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.

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.

My weather data