OK, so the blog has been a bit bus-centric over the last few days but here’s one more little story about our latest experience.
You lovely regular readers might recall a post by Elizabeth about our progress so far and the potential stumbling blocks or issues that we were anticipating. Some of them turned out to be mere paper tigers, one or two haven’t been encountered yet. However one has been chipping away at our nerves like that dripping tap you’ve been meaning to do something about. The visitation of ‘Grilly’.
Granny Lily is my mother. She still lives in the family home and for all her 79 years she’s never learnt to drive. That didn’t stop her raising four children though. That should be all the inspiration we need – it was also pre- cell phones, microwaves, EFTPOS, the internet and people could actually smoke in hospitals. But that’s another whole post in itself. She was a gung-ho cyclist who taught me how to ride by taking me on long trips near our house around the oxidation ponds of the city seweridge plant. Nice image.
She got everywhere on her trusty black, sit-up-and-beg bike that looked not a million miles away from this:
And boy, could she fly on that thing when she wanted to.
She had to give up on biking some years ago when she developed Meniere’s Disease which affects your balance and can cause black outs, which she discovered the hard way, while riding home one day. Now she walks miles every week and is able to make use of the senior citizens’ gold card which gives her free bus rides in off-peak times.
Recently returned from an epic quest of her own into the depths of France, accompanied by my sister (now there’s a story), Grilly (also known as the Dowager Empress) had been suffering jet lag and the post travel blues and we were well overdue for a visit. We’d put it off due to all of us having thick colds the week before (the last thing a 79 year old needs, jet-lagged, at the start of winter). Now there was nothing for it, we had to embark on the two bus rides each way into the dark heart of Aranui, my ol’ stomping ground.
We hadn’t really done any family bus rides before. Elizabeth buses with the Bobbin quite regularly but here we were, all three of us, bags and buggy and Bobbin. The first stop was the Lyttelton Farmers’ Market for treats to bring Grilly. Then down to the bus stop on Norwich Quay where freight trucks from the port thunder by in clouds of noise and fumes. We were right on time for the 10.15 bus but it was nowhere in sight, in fact it never came at all so half an hour later we got on the next bus along with one of Lyttelton’s fearless hill skateboarders and a couple of soon to be disappointed Welsh rugby fans. There are two spaces onboard the bus for buggies, prams and wheelchairs. One has seats the other doesn’t. On this first bus was a young fella with the biggest gear bag I’ve ever seen – he was on his way to play ice hockey and there was nowhere for his bag to fit except in one of the buggy spaces – unfortunately he chose the one with the seats so Elizabeth and I parked the Bobbin in the other space and sort of hovered around her. Elizabeth doesn’t trust the buggy to stay put by itself, brakes or no brakes ever since she once saw it slide out around a corner, probably to the delight of Seraphine. The journey passed without incident to the bus exchange in the central city. We changed platforms and only had a 15 minute wait for the No. 5 to take us to Aranui. Mid-morning on a Saturday the bus exchange wasn’t that busy.
The journey on the No.5 was only about half as long as the one from Lyttelton but had plenty of interest. First off was a person reluctant to give up their seat in the buggy park for the second buggy that got on in the bus exchange. This was soon sorted out. Further along we encountered any number of surly individuals on what was my old bus route to and from town. We had teenage girls at Eastgate Mall who were refused passage due to carrying huge milkshakes and armfuls of junk food. They were vociferous in their displeasure with the driver, teaching Seraphine some choice new words in the process.
A few stops later was a woman who apparently wanted the bus but changed her mind after the driver stopped. When he suggested to her that she should signal if she didn’t want the bus to stop she transformed into an Angry Person. One of those that starts muttering abuse loudly but without making eye contact. The driver appeared to think better of the whole encounter and closed the doors. Just another day on the No. 5.
Getting off at my old stop we headed down the road to Grilly’s house where Seraphine gets to rowl around outside on some flat land for a change while we drink tea and eat gingerbread and Grilly’s famous bacon and egg pie. Nom Nom.
After an hour or two we get to repeat the whole process to get home. Joy.
When we finally reach the top of our not insubstantial hill in L-town it’s nearly 4pm and we’re shattered.
Inconvenient much? Hmmm, I really did miss the car right then I must say. What was that about effort? At least it wasn’t raining. And we did get to all have a big family lie down together in our bed. All three of us snoozing happily for half an hour. Now that’s what I call a successful quest.