Saturday, 29 October 2011

Clocks going back

So Whitehall is considering running on Summer time in the winter and double summer time in the summer. For us south of the border it will mean longer brighter evenings but slightly darker mornings. It wont increase the actual daylight hours just move the time it gets light in the morning and dark in the evening. Problem is up in Scotland it will mean for a couple of months it will be dark till well after 8 am but it will still be light well beyond 4 pm. Anyway the Scots are objecting to this idea but it would seem that most people down here in the south are in favour of the idea. Well if the Scots don't like the idea they don't have to put up with it. They don't like our bank notes so they print their own, which incidentally aren't even legal tender in Scotland never mind down here in the rest of the UK. So have your own time, we don't mind.

Beautiful sunny day today here in Torquay.

Want to know what time the next bus is from somewhere in Torbay then try this new website out

Click on the link even if you don't live in Devon just to see how good it is.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

A couple of photos

If you look carefully you can see the marks on the window where a seagull flew in to it. Made a bit of a bang and the poor thing didn't know what had hit him. He was still in juvenile plumage so has a lot to learn about windows. After a few seconds looking very bewildered he flew off somewhere safer. Also in the same photo, which was taken on Sunday, you can see the vegetation on the cliff. At the top there is a big sycamore tree. One of it's branches got blown off during the gale on Monday afternoon. I watched it fall at about 4 o clock when the wind was at it's most blustery. Then at 4:15 the wind died away and it stopped raining and the sun came out. Shame the branch couldn't have hung on a few more minutes.

A little comment about the swiping of bus passes, I was talking to a bus driver and he said people had got used to the idea fairly quickly and better still, he hadn't changed a ticket roll in weeks.

Basil's Visit to the Vet

A few months ago our elderly cat, Ginger, went out one night and didn't come back. We put the usual notice up and asked neighbours to keep a look out for him. After a week we decided he wasn't going to ever scramble in through the cat flap again. So we went on the internet and looked for a new cat. The first one we made enquires about had just gone to a new home. The next phone number on the list of cats seeking a good home turned out to be an answering machine that didn't do what the voice said it would do, i.e. ring back. So we tried the next number and we got this handsome cat. He was called Ginger, for obvious reasons, but we decided to rename him as we had just lost a cat called Ginger. Basil was decided on because he has a permanently bushy tail. Just like the fox of the same name.
Anyway today I took him to the vet for his inoculation. The vet took one look at him and declared that he was a Maine Coon cat. I'd never heard of the breed so when I got home I had a look on the www. He may not be a pure Maine Coon cat but a lot of his ancestry is. So it looks like we have an American living with us.
A couple of days after we got Basil, a neighbour a few doors down knocked on the door. Between our back gardens and the cliff face there is a 15 foot wide stretch of wild ground. He’d been looking over his garden wall and noticed a ginger cat lying in the weeds. At first he thought it was asleep but some realised he wasn’t. He came round and told us so we were able collect Ginger and bury him in his favourite corner of the garden.

Monday, 24 October 2011

111 Say Yes but 485 say No; So No Referendum.

So we aren't going to get a referendum on Europe but what David Cameron has got is about a third of his MPs giving him the finger (pardon my french). It will be interesting to see what he has got to say about that.

What we will get some time next week is a baby being born who will be, in a way, special. No star will rise above his/her place of birth, three wise men are unlikely to arrive with gifts for the new born child, the Pope isn't likely to make a big announcement about the second coming. So why is this child going to be special? He or she will bring the population of the planet up to 7 000 000 000. That's seven billion in case you can't work out what all the noughts mean. Because it is difficult to conceive exactly what a billion is this should give you an idea. Imagine a clock which ticks every second, in 11 days 13 hours and 18 minutes it will click a million times, your heart will beat a million times in about same amount of time. We can work that out in time because we can have a good guess at what we will be doing in 11 and a half days. But the clock keeps ticking for an other 31 years 251 days before it has ticked a billion times. That is a long time to sit next to the clock and count the ticks so take my word for it. It's a long time. 7 billion ticks will take 210 years by which time we have no idea what the population will be, that's if there is any human population left.

When I was born the population was just over 2 billion, so it's gone up by 350% in just under 70 years. That's an awfully big increase. Can the planet continue to support this seemingly ever increasing population explosion or will it all end badly?

A Referendum on the UK's membership of the European Union

Monday 24 Oct 2011

MPs are voting tonight on the right of us poor Joe Blog members of the public to vote on out staying in or leaving the EU. If they decide we do have that right to a vote which way would you vote. You have two boxes to tick but can only tick one.

Box one asks, Do you want to leave the EU?

Box two asks, Do you want to stay in the EU?

Me; I think there should be two more boxes;-

Box three would ask, Do you give a toss?

Box four would ask, I don't really know enough about the extremely complicated ins and outs of what membership of the EU entails and how I would be effected if we did leave the EU. I feel that if you ask me to decided I will be strongly influenced by the newspaper I read so why don't you just ask Rupert Murdoch what he thinks and save the cost of this referendum?


Now if we had a referemdum on should we get rid of putting the clocks back next week then one one box would be required.


Man U 1 Man C 6

If you live in Manchester then there is someone near you who is either over the moon and about to bore everyone they know for the next ten years about how they were there or they are thinking of jumping in the Mersey or the Ship Canal. I can not think of a worse game to lose by 6 goals to 1 than at home to Man City. In the years I went to Old Trafford to watch Man U I can remember them scoring 6 goals but never conceding that many. In school playgrounds and shop floors and high rise office blocks through out the city Blues fans will be chanting six one all day long and I wouldn't be surprised if the absentee rate amongst Man U supporters reaches an all time high for the next few days.
If you're a blues supporter then enjoy, if you're a reds supporter then it's only a game (sic).

Saturday, 15 October 2011

Devon Loch did me a big favour.

During the summer, sat at the stop in Torbay Rd I was asked lots of questions, mostly, Where is the bus station? I could always answer that one. One question I did get asked only once was where is the nearest betting shop? Now many, many years ago I was persuaded by my Uncle Dan, GRHS, to invest my pocket money on a horse by the name of Devon Loch. If you aren't familiar with the name then Google it and find out how many years ago it was. So we went down to the betting shop which in those days was in derelict house, off course gambling was illegal then, and "invested" (my Uncle's word) all my pocket money. Nine pence in old money, about 4p in new money and then home to listen to the race on the wireless. TV had been invented buy then but we were old fashioned and didn't have a set. I remember the commentator getting very excited about Devon Loch. " 200 yards to go and Devon Loch is a hundred yards clear. Devon Loch is going to win. Yes, Devon Loch will win no problem, Oh Devon Loch has fallen over. Last time I had a bet on a horse; ever.

So when the passenger asked where the nearest betting shop was I didn't know. A bit later on I spotted it just across the road from the bus stop. (see photo).

This story brings me on to an item on last nights news. A group of people were going on strike because the governing body of their industry had decided to limit the number of times they could beat some poor dumb animal in order to make it go faster. The new rule allows Maximum seven strokes in flat races and eight over jumps. Imagine the outcry if your boss could whip you to make you work faster. Recently the use of performing animals was banned in circuses because of fears that some trainers might be cruel to their animals but we can still watch grown men and women beat in a cruel way their horse. If the horse doesn't want to run fast then forcing it to do so must be cruel. How long before the Jockey Club goes the way of greyhound racing and bans whips completely. Some time next week I hope.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Sherwood Hotel Reopening Soon

I went for a walk this afternoon and decided to have a look at the Sherwood Hotel in Belgrave Rd. I used to work there, driving a coach until it closed down in August last year. Company ran out of money and went into administration. The Administrator told us all that the hotel would stay open until a buyer was found and we would all get paid and keep our jobs. That was on a Monday. One week later, after the firm dealing with the company's books decided that there wasn't enough money left in the bank to keep going. I expect the bank who the mortgage was with decided not to risk sending good money after bad keeping the place open. Anyway a couple of days ago a reader told me the place had a Sold board outside so I went for a look. When I got there the front door was wide open so I wandered in to see what I could find out. No sign of anyone in the entrance hall, just evidence that a lot a work was going to be needed. There was enough building material lying around to keep B & Q going for a week. I then had a look outside and saw someone with a harassed look on his face and decided he must be the new owner so I introduced myself. We had a quick chat, he was very busy, I told him I used to drive the coach for the hotel and asked him when he planed to open. "As soon as possible. Once all the repairs are finished". I said I would pop round tomorrow (Tuesday) and pass one any information about the place that might be a help to him.

I hope the place gets up and running quickly and he makes a go of it. He has a lot of hard work ahead and I can only wish him all the best.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Still sunny even though summer has ended

The summer timetable has now ended and I am on the holiday and sickness rota for 6 months. I have one days work coming up in a couple of weeks while the other driver has a week’s well earned rest. After that we shall have to wait and see. First thing I did was set the alarm for 08:30, no more getting up at 7 o'clock which suits me. I went into Paignton this lunch time to do some shopping, couldn't find what I needed so I'll have to go on Amazon and get it through the post. Big road works happening in Hyde Rd and Torbay Rd and the roads are closed for this Sunday and next Sunday. Massive diversion in place for traffic heading through Paignton towards Brixham. While I was at Victoria Park waiting for a number 12(for a long time I might add) this artic drove past the two signs which read "Diversion" and "Road Closed Ahead". Obviously these signs didn't apply to him. Then when he got to the left turn that goes into Hyde Rd and found the signs did apply to him. Great big barriers blocked the road and he had no where to go but back. I suppose he could have sat there until the barriers were taken down some time tonight but he chose to reverse all the way back to Cecil Rd which is where he should have turned in the first place. Caused chaos. Before his little reversing stunt the traffic had been coming out of Paignton without any problem but the 5 minutes it took him to reverse far enough to be able to turn up Cecil Rd caused a tail back half way to Brixham ( only guessing but it could have done) Any way it gave me something to watch in the 35 minutes I waited for the 12 to arrive.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

Nice Horse

There is a shop called Affordable Art in Torbay Rd just near the bus stop. It sells wood carvings, mostly ducks but now and then something extra turns up. Like this horse.
Lots of people stopped and looked and took photos. PS it took 3 weeks to make and has been sold and it was made to order.

The other thing that turned up unexpectedly the same day was less welcome and almost turned into an RTC happened as I was driving out along the Totnes Rd between Midvale Rd and Winner St. There is a medical centre on the bend on my left and there was a large truck parked across the road, the driver was probably delivering goods to the centre. Now it is a long, fairly gentle bend but the road isn’t too wide and the truck was blocking my view, anything coming the other way would need to be well over the centre line and would be hidden from view. So I slowed down and kept well into the left. While I was still a little way back a car, travelling quiet slowly emerged past the truck. No problem, I didn’t even have to slow down any more. Then, from nowhere as it were, a white car shot round the truck travelling well over 30 mph. A pull to the left on the steering wheel took the bus out of this maniac’s way and a firm press on the brake peddle stopped the bus before it hit the wall at the side of the road. The white car continued along Totnes Rd without bothering to slow down, it’s blue lights flashing and siren blaring. Ok, the police officer driving it was, I hope, on his way to a life threatening emergency where every second counted but he does need to remember the second most important rule in the Highway Code which is, “Always drive at a speed at which you can easily stop in the distance you know to be clear.” Don’t rely on your siren to alert approaching motorist that the last sausage roll in the staff canteen could be gone very soon, they may be driving noisy vehicles and be a little hard of hearing.

Monday, 3 October 2011

Call 101

Here's something I came across the other day completely by accident. In case you haven't heard about it, dialling 101 on your phone, mobile or land line, cost 15p per call, irrespective of how long that call may last. People who are deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired can Textphone 18001 101.

And who will you speak to when you dial this number? A police officer that's who. It isn't replacing 999 and it's not for emergency calls. Use it when you want to call the police for something that isn't an emergency and it will work anywhere in the country.

Here in Devon it replaces 08452 777444 as the non emergency number, lets face it 101 is easier to remember and quicker to dial. Mind you the last time I dialled the 08452 777 444 I got through straight away and was asked which police station I wanted to speak to. "Torquay" said I and hung up 20 minutes later without getting any response. It is only a 15 minute walk to Torquay police station but it was raining at the time so in the end I didn't bother.

Hopefully 101 will have better response times that 08452 777 444.

Bus Ride to Teignmouth

Had a ride out on Stagecoach service 11 to Teignmouth today. The times and route have been changed for the winter. The buses now only run every 90 minutes instead of every half an hour and the route now finishes on The Strand, not Castle Circus like before. On the way back to Torquay we caught up with a 32 in Babbacombe. I noticed that one of the people waiting at the stop had ignored the 32 that had already stopped and flagged down the 11. I was a bit puzzled at first as both buses were going to The Strand so why get the 11 to stop when the 32 was at the bus stop. Maybe the passenger wanted to go upstairs (the 32 was a single decker) and look down on everyone. No, he stayed down stairs. The same thing happened at the next stop and I began to work out what was happening. These passengers were expecting the bus to go to Castle Circus. Sure enough when the bus got to The Strand they remained seated until the driver told then the bus wasn't going to Castle Circus any more. I had a quick glance at the destination blind and it read, "Torquay Castle Circus". Some one hadn't been round the buses with the little black box changing the routes in the bus's destination blinds. Careless, confusing and annoying.

Could do better, Stagecoach

Saturday, 1 October 2011

Saturday 1 Oct

The day started with a slight problem. Torbay council publish a Public Transport Guide every 6 months, one in June and the other in October. The date on the front of the latest Guide is 1st Oct 2011 to 31st May 2012. Our winter time tables are in the guide but they don't start until Oct 11. However several people looked at the timetables and were expecting us to be running the winter times today. So the first 3 trips I was explaining to passengers that I wasn't going where the time table said I was for an other 10 days. We have been handing out copies of our timetables to all our passengers for the last two weeks with the start date clearly marked on then but one or two people would sooner believe the council who don't run the bus service than us who do run it.

Then on my last trip of the day I was going along the Totnes Rd when the traffic came to a grinding halt. Now we have had problems with Tweenaway Cross but we were a long way away from the lights at this point. When it became clear we were not making any progress I told my passengers I was going to find out what was happening. The large white truck in the photo had grounded while attempting to turn right out of a narrow side street and one of the back wheels was off the ground. This means the truck had no drive as the wheel that was not touching the ground was free to turn but because the way the differential in the back wheel works the wheel on the ground wouldn't turn. Attempts were made to put planks under the wheel but it wasn't high enough off the ground to get the plank under the wheel so the only way the truck was going to move was an expensive breakdown truck giving it a pull. Now there wasn't space for the Stagecoach double decker to get past but I could, if the decker moved back a bit. Eventually I got past and continued on my was 15 minutes late.

Only one more week to go.