Thursday, 31 July 2008

Story One, A Bus Pass

This is the English Bus Pass. It replaced all the local passes that were used before April 01 this year. Due to a problem at the printers which does not seem to be resolved some passes were not issued on time. To overcome this problem temporary passes were issued to be used in conjunction with the old passes but if you have been issued with a new pass please either throw the old one away or put it in a cupboard and forget about it. It is as much use as a 1945 Ration book. Maybe in 50 years time some collectors of ancient memorabilia will pay good money for an old bus pass but don't hold your breath. The reason I give this advice is to prevent incidents like the one that upset my day today from happening.
Four passengers boarded the bus and the lead passenger said, "Four with passes to Babbacombe, please." Actually he might not have said please but lets be generous. Before issuing the tickets I waited till each person had shown me their pass. A wise move, one of the passes was an old local authority pass with no sign of a temporary pass to go with it. I pointed out that the pass was not acceptable for travel in Torquay. The person said why not. I explained it wasn't the new style English pass like the other three. She said it was. I said it wasn't and pointed at her pass and one of the other passes. Not the same. Two of the passengers then demanded to know if their passes were acceptable. I reassured them that they were. The person, female, then assured me she had used the pass on the way down, (this statement is important later in the story). She then made to get off the bus but the fact that it was raining made her change her mind and one of the other passengers paid her fare, £1.50. First he put down 35 pence and said "I need an other penny." The penny was found eventually and added to the 35p. £1.14 short of the fare. I did mention that it was raining. There was a queue outside the bus getting wet but our heroes weren't rushing. I carefully explained the money tendered was short by £1.14. A further discussion followed as to whether the next bus driver might accept the pass. I knew he wouldn't because if they did get off my bus every bus driver in town would know one of these four didn't have the correct pass. About 5 seconds after they got off, but they didn't get off, shame. Anyway, finally, a total of £1.55 was placed in the cash tray and I carefully returned the extra 5p. The rest of the passengers boarded and off we went. When we got to Babbacombe episode two took place. One of the four stood on the platform and stated that on the way down the driver had only charged £1.25 and I had charged £1.55. He wasn't pleasant about it but I just smiled sweetly and expressed the wish that they, "All have a good day now."
Now I hadn't charged £1.55 even though the gave me £1.55, remember I gave 5p back, and the driver could not have charged £1.25 on the way down as there isn't a £1.25 fare anywhere on that section of the route. It's either £1.50 or £1.45 or 70p. But hang on a moment, didn't the female passenger with the worthless pass say she had used it on the way down? Yes she did. So how could she have been charged £1.25 to get down? Another of life's little mysteries.
I do love my job.

Story Two, Last Stop For Marychurch

The 12A and 12C run from South Devon College in Paignton to St Marychurch except that every half hour they run to Teignmouth. This little difference can cause a slight problem. The buses that go to Marychurch turn left into Manor Road and round to The Chilcote Memorial and wait time there. Passengers can go round the corner and get of in Manor Road and even, if they are perverse enough continue round to the Chilcote Memorial. I say perverse because it is much quicker to walk the 100 yards up the main road than take the 3/4 mile trip round the narrow back roads with a big chance of getting stuck between oncoming traffic and parked cars. The buses that go to Teignmouth don't take this round the houses trip, they go straight up the main road. Herein lies the problem. The next bus stop. It is a mile up the road. So in order to save some unwary traveller having to walk a mile back in the pouring rain I stop at Marychurch and after everyone who wants to get off had done so I stick my head round the bulkhead and shout loudly, "This is the last stop for Marychurch." Someone usually comes running up and asks, "Don't you turn left into Manor Road." No Sorry.

Well today was slightly different. Passengers were trying to get on before the disembarking passengers had got of so I asked then to wait a moment, then I shouted, "Last stop for Marychurch." One of the passengers getting on then wanted to know when the Teignmouth bus was coming, I explained I was the Teignmouth bus and she said I had said this was the last stop. I explained I had said, "Last stop for Marychurch." She then tried to get on while passengers were still getting on. Another waiting passenger then came up and demanded to know when the 17:45 to Teignmouth was coming. Again, "I am the Teignmouth bus." He said, " Why did you say it was the last stop?" I repeated that I had said "Last stop for Marychurch." Mean while the last of the disembarking passengers had managed to get of including a couple who had been sitting half way down the bus who asked, "Don't you turn left then, all the other buses do?" I explained that the Teignmouth bus doesn't turn left but goes straight on along the main road. Then the guy from the back seat with the iPod turned up and asked don't you go to Teignmouth? How he had heard me above the sound coming from his earphones is beyond me but I reassured him we were going to Teignmouth. He put his earphones, his well padded earphones, back on and return to his seat at the back of the bus and with everyone sitting down and me exhausted from explaining that the bus didn't turn left into Manor Rd but did go to Teignmouth so many times I set of. Much to the relief of the 200 or so cars that had built up behind me. As I went past the end of the road where the Chilcote Memorial stands a tiny thought entered my head,it went something like this, I bet there is someone on this bus that wants the Chilcote Memorial. Hands up those who had the same thought. Those with their hands up take a bow. The man sitting on the front seat suddenly jumped up and said, "I wanted the Chilcote Memorial." Actually he said a lot more than that but I try not to include swear words in this blog, I only use swear word on the subject of bus engines left running. (That's the subject of Story Three). Anyway the man who wanted the Chilcote Memorial got off at Pavor Rd in time to walk the 200yds up the road to the bus stop on the other side of the road to catch the bus back to Marychurch, just.

What he said to me when he got off the bus is, "You are a................................" What I said was, "Have a nice day"

Story Three, Teignmouth Parking and Engine Running

This is the bus I took to Teignmouth in Story Two. Parked on the Seaview Diner stop. Even though I took great care to get as close to the curb as possible the stop just isn't long enough to get completely in the bay. I could have got closer by swinging further over the pavement but that would have meant demolishing the bus shelter. As I have already in my time with the company wrecked one bus shelter I decided against this probable downward career move. And this bus is only 29 feet long, the double decker that I showed last week is 34 feet long and even harder to get on the bus stop without the back end sticking out.

Normally I don't wait time here, preferring to go and park on the sea front for 15 minutes so I don't clog up Teignmouth, other buses use this stop, both Stagecoach and Country Buses so it can get crowded. But today as I drove round to the sea front there was a number 2 in front of me. The number 2 also stopped on the sea front and the driver had got out of his cab and was having a cigarette. But his engine was still running. I didn't want to sit and listen to a bus engine running for 15 minutes so I drove back round and stopped on the Seaview Diner stop for a bit of peace and quiet.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Paignton Carnival

Ten years and one week ago I started driving for the company. I drove a 12A which in those far off days went from Marychurch to Brixham during the day and in the evening ran between Paignton and Torquay. A week after I started and I had only been living in Torquay for two weeks the Paignton Carnival was held. I read the diversion route with some trepidation. The names of the roads were unknown to me. I only just knew the route by this time and to head of into deepest, darkest Paignton in a double decker bus was not something I was looking forward to. My first trip from Paignton once the roads were closed and the diversion was in place took me to places I had never heard of let alone knew. My second trip out of Paignton started about 2 minutes after the controller announced that 'All roads have been reopened. Return to normal line of route.' Good, except no one had told the policeman at the barrier round the corner and he sent me of into deepest, darkest Paignton once again to spend an hour looking at tree lined roads and wondering how many windows (none) I would smash and if I would return to my loved ones ever again. Some of the roads I travelled on I have never been back to as every year since I have either not been working or have just missed the start and not got back from Newton until the carnival was over and the roads reopened. So this morning when I went in to work and saw the notice explaining the diversion I had a quick look at my running board. Diversion to start at 19:00 sharp, where was I at 19:00. Ain't I the lucky one? I would be in Newton Abbot, as far from Paignton as it is possible to get. And I finished at the depot so would not go anywhere near Paignton. I would just have to listen to the fun on the radio.

Well the 'fun' started at 18:50 when one of the drivers reported that Torbay Council road workers were erecting temporary traffic lights on the Dartmouth Road near the Corner Surgery, right on our diversion route. Now wasn't that a wonderful idea? Next thing was even better. The police normally let us know a few minutes before the roads get closed that they are closing the road so the controller can tell all buses that they must now used the diversion route. Remember the roads weren't to be closed until 7pm. One of our number 12s left the bus station in Paignton heading hopefully for Torquay with lots of passengers. Then he gets to the bottom of Palace Road and there is a barrier across the road and he ends up having to turn into Palace Road even though there is no way out for a double decker. And I was in Newton listening to this and it was definitely pre 19:00. A lot of swinging round and reversing and frantic radio messages later the stranded driver was still stranded behind an immovable barrier, reported that the passengers had abandoned the bus and were walking back to the bus station ( fortunately not very far) to catch an other bus to Torquay. By this time I was back at the depot signing off so any other little bits of ' fun' similar to the above will no doubt be related to me tomorrow. And related here tomorrow evening.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

A Bit More on the Van In Teignmouth

Yesterday I mentioned the camper van parked in the loading bay in Teignmouth which brought Seaview Diner Bus Stop to a halt. Today on my way down from Teignmouth I stopped at a red light, I'm good like that, in St Marychurch. The road there is clearly marked out with two lanes, left lane goes straight on and right lane turns right. Big white arrows which are much bigger than a car number plate are painted in the road. Our hero probably thinks they are some kind of moden art. I mention the car number plate because the ability to read a car number plate at 20.5 metres while taking one's driving test is all the eyesight test a driver here in the UK ever has to undergo. Bus and Lorry drivers do have a harder test and after the age of 45 have to take this harder test every 5 years and those who continue after 65, every year. But a car or light van driver can pass a test age 17 and not be required to have an eyesight test for 53 years. Even then all they have to do is fill a form in stating that they can actually read the number plate at 20.5 metres, no one comes along and checks that they aren't exaggerating slightly when they say the can. Anyway our hero in the van came along whilst I was sat there intently watching the red light for the slightest sign that it was changing to a green light. Eventually it did. By this time the van was next to me in the right hand lane, remember, the one with the big arrows pointing right. What did he do? He went straight on, not flooring the accelerator in the fashion of a boy racer intent on getting in front of the bus no matter what but gently as if he had every right to gently but firmly push me on to the pavement. Indeed when I gave a gently hint that he was about to crash into me by blowing the horn he took not a blind bit of notice, deafness does not prevent you from driving but stupidity should.

Been very sunny and fairly warm the last few days but don't worry, it wont last.

The Strand on Saturday morning, hundreds of students heading off for a days fun at the Water Park in Goodrinton. All trying to get on one bus. Not my bus, I was going the other way.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

More on Teignmouth

This is Teignmouth about 18:30 this evening. The bus behind me is a number 2 heading for Newton, I am a 12a heading for Torquay. The white van isn't going anywhere, what he is doing is parking in a loading bay and blocking the road. The van actually isn't loading or unloading as it is in fact a camper van and the occupants have gone for a walk round Teignmouth and will, unless they read this blog, probably never know that they brought the centre of Trignmouth to a halt for a while this evening. I have only included this post so the lady round the corner knows why we sometimes block her sea view. Better than blocking Teignmouth.

Friday, 25 July 2008


Friday 25 th July 2008 Paignton Bus Station.
Penultimate day for the X45 Plymouth service.
Tomorrow, Saturday there could be one or two bus spotters on the bus
station to take the odd photo at 17:40 when the last one leaves
for Plymouth or even at 20:30 when it gets back.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

OK, this happened a few days ago but who cares. I was in Teignmouth waiting time. If the traffic is light, which it has been until now we get 15 to 20 minutes in Teignmouth. Now we drop off at WH Smith’s and pick up a 100 yards away at the Sea View Diner. Neither bus stop is exactly big, certainly not big enough to leave a bus lying around for too long. Not unless Teignmouth coming to a halt is your idea of fun. However just round the corner on the sea front there are a couple of coach parking bays which I park on. Right, I do moan now and then about coaches parking on bus stops but I do watch out for any passing coaches that might want to park there, so far I haven't had to move yet. Anyway, the other day I went round and there was a number 2 also waiting time. The number 2 is one of ours and runs between Newton Abbot and Exeter.

On the sea front there is a row of Victorian Houses now done up into flats which overlook the sea. There is also a notice asking parked vehicles to switch of engines when parked. I am quiet fanatical about this. The moment I stop, the engine gets switched off, then the handbrake goes on. When it is time to go I start the engine and I am gone in a few seconds. Years ago I used to live overlooking a bus terminus and know exactly what it is like listening to a bus engine throbbing away in the background wondering when it will go and cursing the bus driver to the lowest reaches of hell. Bus engines are big and sound much louder on the outside of the bus than they do on the inside.

Guess what? The 2 driver had his engine running. And he had ten minutes before he went. Switch the fucking thing off. If it doesn't start it isn't your problem. Head office will get the complains. And anyway this number two was fairly new, it will start. Trust me on this. I'm a bus driver.

So I had a few minutes and went to talk to the driver, no sorry, not to have a go at him for being an audio polluter, but just a chat. Then a lady who lived in one of the flats appeared, approached the other driver and said, "Have you any idea what it is like..................". I missed the rest of the sentence, guessing it was to do with the engine running. An other driver of a passing bus had called me over. He wanted to know if I had any idea where the 'Promotion 2' button was on the new ticket machine. As it happened we don't use this button in Torquay but it is on the machine, not sure why, and I knew where it was. By the time I had told him the lady had finished her conversation with the other number 2 driver and was heading, wait for it, to the nearby litter bin into which she dumped a bag of rubbish she had brought out from her flat. Just in case you didn't know dumping private household rubbish in a public litter bin is illegal and councils tend to get dead upset if they catch you doing it.

She wasn't bothered by the engine noise either. She was upset that our buses were blocking her view of the sea. It’s only water for crying out loud, get a telly, much more interesting.

Tuesday, 22 July 2008


A fairly quiet day today. Most of the schools in the area finish this week, some finished today.
The sun has been shinning for several days, ever since St Swithen's Day so it looks like the weather has taken a turn for the better after a wet and not exactly sunny or dry start.

Anyway as I said I had a quiet day and this was just about the most exciting thing the happened all day. Not a circus performer trying to get and audience interested in his act but the local cafe worker trying to get more rubbish in the skip. Looks very energetic, no need to pay out a fortune on aerobic classes, just find an almost full skip and jump in.

Friday, 18 July 2008

So What Happened Here?

Like I was saying a day or two back, accidents happen often but are rarely witnessed by any single individual. This must have happened some time between 17:30 on Thursday and 11:30 Friday morning. The skid marks in the bus lay by are not the only ones, there are others in the roadway as well so I suspect boy racers, who these days can be any age and more often either sex, were involved. Or maybe a bit of road rage. This section of road has a 30 mph speed limit but I have at times been overtaken here by cars doing at least 60 mph.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

There ain't no such thing as a free ride.

It ain't fun being a gull mum. When I first saw mum being pestered for food there were actually 3 youngsters with beaks wide open after a mid afternoon snack but by the time the shot was taken one had flown away.

I took this shot while on my lunch break at Paignton. From there I headed for Newton arriving at 15: 38 just in time to pick up about 80 passengers. 65 of them were school children and 15 of them were human beings who were thinking, "Next time I will catch an earlier bus." Actually the school children in Newton Abbot are much better behaved now than a few years ago and the only problem is the noise level that tends to be a bit higher than usual. But the little darlings have just spent several hours sitting quietly at their desks learning lots of wonderful new and usful things like algebra and French and who was King of England in 1759 and punctuation and spelling. I missed out on the last one. It's not suprising they get a little noisy.

Then down into Torquay for the big event of the day. Things like this are rare, in 11 years it's only the second time it has happened to me. A man boarded the bus in Union Street at the top of town and refused to pay his fare. Instead he just went and sat down as though paying for a bus ride was beneath him.00000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000. Sorry the cat just sat on the keyboard) Well it isn't beneath anyone, you have a pass, a return ticket or you pay or you walk. I got on the radio to control who told me to nip down to the Strand where we keep a spare controller and he would deal with the problem.

On the Strand the controller spoke to the non fare paying passenger who still refused to either pay or leave the bus. The police were called and turned up very quickly. The police officer asked the non fare paying passenger to walk off the bus of his own accord or he, the police officer would assist him off the bus. Non fare paying passenger, and non thinking passenger come to think about it, refused. The police officer assisted him off the bus in about the time it takes some one to say, "Oh my god. That was quick."

I continued on my way not many minutes down. The rest of the day passed without incident. A bit dull really.

More From The Student World

So there I was, waiting on the Strand out side Debenhams waiting to take over a bus for the 15 minute trip up to Marychurch. There was a bit of a crowd waiting and I had noticed 3 foreign language students standing by the edge of the pavement. They were probably waiting for the same bus as me but while I tend not to wait in the queue I do hope and expect my passengers to do so. When the bus did arrive, a couple of minutes late, these 3 immediately moved forward to try and get on the bus. I directed them to the back of the queue saying, “Join the queue or you don’t get on the bus.” They joined the back of the queue muttering something in French. I tried to get on the bus but there was a female person standing in the way, she was trying to ask the driver something but he directed her to me, explaining that I was now the driver of the bus. The bus was about half full which meant it could easily take the 35 people, including about 20 students, waiting to get on, even the three I had told to join the queue. The female person then told me, she didn’t ask me, that there were some students in the queue who had to get on the bus and she was going to bring then straight on to the bus. “No,” said I. “They can wait in line like everyone else.” The female person then thanked me, sarcastically, telling me I had been a great help. I like to be helpful but not to the point of letting anyone jump the queue, especially as there was no need. Everyone waiting would get on. (Not true as it turned out).

So I sat down and leaned down to get my cash tray out of my bag. When I looked up guess who was back on the platform. Yes, easy guess wasn’t it. The female person. She had 3 of the students in tow. An other guess for you, which 3 students did she have in tow and tried to push down the bus while I wasn’t watching. OK, I’m not going to tell you. You should be able to work it out. Now on my bus persistent queue jumpers get directed to the pavement and told to stand there until the next bus turns up. That way they will be first in line and wont have to queue jump. These three got that treatment as did the female person ( who works for one of the Language Schools). She pretending she was the most important person on the planet and I had to let the students on, so I repeated that they were not travelling on the bus. She had an other go so a third rendition of, "You are not travelling on the bus," was cut short when a local tapped her on the shoulder and said, “I don’t think the driver will change his mind, You may as well get the next bus.” I am not exactly sure what she said to me as she got off the bus as I managed to turn my deaf ear towards her just in time to prevent my delicate sensibilities from being ruined for ever.

Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Wall to Wall Sunshine

Wall to wall sunshine on St Swithen's Day. I mentioned the saint a few days ago and mentioned the bit of folk lore that suggested that if it rained on St Swithen's Day we would have rain for 40 days. The Met Office say it doesn't make any difference what happens to the weather today according to records going back 60 years and the saying doesn't say what will happen if it doesn't rain today, which it didn't. I'm looking forward to finding out, we could do with some settled weather for the rest of summer.
A couple of little incidents along the same stretch of road involving cyclists came to my attention yesterday and today. Given how far I drive in a year, about 28 000 miles, I actually see very few actual RTCs occurring and I didn't actually see these two happen. I just got there too late. The first was a motor cycle parked on the pavement with the owner, in full motorcycle gear talking to two ambulance crew. Their ambulance was parked in the bus stop just before Wheatridge Lane. At first, as I drove past I thought there may have been a collision between the ambulance and the bike. Any way I continued towards Paignton and South Devon College. On my way back, heading to where the incident had happened the road goes through a series of bends and the road goes up and down a few inclines, just the sort of road that might tempt some one on a motorbike to open the throttle just a bit more than one should. Especially as the last bend is just that bit sharper than the others and what is round that bend is a straight piece of road that is normally clear, no parked cars, no traffic queues. But there is also a high wall and lots of trees blocking the view ahead but what the hell, it always clear. As I went round this bend slowing gently, foot resting on the brake peddle I notice a single skid mark starting in the centre of the left side of the road and aimed right at the traffic island in the middle of the road. The bollard, one of those plastic ones that bend and crush if hit certainty look bent and crushed, just like it had been hit. My guess is a biker went round the last bend forgetting for a moment the most important rule in the Highway Code. Never driver so fast that you can not stop easily in the distance you know to be clear. Hitting a bollard isn't stopping easily. Only a guess, but then I am sitting at a computer and can guess, unlike the biker who was sitting on his bike and guessed and got it wrong.
PS Neither he nor his bike look badly damaged.
Second incident I also just missed seeing happened a 100 yards down the road from the above. I pulled into the bus lay by at Livermead Cliff. There was nothing of note in the road ahead, just slow moving traffic heading for Torquay. Two passengers got off and I watched them. Once they were clear of the door I closed it and checked the mirror, the road was clear and I looked ahead and moved of. There on the right hand side of the road was a car half way into a hotel car park with a cyclist lying on the pavement with his bike on top of him. The car must ( again a guess) have been in the slow moving traffic and turned into the car park without noticing the cyclist attempting to pass on the nearside, in a cycle lane I might note. The incident must have happened whilst I was watching my passengers disembark. As I drove past the incident the cyclist was being helped to his feet by the car driver so again no one was seriously hurt, unless of course the cyclist kicked seven shades of brown stuff out of the car driver as I vanished into the distance.

Buses, or Lack of Them in Malta

Bus drivers have gone on strike in Malta. Blocking roads and storming police stations. The road to the Airport is blocked and the Times of Malta is full of stories about scenes of mayhem.

It is also full of comments by the general public, if you read a few of them you will notice the word THUG comes up now and again. Well not exactly now and again, it comes up all the time. This word is used to describe the local bus drivers not only now they are on strike but in their normal everyday work. So if one of our drivers is a little of hand in his dealings with you it could always be worse, you could live in Malta.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Verbul Abuse on a Grand Scale

One of the bars around Torquay Harbour hired a singer to frighten away the crowds, sorry that should have been, to entertain the crowds. Unfortunately for those of us who spent any time in Harbour area this afternoon we had to endure this noise for hours and hours. I took the shot at least 200 yards away from the singer and yet he can be clearly heard. If one of my neighbours was playing music that loud everyone in the street would be banging on his door. If he is there next time I am in the Harbour I think I will find out where exactly he is performing and go and ask who ever is paying him to stop paying him in the hope that he will go away or at least go inside and turn the volume down. Sitting by the Harbour watching the boats bob up and down should be a quiet experience. It was a bit like being near a bus waiting time with it's engine running, you just hope the driver will switch the engine off or drive away and the relief when the noise does stop is almost overwhelming. What made it worse was a couple of minutes after the video was taken he announced that he had come to the end of his torture, sorry show. He then thanked just about everyone except President Bush and then lurched into his finale, a rendition of "My Way" that took over 6 minutes. Frank Sinatra has a lot to answer for and would have been turning in his grave.

Students, English language students. Actually it isn't their fault that 300 of them all arrived in Bank Lane Brixham at about 11:40 this morning and all expected to get on the first bus that turned up and were upset that they couldn't. Who organised this stupidity needs to ask themselves a few simple questions like how many people can get on one bus? If buses run every ten minutes and can carry 90 passengers how long will it take to shift 300 people? And how will the people who uses buses everyday feel when they turn up and have to wait 40 minutes to get on a bus to go to work or shop just because the language schools can not understand these simple facts.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

Road Works and Do You Speak Danish?

This is the world famous Fleet Street and these road works have been here since Monday. But for the last couple of days they have been unattended by any road workers. Some one who works in the Oggy Oggy Pasty Shop which has the roadworks right outside their main entrance and is probably the best pasty shop in Torquay tells me he hasn't seen any workmen for a couple of days either. Where are they? Moonlighting or waiting for some spare part to be flown in from Inner Mongolia or just forgotten where exactly they left all these bright red barriers? I do remember reading something about a local authority strike but I sure that was a few days or even weeks ago. So why this continued bottleneck and eyesore in Torquay's main street?

While I was waiting for a bus earlier in the day I noticed this Danish car with an ad on the spare wheel cover. Now we don't see too many Danish cars with ads on the back so I decided to visit the web site, having a wild guess that it might be something to do with gardening. I am not much wiser except I now know it is nothing to do with gardening. If you can speak Danish maybe you can tell me what they sell at

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Wet, Windy, Desolate.

The Jet Stream has a lot to answer for. When it moves North in the summer it draws high pressure and stable weather to the British Isles. If it moves South for the summer we get low pressure and lots of rain and wind. It ain't moved North for this summer that's for sure. It is going to get better though. Just not exactly sure when but next Tuesday is an important day, it being St Swithin's Day (15 July). If you have never heard about St Swithen's Day then here goes, it is English folk lore that if it rains on St Swithins day then 40 days of rain will follow, if it is fine then we will have a good summer. Lets hope the Jet Stream moves North by Tuesday.

Couple got on the bus today and asked for two tickets to the Balloon stop. One of them asked what the stop was called. It's official name is Belgrave Road but with a 70 foot high white elephant, sorry, white balloon parked in the field across the road from it then Balloon Stop will do for me. I haven't been keeping count so far but the number of days the big white thing has made it into the air seems to be a lot less than the number of times it hasn't made it up, wind being the problem.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

How NOT To Get On a Bus!

Union Street in Torquay is the main shopping street, It is also handy for the Town Hall if you want to go and see your councillor and get something done. Yeh, right. Anyway it is a very busy stop, People coming into town from Newton get off there in droves, People heading back to Paignton and Brixham get on there in similar sized droves. So you pull up at the stop and the people waiting at the stop continue waiting while the on board hoard disembark. Well that's the usual way, doesn't always happen quiet like that. To day was one of those days. Twenty people getting off, twenty people waiting to get on. Ten people had got off when up strides father and mother, not my father and mother you understand but someone's father and mother.

In fact father was carrying daughter, aged three, mother was carrying son, aged one and a half. They took no notice of the queue waiting to get on nor of the ten people still in the process of getting off. He waved a couple of dayriders at me and before I could say anything headed down the bus, father using daughter and mother using son like human battering rams scattering poor innocent victims like so many discarded bus tickets on a windy day. They made it to the stairs in about half a second and up them despite the fact that people were still trying to get down said stairs. I just sat there open mouthed. Some times, most times, about 99.7% of the time I will prevent mayhem like this but I was stunned by the speed at which it all took place. Maybe there is a Human Battering Ram contest on somewhere over the weekend and these two were practicing hard, if they are competitors then my money is definitely on them.

In good time and without too many incidents, none really, we arrived in Paignton Bus Station. Paignton is the 2nd biggest town in Torbay and lots of passengers get off here. Lots get on as well, bit like Union Street and the same peaceful, unspoken arrangement between the would be passengers waiting for the would be pedestrians to get off before attempting to board exists, though holidaymakers who haven't been on a bus in years some times forget. Well 30 people got off and the waiting 25 stood stoically in the cool wind until it was clear the last passenger had left. They were wrong. Ten had boarded the bus when father and mother attacked them with the two children in the same style early crusaders attacked the gates of Jerusalem, the early crusaders did hack down a hand tree first to use as a battering ram, not their children, though what I have read about early, and late, crusaders they may have used other people’s children.

With this kind of determination and the dedication to training these two showed I really do want to put the mortgage on them. I don’t seem to be able to find out when the Human Battering Ram contests is though.

Sunday, 6 July 2008

Don't feed the Gulls

There I was in Teignmouth. Breakfast was so far in the past you would have had to look it up in a history book. I had 20 minutes waiting time in Teighmouth, a 40 minute drive down to Torquay before it was time for lunch. So Idecided to have a sandwich. Just to fill a small hole in my tum. The first bite wasn't even complete before an old friend from a couple of weeks ago turned up with a mate. I might not have been as hungrey as them but they had no chance. Right outside the bus was a small notice about not feeding the gulls. And besides, I don't want gulls associating Stagecoach buses with food do I? We will have lines of them waiting every time a number 12A turns up in Teignmouth. Some gull could get hurt.

The cats I mention are like the seagulls in that they are always hungrey, the voice in the background is the bus radio and can anyone help me. When I played that clip from file I can hear the sound. When I play it from busdriving or Youtube its silent movie. Anyone any ideas why.

This is outside a church on the Babbacombe Road. The red car, and all the cars behind it are parked on double yellow line which mean no parking at any time. I know that because that is what is written on the plate at the side of the road. So why haven't all these cars got tickets? Well these christians are not daft, they may love god and love their neighbour and park their cars on double yellow lines but all the cars that are on the double yellow lines have blue badges stuck in the windscreens while all the cars without blue badges are in the small car park. Now there is enough room for two cars to pass here but I ain't all that sure about a car and a bus getting through together and I am not going to risk it just in case god gets annoyed at me for taking half a dozen wing mirrors off cars belonging to his/her congregation.

So there I was in Teignmouth, a long time since breakfast, 20 minutes waiting time in Teignmouth, 40 minutes drive back to Torquay and feeling a bit pekish so I decide to have one of my sandwiches. Suddenly from nowhere an old friend turns up. And he has a mate with him. I finish my sandwich, explaining to then that it is against the law to feed the seagulls. If you think I am a cold hearted so and so feeding them would mean they would have associated all Stagecoach buses with food and they and their friends would have been lining up in the road like a scene from The Birds looking for food.

Saturday, 5 July 2008

What happened today.

Now let me see, what did it do today? Oh yes, it rained, then it rained some more. And just when you were getting fed up of the rain what did it do next? Well sorry to say, it carried on raining. Will it ever stop? Probably not.

Not that these brave souls in Teignmouth cared about the rain.

Because of the weather it was very quiet, more like November. If you are on holiday down here this weekend I know you will not believe me but the sun has been known to shine. Honestly.

Forscast says next Tuesday will be dry which is fine by me, it's my day off. By the way Teignmouth is pronounced Tin_mouth, not sure why.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Where To Stop.

On the Harbour side of the Strand there is a long bus stop. No,that isn't a bus stop for long bus, it's just long. providing the new land train isn't there we can get 4 buses on at on go. Some times we need to and some times it just isn't long enough as the photo shows. You can also see Debenhams on the other side of the road.
Anyway, this evening I came down from Teignmouth at about 19:10. During the day this service, the 12A continues on to Paignton and SDC but at this time it ends on the Harbour side and passengers have to change to a 12 from the same stop. I then drive round the block to pick passengers up at Cary Parade and Debenhams for St Marychurch. When I got to the Strand there were no buses on the stop but there was a small crowd (15 not 10 000) waiting for a 12. Now I know they will try and get on the bus thinking it is going on to Paignton even though I have Torquay Harbourside on the front. Who reads destination blinds these days? So do I stop at the back of the bus stop 35 yards from where they are all standing or drive to the front of the stop and explain where I am going next? If, and I have tried this, stop at the back of the bus stop many of them will walk down to the bus and be disappointed when I tell them I am not going anywhere near Paignton. If I drive to the front of the bus stop at least I can save them the walk. So I drive to the front and open the doors to let the passengers on the bus get off. As they are doing so the expectant passengers crowd round and I call loudly, "This bus is not going to Paignton, it's going to St Marychurch. Trust me in this, I am a bus driver. I do know these things." The disappointment, you could have blunted a knife with it. Everyone believed me except one. He held on to the door and told me I was a 12 and the 12 went to Paignton. I pointed out I wasn't a 12, I was a 12A. He repeated what he had said and I repeated what I had just said. He still held on to the door and repeated himself. I didn't I asked him to "Please let go of the door so I can go to St Marychurch." Nothing happened. Vocally he seemed to have run out of ideas but he still held on to the door. I invited him to board the bus if he wanted to but warning him it didn't go to Paignton. Still nothing except the firm grip of the door."Please let go of the door sir, I need to Go." The firm grip continued. I used my best school teacher voice from the old days."Let Go Of The Door So I Can Go." It didn't work then and didn't work now. What did happen is someone at the back of the crowd who hadn't been paying attention, funny how those at the back never do, heard me address this poor gentleman without using the magic work and came running up and in an attempt to rebuke me said in a loud voice, "What he means sir, is 'Please let go of the door'." looking at me pointedly. I've been looked at pointedly by experts and it has little effect on me but the door gripper did let go of the door. By the time he realised and tried to grab it again I had shut the doors and was gone. Round to Debenhams and picked up 70 students, not going to the Beach, it was raining heavily by now and were sensibly going to Kents Caven, out of the rain.

The Party. Will There Be Any Gatecrashers?

Will people still turn up even though the organizers have cancelled? The Gate Persons (Devon & Cornwall Police) will still be there but the riot gear and water canons have been put away. (With some regret maybe?) OK. OK. I don't think for one minute that the water canons and riot gear were ever brought out in the first place but some local reaction suggested the should have been. Anyway, we will find out this weekend if anyone makes it past Exeter.

Meanwhile there was an item in the local press, it's fairly long with lots of comments left by readers. Click here if you want to read it and the comments which range between "Thank God" and "Torbay has just missed an opportunity of a life time".

Following on from the missed opportunity, one part of the item is as follows;-

Christian Seiflow-Moran, chairman of Torbay Chamber of Commerce, said before news of the cancellation: "I don't necessarily see 10,000 people coming to Torbay as a bad thing. If it became a yearly event, one that is organised sensibly and securely, then that would be a massive thing for us."

Well Christian, you are chairperson of the Chamber of Commerce, what better person to organise such an event here in Torbay so get organising. You could have a Mid Summer Party organised by next year to rival Stonehenge and I am sure Facebook would be willing to give it a brief mention.

Go on. Put your money where your mouth is. It could be the best thing to happen in Torbay since the Ice Age ended.

Sorry there hasn't been much about bus driving for the last few days but I have been working on a project that looks like it may have been a bit of a waste of time. We'll see.

Wednesday, 2 July 2008

Some People Should Turn Away NOW.

There I was walking up Regent Close, that well known wild life jungle just a couple of miles north of down town Torquay and I came across something you don't see every day. You probably don't want to see every day is more to the point. In a month both snails, or maybe just one will lay a 100 eggs which will hatch in 14 days. If only we could breed a type of snail that only eat dandelions, then they would be the gardeners new best friend and they would never go hungry in my back garden.

More on the weather for weekend, wet, wet, wet. So the party could be a washout. Mind you, if you read though the comments in the Herald Express it would appear it has turned out to be, a hoax, a different Torbay, cancelled, an anti climax (bit like the eclipse), only 27 people, all policemen, are going to turn up, a military exercise organised by the Pentagon, a publicity stunt by the holiday industry to put Torbay on the map, Basil Fawlty having a last laugh, etc, etc.

Not much on the bus front today except at the end of my shift when I did something daft. When we get back to the depot at the end of the shift we have a piece of paper that comes out of the ticket machine which tells us how much money we owe the company. We place it carefully in the cash counting machine and what ever is left in the cash tray is our float for the next day. Some times I dump this in the cash machine just to check how my float is doing. Once it has been counted I press reject and I get it back together with a piece of paper telling me what my float is worth in pounds and pence Sterling. Well this evening one of the other drivers was telling a little story and while I was listening I neglected to press the REJECT button. The cash machine, after about a minutes inactivity is programed to take the money and will not give it back no matter how hard you kick the sodding thing.

Anybody got any 5, 10, 20 50 pence and pound coins to spare before 11:25 tomorrow morning.


The Weather This Weekend in Torquay

Not going to be good for the Beach Party, not that I want to put you off turning up.

Click here for 5 Day Forecast from the BBC.

Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Beach Party, YOU are not invited!

Here is an item from the Herald Express.

I would like to stress it isn't just YOU who isn't invited,


01 July 2008

Emergency plans are being drawn up today to cope with a feared invasion of 10,000 beach-party goers on Torbay. Police are even considering an unprecedented ban on the serving of alcohol in all licensed premises in a specific area.Local Licensed Victuallers Association boss Steve Goss hopes the ban won't go ahead but believes the police will make the right decision. Police are having to play a cat-and-mouse game with the unknown party organisers who have so far not identified where the event is being held.The police and council are meeting this afternoon to work out emergency measures if the party goes ahead.The event could have major health and safety implications and land the authorities with a hefty bill.

The rest of the item, which is quite long can be found here.

I'll keep you posted on any developments.