Sunday, 30 December 2012

Culburra, NSW

Sunday morning here in Culburra which is a holiday seaside town 200 km south of Sydney and after a really sunny day yesterday it is cloudy and a bit of rain but also nice and cool. It has been hot here and sun block is sold by the gallon and even I have been forced to use the smelly and sticky stuff. I haven't been on the internet much since we came to Culburra on Christmas Eve. It's even difficult getting a mobile phone signal here and there is no internet anywhere near. I have had to drive to a bowling club a few miles up the road to find a place with a free wi fi connection.

Include are a few photos from Culburra. No buses I afraid, there is a bus service here to Nowra which is the nearest town but the bus stops I have seen don't match up to Stagecoach standards; i.e. a time table on every bus stop (almost) and the bus seems to only run twice a day.

The photos  show the local Woolworths ( not like our late lamented Woolie but a big supermarket chain) which is like Tesco's coming to Brixham, not welcomed by the local shopkeepers but everyone else thinks it's wonderful. The beach is 10 km long and usually mostly deserted and the tree with the plaque is where someone tried to do 200 kph in a 100 kph area.

Hope the weather in the UK isn't too bad. Without  the internet I haven't been getting much news  from England

I'll be back in Sydney in 5 days and will probably spend a couple of days surfing the net until I self destruct. 

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Merry Christmas

I sorry to hear that the UK is taking a bit of a battering, hope it doesn't last and Christmas is nice and sunny right through to the New Year and beyond.

We are of to the seaside for a few days over Christmas, BBQ on the beach for Christmas Dinner.

Merry Christmas to all and a dryer New Year.


Saturday, 22 December 2012

Sydney Bendy Bus


Well the end of the world didn't happen, bit of a shame really. I missed the beginning of the world by 4.5 billion years and now it looks like I will miss the end of the world, but who knows. Some one will come up with an other prediction and the law of averages suggest that eventually some one will get it right.

I've been in Sydney a week now and haven't actually been into town. I was going to go on Thursday but it was too hot, 35C, for walking round and it would have been crowded with Christmas shoppers. I can not get used to the idea that it is Christmas in a few days time. Christmas happens in mid winter not mid summer. Still saves me buying cards and presents for everyone.

Photo is of a bendy bus I took a few weeks ago before I went to New Zealand. Sydney is so full of buses the State Government wants to replace them all with a tram system. Trouble is it would take years to build, disrupt the city and no one thinks it is a good idea except the State Government. And you may have been watching those TV programs dedicated to the men and women of passport control who protect Australia's border, Seems not all had the same level of commitment and were actively engaged in drug and arms smuggling on an industrial scale.

And finally, does the name Tony Abbot mean anything to you? He is the leader of the opposition who recently said one of his colleagues had behave correctly in a recent court case involving sexual harassment by the speaker of Parliament. The judge threw the case out saying it was obviously an attempt to frame the speaker but Tony was abroad and didn't bother the read the judgement. Said he was doing important work for Australia. He has been in the UK and I was wondering if anyone there had noticed.  

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Mt Warning Madness

The photo is taken from the front of my niece's house the mountain you can see is Mount Warning. It's clearly visible from the Ocean and Captain Cook called it that to warn any sailors that might come after him that there was a really big problem ahead; namely  the Great Barrier Reef. You don't get bigger problems than that when you are sailing in unknown waters.

It's the worn down core of an extinct volcano the last erupted 15 million years ago. Then it was 2000 metres tall, now it's down to 1163 metres and there is a path up the side which takes anyone who wants all the way to the  top. So far I have been up that path 5 times but only a hundred metres. It's 720 metres straight up from the car park to the top and the view is spectacular. The local native tribe hold the mountain sacred and do ask people not to climb to the top and as I have mentioned I have so far respected their wishes.

However I foolishly mention to my nephew that the idea of going to the top on Friday morning had crossed my mind so before I could explain that this was just a tentative idea a whole party was being assemble to accompany me, or hopefully carry me. Some people go up in the early hours of the morning. Because it is in the east and it's height it means the summit is the first place in Australia to see the sun rise. I missed the sun rise at East Cape in NZ and I will miss it here. Even I'm not getting out of bed a 2am to watch the sun rise.

I'll let you know how I go on. 

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

a picture for you

From New Zealand I flew into the Gold Coast where my neice Roz lives.
It's a big house out in the country, wireless connection, TV,
electricity but no water supply. So the whole roof of the house is set
up to collect rainwater. OK if it rains but in the last 6 months it's
only rained twice so water was getting low and last week a tanker full
of water was delivered at some expence. I got here on Sunday afternoon
and it hasn't stopped raining since.

Photo was taken in Collengatta which is just over the boarder into
Queensland. It must be a bit of a problem timetabling the buses
because NSW has summer time but Queensland doesn't so you can be going
down one street and it's 14:00 and turn a corner and it's 13:00. This
bus is based in Queensland so I expect it runs on Queensland time.

PS It's stopped raining.


These pictures were sent with Picasa, from Google.
Try it out here:

Saturday, 1 December 2012

Nice Here in New Zealand

I have now been travelling round New Zealand for 5 days. The problem with the credit card and the very nice people at the van hire place has been sorted.

New Zealand is a very nice place, a bit like Australia in many ways but not as dry and burnt. The max speed round here is 100kph (62mph) even on the motorways. The motorways round Auckland are frantic and I would suggest who ever does the direction signs pays a visit to the UK. Probably one of the problems I am having is the strange place names which I find hard to pronounce. You don't get much warning and no second chance. Some of the exits are from lane 3 which is weird. 

I am finding the lack of overtaking places a bit of a bind. I don't really want to hurtle along at 100kph but motorist behind get real close and even when it is possible to overtake seen reluctant to do so and I end up going faster than I would like. I'm here to see the place, not set speed records.

Right now I am in Ohope Beach which is a sand bar 200 metres wide sticking out in to the Bay of Plenty and tomorrow I am heading for Gisbourne stopping the night at Cape East which is as far east as I am likely to get without falling over the International Date Line. On Monday morning I will probably be the first person on Earth to see the sun rise. I hope it does. 

Problems with credit card

Tuesday 27 November

Flew from Sydney to Auckland, arrived on time and phoned the campervan hire company who promised to pick me up in 10 to 12 mins. After 20 mins I got a bit worried and went back in the airport and phoned again. They had picked up the wrong person and asked me to get a cab. Cab driver overcharged me. Welcome to New Zealand. But he did give me a receipt with the company's name on it so the van hire people are going to ring them up and ask for a refund. Next thing after all the paper work was done and I produced my credit card to pay the bill. Now this was a slightly anxious moment due to the fact that when I go to Sydney and went to an ATM to get some cash the card was refused. I phoned the bank back in the UK who informed me that I should have told them I was leaving the EU. It appears the all cards are refused outside the EU for security reason. No one told me. I even went through Santander's website looking for such an instruction. You will find it now following the 3 emails I sent expressing my dissatisfaction in their service. If I hadn't been staying with family I would have been well and truly up the creek without the proverbial paddle. After the first phone call during which I was assured my cards would both work I went down to the local ATM to beg for some cash. Did I get any? Not a chance. I even tried the credit card. So an other phone call. It's tedious because the second person has no idea what you said to the first person, And I wish call centres didn't play music when they put you on hold. At the end of the second call during which I was put on to some one from security who said there was no reason why my cards, when inserted into an ATM any where in Australia or New Zealand shouldn't produce a torrent of cash. Well the debit card did but not the credit card. A 3rd phone call to the UK plus the 2nd of 3 emails delivered an assurance that if the sun were to actually rise tomorrow then my cards would work. Well to be sure I took $20 out using the credit card so the sun will rise tomorrow, it might not shine but it will rise. So landing in New Zealand  I was confident but there was a little 'but' hanging about in the back of my mind. It had every reason to be there because neither card would produce anything except 'Transaction Declined'.

My first idea was to walk back to the airport and see if I could get deported back to Australia. Then the lady from the van hire company lent me her car so I could drive to a nearby ATM and see if I could get some cash. No cash. Looks like no holiday; I had worked all of August to pay for it. 180 boring trips to Cockington and back just so I could drive a campervan round North Island New Zealand. I couldn't ring the bank, it was the middle of the night in the UK.

Then the lady( may she win the lotto and live happily ever after) phoned her boss and explained the situation and boss lady told me to take the van, ring my bank and come back in a few days and pay. New Zealanders are the greatest people in the world. Heading north from Auckland I pulled into a service station to check my map. On the way out I got stopped by the police and breathalysed. Good job I hadn't stopped somewhere for a large double whisky to calm my nerves.

To morrow I will pop in to the van place on my way further south and pop my credit card into the chip and pin thingy. I know it will work because I used it to by some petrol.

far Far Away, just in Time

On Tuesday 20 Nov I caught the train to London and then to the airport to board a flight to my second home, no not a bus depot but Australia. I got there on Thursday and heard that the train line between Devon and the rest of the world had been washed away and that mudslides had even swept through Torquay itself. Not good weather you are having back home. Much warmer here. I have never been here for Christmas before and Christmas decorations in the middle of summer  are a form of jet lag. I've been down to the beach a couple of times but no bbq yet. What I did have to do was ring Santander and ask them why my debit and credit cards weren't working. I was told I should have let them know I was leaving the EU but they promised they would work. Still took 3 phone calls.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Palm Tree and Banjo

A couple of photos that just about sum up Torquay at the moment.

The blue wall has been resurrected from Rock Walk and put up round the Banjo. Those with long memories will remember that the Banjo was reopened with much publicity by our elected mayor earlier this summer. Now it's closed again while the top bit is cut down. Well it was only closed for 6 years last time, how long will it be closed this time.

The other photo is the palm tree at the entrance to Torbay. There was an item in the paper stating it had been vandalised recently. There was even a photo to show that bits had been pulled off the trunk. My photo was taken the day it was erected, if that is the right word, and it clearly shows bits missing even then.

Now, and I don't have a photo, the tree has been wrapped up for the winter. The whole tree is covered in sacking and it looks like a big phallus symbol. And it's still flood lit at night.

Sorry Mr Mayor, what ever your name is, this has been one great big PR disaster for you and Torbay.

PS Well done to the 83% of you that didn't vote and so expressed your contempt for David Cameron and his big idea for a new way of running the Police. (at the same time hiding the fact that our police service will be so underfunded as to be almost totally ineffective.)


Saturday, 3 November 2012

Big Wheel Closes Down

To celebrate the final day of operation of the English Riviera Observation Wheel, Mellors Group, operators of the wheel, will be holding a free firework display for the public on Sunday 4 November at 6pm.

The fireworks will be launched from the Haldon Pier, Torquay Harbour and spectators are invited to come and watch the display from the observation wheel site at Princess Gardens in Torquay.
Now if I'd known the Wheel was going to have a closing down sale like that I'd have let a couple of bangers of in Cockington on Wednesday afternoon.
It is hoped the wheel will be back next year but sadly there doesn't seem to be anything in the pipeline for the 50.

Friday, 2 November 2012

Well, that's me, a retired bus driver.

This is me in Cockington on Tuesday which was a nice sunny day. It was also the penultimate day of bus service 50 which used to run between Paignton and Cockinton.
I shall miss my nine trips a day up and down Cockington Lane and I am sure many of my passengers will also.
In a few weeks I am of to Australia for Christmas so I'm not all that worried about finding an other bus driving job but come next year when I get back I will have a look round and see what turns up.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

The New Palm Tree.

Here are 3 photos of the TREE. That's the 7 grand tree or if you are even more up to date with jargon it's the tree that cost the people of Torbay 7K. And nobody asked us. Personally I think palm trees are the ugliest trees on the planet, Why not an oak tree or the other iconic tree we have here in Torbay, the Monterey Pine. There are more Monterey Pine trees in Torbay than palm trees, go and count them if you don't believe me. Seven grand isn't much when you compare it with the council's whole budget but it would have kept the 50 service running for an other year and more people would have noticed the bus service to beautiful Cockington.

Coming from Newton Abbot

Leaving Torquay
I bet most people driving past will be too busy watching the traffic to even give the tree a first glance never mind a second glance. And it's going to be pulled down in 3 years time to make way for the new road. Okay, it's in a pot but tree roots have a strong urge to break out of pots. If that happens then the tree can't be easily moved.

Don't stand in the middle of the road using your mobile

Thi s lady wasn't walking across Torbay Rd, she was just standing there in the middle of the road making a phone call. Not a good idea.
Only two weeks to go to catch the number 50 Devonian Motor Services bus from Paignton to Cockington. The service ends on Wednesday 31 October and the 500 to Broadsands is ending on Tuesday the 30th October. Sad but true.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Scotland and the Break Up of the United Kindom

So Scotland is going to decide if it wants to be an independent country. If the vote in this referendum is Yes it will have large and serious long term effects not just for Scotland but for the rest of the United Kingdom. On the front of my passport is the name of this country, The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Long winded, I know but that's it's name.

And the question I would like to ask David Cameron is why we, the people of The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland aren't getting a say as to whether our country should, or shouldn't be changed in this enormous and far reaching way. Why don't we all get a vote when the question, probably, Do you want Scotland to be an independent country? is asked in 2 years time?

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Julia Gillard at Her Best

It you want to see Julia Gillard, Australian Prime Minister, giving the Leader of the Opposition, Tony Abbott a really good kicking then click here.
It's a 15 minute video but worth it.

Monday, 8 October 2012

Cockington Apple Day, Oct 14

Yesterday I had a nice surprise as I set of on my first trip. The level crossing area was full of gentlemen in bright orange suits working on the rail track and the train station car park was full with a double decker FirstBus (it is only a small car park) waiting to transfer rail passengers to Torquay. And it looked like an all day job. No barriers coming down on Torbay Rd to day. God was smiling on me, or so I thought until I got to Cockington Lane.
Sorry to come back to the subject of Cockington Lane and parking but God help the people of Cockington if they ever need the assistance of the Fire and Rescue Service on a Saturday or Sunday.
There are about 15 signs along Cockington Lane the same as the one in the top photo but people either ignore them in the expectation that the Torbay Parking Services van doesn't make it down there, or because they, being car drivers are confused by the signs.
The top sign, in blue says No Parking Passing Place Only. Surely that is clear enough. You can't park in a passing place otherwise how will people be able to pass. But the yellow part of the sign says Restricted Zone. At Any Time, Good Friday to 30 Sept. Does this mean you can park here after 30 Sept. It would seem that many car drivers interpret the slightly confusing mix of instructions as yes, you can park here. Well obviously you can. All you have to do is drive your car into the space, switch the engine of and get out and walk away. But you bloody well shouldn't. If something comes the other way now we are both in trouble.

Well next Sunday, 14 October is, Cockington Apple Day, and thousands are expected to make their way to Cockington. Some on the number 50 bus from Paignton but I expect a few will walk there, it is a very nice walk through the meadows next to Cockington Lane. Please don't walk along the road, it is safer to walk along the M1 than to walk along the lane. Most will of course come by car, and why not? God gave us wheels, why not use them? But if parking is allowed along the lane next Sunday there could be big problems from about 10:45 which is when I get there. This Sunday was bad enough but with the amount of traffic expected next Sunday to celebrate the humble but delicious apple there will be chaos.

Fire in Bus Shelter

This is the bus shelter on Abbey Rd near the junction with Melville St. Someone must have decided that setting fire to buses in Paignton Bus Station, the person who that did got arrested, and decided to go for an easier option. This Timetable display has been like this for at least two weeks now and I feel it is time who ever looks after bus stops (the council) should do something about it. I mean how will we know when a bus is due?

Friday, 5 October 2012

Parking in Cockinton Lane

Cockington Lane is, in places, quiet a norrow lane and there are several passing places. Some have signs saying No Parking Passing Place but on the same post, to save money, there are signs saying Restricted Zone, No Parking Good Friday to 30 Sept. The second sign seems to suggest that it is OK to park here after the 30 Sept and people are parking in the passing places which can make it tricky to get through with the bus.
Why Torbay council don't make it free parking in the car park and simply ban park in the lane completely is beyond me. Mind you it will only be a problem for us until the end of this month when we stop running into Cockington completely.  Sad but true, I shall miss it.
The photo of the parked cars was taken for me by a regular passenger.

Friday, 28 September 2012

Quick Work Torbay Council

This post does contain a mild swear word, used twice, sorry I know I don't usually use swear words but seeing someone driving up Cockington Lane at 50 mph does tend one towards something a little stronger than, " You foolish chap." 
Anyway to proceed:-
After slagging off Torbay Council last week because they couldn't be bothered putting up road side advanced warning notices re Esplanade Rd Paignton I need to mention some quick reaction by our wonderful council workforce.Late Wednesday evening I sent the Highways Department an email telling them that a light was out on the pedestrian traffic lights at Cockington Lane. This morning (Thursday) I went round the junction at Cockington Lane at 10:15 and the bulb had been replaced. I was presently surprised. I hope they will react just as quickly when I send them an email about the tree that has come down in Cockington Lane it's self. Only the top 6 feet are sticking out in to the road but the road isn't exactly wide along there. One moment of mirth this afternoon by the above mentioned tree. I was coming out of Cockington and getting close to the tree, there was a pedestrian walking down the lane* so I was going pretty slowly which was a good job because some dickhead in a red car came up the lane doing about 50 mph. I just stopped, there was room for said dickhead to get past but he had to drive through the protruding branches of the fallen tree.
Country lanes are killing fields, more than half the people killed on UK roads die in country lanes and with idiots like this dickhead I'm not suprised.

* There is a really nice footpath running parallel to the Lane, much prettier and a damn sight safer so if you are walking to or from the village please use the path.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

An Upcoming Event at Cockington Court

For the first time, Cockington Court Crafts Centre is hosting its own Big Draw event, as part of the world's biggest celebration of drawing.

On Saturday, 6 October visitors at Cockington Court will have a chance to unleash their creativity and have fun while drawing on "never-ending sheets of paper". The colourful masterpiece will then be displayed on the corridor walls and down the spiral stairwell of the Manor House.

The Big Draw is free to attend and families are invited to visit the Manor House foyer from 12 to 4pm to take part in the event, and explore the stunning grounds of Cockington Court.

Mayor of Torbay, Gordon Oliver said: "Cockington Court is part of our heritage, and it is great to see that it is presenting visitors with yet another opportunity to enjoy a day out in Torbay."

Craft Centre Director Marissa Wakefield said: "The creative buzz of Cockington Court Craft Centre makes it the perfect place to host such an event and we are delighted that our visitors on Saturday will have a chance to take part in such an inspirational activity."

There are two ways to get to this event by bus, from Paignton catch the Devonian bus number 50 from Torbay Rd, just over the level crossing from the train station ot the Local Link bus number 62 from Torquay Strand.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Mad Day Yesterday

The day started as normal for a Saturday at 10:35 from Torbay Rd to Cockington, there and back no problem. I did notice that there was some activity on Paignton Green. Several large tents and a few vans plus some children riding around on bikes but nothing else. Left Paignton for my 11:15 trip, still no problems, nothing warning me of the chaos to follow. Back in Paignton with time to spare for a quick cup of coffee before setting off at 11:55 for my last trip before my lunch break. Usual way, up Torbay Rd, round Great Western Rd past the bus station, along Dartmouth Rd and left into Sands Rd and over the level crossing. Down to the bottom of Sands Rd and left into Esplanade Rd.

Road Ahead Closed was what the notice said. What I said is not printed here as small children and other people of a nervous disposition might be reading this. At the junction with Torbay Rd there was and other sign saying Diversion Turn Left. As I had an elderly lady who wanted the Palace Hotel I went past this sign. At the Palace Hotel the road was indeed closed but I dropped my passenger off and turned the bus round in the road. A event marshal even moved a few cones to assist me but was quite unfriendly when I asked him where all the advanced warning signs were that are usual when a main road is closed. Usually there are signs put up a week before so drivers don't just turn up and find bloody great barriers across the road. He did say it wasn't his problem and would I mind going away. I did manage to find out how long the road would be closed for but that wasn't much help. So back up Torbay Rd along with everyone who had come from Brixham direction and turned right at the big tree. No signs there either. Took 25 minutes to get back to where I had started from. On to Cockington; Paignton Town centre was a mess traffic wise. People trying to get out of side roads causing chaos. Eventually I got past Preston, Manor Rd coming up was full of cars because drivers had gone down Seaway Rd to drive along the seafront only to discover at the bottom of Manor Rd there had to turn right up Manor Rd. Why no sign, Torbay Council, at Seaway Rd saying Seafront closed use town centre?

In the end I made it back to Cockington at 14:15 having missed a complete trip. People had been waiting a long time for me in Cockington and it didn't make me feel any better that it wasn't my fault. As the road was going to open at 3pm I decided to wait in Cockington until 14:46, the normal leaving time. This would mean I would get back to Esplanade Rd at 3pm just as the road opened again. After that It was plain sailing again and the last two trips of the day went according to the timetable which is the way I like things to go.

What I would like to know but probably never will is why there were no advance warning notices put up in the week before telling everyone the road would be closing. Pier Rd in Paignton which is only used by people parking on the prom had a notice up for a week saying it would be closed on two Wednesday afternoons so why didn't one of the busiest roads in Paignton get the same treatment? And why no notices in Seaway Lane and at The Big Tree to save people the time and trouble driving down to Esplanade |Rd only to find it closed.

Rating for Torbay Council on the running of this event; Extremely poor. Must do much better.

PS. One of my regular passengers took the photo.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Ark Royal Will Not Rest In Peace, Just in Pieces.

Torbay's Wreck the World organisation bid £3.5m for the Ark Royal to sink it off Torbay to create an artificial reef. The work to prepare the ship for sinking would have brought much needed work to a shipyard in the South West. Once that work had been done it would have been a much needed addition to our tourist industry. Not just diving schools taking people out to dive on the new reef but boat owners, hotels, catering and much more. Similar enterprises elsewhere in the world have always been successful. Even wildlife in the sea would benefit. Just look at pictures of the Titanic. This was a win win situation. Even the government would have got 3 and a half million quid out of the deal.

So what have the wise(sic) people in government done with the Ark Royal? Sold it to someone in Turkey for 3 million quid? That's half a million quid less then the Torbay group bid. Now all the people who will get employment from the scrapping of this ship live in Turkey and not Torquay and once they have finished cutting it up all benefits will be over instead of lasting for generations in Torbay. Has anyone got the slightest idea why stupid people all seem to end up working for the government?

Either someone has got a backhander or, more likely, someone in Whitehall hates Torbay.

Just a picture of a horse.


Don't Feed The Gulls

In any seaside town you will find notices asking visitors not to feed the gulls, us locals know not to feed them. But gulls are always hungry and never know where or when the next meal is coming from so grab what they can when they can. Even greens. At least he is getting one of his five a day.
About a second after I had taken this shot a waitress came running up and shouted at him and he reluctantly flew away. So that was the end of his healthy diet for the day, poor thing. At least there was no cider in the glass, last thing we want are drunken seagulls flying around Torquay.
Today it was a taxi parked on the bus stop in Cockington but it drove of as soon as the driver saw me, I wonder why.

Monday, 10 September 2012

Palm Court Coming Down

Finally after 10 or more years since it ceased operation as a hotel the Palm Court Hotel (Ex) is coming down. The demolision work seemed to be going slowly at first but over the last few days much of the building that wasn't burnt down almost two years ago has started to bite the dust. More photos will follow as the work progresses and as soon as rebuilding work starts I shall report here and on Flickr at dcbanx.

Coach in Cockington

OK. The coach shouldn't have been there. There is a sign prohibiting coaches and large buses from Cockington Lane. Imagine what would happen if half a dozen all turned up at once. At present there is a 2 year exemption so local buses can go into Cockington but as soon as we drop off and pick up we leave. The timetable is designed like that otherwise we would clutter the place up. On the way into Cockington yesterday afternoon the lady driving the horse and buggy stopped me and mentioned the fact that a bloody great coach was parked on the bus stop. And as you can see, there was.

I spoke to the coach driver and he told me he hadn't been sure about taking the coach to Cockington but looked up the phone number of one of the establishments in the village to ask if there was anywhere to park a coach in the village and was told, "Yes, no problem. There's a big bus stop here right in the centre of the village."

The driver himself, by the time he had negotiated the lane up to Cockington was most unhappy. He definitely wasn't ever going to visit Cockington again. Not with a coach anyway.

I asked him what time he was going. I didn't want to meet him in the lane, one of us would have to reverse a long way. He happily agreed to wait until I next arrived and follow me out. And we got out without meeting any cars going the other way which was a good thing.

So, coach drivers, even if someone tells you there is room to park a coach, don't believe them. Please.


Friday, 7 September 2012

Strange Bus in Fleet St

On my way to work yesterday I noticed this bus coming up the street. Seems to be a protest about rich people and large companies some how managing to make use of well known loopholes in our counties tax laws and evade paying their full tax bill while those who can not afford expensive tax lawyers end up paying too much tax. Not right and costs the country billions. So why have successive governments not closed these loop holes? It could be there is a vested interest in not closing them; who knows?  

Anyway this big red thing isn't a bus even though  it looks like one and shouldn't be in Fleet st

Sunday, 2 September 2012



Torbay Vintage Bus Rally Sept 2012

Some photos from today's Vintage Bus Rally held here in Torquay today.
Lots of buses and well attended and the weathere stayed mostly dry.

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Neil Armstrong

When I was really young and still at junior school (Bishop Billsborrow Memorial School, right next to Princess Road Bus Depot. Both sadly pulled down to make way for houses now), the three big topics for discussion were would anyone run a mile in under 4 minutes, would anyone break the Sound Barrier and would Man get to the Moon. In May 1954 Roger Bannister did run a mile in under 4 minutes beating American John Landy to the prize. The Sound Barrier had been broken in 1947 but that was in a Bell XS-1 rocket power plane which only flew for 15 minutes and not really an aeroplane as such but by the mid fifties many combat aeroplanes were indeed breaking the sound barrier. Only one left and the Americans were determined to be the first on the moon ahead of the Russians.

I can still clearly remember the excitement as Apollo 11 set of for the Moon and sat up most of the night in July 1969 to watch a grainy black and white TV picture of Neil Armstrong taking his giant leap for mankind.

Of the 3 accomplishments, the 4 minute mile, the sound barrier and the landing on the Moon it can be said that the latter, while the most expensive and bravest and technically exacting has been the least successful. Athletes regularly improve running times though not the mile, it's the 1500 metres now. Planes are built that don't even bother about the effort of going through the sound barrier, look at Concorde, twice the speed of sound carrying a huindred passengers and the Americans built a plane, the Lockheed SR-71 which flew at 2400 miles per hour. So running faster and flying faster, no problem. It's going to the Moon that didn't take of as it were and I have a feeling that Neil Armstrong would have found that hard to understand.

Friday, 17 August 2012

The Big Wheel

A couple of photos of the big wheel that is going up in Princess Gardens. The first was taken from Corbyn Head at 14:49 and shows the base of the wheel had been erected. The second was taken in Princess Gardens 35 minutes later and shows that almost a quarter of the wheel has been assembled, pretty fast work but then the company want the thing up and making money by Monday. The mayor, Gordon Oliver, is going to take a ride on Monday morning if it is fully up and running. It is 60 metres high and I believe will cost 5 quid a ride.

The company that own the wheel, The Mellors Group state that once the wheel has had it's fun here in Torquay the site will be returned to the condition it was in before it turned up.

Palm Court Hotel

Contrast the speed that the big wheel went up with the speed the Palm Court is coming down. The top photo was taken today, Friday and the other 12 days ago, not much seems to have happened and there didn't appear to be anything happening today either, no sign of any workmen hitting walls with hammers or moving fallen masonry from the site in a wheel barrow. Still, it will probably happen eventually. We have waited long enough for the place to be developed, what's a few more weeks, months, years.
OK, there is scaffolding in front of the building but it would be nice to see the building vanish sometime soon.

Monday, 13 August 2012

Weren't The Olympics Great?

Scaffolding has finally gone up in front of the former Palm Court Hotel. Several weeks has gone by while the area of the hotel that was burnt down 20 months ago has been painstakingly cleared. Hopefully the rest of the demolition will proceed apace and the replacement building will begin to take shape so this long lasting blot on our landscape will be gone before next summer's visitors turn up and wonder if Torquay is really going to the dogs.

Cockington has been busy this last couple of weeks while the weather has shown some improvement, I do wish people driving along Cockington Lane would notice that it is a narrow road with blind bends and slow down to a safe speed and those idiots who walk along the road would use the exceedingly good foot path that runs parallel to the road. Letting young children play in this road id not a good career move for them, nor is cycling three a breast a particularly good idea.

Didn't the Olympics do well? Some of the stories about lost bus drivers taking athletes to such places as East Anglia instead of East London must have been exaggerated somewhat.


Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Torbay's very own bus rally

TORBAY will once again play host to a seaside bus rally.

About 30 buses, several of which spent some of their working lives in the Bay, have already been entered for the free event being staged from 10am to 5pm on Sunday 2 September in Shedden Hill car park just off Torquay seafront.

Buses attending will hopefully include several former Devon General open-toppers, including an AEC Regent dating from 1934 right through to a recently restored 1997 Volvo single-decker which was originally used by Stagecoach to relaunch route 12 with larger buses after it outgrew the minibuses previously used.

The event is being organised by the Devon and Dorset Group of bus enthusiasts in partnership with Torbay Council and Stagecoach.

It is the fourth year running that the bus rally has been staged in the Bay, growing more popular each year, and organiser James Pratt is confident that this year's will be the best yet.

He said: "We were delighted with the success of last year's rally, and the feedback we received was fantastic. People love to have the chance to come along and see the static display of historic buses, and we will be running several free bus services to give visitors the chance to ride in these wonderful character-filled vehicles.

"Retired buses should not be consigned to museums, and as bus enthusiasts we are pleased to give people an opportunity to see them out and about and to have the chance to ride on them once again."

Visitors will be able to buy a souvenir programme including photographs and information about the vehicles, and there will be a timetable giving details of the free bus trips.

Cllr Robert Excell, Torbay Council's Executive Lead for Safer Communities and Transport, said: "This annual rally is filled with nostalgia, and James and his colleagues are to be congratulated on organising such an excellent event.

"It is an extremely popular event, with some wonderful opportunities for photographers, so I would encourage people to come along and have a great time."

Shedden Hill car park will be reserved for the vintage buses and pedestrians only during the event.

Further information about the rally, including a list of vehicles taking part, can be found on the running day website at

Mobile Phone Call

As I was driving along Esplanade Rd my phone rang. As I was driving I made no attempt to answer it. Even if I had it would have been pointless as it only rang twice. When I got to Cockington I look at my missed calls and the number was 02920381900. Now the first time someone rang me and hung up after 2 rings I did ring back only to find some company wanted to sell me life insurance. So it cost me money just to tell them to, "**** off"

So I don't bother ringing this sort of call back but I did google the number and got lots of answers, most saying don't ring the number. Some sort of scam I expect.

Weather still wet and not like August should be.

Monday, 6 August 2012

Cockington Fayre

Cockington Fayre was hit by a slow moving weather front. It was dry and reasonably fine up to 10 am and then the heavens opened. At 2:30 it dried up and the sun came out. Plenty of people went but it would have been much nicer if the weather front had turned up 6 hours sooner or 6 hours later. Getting in to Cockington was nice, the lane, which is narrow and bendy and one has to watch out for oncoming cars and buses, but the council had made it one way for the day. This meant going out a different way, one I had never driven before. Turned out to be so steep I had to use the crawler gear to get up it with even a moderate load. Last time I used the crawler gear was 15 years ago when I took my bus test. First time in went in, no problem. Any examiner would have been happy with that. All the other times though I just stopped and put it in the gear and pulled away. Just wasn't worth the trouble doing properly.

Crawler gear has a bottom speed of 1mph and if you rev the engine to breaking point, a top speed of 2mph. So if you were behind me going up the hill out of Cockington; Sorry.

Never had chance to see how the activities were going down in the rain, next year I will be working once again so an other year of missing the show. I'll catch it eventually

Car Parking Charges

There is a story in the local paper about a shopkeeper in Torbay Rd Paignton who has offered to pay motorists parking fees. Only the motorists who shop in his shop, not everyone who parks in Torbay Rd. If he did that he would be out of business in a week. He is doing it, he says as a protest against the parking charges that the council have recently introduced. He and other traders are blaming the down turn on trade on the parking charges. Now I spend quite a long time in Torbay Rd as it is our terminus and I know that as soon as one motorist pulls out of a parking bay an other motorist will be in there in 3 turns of a steering wheel. There are 35 bays in Torbay Rd and they are always full from when I get there at 09:30 to when I leave at 16:30 so parking charges are not stopping people going in his shop and spending money. There must be some other reason. So my guess is he is doing it for the publicity, I might be wrong.

Personally I think it is the lousy weather we have been having that is putting people off plus the economic situation. See photo of Torquay car park on a sunny day and Torbay Rd on a dreary day. But I do wish people wouldn't try to get publicity by blaming the council who I feel are doing a wonderful job.

Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Cockington Fayre

Wednesday 1 August is Cockington Fayre Day.

We will either be dead busy (Yes please) if the weather isn't too bad or dead quiet (please no) if it rains all day. The forecast isn't too bad but some light rain in the morning.

Catch the 50 from Torbay Rd Paignton, we will have two buses running. And if you are coming from Torquay catch the 62 from the Strand. Don't come by car as parking is limited. If you do come by car don't park anywhere except the car parks or you will have to pay 35 quid for the privilege and remember Cockington Lane is one way for the day. Watch out for the horse and carriage.

Also, well done to Stagecoach in removing the burnt out buses so quickly. You would hardly know there had been a fire in the Bus Station by lunch time today.

Monday, 30 July 2012

Buses Go Up in Flames

Some time this morning, in the early hours, someone set fire to 3 Stagecoach buses parked in Paignton Bus Station. Two deckers and a single decker were completely burnt out. Stagecoach are confident that services will not be affected by this. I expect they might be beefing up their security following this attack.

Bus fleet numbers were 16064, 16775 both 20 year old Olympians and an 8 year old Solo WA04TXX fleet number 47106.

E Mail Blogging Back On Line.

It would appear that email blogging is back on line, and I thought it was just me. Thanks for those who emailed me to let me know there was a big problem and it wasn't just me going gag gag in my middle age.

Sunday, 29 July 2012


this is a test. I am having a problem posting via email and I don't know why.

Torquay Pedal Car Grand Prix

Never mind the Olympics, here in Torquay we have the Annual Pedal Car Grand Prix. Ten teams race for two hours round a track on Torre Abbey Green in a desperate attempt to prove they are the best. I have no Idea who won but it was all good fun. We had a bad start to the day with the usual rain threatening to put a damper on the whole affair but the sun came out and a fun day was had by all.
Hope the weather is just as nice for Cockington Fayre on Wednesday, remember, 62 bus from Torquay Strand and 50 bus from Torbay Rd Paignton.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

The Games Are Here At Last

The best part of the Olympics is over. The Torch Relay has finished. For me this is the best part of the Olympics. Millions of people have turned out through out the country to watch the Flame go by and all for free. Where ever it went ordinary people made an effort to see it pass. So well done to everyone involved, the Torch bearers, those that ran to escort them, the drivers of the support vehicles, the broadcasters who reported it's passing and those who stood at the side of the road to watch it pass in a few moments. Not matter what the opening do is like tonight this will be the high light for me. A bit like the Tour De France, an event for everyone to take part in.

The next best part is this evening, the opening ceremony. A chance for London and the country to show of to the world, a billion people are expected to watch, that's one in every seven of us, and I am sure we will not be disappointed. (Mitt Romley can go back to America now as far as I am concerned.) ( Hope he loses in November.) ( Sure he will.)

After that we have the actual athletics. I'm not all that bothered how they go but it will be nice if the UK win lots of Gold, fingers crossed. Hopefully the nice weather will continue for the next few weeks and everyone who is in anyway connected to the Games will say it was the best ever.

PS. It's Cockington Fayre on Wednesday August 1. If you can tear yourself away from the TV get down there, we will be running two buses all day long to get as many people to enjoy beautiful Cockington as possible so leave your car at home and enjoy a relaxing bus ride to the show.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

Blind Justice.

I was going to spend this post describing my rather frustrating week caused by the failure of the 08:15 12A to run from Torquay to Paignton several times, the malfunction of some traffic lights at the Pelican crossing on Esplanade Rd which caused long delays and constantly meeting the 62 coming out of Cockington. That bus is normally on Optre but this week a longer Dart has been used. Frustrating true; but I then heard the news that once again justice has failed.
Personally I would like to force the 12 members of the jury to each visit the family of deceased newsvendor Ian Tomlinson, and explain how they managed to watch the video we have all seen and decide that the police office used resonable force. and then return a not guilty verdict. Policeman Simon Harwood first struck Mr Thomlinson with a baton from behind and then violently pushed to the ground, also from behind a man who was offering no threat to anyone. Had the police officer been out of uniform and in full view of other police officers and committed this attack he would rightly have been arrested instantly.
The family are now faced with the prospect of taking the matter through a civil court in order to get any sort of justice.
Other news that emerged after the trial was over concerning the record of this police officer's past record makes a mockery of safety checks that are carried out against people working as security guards or with children. If the Met police can not even get their house in order when carrying out checks on people who work as police officers why should we expect or believe they can get any other checks right?

Monday, 16 July 2012

Old Cars

There were lots of old cars and other vehicles driving round the Bay yesterday. Unfortunately these were the only two that went past while I was waiting time on the stop. There were some other, even more exotic vehicles that I wish I could have got pictures of but one has to be so careful these days.

I wish it would stop raining and remember it is suppossed to be summer. I don't expect writing to that nice Mr Cameron and asking him and that other nice guy, forgotton his name for the minute, you know, his deputy, if they can do something about the weather.