Sunday, 22 November 2009

Sunday morning is a half day tour round Teignmouth and Dawlish, two sea side towns a few miles up the coast from Torquay. What this entails is a drive out through Welswood and Babbacombe with a running commentary on the way. Usually I mention the human arm bone found in Welswood, with human teeth marks in it which some learned professor from Cambridge University had the nerve to suggest that some people in Torquay were actually cannibals. Now I know times are hard but we don't eat holidaymakers, or even our neighbours here in the English Riviera. Not anymore anyway, the arm bones are 9000 years old and was found in Kent's Cavan. Up through Babbacombe and a quick mention of Babbacombe Downs, the Cliff railway, The Model Village and The Bygones Museum. If there is time I will mention the Man They Couldn't Hang as well. Busy life driving a coach.

Then along the coast road to Dawlish with a few facts about the place and the railway line built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel, described by some as the most scenic rail line in England, before opening the door and letting them walk around the place for an hour or so, a bit of sightseeing and shopping. So far I have been doing this every Sunday for the last 4 months and until today have been lucky with the weather, it’s been dry. But today I got soaked going to work, soaked checking the coach and it rained all the way up the coast road. But just as I got to Dawlish the sun came out and stayed out for the next 3 hours.

The photo is of the railway station in Dawlish and shows two things. One, what a nice bright sunny day it was and two, why Dawlish Railway Station got so many votes on a Radio Devon phone in program the other day to decide which station was the worst in Devon. If you know a worse station then it must be bad.

Saturday, 21 November 2009

A Big Thank You from My Mate Chris Lewis (Cllr)

CONTROVERSIAL Torbay parking meters are raking in £200,000 more than expected, it has been revealed.
Deputy mayor and cabinet member for transport, Cllr Chris Lewis said the surplus was likely to be spent on other things which have come in over budget, such as funding concessionary bus fares.

As an avid user of a concessionary bus pass and a Torbay Council tax payer I would like to extend a big thank you to all those car owners who have been putting money in the meters. Well done one and all. Especially to all those who heard about the coming of the meters and said they would never park in Torquay again.

Fleet Street and not a boarded up shop in sight.

Thursday, 19 November 2009

My Flu Jab

On Tuesday I received a letter from my doctor inviting me to call in for a Swine Flu jab. Wednesday morning I went along and submitted myself to the terrors of the needle. When I asked if it would hurt the nurse said, “Of course it will hurt. I’m about to stick a needle in your arm.” How honest. Unlike all those injections I got as a child, small pox, TB, Polio, tetanus where the nurse used to say this won’t hurt and it always did. The nurse said I may end up with a sore arm and short-lived mild flu like symptoms. The whole thing took about 30 seconds, I didn’t even get offered the cup of tea and a biscuit followed by a 20 minute lie down.

Later that evening my arm started to hurt and I did feel a bit old for an hour or two. Cleared up now. So I am looking forward to not getting Swine Flu this winter, like most people I expect. Whether they have had the jap or not.

Watch this blog to see if the injection works. I did have Asian Flu in 1958, two and a half weeks in bed feeling rotten is not something I want to try again.

Nothing in the paper explaining what the helicopter was doing the other night.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Late Night Noise, and the Police do nothing about it.

On my way home this evening, walking because I can't use my bus pass after 11pm, and it was only just after 11, I heard the not too gentle sound of a helicopter flying towards the centre of Torquay. Now 45 minutes later it is still there, still making lots of noise while most of Torquayions (those who live in Torquay) are tucked up in bed trying to sleep. Hovering helicopters do make a lot of noise and use megalitres of carbondioxcide producing fuel.

Now last time this happened it was even later and it was there from about 2 am till 3:32 am. Just hovering. I expected to read in the paper the next day there had been a murder or a nest of fundamental terrorists discovered here in peaceful downtown Torquay. What did I find. Two car thieves has successfully evaded capture dispite all the D&C Police could throw at them.

Devon and Cornwall Police were recently in the news explaining how they had to cut 17 million quid from their annual budget. Is this the way to do it?

It's been there an hour now.
I'll let you know what it was all about tomorrow.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

No Work on Sunday

Normally I work on Sunday but this week there was a change of plan. This meant I was able to go and watch the Under 12 rugby team. I have been watching them of and on since they were the Under 9 rugby team but this would be the first time I have seen them this season. Most of the game they spent in Paignton's half of the pitch but 3 daft mistakes and Paignton scored 3 tries. At least it was a nice sunny day after the wind and rain we had over the week end.

The yacht in the top picture snapped it's anchor chain and spent a few hours wandering round the Bay before being driven onto the beach here in Torquay at high tide in the early hours of Sunday morning. The owner spent the best part of the day digging the keel and rudder out of the sand and with a little assistance from a shallow draft boat managed to get refloated at high tide on Sunday afternoon. No damage I don't think except that he was too embarrassed to talk about the incident to our reporter. The boat, called Sooshe comes from Brixham, as does the owner.
Monday I went up to the Midlands to pick up an other bunch of happy holiday makers. The wind on the motorway north of Bristol was hard work but otherwise uneventful.

Saturday, 14 November 2009

Saturday's Storm

All day Friday the TV weather forecasters had been warning that 70 mile per hour winds and torrential rains were on the way. Should be here in the early hours of Sunday morning and continuing all day. Well it was a bit breezy but the rain was merely heavy showers with plenty of sun shine. It has had a couple of effects though, Torquay Harbour (seen here) is usually a bit more crowded than this and on Sunday my morning tour to Dawlish and Teignmouth has been canceled, not enough people want to risk being blown away. Leaves me with a Sunday lie in which is nice and half a day short in my pay packet which isn't so nice.

Friday, 13 November 2009

A MAN was faced with a two-and-a-half mile walk home when a bus driver refused to accept his free pass four minutes past the 11pm deadline.

Stuart Brooks, 61, of Raddicombe Close, Brixham, had to walk for two hours following his twice-weekly darts night at The Bell, Brixham.

Stuart usually uses his free bus pass to get home and was waiting for the number 24 to Kingswear when he heard the St Mary's Church clock strike 11pm.

He said: "I showed my pass and started walking up the bus then the next minute, the driver said I have got to pay.

"I said I have always used this pass for the last bus.
"I had to get off the bus. I was too embarrassed to say at the time but I had no money left.

"I had my £12 which I use to buy four pints and I spent that."

The former bus driver and long-distance lorry driver has been claiming incapacity benefit for more than three years for spinal arthritis.

He said the walk had left him in great pain.

"My ankles and back are killing me. I am really having a job to walk."

A Stagecoach spokesman said that the bus passes are governed by times set down by Torbay Council.

She said: "Outside of these times our drivers must charge customers the appropriate fare which does place our drivers in a difficult position.

"Our drivers are empowered to use their discretion in the event of a vulnerable person being unable to pay their fare.

"It appears that this may not have happened on this occasion, although we have not had the opportunity to interview the driver.

"However, we would like to apologise to the gentleman concerned for the distress and inconvenience caused and if he would like contact us we can investigate the matter further to ensure that the appropriate action is taken."

The above is an item in the Herald Express about a concessionary bus pass holder being refused free travel after 11 pm. There are 6 comments on the this story, 3 of which are uncomplimentary to Stagecoach and Torbay Council. Of the others one suggest that the gentleman concerned, Mr S. Brooks of Brixham, should have caught an earlier bus and also should have had some change left over for emergences and an other, noting that Mr Brooks had terrible arthritis suggested he shouldn't be playing darts. A third person commented that this kind of thing happens all the time the Herald Express will print any old garbage. The last comment, by me, points out the 11 pm deadline isn’t set by either Stagecoach or Torbay Council but by central government. And I quote:-
(a) at any time on a Saturday or Sunday or on any day which is a bank holiday in England and Wales under the Banking and Financial Dealings Act 1971; or
(b) in the period from 9.30 am to 11.00 pm on any other day,

Now I can understand the not before 9:30 am restriction, children have to get to school and workers, what left of them, have to get to work but why have the government stopped us oldies using our passes after 11 pm. Do they think we all turn into Vampires that late at night?

And what happens if the bus is due at 11.00 pm but is a few minutes late? That isn’t the fault of the pass holder, the bus should have been there before or at 11:00 but wasn’t. The problem is the wording in the Act states the pass may be uses in the period between 9.30 am and 11.00pm. So if the bus is late, tough luck.

This is an other example of how badly some parts of this legislation were thought out from the definition of ‘disabled’ down to how the money each council are to receive to run this scheme.
Write to your MP and complain.

PS Writing to your MP is easy, all you need to write on the envolope is his/her name followed by MP and on the next line write Houses of Parliment.


Gorden Brown MP
Houses of Parliment

Or click here to use email

You do know her/his name don't you.

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Union Street, Torquay

Union Street in Torquay is the main shopping centre. In the last 18 months however it has lost a few, quiet a few, of those shops. There is a light at the end of the tunnel though. Woolworths used to be the biggest shop until it closed in January. Now a Fashion story has taken over the building and the truck you can see is busy pumping out the flooded bilges and scaffolding covers the front so this isn't going to be a fly by night job like some. Even HMV have moved into the old Dixon story which had been empty for a couple of years and briefly came to life as a short lived clothes shop. Across the road from the old Woolworth store is an empty shop and someone has attempted to prove international political activism isn't dead here in humble Torquay.

Meanwhile down the down in Fleet Street a new pub is about to open and an old pub is about to change hands. The new pub have moved into the Winter Gardens. It a a Weatherspoon's pub and will be named after Torquay's most famous resident. No not Basil Fawlty, the one and only Agatha Christie and will open later this month. It is across the road from a pub called Bed. Bed came to fame when the owner got a parking ticket, he was parked for 45 minutes on a double yellow line. Next day a sign appeared informing the world, or at least that part of the world that passed his pub that traffic wardens were barred from his pub. The pub is now closed. Bit more on pubs, Yates's which is down a side street off Fleet Street and might just be a foot or two above sea level has changed hands and the new owners asked the readers of the Herald Express to suggest a new name. They even offered a hundred quids worth of beer for the best suggestion. Now Fleet Street does flood from time to time so if you are in Torquay nip in the 'Prone to Flooding' sometime. If any of my prize beer is left I will buy you a pint.

Soon to be the Agatha Christie.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Dudley Bus Station & Castle

This is Dudley, birth place of Duncan Edwards, Footballer. Normally by the time I get here I am running late and don't have time to stand around taking photos but on Monday I didn't have a pick up in Wolverhampton so I got here with time to spare. This shot was the only one to include the Castle so this is the one you get.

The week before I didn't get to Dudley or Wolverhampton, instead I ended up in Leeds. It's a long time since I have been to Leeds and I hope it is a long time before I go back. Sorry Leeds nothing against the place, I am sure it is a fine city with lots of wonderful people but it is an extra 2 hours 30 mins drive each way which makes it a long two days. Even Stagecoach didn't work me that hard.

Friday, 6 November 2009

The Road to Hell........................

Yet an other story from the local paper. The council have managed to get an extra £590 000 out of the Government to pay for “free” bus travel for us over sixties. Central government can be generous when it wants to be. Shame it wasn’t generous on this occasion. Over half a million quid not generous I hear you ask. No, it’s mean, it’s also going to course a reduction in childrens services that are provided by the council and will in time bugger up our local bus services and lead to job losses in an area that has the an extremly high unemployment level as it is. The sum mentioned above is to go towards the cost of next years “free” bus travel. So this year we are still £2 million down.

I am sure Gordon Brown didn’t intend this mess when he came up with the idea of “free” bus travel but it does need sorting out before serious damage is done.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Stagecoach Do Have CCTV on Their Buses and Bus Stations

A footnote to a recent post regarding a story in the Herald Express. The story was about a young pregnant woman who claimed she had been humiliated and devastated when she was first berated by the driver of the bus she was travelling on and then forced to pay £5.00 to clean up after she had been sick on the bus. She had also claimed that she had been so upset that she had left the bus before getting to her destination.

CCTV cameras spotted her actually getting of the bus in Paignton Bus Station, two stops after the alleged incident. She was seen laughing and talking to other people, hardly the action of someone who had just been through the immensely disturbing ordeal she had discribed on the front page of the local paper.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Gone at Last; no sorry.

Look at this picture and look at the header picture. What's missing? Got it in one. Sorry but it is only a temporary gap in the scenery, it will be back in February. One passer by expressed the hope that it had blown away in the recent high winds with Nick Bye desperately hanging on to the tethering rope trying to keep his baby in the Bay. No chance, it was loaded on a trailer to be taken away and spend the winter in a shed somewhere. The balloon not the mayor.

Now if you live in the area and read the local paper (there is a link on this page somewhere) you will have read about the bus driver who charged a pregnant lady £5 after she was sick on his bus. Stagecoach have no policy of charging anyone for being sick on their buses and a driver is most unlikely to try and implement such a policy on his own. If he did I expect he would be joining the growing crowd round the door to the Jobseekers office. For a fiver? I doubt that. I think there has been a little bit of a misunderstanding here that will all be sorted out with the passing of time.
If I hear anymore, that I can publish, I will keep you posted.