Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Bye bye Buxton - 23/8, last chance to gunzel

Chris woke me at 9am, reminding me that I'd booked the truck to come and pick up the crate any time from 8 to 11. Yawns. It had just better come. I had a fairly good breakfast (ham and cheese sandwich with mayo instead of butter because all the butter had been used last night in the frying pan) and went off to the Octagon to supervise the loading.

It does give quite a feeling of satisfaction to walk straight past a sign saying "The Octagon is closed to the public today". I am not one of the public today, you see.

At about 10 I started getting bored and worried, if you can accept the two in combination. I hadn't had a reply to my email booking the service... so I rang them up. "Yes it's booked in for 11" they said. Phew.

Then wonder upon wonder, in come Neil and Oliver Smith! Along with a young lady I hadn't met before (extra slave labour). "Did nobody tell you the festival's over?" Neil asks us. "We're shipping our stuff out, what are you doing here?" we reply. "Same as you..."

Well what should we do while we're waiting but take one last opportunity to get our hands all over the pro company's set? There's an entire room full of stuff (including bulky, fragile and downright awkward bits of set and props) to fit into one medium rigid van. With, as we find out later, an 850kg load limit. Good thing it didn't have an air suspension with a load gauge on it.

As we were planning what to put in first a guy in high vis comes up and asks for a 450kg load. That can only be ours. Do you have a pallet jack? Yes of course. Then bring him hither and let's be on our way!

Well I'm glad the Smiths were there, and I'm glad their various bits of timber were there, because that crate was slightly non-standard in terms of tyne pockets and overall width. We got some bits of timber to lift the crate so the jack could go in, and I flexed some muscle by steering the wide load through a space about 100mm wider than it, at full speed. Just like a pallet of 6ft tables at work. Yes I'm thinking about work while I'm on holidays, so sue me.

We got the crate to the truck and it seems the tailgate myth was well founded... and on top of that, the truck was an oldish one with the doorway narrower than the body. Grrrrr! So we'll have to put it in sideways after all... We put it diagonally on the tailgate, lifted it, and then basically shoved it with the jack reducing friction at one end. It took time, and bodies, but we eventually did it. Thank goodness.

And so we resumed the job of loading the other truck, with the festival's stuff. Chris did his Tetris act, I did my BFI act, and by about 1:30pm we had it all in. All of it. Safely too. I was amazed. Neil described us as an antipodean miracle. Chris used his technology-magic line. I think David was auditioning for the part of stage crew to the G&S Opera Company. Wouldn't that be an awesome part to get.

So - last farewells. It was a great damper bake!

Back home and pack. I did most of mine last night but there's always just a bit more to do. I finish in time to catch the 2:35 train because I want to see Office Depot in Manchester.

Bye bye Buxton. I'm sure I'll see you again, I don't know when though. I hear the soft note of the echoing voice of an old old rail unwelded. Oh dainty rollingstock, oh fragrant brakeblock, oh gentle platform dock I bid goodbye...

And so to Piccadilly. Office Depot is in Ashton, which is accessed from Victoria, so I splurge £1.20 on a Metrolink ticket and ride those high floor trams again. I get to Ashton and pull up the directions for getting to the store. Cinderella Hour for getting to the airport is just 40 minutes away so they'd better be good directions...

On second thoughts, I think the remaining 20 minutes before Cinderella Hour could be better spent composing an email to Office Depot telling them how woeful their directions are. And hey, I could do that on a train instead of on a platform, that will get me 20 minutes up my sleeve by taking the previous service.

Note to self: trains run in both directions from Ashton. It's wise to get the one going in the right direction. Especially when pressed for time. I start to wonder when we're going to get to Salford Crescent and pull up the map I saved to Clippy's desktop. Whoopsy... Well, this is where it pays to be a gunzel. Where am I going? Manchester Airport. Who goes there fastest? Trans-Pennine. Where else do they stop? Among other places, Huddersfield, which happens to be the next stop. Yes I think I'll get off here.

And look at that, the 17:16 is running late so I can still catch it. The Patron Saint of Gunzels and his Big Boss are smiling on me today.

So my last train trip in the UK for this year is on a Class 185. Nice touch. Plus I get to plug Clippy in and get a bit of power into his battery. No knowing when there'll be another chance.

The service runs into one of the dead end platforms at Manchester Piccadilly and then changes ends and goes out to Manchester Airport. That's not an efficient way to run a service! Just run from Huddersfield to Piccadilly, it's not like there's a shortage of services to the airport.

Interestingly, with no visible hurrying on the part of the driver we manage to get to the Airport station right on time, after being 12 minutes down at Huddersfield. That's pretty smart!

The PA announcements are pretty good - as well as the usual thing about taking all your stuff with you the driver tells us where the departure screens are and how much the luggage trolleys cost. That's a nice touch. Once again it's the attitude of the staff that makes a difference.

Right now we're sitting in the departure lounge at the airport waiting for our gate to be announced. We checked in over an hour before the flight's ready to board, which is fine, I'd rather that way than the opposite. And we have found a power point so we can charge things (although I'm hoping we get one of the newer aircraft that has in-seat power).

After drinking the last litre of Buxton fountain water in my bottle before checking in, of course I'm incredibly thirsty again. So if you'll excuse me, I'm off to find a vending machine that will sell me a Buxton-liveried pop top bottle. Talk soon.

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