Hello and welcome to my Blog, my name is Chris, a bus driver for First Mendip based in Wells, Somerset. Married to Fiona, we live in Midsomer Norton near Bath, with Harvey the dog and Boots the cat. My main hobby is Amateur Radio and I hold the call sign G4KVI. I am the repeater keeper for GB3UB and MB7UB. I have a fascination for the weather and all things to do with nature and science. I am a biker and currently ride a Honda CBfF600. As a Christian I worship, when shifts allow at St. Nicolas Church in Radstock. These are my observations on my life, both at work and at home.

27 Dec 2008

Christmas

A very nice time was had over Christmas. Spent Christmas day at my parents and had a great time with ny little niece Leah. It was the first,I hope of 'family' Christmas. Boxing day we had our two Godsons and Fiona's cousin for lunch. Again very nice to spend some time with family. Had some nice presents, the best one being a weather station (WH-1081PC). All ways wanted one of these and you can see the result on this page. It still in 'play mode' and will take some time to get it all set up and positioned correctly. I will post some photo's when it is all fully installed.

24 Dec 2008

Merry Christmas

That time of year again, I hope you have enjoyed reading my mutterings. I hope you have a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and remember don't drink and drive, take the coach!!

Don't mess with me

Very quiet few days, traffic so light been arriving in Victoria up to 30 minutes early. Passenger numbers not that high either so people seem to be saving their money. Yesterday was last day before Christmas and a little strange. As the traffic was so light I went to Victoria via Knightsbridge. For those that know the natural History museum will know that there are speed cameras outside. Any way a gent in a very nice BMW thought he would overtake me (the 'must get in front of the bus' type) I checked I was doing 30mph, he obviously wasn't as the camera gave a very nice two flash salute to him!! Joining the M4 at j16 on the way back I made sure as normal that I was in the correct lane, you do have to on the ball here as the road is very clearly marked but people seem unable to read!! A young lad came up on my nearside, as the lights changed I moved off he then got very upset to find I was in the correct lane and he was not!! There was lots of horn blowing and then he turned up on my offside wound his window down and wished me a Happy Christmas, well it sounded like that!! I wished him like wise as he continued on in what he assumed was the correct lane.

17 Dec 2008

A Bit chilly

Not much to report. last few days have been VERY cold especially on the bike but also we have some fantastic 'bike riding' days, so it is the 'rough with the smooth'. Very quiet both traffic and passengers. You can really see the recession biting. I saw in the press today that National Express is getting rid of 750 people seem to be the result of the merging early in the year, still not a very pleasant Christmas for those affected. I think I am Ok at least until march when the new timetable is announced. Hopefully then we can sort the silly situation of the 222 and 403 running at the same times from Swindon to Heathrow.

16 Dec 2008

New map

I have added a map at the bottom of the site which SHOULD show my last reported position.

6 Dec 2008

Blow in the Bag

Well blow into the machine to be correct. Just sorting my tacho etc out yesterday when one on the VCS staff appear. 'You have been selected'. For a prize? 'no, breath test' Fine no problem there hadn't had a drink since Sunday. This is one of those policies that I have no problems with. Each day they select at random a service and that driver has to take a breath test. They ask if you want a witness, have you had a drink, mouthwash tea etc and then you get to choose the tube (that must have been the prize) then you blow in the tube until the beep and they show you the result. In my case a big fat 0. You get the paperwork, one for them, one for your boss, and one for you.

5 Dec 2008

Mouse in the house 2

Overnight last two days. Not too bad apart from the traffic out of Bath yesterday and the accidents today
very sad for all involved but I think the time has come for some of the old public information films to be rolled out, the green cross code man may get laughed out now but even now I still hear his voice every time I cross a road!! Problem seems to be the 'PC' brigade and civil liberties who seem to forget that everything you know has been told to you at some time, we humans do not have inbuilt instincts so we have to learn how to protect ourselves.
Mr mouse/rat seems to have moved in to the space above the lounge. It is driving Harvey mad. I have put some bait down but hate to use it because of Felix and Harvey. However today I have seen some plug in devices which emit high frequencies which is supposed to upset them and make them pack their bags. Any way will have a look in the local hardware shop tomorrow and at least give them a go.

3 Dec 2008

Accidents

Bit fed up the last few days. Seems every day there has been an accident that has caused me to divert/be seriously delayed. It seems that as soon as there is any kind of accident the Motorway is shut without any thought to the chaos it causes. I know there has to be investigations but given the sheer volume of traffic perhaps it would be better to have some kind of fund that would pay the victims of such accidents, such as what happens with uninsured drivers.

29 Nov 2008

A bit foggy

Well a much better day. On time getting in and on time getting home!! Only problem was the serious fog. I do wonder what people are thinking when they are driving. I even had one idiot who overtook me and then braked and swerved into lane two causing me to take avoiding action! and then got the hump when I flashed them!

28 Nov 2008

CSQ

Customer Satisfaction questionnaires are the National Express way of obtaining customer feed back. They are supposed to be handed to every passenger on every journey.This is fine until you have regular passengers and those that are travelling on a return trip. 'We have already filled one in' is the reply. Anyway there is the talk of a bonus to the driver who have the most returned. So I ask all the passengers to fill them and if they feel strongly about them to put there comments in the comments box. I know companies want to know what their customers think but am sure there are better ways of doing this. An email sent a few days after the booking would be good.

A Long way home (again)

Yesterday I was looking forward to a nice easy drive up to London and a nice drive out to Street. How wrong I was. I arrived at the depot to be told 'serious RTC at J18-17 you will have to go through Wooton Basset' Ok not the end of the world and as I had no pick ups we arrived at Swindon only 20 mins late. As the running card allows about 20 min extra we arrived in Heathrow on time. However due to the RTC there were 3 coaches all with out of hours drivers. I only had 10 passengers on so was able to take a lot of the stranded passengers on to Victoria. Arrived in Victoria on time and unloaded the grateful (ish) passengers.
Had my tea and headed out to find my coach. This is the 502 due in a 1730, I did think he would be late so went over to ask the staff what was happening. 'you and your passengers along with the 501 and 509 are going out to Heathrow to meet yourcoach'. Great I get 40 minutes extra driving time. When we got to Heathrow there was no sign of the coach and took some time to find out what was going on. Turned out the coach had not arrived and we had to wait until 2025 to finally leave. Notified control that we would be doing 'drop off's only'. Arrived back in Bath at 0000 about 30 mins late.

27 Nov 2008

A Long way home

First day back yesterday after a 'long weekend'. Had the 'all dayer' (0900-1030). Phone call at 0800 to say I would have to make my own way to the Bus Station as no spare coach available. Turned out the traffic was so bad I ended up walking from the depot! Good trip up though and arrived at Nine Elms in time to enjoy a very nice Beef Stew and dumplings. Arrived at Victoria for the 1800 departure to be told the A4/M4 was shut!! The alternative route is out via the A40 along to the A316 and back to J3 of the M4. So off we went with the the 402 in tow as he was unsure of the route. It took 45 minutes to get the 1 mile to Marble Arch and by the time we got to the A40 we were over an hour late. Had one passenger at Heathrow and received a phone call from the 1900 to say he had picked them up. So a call to control and we went out along the A40 down to High Wycombe and rejoined the M4 at 8/9. I haven't been down that bit of road for about five years so interesting to see how my home town had changed (not much). Arrived at Swindon 30 minutes late and finally back at Bath 20 minutes late, so all in all not a bad recovery and one of those days where you have to earn your money.

18 Nov 2008

Expect the unexpected

That is what they always tell you, me prepared etc etc. However yesterday was a very odd day. It started out OK not many passengers and dryish. The motorway had spray but not enough to worry and enough water to stop the screen getting too dirty. However as we approached j14 the washers were needed, they gave a quick splash and that was that 'why didn't the other driver tell me they were nearly empty?' Not the end of the world and I planned to fill them at Heathrow. At Heathrow after struggling to find a watering can I filled them up. Tried again and still no washers. At this point it had stopped raining and I cleared the screen and contacted the garage to get them looked at. Turns out the pump had failed.
Had my tea and after loading left on time at 1900. Usual mad rush down the A4/M4, as we left the elevated section the cars in front suddenly mad for the hatching on the right had side. Before I could register what was going on a mattress appeared in the road! At 50mph there was not much I could do apart from hold on and drive over it. At 15 odd tons that was not a problem and we continued on. Further down the road I spotted a car with rope hanging from the roof rack (I didn't put 2 and 2 until latter) As we approached Heathrow a couple of cars flashed me. I checked all around and could see nothing I decided to wait until eh slip road to stop and check. What did I find? one mattress stuck underneath. I slowly mad my way into the bus station where there was more light. With the help of passengers and staff we managed to retrieve it form underneath.


As you can see it was a full size one (sorry about the quality) and the implications of what could have been do not bare thinking about.
In this case we were able to have a laugh about it and mad our way out on to the M4. Passed J8/9 it started to pour with rain and on came the wipers. After a while they sounded a bit rough but then most of them do, what they don not do is disappear of the screen! Controlled stop on the hard shoulder in the dry (under a bridge) found they had completly failed, great just what you need. Phone call to Bath and decided made to make it to J13 services. The hard shoulder is somewhere you do not want to be a night. Let all the passengers know and arranged with control for a replacement coach.Repair man turned up and turns out the motor spindle had worn so a temporary repair made. Passengers sent on their way on the replacement coach and I made my way home. Looking forward to an uneventful day!


17 Nov 2008

A bit Foxy

Been on lates last couple of weeks. Don't mind these as gives me time to get a few jobs done and I do not have to get up early. Only problem I find is when I get home at 0030+ I am still buzzing. Fiona is in bed or going to bed and I want to sit up watch tv, have something to eat etc. Any way last night got in about 0030 and made a cup of tea. Went to bed about 0130 and could I sleep! I could hear every noise outside and my brain was going overtime. In the end I got up and went downstairs, both security lights were on, noises outside, lights on, trouble? I waited by the window and the light came on again but I could see nothing. This went on for a while and Harvey did not seem bothered. Just about to give up when all was revealed, a very handsome fox just sitting on the front step!! I have to say I have seen a few of these on the roads (most dead) but this is the first one I have seen one so close. I assume he is looking for food which explains how the dustbin got in such a state.

14 Nov 2008

Front fog lights petition

There is a petition to increase the fine for having front fog lights on. Please sign it and pass it on to your friends maybe then people will get the message.

http://petitions.number10.gov.uk/frontfoglights/

13 Nov 2008

Credit Crunch

Looks like the credit crunch/recession is beginning to bit. Been on '60 duty' last few nights (1500-000) This one always runs late (National Express take note) but is very marked how the amount of people is dropping. The service has been VERY quite and coming out through Knightsbridge even Harvey Nicks was empty. With Christmas near it is usually packed at this time of year. I feel sorry for those losing their jobs. Mine should be OK, or at least until March when the contract is up. But they say that every year!! I would have the option of going back to buses, which is not the end of the world.
Still have the mouse, he seems to be trying to trough the floorboards in the kitchen where the hot water tank is. I hate killing or trying to kill anything, after all he is only looking for food and somewhere warm. So, I am going to try some humane traps.

11 Nov 2008

Front fog lights (again)

Sorry to bring this one up again but several nights of being blinded by this idiots promoted me to contact my local police. I received two replies.


'Thank you for your email.
I have sent you a link to our information pages on fog lights which I hope will answer your enquiry.
In relation to dealing with those who misuse fog lights this is frequently dealt with by our Road Policing Unit.
If you are able to provide details of specific vehicles or a specific area which is a problem then please advise us and we will pass the information to our Road Policing Units who can proactively deal with the problem.
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you feel we can help you further.'

'The use of front and rear fog lights is only to be used in cases of seriously reduced visibility. Using fog lights when the visibility is not seriously reduced can dazzle and cause discomfort to other road users. There seems to be an absurd trend at the moment for drivers to have their fog lights on regardless of the conditions and the time of day. This can be dangerous to other road users and is an offence, which could mean you are liable for a substantial fine.'


http://www.askthe.police.uk/content/Q400.htm

So there you have it. Wonder though how many do get a fine?

10 Nov 2008

A mouse in the house

Had a few days off (rest days) and they were far from restful. Washing machine drain pump failed after 19 years so spent a fun day draining the water out and fitting a new one. It has been leaking for about 5 years and required a belt with a hammer every few months so cannot complain. Fun bit has been mouse hunting. Sitting in the lounge you could hear the little, or not so little beast running between the ceiling and the floorboards upstairs. The cat was despatched do do his bit but it would appear it is no fun to hunt indoors so he returned to the warmth of the heater! After a while however the beast could be heard making its way down the cavity so I assume it has gone. I look forward to the call from Fiona!

Wet and Windy

Frome back the last couple of days and both have been very windy. Last night was particularly bad, with large branches and hugh amount of surface water. Luckily I had one of the Volvo's which have manual lockers, this meant I could do a snatch on the luggage and saved getting too wet. Funny thing is when I got back to the depot the rain stopped and I had a nice dry ride home.

1 Nov 2008

Where was everyone?

'First up' today, so alarm call at 0310 and at the depot for 0350! Not many passengers which is not unusual for this service. However what is unusual is that most of them did not show up. Five 'no shows' at Bath and eight at Swindon. I can only assume that most of them were 'Fun fares' so they decided to loose their £1 and stay in bed!

31 Oct 2008

The wrong bag

Bags are the main problem with this job. They are often heavy (very heavy) and bulky (why do people buy these?) I can see why Ryan Air places restrictions. No luggage means up to 20 mins off a journey time. However no luggage means no passengers, so you have to get on with. Most of our luggage goes to two places, Bath and Swindon or Heathrow and London. So most of the time you can have on in the rear locker and the other in the front. The rest for other minor stops can sit in the 'letter box' (the small locker in the middle) This means when you arrive at a stop you can off load the correct luggage and if you have some left there is a good chance someone has fallen asleep. Last week I had the 'Frome back' and had a Scania. These only have one large locker. This journey has a lot of stops and it can be difficult to keep the luggage separate. I always mark the loading chart so I know which stops have luggage. This saves me getting out all the time (yes I am lazy) This trip I only had a few bags so could not see the problem, until. We got to Trowbridge. Passengers got off and went to get their bags. 'Where is mine?' said the lady. My heart sank, this is worst feeling. It looked like someone had taken the wrong case. I contacted control, gave them all the details and obtained the ladies details. There is not much I can do but try and be as sympathetic as possible. Usually the bag will turn up when the other person realises their mistake. However when the left over luggage was checked it was found to contain some rather unpleasant material. I hope the gent will at least take the ladies case to a lost property office so she can get it back.

20 Oct 2008

Weekend in Bristol

Well, not quite. As we are part of First Coaches we have the opportunity to work overtime at Bristol. So weekend was I had a go at working 040 from Bristol to London. Very strange at first as although everything was the same it was all different. Different work location, people to work with, different route and different passengers. Any way it was all pretty straightforward and the journey back last night was as a passenger. Any way I will put my name down for more work there should it come up. Today is a day off and a plumbing job to do.

16 Oct 2008

Paper Work

There is a saying I use when helping people on and off the coach 'better help you, it's too much paper work if you fall!' It is always said in humour and always if I know the person also has a sense of humour. However this also applies to accidents. Waiting to turn into VCS I had to wait as there were several coaches also waiting. I had stopped in such a way that people could get past, which they did. However one bright spark came up behind and came very close to the rear of the coach. They reversed and went to move round. However they tried to go through me!! Result. one damaged coach and car. I pulled over to exchange details. I could not believe what I heard. Not, 'what were you doing?' but 'oh I need to pick my daughter up in 2 mins!' This is all very laughable, but it took over an hour and a half to sort it all out and fill in the paperwork.

14 Oct 2008

You meet all sorts

First day back after my holiday and a very quiet day, I think half term must have started in some parts. I have to say after a week driving a car I much prefer driving the coach, sounds strange but that's the way it is! Had a decent coach to come back with, one of Bristol's Scania as I said before the drive of these is so much better than the Volvo. However, the one thing I do not like is the lack of a window in the bottom of the door. You have to use a mirror to see the kerb. As with most thing though after a while you get used to it.
One of the things I enjoy with this job is the people you meet. You can get all walks of live and it is always interesting to see what happens when people have to sit next to each other. With National Express if you have mobility problems you can ask for assistance. This means people can have extra help with boarding and help with luggage etc. Yesterday had a couple in the front seats. This was the first time they had used the the coach as they thought they were a little old to use the car. Chatting with them I found out they both played golf and bowls and seemed full of life. As we went round to departures it turned out the gent was 92 and his wife was 87!!! All I can is good luck to them and I hope that I am like that in 47 years time.

10 Oct 2008

A few days away

What a fantastic few days. Fiona has gone line dancing this weekend in Bournemouth and as I had some holiday I said we would go down a few days early. What a good decision. The weather was fantastic and the Travelodge we stayed in was only 5 minutes from the beech. We took Harvey and he had a ball. He has never been to the sea side so had great fun running in and out of the water and then rolling in the sand, this results in one nice clean dog. Not. Thankfully we don't call him 'Teflon dog' for nothing and in no time he was clean and dry.
One thing I did find driving around is that many towns seem to have road systems and signing designed only for locals. I found it very difficult at times to find my way to 'A' as the road sign often pointed to 'B' but you had to know 'B' was on the way to 'A'!
Still a great time spent away and will go down on Sunday to pick Fiona up.

Better get the coach!

From the BBC

Rail services halted by repairs

No trains will run through the Bath area for the next six weekends due to essential maintenance works.

There will be no services between Bristol and Bath, Bath and Westbury in Wiltshire or Westbury and Swindon while tracks and embankments are repaired.

Replacement bus services will be provided during October and November.

First Great Western services will also be affected as services to Paddington from Bristol Temple Meads will not stop at Bath or Chippenham.

A spokesman for First Great Western said: "We apologise to any customers affected by this change to our services while Network Rail carries out essential maintenance.

"We would have liked to provide alternative bus services much closer to Bath Spa, but with the huge regeneration project currently underway in front of the station, this is unfortunately not possible."

The work, over the next six weekends, starts on Sunday, 12 October and should be completed by Sunday, 16 November 2008.

The bus replacement service in Bath will run from Riverside Coach Park and not from Bath Spa railway station.

3 Oct 2008

Road Signs

One of my observations when driving is the large amount of signs, mainly at roadworks that are at best wrong and at worst dangerous.
This week has seen -
A road narrows on the left followed by a keep left sign.
On an approach to a bend the sign indicated road narrows on the left. Around the bend the roadworks were on the right. In fact the whole right hand side of the road was dug up. Had I been on my bike it could have been very nasty.
The most annoying one was today on the M4. As I joined at J4 the signs said 'M5 J16-18 Long Delays' Not a problem as I don't go that way. Just passed J12 Radio 2 announecd M4 J13 accident! The signs said - 'M5 J16-18 Long Delays' Halfway between J12 and J13 the traffic stoipped. We were stopped for about 10mins when the sign in front came on would it say what the hold up was? No. 'M5 J16-18 Long Delays' The traffic at last started to move still no indaction to the problem. Then '50 Queue Ahead' came up would we know. The next sign came up and you guessed it 'M5 J16-18 Long Delays' I know the Highways Agency guys do a good job but things like this don't do them any favours.

New things

Had a couple of new experiences this week. Firstly had a different coach. Had a very nice Scania. Never driven one of these so a little apprehensive. Anyway didn't take very long to get used to it. It turned out to be a very nice drive, the handling was better then the Volvo especially when cornering and manoeuvring in tight spaces. As with most good things they must come to an end, and today it was make to the Volvo. Next thing was Bath Uni. This is a new stop for us. It makes some of the journeys VERY tight for time as it seems journey planners forget that some towns have traffic! Anyway today went Ok and in fact I arrived 20mins early in London.

24 Sep 2008

You missed the bus

After yesterday things could only get better. However check with the local news showed that Bath was still affected by road closures so decided to catch the coach in. That meant I would not have to battle from the depot to the bus station. However as we drove in to Bath the roads were opened! Had plenty of time so nice easy loading. Left bang on time and made my way round the bus station. I noticed a guy coming towards me as I stopped on the crossing. He gestured that I should open the door and let him on. I think not and I gestured he should go to the ticket office. He then got VERY angry, would not move. A stalemate. Just what you need first thing. He became more aggressive so I used the horn to attract some attention. This worked and an inspector came over. The gent said the same thing to him and got the same answer. He would not be getting on my coach. Finally after being told he would have to move or the Police would be called he moved out the way. This is one situation that some people find hard. They cannot understand why we cannot let people on.

Well, once the vehicle doors are closed and the vehicle has begun to leave the stop that is it, no boarding. The main reasons being.

a. They should have been at the stop before the coach left. Their ticket states 10 mins before departure.

b. It is dangerous as the passenger could slip and fall in the road or be hit by another vehicle as they run in to the road.

c. An accident could be caused by other road users taking avoiding action or becoming frustrated.

There is ONLY ONE exception to this. That is if you are instructed to stop by an inspector. In that case you would return to the stop and load ONLY THAT passenger.

So make sure you arrive on time.

23 Sep 2008

The wrong stop and an explosion

Today started very well, good trip up and a nice break in London. Time to chat and just chill. Little delay going home due to a breakdown at J13 in the new roadworks. but arrived at Chippenham only 5mins late. Had a passenger for Corsham and she asked me how long we would be, '10 mins'. Ok I will ring when we get past the over bridge. WHAT OVER BRIDGE! I then had that horrible feeling. You are going to CORSHAM? Yes Cosham, near Portsmouth. OH S..T!!!!! I checked my ticket and confirmed she was booked to Corsham. She was. I contacted control and it was decided to put on the 1830 back to Heathrow and then on to Cosham. This happens a little too often when the ticket office does not understand/ listen correctly. Ok that sorted 10 mins to Bath and home. The next phone call turned everything on it's head. 'Chris. Three explosions in Bath. Bus Station and city centre closed. Helicopter in Bus station!' Well that's different never had that before. So what to do? After various phone calls it was confirmed that the Bus Station AND the Railway Station were closed and that passengers would have to be dropped off along the Lower Bristol Road. Did the announcement for the passengers and tried to answer as many questions as I could. However it would appear that pedestrian access was limited so as I dropped them off I informed them they would have to go to the cordons and find their way to the various buses, car parks and taxis. They all seemed to be happy with the situation and I hope they got to their various destinations OK.
Below is video from our local paper. Watch for the helicopter and National Express coach.

21 Sep 2008

Sat Nav

Last week has gone well and apart from a few hiccups the new working conditions have worked well. I think a few people have new grey hairs, but there you go. 

The thing that stands out this week is a Finish driver in London. This guy was going through Knightbridge and obviously was lost. No problem there I  always try and give visitors the benefit of the doubt and give them space. However. This guy was weaving from side to side as he was adjusting his Sat nav. I gave him a flash of the lights. He then amazed me by handing the Sat Nav to the passenger who held it in front of him while he continued to fiddle with it! He finally did the correct thing and pulled over. As I always say just when you think you have seen it all something else comes along.

16 Sep 2008

First Day

Yesterday was the first day working for First Coaches. We now have leading drivers who look after the day to day work. Things are still a bit chaotic, but given the situation that can only be expected. We have more changes next week when we start to go to the Uni. However we have only been given four minutes to get there! It takes five just to get round the Bus station. Obviously someone has looked at a map and seen it is less then a mile and the direct route has a 6ft 6in width restriction and 3.5tonne weight limit! Given this I think the change will be good and will give more scope.

9 Sep 2008

Didn't get the job

Well holiday this week. Yesterday up to Stratford-upon-Avon to see my GodSon on his Fifth birthday. Today had an interview for a Leading Driver. This is a supervisor job looking after the department running. Not sure if I wanted the added responsibility. However phone call this afternoon and I had not got the job! Anyway good luck to the successful ones. Now need to find out what shift I am on Monday as all the shifts are changing.

4 Sep 2008

Sitting at Heathrow

Had a good weekend.It was my Niece, Leah's Christening and we are her Godparents. The service was very good and it was nice to meet up with members of family. Stayed up for a couple of days so had some time to be with my parents. They had a few jobs for me to do, fix the wifi, fix a GPS etc. We had a family lunch and I cannot remember the last time we were all together. Got roped into feeding Leah and as is a tradition with Uncle Christopher she was sick all over me!
Bad trip today.Got the call that the M4 was closed at J15. The route I was going to go was also closed so ended up going via Avebury to the A4 and along to J13. Arrived at Heathrow the time I should have been at Victoria so had to terminate. Not the worst thing to happen as they have a good rest room. Not off until 2115 so enjoying my tea and a cup of coffee.

26 Aug 2008

What a good battery

Pretty quite last few days. Kids still off so most of the time been running on time. 2956 Sunday, had a passenger in the front seat (as you do) who was on the phone, no problem with that and as they we no , as a lot of people do, going in to the 'I'm on the bus routine' gave it no thought. What was amazing was that they were still on the phone when we arrived at Victoria, three hours latter! I and another passenger wondered. a. how the battery lasted that long and, b. What did they have to talk about!
Still each to their own.

21 Aug 2008

Back from meeting

Meeting went well and as far as I could see nothing is going to change (much). The coaches remain in Bath, Drivers remain in Bath, only thing is we loose the bus work we used to do. So, on street up and overnight we will be standing spare. So will make sure I have a good book! They have created a job of leading driver so will fill the application form and see how we go. They have a plan for training so will be able to complete the new CPC and we also get the opportunity to drive different vehicles and routes. Time will tell and there is always the option of transfering back to Bath buses.

20 Aug 2008

Meeting Tomorrow

Back at work feeling much better. There is a meeting to discuss the up and coming transfer to First Coaches. The transfer has now been brought forward to 14th September so at least we will get it over and done with soon. Will post Friday and let you know what the outcome is.

15 Aug 2008

Off Sick

Been fending off a cold all week, but last on the way home it finally got me. Made it back to the depot but knew that I would not be able to drive today. Let traffic know but still felt bad letting them down. Still driving with your eyes and nose streaming is not conducive to a safe journey. There is a company policy which states you must let the company know by 1200 if you are not going to be in the next day. Therefore I will be off tomorrow as well.

11 Aug 2008

Charity Bus Journey

Had this sent to me and is for a cause close to my heart. Please have a look and spread the word to help these guys out.

10 Aug 2008

New Wine Finsihed

Well New Wine has finished for another year. We are both feeling a little sad. We look forward to it all year, it can be very tiring and hard work but we get an immense amount of satisfaction from it. Being at such an event really has recharged my spiritual battery. I just pray I can keep it charged up and that it will show in through my everyday encounters with people.
Helping out today by doing the 'Overnight'. No bus work though. So start at 1730 today and finish at 1120 tomorrow.

7 Aug 2008

Transfer to First Coaches

Postman brought an interesting letter yesterday. The National Express operation in Bath is being transferred from First Somerset and Avon to First Coaches on the 28th September. Not really sure the full implications at the moment but they say the coaches will stay at Bath. The worst case I can see is that I will have to work out of the Bristol depot. All my T & C's will stay the same (at the moment) but I will not be able to do rest day bus work which I have to say I do enjoy once in a while. Any way I am viewing this as an opportunity and will at least try it for a while and see how things go. There is the usual rumour mill running but I will be keeping my head down and wait for the dust to clear. I assume that I, and the other drivers will (and have) been watched over the last few months.

3 Aug 2008

It can be hard not to appear rude!

First day back after a weeks holiday and it was 'Frome Up'. I like this one, plenty of time and usually nice passengers. Today was busy, nearly full in fact. Bit of a problem at Marlborough. Passenger with child turned up with 'Open Dated' ticket. 'So what does that mean?' says the passenger. In short, I will have to see if there are any seats. Passenger looks worried and goes in to I have a plane to catch etc. etc.. As it was I did have a spare seat and we got on our way. Sunday's are always a bad day and today was no exception with the usual crop of idiots on the roads. Despite their best efforts we arrived at Victoria on time. Even had time for a quick kip.
Had a dupe for the journey back so sent him straight to Bath. Again plenty of time and arrived in Swindon 10 minutes early. The London bound coach is due there at the same time. This results in passengers not using their eyes/brians and trying to get on my coach. After the fifth 'you go London' NO 'but you 403, 403 go to London' but they go both ways!! conversation my patience was running out. Number six nearly got a very sarcastic reply, but I decided on the stock answer. What does it say on the front? 'So you not go London?' I gave up at that point and left for BATH!!

2 Aug 2008

New Wine

Well the last week has been a 'holiday' and I have spent it with Fiona as stewards at New Wine
this is a Christian conference held at the Bath and West show ground in Shepton Mallet. Our role as stewards is to help the 11000+ delegates enjoy the seminars and worship and to hopefully meet with the Lord. The jobs we do are varied. From ensuring safety at the venues to picking up the litter. We try to help delegates with any problems they may have and to ensure things like the traffic free areas are kept traffic free. We both find this a very rewarding experience and come away really excited they we may have enabled someone to come to the Lord and to find what they have been looking for. I am back to work tomorrow but Fiona is returning for a second week.

21 Jul 2008

Cash back Website

I have just registered my own online shop which you can have a look at if you visit


I’m sure that like me you buy things over the internet and even if you don’t buy anything regularly, we all do it at Christmas to get the best prices. This is a totally new way to earn cash back from anything you wish to buy online at a time when we are all looking to make extra savings where we can.

Ei42 will pay you a cash back commission on anything you buy from within your own shop, which I think is fantastic, as the shops are all the same places that we all buy from already. Everyone we know is in there such as EBAY, Argos, Woolworth, Curry’s, Amazon, Asda, PC World, Debenhams, Miss Selfridge, Screw Fix, ToysRus and far too many more to mention.

It only too me a couple of minutes to register and it isn’t any fuss believe me. They do everything automatically, and best of all its totally free.

Take a look for yourself, Join, Shop and get paid. It really is that easy.

19 Jul 2008

Where's Harvey!!

It never fails to amaze me how stupid people really are. Thursday was 'Street back'. This is direct from Victoria and Heathrow to Bath and then out to Street. Between Stratton on the Fosse and Oakhill there are a set of traffic lights. I approached them at red and waited. What happened next was... a vehicle overtook me!! I and the passenger could not believe it. As he came passed he obviously realised I was stopped for a reason and stopped just passed the red light. It does not bear thinking what would have happened if a motorcycle or another vehicle had been coming around the corner.

I only had 2 passengers charted for Glastonbury but when I checked at Wells there were 4 left on. I said nothing and continued on. 'are you going to street?' came the voice. I said I had no passenger and would not. 'Oh we have tickets but our mate got off!!' I knew this not to be the case as they had tickets for Wells. I arrived a Glastonbury and 4 passengers got off!!! Good try, but I keep a note of where passengers are getting off. Of course if they had asked if they could buy a ticket to Street that would have been a different matter. If you don't ask you don't get!!!

Yesterday day off and the weekly shopping to do. Had Harvey with us as we had been for a walk. It was a little warm so left the sunroof open and the drivers window open a little. Returned to the car to find the passenger window wide open a.. NO HARVEY!! We were devastated and desperately looked around for him, had he been stolen, run over etc. Fiona went back into Tesco to find he had been taken to our vets. We shot off and found a very sorry looking dog waiting for us. It turns out I had left the passenger window open and Harvey had followed me into Tesco!! Why nobody put a tannoy call out is beyond me. he does have a coller and tag with name on number on. Anyway all ended happily and important lesson learned!!

14 Jul 2008

Earned my money today.

Last few days have been 'all dayers'. 0900 - 2100 and 0800 to 2015. Saturday was Ok apart from the A4 being closed at Earls Court. The traffic was not as bad as I would have thought and run pretty much to time. Yesterday was a bit different. Signed on as normal at 0919 to be told there was no coach. That meant up to 12 hours sitting in Bath and doing bus work. However, I was told the coach would be fixed and would be ready by 1300 and I would have to run 'dead' to London. So what to do till then? I would not be able to do much as I required 4 hours to get up, a break and 4 hours to get back that did not leave much time. So had a bit of free time, surprised Fiona by turning up in church, and had a nice bit of lunch. Phone call confirmed coach ready at 1300 and empty to London and uneventful trip back.
Today was anything but. Joined the M4 at J18 just after 0900. The first sign we came to said 'M4 J5 Accident'. Not too much of a problem as it was still over 1 1/2 hours away. At the same time a passenger came down and asked if I knew the M4 was closed at J5? Various calls conformed closure at J5. I had pick ups at reading which meant going to at least J12. After more calls to drivers, in front and behind route was decided at off at J10 down the A329 to the M3. Up to M3J1 and then A308 to Heathrow. Then around the perimeter road past both T4 and T5. Finally arriving in bus station at 1115 1 hour late. The place was chaos. Terminated drivers everywhere. I still had plenty of time left so filled up 402 passengers, collected our 1430 driver and continued to Victoria. Some of the passengers had 1200 connections that they had missed so confirmed with control the action they should take. Arrived in Victoria at 1215 so not to bad. Passengers were relieved to arrive and as I had tried to keep them as much informed as I could they were all thankful. It was then off to park up and have a lie down!! Trip back at 1630 was very peaceful and arrived home at 2030.
Our Wedding Anniversary tomorrow (19 years) so hopefully a quiet day.

10 Jul 2008

An expensive day

Day off today and it did not rain. Well not until I had outside jobs to do!!! First job of the day was a trip to the Vets. Harvey (the dog) was due for his booster injections. He loves the vet and as we pulled in to the car park you could see his excitement!! Anyway we managed to get them done without too much drama and we walked out with a clean bill of health and a lighter wallet. next job was to replace the microwave, this had departed a few days ago with an associated bang and tripping of the main house fuse. Tesco was next on the list and after filling up with petrol the spending was done. One bright spot was a friend delivered a very large quantity of wood. This was his old conservatory and will come in very handy in the winter. Only problem is cutting it up. Hopefully tomorrow will be a bit cheaper.

4 Jul 2008

Cyclists (an observation)

Very busy few days. Passenger numbers seem to have increased. Monday saw the introduction of new services to Victoria and Gatwick. No change YET to our services they are due to start ????? Been a lot in the news about cycling and reducing speeds in built up areas. I have no problem with this as I am a cyclist (well I have a bike) a motorcyclist, a car driver and a pedestrian. So can see the problem from all angles. What I find hard is where cycle ways are provided, as in Swindon and Chippenham you find cyclists riding down the road!! What more they hurl abuse at you if you get too close or dare to give an audible warning!! So cyclists, if you want more routes etc. Use the facilities already provided.
For more information on cycling have a look at http://www.ctc.org.uk

25 Jun 2008

A bit more care

Much quieter on the roads. It looks like the petrol price is beginning to make an impact. I have also noticed an increased in business people using the coach. Loaded with overnight bags and Blackberry, they seem to be leaving the car at home. I was full yesterday at 0430!!!
One thing you realise driving a large vehicle is that you can not pull away from a junction, roundabout etc. as quick as a car. You have to double check left and right. The real problem is when you come across restricted view roundabouts, those ones that are on slight bends and you cannot see very well unless you pull out a little, this is fine. Until..
As you pull out after checking a vehicle appears at speed not even slowing for the roundabout again fine if you are a car but there is still 40foot of bus behind me!! The sounding of a horn follows and we both go on our way. However, imagine I was a bicycle, or a horse!! So when you approach any hazard, you may have right of way but ease off. Think, 'what is the worse that can happen?' and plan for it. Oh, and read the highway code.

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/TravelAndTransport/Highwaycode/DG_070338

19 Jun 2008

Called callers

Working lates this week and have several calls from people who seem unable to speak. (cold callers) I have tried to ring them back but the numbers are unobtainable. Did a search and found this very useful website. Have entered the numbers into memory without a ring tone!! They can waste their time without annoying me.

http://whocallsme.com/

18 Jun 2008

A trip to the seaside

Very nice weekend. Had a trip to Torquay. Weather was great and it was a really relaxing time. Hired a car at a very cheap rate and considering the hills we went up and down it was a very wise decision! The only problem we had was getting petrol. Finally found some at Exeter services. We then went bay hopping and every garage we came across was open!! Below are some photos we took.

Torquay

12 Jun 2008

It's my Birthday!!

Well another Birthday. You can find out how old I am if you so wish!! First up today and tomorrow so no drink yet. Nice presents including a cover for the bike and a new watch. Bit sad but I like them!!

10 Jun 2008

Open Tickets

Busy few days and the usual selection of delays and problems. The thing that has rally been a problem is passengers with 'Open Returns'. These are excellent for people who do not know when they are to return. However there is a problem which most of the passengers fail to realise. That is they are not booked seats. You have to ring or go to ticket office and book on a specific service. What happens is that passengers turn up with these tickets and demand to board a service. I and most drivers will do our best to help these passengers but they seem to turn up when the service is full. The conversation usually includes the line 'I have paid my money and demand you take me' I have even had passengers with booked flights, ferry crossings etc. The moral of this is READ THE TICKET!! you would not turn up for a flight with an unreserved ticket. Would you??

31 May 2008

Wrong Coach

Good couple of days. Today only had Swindon and Bath so asked to do drop off's only. As I finished unloading passengers at Swindon a lady become very upset as she could not find her case. Just what you need. Did the usual and checked all the lockers, no trace. The lady was from Czechoslovakia so bit of trouble understanding. After contacting control it became clear what had happened. The lady had a ticket for Paighton. She had shown the ticket to the driver of the 501 he had loaded the luggage. She walked round the coach I assume, not realising it was right hand drive, boarded on my coach as I was loading luggage. So passenger going to Bath. Luggage going to Paighton. I have to say I do wonder why she did say anything when I announced the destination as I left Heathrow.
The story does have a happy ended as control and Bath traffic arranged to get her to Bristol and then on a train to Paighton. I do hope she finds the case and enjoys her time in England

25 May 2008

'Change as good as a rest'

This week wanted to do same 'money grabbing' so asked if there was any 'rest day'. There wasn't much but the inspector said he would keep an eye out. Just as I was leaving on Friday he came to see me with a short rest day. Turned out a very nice day. First part was refiling 'outstation' buses. As these came in I had to take them out to the depot and get them fuelled and oil and water checks. Next bit was '6 and 7' this did take a bit of thought as they go the opposite way round the city and it is VERY easy to go wrong.Break for lunch and then Uni Park and Ride. Only two trips and no money taken. Off now for two days, raining at present so trying to sort some boxes out.

21 May 2008

SMIDSY

Couple of days off so had the bike serviced today. Also had the front sprocket changed. This has improved the acceleration , top speed, and general ride of the bike. As you know I took park in the Bike Safe event. This gave me a chance to update my skills and highlighted some of the hazards associated with being on two wheels.
This evening I had to pop into the village. The road was dry and the weather was bright and sunny. As I approach junctions and exits onto roads, I look to see if a vehicle is emerging. If I see a vehicle I adjust my road position to give the driver as much chance to see me, and, give me a potential way out. As I approached our local shop I saw a young lad in an old car waiting. I saw him and slowed just as he pulled out. As I had slowed down it was not as bad as it could have been. I shook my head and instead of the driver acknowledging his mistake he gave a me a mouthful of abuse. Not sure what he said!! Anyway this highlights the 'Sorry mate I Didn't See You' . problem, it is such a problem it is known as 'SMIDSY' So, when you drive remember to look, look again and keep looking. I do my best to help other road users to see me so please remember to look for me.

20 May 2008

'Can I get off along here driver?'

This is a question I am always being asked. Passengers seem to think we are a 'Hail and ride' service. I never let passengers on or off unless it is at a National Express stop. I had two incidents when I first started driving buses and as both were at bus stops I was not help to blame. However this got me thinking as I have always been told it is illegal to drop passengers anywhere except a bus stop. I have searched the internet and have found nothing to clarify this. However, I have found the found the First Group Conditions of Carriage. This does clarify things a bit. But still the answer to 'can you drop me here?' will at the next authorised stop.
So if you travel by Bus or coach please don't put the driver on the spot.

17 May 2008

Drinking and driving

I am not an aggressive driver, so it is unusual for me to sound my horn or flash my lights. I always try to see problems before they require drastic action. However two cases today forced me into action.
The first was approaching a 40mph limit. The vehicle in front slowed, and then hit the brakes. He then continued at less than 30mph continually hitting the brakes. I kept a good distance behind but this caused the drivers behind to try and overtake me. This was leading to a potential dangerous situation. I gave a quick flash on the lights to draw the drivers attention. What I got was a hand out the window and a non highway code hand signal!! He pulled over and received a far few horn blasts and angry salutes form the cars behind!! Not sure what he was doing.
The second was on the A4 coming into London. A white van was in land two and swaying into Lane three. I gave a quick flash as he was going well over the white lane. The traffic stopped and I came along side the driver gave me a mouthful. What I was amazed to see was he was holding a cup of tea/coffee in his hand!! he continued on still swaying, I assume he did not want to spill any!!!

13 May 2008

Misleading road signs

Not really much to report. A bit of late running due to traffic and a smashed windscreen, but nothing to really cause any real problems. Or at least not to me. Sorry to those of you who got caught in the traffic problems along the M4 last week.
My gripe this post is the amount of road signs there are. It is good to be informed but even as a professional driver I am now having problems reading the vast amount of signs that warn me of hazards that I can clearly see!!! It is no use putting signs up to warn of a hazard if the sign is so intrusive it becomes a hazard in itself.

I have two very good examples this week. As I left London the overhead signs said 'J12 to 14 accident delays' This carried on all along the motorway. I then had a phone call to tell me the motorway was shut and leave at J12. The motorway was shut!! had the sign said motorway closed I could have gone along the M3. It remained closed for several hours. Still the signs remained the same.

The next one was going in to London. The first sign said 'Scotch corner delays use alternative route' (ie Earls Court) The next sign less than one mile away said 'gasworks Earls court, use alternative route' (ie A4 via Scotch corner)!!

The last one is a classic. Coming towards Scotch corner from Hyde Park the sign indicated Lane 1 or 3 closed. But, yes the reality was lane 3 was closed. This meant all the traffic that had moved into lane 3 was faced with a closed lane. had this been a fast running road the consequences do not bear thinking about.


So to those of you responsible for signs, please make sure you think about waht you say and make sure they are correct!!!!

Any way off for 2 days so enjoying the sun with a nice pint of Bombardier

5 May 2008

Fuel Consumption

Funny day yesterday. Street up, and Fiona was going to a family picnic in Beaconsfield. She came with me in the morning, nice change to have some company. Weather was fine until we got to bath and then a very vicious thunderstorm went through, didn't last long but left some big puddles. Saw Fiona off to Heathrow where my father would pick her up. Realised then that I could have 'thrown in' my '10's and gone with her!! Still too late. The six trips on the 10's were OK. Very busy first off but eased off through the morning. Had a bit of a problem with the bus. The doors would not open from the cab. The inspector changed over the bus and we continued on until 1400. Rest of the day was OK. Out on the bike which I am really enjoying. Been keeping records and the fuel consumption is a little disappointing. Only 98.9mpg!! I have put a link to the file so if you feel a little sad you can read it as well. Hoping to cut the grass today but it is still a little wet. Maybe a cup of tea instead.

3 May 2008

Doors

Lates this week and until yesterday ran on time. Bank Holiday Friday's are always bad but an accident at J5 did not help.
For those of you who have not been to Victoria Coach station you will not have seen the new driver operated doors. These are only able to be opened from the outside by the driver when the coach is ready to board. This is great as it stops heard of people milling around the coaches when you are having a break. However, it also means if you go to the loo or go to get a coffee of something to eat. You cannot get back through the doors!! You have to walk to the end and walk across the concourse. This also gives rise to some funny situations. The passengers who press the button and wait for the door to open (it is manual) having not the first one to work they try ALL of them. The passenger who pushes on the sign that tells them about the door and gets angry when it will not open! ( they may not be able to read English) All in all it has improved the safety at VCS and does stop the 'are you going to Bath?' brigade from disturbing your rest.

30 Apr 2008

Schools, Women and Mobile Phones

Just come off the overnight. Not bad, surprised at how light the traffic has been. One thing to note was when I was doing the '10's' I had pulled up a stop on the route. I did not pay much attention until the bus came the other way and stopped. He could not get past due to a car parked opposite the school and on double yellow lines. We both gave a gentle toot on the horn only to be met with a mouthful of abuse. On closer inspection the 'lady' was on her mobile phone. By the time she had finished her life and death conversation the queue was way up the hill. I expect she is one of the protesters who complain about 'other' people speeding past the school!!!!

19 Apr 2008

The Coach won't go

Today was 'Street Up' So empty from Bath Depot to Street. Nice drive out that way all across the Mendip's. Stopped at my usual lay-by to get my passenger list and set the destination etc. As I pulled away there was a noise which sounded like a flat tyre, but louder, much louder. The coach got slower, and stopped dead. It seemed like the brakes had stuck on. Contacted the depot and they said a replacement coach would be out to me within the hour. Finally got going in the replacement 55 minutes late. Apologies all the way to Bath. Change of driver here and after loading the passengers he got away 30mins late. Still haven't found what the trouble was. Rest of the day spent on the '17' bus around Bath. Off now for a week!!

12 Apr 2008

Uncle Christopher

Not a bad week and now off until Tuesday. had a bit of fun with passengers though. Had a problem with the seat belt so was late leaving the depot. Should have left Bath at 0645 but finally got going at 0700. Should have 8 passenger's but only 5 showed up! Ran control to let them know and began to reverse. A chap comes running across the road waving his hands, as you know the rules are very clear, once you have begun to move that is that. Any way he got very angry and used various words and signs! I would have understood if I had been on time but to turn up 15mins late is a bit much. The next thing was the next stop there were 2 people waiting. I stopped to check if they were waiting for the bus or me. It was for me, I informed the gent that as they should have been at Bath their seat had possibly been resold. he went mad saying that he had paid and they should be able to get on anywhere they liked. (I wish people would read the T & C) anyway lucky for him I had 2 seats available.
We have a very happy event in our family. My Sister gave birth to a baby girl last night. Both are well and my Parents are very proud Grandparents.

7 Apr 2008

Drivng in the snow

Sunday started off good, rode in on the bike and arrived at work just as the snow started. Headed off towards Swindon. Just as I left the M4 at j16 the snow started. visibility was only about 50m! Got to Swindon Bus station and loaded up.By this time the roads were completely covered and had become VERY slippery. The M4 was something else. I think I can say I have never driven on roads that bad. There were no part of the road visible and the only way to drive was down the rumble strip at 20mph!!! I thought the conditions would improve. Instead they got worse. It was not until we got to j6 that the road reappeared. The rest of the journey was better but still only 2 lanes of the motorway available. The journey back was the complete opposite. Bright sunshine and no snow!!

3 Apr 2008

How to drive on a Motorway

Found this information on the Highways Agency website. They should be shown on prime time TV.

View Video

A36 Closure

For those that travel these parts you may like to know the A36 is closed a Limpley Stoke. This is a main route from the South. It has created some very large tailbacks. The local council has publised a map showing the diversion route. it can be found here. Diversion route

31 Mar 2008

Bike Safe

Looking through our local police web site I noticed they had Bike Safe sessions. One was Yesterday. I rang up and a very nice lady said the records had been lost but turn up anyway. The day was great. First was a briefing about correct riding technique, road position and general hazard perception. This I found very useful having not been on bike for so long. However many of the points were the same as driving the bus!! After a short break it was time to go out on the road. This was in groups of two with a marked police bike!! It was a this point I was told the course was more aimed at experienced bikes with 1 or more years of riding, and, with a 400cc+ bike. Anyway after a chat with the officer he agreed to take me out and see how I kept up. The ride was fantastic, to be able to see a police rider putting into practice what you had just seen in the classroom was amazing. After a short while it was my turn to lead. A bit odd looking in the mirrors and seeing the police but we pressed on, stopping at regular intervals to discuss each others riding and take turns leading, and learning. We were out for about two hours and I have it say it was one of the most enjoyable afternoons I have had, and, at the same time picked up a hugh amount of information. My hat goes off to the police officers and the council for putting on this course. I just wish they had something for car drivers.

27 Mar 2008

New Bike


Picked up my new Haotion HT125-8 motorcycle today. Felt a bit strange having not ridden a bike for nearly 27 years. Still took it steady and arrived home OK. Going to spend the next few days getting used to riding in all conditions so ready for work on Wednesday. Below are a couple of pictures.


23 Mar 2008

Happy Easter

A very Happy Easter to you all. It would have been nice to have the day off but doing the 'Frome Up' today. The good thing about this duty on a Sunday is that I can have my break at home. So Harvey is very happy to have master at home! last few days the weather has been very wild, wind, snow and rain very exciting fighting the cross winds on the M4. Had the usual crop of bad driving, I really think the time has arrived where a separate test is required before you drive on a motorway. Apart from the usual bad driving my 'best' one was the driver who moved from lane 1 to lane 2 in front of me. There was no reason for it and as he was going at 45mph I gave the appropriate flash of the headlights. He seemed more intent on adjusting his sat nav!! I fell back and moved to lane 1 as I could not over take in lane 3. He still kept up at 45 - 50 mph despite the flashing of other drivers. I cruised past him in lane 1 (traffic in queue rule) to be met with a hand signal that I could not find in the Highway Code!!! I wished him a very Happy Easter too. Going out to walk Harvey and then off to London.

18 Mar 2008

A Change and change

Yesterday thought I was on 14 and 5 route, made a mistake and I was on the Chippenham run. haven't done this for a while so a bit unsure on the route. However like with a lot of things once you start it all comes flooding back. Nice people as well, and all had the correct change. Completely different from City work where most people now how much the fare is £1-70 of £1-90 but still tender £2-00. They then moan when you run out change. The problem is that if you have 100 - 200 passengers on a duty you would have to carry 100-200 20p and 10p pieces!! It also amazing when confronted by the dreaded change ticket, how many people find the exact money!!

16 Mar 2008

A bit damp

56 and 55 last couple of day's (0825 - 2000 and 0630 to 1800) so a bit of time in London Saturday was great, nice lunch and then sat in the park with a book for a couple of hours. Sunday, well could have not have been much different. Rain and more rain. The river in Bath was looking very angry and all the way along the M4 the fields were almost invisible under the water. Traffic was light so not bad up to Heathrow. Had plenty of time so went up the A4. Just turned by the Fullers brewery
and right into the back of a queue. Crawled all the way up to the lights before the Famous Three Kings to find so joker down a manhole. Could it not be done at night??
Trip back was dry and great to do it in the daylight. Just watched final of Dancing on Ice and off out to walk Harvey. Bus work tomorrow. 14 and 5. lovely.

13 Mar 2008

A rather pleasant day

Frome up today and again had to be in early as still having to get a lift in. Still, gave me a chance to have a kip. Had a very pleasant load with two passengers needing front seats and help with the luggage. On time as we got to Marlborough and left on time. There was a set of roadworks just at the end of the high street with a young yellow jacket clad lad controlling the lights. 15 mins latter we got out of Marlborough. By the time we got to the M4 at j13 I was 20 min late. Rang control to let them know. Arrived at Heathrow with not enough time to get to Victoria so off to watch the planes.
Trip back was a laugh got to J7 and stationary traffic dived off and made my way up the A4 to J8/J9 was thinking of continuing up to Reading and back on at J12. I thought that Reading would be busy so rejoined at J8/9. I should really have learned by now as I joined the traffic at J11. Some joker with a trailer had side swiped someone who was on their side in the middle of lane 1.
After all that arrived back in Bath 30 mins late with several passengers commenting on my driving (for the good) One thing I have learned with this job and with customer facing roles, is that whatever happens, don't have a sense of humour failure, keep smiling, even if what you really want to do is kill someone!!!

12 Mar 2008

Write Off

Well that is the end of my car. Thanks to the actions of some drugged up person I now have lost my car, NCB, Excess AND still have to pay the rest of this years premiums. I am not making a political statement but I think the time has come to stop treating the criminals as some kind of victims. YOU choose who you mix with, YOU choose what substances you take. YOU must therefore except the consequences and stop blaming other people.
That said permission has been granted for the purchase of a motorcycle. Just the problem of what to buy and how to pay for it.

7 Mar 2008

Nowhere to go

Frome up today but again had to start early due to lack of a car. Had to wait for a coach to be allocated, did the usual 'all round checks' and discovered the toilet was not working. I mentioned this to the engineers who said that was the only available coach. I have to say I did rather loose it and tried to explain where I could go when I was having my break? before things got too hot I just took the coach and made my way to Frome. Didn't use my usual stop but made my way up to McDonald's. This must be the only one that doesn't open at 0600-0630. Still got my head down for a way until Salisbury's opened. Quiet trip up and tried to make time up but customer tickets , roadworks and then a toilet stop all conspired to cause me to run out of hours at Heathrow. Nice day for watching the planes.

6 Mar 2008

Shift Changes

As I said some little chap has left me without a car. So I have to change my shifts so I can get a lift with other drivers. This is a real pain as tomorrow I do not need to sign on until 0530 but will have to get a lift in with the 52 driver who signs on at 0450!! Still means I can get the coach and drive down to Frome and get my head down for a hour. On the subject of cars, permission has been (reluctantly) granted for me to go back on two wheels. I have a full bike license but have not been on a bike for nearly 20 years so going to start small with a 125/200cc and see how we get on.

3 Mar 2008

Some good news

Had a nice piece of paper in my 'pigeon hole'. A note to say I had 'earned' my Bronze safe driving badge. This was a result of completing the Smith - System and having six months without a 'blameworthy' accident. I now have to go another six months to achieve my Silver.

Wot no car

'Street back' last Thursday and Friday. Not a bad duty but a bit rushed. Got home about 0000 and to bed at 0100. 0600 the phone rings 'what duty should I be on?' was my first thought. Hello this is Avon and Somerset Police said the lady. Your car has been used as part of an 'incident' A look out of the window confirmed this with four police cars parked in the road. Got dressed and went out to see the Police. My car was a bit sorry looking. The door bent and the dashboard smashed. The police informed me that two people 'high on drugs' had been on a robbery spree and were trying to use my car as the getaway. It's a 'K' reg 205 which doesn't start easily. Any way the long and short of this, is that the actions of these people has left me without a car as the police have taken it as evidence, have caused me to have to change shifts at work so I can get there. I assume I will loose my NCB. The criminals will get..'it's not their fault they are on drugs' we must help them. What a load of B......... I was asked if I wanted to a. claim from the criminal injury and b. claim compensation from them. TOO BL..... RIGHT.

28 Feb 2008

Don't panic

Back at work yesterday and a very nice day is was. 'All Dayer' so had some time in London, so glad I live were I do. People as you know make me laugh. Yesterday morning we had just joined the M4 at J15, on time, when we came to a stop. I could just see it was an accident being cleared. We can't have been stopped for a minute when a passenger came rushing down the aisle. 'Are we going to be in Victoria on time?' Well too problems with that. a. I have do idea how long we are going to be stopped and b. it is still over 2 hours to Victoria. I was very polite and told her I could see no problem. The accident seemed have been a car hitting the central reservation and rolling over. The damage was so severe it must have been well over the 50mph limited for the roadworks. We arrived in London 15mins early due to light traffic from Heathrow to Victoria.
Left Victoria at 1800 only 13 seats left and 10 to pick up at Heathrow.Arrived at 1850 and loaded up. There were loads of 'standbys' (those booked on a later bus) as normal I said I would wait until 1900 (my departure time) and check then. 1900 arrived and I had 3 seats left. Took 3 people on their own. Shut the lockers and, 'WAIT, we are on this bus!!' I don't think so it is now 1900 and the ticket says to be a the departure point 10 mins before departure. I left them in the hands of the Heathrow staff. In theory we can 'resell' or take a standby from 10 mins before departure. In practise myself like most of the other drivers will wait up until time of departure to give booked passengers a chance.

22 Feb 2008

ChainSaw

Off now until Wednesday. Working tomorrow though, first up so early start. Not bad because rest days and Saturdays mean more pay. Spent some time sorting the out house out. Now have a place for everything. Chain saw is working makes things so much easier. Fiona is taking park in a Dance show run by the dance school she goes to. So going to make some lunch for tomorrow and settle down in front of the TV.

17 Feb 2008

Near Miss

Bus work Saturday. Trip on 337,318/319 to Cribs Causway. Made a change from London, but the stop start at all the bus stops was beginning to drive me mad!! Today was 0715 from Bath. Full coach, and on the coldest day of the year the coach had air con, which worked. Took me a while to work out how to turn it off!
Good trip up in the sunshine, at Gloucester Road guy with his family in a people carrier tried to race me off the lights, only problem was he hadn't noticed the coach in front had stopped!! I do not think his Wife was too impressed as the front valence bounced off the road!! Old Chinese proverb say 'make sure the road ahead is clear before showing off to the Family'
Bit further down the road a cyclist came past on the inside. The van in front obviously didn't use his mirrors, turned left and knocked him off!! He got up OK and a few words were said before he rode off.
Tomorrow, all day duty and must try to get same Chainsaw oil.



Couple of hours spent by the Thames. (hard life)

13 Feb 2008

I Don't believe It

Been a very good few days. had early starts and the overnight with the city bus work. But with the weather being so good it really has not been a struggle. However this week passengers have really pushed the boat out.
Had a group of under 20's, not a problem but not sure what was going on in the toilet!! However, I was 20 once!! I did have to have a word as it is the law for everyone to wear a seatbelt. So a girl on the lap really does not count!!
Arriving at Heathrow I only had one passenger getting off. However three others got off. I told them that this was not Victoria. 'That's fine, we know' Loaded a few passengers and reversed off the bay and then a voice 'my friends are not back yet' where have they gone? 'to the toilet'. you are having a laugh, why did they not say? By this time we are out of the bus station and heading for the tunnel. 'can you let me out here?' Eh, next stop Victoria. I did ring control to let them know.
The moral is Tell the driver!!!
Tomorrow is Frome up with a diversion in Newbury so will try and not get lost.

11 Feb 2008

A Little chilly

Still on early duties this week. Weather has been great during the day, but I have had to use the de-icer spray most mornings. Seen some spectacular sun rises over London. Anyone who does not believe in God, or a higher creator, should come out and see the early morning sunrise, it always seems to be some kind of hint that the world was created for us to see and be wondered over.
Had some very kind comments from passengers, mainly about my 'smooth' driving style. One thing I hate is the sharp stop and start way that some drivers drive so I try everything I can not to drive this way. Overnight tomorrow and then lates for a while so a few restful mornings.

6 Feb 2008

Cyclists and lorries

Second up today, so 0415 alarm call. bit of a close call with a cyclist, arrived at a give way and checked to the left before puling out, as I was half way out a cyclist appeared in front of me!! How I missed him I am not sure. Anyway thought I would have a look at him when I got round the corner. This guy was on a fold up bicycle with one light about 6 inches off the ground, he was all in black even with a black scarf around his neck. I am not trying to take the blame from me and other drivers as had I hit him I think it would stop me driving. However I do think at 0530 on a wet morning that perhaps even a token bit of yellow would have helped.

Next thing today was the old problem of overtaking lorries. I must have hit the M4 as they came from the ferry but it was awful. Mainly, I have to say foreign lorries who do not seem to know that many vehicles cannot use Lane 3. However I would like to thank the drivers in lane 1 who did slow and let the plonkers pass.

3 Feb 2008

Having a great time

Been on holiday for a week now and really enjoying it. I have got most of the 'little' jobs done. Been able to attend Church and Cell Church for two weeks running. I have realised how spirituality low I had become. back to work on Tuesday so trying to get my self organised. We have an open fire at home and coal and logs are not that cheap so I have bought a Briquette maker, this enables to use all our unwanted paper and make it into burnable bricks. Seems to work very well but they do take a long time to dry! So trying to get a good stock made up.

27 Jan 2008

Spelling

It has been brought to my attention that there are a few spelling mistakes in this blog. I did get an A in English but I still cannot spell and the spell checker does not always pick things up. So sorry for the mistakes and hope it does not spoil your enjoyment.

Cutting the grass

Things have been going well, very busy Saturday. Checked my duty for this week and my name was bot on the list. Made a phone call. I am on holiday this week!!!(they are allocated) Should have checked. It has however given me time to get a lot done. Spent most of the day in the garden. Cut the grass and tided up. Looks so much better. Looking at the weather looks like tomorrow is is the last day of good weather so more outside work.

24 Jan 2008

Petrol Prices

Had this sent to me and thought it might be of interest.

See what you think and pass it on if you agree with it

We are hitting 106.9 p a litre in some areas now, soon we will be faced with paying ?1.10 a ltr. Philip Hollsworth offered this good idea:

This makes MUCH MORE SENSE than the 'don't buy petrol on a certain day campaign that was going around last April or May! The oil companies just laughed at that because they knew we wouldn't continue to hurt ourselves by refusing to buy petrol. It was more of an inconvenience to us than it was a problem for them. BUT,whoever thought of this idea, has come up with a plan that can really work.

Please read it and join in!

Now that the oil companies and the OPEC nations have conditioned us to think that the cost of a litre is CHEAP, we need to take aggressive action to teach them that BUYERS control the market place not sellers. With the price of petrol going up more each day, we consumers need to take action. The only way we are going to see the price of petrol come down is if we hit someone in the pocket by not purchasing their Petrol! And we can do that WITHOUT hurting ourselves. Here's the idea:

For the rest of this year DON'T purchase ANY petrol from the two biggest oil companies (which now are one), ESSO and BP.

If they are not selling any petrol, they will be inclined to reduce their prices. If they reduce their prices, the other companies will have to follow suit. But to have an impact we need to reach literally millions of Esso and BP petrol buyers. It's really simple to do!!

Now, don't wimp out on me at this point... keep reading and I'll explain how simple it is to reach millions of people!!

I am sending this note to a lot of people. If each of you send it to
at least ten more (30 x 10 = 300)... and those 300 send it to at
least ten more (300 x 10 = 3,000) ... and so on, by the time the
message reaches the sixth generation of people, we will have reached
over THREE MILLION consumers! If those three million get excited and
pass this on to ten friends each, then 30 million people will have
been contacted! If it goes one level further, you guessed it... ..

THREE HUNDRED MILLION PEOPLE!!!

Again, all You have to do is send this to 10 people. That's all.(and
not buy at ESSO/BP) How long would all that take? If each of us
sends this email out to ten more people within one day of receipt,
all 300 MILLION people could conceivably be contacted within the
next 8days!!! Acting together we can make a difference If this makes
sense to you, please pass this message on.

PLEASE HOLD OUT UNTIL THEY LOWER THEIR PRICES TO THE 69p a LITRE
RANGE

It's easy to make this happen. Just forward this email, and buy your
petrol at Shell, Asda,Tesco, Sainsburys, Morrisons Jet etc. i.e.
boycott BP and Esso

Day off

Had a great couple of days. Good trips up and make and no hassle. Day off today and with the weather so good spent the day sorting out my amateur radio aerials. Now got both VHF/UHF aerial outside on poles and the HF (shortwave) up nice and high. Must be working well as the first contact I had was with a chap near the Polish Border. Well chuffed and now have to spend some time in the 'shack', spare room and try and get it so you can see the floor!!!

22 Jan 2008

A bit naughty

Not bad yesterday. Lot of traffic going up, not helped my someone breakdown and parking in the middle of the motorway at J8/9. Why they could have not got to the hard shoulder. Had to pick up an out of hours driver at Heathrow. In fact our training officer who was also due to take over my coach. Decided to go to Victoria by Knightsbridge and traffic was good until we got to Scotch Corner. It is very narrow and a bit of a bun fight. As we came over the lights I notched traffic indicated right around some roadworks. I mirror checked one car alongside and a BMW behind. Let the car go by and stated to move over. You guessed it, it was 'I am not letting the bus move what ever driver'. We moved along slowly me edging ever over and the BMW TRYING to push between me and the cones. I think he saw the traffic island a bit late as he stopped a bit quick!! This sounds a bit naughty on my part but when you have given as much warning as I did you do get the 'Red Mist' come down and you then do what you are told not to do and use you vehicle size to get what you want.

20 Jan 2008

A very close shave

I do not like weekends at the best of times as they seem to bring out the idiot in many drivers. Today was no exception. However the worst, and possibly the closest I have come to have a potential fatal accident was this one.
I was travelling between Radstock and Peasdown. This road is long and straight with various roads joining it. One road on the right is angled so traffic approaching from Peasdown can usually turn right without having to slow very much. As I approached this one a car appeared from the right and stopped. A 4*4 was coming up towards me and indicating to turn right (across me) I eased off a bit and was going about 45mph. The 4*4 then turned right, I eased off as he had time to clear in front of me. Oh no, HE HESITATED!! half was across the road. I will not repeat what was said on the bus both by me and the passengers. I hit the anchors and the ABS did the job, the poor guy at the junction must have been in the same situation as me. As you can tell all worked out OK but it left me a bit wobbly. The passengers were very quiet the rest of the way. One passenger saying he was amazed we did not hit him.

19 Jan 2008

Front Fog Lights

Not bad day, very busy up with full coach. Getting a bit fed up with people using front fog lights. This must be an easy one for the police to crack down on, and make a few quid. The highway code states.

Rule 236

You MUST NOT use front or rear fog lights unless visibility is seriously reduced (see Rule 226) as they dazzle other road users and can obscure your brake lights. You MUST switch them off when visibility improves.

Interested in the post about luggage and loading. This is always a problem when you are singled crewed. We can have 30+ passengers to load and they are going to different locations so the luggage has to be put in separate lockers. I normally check the tickets, paper and mobile then either load the luggage myself or ask the passenger to do it. However it is normally quicker to do it my self as most people will just put their case at the front so you then have to spend 10 minutes sorting it out!! Anyway I am not loosing any sleep over yesterday as it is the first instance of this I have had.
Tomorrow is bus work, have the 778 and 14A. Cant complain though, short day only 1000-1800.

18 Jan 2008

Made it to Victoria

Well, made it to Victoria!! traffic was light, but had a few 'incidents'
Started even before I had left Bath. I had reversed out of the bay and had just started to make my way out of the bus station when a bus appeared alongside, not a problem but then a guy appears running along side the coach. This is so dangerous as if he slipped he would go straight under the wheel. This is one situation that I do not stop for. Once I have closed the doors and started to reverse next stop is, the next stop. This guy did not give up and chased me round the bus station! I have not heard whether he got on the next bus.
Had a call from control, could I pick up some extra passengers from Swindon? their coach had been delayed, I assume by the flooding around Gloucester. Arrived at Swindon on time and started to load, I came back from loading some luggage in the rear locker when a passenger informed that 'a couple of druggies had got on' I wandered down the coach and in fact I could smell them before I could see them! I decided to act cool and asked them for their tickets. They said they wanted to go to London. I gave them 5 seconds to leave before I called the police. One of them said could I count, so I did and got to 4 before they got up. At this point and wondered if this had been such a good idea. I kept out of 'striking' range and herded them off the coach. They then started to get aggressive so I just kept pushing!! They got off but then tried to get in the lockers!! I did consider dropping the locker door but did not fancy wiping the blood off. They finally wandered off into Swindon. I continued to load the remaining passengers and called control and Bath to warn other drivers.
Off we went again and another call from control. Can I pick up a stranded passenger from Reading services. No problem, but wondered how I would find them, should not have worried as I a pulled into the coach park they was a young man holding a National Express ticket. No further problems even Heathrow was fairly quite despite the problems on Thursday.
Had a long lay over in London so had a nice lunch and did the shopping and read a book until 1715 when it was time to return to Victoria for the 1800 departure.

15 Jan 2008

Aircraft spotting. take 2

0530 today and apart from the weather things were looking good. Until that is we got to J12 and then it was a crawl all the way to Heathrow. By the time we got to the bay I only had 40 mins driving time left and and that time of the morning it can take over an hour. So after dispatching my passengers, some for the second day in a row, it was off to the west ramp car park. I came prepared this time with scanner and plenty of coffee. Trip back was good and due to a fault with the door went straight out to the depot. had fun getting home the river Avon is looking very angry and some of the roads had been closed due to 3 feet of water!! Home now and off for 2 days. Still got to repair the exhaust.

14 Jan 2008

Aircraft spotting

Funny old day. Frome up so start at 0515 drive out to Frome for a 45 min break before heading off through Wiltshire. Everything was fine until we joined the M4 at J13. In then took nearly 2 hours to get to Heathrow. That meant only 35mins of driving left so had to terminate. Along with 2 other 403, 412, 200,201 and several other company coaches. Spent 2 hours up in the West Ramp car park which has fantastic views of the runway. Bit said but I do have a scanner so it was like being a kid again!! Trip back was Ok but weather tomorrow is not good so see how we go.

My weather data