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.

28 Dec 2009

Christmas and lots of bus work.

Nice Christmas spent with family and trust yours was good as well. Lots of bus work over the last couple of weeks. Had a spare week, Park and Ride with split shifts.Don't mind these as most people have the correct money and are pleased to see you and some good vehicles to drive. The only incident was while doing some overtime or 'In between duty' Approaching a stop while in traffic I noticed a lady looking up and down the road as if waiting for someone to pick her up. She came over to me and asked 'do you stop here' I said yes as the traffic was still stopped. She went to pick up her bags and I loaded another passenger as the traffic was still stopped. About 10minutes latter and 100m latter I was stopped at traffic lights. Suddenly a man apeared at the front of the bus shouting I had not stopped at the stop!! It would appear he was connected with the lady who had obviously thought I would wait while she completed her shopping!! He and the lady then commenced a full scale assault on the bus, both verbal and physical. In situations like this I do nothing I try to ignore the person and without running them over continue to drive forward. Fortunately another driver saw what was happening and 'removed' the man from the road. What the lady should have done was after asking me if she 'could get on' was to do just that!! Once again passengers never cease to amaze me.

13 Dec 2009

Bit shaken up

All early shifts this and last week so beginning to get tired. I have yet to come across anyone working shifts who does not suffer on early shifts. I have found a half hour sleep on the back seats makes a hugh difference and going to bed early! Yesterday I came across something that left me a bit shaken, just after the Turnpike on the A4 I noticed a car stopped and something on the road. My first thought was that it was a motorcyclist who may have cut the corner and not made it. As I got closer it became clear it was a  pedestrian, it was before 0500. It appeared she had been stuck by a taxi and looking at the car it would appear it was going at around the limit for the road, 60mph. Fortunately the emergency service were already being summoned and there were several other people on scene. These things do not often affect me but this one left me thinking how easy it is for your life to completly change is a split second. I hope this was just an accident and the pedestrian recovers and the driver involved is OK

6 Dec 2009

Bike update

Thought you might be interested,or not, to know how the motorcycle is going. Well, very well at present. It is now nearly two years old and in daily use. As you may know it is a Chinese HT125-8 and many people think they are cheap so will fall apart. Like anything they just need to be looked after and keep on top of repairs. It so far has cost me under £2000 including the cost of the bike new, and still does nearly 100mpg!!!

Eastenders

Interesting watching Eastenders this week. When they have certain stories they have a 'if you have been affected' ring this number. However the story line contained an accident caused by the driver falling asleep at the wheel. As over 300 people are believed to die each year as a result of this perhaps it should have. Still road safety does not seem to as 'sexy' as, say teenage runaways or drug abuse.

28 Nov 2009

Bath Traffic

Overnight last night and for the first time ever had to take a break at Heathrow. First problem was in Bath on the trip to the Uni, this put a 20min delay before we even started. Why can no one in NX see the problems this stop causes? Especially when up to 20 buses an hour come and go!! So with a 20 min delay off we went. All OK until J15 and then 'M4 Closed J10' came up. I had to go to reading at J12 to pick up 2 so was planning to go to J10 and then go down the M3. Approached J10 and the traffic was heavy but not the end of the world. Most traffic was going down towards the M3 so asked the Police man where the M4 was closed. he advised me to use the A4 and rejoin the M4 at J8/9. So that is what I did. We then arrived at Heathrow at 2130 which did not give enough time to get to VCS so 45 min break had to be taken. Most of the passengers got on the 501 or caught the tube so was empty into VCS. Finally arrived at 2311 which even with a 9 hour break meant I could not leave until 0830. Today was Ok until Bath. It took nearly an hour to get from the A46 into the Bus station. It is 2 miles!! Had the '5's' after my break and it took 45 mins to get from the Bus Station to Sainsbury's, 1mile. The cause of all this is the Christmas Market and our local councils complete inability to  grasp the gravity of the situation. Maybe they think if it looks busy it will bring people in!!!

27 Nov 2009

Not much to report

Not much going on at present. Caught some bug last week which required a duty swap so I was not to far from the bus station. That also meant less money, but better than no money. Felix the cat also decided that I did not require an take a ways this week and went fighting resulting in bites to his leg and  a trip to the vet. The weather has been pretty rough resulting in some interesting drives.

14 Nov 2009

Bus Work

As I said there was a bit of a cock up and I was down for holiday last week. As a result I had a spell of bus work. I do have to say I do enjoy it, as they say 'a change is a good as a rest'. It was a mixed bag of local city work and trips to Bristol and Cribbs Causeway. Things I noticed were the traffic and a difficulty of running on time and passengers. I had forgotten how they behave. Comments like, 'are you late driver?' when you arrive at a stop 20 mins late! Trying to use a bus pass before 0900. 'but you ARRIVE at the bus station at 0900' After you have sat in a traffic jam for 20mins 'Do you think we will arrive on time?' These are thankfully outnumbered by the nice ones. The ones who say ' it's nice that a driver speaks to us' and various other complements. Off now for the weekend and family coming for lunch tomorrow. Next week back on coaches again.

9 Nov 2009

UCB Radio to go nationwide!

UCB goes national on DAB digital radio
(News release)
United Christian Broadcasters (UCB) has confirmed it will begin broadcasting
nationally on DAB digital radio from Dec 1.
The Christian media organisation which had previously been broadcasting to
most major cities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland on DAB, has now
signed contracts and been granted Ofcom approval, to broadcast nationally
across the UK (inc Northern Ireland).
“This is an extraordinary dream come true”, said Ian Mackie, CEO and founder of
UCB UK. “We have had a 23-year old dream and vision to broadcast nationally
across the UK and it’s an overwhelming and humbling day to finally see that
dream come to fruition”.
Notes to editor
1. United Christian Broadcasters (UCB) has five radio stations, two of which
broadcast on DAB digital radio – UCB UK will broadcast nationally from
Dec 1, 2009. UCB Inspirational will continue to broadcast across large
areas of England and Wales on DAB digital radio. Other UCB stations
and UCB TV are available on Sky, Virgin Media and the internet at
ucbmedia.co.uk
2. UCB provides thought-provoking, life-changing resources to churches,
Christians and people seeking a better understanding of the
Christian faith, currently reaching more than a million people across the
UK and Ireland.


This station is well worth a listen to. It is not what you would think a christian radio station is like.

7 Nov 2009

Good job I checked

As you may know we have a shift pattern this runs on a 26 week rolling bases. There is the main 'base' rota which you can use to see what duties you on. This can of course change due to sickness holidays etc. There is also the 'spares' These are days or weeks where you have no allocated work but will be early. mid or late. We then have a rota posted on the board giving up to two weeks duties. This is the working rota and is supposed to up to date.When I arrived at work last week the inspector said 'that's one way to get out of the overnight' I was a little confused and asked why? 'you have a weeks holiday' I inquired further and it turned out the holiday I had swapped when I moved house had not been changed correctly. I now have a week of bus work!! Not the end of the world and with a couple of drivers off sick there is always hope of a swap. I assume if I had said nothing the company would have gladly granted me an extra weeks holiday. I think not! Anyway '14's' and Chippenham today.

1 Nov 2009

The end

As you know we have moved. This is the reason why.















The houses had stood for over 60 years and it only took a few hours to turn them in to this. Still they were a bit drafty and cost a fortune to run but they did have a lot of character. I will post some photos when they start building the flats.

Halloween

Not something that we 'follow' but was interested to find the 'true' meaning and found this.

All Hallows' Eve falls on 31 October each year, and is the day before All Hallows' Day, also known as All Saints' Day in the Christian calendar. The Church traditionally held a vigil on All Hallows' Eve when worshippers would prepare themselves with prayers and fasting prior to the feast day itself.
The name derives from the Old English 'hallowed' meaning holy or sanctified and is now usually contracted to the more familiar word Hallowe'en.

A brief history of the festival

In the early 7th century Pope Boniface IV consecrated the Pantheon in Rome, formerly a temple to all the gods, as a church dedicated to Saint Mary and the Martyrs, and ordered that that date, May 13, should be celebrated every year.
It became All Saints' Day, a day to honour all the saints, and later, at the behest of Pope Urban IV (d. 1264), a day specially to honour those saints who didn't have a festival day of their own.
In the 8th century, on November 1st, Pope Gregory III dedicated a chapel to all the saints in St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Gregory IV then made the festival universal throughout the Church, and November 1st has subsequently become All Saints' Day for the western Church.
The Orthodox Church celebrates All Saints' Day on the first Sunday after Passover - a date closer to the original May 13th.
It is widely believed that many Hallowe'en traditions have evolved from an ancient Celtic festival called Samhain which was Christianised by the early Church. Pronounced sow-in, Samhain is a Gaelic word meaning 'end of the summer'. This festival is believed to have been a celebration of the end of the harvest, and a time of preparation for the coming winter.
It is widely accepted that the early church missionaries chose to hold a festival at this time of year in order to absorb existing native Pagan practices into Christianity, thereby smoothing the conversion process.
A letter Pope Gregory I sent to Bishop Mellitus in the 6th century, in which he suggested that existing places of non-Christian worship be adopted and consecrated to serve a Christian purpose, is often provided as supporting evidence of this method of acculturation. (See related links.)
Encyclopaedia Britannica states that this date may have been chosen "in an effort to supplant the Pagan holiday with a Christian observance".
The Oxford Dictionary of World Religions also claims that Hallowe'en "absorbed and adopted the Celtic new year festival, the eve and day of Samhain".
However, there are supporters of the view that Hallowe'en, as the eve of All Saints' Day, originated entirely independently of Samhain and some question the existence of a specific pan-Celtic religious festival which took place on 31 October/1 November.
In his book Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night, Nicholas Rogers states:
Festivals commemorating the saints as opposed to the original Christian martyrs appear to have been observed by 800. In England and Germany, this celebration took place on 1 November. In Ireland, it was commemorated on 20 April, a chronology that contradicts the widely held view that the November date was chosen to Christianize the festival of Samhain.Nicholas Rogers, Halloween: From Pagan Ritual to Party Night
Steve Roud, author of A Pocket Guide To Superstitions Of The British Isles, says:
Certainly the festival of Samhain, meaning Summer's End, was by far the most important of the four quarter days in the medieval Irish calendar, and there was a sense that this was the time of year when the physical and supernatural worlds were closest and magical things could happen, but however strong the evidence in Ireland, in Wales it was May 1 and New Year which took precedence, in Scotland there is hardly any mention of it until much later, and in Anglo-Saxon England even less.Steve Roud, A Pocket Guide To Superstitions Of The British Isles
In Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain, Ronald Hutton says:
Heavy Irish immigration into the Scottish Highlands and Isles in the early Middle Ages carried the name Samhain there, in local variations, but to the Welsh the day was 'Calan Gaeaf', 'the first day of winter', and the night before was termed 'Nos Galan Gaea', winter's eve'. Perhaps significantly, the earliest Welsh literature attributes no arcane significance to these dates (in sharp contrast to May Eve) and describes no gatherings then (in sharp contrast to New Year). It must be concluded, therefore, that the medieval records furnish no evidence that 1 November was a major pan-Celtic festival, and none of religious ceremonies, even where it was observed. An Anglo-Saxon counterpart is difficult either to prove or to dismiss completely.Ronal Hutton, Stations of the Sun: A History of the Ritual Year in Britain
Either way, what we can be sure of is that the modern celebration of Hallowe'en is a complicated mix of evolved (and evolving) traditions and influences.

All Saints' Day (also known as All Hallows' Day or Hallowmas) is the day after All Hallows' Eve (Hallowe'en). It is a feast day celebrated on November 1st by Anglicans and Roman Catholics.
It is an opportunity for followers to remember all saints and martyrs, known and unknown, throughout Christian history. As part of this day of obligation, followers are required to attend church and try not to do any servile work.
Remembering saints and martyrs and dedicating a specific day to them each year has been a Christian tradition since the 4th century AD, but it wasn't until 609AD that Pope Boniface IV decided to remember all martyrs. Originally May 13th was designated as the Feast of All Holy Martyrs. Later, in 837AD, Pope Gregory IV extended the festival to remember all the saints, changed its name to Feast of All Saints and changed the date to November 1st.
We celebrate today the solemnity of All Saints. This invites us to turn our gaze to the immense multitude of those who have already reached the blessed land, and points us on the path that will lead us to that destination.Pope John Paul II, All Saints' Day 2003
All Souls' Day is marked on 2nd November (or the 3rd if the 2nd is a Sunday), directly following All Saints' Day, and is an opportunity for Roman Catholics and Anglo-Catholic churches to commemorate the faithful departed. They remember and pray for the souls of people who are in Purgatory - the place (or state) in which those who have died atone for their less grave sins before being granted the vision of God in Heaven (called Beatific vision).
Reasoning behind this stems from the notion that when a soul leaves the body, it is not entirely cleansed from venial (minor) sins. However, through the power of prayer and self-denial, the faithful left on earth may be able to help these souls gain the Beatific Vision they seek, bringing the soul eternal sublime happiness.
A 7/8th century AD prayer The Office of the Dead is read out in churches on All Souls' Day. Other rituals include the offering of Requiem Mass for the dead, visiting family graves and reflecting on lost loved ones. In Mexico, on el dia de los muertos (Day of the Dead), people take picnics to their family graves and leave food out for their dead relatives.
Whilst praying for the dead is an ancient Christian tradition, it was Odilo, Abbot of Cluny (France) who, in 998AD, designated a specific day for remembering and praying for those in the process of purification. This started as a local feast in his monasteries and gradually spread throughout the Catholic Church towards the end of the 10th century AD.
For the souls in purgatory, waiting for eternal happiness and for meeting the Beloved is a source of suffering, because of the punishment due to sin which separates them from God. But there is also the certitude that once the time of purification is over, the souls will go to meet the One it desires. Letter of Pope John Paul II for Millennium of All Souls' Day

27 Oct 2009

Team Work

One thing I like and enjoy about working on National Express is the way the team works together. An example of this was today. The 'Street up' broke down. Another vehicle was run out and swapped over by another driver. He arrived in Bath where passengers were waiting. There were five passengers wanting to buy tickets.This required me to ring control and check seats were available and write out the tickets which all takes time. Without any prompting the other drivers loaded the waiting passengers. This happens all the time and makes the job so much easier and enjoyable.

17 Oct 2009

Drive Green

We have just had a system called 'Drive Green' installed in all Bath vehicles. The aim of this is to help cut down on the fuel consumption and improve driving by displacing a red, amber or green light when various maneuvers are made. However, at present it does not work. If you drive very carefully round a route it shows red all the time, then, if you drive like a taxi driver, it shows green. it has been so bad that it has now lost creditability with most, if not all drivers so I think the only course of action is to find a very large skip. It is rumored that each unit cost £800. I think the money could have been spent much more wisely. for example hiring more inspectors and finding the poor drivers and retraining them rather than 'tarring every one with the same brush' but what do I know??  some where there is a depot with a system working correctly.

Musical Coaches

First up today. So in the depot at 0400 to find a coach full of passengers being unloaded. Turned out it was the 404 that had broken down and had been offered a replacement coach from Bath to get them in to London. In the office I was asked to take the Western National Coach up to London and change over with the 404 that would ensure that the depots get their own coaches back. Good trip up and as I arrived at Victoria the drivers were waiting for the change (the message got through for once) so another job done. This also brings me on to subject of 'new' coaches. We now have 20535 and 20540 I believe this along with another will replace 20525,26 and 27. this last bit is for the benefit of any Bus enthusiasts.

14 Oct 2009

Bus Work

Ok the broadband is back and working. Speed does not seem too bad at around 3.5 meg. Sky assure me I can get 6.5 so we will see. Street shunt today so that means bus work in the afternoon. Route 6 and 7 which goes  around Fairfield park. very nice view of the city of Bath. Only problem is the parking. Lorries and cars are parked both sides of the road while they unload. It always amazes me how the police and council turn a blind eye to this. I assume the shop keepers bleat on how are they to run a business if they can not unload lorries. Well the answer is simply. If there are double yellow lines outside your shop, house etc. TOUGH LUCK they are put there for a VERY GOOD reason. For example it blocks the road for the bus. And also will block an emergency vehicle. If the boot was on the other foot and an Ambulance was delayed coming to their family I am sure they would be more than happy to except that the shop down the road had to have a delivery. I think not and  is that the 'no win no fee' man knocking on the door?
Was supposed to be on Bus work tomorrow but was asked if I could go down to Plymouth and pick a coach up. Had to go away and think about that one!!!

9 Oct 2009

Moved

Well finally found some broadband (unsercured network) Sky promise me Tuesday. We have finally moved and just trying to sort out all the boxes and finding spaces for everything. Anyway the house is OK just has very strange shaped rooms so little difficult to fit the furniture in but we will get there. Very convinient for the town so will save some money on fuel. Little further to work but still only take 20-25 minutes so not to bad. Not much to report at work long days this week packed in 47 hours before Thursday and now off until Tuesday.

27 Sep 2009

Sit down protest

'Street back' yesterday. Did a swap from 'Frome back' to give some more time moving. Good trip up but plenty of weekend drivers to provide the entertainment. As we when into London the passengers behind me began talking about going for a curry. As you can here conversations very clearly I asked if I could come? As we traveled along and the traffic was slow moving there was a little chatter between us. The passenger went to use the toilet, when there got back they told me that a passenger had said it was illegal to talk to the driver. Never heard that one before. However you must distract the driver of a coach or bus which like a lot (most) of UK law leaves it open to interpretation. Obviously I could drive and act completly in the rules which would mean. Not announcing what service we are on and where we are going. Not announcing stops until the vehicle has stopped and all passengers have left. Under NO circumstances use a mobile phone with passengers on. If a breakdown happens off load all passengers and await help from passing traffic. Tell all passengers to be quiet, switch all mobiles, walk mans etc off and to stay seated at all times in case they distract the driver. Black out the windows so the driver cannot be distracted by advertising boards. These all sound silly but read the law and in theory that is what it says.
That lot off my chest and back in the real world. I do not want to die or be seriously injured in an accident. So I will do NOTHING that puts me, my passengers or my vehicle in a dangerous situation. Read in to that what you will. back to packing.

23 Sep 2009

Wer'e Off

Well the day has arrived. We have finally found somewhere to live! Nice 3 bed back in Midsomer Norton. Well pleased and move in tomorrow. So all hand to the pumps and trying to press gang some help. Have next week off but would have been good to have the weekend as well but beggars cannot be chooses so will have to get the large stuff moved tomorrow and leave the little stuff for the next few evenings and mornings.

18 Sep 2009

Forgot to mention

Looked at a couple of places today. Not really suitable and one needed a LOT of TLC. So still packing and trowing out.
With all this going on I forgot to say it was my parents Golden Wedding anniversary at the weekend. Fiona and I went up for the weekend and stayed in the hotel where my Sister is a Manager, so 'mates rates'. The weekend was great the weather on Saturday was fantastic and after a very nice meal there was time to talk to family in the grounds of the Fitzwilliam Centre. This is part of St Mary and all saints Church where most of my family have been married. On Sunday my Sister had arranged a session at a local photographer. Hopefully we will have some great up to take photos of my family.
Just chilling out now, worked this morning and some one had gone sick. 'Street up' so some nice easy money.

17 Sep 2009

A bit p----d off!!

Well thought it was too good to be true. Phone call from letting agent to say the lady had decided not to let the property out! Fiona and I are not at all happy and neither is the agent. We do have another property to look at but still leaves every thing up in the air again. I do wonder what goes on in peoples heads! On a work note. Picked up the new uniform today. Very smart. So had a clear out of all the old stuff. Filled two recycling bins up.

16 Sep 2009

At last

After a lot of looking and stress we have finally found some where to live. Not the most ideal place, cosy I think is the word. Only one bedroom but at the top of the hill so some amazing views. It does have a loft so that will be a store room. So just a matter of moving out, hopefully sometime this week which will give us some lap over. On other matters, Greyhound has started so will be interesting to see how that pans out. Meeting yesterday about National Express operations in Bath. Seems that the mangement know as much as we do and with the current financial situation things can change very quickly. From my point of view with unemployment at 2.4 million having a reasonable secure job is all that matters.

8 Sep 2009

Who reads blogs?

Still have no where to live at the end of the month so things are still very stressful. I have been interested to read in the press that a number of people have been sacked for items they have put in there blogs, Facebook etc. I do know one personally who was 'called into the office' to explain a Facebook comment. I hope that nothing I put in these posts upsets anyone or breaks any company rules. So if any one from the company reads this, enjoy it and take it for what it is. Me, letting off steam!
Any way back to work things. Very quite this week, must me the lull after the holidays and people getting fully back to work. Yesterday was a bit strange. Loading chart at 2030, when I left VCS, said top load of 12! Left Heathrow with 30 and full lockers, where did they all come from!

1 Sep 2009

Only trying to help

Still both very stressed over the impending house move. Still not found anywhere and only 28 days to go. Work been Ok very quite on the roads so no delays, that will all change as the schools go back. Yesterday was the overnight back and then spare, in other words sit about waiting for something to happen, breakdown, no shows etc. I was chatting to one of the drivers when I noticed a lady striding off across the bus station. This is not a good idea especially with buses moving about. I shouted to her, expecting to get a reply of 'how do I get out?' or something along those lines. What I got was 'I am going to look at the river' I continued to tell her that it was extremely dangerous to do that and to walk around the bus station. She did finally walk back while at the same time uttering various words which repeated here would get me in to a far bit a trouble.

18 Aug 2009

Wot, no home!

Back at work after New Wine and surprised at how busy things are. Today 0530, FULL! Still better than running around empty. The saga of the house hunting continues. For those of you who do not know the house it which we live (rent) is being demolitied and turned into flats. Therefore we have to find somewhere to live. That is proving difficult in that we have Felix and Harvey (cat and dog) and also we have even been 'gurzumped'! Still we are packing everything up so if after the end of September we still have not found somewhere we at least can show we have been trying and are ready to go. So if you know of a 2+ bed house in BA2, 3,4 or surrounding areas, let us know.

11 Aug 2009

Bike Fixed

Couple of days off and the sun is shinning. Motorbike has had a couple of faults for a while so today was the day. First fault was the lack of a earth in the headlight area. I assumed this was a loose wire and after stripping the loom apart finally found that where all the earth's are joined together had corroded. It was a simple matter of cutting back the wires and soldering them back together. The next was the electric start. Should have listen to people, turned out it was the side stand switch, cutting and joining the wires together solved the problem. Just proves that they are all simple fixes, just a bit complicated to find them!! Now to get on with the packing.

10 Aug 2009

New Wine Finished

Well that's it New Wine over for another year. Second week was a lot better. Still some rain but nowhere near the first week. No real drama but still the main duties to do, gates seminars etc. Last day though was very busy. Site has to be cleared ready for Soul Survivor. Rooms had to be cleared and over 1000 chairs to be stacked!! team work once again won through and the evening finished with a few drinks and a bit of food.

1 Aug 2009

New Wine week1

Fiona and I have once again been serving on the Stewards team at New Wine. This is something we do every year and we both get a great deal of pleasure from it. The duties of a Steward are to enable delegates (over 10000) to be free to meet with God at what ever level of Faith they are at. These include manning the gates, ensuring the 'no wheel' zone is enforced. manning seminars to ensure they are safe (not overcrowded), keeping the site tidy, carry out regular patrols of the camp site to ensure they are safe and to generally assist delegates in any way we can. However this week has thrown up some real challenges. Rain and a great deal of it fell almost all week and turned a large part of the camp site into a mud bath. Stewards were called in to evacuate many people and to sandbag parts of the site to try and prevent too much damage to peoples possessions. This really become a war of attrition and tested people to the limits. However at the end I do not think any one got hurt and continued their week. Friday was a good dry day and many packed up good job as Saturday saw some of the heaviest rain of the week. I will post some pictures when I can retrive them from my phone.

21 Jul 2009

On the move

Visit from the letting agent today. He brought a two month notice with him. Been expecting it as the land where the house is had been earmarked for redevelopment. Anyway the planning application went through last week so we have to go. Bit sad as the location of this house is fantastic. Still we hope to find some where as good and with rents very low at present should not be to hard on the pocket.

14 Jul 2009

Training

Training day today in Bristol. It was the National Express level 3 Customer Care course. It was a very enjoyable day and although a lot of it was reinforcing what I already do I still picked up some pointers. It also goes towards my CPC.
Tomorrow is our 20th Wedding Anniversary, no plans yet put I am sure we can somewhere nice for lunch.

12 Jul 2009

Bus work

One of the things about being back in Bath is that bus work is now part of some duties. Friday saw me doing the 178 Bath to Midsomer Norton and then the 14 which goes Odd Down to Weston via the bus station. Did make a change and was interesting to see the attitude of drivers towards a bus driver against a National Express coach. There still seems to be a problem in that no one seems to be interested in us, leading to problems with the rota and drivers not been route trained. Still they know best!!

8 Jul 2009

That was just stupid

Waiting to turn off Buckingham Palace Road tonight I started my usual speach. What happened next completly put me off. The car at the front indicated right and moved into the Bus lane. Then as the lights went green it turned. This is only for Buses etc. What they seemed to have missed was the large riot van behind. They saw that when the blue lights came on. I think a good word would be 'plonker'!

New day at school

Apart from breaking down yesterday things seem to be going ok. Spent today getting to know where things are. Some processes have changed so tomorrow will be spent refreashing signing on and paying in.

Test

Just testing posting from n78

5 Jul 2009

Back to Bath

Well that's it, we are back on the Bath books. So what does that mean? Well not 100% sure at the moment but essentially it means we are back to where we were before the transfer to Bristol. The coaches are now maintained at Bath and we come under the control of the Bath Traffic office. I am a little concerned that we do not have a 'direct' report who we can contact to get breakdown, delay or road closure advice from. I assume this will be sorted after the first 'incident' ! The next thing is that the bus worked has returned. This is on the 'Street shunt' and 'overnight' duties. With Bath being fully manned they are just listed as 'enquire' so we will have to wait and see. Will need have a refresher on the ticket machine and routes but I assume it will be like ridding a bike. Off now until Wednesday so going to cut the grass before the rain tomorrow.

2 Jul 2009

It all makes sense now

This was posted on the First group Website. Do we now see a BIG picture?


FirstGroup plc ("FirstGroup") - Statement re possible offer for National Express Group PLC ("National Express")

FirstGroup notes the press speculation in relation to a potential offer for National Express and confirms that it has made a preliminary approach to the Board of National Express with a view to entering into discussions about a possible offer for National Express. This preliminary approach envisaged a merger to maximise the potential of the two companies and that the consideration for any offer would be in the form of FirstGroup shares*. That approach was rejected by the Board of National Express.

The Board of FirstGroup continues to believe that there is significant industrial and commercial logic in a combination of the two companies, however FirstGroup would like to emphasise that there can be no certainty that an offer for National Express will be forthcoming nor the terms of any such offer. A further announcement will be made in due course if appropriate.

This announcement does not constitute an announcement of a firm intention to make an offer under Rule 2.5 of The City Code on Takeovers and Mergers (the "Code").

Disclosure in accordance with Rule 2.10 of the Code

In accordance with Rule 2.10 of the Code, FirstGroup confirms that its total issued ordinary share capital at 26 June 2009 comprises 481,866,264 ordinary shares of 5p each, excluding 200,906 of ordinary shares held in treasury. The International Securities Identification Number for FirstGroup ordinary shares is GB0003452173.

* FirstGroup reserves the right to vary the form of consideration.

Enquiries:

J.P. Morgan Cazenove Tel: +44 (0)20 7588 2828

Ian Hannam

Malcolm Moir

The release, distribution or publication of this announcement in jurisdictions other than the UK may be restricted by law and therefore any persons who are subject to the laws of any jurisdiction other than the UK should inform themselves about and observe any applicable requirements.

Dealing Disclosure Requirements

Under the provisions of Rule 8.3 of the Code, if any person is, or becomes, "interested" (directly or indirectly) in 1 per cent. or more of any class of "relevant securities" of FirstGroup or of National Express, all "dealings" in any "relevant securities" of that company (including by means of an option in respect of, or a derivative referenced to, any such "relevant securities") must be publicly disclosed by no later than 3:30pm (London time) on the London business day following the date of the relevant transaction. This requirement will continue until the date on which the offer becomes, or is declared, unconditional as to acceptances, lapses or is otherwise withdrawn or on which the "offer period" otherwise ends. If two or more persons act together pursuant to an agreement or understanding, whether formal or informal, to acquire an "interest" in "relevant securities" of FirstGroup or National Express, they will be deemed to be a single person for the purpose of Rule 8.3.

Under the provisions of Rule 8.1 of the Code, all "dealings" in "relevant securities" of FirstGroup or National Express by FirstGroup or National Express, or by any of their respective "associates", must be disclosed by no later than 12:00 noon (London time) on the London business day following the date of the relevant transaction.

A disclosure table, giving details of the companies in whose "relevant securities" "dealings" should be disclosed, and the number of such securities in issue, can be found on the Panel's website at www.thetakeoverpanel.org.uk.

"Interests in securities" arise, in summary, when a person has long economic exposure, whether conditional or absolute, to changes in the price of securities. In particular, a person will be treated as having an "interest" by virtue of the ownership or control of securities, or by virtue of any option in respect of, or derivative referenced to, securities.

Terms in quotation marks are defined in the Code, which can also be found on the Panel's website. If you are in any doubt as to whether or not you are required to disclose a "dealing" under Rule 8, you should consult the Panel.

J.P. Morgan Cazenove Limited ("J.P. Morgan Cazenove"), which is authorised and regulated in the United Kingdom by the Financial Services Authority, is acting exclusively for FirstGroup plc and no one else in connection with the matters set out in this announcement and is not advising any other person and accordingly will not be responsible to any person
other than
FirstGroup plc for providing the protections afforded to clients of J.P. Morgan Cazenove or for providing advice in relation to the matters described in this
announcement.

This information is provided by RNS
The company news service from the London Stock Exchange

RNS news service provided by Hemscott Group Limited.

26 Jun 2009

Sitting at Heathrow

1545 from Bath today so sign on at 1500. As I walked through the door the Leading Driver was coming out. We had to go to Bristol to get a coach as mine had broken down on the M4, again!! Finally left Bath at 1615 which should have been Ok as at that time you miss the traffic.Reported accident at J12 had cleared so thought should arrive on time. However just before J7 the traffic came to a complete halt and it then took 30 mins to get to J6 where an accident was being cleared. I still was hopeful of getting to VCS until J4. It was obvious we were not going to get to VCS so call made and a coach was waiting at Heathrow for my Victoria passengers. I am now at Hethrow until 2145 when my my passengers will arrive on an 032.

24 Jun 2009

Never done that before

Had this week all sorted. Frome up today, first up tomorrow, last up Friday and lieu day Saturday. Alarm set for 0430, all sorted. Up early 0420 so thought I might as well get ready. picked up my mobile, one missed call and a message. Message along the lines' Chris where are you you are on first up!!' It would appear I had got this weeks rota completely wrong!! I was not happy as I lost a days pay and also caused a lot of problems for a lot of people. Anyway Fiona saw the good points and we got many of the little jobs done. And, the shed is built!!! I have now double checked this weeks duties!!


22 Jun 2009

Changes

Meeting tonight. Found out what is happening to the coach operations. It will be coming back under Bath operations, so back to where we started!! So what does it mean? Well not much really, different boss and back to driving buses on 'spare' days and after the 'overnight'. Does of course mean potential to work more 'rest days' and I never had any problems driving the odd bus around Bath. Also found out we are getting 'new' coaches. Scania PB's, from a depot that unfortunately lost their National Express contract. This seams to mean' reading between the lines' that we will keep the 403/402 contract for a few years at least.

15 Jun 2009

A paddle in the sea

Birthday Friday so had a week away. Spent three days in Plymouth and the weekend in Torquay. Really relaxing and the weather was pretty good. Made good use of our bus passes and was also good to enjoy a few beers without driving. Torquay was great and even managed a paddle in the sea! You can see some pictures of our travels here.

5 Jun 2009

New Bus Station

Well tomorrow is the last time I will be using the Avon Street Bus Station. Sunday see's us moving to the new bus station next to the railway station.Hopefully this will see the end of the nightmare traffic situation in Bath that has seen it taking over an hour to go one mile. You can find some good pictures here. If you need more information the local council has a handy leaflet.

3 Jun 2009

A very close call

Shed is not up yet, need some help to hold the walls. Nice trip up this morning though still very hot but strangely got cooler as we got closer to London. Way back was a bit eventful. Just left j16 when a lady (girl) decided to leave the A417 with me still in the way!! She appeared completely unaware of my small vehicle!! Further up the road things got very dangerous, just left Coate Water when a vehicle came from the left. An emergency stop was needed to avoid a serious accident. As I was recovering noticed the driver was not only on his hand held mobile but writing notes at the same time!! The driver was so erratic I did something I have only ever done once before and dialed 999. Hands free of course, the lady was very helpful took all the details. She said the driver if seen would be talked to and if local a visit possibly to his house. I sea this thing all the time but had the road been wet it would have been a completly different story.

29 May 2009

A new shed

Couple of days off and taking advantage of the good weather. Cut the hedge yesterday which had not been done for years. Looks a lot better and people can now walk past the house without getting attacked by a hedge. Now have to dispose of the cuttings. Highlight of the day is that our new shed has arrived. Friend is coming round this afternoon so hope to get it up by this evening.

We can now use the gate and hopefully the box turns into a shed.

20 May 2009

Road closure

Frome back last few days and last night approached Hungerford to be confronted with the A4 closed. No problem I thought just follow the diversion and drop the passenger off. One problem, the diversion was cars only! I followed the HGV diversion which took me back to the M4 and no way to get back to Hungerford. Luckily the passenger arranged to get his friend to pick him up from Marlborough so saved the cost of a taxi. However it would have been a lot better if this had been correctly signposted.

Terms and conditions (again)

For those of you who do not travel by National Express you will not be aware of Funfares. These are cheap tickets. They are available on certain services and from specific stops only. The problem comes when people try and use them to go to an airport. They think that as we stop there then they can get off. However these are not valid for travel to or from an airport. This is also very unfair on passengers who have followed the rules and paid the correct fare to travel to an airport. So if you travel with a Funfare note.
  • You can get off at an airport but the driver does not need to open the locker to get your luggage
  • If the coach is full it may well not stop at the airport. (you miss your flight)
  • You will proberly not travel at all as you will be told to buy another ticket.
The moral of the story is play the game, but remeber the rules and the driver plays as well.

12 May 2009

Renewal time

Well age has finally caught up with me. For those of you who do not know holders of PSV and HGV licences have to renew them when they reach 45 and then every five years after that. I have reached the first milestone. Today was my medical which went OK.
However, I have to send my licence off to the DVLA and having seen BBC Watchdog
I was a little concerned as I do not want to loose my bike entitlement so I have :

  • Sent a letter to my MP. He has been very helpful and contacted DVLA for me
  • Kept copies of my licence
  • Taken a trip to DVLA in Bristol. They were very helpful. They checked my application, stamped my copy with a DVLA stamp, and even sent it off without me buying a stamp. They also gave me a receipt which at least ,means if I get stopped I do have prove I have a licence.
So I now have to wait a couple of weeks to see if I still have a bike licence. I am wondering if I should should pay £5 to get my details under the Freedom of Information Act?

5 May 2009

A Bit of overtime

Rest day working today. Long day 'Frome up' so 10 hours 'in the bag'. Though now I wish I hadn't done it. Feeling a bit knackered! Did have a strange one though. Just passed a stop and about 100m on a lady was waving. I do not stop unless someone is at the stop so carried on. Arrived at the next stop and the lady plus man appeared. She was not happy and gave me the I was at the stop etc. etc. Anyway there was nobody booked at the stop, further check of the ticket showed it was yesterday!! Apology accepted! Was planning to go out tonight but the wind is over 30mph so don't fancy a trip through the lanes in the dark.

24 Apr 2009

Holiday (again)

Holiday time again, but looking forward to going back it's been a very busy week. In no particular order I have -

Fixed the miss fire on the bike and given it a service.

Replaced the equipment at MB7UB.

Cut the grass

Planted out loads of veg (slugs already enjoying them!!)

Loads of relaxing mornings. (no 0310 alarm calls)

Treated Fiona to a very nice birthday

Glad the weather has been good as Harvey has enjoyed some nice walkies.

13 Apr 2009

Health and safety

Not too bad few days. Holiday time, and I HATE holiday's, seems to bring out the idiots. One thing I have noticed, and you may want to see if I am correct. Everyone seems to be H & S mad when it comes to holidays. Is the pool safe, is the heater safe, is the food safe.Nothing wrong in that, apart from when they make the journey to the holiday H & S seems to go out the window. Bikes obstructing number plates and lights, vehicles overloaded. Making a long journey after a day at work. The list goes on. Still as long as the pool is warm!!!

1 Apr 2009

Breakdown

Well is was only a matter of time. Coming out of Bath up the A46 the coach got slower and it seemed to be trying to shake itself to bits! Managed to get to a large lay-by which meant I and the passengers where safe. Luckily there was a coach, and driver still in Bath and he arrived within 30 minutes. The only problem with changing over is that the coach was full and so were the lockers! Anyway with the help of a passenger we changed over all the luggage with the minute of fuss. In the end we arrived about 45 minutes late. Just happy it was not on the M4.

29 Mar 2009

This and That

Bit of a mad few weeks, lots of early shifts and 'over nights' Fiona is not at all pleased which I fully understand, however they are the duties with the least driving.
It never ceases to amaze me what passengers expect of a coach or bus journey. They seem unable to read the T & C's and then get very upset when they are refused travel. An example is when they turn up at departure time and their seat has been taken

"You should arrive at the boarding point at least 10 minutes before departure: You should arrive at the boarding point for a service at least 10 minutes prior to the timetable departure time for that service. We will normally release any seats one minute prior to the published departure time to ensure prompt departure of the service. (b) Effect of late arrival: We may give your seat to another passenger if you arrive later than the scheduled departure time, in which case you will be considered to have missed the service. We shall not be liable to you if you miss any service as a result of your late arrival, and shall not be obliged to hold up any service to wait for you, or to provide a seat on any other service, if you miss a service.

A 'work around' to this is 'my friend is just coming, in the toilet etc etc' These ones I do try and accommodate people but you have to remember you can hold up the whole of the station and if you are instructed to go, you go.

The other thing is Funfares. These are cheap fares available to fill empty seats at odd times. They are are only avaiable at the times shown, i.e. you cannot turn up for an earlier journey or travel to an airport.

Anyway the point of this post is when you travel anywhere even on a bus, read and understand the T & C's. Some make VERY interseting reading.

24 Mar 2009

How much!

Had a trip to the doctors last week. Only for a check up as I cannot remember the last time I went (must be at least three years) Any way had the usual height and weight checks and was told I was three stone over weight! I was a little shocked and now have to go on Friday for a fasting blood test. I will then ask how I can loose this weight. I do not think I eat or drink too much but checking by Basal metabolic Rate I should be taking in less than 2000 calories. Bang goes the kebab.

11 Mar 2009

Bath Half Marathon

Sunday 15th march sees the Bath Half Marathon. Despite my athletic build I will not be running, be a shame to show people up! However I will be there in my RAYNET capacity. Seriously this event means that the roads will be closed in Bath for most of the day. You can find more details here.

Holiday

On holiday at present, for two weeks!! We used to be able to 'sell' our holiday and lieu days, but not any more. So I am off until 23rd! So lots of jobs already done and our neighbours must think we are moving out given the large amount of rubbish bags today. It is good to finally get the loft boarded and lit, and in a state where I know what is up there. Also nice to not have to get up at 0300!!

2 Mar 2009

Animals

On my travels up and down the M4 I see a lot of different animals. Deer, yesterday saw a herd of over fifteen near Membury, Foxes, Badgers (most dead), Rats, mostly in London!! and a lot of birds. I have always been frustrated at not knowing what they are. I have just found this very useful site, I now know the main birds are Kestrels, Sparrow Hawks and red Kites.

26 Feb 2009

A terrible toll

Off again and being Shrove Tuesday I was able to go to the Vicarage for pancakes. Nice for once to able to attend a Church event. However the day was marred by yet another death of a young person on local roads. These seem to be caused by young people being unable to handle their vehicles. I do not know what it is like in other parts of the country but around here the young people seem to be passing their test without having the basic skills that are required to control their vehicles. Maybe it is me getting old but when I was learning to drive around 1981 I was told about the dangers that lurk around every corner and what happens to a road when it rains after a long dry spell. Anyway I pray that the parents of these young people will some how find peace and that there deaths will highlight that driving on the roads is not a PS3 game and that you only have ONE life.

http://www.thisissomerset.co.uk/guardian/news/Traffic-standstill-Radstock-accident/article-724229-detail/article.html?cacheBust=6lxRX5kTefb8&success=true#community

19 Feb 2009

Rules

Bit of a quiet few days. Passenger numbers are up but with half term the roads are quiet. It is CSQ (customer satisfaction) week. This involves handing out questionnaires that passengers are supposed to fill in so that NX knows what passengers think. This again puts pressure on the driver who has been told to hand out one to a passenger who has already been given three that day!!!
Still I do my best and explain the situation and most people are happy to fill one in, again.
On another subject, I have noticed over the last week the number of people who seem to have total disregard for the rules of the road. These seem to the ones with the bikes covering all the lights and numberplate, the mobile phone user, the front fog light brigade and the ones that seem never to have driven before. Anyway this has been highlighted locally by this article.

12 Feb 2009

Back to normal

Well almost. Didn't have a coach all morning so had to run 'dead' to London. Could be worse, had my KFC for a penny!! Mind you nearly got caught out. Had planned to take a 15min break at Heston and then have 30 min in London. However trip in to London took over 30mins so had to leave 10min late. Still arrived at Heathrow on time and back to Bath despite the snow, again on time. No frost when I left the depot which was a good job as I am back on the bike.

9 Feb 2009

Snow Cat

Well 2215 and just let Felix in after pushing him out to do what cats must do. And, he is doing a fine impression of a snowman!! Yes it is snowing, again, and blowing a gale so not quite sure what we wake up to in the morning. But I don't really care as I am off until 0900 on Wednesday!! I have to say it has caused a lot of hassle as we have been unable to do our Avon and Lidl rounds so have a lot of catching up this week.
Anyway thought you may like to see how the animals cope with the cold.

6 Feb 2009

Snow Joke

Overnight last night and the weather forecast was for possible snow. Well I think you know the rest. very difficult drive from London. M4 was in places down to one and half lanes with lane three under 4inchs of snow!! Snow ploughs were out interesting to see one in action! Things got even more interesting when we left the M4 at J17, the A350 was very bad and the roads into Chippenham were closed so drop off at Cepen Park. rest of the way to Bath along the A4 was not to bad and arrived in Bath on time! Next problem was getting home. There were no buses operating out of Bath so Fiona had to brave the 8inches of snow and come and pick me up, well done to her. Below are a few pictures of home and the journey home.

snow209

4 Feb 2009

Webcam

I have added a web cam to my weather page. May be a bit shaky for a while until I can find a permanent position for it. Just click on the weather to see the last picture.

3 Feb 2009

Snow

Well like most of you I battled through the snow on Monday. In fact I woke up at 0400 expecting to see loads of the stuff, and there wasn't any! Unfortunately Fiona has been unwell so I had use of the car, roads, apart from some frozen run off were clear and we set off on time. Some of the passengers were very worried about the situation and when they found out there were no buses they bottled and went home. The snow did not start until Membury services and continued getting worse. However we were still on time at J11 so was confident of arriving on time. It then started to snow, a lot. The traffic got slower and the road got whiter. Long and short is that we didn't get into Heathrow until 0905, that meant I only had 45 minutes driving time left, so terminated at Heathrow. Spent the rest of the morning in the rest room watching the world slowly coming to a standstill!!!
When I got home we had no snow but by 2000 there was 5inches of the stuff!! Today was 0341 so very slow into work as the roads were VERY icy. The journey however was fine, very light traffic and arrived in Victoria 10minutes early.

Heathrow. Note the lack of buses

27 Jan 2009

That was close

Couple of days off and the weather wasn't too bad. Nice to 'veg' out and get up when I wanted to!! Out and about on the bike yesterday got a bit, in fact a lot, of a scare. Coming out of Radstock there is a funny bend which I never seem to take well. Anyway half round this bend I came across a large chunk of wood.Before I could say anything we were airborne and heading for the kerb! Luckily I wasn't going that fast and after a lot of wobbling we arrived against the kerb. No harm done apart from a few strains, good job it wasn't wet or this could have been written from a hospital bed. Back to work tomorrow, first up 0341 start!!!!

24 Jan 2009

Weather Station

As I said I was going to tell you how the weather station is going. Well it is working very well. Very interesting to see the wind speed the other day, 51.7mph!! Wasn't sure if the rain gauge was working but 120mm of rain has proved it is! The Internet updates seem to work very well and I also output to UIview. Overall I am very impressed by it.



18 Jan 2009

People

I am always amazed at some people who seem completly unaware of the their actions. last week I had a family who sat in the few front seats. It took three times to ask and then tell them to put their seatbelts on. I know it it is up to them to wear them and bot the drivers responsibility. However, if I am unfortunate to have a blow out etc and end up down a ditch I do not fancy a 15st piece of meat landing on me!! For the rest of the journey they sat and enjoyed the view. As we came into Bath I stopped at a roundabout and just caught out of the corner of my eye the gents yound lad sitting on his lap! To say I was not happy was an understatment, I told the passnger to put his child back in the child seat behind him and didn't he understand how dangerous it was? he said nothing and haned his child back to it's Mother.

1 Jan 2009

2008 Top Ten

Another VERY quiet few days. I think in the four years I have driven for National Express it is the quietess I have ever seen it. However like weekends holidays seem to bring out the idiot drivers, so I thought I would list my Top 10 things that really get me going. In no particular order.

  1. Pedestrians. Todays vehicles have good brakes. However that does not mean you can walk straight on to a crossing. Stop, Look, and listen. Ah, the ipod in the ears puts pay to that. (I feel very sorry for emergency vehicle drivers who come across these people and then get charged with dangerous driving)
  2. The CLOG (Centre Lane Owners Group) These lovely people seem to think there is a Slow lane and a fast lane. Wrong,
  3. Front Fog Lights. The clue is in the name. Not mist, rain, show off to your girlfriend (or boyfriend)
  4. Motorway joining. This is another 'urban myth' Do you stop on a main road to let some one out? If you are waiting to pull out onto a main road, who have right of way? Exactly, a motorway is no different. Give priority to traffic already on the motorway.
  5. Mobile phones.
  6. Sat Nav
  7. Slow overtakers. These are the ones that come along side you and match your speed, no wonder there are so many 'side swipes'
  8. Speed uppers. Just as you get level with them they find the go pedal. Not clever.
  9. The 40's. These ones, (seem to over 60's) drive at 40mph, In a 20,30,40,50,60 or 70. You name it they drive at 40mph. Why?
  10. The unsure. These are the REALLY dangerous ones. They are any age or gender and appear to be slumped over the steering wheel. They seem to have no idea of where they are or where they are going. Source of many accidents I am sure.
There are many more but these are the few I have seen in the last few days. Happy New Year to you all and drive safely.

My weather data