Monday, 28 June 2010

Wrong way on the motorway (almost)

Not me, I didn't try and drive down the M5 the wrong way but almost ran into someone who was giving the idea his best shot. I was coming back from the Midlands on Monday. Normally I would stop at Sedgemoor Services but decided to pull in at Gordano instead. As up come up the slip road to the service station it comes to a roundabout. Traffic on the roundabout will have come of the northbound carriageway of the M5 and will be heading for the service station which at Gordano is all on one side of the motorway. Anyway a car driven by an elderly gentleman was on this roundabout and misunderstood the road markings and in stead of turning left into the car park tried to turn left onto the slip road, not an easy thing to do given the layout of the road. I was coming up and on seeing this foolishness flashed my lights and sounded the horn vigorously. Fortunately this did have the desired effect and the car driver realised the error of his ways and stopped and turned round.

So we all made our safe way home eventually to watch the England team make their way dismally out of the world cup and into oblivion. Torquay United football team would have put up a better show.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Friday, 25 June 2010

Come on England

Yesterday (Thursday) I went into work at 7am for an 8am departure. The manager told me that on Friday I was to drive up to Bristol and meet a coach at Gordano services at 11:30. Now it takes just under 2 hours to get to Gordano so I said I would not need to leave until 9:30. That suited me as I don't like getting up early if I can avoid it. A notice was duly printed telling the guests this information. We also had a guest coach in the hotel which was going at 8:45. He would be long gone well before me, no chance of getting cases or passengers mixed up.

Any way 8am arrived and I departed for Frankley Services near Dudley getting there as arranged at 12 noon. OK I was 3 minutes late but still got moaned at because the passengers had been kept waiting. Not by the passengers I should add but by the transport manager who told me to leave Torquay and get to Frankley between 12 and 12:15. It's all good fun really. So after 30 minutes break (I already had a similar break at Michealwood services) I was ready for the trip south to Torquay. It was completely uneventful.

Back at the hotel I noticed that my departure time had been changed by the manager who had already gone home so I didn't know why but figured there had to be a reason. I was now due out at 8:45, the same time as the other coach but what the hell. Always fallow the last instruction. The 8:45 departure would get me to Gordano by no later than 10:45. The coach I was meeting must be setting off a bit earlier than usual. I got there for 10:36 and the other coach arrived at 11;28. When I asked the driver why he was so late he said he was two minutes early. So why did the manager send me on my way at 8:45 and have me and my passengers hanging around Gordano for an extra 45 minutes. I just love hanging around motorway service stations.

After I got back I decided to catch a bus home. normally I walk, takes 15 minutes but a footpath I use as a shortcut has been closed by the council for the next 4 weeks. Down at the bottom of Belgrave Rd I waited along with 8 other people for a 12. Eventually it turned up but it stopped 20 yards short of the bus stop, doors opened two people got of and the bus drove away ignoring us completely. Now I have in my time as a bus driver done exactly that. Usually because I have been running very late and the driver of the bus behind has offered to pick up the passengers at the next stop . The operative word here is 'behind', it has to be close behind, 10 or 20 yards then the waiting passengers can see what's happening but there was no bus in sight any where and at Belgrave Rd you can see several hundred yards along the road. The next bus turned up over 5 mins later.

On Sunday afternoon we have a coach leaving the hotel at 2:30. I'm not driving it.


Tuesday, 22 June 2010

More on the World Cup

The big question is can England do it? Can they beat Slovenia and go on to win the World Cup? The answer to these two questions is of course yes; they can beat Slovenia and they can win the World Cup.

The real question is "Will" they win this afternoon or will they lose and go on to meet France at the airport?

Saturday, 19 June 2010

World Cup; no chance.

Sorry England, I'd sooner watch paint dry.

Sunday, 13 June 2010

Score More Goals Than the Other Team and You Win

I see all the newspapers are blaming the poor England goalkeeper for what was a lost 2 points. Well I missed both goals, the first not due to ITV and their little cock up on the timing of their commercial break but in my brief dash to the fridge for a can of beer. Then after 40 minutes of boredom a bit of light relief, the phone rang and while I was answering it the Americans scored. I don't watch much football these days but this is the World Cup after all. Two things disappointed me about the game. The first was that England didn't come out wearing a green and yellow strip to show their solidarity with a certain oil company that America loves to hate. (Who built the oil rig? Americans. Who passed the oil rig plans? Americans. Who supervised the work on the oil rig? Americans. Who uses all the oil? Americans. Who gets the blame? The goalkeeper.)

The second thing that disappointed was the fact that there was still 50 minutes of the game left to play. Why didn't England score a few more goals in that 50 minutes.

I've just watched Germany beat Australia four nil I would like to ask how come our team couldn't score as many goals against the USA. The similarity of experience between Australia and the USA and between Germany and England suggest that England should have won by a similar score and then a mistake by the goalkeeper would not have been so serious to our chances of getting through to the second round and would not have occupied so many column inches in today's newspapers.

Play better in the rest of the games or you will come home early is my message to the England team.

Friday, 11 June 2010

Police Line

On the way home from the Harbour I take a short cut through the car park. Normally all I have to dodge are cars trying to enter or leave the place. But today as I walk towards the exit I could see blue and white tape tied across the barrier at the exit. After the barrier is a bridge 20 metres long. At the other end of the bridge there was a similar blue and white length of tape blocking the entrance and preventing cars getting into the car park. Also a police office. Should I cross the police line or what? The or what part of the question involved a long walk round and a steep climb. Then I noticed an other way out of the car park, just for pedestrians, up a few steps and out a gate. So up the steps and out the gate. That was blocked by an other piece of tape but I was out of view of the member of Devon & Cornwall Constabuary so I stepped over it. However the young lady had seen me walking through the car park and now suddenly appearing outside the car park had put two and two together and said, "You can get arrested for crossing a police line." But she didn't arrest me, must be my lucky day.
The tape was there, she said, because a major incident had happened at 9:30 last night and there was one person dead. No other details were available but a look on the BBC Devon web site and I found that a man had been arrested after the body of a woman had been found below the car park entrance bridge.

Is this Swan Addicted to Nicotine?

There are a pair of swans that come into Torquay Harbour fairly often. The problem is the Harbour has a sill at it's enterance and the poor swans can only get in or out at high tide. So when they try and leave at low tide they are stuck and get a bit nervous. A cigerette at a time like this is just what a person needs to pass the time until the tide comes in again.
One of the swans had a tag, blue with yellow letters CS/JS. A little wander round Google didn't come up with any way of finding out more imformation about these swans. I am guessing they are a pair but don't have any cygnets at the moment, they are unlikely to have left them alone for so long.

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

No I don't look under seats for stowaways, should I?

I used to think leaving passengers behind was a bit of a blunder but carrying an extra passenger turned a day trip to the continent for one coach driver into a bit of a night mare. Plus the stowaway there was £12 000 worth of tobacco to be accounted for. The coach was stopped stopped and searched on it's way back into England and the tobacco was found, then a more detailed search was carried out and a Sudanese man was found hiding under a seat. The travel company said they always tell passengers how much tobacco and wine they can bring back and the driver had no knowledge of the amount 3 of his passengers had tried to bring back and no idea there was a extra passenger on board.

I'm glad I don't do day trips to Belgium.

Full story here at the BBC.

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

The M5

I seem to spend a lot of time driving up and down the M5, mostly between Exeter and Gordano services near Bristol with occasional trips as far as Walsall. I have begun to notice that some things happen on one trip that might not occur on other trips. The recent Bank Holiday weekend for instance I saw quiet a few caravans parked on the hard shoulder. People drive their family car round a big city and then decide to tow their caravan a couple of hundred miles or so down to beautiful Devon with out even wondering if the car is up to the job. Motoring organisations and caravan clubs have been telling people ever since the M6 opened 50 odd years ago that a check under the bonnet of the car at such things as oil, water and fan belt is best done at home before you set off, not by an expensive mechanic at the side of a wind swept motorway.

Most of my trips are done during the day when the road is a mix of cars and HGVs with a few coaches. Then most of the cars seem to keep (with few exceptions) to the speed limit. Last Wednesday evening I left Torquay at 6:30 heading for Walsall. On the motorway I realised there were almost no HGVs and the cars were moving much faster. Car drivers on their way home drive much faster it seems.

Sunday I went up to Walsall with 51 passengers. I took them all to our depot in Wednesbury where they left the coach and boarded minibuses to be taken to their very own front doors. All had had to do was drive the empty coach a couple of miles to my hotel and have a quiet evening. No sorry, said the transport manager, One of the drivers hasn't turned up and you will have to drive a mini bus. I managed to get every one home, just, before running out of driving time. I had to sit in the bus for half an hour before I could drive back to the coach and on to the hotel. No sorry, there was a suitcase still on the bus that shouldn't have been there. It belonged to someone who had got on a different minibus. I had the address but no satnav so I rang the owner up and got directions. Not very go directions as it turned out and I spent an hour wandering aimlessly round Walsall before finally reuniting owner with case. Then back to coach and hotel. I still had plenty of time on my hands so I took the 405 into West Brom. West Brom on a Sunday evening is not the world's most inspiring place (see photo), sorry West Brom.

Friday, 4 June 2010

Part Time Job

Where are we? Oh yes, it's Friday 4th June and I have got two days off after a long week. Thursday last week I went into work and was told one of the two coaches used by the Scottish Hotel had failed it's MOT. The reason being it had a cracked window. Now it has had a cracked window for weeks but it wasn't sent for a new window until the day before the MOT. The window place didn't in fact have the right window and would have to order it, could you come back next week.
Now the Scottish hotel is more important than Torquay so we lost a coach. I was told that a driver based in the Midlands would do the run on Sunday and then we wouldn't have a coach back at the hotel till Thursday. Great. I mean great as in good, not the sardonic version. A few days off now the sun was shining would be very nice thank you very much. Friday when I went in to do a trip to Gordano and back I was told that plan A had been scrapped and we would have a coach but the driver who was going to come down from the Midlands had to go some where on Tuesday so would I mind working Sunday, Monday and Tuesday, still gave me Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday off so OK.
Then the above mentioned driver had to go to a funeral and would come down Wednesday evening, would I do the trip to Plymouth on Wednesday. Down to 3 days off. On the way to work on Wednesday morning my mobile rang, I was stopped waiting for some cars on the main road to pass so I answered it at once. It was work, the driver I have already mentioned a couple of times had a bad back and I had to do the Plymouth trip then nip up dead to Walsall, stay the night and bring a new lot of guests down on Thursday morning. Only two of the 8 days off I had been promised left.
One good thing, no one can ring me today or tomorrow and say "Come it to work. We need you to drive the coach." I have run out of driving days. The next time I can drive is Sunday when I will be going to Walsall again. Monday there are two pick ups in Leicester for some reason so it will be an early start.

The photo was taken a few days ago in the car park of the hotel I stay at when in Walsall. If you click here you can find a little of this Spitfire’s history.