Saturday, 29 August 2009

Passengers flee as bus goes up in smoke

A bit of news from Stagecoach

Passengers had to be evacuated when a bus burst into flames.
The Stagecoach single-decker sent smoke billowing into the air as it climbed Babbacombe Road towards St Marychurch.
About 30 passengers were on the number 32 as it came to a halt at the junction of Lower Warberry Road yesterday morning. Passengers made their own way off through the door at the front of the bus after the driver pulled over.Emergency services arrived within minutes

Later Stagecoach staff at the scene refused to comment on the incident other than to confirm the driver was physically unharmed but in shock.
A Stagecoach spokeswoman later confirmed: "There was an incident on the Babbacombe Road involving one of our vehicles.
"No passengers were injured and everyone was safely evacuated from the vehicle.
"The fire was contained in the engine compartment and we will be investigating this incident in full. Normal service has resumed."
Mechanics from Stagecoach said the fault was 'extremely rare' and probably electrical.
They said the vehicle would have to be taken back to the depot for a full engine check.
The road was closed for about an hour while diesel was cleared away.

Friday, 28 August 2009

Things You See in the Night

Woke up about 3:30 this morning, a call of nature. When I got back to the bedroom I looked out the window. I usually do, to see what the weather is doing, clouds in the sky? No. Stars shining? Yes. Moon out? No. Fox walking down the middle of the road? Yes.

Now that isn't something you see every day, or every night for that matter.

Thursday, 27 August 2009

Consultation requires at least two people to be present.

There I was, walking along the sea front on my way to take part in the week long, in depth, searching for answers consultation arranged by Torbay Council and this green bus swept by. It said FirstBus on the front and 80th Anniversary on the side.
I have been on FirstBus South West's web site but they don't seem to know anything about this green thing.
Anyway onto the consultation re the new road lay out in front of Rock Walk. It was to be held in Breezes, the bar/restaurant of the Princess Theatre and I had been looking forward to having my say and sitting down and discussing at high level and in depth a couple or three points with senior officials from the Highways Department. Maybe even Nick Bye, the Mayor would be there showing interest in my views and ideas. Maybe it would lead to a part time post with the council as consultant re bus travel on Torbay's roads

Anyway this was it. Isn't it magnificent?

Gormley's Gone

This is what The Spanish Barn looks like today, locked and uninviting. Probably empty.

All these little chaps have gone, stored somewhere in Yorkshire next to a nuclear fuel dump for all I know. The Herald Express said 38 307 people went to see them. Sorry it was only 38 303 people. I went 5 times, mostly because I hoped to get down there one day when there was no one from the Arts Council hanging around to make sure I didn't take a photo. This reluctance to allow visitors to take photos baffles me. I mean I got this photo from the WWW with no trouble. Problem it isn't the photo I would have taken. I would have a photo I took unique to me and would show the exhibition as I saw it which would have been so much better than this mass produced effort by some one who just pointed the camera and clicked.

Red Arrows

The Red Arrows were in town last night. It had been a grey, wet day and the evening wasn't much better. The decision to fly had only been taken at 5:30 for 6:00 so attendance was down on last year. This photo was taken from above Rock Walk looking towards Paignton.

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

More From the M5

Most Sundays find me heading North up the M5 to Junction 2 the Dudley turn off and most Mondays find me heading South from the same Junction down to Torquay. So far in the last 5 weeks I have done as much motorway driving as I have done in the previous 10 years. Aren't I lucky I hear some of you say. I notice little things here and there. One of them is how like Frankley Service Station Southbound looks just like I would imagine the entrance to a Soviet Secret Arms dump would have looked like.

So there I was heading south at a nice steady 95k, I give all the speeds here in Km per hour because that's what my cruise control registers in. The road was fairly clear and I could see ahead a large blue truck, 30 tonnes, which I was catching up with. A little way beyond this blue truck was a big, 38 tonne artic, green in colour. The blue truck was doing about 90k and the green artic 85k. I could see that by the time I got up to the blue truck it would have pulled out into the middle lane and I would have to slow down to 90k while it overtook the green artic, us coaches not being allowed in the third lane, that's for cars and vans doing 110k (and more).

So I disengaged the cruise control and slowed to 90k and settled in behind the blue truck. I had by now noticed that the blue truck was a visitor to our fair isle from one of the other countries in the EU and was advertising toilet bowls on the back of his truck. I also quickly noticed that slowing down to 90k wasn't going to be enough. As soon as the foreign driver had got 5 metres behind the green artic he too had slowed down, for some reason that defies all logic, to 85.1k and proceeded to take over 5 minutes to get past the artic, at times coming dangerously close to poor green artic. So close in fact that I slowed down even more to allow space for the bits and pieces I expected to come cascading down the Motorway at any moment following a collision.

God was on our side however and no collision occurred and the blue truck finally made it past the artic. By now there was a bottle neck on the motorway with only the outside lane being available for passing cars, the drivers of which were no doubt blaming me for blocking the middle lane (not my fault, honest). Now the blue truck had started to pull into the nearside lane so I pressed the pedal to get past as fast as legally possible. What did our foreign friend do? Spot on. He accelerated to 100k, faster than I was willing to go, possibly able, I haven’t tried yet. So after spending an other half minute trying to pass the blue truck, still blocking the middle lane, I pulled in behind at a sensible 95k. Go on, have a guess. What did he do now, this visitor to our green and pleasant land, this seller of Teutonic toilet bowls, this maniac who been learn how to drive at the Panzer School of Motoring?

That’s right. He slowed down to 90k so I had to make an other excursion into to middle lane. This time he had exhausted his repertoire and I got past him and, so far as I know have never see him since. Aren’t I lucky?

Nothing to do with the motorway!
The black cat is intruding in our garden and Ginger doesn't like him. Ginger might be 15 years old but he is at least 2kg heavier that the black cat who sensibly moved away before blows were struck.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

Torbay Road by Rock Walk

This is the situation now, no parked cars between here and Belgrave Road. Before the work started her in Jan 2008 ( for 6 weeks) this was a duel carriageway road, two lanes in both directions. On both sides of the road the left lane was allocated for parked cars, and coaches outside the Princess Theatre. The big problem when driving along this section of road was cars pulling away from the left lane. Some one would stop to let a car out, not because they were kind sweet souls who just wanted to help a stranger on their way. No, they wanted to get into the parking space. So you would sit there while the car moving off shunted back and forward and pulled away then the car that had let him out would reverse into the parking space, sometimes in a way that suggested they had plenty of practice at reverse parking but usually in a way that suggested it was the first time in their lives they had ever tried this really difficult manoeuvre. And usually this little trick would happen two or three times a trip in the summer, always when you were running late. It happened on the way back as well. Now all that has gone and under the new scheme in which traffic will switch to the landward side of the road, the sea ward side will as I mentioned be for parking, it will remain gone.

Couple of little problems, buses pulling away from the existing stops at the Pavilion will have to get out against traffic wanting to go ahead and get in the parking lane, Please Let The Bus Out. Second problem, before the work started there were two bus stops at the Theatre, one on each side of the road. They are no longer in use but it is a long way from the Pavilion to the next stop at Belgrave Rd. Will they be reinstated and if so they will block the road as there is no room to put in a lay by? Third problem will be the Boy Racers who will try and get in front of the through traffic by nipping through the parking area at 50 mph. I hope there will be suitable provision to seriously discourage them.

I will take my thoughts on this matter down to the Library on Tuesday (I'm working Monday) and mention them to who ever is in charge. Oh yes, one more idea. Will there be someway of stopping mad people walking along the central reservation?

P.S. My thanks to ISCA Scaffold, the company that built the Blue Wall. It was designed to stop rocks falling down the cliff and on to the road putting all our lives at risk. So far no rocks have made it on to the road so the Blue Wall has done it's job admirably. Well done ISCA.
Posted by David at 13:19

Thursday, 20 August 2009

Rock Walk and the Sea Front Road

Have your say.

The item below is taken from the Herald Express. The nasty remarks by the Lib Dems have been removed as they are not revalent. You can read the complete item here.

Consultation displays will be available at Torquay Library for a week from Monday 24 August and at Breezes Café in the Princess Theatre on Thursday, August 27 from 11am.
Comments on the traffic design plans can be made at the consultation events or by email to: or through Torbay Council's website,

TORQUAY residents and traders have a week to give their opinions on a new layout in one of the town's busiest roads.
Torbay Council has defended its decision to hold the consultation on the new layout for Torbay Road, along Rock Walk, for just one week during one of the busiest times of the year.
The aim is to keep traffic flowing in both directions on the one side of Torbay Road avoiding delays previously caused by vehicles parking.
Many road users have described this as a positive move and have asked the council to keep the layout when the road re-opens fully.
The new design proposes two-way traffic on the land side carriageway for the majority of this section of Torbay Road
The other carriageway, closest to the sea, would be used to provide parking, taxi rank, coach drop-off and disabled parking, without causing disruption to through traffic.
It will also be used to hold on-street events such as markets, street entertainment and small fairground rides.

Rock walk as it used to look.

Deputy mayor and cabinet member for transport, Chris Lewis, said: "During a week-long consultation on Rock Walk's Royal Terrace Gardens last year many local residents, businesses and visitors said they were in favour of a single carriageway design along Torbay Road.
"We have listened to these comments and drawn up these plans.
"Now we'd like as many people as possible to let us know what they think about the design which aims to keep traffic moving along the seafront, while reinstating parking spaces.
"This will be a temporary layout and, if in a couple of years, it proves popular then we will look at making it a permanent feature and more aesthetically pleasing."
He said he had heard of few objections to the proposal but said he would be willing for the public to be consulted further about the new layout if people were unhappy.
A spokesman added: "This week has been chosen following a number of enquiries from the public and we, therefore, wanted to get the proposals out as soon as possible.
"Once we have received feedback from the consultation, we will take comments to elected members to consider any proposed changes, after which we may need to consult again.
"If we find people have not managed to get to the exhibition to express their views, we will, of course, look to extend the consultation period."

Wednesday, 19 August 2009

A Bus in Abbey Road

I went for a little walk along Braddon's Hill Road yesterday. I have never been along that road before, it is up some very sleep steps, and got this shot.
I have just put a new hard drive in the computer, the last one was still working but making so much noise I was surprised the neighbours didn't complain. Anyway I ordered it last week and the day it came I had finished backing up the few remaining files I hadn't previously got on DVD. Then I googled 'How to change a hard drive'. All seem simple until I came across one which went on about partitioning the new hard drive and NATS files and such junk. It looked so complicated I thought about chucking all my screwdrivers in the sea and forgetting the whole thing. But I went a head, opened the back of the computer, took a deep breath and two hours later all was up and running just fine. So now I have a 500GB hard drive, room for 150 000 photos. I love photos.

Refuelling a Coach

Thanks for all the nice comments after my last couple of posts. Yes cleaning out the coach can be a bit of a pain but not as much a pain as refuelling the bloody thing. The company have a Shell fuel card and the nearest Shell Fuel Station is the one just past the Gasworks in Paignton and it is a bit of a struggle to get to the pump. It is also a bit of a struggle to get out. An other problem I had never come across before is the fact that the pump will only deliver 99.5 litres at one go. Never having put that much fuel in a vehicle before (Stagecoach have someone to do that sort of thing) I didn't know this little fact and the first time I went I managed to get the filler next to the pump, must have travelled about half a kilometre moving the coach back and forward, I put the nozzle in and held the handle and waited, and waited, and waited some more. After a couple of hours, OK it just seemed like a couple of hours, the fuel cut off activated, the tank was full. Or so I thought. I went in the shop, did the paper work and shunted back and forth to get out and headed back to the hotel. Half way there I noticed the fuel gauge was showing less than half full. ( Fuel gauges are new as well, no such things on buses). I rang the full time driver and he explained that I had to put the fuel nozzle back into the pump and start again. So back to the garage for more shunting round and an other 170 litres of derv.

Second time I went in I got two lots of 99.5 litres in, put the nozzle back and tried for a third lot. A voice above my head boomed out, no not God, just the guy in the shop, "You can only do two lots. You have to come in and sign for the fuel you have had then start again." That took a short time compared to continental drift but for ever when you are supposed to have finished work 20 minutes ago and are meeting someone for a well earned pint in the Cider Press in 15 seconds, it took an eternity.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

What to Do on the M5

Driving a coach affords amply opportunity to sit and think. For instance I take a party up to the theatre at Babbacombe on a Thursday dropping them off at 7:45 and picking them up at 10:20. Now I could drive back to the hotel and park there but I would still be just sitting around waiting for the show to end so I don't bother, I just sit in the coach and read and listen to music on the iPod. I don’t own a car and in the last 15 years I haven’t done much motorway driving (lucky me). Going up the M5 to Dudley, Wolverhampton and Walsall on the Motorway also is a not much happening time and much of that time is spent thinking. Not about important things like coming up with an idea to stop global warming, though that would be a bonus. No, what I think about is, "Why did he do that?"

The 'he' in this case is the driver of a car, sometimes towing a trailer with a boat on board. The boat is usually called Sea spray or Sine wave or Please Don't Sink. ( Now there's an interesting question, What is the most common name for a boat, particularly those on the back of trailers going up the M5). Anyway, the what in the above question that fills my mind as we drive through the Somerset Levels is this. I have my cruise control set at 95km (58.9 mph) and I can see I am slowly gaining on the car towing The 'Fair Wind' which is a motor boat so doesn't need a fair wind. Now because I am getting closer to the back of the trailer it means I am going faster than it is. At the appropriate point I check the mirror and if safe pull out to pass. Now what the skipper of the FW does is press down very slightly on the accelerator pedal so I am now out in the second lane doing 58.9 mph but now no longer going past but travelling along side the Fair Wind. So what do I do. Carry on blocking the centre lane making all the faster traffic behind me move out into the 3rd lane or disengage the cruise control, lose a couple of miles per hour and pull in behind the idiot. Usually I give the cruise control lever a couple of forward pushes which increases my speed by 2 km per hr hoping the skipper of the boat to my port, or is it starboard? doesn't do the same. If he does I end up slowing slightly and pulling back in. By now several hundred car drivers have gone past all wandering what the lunatic coach driver is doing blocking the centre lane. At this point I wish I had a couple of canon fitted in the luggage space so I could give Fair Wind a broad side of grape shot. At least incidents like this give me something to think about as the miles go by.

PS I have been driving a coach now for 4 weeks and I have to admit I do prefer bus driving.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

A Photo.

This photo is one year and 11 days old. If you understand what is about OK.
If you don't, don't ask, sorry.


I was in Teignmouth on Sunday morning taking some of the hotel guests on a short half day tour up the coast before they returned home in the afternoon. The weather was glorious which made a change and the RNLI were giving a demonstration of their life saving skills. This shot was the most dramatic, transferring someone from a helicopter to the life boat. This life boat is Number 17-28 which is the Torbay Life Boat stationed at Brixham and has recently featured on a BBC show call Sea Rescue. This program highlights the job the RNLI do around our coast rescuing people in difficulty at sea. If you do see someone who looks like they do have a problem dial 999. Most people think you have to ask for Fire Police or Ambulance but depending where you are you can also ask for Mountain Rescue (don't try this in Norfolk) and Pothole Rescue and on the coast you can ask for the Coast Guard. Hundreds of volunteers are waiting to rush out and rescue someone but it does cost a lot of money, £100 million according to the commentator at Sunday's show so if you see a RNLI donation box in the shop or pub drop fifty pence or two quid or what ever in it and you will be helping these willing volunteers to save someones life. If you are daft enough to go in or onto the sea it could even be yours.

Friday, 7 August 2009

Cannibalism In Torquay.

Torquay has made the front page of the BBC news website again. And as usual not for nice reasons. It would appear cannibalism has been practiced here. Now I know times are hard but isn’t this going a little over the top?

A bone, part of a human adult’s arm, was found in the Wellswood area of Torquay and it was recently shown to an expert from Oxford University who concluded that a cut in the bone was made shortly after the death of the individual . He says the cut would appear to suggest that flesh was cut away from the bone and the only reason for that would be to eat said flesh.

Horrifying isn’t it, on the English Riviera? Will we ever live it down?

Alright, people today aren’t eating their neighbours, or worse still the odd holiday maker, at least I don’t think so. The bone was originally found in in the 19th Century in Kent’s Cavern and has since been in a cupboard in the museum here in Torquay. The curator was rummaging around in the cupboard one day and noticed the cut. He sent the bone to Oxford University and they came up with the cannibalism theory.

The owner of the bone lived 9000 years ago when Kent’s Cavern was the only 5 star hotel accommodation in the area.

Kent's Cavern

So if you fancy coming to Torquay for a holiday don’t expect to find barbecues on the beach with unusual tasting meat on offer, sorry.

You could always try MacDonnald's I suppose.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Coach Driving, Not the Same As Bus Driving.

So now I am a coach driver. Same group on the driving licence as a bus driver but a completely different job. I only work part time which is fine by me, something to do two or 3 days a week and a little extra cash which comes in handy but isn't absolutely essential. My duties consist basicly of taking guest home on Sunday to the Birmingham area, staying the night and bring an other lot of guests down to Torquay on the Monday. Some times this weekend duty might only be going to Bristol on the Sunday and meeting a coach there and returning to Torquay in the evening. Then on Thursday taking those who want a night out to the Babbacombe Theatre.
A couple of Sundays ago I went on a half day tour to Dawlish and Teignmouth then in the afternoon to Bristol and back to Torquay by early evening. On these trips I was accompanied by an other driver to show me the ropes. The hotel manager (here after called the Boss) said it would be the same next Sunday. However when I rand on Saturday just to make sure I was told I would be going to Oldbury, Dudley, Wolverhampton and Walsall as well as a drop of for some of the passengers at a motorway service station on the M5. Now I have been to Wolverhampton once, to watch Man U beat Wolves. Billy Wright was playing for Wolves back then so those with long football memories will know that was a long long time ago. Dudley I knew only as the birth place and sadly the last resting place of Duncan Edwards, an other footballing hero from my youth. Walsall I knew only because of it's similarity in name to a city in Poland. No other driver was available to come with me and show me where all these places were. The next day, after a night in a hotel in Walsall I had to pick guests up in Walsall, Brunswick, Wolverhampton and Dudley.
So it was with some trepidation that I set of. Would I make a complete mess of the trip and end up wandering round the Motorway system that criss-crosses the Midlands for ever. Would I get so lost on the Monday morning that small groups of would be holidaymakers would be seen huddled round their suitcases in bus stations waiting either for me to turn up or worse still Red Cross workers bringing then blankets and food parcels?
Well I am glad to say neither of these eventualities happened. I got slightly lost in Walsall but a kindly lady bus driver took pity on me and directed me with pinpoint accuracy to where I needed to be. I even got there a few minutes early. Next pick up no problem except it involved a sort trip down the M6 from Junction 10 to junction 9. The motorway looked like a car park but I got there and again was on time. Next stop Wolverhampton. Now I had been into Wolverhampton the evening before and new where the pick-up point was. Question is, would I be able to find it in the middle of morning rush hour? To get there involve driving along a duel carriageway, going past the entrance which was on the other side of the road, up to a roundabout and coming back the way I had come into Wolverhampton. OK. I drove along the duel carriageway all right and could see people grouped round their suitcases (no Red Cross teams yet) and got in the right hand lane ready to do the required U turn. It was then I notice that I was now in a lane where I had to turn right, I hadn't reached the roundabout just a set of traffic lights. A mile up the road I came to a place where I could turn round , the passengers already on the coach were all very nice about this little mystery tour there were going on but were also very nice about it. “Could happen to anyone” they said. But it was a slight dent to my self confidence and coming out of Wolverhampton I turned left of the ring road at the second roundabout I came to. Damn, should have been the 3rd roundabout. An other little mistry tour, they were getting good valve for their money on this trip. Finally into Dudley only 10 minutes late and all the guests were still waiting, nice of them, I'd have gone home after 5 minutes and written a strong letter of complaint, demanding hundreds of thousands in compensation.
From Dudley it was only a short trip to the M5 and once there even I couldn't screw up. All went swimmingly until a mile before the Penn Inn roundabout when it started to rain. Now I have mentioned before in this blog, when it rains in summer all there roads come to an almost dead stop because all the visitors in their hotels look out at the rain after they have finished their breakfasts and ALL of them say, “Oh look, it's raining. Lets go for a drive.” Torquay's roads can't stand that kind of input and gridlock ensues. So the last couple of miles through Kingskerswell were a bit of a drag. We made it back in the end and I parked the coach up and went for a well earned pint with my partner at the nearest pub. Unfortunately a young mum and a couple of her very small children had got there first and turned it into an indoor licensed playground. So we moved up the road to the Old Mill which looked like it had no intention of ever turning into a toddlers retreat. Babbacombe Theatre to night the Birmingham on Sunday.