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.

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!

My weather data