being a big sigh of relief when I got back on the bus.
The second half, well second part, was much shorter and I got into Manchester at 315. The plan being to catch a bus to Sheffield. Unfortunately there were no buses though so I had to walk upto the train station. Given a set of horrible directions I set off.
It’s funny how comfortable I was not really knowing where I was going to be in 10 minutes and having no clue about train times etc. Down in the Balkans I would have been freaking out a little. But here it’s so easy, you can just ask people and taking the bet that there’ll be a train sometime soon is a really safe bet. Unlike down through the Balkans and Eastern Europe.
As shown by the safe bet I was able to easily get a train from Manchester-Picadilly station. Although it was 15 quid, the same price for a 30 minute train ride as for a 4 hour bus ride. The train prices over here are ridiculous.
I grabbed my ticket and sat down near where I’d found a power socket. It made a funny sound when I plugged it in, but it still seemed to be charging so I wasn’t too worried.
However one of the local employees was worried and came over and unplugged my computer. This guy had the thickest English accent I’d ever heard. I could hardly understand him and had to ask him to repeat him self multiple times. Apparently I wasn’t allowed to use the plug and I had to ask permission from the information guy. He was an k*** so I just went with it, argueing with him for a bit, metaphorically tripping him up on technicalities a couple of times before he resorted to saying that ‘usually there is a “faulty, do not use” sign over the plug. I was pretty sure he was just grasping at strings but that also could have explained the strange sound that came from the wall or my comp when I plugged it in.
I decided that it didn’t matter anyway. My train was set to leave in 10 anyway and hopefully there would be power points on the train as there was in Austria.
The train ride was different, directly opposite me sat a quite strange person. She was fully functional, but not quite all there I think. And quite often I’d look up and she’d be staring at me or picking her nose, or both. It was kinda freaky.
When I first got on the train I was pretty happy to see that there was power points. I grabbed my computer out and plugged it in. Nothing happened. Not even the blue light on the transformer lit up. I tried another couple of plugs in the carriage and still had no luck. I figured that the power points just wouldn’t work on this carriage and cut my losses.
It was only a 40 minute ride anyway. I was still wearing the exact same clothes I’d worn so I wanted to change my shirt at least. However the girl sitting across from me was still staring kinda weirdly so instead of changing my shirt I settled with some deodorant and brushed my teeth.
The train pulled up into Sheffield station on time at 1709 and I got out expecting Zoe, on of the girls from my first bus trip, to be waiting somewhere nearby. I walked around for a while and couldn’t see her. So I parked myself near the ticket booth and got out my phone to text her. As I did this she called me. I told her I was at the ticket booth and she went there. I still couldn’t see her. “Are you sure you’re at the right station?” she asked. I was sure I was at Sheffield and at one point mentioned “Something, something, train station”. She was at the bus station. I’d said I was catching the bus to Manchester but hadn’t been very specific about the fact that I was catching the train from there to Sheffield.
The amount of fun I’ve been having since I left is incredible. I just went through my diary summary. I’ve been out 72 times since I left Australia. That is redonkulous
I eventually woke up at 1000 and decided i should get out of bed. I sat up at the computer trying not to wake Zoe. Luckily I did wake her however as guessing the pin to her computer would have been impossible. I sat on the computer for 2 and a half hours untill 1230 when Zoe decided to get up and to go and make some tea.
We sat there drinking that and eventually got our stuff together and headed out the door at about 1300. I had a heap of Erins to run. The first of which was sorting out my camera cable. This was the second time i'd lost it during my travels. i think this time i'd lost it when i was backing up my photo's on the bus between Dublin and Belfast. the bad thing about losing this cable too is that it also charges my camera and yesterday morning my camera was dead. To be honest i was actually hoping that it was flat, usually when it's low on battery when you turn it on the shutter opens and then closes straight away. but yesterday morning when i woke up this wasn't the case.
The second erin was sorting out my computer cable. i thought i'd fried it on that dodgy plug in Manchester but i found a place that was selling multi purpose plugs but before buying it i plugged it in to check one last time and it worked.... for about 5 seconds and then stopped. so somewhere the line is b*****ed internally. The multi purpose charger however is 54 quid!! so i decided to check out ebay later on.
We'd dropped my camera at a store so to kill some time we sat in a starbucks and grabbed a couple of coffees. here was really good we just sat around, i read the guardian (a pretty good paper i'll admit) and zoe half did a cross word and half spoke to the people around her. they were so funny. all of them had thick yorkshire accents. So funny, even Zoe, who's been living here almost a year could hardly understand them most of the time.
We walked back to grab my camera battery but the guy hadn't turned the plug on or it hadn't seated properly so the battery was still flat. We planned to leave the battery there and i'd run back and grab it for the night. the walk home was pretty brutal though so that plan soon went out the window and we just decided to take Zoe's out.
Back at Zoe's we just chilled out untill we had to leave at 630. we walked into town via the place where we were going that night so i knew how to get there. Zoe had to go to a netball christmas dinner so she'd teed up a dinner date for me with a couple of her friends and i was going to meet her later.
We sat at a bar to wait for the friends and ordered a couple of double Gin and tonics.... it was going to be a big night. Both her friends arrived not long after and zoe left. The two girls Zoe had set me up with (bless her) for the night were also both Aussies also from Woollongong. Emily and Lyndyll. We went to an Indian place just near that did 2 for one meals on Monday.
We almost ordered 3 meals. This was dumb as 4 was going to cost the same amount. At first the dinner was kinda stagnant and awkward feeling a little like a first date. but eventually the conversation loosened up and after we got some food into us it was really fun.
From dinner we went to go find a bar for a couple of beers. it was raining so we found the first bar we could. This turned out to be just over the road. In here was really cool. The music was fantastic and i was starting to get in the mood. I'd almost managed to convince Emily to come out with us too.
We left the house at about 1100 and set off to town for breakfast. We found one place that did an English breaky for 4 quid so we sat down there. Feeling pretty sorry for ourselves we both read the various advertising material we’d found. On the tram in I found the local version of MX and got stuck into the tacky story of a 6 year old being refused entry to a school disco because he was absent from school grieving over the loss of his father. I’m sure that’s the entirety of the story too.
Breaky came out really fast and was fantastic. Better then the Scottish breaky and much cheaper. Although it didn’t have Haggis like the Scottish one. We ate, conversation was minimal but conversation picked up as we enjoyed the moderate enjoyment the momentary enjoyment of our stomachs filling up.
After breaky we went and grabbed my camera and I was able to take a few snaps of Sheffield on our way to Zoe’s uni. She had to meet a group that she was working on an assignment with so we headed into an equally overheated computer room the same as the ones back home.
We were here for an hour while Zoe worked on a presentation with the others and I typed in my diary on an unsent email where I’ve been backing it up on my hotmail account.
We got back home and Zoe chucked on a couple of episodes of a show she’s been watching called Californication. It was crap, she slept and I was happy to just mindlessly watch the show which required being mindless. Win win.