Tag Archives: transportation

And I’m AWAY!

Up up and away!

Up up and away!

 

In just about 20 hours I will be landing on English soil.  That is, after two buses, the train and then the flight of course, but that’s besides the point. With most things packed I’m nearly ready to go. I’m all set to have my circadian rhythm thrown off like the panties of a lady of the night, and to have sleep be a thing for those who have nothing better to do.

I will update when I can, most certainly when I get back.

Wish me luck! 😀

-Miss Hailey Jane


Typhoid Hailey

OR : That Awkward Moment When You Visit England and Bring Canada With You.

On my first visit, following my Ron Howard experience, it quickly became evident that I was not blending in with the natural fauna as seamlessly as I had hoped. Being a native of Canada (not to be confused with a Native Canadian) I innocently and unknowingly carried with me micro-organisms that  were not at all familiar with the locals either.

Having the immune system of a gutter rat, I had no inclination at the time that I even had a cold, or was in the process of getting over one.  My health throughout the entire endeavour was peachy, if not ideal. Over two decades of Canadian winters plus their accompanying flu seasons, had prepared me for just about any pathogen life could throw at me. Would that the poor people of Britain had been so lucky.

And thus my hitchhiking  super bugs were having a field day.

Over the course of two weeks I managed to infect several individuals with my special foreign brand of plague, that hit them harder than they ever could have expected. These included my friend and host, her roommate, the man with the lovely shoes, my other mate who I was visiting as well as several other acquaintances along the way. I’ll never know, but I’m sure not even Ron Howard could escape the oncoming storm that was Typhoid Hailey.

To make matters worse, I also carried with me the forces of Storm, and rained (or rather snowed) bloody chaos on the whole of Southern England overnight.

Being the end of November at the time, this madness wasn’t entirely expected and the country’s snow removal service was dire to be as generous with the word as humanly possible.  Many operations were shut down, including schools, trains, buses, libraries (why exactly the library was closed due to weather conditions I’ll never know) all because of no more than three or four inches of fluffy white loveliness.

Cars without snow tires (which is all of them) spun their tires on the roads, slipping and sliding up and down the hills of small towns. Roads weren’t cleared, and people were frequently inclined to get out and push their tiny, snow-tire-less vehicle out of the way. Shop owners who were ‘brave’ enough to face the weather and open their shops were pushing the snow off the front steps with an inverted broom. Eventually the city began to sprinkle a muddy reddish-brown combination of sand and salt in random areas so people wouldn’t slip, but it really just looked like a very large incontinent dog had a run-in with a truck full of baked beans and subsequently ran all over town in search of a loo. I couldn’t help but laugh at the entire situation.

If I get around to visiting again this winter, this time I’ll remember to pack a few extra shovels, snow tires and a whole bunch of Advil Cold and Sinus. See, I care. xx

Thanks again to everyone who keeps up with me and my (now slightly dated) adventures! You’re all really awesome people!

-Miss Hailey Jane


My First London

After experiencing the tilt-a-whorl of emotions that was A Considerably More Pleasant Moment in Time, smelling the smells and feeling the feels, and then drinking one of the most necessary coffee’s of my life, I and my companion hopped on a train from Gatwick and headed straight for the heart of London. Being my first time, naturally I sucked up every little new feeling I could, including being wobbled around on a train and track that may or may not have been built before there were strict safety guidelines. It was overcast when we arrived, and as I stepped out of the train station onto the London streets I was engrossed with how different every little thing was, yet fundamentally the same.

The people all had the same basic destinations, the office, work, calling on family or friends, buying groceries and other necessities. It was just they all did it in a rather different way, in much smaller cars, on much bigger buses and on windy-er more complicated streets.  The buildings were significantly shorter but were squished together and arranged with more talent, and everything seemed so much older. There were shiny buildings, but they were not the dominant feature of this iconic city. I was thankful for this.  We walked along the South bank of the Thames, past London Bridge, the new one, and then on towards Tower Bridge, the massive and beautifully designed crossing that defines the beginning of east London. The first thing I thought as I looked at it, was ‘Who the hell decided to paint it that awful blue?’.  Cool bridge, terrible colour, it’s a shame really. And just so you know, I totally felt like Bridget Jones as I  crossed it.

Tower Bridge in London

About crossing it…I had been carrying my luggage along behind me thus far, heading toward Fenchurch Station to continue the rest of our journey to Southend on Sea, and it was at this point when I encountered the most terrifying set of stairs I had ever seen in my life, that led up towards the bridge. OK, maybe they’re not THAT bad, but let’s keep in mind I am thoroughly exhausted. After an 8 hour night flight without sleep, five hour time difference, customs, endless queues, a train ride and then walking across London lugging approximately 20 kilos plus a carry-on full of books, plus a purse, I wasn’t sure I was going to make it. After slight motivation, I came around, and thought ‘I’m in London, dammit, I should be able to fly up these stairs!’. Well I didn’t quite fly, but after lots of very unfeminine grunts lots of laughter and a lot of “Sorry, pardon me”s I made it to the top, and crossed the Thames for the first time.

On the other side there was another terrifying set of stairs, very much exactly similar to the set I had just conquered. Of course there was, why wouldn’t there be. All of my pride and self praise for making it up the other stairs vanished instantly.  I eventually conjured some extra gumption after huffing and puffing a bit, and made the decent, only slipping and nearly falling to my death once….maybe twice. I swore to myself to pack lighter next time, but we all know that was a big lie.

We stopped for a well deserved break in front of the Tower of London. We had a quick drink and cigarette and talked a bit more in depth about what the two of us had been up to over the past four years. It felt like we hadn’t been apart that long, but the amount of things we needed to tell each other was a good indication that there was a lot of time between us. It would take nearly the entire two weeks to relay all the necessary information. It would have taken less if several existential life altering crisis’ hadn’t occurred in the meantime. But more on those later.

The November air was crisp and cool, and we loaded up again and trudged along in front of the Tower, snapped a few photos and then wandered around to the train station. On the train, after very embarrassingly fumbling with my change for fare, because I had never seen any of it before, there were more “I can’t believe you’re really here”s and “I can’t believe I’m really here either”s. Even though I was completely exhausted I was perfectly happy, and knew I was going to really like it here.

The Tower

As we arrived at Chalkwell station, the cabby was just about the most upfront and personal stranger I’d ever met in my life. I was a little nervous about how nice he was being, and when I say nice, I don’t mean polite and courteous like the average Canadian, I mean complimentary and in your face about it. The first thing he did was grab my bags and say “A beautiful girl like you shouldn’t have to carry your own bags” loaded them, and then when we got in (as I quickly got over the steering wheel being on the wrong side) he asked where we “lovely ladies” would like to go. When he found out I was visiting from Canada, he was full of praise for us Canadians, and continued being just as friendly all the way to the house. He unloaded my bags for me and walked them to the door. I could really get used to this!  My friend told me that was perfectly normal behaviour and that I really should get used to it, and also learn to take a bloody compliment without turning beet red.

Once inside I explored the tiny kitchen, funny light switches (that to this day make me happy), the funny faced outlets and the strange toilets. Everything was completely recognizable, just a little different. It was like I was in some strange parallel Universe, but I liked it. I then half unpacked my suitcase and had the most fantastic shower pretty much ever. It was absolutely glorious to be able to wash the ‘airplane’ and ‘streets of London’ grime off of me, I swear that stuff is like a film on your skin. After I was done and had dressed in a clean set of clothes, we sat down and had a delicious cup of coffee, and for the first time in about 24 hours, I relaxed, and it felt like home.

-Miss Hailey Jane


A Considerably More Pleasant, Moment in Time

It was not my first time across the Atlantic, but it was my first important trip out into the world all on my own. I had been through University, supposedly gained a new understanding of life the universe and all that, but as it turns out I really felt just as vulnerable and alone as I had stepping out the doors of my High School the last time. I tried the “working for a living” thing, and nothing stuck for longer than a few months, so with the small wad of cash I had collected, I made the most brilliant and irrational decision I could think of.

I was in the shower one day, where all the best decisions happen, and it came to me alongside an overwhelming feeling of satisfaction. It felt like this was the right thing to do, and the only possible thing I could do at the particular juncture in my life. I would buy a ticket to England with the money I had made digging holes over the past few months, and I would visit my friends whom I hadn’t seen for over four years. I was free to do as I chose, and freedom was what I wanted. So away I went!

When my Mother left me all alone in the airport (or plane station as I have come to call it) in Toronto after check-in to fend for myself it finally hit me. I was going to cross the ocean all by myself and the feeling was exhilarating. The last time I crossed the sea I was escorted by several teachers as well as 12 of my fellow classmates, which changes the feeling of it altogether. This was a whole different world, and I couldn’t wait for it. As my Mother retreated towards the door and headed back to her life, I thought about how the next person I would see that I knew or could recognize would be my best friend who I hadn’t seen for four years. Then, obviously, I panicked worried what I would do if she wasn’t there at the terminal on the other end to pick me up. I quickly got over this rather unpleasant thought and moved on.

I wandered around the main area of the airport for a while, having a look at some of the shops that sold overpriced Canadian garb like maple syrup and soapstone carvings, and then headed through security into the heart of the terminal. Passport clenched tightly to me, I was mentally going over anything that was in my bags hoping I hadn’t forgot any offensive materials, like hand cream or nail clippers. Heaven forbid I upset an airport security guard…

I made it through with ease and was free to explore the inner bustling confines of  this strange place. People were absolutely everywhere, like ants in a freshly smooshed ant hill. I stop and look at as many of them as I could, and wonder intently where they’re all going and if it was anywhere near as exciting as my current adventure. Like that man hidden underneath his backpack, is he off to India? South America? To live in the jungles for a few months? I hope he doesn’t get malaria…Oh, or one of the many families from what appears to be the Middle East, are they going back home for fun or moving somewhere else because Canada just didn’t cut it for them? There is also that old woman over there that keeps glancing at me. She and her husband are apparently moving back home to England on the same flight as me, which I learn after a brief chat.  His accent makes me happy. They miss it terribly, which makes me even more excited.

I then wonder where it is I should be going. I glance up at the monitor and see that they haven’t assigned a gate to my flight yet, so I make myself comfortable with a hot cup of caffeine and get used to my new and overstimulating surroundings. With nearly two hours to kill I start to get terribly antsy. Thinking what it could possibly be like over there, in England. A whole country full of people living their lives in a completely different way than I do. Coming from a small country town out in the boons, this will be the most novelty I would have had to deal with all at once. I hope I can handle it.

It’s time to head to my gate, number 39. Ughhh why is it so far away, I feel like I’m speed walking a gauntlet. I eventually reach it with the help of super-fast floors, and settle in to wait for my plane to be ready. After far too long they announce boarding and away I go, heart in mouth, ticket and passport in hand, feet on plane, butt in window seat.

As the plane takes off I’m smiling so big I’m nearly giggling, and with no one around to giggle at I’m sure the others on the plane thought I was a bit off.  The clouds fall below me and the sky opens up to a highway with absolutely no traffic. Nothing is stopping me now! Wahoo!

The tiny food on the flight makes me smile even more, and the courteous attendants are well received. Especially when they bring me a tiny ice cream cone that looks to be the right size for a cat. It’s precious!  Not to mention delicious. After lots of hours, lots of bad music I will not admit to, and the novelty nearly wearing off, we begin to descend on London. My sleepy eyes become fully alert, I am sitting straight up, sucking on that mint like it’s the last mint on earth. As I see the patchwork land below me, I feel a strange feeling of relief wash over me, like I am back where I am supposed to be, yet have never been here before.

The tiny wheels touch down and we skid to a halt. No one claps…this is good. I hate it when people clap on planes…way to not have confidence in your pilot…

Anyway…I sit and wait until most people have de-planed and take my time collecting all of my things and then mentally prepare myself for setting foot on a new continent once again. The first thing I notice is how it smells different. Not different enough to really notice, but it’s a new and exciting smell and it seems to be everywhere. After a bit of analysis, I decide it’s a warm, old and comforting smell that I assume comes from a place that has been populated for many centuries longer than…say…my ‘native land’.

I wander along another long hallway of windows and find myself in another long line at customs. The nerves come back, and I fear that if they don’t like the look of me they have the power to turn me right around and send me packing on another flight in the direction of home again, just after I’ve come all this way to get here. Turns out it was not that difficult and before I knew it was free to collect my luggage and meet my friend on…the other side…dum dum dum..

I was worried I wouldn’t recognize her after not seeing her for so long, but again I overanalysed it and in reality had noticed her instantly as I walked through the doors and gave her the biggest hug I could muster. I was finally here, in England, free to lark about as I thought fit, for two whole weeks. It was right then, from that moment of arrival and onwards, that my life would begin and I would have meaning and purpose back again. It was sensational.

-Miss Hailey Jane


The Man in the Silver Challenger

It started a few months back when the weather began to improve and the mud and grit of winter disappeared from the streets. Since moving to the big city a year ago, this was her first real spring in the heart of the bustling metropolis. She watched from her balcony as the snow and ice melted, and the people began to come out of wherever they chose to hide throughout the winter months. She watched as ladies in short shorts on rollerblades skated along the riverside, and she wondered if they had a real destination or of they were just skating for the purpose of skating, which in her mind seemed irritatingly circular and irrelevant. And then she figured it was an attention seeking gesture, she hated gratuitous attention seeking gestures, it had to be, no one bothers buying shorts that short without wanting to be stared at.  But judging by the general male reaction to the undulating flesh, there is shallow success to be had.

She watched more and more as the sun began to make the few city plants grow again. She missed the green of the country and found the pathetic attempt at bringing nature to the streets of downtown dismal and ultimately ironic. They had destroyed all the original environment to put all this steel and concrete here, bringing small bits back seemed sort of mean. She saw more and more people taking tiny pets out for walks, riding strange low-riding bicycles and even started to hear the ringing of the ice cream truck. It’s a weird wild and wonderful world she thought. But she didn’t see herself in it; she was watching it like a film, waiting for the plot to become slightly more interesting. And then one unsuspecting day, it did.

Spending afternoons sipping tea or coffee and reading at the cafe downtown was one of her favourite pastimes. It had dark brick walls on which hung beautiful local art, and relaxing music played over the speakers that she found she loved more and more each time she visited. The cafe also had a big open patio that allowed her to look out onto the bustling street through a couple of lonely trees planted in the sidewalk. The dark lighting inside the cafe made the bright strip seem ever more like a screen where the world was being projected for her. She watched the crazy locals walking by, mothers and children, invalids on their motorized scooters, and on Friday afternoons everybody seemed to want to walk up and down the main drag.  Soon she began to notice the cars going by, or more so the people in them, as with the warmer weather people drove happily with the windows down with their music cranked for the world to hear. She always wondered why people did this, as if whatever it was they were listening to was so important and the best thing ever composed, that it took societal precedence over what the people on the street were trying to think about.  She hated having her thoughts interrupted by some young thing with the latest spleen shaking, bass loaded, autotuned disaster they have the nerve to call music, booming out of their car. She wished just once someone would be listening to Wagner or Tchaikovsky, but that was never the case.

One early weekday afternoon as she was reading a book not worth mentioning, and a Silver Challenger with black racing stripes cruised past the cafe, windows down and with the music at what couldn’t possibly have been an audibly pleasing decibel. She mentally “guffawed” at the happening and made note of strange people like that for future conversation. She went back to her book and vanilla nut coffee and that should have been the end of it. Not even several minutes later, she could hear the booming bass of another attention seeking vehicle approaching from the same direction. She paused from her book to mentally curse the driver for interrupting her novel, and as it rolled past and stopped at the light she saw that it was the very same Silver Challenger, with black racing strips. This time round she had a change to see the driver, fully expecting it to be some arrogant self possessed twenty-something looking to pick-up some unsuspecting pretty young thing with the IQ of a potato, but no, this was not the case. Turns out, he appeared to be a middle-to-late aged frumpy man. Now, this is not the first time she has seen a middle-aged man in a mid-life-crisis car, this was not a shock to her nor would it be to anyone, but the music that was coming from inside it was the appalling gut wrenching rap music popular among boys with pants around their knees and hats not quite on right. This man had both the mid life crisis car as well as the tunes. She made her mental note more detailed and then decided he was perhaps just lost and had to circle around twice to get his bearings.

Throughout the next thirty minutes she remained in the cafe, the Silver Challenger circled around another ten times. At which point she had had enough of trying to read and then getting interrupted every three minutes by the booming monstrosity, packed up and left. On the street he passed again, not noticing her, but she got a better look at him from behind her dark sunglasses. He wasn’t anything special to look at, just your average dark haired, medium build,regular height man. His repeated presence bothered her, but she wouldn’t let it ruin her day. She scurried home to the safety of her apartment and tried not to dwell on it too much and get on with her day. “People drive around all the time” she said to herself. “It’s not that abnormal” she repeated. She tried all evening but she could not satisfy her curiosity about the strange socially obscure happening. “Does he not have a job? a family?…Why is he driving around town in the middle of the day?….He’s not going to pick up someone at that hour…better to wait until midnight when they’re all hammered…maybe he’s afraid of the police catching him trying to scam girls at night…maybe he’s a sexual predator…maybe he’s looking for his next victim….”.  She could not quiet her mind, and it kept running all over the place trying to figure out why this one person in such a populated city was causing her so much distress. Maybe she was paranoid, but it didn’t fit with the way people work, and the recognized pattern of how life is supposed to go. Eventually she got to bed and through the miracle of sleep she forgot about it and went on with her days.

Three planetary rotations later, once she had completely got over the Silver Challenger incident and pushed everything to the back of her mind…it happened again. She was on her way to the drug store in the morning and there it was, windows down, music playing same blank look on the drivers face, watching the road. She dove into the closest public establishment she could find and hid in the shop for a while, thoughts running through her head about what he could possibly be doing out again, was this just a coincidence and had he not been out since the last time…or was this a regular thing. Over the next week, every single time she went outside it seemed, her was there…in that Silver Challenger, just driving around…and around and around, never stopping to get out of the car. WHYYYY!?!?! It was starting to drive her crazy. Was this what he wants? To drive poor curious girls absolutely crazy by repeatedly performing a perfectly mundane task obnoxiously with absolutely no purpose! Well it was working!

Over the next month, she kept seeing him, morning, afternoon, evening, and she was sure he was out at night, yet she was too scared to wander the streets at night alone.  She seriously debated asking shop owners who worked on the strip if they knew what was going on, but at the risk of sounding absolutely insane and stalker-y she decided against it. She would think about the reality of the situation…he likely had no idea who she was if he drove around so often…but she, on the other hand, began to panic the second she saw a Silver Challenger anywhere. How is it that you can recognize someone so easily, see them on such a regular basis, yet they have absolutely no idea who you are. Tis the nature of modern society she supposes.

The remainder of her summer was spent on constant lookout for the offensive vehicle, wondering if and when she would see it next.  When she looked left and right to cross the street she was secretly checking to make sure that the Silver Challenger was not there. She could not wait for the cool winter weather to return and force all the leisure vehicles back under their protective winter covers, freeing her fragile mind for a time.

And so for the rest of her life this unsolved mystery would be present in the corners of her mind, every time she saw a Silver Challenger her stomach would jump to her throat, and it would anger her, with thoughts of “WHY!?” because this mystery is never solved. He never leant his head out the window to explain why he was there, never even hollered a hello, just drove around like it was the last day of his life and couldn’t think of anything better to do. This is why life is such a mystery. Because things like this don’t get solved. Because people no longer talk to each other to communicate, just use confusing gestures, accessories and actions to paint a picture of themselves for society to see. He wanted to be seen, he wanted to be noticed, in the flashy car with the loud music, but WHY!  He never stopped to talk to anyone, was never on the phone, just alone with his loud and aggressive musical anachronism. This is the future of society, and through the wonders of societal evolution we all will be left wondering about everyone else, trying to communicate without speaking real words, and most people won’t even notice.

The End

-Miss Hailey Jane