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  • HyperHam 4:01 pm on July 14, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: jerks, , tfl, travel   

    Harming your brand, or why I am mad at Transport for London 

    I like the TFL.  I do.  I don’t drive in the UK, and have lived in London for a year and a half, so I rely on TFL for everything.  I have written at length about how to be the best parent you can when using public transportation, and I really do find TFL pretty kind to parents, overall.

    Until today.

    First things first – 99% that I use public transport, I babywear.  For me it saves the trouble of having to fight my way on and off the bus, and I think it is as kind as possible to other riders.  So, when I was at my home stop and my bus pulled up with a large amount of people on the bottom level, we went upstairs.  When we reached our stop (X), I waited for the bus to stop and then carefully walked downstairs.  Just as I was about to disembark, the doors shut in front of me.  I rang the bell and was told “40 seconds is all you get”.  Now, not only was this rude, it was dangerous as hell, because between the stop I got off at and the one before it was this:

     

    Thanks, bastard bus driver

    Hey! Who wants to play live-action Frogger?

    There is nothing like staring down 5 lanes of traffic as the A 40 merges into Holland Park roundabout with your child strapped to your chest to make you really, really regret not being a jerk and just hitting the Emergency Open button at your actual stop.

     

    Now, a few things to keep in mind:   I have gotten off at that stop hundreds of times, and have never seen a time limit introduced.  Disounting the fact that
    A) We had to wait quite a few minutes at the Goldhawk Rd. stop for the driver handoff, so I knew we had just begun a shift and could not be terribly off schedule,
    B) There was a 94 bus directly in front of us which was taking off as we were apporaching, meaning time could be made up at the next (usually empty) stop,
    C) In the amount of time it took the driver to say “40 seconds” while he was still at the stop, we could have disembarked, and
    D) In no way shape or form does it take me 40 seconds to walk down a small flight of stairs, forcing me to believe he was miscouting,
    it is an incredible lack of common courtesy on this driver’s part to not take 5 seconds out and let me disembark.  I play by the rules – I don’t bring on a pram the size of an aircraft carrier, I always have my Oyster card out, I only take up one seat.  I have respect for TFL – TFL has no respect for me.  In the future I will be forced to use a pram and take up extra space on the bottom deck to avoid having to cross a 5 lane highway with my baby, which does nothing but harm the productivity of other drivers and bus patrons.
    Ah well.   I kept a little bit of cool, made a mental note of the bus details, and shot off an email to TFL.  Let’s see if their office disrespects parents as much as today’s driver did.
     
  • HyperHam 10:52 am on May 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , prams, pushchairs, strollers, travel   

    Getting around London with a Baby, or LESBIAN HARRY POTTER SEXES UP TWILIGHT HOTTIE ROBERT PATTINSON ON PILE OF LOLCATS WHILE LILO LOOKS ON WITH MONSTER TRUCKS FULL OF CASH. OMG FAIL. 

    We don’t own a car, and even if we did, I don’t know how to drive on the wrong side of the road, so here in London I have come to know and actually enjoy the public transport.  I rode the Tube and busses throughout my pregnancy, and take Alex everywhere using the system.  Therefore, I can speak with some sense of knowledge about getting around town with a little one.  This advice is London specific, but I think it works for all large cities.

    1.  Do Your Homework.

    2.  Equip Yourself.

    3.  Assume the Worst.

    4.  Don’t Sabotage Yourself.

     

    1.  Do Your Homework.  When you are in a big city and using public transport, another level of planning has to occur before you walk out.  While some tube stations have ‘step free’ access, most don’t, so you can expect to be lugging a stroller up and down a *lot* of stairs, or lugging a toddler around.  Check tfl before you head out for any last minute changes or closures.   Between strikes, weekend closures, and (how do I say this nicely) incidents on the tracks (read:  dead body), you do not want to be trapped in a train or at a stop and have few options.  A word on the Tube:  in the summer, the trains can reach an internal temperature of 120 Fahrenheit.  You do not want to risk being trapped in a car that is stuck in that kind of temperature with a baby.  Best case scenario, you will have an inconsolable child.  Worst case, your kid could stroke out from heat, dehydration, and the like.  If it’s after June, take the bus.  And for the love of  Thor, do not attempt to ride any public transport during rush hour (in London, that would be between 8 am to 9.30 am, 4 pm to 7 pm).  Just.  Don’t.

    2.  Equip yourself.   I cannot stress this enough:  If you are capable of wearing your child, DO IT.  Babywearing is (for those who can physically do so) very easy, cost effective, and efficient.  You can walk up and down steps without worrying about letting go of the handles of a stroller, not having room on a bus, or (and I have night terrors about this one) forgetting your child on the bus.  With baby strapped to front (or back, when they get old enough), you have hands free abilities that you simply do not have with a pram.  Most busses only have enough room for 2 strollers at a time – if you are number 3 (or there are already strollers on when you get to the stop), you will have to either fold down your stroller and carry your kid, or wait for the next one.  And remember, if a person in a wheelchair comes on, you have to fold it all down or hop off and wait for the next bus.  If you can’t wear, get the smallest safe stroller you can, something light and easy to fold and carry one handed.

    3.  Assume the Worst.  London gets a bad rap in the UK as being a rude town, which is a bit unfair.  It’s a city of 7.5 million people, and they all have somewhere to be OMGRIGHTNOW, so yes, people can be a bit brusque, but with any group of people I tend to take the 85-10-5 rule.  85% of any group are regular decent folk, 10% are jerks, and 5% are pure evil.  So, if you walk onto a bus assuming someone is going to be an utter asshole, you can be pleasantly surprised when the trip goes well.

    4.  Don’t Sabotage Yourself:  I will say, I almost always get treated well on the bus with Alex, and here is why:  I firmly believe if people realize you are trying your hardest to accommodate them, they will go out of their way to accommodate you.  When they see a mum with a Land Rover sized pram with 1672820 bags hanging off the handlebars, slogging her way down the isle, whether it is fair or not they are annoyed with her.  She takes *forever* to get in place, she takes up *so much* room, and God help everyone on the bus if more than one of those Behemoths are on at a time – it can descend into fisticuffs.  Meanwhile, I get on just as fast as everyone else with Alex, and take up the same space as one fat dude (Alex does stick out my front side – like I’m preggers all over again!).  When people see me, they generally give up their seats.  They see me trying, and they try to match the kindness.

     

    Mommas:  it’s mean, but true:  Until there is a ‘baby only’ bus, you are not a protected class – you get up for the elderly and disabled.  No one is under any moral or legal obligation to make life easy for you on the bus – they have places to go.  Set yourself up for success by paring down, wearing when you can, and planning ahead.

     

    (For everyone else:  All that being said, next time you see someone struggling getting their pram up steps or fighting to get a toddler and pram down the isle, take a second and help them.  It’s the nice thing to do.)

     

     

     
    • Mosh 1:23 pm on May 9, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Yeah, strange how buses routinely have stickers telling you to give way to pregnant woman – but as soon as they've dropped the sprog they're just someone else fighting for a seat.

      (Iain – sick of trying to get OpenID to work so posting as a guest)

  • HyperHam 11:43 am on April 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , , travel   

    Making our Way 

    It’s 14 weeks or so for us, and we are hitting our stride as a fam (I think!). Weapon feeds 4 or 5 times a day, and sleeps through the night. The new formula/breastfeeding schedule is working well – he gets boobie at each feed, and I don’t feel as much as a loser for not being able to fully nuture him. His expressions are really nuanced now – he lets me know when he is happy, sad, tired, upset, etc. We still have tough moments, but we are making it, one foot in front of the other. We leave for the US in about 3 weeks or so, after being in a car for 11 hours one way this weekend, a 7 hour plane ride is nothing! 😉

     
    • Kristi W. 4:39 pm on April 27, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      And walking around and bouncing him in the plane is WAY easier. Also, bring a bottle, paci, or your boobs for if/when his ears start to bother him. Give him one of the three at take off and landing. Sucking will help the ears.

      Can't wait to see you all!

      I knew you would hit your stride. Was always confident of that.

  • HyperHam 10:58 am on April 26, 2011 Permalink | Reply
    Tags: , travel, wales   

    Joys of Travel 

    I’ll have to do a proper post about the wonderful time we had in Wales, but for now, a moment on travelling with a baby.

    Ugh.

    A 5.5 hour drive took 11 hours on the way there, and 9 hours on the way back (on the way there we hit Costco to shop). The way there was pretty uneventful, some fussing and such but nothing severe.

    HOWEVER, the way back was…

    Ugh.

    There is nothing so demoralizing as going through the baby checklist and not being able to figure out what the hell is going on. For those wondering, the baby checklist is:

    Is baby intact (not bleeding, no bones broken, etc)?
    Is baby warm (but not too warm, cool but not too cool, etc)?
    Is baby fed?
    Is baby dry?
    Is baby burped?

    After running through the checklist, it becomes a guessing game of verbal and nonverbal cues from the baby (screaming, hands clenched, red eyes, sweaty, etc). When you are at home, it’s difficult. When you are at someone else’s home, it’s exceedingly difficult. When you are on the M456 and it’s stop and go traffic with 3 lanes because of an accident 5 miles ahead, and there isn’t an exit for 10 miles, it’s WTFMOMMYISNOTAMINDREADER. So baby is screaming and crying so powerfully he is making himself choke, Mommy is in the backseat desperately trying to figure out what the hell is wrong, Monkey is driving 5 miles an hour with no end to gridlock in sight, and poor sister of Monkey is wondering why the hell she ever got a ride home to England with this horror show in the backseat.

    There are certain things you always tell yourself you will or will not ever do with a child. I will never strike my child. I will never drink and take care of my kid. I will immunize. Etc, etc. I always said I will never have my child unstrapped in a car. Well, after a solid hour of screaming (and we are still bumper to bumper) that went straight out the window. I tried first to comfort nurse him with him in the seat (apologies to anyone else on the road who saw a crazy lady leaned over from her seat, whip out her boob and shove it in her kids mouth while they were driving), but that made him even more upset. Sigh. Fuck. Sigh.

    So, I gingerly unbuckled him, and sitting in my seat, nursed and burped him until he was slightly calm. He settled down for about 15 mins, when I was able to strap him back in. This bliss stayed for about 30 mins, then…he lost it *again*. We made our way to the shoulder, and Monkey got my bag from the trunk. Cue me doing ANOTHER thing I said I would never do – drug my kid. 2 mls of Calpol later (a full 3 mls less than the normal dosage, for those who are about to call social services on me), he was finally asleep, and I was weeping openly (as was poor Monkey’s sis, it was *that* intense in the car). Not long that after the road cleared, and we hightailed it to Monkey’s sis’s house where I could feed/burp/massage my boy in peace.

    I still don’t really know what upset him so much – we were stopping every 2 hours for breaks, he was on schedule for feeds, etc. I guess we’ll never know. He took an enormous nap this morning, worn out after his ordeal. Ah, parenthood.

     
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