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.