Saturday, 28 April 2012

Bad Weather, Bad Luck and Delays. Plus a couple of other things.

Well it's Saturday night and it's blowing a gale. 60 mph gusts expected tomorrow from the north east so expect the sea front here in Torquay to be closed at some time around high tide which is around midday. The young farmers didn't pick the best weekend to come and wreak the town bus who cares? Torquay United were seconds away from a win that would have given then a 2 point lead over Crawley but gave away a goal in the 97th minute. With one game left United need to win and Crawley lose or draw. If Crawley win then they get promoted and Torquay are at the mercy of the play offs. Exeter are coming down to Division Two next year and Plymouth Argyle after a very rocky season both on and of the pitch managed to win just enough games over the last few weeks to stay in the league.
Spent Thursday and Friday driving a bus once again. Devonian Motor Service 500 on Thursday to Broadsands and Galmpton which was mostly uneventful except for the 3 O'clock run. Galmpton isn't exactly blessed with wide road, particularly around the junior school. When I went to junior school 50 years ago no one came and picked me up in a car after school. I just walked home like everyone else, come hail, rain, smog or shine. And I managed to cross 3 main roads without getting run over.
If you see a sign which says no parking zone then it pays not to park. Anywhere in Cockington that isn't a car park isn't a place to park. Our hard working parking attendants drive into Cocking as often as the 50 service does and it's always nice for them if it isn't a wasted journey.

And finally, it's almost the end of the month and the plans for the revamp of Fleet Street should be on display any day now. Oh yes, there is yet and other delay with the Torwood St development. That must make it delay number 15 in the last 4 years. I wish the council would delay collecting my council tax as often.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

A Ride on a B6, P701 BTA

Years ago, when I first started working for Stagecoach the 12 route was covered by Alexandra B6's. Single deckers, carried 50 passengers between Newton and Brixham. Then Exeter needed the B6's to cover a route that had been running Mercs and Ivecos but passenger numbers had grown and the B6 could carry the extra numbers so Torquay lost them and got a load of not very good, quite old Tridents on the grounds that the 12 service wasn't managing with single deckers. In truth, Exeter wonted them and what ever Exeter wanted Exeter got.

Anyway a local bus enthusiast decided to buy 701, the first of the B6's to come into service which was 15 years ago this week. To commemorate that the owner decided to take the bus for a run along the route and invited a few other bus enthusiasts along for the ride.

I went along just for the ride. I used to like driving B6's and was sorry to see them go.

More pictures on Flickr at Torquay Trivia .

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Loads of Cars In Fleet St

What are all these cars doing driving down Fleet St? Have they all decided to play follow my leader, are they all lost? Well no, there was what the police call "an incident" on Friday evening involving two young men and one knife and Abbey Rd in front of the Central Cinema was closed while the forensic department did an inch by inch search of the area. When I was in Abbey Rd it was taped shut, no one could go through, not even pedestrians. A little sweet, frail old lady wanted to go down to the Post Office Roundabout but even she had to walk 200 yds back up the hill, moderately steep to you and me but a mountain to her.

Sometimes I think the police go a little over the top when roads get closed for long periods of time. I know they have to collect evidence and all that but not letting people walk through a road that had been closed for 15 hours by then seemed a bit mean.
Anyway the traffic moved down Fleet Street with out too much of a problem, mostly because there were no buses coming up Fleet Street, they all had to divert up Belgrave Rd.
There are plans coming out soon for the redevelopment of Fleet Street. They should be interesting. One idea to reduce congestion caused by buses getting stuck at the north bound bus stop as they do now would be to do away with this bus stop completely, it isn't that far a walk to Cary Parade and it is down hill all the way. Soon as the plans are out I will have a look at them and of course pick them to pieces.

Monday, 16 April 2012

A Night to Remember and An Hour at the Doctors

Yesterday I watched the film, "A Night to Remember" for only the second time. And a very good film it is too. The first time I watched it was at The Odeon in Withington roadworks, Whalley Range back in 1958. It lacks the colour of James Cameron's remake, called "Titanic" but didn't have an annoying love story running through it.
At the time we couldn't understand why it didn't have enough life boats. I still can't understand why it didn't have enough life boats. I mean compared to the cost of the ship a few more lifeboats wouldn't have made much difference. I expect it's the total indifference of those in power towards the struggling masses. Not a lot changed there.
Today I went to Chatto Rd surgery to have some photos taken, 4 all together, courtesy of the NHS. I go every year. The photos are of my retinas. I am Type 2 diabetic and having photos taken each year and compared with previous years photos is a guide to how well I am coping with diabetes. Also the sooner you find out there is a problem the better the chance of no lasting damage being done. Diabetes is not an ilness you know you have in the same way you would know if you had flu. Lots of people don't know what to look for and can lose the chance to start treatment early. Starting treatment early can only be a good thing. Diabetes affects 2.8 million people in the UK. It is thought that a further one million people have the condition but are not aware of it.
 The main symptoms of diabetes are:
•feeling very thirsty
•going to the toilet a lot, especially at night
•extreme tiredness
•weight loss and loss of muscle bulk
Other symptoms of diabetes can include:
•itchiness around the vagina or penis
•recurring thrush as a result of the excess glucose in your urine
•blurred vision caused by the lenses of your eyes becoming very dry
•cuts and sores taking longer to heal
Not to be an alarmist but if you notice any of the above symptoms nip round and have a chat to your doctor just to be on the safe side. You never know, you too could have your photo taken by the NHS free of charge. Though hopefully not.

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Three Buildings here in Torquay

Three Buildings in Torquay
The first is Torre Abbey, been here since the 12th century and is having a bit of a face lift. It's expected to take two years so if you come to Torquay this year you will be disappointed if 800 year old abbeys are your passion. Should be good when the work is finished because it was pretty good before they started.

An other possible disappointment is the balloon, or as I should say, lack of it. It used to take people 400 feet up and keep them there for 15 minutes which if fine if you like that sort of thing. Many locals thought it was an eyesore and were privately quiet glad when it got seriously damaged in a storm in January. It was at first announced it would fly again in May, then came the word that it would be unlikely to fly again this year as the people running the show couldn't get a new balloon as they didn't grow on trees. The elected mayor, Mr Gordon Oliver held a forum at which we all invited and said that while the balloon wasn't flying ,Lindstrandt, the company that own the thing wouldn't be charged rent. A week later it was pointed out that due to an ongoing legal dispute Lindstrandt hadn't paid a penny rent all the time the balloon had been flying.
Meanwhile the Gondola, wrapped up in bits of balloon and looking like a disused yurt from the Mongolian steppes, remains. Still an eyesore but at least a bit smaller than the balloon.

Yesterday came the news in the local paper that it might be flying by summer. Maybe they will pay Torbay Council the rent they owe before they start flying.
The third building that gets a mention is the Palm Court Hotel (former hotel that is). It closed down years ago and was supposed to be pulled down and rebuilt years ago but the developer ran out of money. Then 18 months ago someone set fire to it, didn't do too good a job of it because 2 thirds of it still stand here, derelict and, yes you have guessed, an eyesore.

Anyway an other developer has come along and work should start, "Within a few weeks." according to Mayor Oliver.  (dictionary definition of a few is a grammatical word used to indicate that there are not many or hardly any) So work should start in less than 4 weeks or the statement by the mayor should have said in a few months. We shall see.
And finally, the notice on the tree that annoyed me a couple of weeks ago has been taken down.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Wall Hill and Ansteys Cove

 Wall Hill
 Redgate Beach (closed) and Ansteys Cove (open)
 A view from the cafe at Anseys Cove
Me at the cafe having a cup of coffee

Yesterday I went for my usual walk, doctor orders. Sometimes I just go down to the Harbour and catch a bus somewhere and walk home, makes it more interesting. Also gives Stagecoach some well needed revenue(sic). Anyway a 32 for St Marychurch had just come in so I got on that intending to have a walk along the Downs but when I got there I turned left along Wall Hill Road which goes up to The South West Coastal Path and Walls Hill which is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. At the top of the cliffs is Walls Hill, a limestone plateau. Some 2,500 years ago this was an Iron Age fortification, a headland fort where tribal groups would have retreated in times of threat. Mostly it is frequented by the local dog walkers, one person had 5 dogs in tow.
At first it is a continuation of Babbacombe Downs but eventually the scenery gets a bit more dramatic. Lots of fences to stop the dogs and any children you may have with you from vanishing over the edge which is a good job, it's 300 feet down to the sea. Continuing along the coastal path takes you down to Ansteys Cove. Now I have lived in Torquay for nearly fourteen years and have never been down to Ansteys Cove. It's quiet an easy walk down, nice wide path with hand rails for the nervous but the views are spectacular. And there is a nice café to get a cup of good coffee, none of that powdered cheap instant muck you get in some other places I've been to. The café is only open weekend till the end of May then it will be open daily to sell snacks and hot and cold drinks including beer and wine.
Next to Ansteys Cove, which has a small rocky beach is Redgate Beach, bigger and sandy but fenced of as the cliffs above have a tendency to drop rocks onto the heads of people sat on the beach. Actually it's been closed of since 1998 which was the year we moved to Torquay. You would expect the beach to be covered with rock and rubble by now but it did look fairly clear to me.
After relaxing with my coffee and taking a few photos I started the climb back up to the main road. When I was 20 metres from the road the Torquay bound 32 went driving past, I should have checked the timetable, the next one wasn't for half an hour.

Getting Children Writing Stories.

After have in a go at people posting notices on trees in my last post I though I would give them a bit of publicity as it is for a good cause.

Age 7 to 11

Want something to do?

Write a story and you could win a prize.

To find out more go to


Do your children spend all day on their computers? Well here is something inspirational they can use use their computers for if they are aged between 7 and 11? Could they write a story about changing the world?

Torbay Stories is a short story competition, run in association with the national charity Vinspired, for 7-11 year olds from Torbay. They are looking for stories up to 500 words long on the theme of

‘Changing the World for the Better’.

They would love to read stories around this theme - they can be as serious, as funny, as weird or strange as you’d like! The competition will be judged by brilliant local children’s authors Ellen Renner, Myfanwy Cook and David Lawrence Jones. There will be one winner and two highly commended stories selected, the writers of which will win some great prizes!

All stories will be published on the Torbay Stories blog at

The closing date of the competition is 30th April 2012.
Send your story by email to:
including your name, age, contact number, address and email address.
Get writing, get creative, and we can’t wait to read your stories!

To show just how much fun creative writing can be they are running two free creative writing workshops for parents and children aged 7-11, the first on

Sunday 15th April 1:30-2:30pm at the Windmill Centre, Hele, Torquay
and the second on

Saturday 28th April 10:30am - 11:30am at Paignton Library.
Parents and children can come along, have some fun and write some stories!

Please direct any enquiries to, or just turn up on the day!

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Fly posting is illegal

I am a tree. Nothing spectacular, there are only 30 rings in my main truck, I'm only 15 feet high. Humans have a name to describe me but I'm not really that bothered what it is, I know who I am. I live in a park right near the main entrance so I am the first tree people pass when they come into the park. Usually no one notices me but just recently a few humans have. More about that later, first let me tell you a few things about us trees.
We were here before the first dinosaur was born, they walked amongst us, eat our leaves and fruit, rested in our shade from the midday sun and scratched their backs on our trunks for a hundred million years. Other creatures also lived amongst us. Strange crawling creature with many legs and flying things, much smaller than the dinosaurs. Some laid their eggs on our leaves and when they hatched the young eat the leaves. We didn't mind, we've got plenty of leaves and could always grow more. Some bored holes in our trunks, again not much of a problem, our trunks are pretty tough.

Then the comet came and the dinosaurs went, we survived, our seeds lying in the ground until the sun reappeared and life giving water fell from the sky and we began again to populate almost every corner of the world. The insects made it as well. I guess their eggs were tough enough to stand the cold and the darkness, Something else made it through the cold and dark. Small, covered with fur, fast moving, they had the new world to themselves and they prospered They became familiar visitors, running up our trunks to feed on the nuts, berries and seeds we produced. Again we didn't do anything to stop them. They were doing us a favour, spreading our kind over much bigger distances than we could spread them ourselves.

Immense long periods of time past even by the standards of a species that lived as long as we did. We changed and our types multiplied as did the insects and the furry animals that that lived with us. There were other flying animals, covered with feathers. We welcomed them. They made the nests high in in our branches, sang their songs of joy and love and warning while we listen in wonder. They eat our seeds just as the furry ones did and helped us continue to prosper.
In time a larger furry creatures started living with us. Some became expert at leaping from tree to tree in search of food, hardly ever going down to the ground where it was too dangerous for them. Their constant chatter was pleasing. An agreeable period of time.

Then came the ice, In the cold lands we were wiped out in our billions. In warmer parts of the world less water fell from the sky and fewer of us grew.
Some of the larger leaping creatures were forced to venture into the open land, developing tactics to keep safe from the large meat eaters that also walked in the treeless lands. We couldn't understand this, we never eat each other, why should they. Little did we know that one day these upright animals we helped nurture would tear us down and devour us with an almost desperate frenzy.

Then the ice went as quickly as it came and we spread into the empty lands. So did the upright animals. At first they were no bother, cutting down a few of us to burn on their fires. Then more people came with a new way of living. More trees were cut down so the humans could grow their tall yellow grass and fence off fields to imprison the animals they eat. The land changed into huge treeless plains but some of us made it. Then came more people and they cut down almost all of the great oak trees to build creatures that ran on the surface of the sea and fought each other with great crashing noises and billowing smoke.

Then the humans discovered the remains of our long dead ancestors and burnt them instead of us. Now those of us who are left stand like me in a park or patches of woodland, small remains of a lost empire. When I look to where the sun rises I can see the sea, hear the children playing on the beach, watch the traffic go by. If I turn to where the sun is highest in the sky, now the big white thing has gone I can see an oak tree. It has 600 rings in it's trunk and the oldest tree I know thought there are trees much older. Birds still sing in our branches, insects still eat our leaves and seeds and grow and prosper and still we look after the humans, we breath in carbon and lock it inside us and give off oxygen which they breath in, then they breath out the carbon for us to breath in.

A neat arrangement that should keep us going for ever. But no, in lands far away where great forest once stood the humans are destroying us and possibly themselves. In the end who will be left, them or us?
In this wider view of the world the pinning of this notice on my truck is but a small matter but I would sooner the humans that did it understood our relationship and what we have done and are still doing for them and show some respect and stick their notice somewhere else. Please.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

The weather for Monday 3 April 2012

Dull, broken cloud, light wind, no rain. Min 5C Max 14C

Big Brother trying to pretend he isn't all that big.

A data breach that may have exposed as many as 1.5 million credit card accounts has been "absolutely contained", according to the firm behind the leak.
Global Payments processes payments for firms such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express.
It admitted that thieves had accessed card account numbers, expiration data and security codes.
This item was on the BBC Technology webpage. This means a company that is looking after other people's money to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars can not keep this data safe and private. On the same page was this item:-
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg says plans for new email and web monitoring laws are "not draconian" and safeguards for privacy and civil liberties are "guaranteed".  He did however go on to say that these measures would not be forced through Parliament, there would be debate and consultation before anything became law. Other ministers have come out with statements that would suggest there is a weakening of resolve, even Dave Cameron seemed to be backtracking some what. Keep up the preasure and the stupid idea will go the way of the dodo and ID cards.

As  I have said before it is impossible to guarantee 100% that data will be kept private and safe. It simply can not be done. Hackers are just too persistent.

Are you worried about the government's attempts to read your emails, see what you view when you surf the net? Does it concern you the government will know where you are when you use the internet? Yes? Write to you MP now. Please. Let then know your views now.

Monday, 2 April 2012

1984; Warning over need for safeguards in email and web monitoring plan.

There is only one safeguard needed with regard to this unbelievably stupid idea.

Click here for your MP's email address.

Write to your MP and tell him if this legislation or anything even remotely resembling it becomes law then you will vote for the Monster Raving Loony Party at the next election. Get everyone you know to do the same.
There are three main reasons why you should do this;
One, if you are looking for a needle in a haystack it doesn't seem a sensible idea to make the haystack 10 million times bigger. Now that alone should be reason enough to stop this legislation dead in it's tracks but here are a few more because you know politicians can get awfully pig headed when you tell them one of their bright ideas is a contender for the "Worst idea any politician has come out with since Poll Tax".
So onto number two. There are no safeguards that can guarantee that all this data will be completely protected. The Pentagon recently were attacked by hackers, if The Pentagon can not keep data safe then what do you suppose are your chances of every email you have ever sent, every web page you have ever visited and every text message you receive and sent ending up on Wikileaks or somewhere similar.
The third reason this legislation mustn't get into law is sheer cost. Today I have received about 20 emails of which 16 were spam, I sent one text message but so far I have visited over 100 different web pages and I don't really spend that much time on my computer compared to some. But if for some reason my name did come up and the KGB (formally know as British Intelligence) or the Police decided they would like to see all my data then they would be able to read it, eventually. How far back in the queue would I be unless there is an army millions strong sitting in front of computers all day long reading the boring drivel that most of my data would be. The cost of this army and their computers, rent for office space, software to do all this snooping, extra police offices to interview everyone even slightly suspect and a small army physiatrists to keep the work force sane would put back our economic recovery to some where behind that of Greece.
I am sure there are issues of privacy involved so think about this, a load of data is leaked, lost or stolen and reprinted every day in the Daily Scum, Rupert Murdock's new best selling paper. OK when it's strangers or celebs, but what if you read that your best friend or a family member or work college was into kinky sex or was a train spotter or fancied sheep or had some other mildly interesting but not exactly illegal interest. How would you feel every time you spoke to this poor unfortunate sod. Or worse still it was you everyone was reading about.
Email your MP, but do it now before Big Brother gets set up and gets on your case.
ps If you have any lingering doubts then get down to the library, if it's still open and get a copy of 1984 by George Orwell.
Weather Monday 02 Ap  Sunny, dry, slightly cool wind. Min 2C Max 14C