Tuesday, 31 July 2007

All Hell Let Loose

For me all hell being let loose can mean quiet a few things but today it was small children crying. First, on the way to Newton mother and baby in buggy got on at Castle Circus in Torquay and showed a megarider. No problem normally with megariders, which are all day tickets valid along the whole of the 12/12A route and cost £4.00. However the baby started crying even before I set off (so it couldn't have been my driving). The crying had that hard, mournful sound that you just know will go on for the complete journey and stop the instance the child leaves the bus. But because mother, the baby's mother, not mine, had used a megarider I had no idea when the child would leave the bus. Could be one stop, could, knowing my luck be the last stop. Yeah, you're right. The last stop.

On the way back from Newton similar mother with buggy and 4 year old child who just had to press the bell. Mother didn't seem to notice he was playing Beethoven's Fifth Piano concerto using the bus's bells instead of a piano. So I stopped at the next stop and opened the doors and invited who ever rang the bell to get off. No takers. Bell went again so I stopped at the next stop and opened the doors. No one got of. So I pointed out that there were 87 stops between here and Brixham and if we had to stop at every stop we might get there by midnight. Mother took the hint and told the little child not to practise his music lessons on the bus. Then baby started crying. Again I had no idea how far they were going a mother had shown me a megarider. All the way to Paignton. Just under an hour. Cry for 5 minutes, rest for a minute, cry for 5 more minutes. When I got to Brixham I had 7 minutes before I had to leave, I told the waiting passengers they would have to wait a few more minutes while I went and found a brick wall to bang my head against a few times just to relieve the pain.

Monday, 30 July 2007

RTC at the Leisure Centre

The bus was doing 1 mph when the RTC occurred. Some guy in a car went past me and moved in to the left hand lane. Which I, as the photo shows, was in. But the car was in front of me so there shouldn't have been a problem. Shame there was a 20 foot long 7 foot wide trailer attached to the car which wasn't in front of me which also moved in and did some damage, not much, to the front of the bus. According to the other driver it was all my fault.
Personally I think it was the fault of who ever marked out the road. What we have here is a set of traffic lights at Torbay Leisure Centre. Twenty yards before the lights there is one lane which changes into 3 lanes. The right lane is for turning right and the centre and left for going straight on. Forty yards beyond the lights these two lanes change back to one lane and everyone in the right hand lane makes desperate efforts to overtake before reaching this sign.
If it was all one lane we would still all get to Brixham. Please Torbay Council give it a try; mark it out with one lane through the lights for 3 months and if anyone complains that it is taking them an extra 20 minutes to get to Brixham you can call them a liar.

Sunday, 29 July 2007

Queue Jumping.

No, not students this time though some did try but when I pointed to the back of the queue that is where they went. I had stopped in Fleet St and two people got on, standing behind them were 3 more hopeful passengers. While I was checking their tickets an elderly lady pushed her way past all of them and went and sat down in the last remaining seat. Then a man got on the bus holding two tickets but there was no one else with him. I asked who the other ticket was for, as if I didn't know. He indicated it was for his wife who had already boarded the bus. "Oh," said I. "The lady who pushed in." I think I upset him, but then his wife upset me. She had boarded the bus out of turn and taken the last seat on the bus. That for me is pushing in. Something we English(1) just don't do. Something to do with rationing and the war. Anyway here is an other nice photo.

I took over this bus in Torquay heading for Newton. Three or four bus drivers going the other way pointed at the front of the bus. I checked that I wasn't indicating when I shouldn't be and that I hadn't left the hazard warning lights going. I decided it must be a headlight out and decided to check once I (and the bus) got to Sherbourne Rd.

And there he was, Red Ted. Sitting up front getting a free ride and the best view on the bus.

Footnote (1) Before millions of none English people write in, I do know that forming an orderly queue is not just an English pass time.

An other duck

Sunday; the forecast rain went somewhere else so I went out and took some photos.
This is one of them.

Friday, 27 July 2007

More Trouble in Paignton

Yesterday the problem was the level crossing in Paignton. Today the problem was just across the road from the crossing. If you look on yesterdays photo you can see a KFC. To the left of KFC there is a pub called Winstons and a truck delivering beer there broke down. An other truck turned up to transfer passengers, sorry beer barrels and Paignton once more came to a dead slow crawl. And the sun had just come out after a wet and miserable morning.

This photo shows where a bus shelter used to stand in the Town Square, Brixham. A large lorry managed somehow to reverse into it and make a right mess. The shelter was a bit old so at least the good people of Brixham will get a brand spanking new shelter complete with no smoking sign to stand in while they wait for the 17 and 24. The rhino you can see was born earlier this year in the world famous Paignton Zoo and had nothing to do with knocking the shelter down; neither did I.

Talking of the weather, I have just had a look at the forecast for the next 5 days here in the Bay, Saturday, Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday are forecast sunny. Sunday it is going to rain. Guess which day I have off.

Thursday, 26 July 2007

Paignton and the Level Crossing

This is one of the 2 level crossings in Paignton. The road in the background is Hyde Road, the busiest road in the area. It is a two lane, one way street but the local Blue Badge holders turn it into a one lane one way street. So when the barriers come down Hyde Road slows down to a crawl. This afternoon the barriers came down and the train went through. The barriers didn't go back up again which usually means there is an other train due. Not this afternoon. This afternoon the lack of upward motion on the part of the barriers was due to a defect in the mechanism. People stood about for a few minutes until they worked out that an other train wasn't hurtling towards them at breakneck speed and walked over the bridge. The car drivers turned their cars around and found an other way round. No problem. Except that once one lot of car drivers had worked out that the barriers were not going to point themselves at the sky and driven off, a new lot of car drivers would replace them and wait a few minutes before the truth dawned and they went their alternate, merry way. A process that repeated itself for a couple of hours. The engineers who knew exactly where to hit the lifting gear with a big hammer are stationed in Exeter, 30 miles away and they had to get through the traffic jam just like us lesser mortals. So did the police turn up to direct the traffic away from this seemingly unending cycle of arriving at the barrier, wait 5 minutes, penny drop, move away, be replaced by more waiters? No. It would appear they considered it to be a British Transport Police problem. Nearest British Transport Police? Yes that's right. Plymouth. 35 miles away. I arrived in Brixham only 45 minutes late. By the time I got back to Paignton some one had hit the mechanism with a hammer in the right place and once again the barriers were pointing to the heavens. Which was nice of them.

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

No Smoking?

It is against the Law to Smoke in any enclosed public building in England (since July 1st),
but exactly what is meant by enclosed?

An old Open Top bus.

Seen going round the Clock Tower in Torquay, this Open Top bus is in the livery of Devon General who were here before Stagecoach and Bayline.

It is used for weddings and other fun trips.

Shame the weather had been so bad.

One more little skirmish. Or here today, gone tomorrow.

This is the bus stop on the Harbour side of The Strand in Torquay. It is where you catch a bus (12,12A or 12B) to Paignton. There is an other bus which goes to Paignton from The Strand, the number X80 which is a FirstBus. The stop for the FirstBus is on the other side of the road and none of the other the buses that stop there go to Paignton. So if you want to go to Paignton it is best to wait on the Harbour side of the Strand. FirstBus would like to be able to stop on the Harbour side as they would pick up a lot more passengers for Paignton and a couple of days ago some one came down from FirstBus and put a bus stop flag on the post on the Harbour side.

However it is the local council who say where bus stops go and they told FirstBus to come and take their flag down. Which means they can't stop on the Harbour side. There are several other buses that already stop here and one more would have been just too much and could have caused the Strand to be blocked by waiting buses.

Sorry FirstBus, not doing too well are we.

Tuesday, 24 July 2007

Useless as an ashtray on a motorbike.

Click on the photo to read all the notice.

Yeh, right.

Monday, 23 July 2007

Sunday in Paignton, Monday on a school run.

The photos shows Paignton bus station on a Sunday. We have loads of spare buses on a Sunday, during the week is a different story.

It also shows how close the garage is the the back of the buses is is why drivers, including me hit the damn thing from time to time. Little story from a school run I did today, my last school run for 6 weeks. Most schools round here have finished for the summer holidays so no more school runs till September; except that is Paignton Community College which is for some strange reason still open. So I pull up at the stop and there are the usual crowd of about 20 of the little darlings waiting to push, shove, bite, gouge, kick, scream and perform any other unmentionable kind of mayhem in order to be first on the bus. There are also two tourist, dad pushing a baby buggy and mum holding on to a 2 year old toddler. They had just spent an enjoyable few hours at the excellent Paignton Zoo (as seen on TV) (Some years ago now but on TV all the same). Now anyone who has stood at a bus stop with 20 or more school children can guess what happened as I pulled up and opened the doors, Mum, dad, toddler and buggy get trampled to death in the stampede. No, sorry, wrong. These wonderful children from PAIGNTON COMMUNITY COLLEGE stood back and carefully waited for the family, who were German tourist to board the bus before they got on. Isn't that nice, I hope those children have a really nice summer holiday.

The weather has been bad down here, it rained all day, in fact rain has been the main item on the agenda for weeks now but we have been lucky compared with people a little further north. Click here for the BBC news to see how bad the flooding has been in other parts of the country. Is this how Global Warming works, lots of rain, or is it just one of those things that happens from time to time and is nothing to do with GW.

An other news item that came to my attention, also on the BBC.

Sunday, 22 July 2007

Foot note to the gull post.

To day. Saturday, I was driving down Fleet Street which was very crowded so was only doing 5 mph. There was a little sweet old lady on the platform waiting to get of at the next stop when we came very close to a gull. At 5 mph the gulls don't bother to fly away, more a hop, skip and a jump, which this gull did at the last second. The little sweet old lady gave me a nudge which almost took my arm of and said,"Damn, you missed it."

Saturday, 21 July 2007

Not For the Faint Hearted! (Not if you like gulls anyway)

Thursday evening I hit a seagull. No; I didn't walk up to it, grab it and hit it around the head a few times, I hit it with the bus.

It happened like this; I was on my last trip, all I had to do was go to Brixham as a 12A and the back to the depot dead and home for a well earned can of beer. As you drive down Long Road towards the college there is a slight bend in the road, going round the bend I notice a flock of about 50 gulls in the middle of the road. Gulls usually move out of the way but to make sure I gave a quick blast on the horn and all but one flew away. This one mean looking hombre was standing there, staring down the big red, blue white and orange monster heading towards him and was not going to move. The gull had turned into a real hard chicken (well, he was playing chicken with the bus), not a good idea when the bus weighs 11.5 tonnes and is heading towards you at 30 mph. When I was about 10 feet away this idea also penetrated the gull's brain and brain cell 1, brain cell 2 and brain cell 3 all suggested that flying would be a good career move on the part of this gull turned chicken. But chickens can't fly very far, not in quarter of a second anyway. There was a solid thump at the front of the bus followed by a couple of secondary bangs of a lesser nature from the underside of the bus. Oh dear.

Anyway, I went down to the college and round the roundabout and stopped at the stop. No one go on or off. The college is closed for the summer and there are only admin staff and cleaners there at the moment. On the way back up Long Road I was expecting to find the remains of the gull, or worse an injured gull. I was, if the gull was badly injured, prepared to steer the bus in such a way as to end any suffering. I was therefore very pleased when I got back to the site of the impact to find the road was clear, well there were lots of gulls sat at the side of the road staring at me as I drove past. Bit like in a scene from a Hitchcock film. Some how it would seem the gull had made it. Just to make sure, when I got to Brixham I did have a look under the bus just to be sure it wasn't wedged some where, in a wheel arch or some place similar.

Friday morning, again driving a 12A I went down to the college. As I drove down Long Road I thought about the gull. How tough it must have been to get hit by a bus and not loose all. It was a big disappointment when I when round the roundabout at the bottom of Long Road and saw there in the roadway the remains, the very flat and battered remains of the gull. Poor sod.

Thursday, 19 July 2007

Just An Other Day

It started like the rest and continued pretty much as the rest until I stopped at Shiphay Lane on the way into Torquay. I was driving a 12A which follows the same route as the 12 as far a Paignton and then goes to Brixham just like the 12 but goes round the houses and nips into the industrial estate for a few minutes just to make the trip even more memorable. Most people who get a 12A from Paignton to Brixham don't do it again. Strong men have wept at the thought, weaker men have banged their heads against brick walls sooner than get on a 12A. Sensible people just sit on the wall and wait for a 12. Anyway at Shiphay Lane bus stop there were 50 students waiting so, following company policy, I stopped and picked then up. The first 47 had bus passes but student number 48 got on and asked for a child return to the Leisure Centre. My hand had actually moved towards the ticket machine to punch in the fare stage number for the stop at the Leisure Centre when I started laughing, that quiet, hysterical, maniac laugh that Tony Blair comes up with when anyone asks him if he is planing to take his holidays in Iraq this year. If the had been a couple of men in white coats going by they would have got the straight jacket out at once and fitted me up with one in my size. The group leader seeing me in this state and lacking two strong white coated men with a handy one size fits all specially padded jacket asked me what was wrong. I contained myself and managed, between little bursts of giggling to tell him that he and his party had just spent 3 minutes getting on a bus that didn't actually go to the Leisure Centre and would they all mind spending an other 3 minutes getting off the bus and get a number 12 which did. Mean while the number 12 went past which was a nice little extra touch.

Just an other day, in fact it was so nice I am going to give it another go tomorrow.

Wednesday, 18 July 2007

Lost Property

Near the end of my shift a passenger handed me an envelope, addressed with 3 stamps on ready to be posted. Now technically this is lost property which I hand in at the end of my shift, write out a label with the name of the person who gave it to me the route and direction of travel the time it was found and my name and work number. It then goes in a box in the depot. If someone realises that they have lost something on a bus they can come into the depot at Torquay and claim it. If they don't come in before 9:30 the next morning it and all other lost property that has been handed in the previous day will be sent over to Paignton where it will be kept for a couple of months in the hope the person who lost it will come in and collect it. After 2 months when the collection of unclaimed property begins to clutter up the office a note is put up with a list of unclaimed property for the drivers to collect, I have in the past found a digital camera which was claimed and a CD player which wasn't claimed. I still have the CD player together with the CD that was in it but as I now have an iPod it isn't used. When the note goes up I should go over to Paignton and collect the letter which is now mine to do what I want with.

Did I go through all this procedure? No, I just posted the letter. So if you left a letter on a number 12 yesterday afternoon addressed to some where in Paignton it has been posted, after 6pm so it missed the last post, sorry, but it will get there by Thursday.

All in a days work.

Tuesday, 17 July 2007

Close call.

A fairly quiet day really, the not so good weather we seem to be having has not encouraged people from swarming into the bay for their holidays. Either that or everyone went up to Branscombe to watch the Napoli get blown in two. If you missed it they are going to have an other go on Wednesday as the poor oil covered ship is still in one piece. There was one noticeable incident, lasted about 3 seconds and if it hadn't been for a passenger standing on the platform waiting to get off at the next stop, would have lasted much longer.

I was waiting at the lights at Belgrave Road coming onto Torquay, there are three lanes at this junction and I was in the outside lane, next to me was a car and the left lane was empty but shortly to be occupied by a car containing a slightly shaken and very annoyed driver. Now the left lane has a left turn filter light which turns green before the centre lane and the outside lane get their green light to go straight on. Out of Belgrave Road, riding on the pavement came this child, a boy about 12 years old who had he arrived a second later would not have made it to 13. He must have seen me and the car next to me stationary and assumed it was safe to ride headlong into the road. There was a car approaching in the left lane to turn left and he had the green filter light and was going fairly fast. The boy on the bike managed to swerve and the car managed to brake just enough so they missed each other. Now I hadn't seen any of this because in the corner of the bus there is a 20 cm wide post, there to hold the upper deck in place but also provides a bit of a blind spot. As the child came of the pavement he was in this blind spot and, more importantly I had just got a green light and was pressing down on the accelerator. Standing on the platform as I mentioned earlier was the hero of the day, the passenger had seen the near miss between the child and the car and had exclaimed, "Oh my god." I looked and braked and boy on the bike had his second near miss with death all in the space of one second. Had the car in the left lane arrived a second later the boy would not have had to swerve and the car would not have had to brake hard and the passenger would not have cried out to his god and I wouldn't have looked and the boy and his bike would have been under the bus.

All in a days work, but not every day thank goodness.

The Napoli; almost gone?

The Napoli is being fitted with explosive charges which will be detonated this afternoon. The idea is to separate the front from the back. The back end, which is falling apart, will be towed out to sea and allowed to sink. The front end will be towed to a dock some where and broken in to small pieces and, hopefully, sold as souvenirs to holidaymakers, the profits being given to all those who have lost out in this tragic event.(Now there's an idea). At some time in the future the back end will be ether recovered or left to rot and turn into a man made reef for marine life to live on. Which is only right. Enough marine life has been lost. Some good should come out of it.

Click here for full story from the BBC

Will we finally to be rid of this troublesome ship?

Sunday, 15 July 2007

Changes coming up.

At our Depot here in Torquay we have an Opperations Manager and an Assistant Opperations Manager. Their job is the ensure the smooth day to day running of the depot, a slightly harder job than simply driving a bus.The assistant has been with us for some years and the OM for a couple of years. It seems that they are to shortly move to Exeter, which is a bigger depot and I am sure they will make their mark there. We at Torquay are to get a new OM who is part of the Stagecoach Graduate Scheme, which recruits graduates and puts them through an intensive training course to equip them for the rigures of Depot Managment and for further promotion within the company.

To have a look at a brief profile of our new OM

Sorry, couldn't get the link to work so I have copied it here for you to look at.

Christina Ratcliffe
Degree: BA (hons) – History; University of Leicester
Joined Stagecoach: 2005
Current position: Assistant Operations Manager, Walkergate, Newcastle
“I looked at a number of Graduate schemes, but Stagecoach stood out for me.
I wanted to join a programme that had a clear career path and that offered
choices across a wide range of roles; Stagecoach offered this level of variety
coupled with the certainty of well thought through support structures. It also
offered a role that wasn’t desk-bound around a 9 to 5 office job.
My first year in South Wales certainly didn't disappoint. I'd speak to friends who
work for other graduate employers and they'd be amazed at how much I’d
done so soon.
Whilst working for a multi-national company, I feel like part of a big family. All
the graduates meet up regularly on courses (and socially) and we network with
senior managers and directors as early exposure to high-level business
planning and strategy.
What I love is the buzz and energy around the business, I couldn't begin to tell
you what an average day is like, no day is “average” and you're never bored.
Responsibility comes early on, and you have a safety net of managers around
you. This enables you to move forward with confidence knowing that mistakes
will be picked up before they cause a problem and that you will be able to learn
from them. And, of course, you have the support and advice of your mentor.
I'm now Assistant Operations Manager at a large depot in Newcastle - I've
gone from managing 170 drivers in South Wales to managing almost 300 here.
It's a big step up in responsibility, but after the intensity of the first year I'm fully
prepared for the challenges involved. And, because I enjoy what I do so much,
the days just go in a flash."

I am sure we all wish her well in her new position

Saturday, 14 July 2007

White Vans, Level Crossings and The Napoli.

This van is stationary and has a line of stationary cars in front of it. And if you look carefully you might notice exactly where it is.
Yes, that's right. The driver has managed to stop on a level crossing. Not the safest place in the world to be.

Did a train come along and make the earth move for the van driver? I'm not sure if I should say, "No thank god." or "No, what a shame." But no train arrived.

On to an other little problem that we have down here in the South West. The Napoli. Two days ago it was refloated. Had we seen the last of it? No, sorry. When it was half a mile out to sea it was decided that it was too badly damaged and it came back like the oily bad penny it is.

Friday, 13 July 2007

Long Road Road Works Done at Long Last.

Here it is at last. The £430 000 road improvement scheme at the junction of Long Road and the Ring Road. Designed to improve traffic flow from the Ring Road into Long Road. I never drive along the Ring road so I have no idea if this money has been well spent. Some how I doubt it. Started in December to take 13 weeks. And it is finally finished. Twenty one weeks behind schedule. It had been going on so long I expected the Mayor to turn up, cut a ribbon and declare the junction, "Well and truly open." "At long last."
But he didn't.
Next up of course is resurfacing Long Road it's self which is about as rough as a ploughed field on a frosty morning. An other big job which should take about a week but if this junction is anything to go by, it could take months. It used to amaze me, I would drive up to the junction heading for South Devon College and twenty work persons would be beavering away like they loved their jobs more than anything else in the world. Ten minutes later, back up from the college and they'd be gone, as if the Doctor had turned up with his Tardis and taken them for a quick trip through time to look at great road works from history. Well if he did I wish he had taken them to have a look at Roman road builders. A mile a day or one in ten of them got crucified. That's what I call an incentive to finish on time.

We're all going on a summer holiday.

There I was, sitting on the wall at the side of Newton Road waiting to take over a bus for the second half of my duty when this bus came by, all done up in Devon General livery. The children probably aren't going on a summer holiday but down to MacDonald's for a Big Mac birthday party. They seemed to be enjoying themselves so far.
I hope they got home before it started to rain, which it did later in the day, cats and dogs style. We don't seem set for much sun this year if what's happened so far is anything to go by.

Thursday, 12 July 2007

Students; Two Days, Two Incidents.

Wednesday I pulled up at the stop by Torbay Leisure Centre where about 15 people were waiting to catch a bus in the direction of Brixham. They were mostly foreign language students but there were also two gang leaders. One of the students was not wearing a shirt and I explained to the gang leader that the student would have to put a shirt on if he wanted to get on the bus. This is Torquay after all, not Blackpool. Then the student filed on the bus showing their bus passes before going upstairs. However the last two students didn't bother with their passes and I called them back so they could show their passes. They pretended not to understand and stood at the bottom of the stairs while the gang leader explained to them that we have this quaint custom in England of paying for your bus rides. So I watched in the mirror that lets me see what passengers are doing on the bus and what these two passengers were doing was taking two passes from students standing on the stairs. God; I've never seen that trick before, not this week anyway. Now I had three choices, I could pretend that I had not seen this exchange and let them travel. I would sooner walk into Anfield Football ground with a banner saying "Man U are the best football team in the world". Choice two would be to check all the students already on the bus and those without passes could pay the fare. That takes too long and is not fair on those passenger who just want to get to Brixham. Choice three was ask the whole party to get of the bus and wait for the next bus and tell the driver of the next bus to what had happened. At one stage the male gang leader told me not to get too upset by all this. I just told him I wasn't upset; just annoyed. He seemed to think it was all a mistake and they meant to show their passes but forgot. Yeh, right. Like I meant to pay my income tax but forgot

The problem with the bus passes is that the students are not compelled to buy them but once they have spent a day using the buses the realise that paying all those bus fare can be an expensive business and start to play pass the pass. I can not understand why the language schools don't include the cost of the bus pass in the cost of the course. It would save me having to be nasty now and then.

The second incident left me feeling a certain amount of sympathy for a group of students. On the way into Brixham there is a Go Cart Race Track which is popular with people who like going fast. Me I just drive a bus. It is next to the Brixham Park and Ride site which is not actually up and running until next Monday. There is however a bus shelter and in big yellow letters the words Bus Stop are spread out in the roadway for all to drive over. This group had come out of the Go Carts and were standing at, what appeared to them to be a bus stop and wondering why all the buses were driving past without stopping. Well we can't until next Monday when the Par & Ride opens.

I have suggested that a fixed, durable notice be put in the shelter explaining that the stop only works when the Park and Ride is operating but as with many of the things I suggest nothing gets done.

As you can see the Park and Ride does get well used and is cheaper than driving into Brixham, adding to the traffic,and trying to find a parking place. I have heard that it will be there all year round from now on and not just in Summer so no need for the notice after all.

Big day on Saturday for Torquay United FC, their first game as a non league club, a friendly against Plymouth Argle. If they were playing a team made up of Plymouth Argle supporters they might just stand a chance of getting a result. Not a great football fan but good luck to the team now they are in the Blue Square Premier Division and are presently 21st out of 24 according to the BBC web page.

Monday, 9 July 2007

Students and Water

At this time of year Torquay, in common with lots of sea side towns, gets an influx of foreign language students all here to improve their English. I like the idea, the more Europeans who learn English the better. I means when I wander in to some foreign bar in some sun drenched Mediterranean resort and ask the person behind the bar, "Do you speak English?"; they are more likely to say,"Yes."With a Devon accent. Saves me learning Spanish. One English custom I would like the Language schools to instill in their pupils is the idea that in England we queue for the bus, we don't just walk up to the bus and get on ignoring the 20 people already waiting. Maybe they do and the students get forgetful. They get reminded very quickly if they try and jump the queue to get on my bus.

I had had a fairly busy day to day and was on the last trip from Brixham to Newton when the water alarm went off. Now some of our buses do have a problem with the water in the radiators, it doesn't seem to want to stay there. I'm not sure what the problem is but I know it isn't just our depot that has this problem. Anyway, I got on the radio and explained to control who said I should continue to Paignton Bus Station and change the bus when I got there. He also said he would phone the fueler who works there each evening and have him get a bus ready. There must have been a failure in communications because when I got to Paignton there was no new bus waiting and the fueler just said, "There is a watering can in the garage." and walked away. Great help he was. Three watering cans later the radiator was full and the bus back on the road but it all took 10 minutes which wasn't fair on the 50 people sat on the bus while I lugged a watering can full with 10 litres water back and forth 3 times.

One of the things I missed while I was one holiday was the Smoking Ban in pubs which came into force on the 1st of July. Now if you want a smoke with your pint you have to nip outside and hope no one has nicked your pint, or your seat, while you have been feeding your addiction. A couple of questions here, the pub I drink in, the Cider Press in Fleet Walk must have had at least 25 ash trays. Some pubs would have had more, some less but there are 50 000 pubs, bars restaurants etc in the country. That's a lot of redundant ash trays, the bottom must have fallen out of the used ashtray trade recently. Is there now a European Union ashtray mountain some where that we haven't been told about? Can it be seen from space? And, slightly more seriously,what about all those firms that made ashtrays for the pub trade, how many people are now out of work and have the government made provision for them? Bet they haven't.

First Day Back

Sunday morning, bright and early and back to work after two weeks holiday. Because it is early I get to take a bus out of the park which means I have to do a bus inspection and fill in the First User on the defect card. Part of the inspection means checking the water in the radiator. For this we have half a dozen watering cans lying a round the park and the only one I could find had been run over by a bus and was a bit squashed. So I put the defect card on the ground while I filled the radiator and drove off with it still on the ground. Fortunately I had a spare in my bag so when I realized I didn't have a defect card I able to fill in the spare card. Then to my first customer. He wanted a ticket for £1.70 but only had £1.65. Five pence down and I have only been out 10 minutes. A bit further down the road an other driver got on the radio to report that someone had left her handbag on the bus at the Grand Hotel. Nice start to some one's day. Ten minutes later the next bus arrived at the Grand and the young lady without her handbag asked the driver how she went about getting her handbag back. He radioed the driver who had reported the lost handbag and said see was going up Fleet Walk and would be back at the Grand in 2 hours. As i was going down Fleet Walk at the time I got on the radio and told the driver still at the Grand to tell the young lady here handbag would be at the Grand in 10 minutes. Then I flagged down the driver with the handbag and retrieved it from her. So from leaving her handbag on the bus to getting it back took 25 minutes instead of two hours. That's service for you.

While I was away the was a little bit of trouble on Paignton Bus Station with FirstBus staff handing out flyers stating that FirstBus were cheaper between Torquay and Paignton, which is true but not much use if you want to go onto Brixham. Anyway the Police were called and thousands were arrested in the riots that followed. (No, sorry that's not true. I must have been reading the wrong page in the news paper) No arrests were made and a Police spokesman said, "We gave advice and the situation calmed down quickly."
One thing I did notice as I drove along is that FirstBus have put their timetable on all the bus stops between Torquay and Paignton, some thing the never bothered with before. I also notice that there are slightly bigger that the Stagecoach time tables (which have always been there). This is the sort of thing that can completely destroy peace conferences."Why is your flag bigger than ours. This is an insult to the Democratic Peoples republic of Stagecoach Devon." says the leader of the peace delegation before storming out and arming the nuclear warheads. Lets hope it doesn't get to that. By the way, our fares to Plymouth are cheaper the FirstBus. Four quid return. You don't get better than that.

The bus above is not in any war, it just goes every hour for €1.25 to Andorra la Vella 8 km away from St Julia. The top picture is Andorra la Vella, capital town of Andorra. Nice place.

Monday, 2 July 2007


Here I am in Andorra on holiday, I have been here before, 23 years ago and much has changed. If you are an out of work builder this must be the place to be. Every where you look there are new buildings or there are buildings going up. It used to be here that if there was a flat bit of land you grew something on it. Now even if there there isnt a flat piece of land you get a big big bulldoser and make a flat piece of land and cuilt either a wharehouse which you fill with millions of pounds worth of beer, wine spirits, tabbaco and electical goods and sell it all to the French and Spanish. Failing that you build a hotel for the ski trade. car drivers are nicer here than in Spain and the road signs and road markings are clearer too.

Home in a few days so a few pictures and then back to the bus driving on Sunday.