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 Dec 2010

Nice end to 2010

Well 2010 has been interesting. High point was being Team Leader at New Wine. Low point was of course breaking my ankle which is still healing. Anyway great end today with a trip to The Mall at Cribbs Causeway, Followed by a trip to Frome on the 267 and a 184 back. This is a very tight route but passes through some very pretty villages and Hamlets such as Mells, this is where the Horner family lived and is reported to be the source of the 'Little Jack Horner' nursery rhyme.Any way nearly 2011 and if the BBC presenter says BBC HD one more I will ... As we watch the fireworks from London Fiona has just reminded me that this time last year we went on a 'tour' of London courtesy of National Express!!! Happy New Year.

13 Dec 2010

And we complain

Bath is a reactively quite place and on the whole a very safe place to drive buses. However as drivers we all have a moan about various areas and types of passengers. I am unaware of any driver being seriously injured let alone killed in the course of there job. I read this and was stunned!

http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/photoblog/2010/12/violence_in_guatemala_daniel_leclairs_story.html

21 Nov 2010

I would be tempted

I am. on the whole a law abiding person but I am becoming frustrated by the apparent lack of action by the authorities over things like illegal parking, vehicles with lightning offences and the general appearance that the criminal is treated as a victim and the victim is left feeling they are the criminal. I came across a story which highlights this. If you read the comments most of them agree with my view of theis event!!!!!

http://news.sky.com/skynews/Home/UK-News/Pensioner-Shunts-Cars-Out-Of-The-Way-Of-His-Garage-CCTV-Video/Article/201011315813764?f=rss

18 Nov 2010

Emergency Vehicles

Watching the traffic in Bath is always interesting and one thing that is amazing is people reaction to blue lights and sirens. Most end up just getting in the way. I was always taught that you should if possible move to the side but that most of the time it is better to keep going and the emergency vehicle will react accordingly. I was also told that you must obey all traffic signs, red lights etc. Some people I speak to say if it was a ambulance going to your aid you would want everyone to get out of the way.  However, the law is very clear on the subject.
Demonstrated by this -

Highway Code Rule 219

Emergency and Incident Support vehicles. You should look and listen for ambulances, fire engines, police, doctors or other emergency vehicles using flashing blue, red or green lights and sirens or flashing headlights, or Highways Agency Traffic Officer and Incident Support vehicles using flashing amber lights. When one approaches do not panic. Consider the route of such a vehicle and take appropriate action to let it pass, while complying with all traffic signs. If necessary, pull to the side of the road and stop, but try to avoid stopping before the brow of a hill, a bend or narrow section of road. Do not endanger yourself, other road users or pedestrians and avoid mounting the kerb. Do not brake harshly on approach to a junction or roundabout, as a following vehicle may not have the same view as you.

And this -

http://www.thisislancashire.co.uk/news/1700710.motorist_fined_for_red_light_good_deed/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1204944/Driver-gets-60-fine-moving-yard-red-light-let-police-van-999-pass.html

So there's the answer.

14 Nov 2010

A Busy Night

Lates this week and last night I had the 339 and 649, Bath to Bristol. This particular 339 is always busy as it picks up in Keynsham, outside the Pub and drops off outside the night clubs in Bristol. I have done this trip in the past but had forgotten just how mad it is. I left Bath with a couple of passengers and with no idea what was to come. As I approached the keynsham stop I was aware that there was more than one or two passengers waiting. I opened the doors and the noise was deafening. There must have been well over 50 people waiting and I had concerns that we would have to leave some behind (refusing drunk passengers is not the best idea!) Anyway began to load and It was chaos, not sure if everyone who got on had a ticket but I managed to get everyone on. However it now meant that we could not pick anyone else up on the trip into Bristol. Unfortunately this meant leaving a lot of people behind. Finally dropped them all off at the nightclub and I have to say I think everyone of them thanked me. Earlies next week so some peace an quite!!

13 Nov 2010

Front Fog Lights

Ok this is one of  my real pet hates and I make no apology for going on about it.
Front fog lights, the clue is in the name!
These lights are not to make you look cool and to show off to your mates, they are only to be used when visibility is below 100m. Having driven for over 30years I can count on one hand how many times I have driven in visibility that low. They are designed to light the road at a very low level and prevent the glare that comes with using headlights which tend to reflect off the fog.


Rule 114 of the Highway Code states:

You MUST NOT
  • use any lights in a way which would dazzle or cause discomfort to other road users, including pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders
  • use front or rear fog lights unless visibility is seriously reduced. You MUST switch them off when visibility improves to avoid dazzling other road users (see Rule 226)

Now if you the many people who think the Highway code is note for you THE LAW states:

The Law: The Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989:

Reg 27. No person shall use, or cause or permit to be used, on a road any vehicle on which any lamp, hazard warning signal device or warning beacon of a type specified in an item in column 2 of the Table below is used in a manner specified in that item in column 3:

Front fog lamp
(a) Used so as to cause undue dazzle or discomfort to other persons using the road.

(b) Used so as to be lit at any time other than in conditions of seriously reduced visibility.

(c) Used so as to be lit when a vehicle is parked.

Rear fog lamp
(a) Used so as to cause undue dazzle or discomfort to the driver of a following vehicle.

(b) Used so as to be lit at any time other than in conditions of seriously reduced visibility.

(c) Save in the case of an emergency vehicle, used so as to be lit when a vehicle is parked."

If stopped by the Police this carry's a fixed penalty notice and a £30 fine also I took this from out local Police website.

During conditions of seriously reduced visibility vehicles on the road, except when parked, must have Front and rear fog lamps should only be used in conditions of fog or falling snow or seriously reduced visibility. It is important that they are turned off as soon as visibility improves. Front and rear fog lamps are designed to be seen in reduced visibility and will dazzle other road users in normal conditions. It is an offence to use fog lamps in normal visibility conditions and drivers who continually use their fog lamps, because it is considered by some to be fashionable, could be prosecuted for driving without due consideration for other road users.
So what to do with these people. Firstly a flash on the headlights to remind them to switch them off (they could have been left on by accident??) Tell all your friends about it so the message gets through like it has with rear fog lights.
I thought it would be good to have a Facebook event on the 24th November to highlight this.
To end here are some sites which talk about Fog Lights.

http://www.fogsoff.com/

http://www.weeklygripe.co.uk/a249.asp

http://www.bbc.co.uk/weather/features/sport_leisure/drivingfog_rac.shtml

So please pass the message on and make sure YOU comply with the law.

9 Nov 2010

Common Sense

Driving around yesterday I became aware just how many bus stops there are. Driving around Weston one stretch of road has a bus stop every 200m. That is fine for passengers until you have several passengers on board and they all get off at a different stop. Fine for the first passenger, but for the last one a nightmare as they could have got off at the first stop and reached their stop before the bus!
So is there a case to reduce the number of stops?
One thing that can help is to have designated stops. This is where a stop is only for certain buses or is 'set down only' One stop which fits the last category is the 'Burnt House' stop in Bath. This was always a set down stop as it is opposite a school and the pupils ran across the road to try and catch the bus.However when the stop had a makeover the set down only disappeared and I for one witnessed near misses with children running out in front of cars. However for once common sense has prevailed and as from yesterday the stop has again been designated 'set down only'

2 Nov 2010

Missed the point

After the crazy week chasing the RAC to get my bike repaired, it is now the proud owner of a new clutch cable and has even had a bath, so hopefully it will take me to work and back tomorrow.
Today was a pleasant day. It started with the 179 from Midsomer Norton and then an X39 to Bristol and back. After my break it was on to the 13's. Roads were very quite so a nice gentle drive. On my last trip I arrived at the bus station about 3 minutes early so had 13 minutes before I was due to leave again. I took the opportunity to use the 'facilities'. As I left the bus a lady started to moan 'not again' 'more waiting' , she went on. Turns out she had tried to board the last bus at the Traffic lights and had rightly been refused. When I came back she started again. Complaining that with all those drivers standing about (on breaks) could not one of them have taken the bus? She said to anyone who would listen she was going to complain to head office about how long she had waited etc etc etc. When I could finally get a word in I pointed out I still had another 5 minutes before I had to go. I loaded the other bemused passengers and left on time. The lady had completed missed the point that a bus runs to a timetable and leaves at a timetabled time not one that is convenient to her!!

30 Oct 2010

Do you do this?

Driving around I sometimes see and read about communities complaining about vehicles speeding down their roads. However, I just wonder how many of those people are the same people who speed down some one else's road?I have to say to some extent I am one of those people. I am sitting here and see the cars 'speed' passed the window and wonder if people say the same thing about me when I drive past their house on my bike or in the car or in the bus?

19 Oct 2010

When a bus stop is not a bus stop.

Bus stops are put in to allow passengers to board and alight a bus in a safe manner. It is the duty of a bus driver to park the bus as close as possible to the stop. This is especially important, when like today I had a lady in an electric wheelchair.
Anyway to the point of this post. Sometimes, when for instance road works take place, the bus stop will be suspended. This is done with either a notice, a cover on the flag (sign) or both. We have just this situation in Bath. A new stop is being built and the old stop is covered. Which means we cannot stop at it. This was a 'set down only' stop and used by people who wanted to go to the area where M & S is. So we now have  the situation where the bell goes and we sail past the stop. This is greeted by 'you missed the stop driver' and other comments. A passenger will then start to angrily tell you other drivers stop there etc etc etc. I inform them how would they like it if they asked for the stop outside your house to be moved because of the noise. But drivers just ignored it! I also remind them it is nothing to do with the company and it is down to the council. I then get the 'do you know how far I will have to walk?' At this point I finish the discussion because it will end only one way!!

11 Oct 2010

Rest Day??

Rest Day today, and as the weather was great had a very busy day. At long last I have got rid of the bed which has been sitting out the front for about three weeks. I thought it would go in the car but it didn't so it had to be 'dismantled' if you ever get rid of a bed one word of advice. Do not leave the mattress out in the rain. Trust me they get VERY heavy. Took the bikes front wheel to get the bearings replaced. They were very worn and the bikes now rides a lot better. Back to work tomorrow, Chippenham, Bristol and Bath so a nice varied day.

10 Oct 2010

Back on the road

Not much to report on the work front things going along fairly well. As you may have seen from Facebook the head gasket went on the Rover. This is usually the end for a car of it's age, but fortunately I noticed it overheating and checked the oil and saw the emulsifying and stopped! Tried a few places and was quoted up to £1000! After a bit of a panic I remembered a friend was always playing with cars. Anyway the result is, the car is fixed and as I had planned to have the oil and water changed before the winter all it cost was the price of the gasket and some 'beer money'. Next job is to get the wheel bearings replaced on the bike. Noticed some play in the front wheel so think it may be time for a new bearing set. Local shop will do it for £10 plus bits, if I take the wheel off. As you know we rent our house and next weeks we have our yearly inspection. So, spent some time yesterday sorting out. So far three rubbish bags and found bits we have been looking for for ages. Also the rent has been increased, not a lot but a pain all the same. Today hope the clean the lounge carpet which is a very useful Beige. Very handing with a dog!

3 Oct 2010

New Routes

Despite working for First for nearly seven years there are some routes I have never driven or only driven a couple of times. This week I have driven the '18'  service to Bath Uni. This route uses the famous 'bendy bus'. I am not 'bendy' trained so I was given a normal (rigid) bus. I do know the route as I use it to get to the repeater site, but I was still a little nervous as I set off. The duty went OK and despite some very weird students completed it without incident.
Last I had the 179/178 This goes to Midsomer Norton Via Timsbury. I cannot remeber the last time I drove this route and then to told not to forget to go through Farrington Gurney, I was more than a little nervous. The rain did not help and the first two passenger producing £20 notes for £4.15 fares put me a good mood! However with the help of a passenger we made it round OK. Finally finished back at the depot at 0045.

20 Sep 2010

Crossing the road

To the lady who shouted that I should read my highway code in Bath today. I have, and I draw your attention to.

'Zebra crossings. Give traffic plenty of time to see you and to stop before you start to cross. Vehicles will need more time when the road is slippery. Wait until traffic has stopped from both directions or the road is clear before crossing. Remember that traffic does not have to stop until someone has moved onto the crossing. Keep looking both ways, and listening, in case a driver or rider has not seen you and attempts to overtake a vehicle that has stopped'

16 Sep 2010

Branch Closure

Both Fiona and I have banked with Nationwide for over 20 years. In Slough the branch was across the road. When we moved to Coleford there was a branch in Trowbridge where I worked. Few years ago a agent opened up in Midsomer Norton. This now meant we cold open some accounts which we could pay money into via the internet but only take it out at the branch. This was also handy if we had cheques to pay in. We have now been informed that Nationwide are stopping their agent network. The letter helpfully told us about Internet banking and that we could still pay money in at their cash machines, which are located in their branches. It is not too bad for us as I work in Bath. However some of the accounts are in Fiona's name which means a 15min round trip on foot will now become a two hour trip by car or bus! I am a great fan of on-line banking as it keeps you in control. However, I am still looking for the slot to pay money in! First job next week is a trip in to the Halifax.

Is that you blowing your horn?

The photo above shows the traffic lights by Bath railway station. Today I was on the 6/7 and was approaching from Manvers Street. You can see the light on the right is just turning green, there is also another light just behind the silver car. The car in front of me moved off when these lights went green. However as the driver went round in to Dorchester Street she saw the light which you can just see on the right. This light has blinkers on to stop it being seen from Manvers Street. There is also no white line on the road which further reinforces the fact this light is not for right turning traffic. This driver however stopped at this point. I gave a quick blast on the horn and the passenger pointed at the red light, I was in the middle of the junction still with a green light and a line of traffic behind me wondering why the stupid bus was not moving. I gave another blast and this time a well dressed gent sprinted across the road and said 'is that you sounding your horn?' I replied yes and before I could explain he shouted something along the lines of 'I say old man can you not see the red light?' By this time the lights had changed, I was now at a red light and the lady was at a 'green' light and moved off.  This is just another example of the Southgate fiasco and until some one is killed I can not see it changing soon. If you fancy a day out come to Bath and watch the traffic. it all ways entertains me!!!

14 Sep 2010

Drive Green

Drive Green is a piece of technology that has been installed in all of our buses to improve driving standards and improve fuel efficiency. Each driving logs on each time they drive a bus. They, and the company can then see how good a driver they are by the number of 'events' that have occurred during their driving.I am a great fan of this and it would seem my style of driving suits the system as I am usually 'in the green' However my love of the system is quickly turning to hate. The last three days the system has shown me as driving when I have been tucked up in bed! This may seem funny and in part it is. Until you realise that all drivers scores are printed out for all to see. We are told that no action will be taken over the scores, but if I was running the company I would! The problem I can see is that once drivers like me see the system is fundamentally flawed they will have no faith in it and discontinue using it. The company will 'advise' drivers to use it and they, like me will produce each day proof the system is not working. I really hope the system can be made to work reliably as it is an exceptionally good tool to reduce company costs. However, given my observations the system is rapidly becoming a joke. After all this ranting it may be that my key is faulty, we shall see.

12 Sep 2010

Midnight Walk

Last night was the Dorothy House midnight walk. Bath Raynet was asked to provide communications for the organiser and for the local council. Our role was to report on the progress of the walk and also to be on hand should a major incident occur. Bath is a difficult place for communications and normally we run a Talk Tru unit or relay station, this enables stations to use hand-held radio's without the need for complex set ups. We usually use a members house which has a clear view over the city. However he is currently in the RUH after some problems with his back. I hope he recovers soon. We were left with two options, one was to use simplex/direct comms or use GB3UB. Given the locations and the buildings it was decided to us GB3UB. Despite some problems within the South gate centre this worked very well. Myself and Fiona were in control and thankfully it was a very quite evening. There were no incidents, the first walker was in within an hour and a we were stood down at 0230. So what lessons have we learned from this exercise?

1. Even 'line of site' locations can still suffer problems.
2. Use of headphones a must.
3. GB3UB has proven it's use in 'emergency' situations. Though it would be good to have remote control of the logic.
4. Care must be taken at night in the city due to Pub and club users.
5. The car park is 30 feet under ground with no comms cover.

Bottom line though the event went very well and everyone performed well and I believe over £7000 was raised on the night. Well done to everyone.

8 Sep 2010

Out of area driving

One of the problems of bus driving is that you drive in areas you are unfamiliar with. You know all the routes and maybe some of the sites/landmarks, but if someone asks 'do you know where ..... street is?' you have no idea. You do your best and if possible ask other passengers, but a lot of the time you end up not being much help, which is not what a passenger wants.
Today I was doing the 337/318 to Cribbs Causeway This is a 'driver breaker'. It is, at least a four hour round trip and like today full of traffic hold ups. (how do people commute?) However when I arrived at UWE a lady came up to me and said she had something for me. My mind raced a bit and then she returned with a little old lady in tow! A very pleasant lady but somewhat confused. It appears she had got on the wrong bus and the lady had taken her for a cup of tea and kept her company until I arrived. (there are still people like that) She said she knew where she was going so off we went. When we arrived at Cribbs the lady was still on the bus! I sat with her to try and find out exactly where she lived. With the help of another passenger it turned out she lived near Ikea in Eastville. Now, as I have said the problem of driving in an unfamiliar area is that you may know where things are but do not know what buses go where. Again with the help of the passenger and a local driver we worked out how she could get home. I felt bad having to leave her there so to make sure I gave her a note to give to the driver. I just hope she managed to get home but if you see a little old lady riding buses in Bristol, do me a favour and take her home.

7 Sep 2010

Street Lights

Had a chance to watch BBC Breakfast today and there was a very interesting bit on councils switching off street lights. Now I can see no problem with this as working the times I do I can often travel the 12 miles to work and I am the only person about, yet for a lot of that journey the road is illuminated by lots of street lights. Perhaps roads could do with illumination but not every 100m especially as vehicle lighting is so good. My opinion is that the safer you try and make things the more risks people seem to take. My first car, a Morris Marina , although would go about 80mph you had no hope of stopping, so you didn't go 80mph! Most modern cars will go at least 100mph and do have the brakes etc to stop and be controlled. However, most motorists do not have the reactions/skills to travel safely at that speed but still take risks, seeming to believe that having an Air bag etc will protect them. So back to the original question. I am sure when I was young that street lights were turned off at about 0100, can anyone confirm this? Also would it not make sence to turn off traffic lights between 0100 and 0500 or replace them with a 'flashing amber' system.
If you missed the programme you can view it here http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-11210497

5 Sep 2010

Quiet Road

A few weeks ago the road outside the house was resurfaced. It was resurfaced with Micro Asphalt. This seems to be the new way around the BANES are and results in a very nice smooth surface. It means the road noise is reduced by about 50%, that makes a previously noisy area now at times deadly quiet which is very welcome. However I have discovered a rather nasty side affect of this. That is you can not always hear vehicles approaching! I wonder how long it will be before someone gets run over?

1 Sep 2010

Early Running

This seems to have become a major issue (as it should) with both VOSA and the Traffic Commissioner becoming involved running a covert operation to check if buses are leaving stops early. This is the Traffic Commissioner view on the subject.

6. It should be the overriding aim of operators to run their registered services to their published times. Nevertheless it is accepted that traffic and other hazards, such as road works, can cause short-term problems, and Commissioners therefore accept that a bus may be delayed in these circumstances. But they can see no justification for a bus to run early.

7. Whilst operators state that passengers, once aboard, do not like to be kept waiting if an early-running bus has to slow down to conform to the timetable, Commissioners believe that this is preferable to prospective passengers either missing an early-running bus or being kept waiting for a
late-running one, particularly in inclement weather and at the many stops where no shelter is provided, and represents the better option whereby the passenger should be reassured by timetable information that the destination will be reached on time.


This makes perfect sense and most of the time there are no problems. Most drivers do their best to keep to  the timetable and do not intentional run early. However we are all human and once in a while you make a mistake reading the running card and suddenly find you are early. The common sense view is to stop as soon as you notice, however at present we seem to in a situation where it appears drivers have been sacked for this without any apparent right of appeal. I now find that I spend a lot of the time checking times (as I should) but also not leaving a stop until the exact time. Most people would say 'and so it should be' But some of the timing points are in some difficult places. Common sense states that if you find you are blocking a road or blocking a stop from other buses you move off. With the prospect of a disciplinary hearing possibly leading to dismissal I have found myself 'getting in the way' on more than one occasion. Timing is always an issue due to variations, in weather, school times etc. I would not like to be a scheduler! The bottom line of this is that all buses should run on time but will sometimes run late. However, they should never, never run early. Meanwhile back in the real world.

Bath hybrid launch

Some of you may have seen the 'new' Park and Ride bus running around Bath. I am very much in favour of electric vehicles but it is a real challenge to use them in Bath where almost every route takes in a hill. Still it is a start and means people are beginning to think beyond the internal combustion engine.

This link is a bit of PR.
http://leondaniels.blogspot.com/2010/08/bath-hybrid-launch.html

and this link shows how they work
http://www.tfl.gov.uk/assets/downloads/corporate/100127_Hybrid_Buses_Fact_sheet.pdf

28 Aug 2010

Having fun

Settled in well to bus work. I have to say when it was announced the NX work would be going I did not think I would enjoy Bus work and expected to be working some where else by now. However, the last few months have been good fun.  I do not miss the luggage, hot coaches early starts, motorway delays etc etc., but it will be interesting to see how I feel in 12 months time! Anyway now looking forward to the end of the months when we have a few days away in Bournemouth.

22 Aug 2010

At 6's and 7's (well 4's,1,s and 2's)

Been on lates all this week and it it has been an eye opener. I had the 'last to Bristol' Friday night, the centre of Bristol amazed me To say the least there were plenty of 'distractions'! Also I was surprised at the amount of 'city marshals' and that St John had a small field hospital set up!! After a while I began to think this is a little sad, in that people seem to feel the only way they can entertain themselves is with ten pints of lager inside them, and then expect others to pick up the pieces. Also all the campaigns against smoking I did not see any smokers lying in the middle of the road, being sick on doorways or throwing punches at each other. Perhaps the time has come to focus the same anti smoking type campaigns on drinking. Had the same problem with change with the public once again surpassing themselves with at one stop two £20, one £50!!! and even a credit card (does any bus company in the world take cards?) I politely asked if they would carny that amount amount of change in a Bus in Bristol at 0015. Yesterday was all city work and the first part was  4, 1 and 2's. This is the old 2/4 route broken up. It is a very nice route taking you past most of the Bath landmarks and giving some amazing views of the City. However as a driver you end up wondering 'which way am I going?'
Next week back to earlies which means I should be home by 1430.

19 Aug 2010

Shift work and ankle update

As you know I work shifts. This has advantages and disadvantages. However I have nearly always worked shifts so I have got used to it and I can usually work around the shifts. The only thing I find difficult is attending Church on a Sunday. For example this week I do not finish work until 0030 on Sunday morning and start again at 0500 on Monday. I really would like to attend Church on Sunday morning but common sense says it is probably more important to ensure I have enough rest. I am sure the Lord  understands as I still try and read the Bible and pray. However, what is difficult is to keep up to date on Church happenings. By not attending on a Sunday I do find I sometimes miss out on Church activities. maybe I should suggest an email mailing list or a Facebook group?
For those of you who may be interested my ankle is still attached to my leg! Seriously though it has now been six months since the accident! I still get some pain when the weather is damp and also if I do any very long distance driving. However given the nature of the injury I am thankful just to be able to walk!!

14 Aug 2010

Laptop

As some of you may know I enjoy computers. However I have always been one step behind with technology. I have never worried about this working on the bases that if it works that is fine. Anyway on our return from New Wine I found that the main PC downstairs had died. It appears that when it had been shut down it had 'hung' and somehow lost all the partition on the hard drive. I very rarely make 'impulse' purchase but I had to go to Argos (other shops are available) I found myself looking at the laptops and before I knew it I was leaving the shop with a nice new laptop!! I have now had i for a couple of days and I now know how slow my old PC was!! I can now watch all the iplayers, and everything happens so much quicker and is a hole lot easier. I now have six months to pay for it so rest day working here we come!!

13 Aug 2010

New Wine Finished

Well finally have some time to sit down and review New Wine. This year has been something special, as you know I was a team leader and I have learned so much about myself and about others and just how much can be done if you get a team working well. There has been so much amazing stuff I cannot list it all.We had great fun and it was amazing to see how a young, new team can gel together. We had our share of lost children, lost parents, found children, found parents. I  am finding it hard to list all the amazing things I saw during the two weeks. I had an amazing team which made my role so much easier. To all of them I say 'thank you' for their hard work and support. I had some amazing feedback from delegates saying how impressed they were with how the stewards worked so you can be very proud of yourselves.I think the one thing I will remember was on week 1. We were able as a team to attend the Workers Celebration, this is a time when team members can worship together. As I stood there I saw the whole team worshipping together as one, smiles on their faces, it really brought a tear to my eye.
I had to go back to work on the Sunday so no chance to chill out, good week though with all country work which I enjoy. Off now until Tuesday so enjoying some quite time except there are resurfacing the road outside the house!!

3 Aug 2010

New Wine Week 2

Into the second week of New Wine. First week was manic. We were short of stewards so ended up working from around 0800 up to 0000. I had a very young team some of whom had never been to New Wine, so a steep leaning curve. I  was concerned that given the age of the team we would have problems with some of the tasks, however with the correct guidance and support most exceeded even their own exceptions. The team quickly gelled together and I felt very proud of the way they worked. I hope they take what they have learned here back home with them. I would like to thank all the people who were in my team for all their hard work and support it made my role as team leader a real pleasure.

25 Jul 2010

hard work

going well at New Wine my role as a team leader is pushing me, but enjoying the challenge. Jobs completed include, manning the gates, mobile patrol, Freezer packs and lost children. Weather is good which helps a lot.

22 Jul 2010

A very loud bang

Nice duties this week, trip to Bristol, up and down to Weston and a couple of trips to Whiteway. Yesterday I was stopped  just outside Bath. A lady boarded with a fantastic dog, I assumed it was a Husky but talking to the lady turns out it was another breed. As she went to sit down there was the loudest bang I have heard. I assumed that someone had run in the back of us as the front of bus dropped. After calming everyone down, and the dog, I went to investigate. We had not been hit and all the tyres where Ok, The bus was resting on the stop looking very sad. Contacted the depot and turns out it was the suspension air bag that had expired. So now at least I know what one sounds like when they go. Last day at work today and then off to new Wine.

16 Jul 2010

Weather Station and Webcam

The new weather station is performing exceptionally well, producing constant reliable data. The only problem I have is with the web cam. Because I do not have a static IP address if the router goes off or reboots the web cam address changes. I have therefore removed the link from this blog. If you wish to see the web cam please use the link from  http://www.midsomernorton.bravehost.com/gauges.htm

4 Jul 2010

Busy world

Busy few days, replaced the chain on the bike. It was to say the least, worn out. There should be little side ways bend in a chain, this one made a very nice arc! Anyway that should be it for another 10-15000Km. The only thing I have to do on the bike now is replace the Rev counter cable which has snapped. Going to try and just replace the inners to save some money.
Yesterday was the Team leaders training for New Wine in London. Went up by train and had a very pleasant journey. However arriving at Paddington I became aware of how lucky I am to live in a relativity quite part of the country. I cannot remember how long it is since I have been in such a busy place. To see  that amount of people rushing about was scary to say the least! I had to make my way from Platform 1 over to 12. Anyway made it without having a nervous breakdown and caught the train to Ealing. Had someone pick me up so saved the one mile walk to the office. The training was interesting and I feel  more relaxed at taking on the ream Leader role and it was good to see familiar faces. One major problem I have is remembering people's names, I am trying to write them down as I meet people and see if that works! However, one thing I learned form the training is to focus on your strengths, so that is what I will do. Late's this week at work so no early alarm call, that comes the week after where I start at 0438!!

23 Jun 2010

Buggies and Shopping Trolleys

One thing you will notice if you use a bus is that there are people with buggies and shopping trolleys. Despite what some people think buses do not have unlimited floor space. I have recently had mothers with buggies which are larger than a wheelchair trying to get on a non low floor bus.This is not possible unless they fold them up as having the aisle blocked is not allowed. This results in at times abuse from said people. I am told 'I am only going 1 stop' (why not walk) or 'I cannot fold it' (how does it get in a car?) or 'why is there not more room' or the best one outside a school at finishing time 'why is this bus always full' What people seem unable to grasp is that if  there was a buggy /trolley blocking the aisle and a fire broke out  I am sure that despite people being unable to get out the driver would be thanked for letting the lady with the buggy on. These problems can be avoided with a little forward planning. If you have a buggy and are going to use a bus be prepared to fold it. Check if it is a 'low floor route' and perhaps if possible plan to catch a slightly earlier or latter bus to miss the rush. Please do not shout at the driver, it is his/her responsibility to ensure the passenger safety and that takes priority over every thing else.

20 Jun 2010

Three Month update

Ok, it is now three months since the motorcycle accident. Pretty much back to normal now able to walk without much of a limp and over any ground. The only problem I have is some swelling and some pain. The pain is not too bad and easily controlled with Paracetamol or Ibuprofen. I thought I was working today and tomorrow but appears I got it wrong. Will have to double check my duties to make sure I turn up at the correct times! So for the first time in a long time things seem to be going my way. ankle

19 Jun 2010

Webcam

Busy day. Sorted the bike brakes out. They were very spongy so did a complete fluid change and they seem a lot better. Also changed the oil and gave it a good clean so looking a little more respectable. Also been playing with a web-cam. Was trying to get it to up load to Weather Underground but failed. However I have managed to get it on the web. You can view it at Midsomer Norton Webcam

17 Jun 2010

A car, three trains and a bus

Very nice day today. Fiona has gone to Torquay line dancing and I said I would take her down to test out my long distance driving. Left a little bit latter than planned so stopped on the way for lunch. Car and ankle survived the trip down and after checking in we had a walk down to the sea front. It wonderful to be able to walk along the seafront. It has now been exactly three months since I arrived in the RUH after the accident. We had a look in a few shops and picked up a few items in the pound shop, the main one being a multi tool, ideal to have in the works bag.The time came to make my way home. I get discounted travel on First trains so decided to do that. First part was from Torquay to Exeter St David. The problem was that the ticket office is not manned so I took a risk that I could buy on the train. The trip is fantastic, it goes for most of the way right along the sea front. The only problem was that it was school time and the train was full. No problems and I enjoyed the journey through places like Dawlish and Teignmouth. Arrived in Exeter St David and not knowing where I was going asked a member of staff. They pointed me to platform 5 and the train would be in 10 minutes. It turned out to be a Virgin train and I panicked a bit as I have a First pass. I asked the Virgin Inspector and he confirmed I could travel on the train. As it pulled away the announcement came that the train was going to Leeds!!! However it was via Bristol Temple Meads.  Arrived with 10 minutes to wait and off the Bath. Arrived in time to get the 1910 173 to home. Arrived back at home at around 1945 which is just over 3 hours door to door.

 

15 Jun 2010

Good News

Busy day today. Appointment with the physiotherapy department at Paulton and an appointment at the RUH, First one went well, ankle is progressing well and have a lot more movement in it. I still need to keep up the exercises but good news is that they have discharged me. Ten off to the RUH. X-Ray and then a chat with the Doctor. he was very pleased with the progress. he said I could have the metal work removed if I found feeling it through the skin a problem. I cannot see a problem at the moment but at least I have the option. Anyway they do not need to see me again so again discharged. I even have a copy of the X-Ray!
Continuing with the good news, my new weather station arrived today and I am once again able to monitor the local weather. If you wish you can see the data on this blog or more detailed data at http://www.midsomernorton.bravehost.com/gauges.htm

13 Jun 2010

Delightful views

One advantage of bus work is that I get the opportunity to drive through some very nice areas. The 272 goes from Bath to Devizes At the moment this has a deversion which take the route through Rowde. it also goes past the Caen Hill Locks. Although I have been to Devizes I have never seen these locks. They are very impressive and if the weather stays good I hope to go and walk up them this week. Another nice route is the 265/264 this goes to Warminister via Bradford upon Avon and Trowbridge.This is a very tight route in places especially through Winsley. I will try and take some photos next time I do these routes.

11 Jun 2010

Took the words out of my mouth

I found this on  http://omnibuses.blogspot.com/2010/06/from-company-postbag.html   It made me smile!

From the Company Postbag

And from the Inbox. Just goes to show you can’t please all the people, all the time. Some comments are, of course, better directed to the local transport authority but then again the public hasn’t yet grasped it’s been over 20 years since deregulation & privatisation.
What’s the point of your buses? I never see anyone on them.
Why don’t you put on a double deck or a following over the summer for the good weather and children off school?

Your buses never take a direct route and always go all around the houses.
How dare you withdraw the bus along *my* street just to save five minutes and make the bus quicker for everyone else.
Your bus is too long for my street. Why don’t you use something smaller?
I can’t get on you bus at five o’clock. Get something bigger, will you.

Why does the driver have to hang around at every bus stop waiting for time? Can’t you make the timetable quicker?
You must know that emergency roadworks spring up all the time. You really should design your timetables for these eventualities. Now, I’ve missed my appointment.
It’s unfair you don’t provide more buggy space for young mothers. Why should we have to wait for the next bus or fold our pushchairs?
I resent having to stand because your buses have so much space taken up for buggies.
Your divers are so rude. They never say anything to you when you board the bus.
Why can’t your drivers simply get on and *drive*? Chatting nicely to passengers as they board simply holds us all up.
I pay my council tax like everyone else. Why are you even thinking of withdrawing my bus?
The amount of subsidy you must get from the public purse is ridiculous. You should not run empty buses.
The bus fare is too high. After all, I’m not trying to buy the bus.
Don’t tell me to go and buy a season ticket. I only use the bus occasionally.
It makes no sense to run buses that no one is using. Buses with so few people should be withdrawn to save money.
I know few people use my bus but we’re always being encouraged to use public transport to save the environment so you can’t cut it.
Why are your buses so expensive? When I catch a bus in London, not only are they much more frequent, they’re better value and run later.
Do everything to keep my council tax as low as possible.
You should protect drivers more from abuse and attack by providing an assault screen.
Those screens are ridiculous. How can you talk to the driver or ask him a question? It makes him so remote.
At night, you should withdraw buses permanently where drivers are prone to attack.
Now there’s no evening bus, I’m trapped in my home. I’m too scared to walk.
All young people do on the bus is run around, shout, swear and play their music.
There’s nothing for young people to do around here unless they travel somewhere else, on the bus.
I can’t afford to pay more than £1 return to get my child to school.
What do you mean, you’re withdrawing the school double decker. Surely, it must pay with all those children on it.
The trouble with the school journey is there’s a different driver every day. Little wonder the pupils play up. They need the same driver all the time.
I’m worried that the same driver on my daughter’s school bus day in day out means he’s being “inappropriate” with her.
I don’t like going upstairs any more because of all the anti-social behaviour up there. I prefer to stand downstairs.
Since you’ve replaced double decks with singles, young people push past us and older people are regularly left standing or behind at their stop.
When are you ever going to invest in new buses for this route?
I wish you hadn’t bought those new buses. They’re uncomfortable compared to the plusher seats on the older ones.
It’s about time you provided a shelter at this busy stop.
Please remove the shelter you’ve recently installed. The young people in the evening make my life a misery.
It’s no good the council providing me with a bus pass if you lot won’t give me a bus.
Your buses are so full of older people I can no longer find a seat.
What’s the point in sending the buses to the retail park after shopping hours when there’s no one going to use them?
Since you’ve stopped buses running to the retail park after shopping hours, I find the timetable confusing and I can’t get home after my cleaning shift.

5 Jun 2010

Time

One main difference between coach work and bus work (stage carriage) is  the timing points. On the coach they are mainly more than 30 mins between points against 5-10 minutes on bus work. The times are set for an average journey time that seems to be based on a worse case scenario. ( wet school day). This means you are often running early. By that I mean arriving at a stop and having to 'wait your time' This is rather nice for the driver, time to read the paper, speak to passengers as they board etc. However passengers can get a bit annoyed as they think the driver is being awkward. An example of this was on the no 5. I left a point a little late and due to the lack of passengers arrived at the next point early. I waited my time and loaded a few passengers. As I approached a stop the bell went and a passenger wanted to get off before the stop as I had made him late as I had waited at the stop. I explained the situation. His answer was 'why could you have not left the last stop late?'. It took me a while to realise what he has said. Obviously if I ran early and he missed the bus that would have been fine! As the saying says, 'you can please some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time'

30 May 2010

Thank you

Now I am back at work I think it appropriate that I thank all those who have help me over the last few months.
Thank you to the gentleman who stopped and helped and called the ambulance, you were calm. I hope I will do the same if faced with a similar situation. Thank you to the Paramedics who attended the accident scene. Your 'roadside manner' put me at ease, relived my pain,made me laugh and even gave me the chance to ring my Wife.You are a credit to the Great Western Ambulance service. To all the staff at the RUH,  the A & E staff. I do not remember much about you. Given you had to reduce the fracture that is properly a good thing. However I do remember staying the night with you as there were no beds available due the a virus. You kept me informed and ensured I was comfortable until I was moved to the ward. To the staff on the ward. You looked after me so well. You made me laugh, made me cry and made be better. To have to rely on someone for all your needs can be very embarrassing, but you treated with me with respect. I include all the staff in this, the cleaners, the Nurses (night and day), the ancillary staff, the The friends of the ruh.co.uk it was great to see a smiling face holding a cup of tea. To the surgeons. What can I say. Your skill has made it possible for me to resume almost normal life in under eight weeks. To the gentleman who looked after my bike for me in his garage. To all the people who have helped me, friends and strangers, even the little things make a difference. To all those people who have prayed for me. I am convinced that God spoke to me at the time of the accident and told me not to worry as he would look after me, given how surprised everyone is at how quickly I have recovered, it looks like he did. If I have left someone out I am truly sorry, but trust me you have all made your mark on my life.

28 May 2010

Officially a Bus driver

Been back at work for two days now and now finished with the coach work and back on 'stage carriage' Things going well.  I have done Bus work as part of my coach duties so I know most of the routes.The only thing is that since I have been off the fares have gone up, some of the routes have changed a little and some bus stops have moved. Didn't have too much problem driving apart from the accelerator on some buses need a far amount of pressure to push them, so good exercise. No problems or incidents yet but I am sure they will come.
The bike is now back on the road and been out for a short ride. The handlebars seemed a little out but that may just have been me so I will have another ride out at the weekend before I need it for work on Tuesday.
Had a Physiotherapy appointment today. They are very pleased with my progress and have given me some more exercises to do. This is to stretch my Achilles Tendon. This seems to be the cause of my 'down hill' problem. They were amazed at how well the wounds had healed and how little trouble I have had. However they did warn me that I could have swelling for another year, but we shall see.

24 May 2010

Weather station

Good couple of days. Still some discomfort rather than pain so making good progress. Had our two Godsons and family around on Sunday. Nice to be able to sit outside and eat. Now doing almost everything I was doing before the accident apart from going down stairs and slopes. Garden is looking good and we now have some veg on the go. Been able to get to the garage and bring a lot of stuff home. The owner has been extremely helpful and it will require a bottle etc when we take the key back. One thing that has upset me is that my weather station has stopped working. It has been working without any problems for a couple of years and the last few days has become intermittent and now stopped registering any outside information. I hope I will be able to get a spare transmitter which is about all that can be wrong. Tomorrow is hopefully my last sick day, although I am getting very nervous about returning to work. Not sure why but over two months is the longest I have ever not worked for. Anyway I will take things easy and hopefully won't have any problems.

18 May 2010

Back to work

Today has been a 'less pain' day as I hoped, only had to take two Paracetamol tablets. Went in to work today and after a brief discussion I am returning to work next week. I am going on to the 'Big Bus 2' rota. This is a combination of city bus and country bus routes. I am at present not going back on to National Express. Two reasons for this. First, I am not yet fit enough to spend up to 4.5hrs driving, loading/unloading luggage and being to get in and out of the vehicle easily. Second, the contract is up for re-tender and to comply with TUPE rules I was given the option to stay with coach work and possibly transfer to another company. Or, go back to 'stage carriage' and wait and see what happens. I had already chosen the latter and had been transferred at the beginning of May. So I now have the potential for a lot more Blog posts!!

17 May 2010

Two Months

Just got back from taking Harvey on the normal evening walk. Not far, only about half a mile but the longest I have walked in a long while! Also just noticed it is exactly two months to the minute that my life took a tumble! Just hope tomorrow is a 'less pain day'

Bit of Pain

Highlight of today was trying to catch a young starling which had got under the shed. Managed to get it up to the end of the garden but after being chased by two dogs and a cats not sure how it will fair. Far bit of pain over the last few days. Looked up a few blogs from other people who have done a similar thing and it seems that this is the norm. As you do more with it the more it hurts but you have to stick with it. Seem to have more movement in it and can even go down hill!! Going in to work tomorrow to talk about going back to work so hopefully some good news.

14 May 2010

Back to work?

Things are progressing well. Been out in the garden and walking is becoming less painful and my foot has more movement. Rang work today and will be going in to chat about a return to work. Outline plan seems to be a day in the driving school, which I asked for, and then back on a short week to start. So thinks are beginning to look up and Harvey even gets his evening walk round the (small) block.

13 May 2010

Out for coffee

One of our neighbours unfortunately is loosing her sight. She has a lovely guide dog and is always out and about. Anyway we were invited to a coffee morning in aid of the charity which supports her condition. It was very interesting to find out about it and hear some very funny stories about what guide dogs get up to. Please have a look at the site. I know there are thousands of charities but I think it is important to be aware of this one as the condition is at present incurable and can strike at any time.

http://www.brps.org.uk/home.php?home=yes

Could have been worse

Used to work next to this bridge and it was a regular thing that lorries got stuck but never had this happen.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1278034/I-forgot-I-double-decker-Bus-driver-tears-roof-going-low-bridge.html?ITO=1490

Onwards and upwards

Trip to Physiotherapy yesterday. Went very well, most of the time was spent seeing how I walk and just how much movement I have in my foot. Also was told how to use the one crutch I use  properly. Have been given a load of exercises to do which I have just finished. trying now do get back to doing more things. yesterday drove over to our garage in Bath and picked up a load of stuff including the carpet cleaner and the lawn mower. Cut the grass. It is only small so did not take long. Carpet will have to wait for a while until we can have the doors and windows open. Hope to order the brake bracket for the bike soon and get that back on the road.

10 May 2010

Good and Bad

Ok things looking up now down to one crutch.. However weekend has been a different matter. Went out Friday and things were great. No crutches, took things slowly and only a little soreness. Saturday really struggled. Foot ankle and lower leg swelled up like a balloon and went bright red. Nearly had a trip to A+E but after didn't and put it down to the washing powder! Sunday complete rest but still the redness. Plan was to contact doctor today. Anyway today has come and things are very good. Redness and soreness have gone and the swelling is reduced to a point where I can get any shoe on!! Have driven the car round town ensuring I can carry out an emergency stop. Been out in the garden and prepared the ground at last and even stated to look at the bike, which I hope to get back on the road next week. So I wait to see how I feel tomorrow morning!!
While looking for some informatiion found this site which I found very interesting.
http://www.saga.co.uk/health/healthyliving/bodymatters/diary-of-a-broken-ankle.asp

7 May 2010

Movement

One of things I was told to do when I had the plaster off was to exercise. I have a list of them to do. They sound really easy and involve moving the ankle. Easier said then done! Anyway today we seem to have made a little progress. I have some discernible up and down movement, the pain when moving has reduced and I can now walk, very slowly, without crutches.However I am still unable to rotate my ankle at all. The trick seems to be to do as many of these exercises in the morning when any swelling as reduced. This seems to set me up for the day.So result is that I have been able to get out for a walk with Fiona and Harvey. Downside is that I am now VERY tired. But given that six weeks ago I was lying in a hospital bed is only to be expected.

6 May 2010

One step at a time

Things going well. Knee playing up though so resorted to a elasticated bandage. I can walk around the house without crutches but any thing else I still need some support.The ankle does not have a great deal of movement but that is only to be expected. one thing that has become quite apparent is that I am going to have take things very slowly. Yesterday maybe pushed a bit to much and the result was a swollen ankle. However this was resolved with a couple of hours of rest. So that seems to be the way things will have to be for a while. One thing that has struck me over the weeks is that my attitude seems to have changed. In the past I have often been seen as having a rather negative attitude to things. i now look at what can be done rather than what cannot. Maybe this was the reason that this all happened. Anyway just let the cat out so back up to bed. Going to walk to the polling station latter (it's only;y at the end of the road) with Fiona and Harvey, so another 'first'.

4 May 2010

Unexpected result

Hospital visit today. Took a while as there was a back log in the plaster room. Finally got called. First visit was the plaster room. Using a small circular saw, which I was assured would only cut plaster, the plaster was removed. It was nice to see my leg and foot again. Bit of a mess with dry, loose skin but otherwise looked good. Then off to X-ray with a 'don't put any weight on it until you have seen the doctor'. After x-ray, back to the waiting room. Didn't have to wait long. The doctor was very pleased with the x-ray and impressed how things had healed. he then said something very unexpected. I can start putting weight on it, building up slowly. I can have a go at driving at the end of the week. That was amazing in it's self. I then asked about a plaster or brace. I was told they were not necessary!! Only problem was that I had not brought a sock or shoe!! A nurse however provided a elasticated bandage for the trip home. So result so far is. I have walked up the garden without crutches. made a cup of tea and carried it from kitchen into the lounge. Shoes are still a problem so having to wear sandals with socks on (sorry)! Tomorrow will continue to do little walks. Also make trip to Paulton hospital. This is for Physiotherapy and being only a mile away is ideal. So all in all a fantastic day. Will keep updating as things progress.

1 May 2010

This and That

Getting very bored now. There are loads of things I need to do and still can't. Some Fiona can do but others like moving pots and large bags of compost she does not have the strength. Also things like sorting some rust on the car are mounting up. I just hope I will be walking after Tuesday. The computer rebuild is going well, with a nice fresh install it is amazing how much rubbish there is on a hard drive. Having loads of time I was able to at last sort out my weather web site. You can now view real time weather data from my back garden at http://www.midsomernorton.bravehost.com/gauges.htm.

30 Apr 2010

Reading

While I was lying in a hospital bed I had various thoughts. One of these was the idea I would be able to read. We have the complete works of Dickens and I thought I could sit and read all day. Well I have read a grand total of 0 words in the last few weeks. I just cannot sit and concentrate on a book. I find it easier to sit in front of a computer screen or tune around on the radio. Still I have a few weeks left before I go back to work so maybe. Bit of an update on the ankle. All appears to be well. I have attempted to put some weight on it but the plaster cuts into my leg so gave that up! main problem I have is pain in my right shoulder and patches of hard skin on my hands. Both these I assume are from using crutches.Hopefully will be able to walk in some manner after Tuesday. One problem we have had this week was that the computer downstairs. failed. It appears that the hard drive had failed. Anyway found a spare in my 'junk' box and it appears to be working OK. Lost a bit of data but most of our pictures and files are stored on an external drive so they are all Ok.. I also have hard copies of XP and Office 2003 so got them all loaded back on OK.

25 Apr 2010

This link says it all

This is from a Blog I subscribe to. What record will future generations have if this trend continues?

http://omnibuses.blogspot.com/2010/04/social-commentary.html

Do not buy Powerline adapters

Most of you will be unaware of these devices and the danger they pose. These devices are designed to allow you to use your mains wiring as a wireless network. However they have a major and potentially dangerous side effect. That is they interfere with most radio systems. For example FM radio, DAB radio, amateur radio, 446,CB and air band. These devices are sold in contravention of various European standards. More information can be found at http://www.southgatearc.org/news/april2010/belkin_pla_video.html So do not but these devices and tell your friends not to buy them. Remember if your neighbour has one of these it be the end of you listening to and kind of radio in your house. If you think you have problems then have a look at this site http://www.mikeandsniffy.co.uk/UKQRM/

24 Apr 2010

All Change?

Ok, now into week five and just over a week to go until my next hospital appointment. I hope after that I will have a plaster fitted that will give me the ability to walk again. It looks like I will be able to return to work around the 20th May. However it will not be on coaches but on 'stage carriage' work (normal buses). This will give me some time to settle back in and make sure I am fully fit. That way if I have a problem I will only be a short distance from the bus station and not stuck on route to London! However it would seem that I will not be returning to coach's for a while. The contract is up for re-tender and all the signs/rumours are that  First have not retained it and it has gone to another local company. Given my current state of health I think I will be better staying with First at least until the dust has settled and I can be sure of my driving ability. Anyway, like all these things nothing is 'cast in stone' so we will see how things go. Main thing is, it looks like I still have a permanent  job. I may however have to change the Blog name, or do I leave it as it is??

23 Apr 2010

Birthday

It was Fiona's birthday yesterday. I will not say how old she is, but SAGA membership is VERY close! Anyway the plan was to have  a couple of days in London seeing the sights etc. However, that has been put off until our anniversary. We had a nice day and she had some very nice presents from friends and from myself (thank goodness for on-line shopping!!) In the evening we went out to a local golf and country club and and I have to say it was a very pleasant evening. I cannot remember the last time we went out somewhere on our own. A friend even provided a taxi service so we were able to enjoy the rather pleasant ale on offer.

18 Apr 2010

Volcanic Ash

Been following the problems with air travel. I hope you are not due to travel or are not stranded abroad. If you are I hope you get away  soon. It has been amazing to see the number of gliders, balloons and light aircraft operating around here. I see that airlines want to resume flights and can see no reason not to fly as they have done some test flights. Perhaps they should remember what happens when aircraft enter an ash cloud.

16 Apr 2010

No Vapour Trails

Well what every terrorist group throughout the world has only dreamed of doing, nature has none. The volcano has grounded all jet flights in the UK and most of Europe. We do not get many aircraft over us here but what I do notice is the lack of vapour trails. It is not unusual to see at least 10 which I assume are aircraft heading to the US. Anyway sat in the 'shack' listening to the hot air balloons making their way from Bath. People have been saying their cars are covered with ash but our car has been covered in dust since last week so doubt if it that. The next event that nature has for us is due in 2012 when the sun will be at it's maximum. This has the power to destroy electronic equipment and satellites. The last time the sun was very active was in the 1980's when of course there was not as much electronic communications. This, as a radio amateur made it possible to chat to people in the US with very simple equipment. It will be very interesting to see what happens.
Update on the ankle is that it seems to have settled down and the pain is very low. Have an appointment with the company Doctor next week. I think it is to make sure I am not 'swinging the lead'! Anyway will be interesting to see if they let me do 'light duties'.

13 Apr 2010

Fourth Week

Well here I am into week 4. Things seem to be going OK and now have less pain. Very glad the weather is dry for those of you who have ever used crutches will know how slippery paving slabs can be!! Weekend was fantastic. It was my niece Leah's 2nd Birthday so off on the coach to Heathrow. My Sister very kindly picked us up and my Parents dropped us back so very little walking (hoping) to do. The party was great and it was great to see the family again. Couple of domestic issues have arisen. We have a lock up garage and just before the accident I lost all my keys (found them now) so had to go the agent to a new one cut. While I was there I told him I would be clearing it out in a couple of weeks! He has now found someone else who wants to use it so will now have to try and find a willing volunteer to come and help move some of the heavy items and bring them back home, if I can find space. The next is that our tenancy has expired and we are on to a Monthly contract. Would be good to move as the on street parking can be a nightmare. However given my current condition I cannot see me being able to do that kind a work for a while yet so looks like we will try a sign at least a new 12 month contract.  My Wife Fiona still finds it hard to leave me on my own. She worries I will fall down the stairs or something. So next milestone is the hospital visit in May which hopefully will mean I will be able to walk again

10 Apr 2010

Car Fire

As you may know we live on the main road into Midsomer Norton. Therefore on Friday and Saturday night there is sometimes noise from people coming home from the night club in town. Last night there was lots of shouting and a car parked outside. My thought was why do they do that at 0230. Anyway it all became clear when the Fire Brigade and Police turned up!! I looked out the door and saw a car well alight! I remember Fiona saying she had had to park in that area so I called her down and we walked up the road. Fortunately it was not our car put not so for our neighbour. There was not much left of the front of her car. Feel very sorry for her but not much we could do apart from go back to bed!!

8 Apr 2010

A bit of gardening

Well almost. Spend a very nice couple of hours sat out in the sun at a friends allotment. Obviously no digging so forced to sit in the chair and chat. Very pleasant and even had a chat with an ex-miner which was fascinating hearing about the number of coal mines there were in the area and the conditions they worked in even in fairly recent times. Any way back in the 'shack' so able to play radio and update the pc. Last night was able to go to Church house group, good to see everyone again and share fellowship with them. Ankle seems to be OK, only problem I have had is with my knee. For those that don't know me I have had 4 knee operations over the years due to a motorcycle accident in 1981 so they are a little delicate. I assume it is where I turn at night and the plaster cast catches on the duvet. Anyway seems Ok today. Not sure what we are doing tomorrow but the weather looks good.

6 Apr 2010

4 more weeks

Not a bad day today. Trip out with a friend to a garden centre and a farm shop, have some idea for when I am fit. Hospital appointment went OK. Plaster off and stitches out. All 32 all of them!! Re plastered with a much lighter plaster but still not able to put any weight on it. I can however rest it on the ground. Doctor seems pleased with it and I had a chance to look at the X-rays. What a mess!! I have a plate running from my foot into my leg and another on the opposite side. Then there are two screws holding the two together. Very impressed with the metal work and the neat stitching. I now have to wait another 4 weeks and have another X-Ray to make sure things are mending OK. Anyway just waiting for someone to pick me up and take me for a drink with some radio friends.

2 Apr 2010

Getting There

Into week 3 and the ankle is feeling much better. Not too much discomfort but now have to be very careful as I tend to  forget about the plaster and go to stand up without crutches!! Good news yesterday, have a appointment at the fracture clinic to, hopefully, have the stitches out and a lighter plaster put on.  I hope this will mean I can at least put both feet on the ground and make me less of a hazard. Today is Good Friday and we were planning to attend the service in Radstock. However the weather was dreadful. This sounds rather lame given that Jesus hung on a cross for me. However given I have a couple of  'moments' on paving slaps we decided best to stay at home. Then 5 minutes before the service was due to start the sun came out and has shone all day!!

30 Mar 2010

Wheel Chair

Had a trip out today. Had to visit various people regarding money. On the way back we stopped off at Tesco. I was not going to go in then remembered seeing wheelchairs being pushed around. Any way ended up being pushed around by Fiona and enjoying being able to chat and shop. Sounds a bit sad but good fun and made be feel a bit more useful.

Digital Radio

The Digital TV switch-over is taking place here in the South West and all appears to going well. I have an increase in signal strength of my signals so not bad there only problem I had was that I had to do a complete reset on my TV. The next step the government has planned is to switch off National FM stations. I am not quite sure if these ministers live in the real world. They plan that we will listen to DAB and that FM will be used for community stations. Are they not aware of the number of FM radios in use? But they say you can use an adapter. How about mobile phones, can't see me carrying an adapter for that! This is a misguided, financially driven idea which will, in my view millions of people being unable to listen to a decent radio service. However there is hope in that the Peers have seen through the glitz and come up this warning.
 http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/8591942.stm

28 Mar 2010

The bike is back

Ok not a bad couple of days. Very tired though and still frustrated at not being able to move around. Had some friends come in yesterday and brought breakfast. Fiona was out and it was great to sit and talk and enjoy their company. Today being Palm Sunday we went to church. It was great to be able to thank God and have some time of reflection. Also very good to see and chat to friends. Big thing today was that a friend picked my bike up. The damage is not too bad. Seems to be a broken front indicator and a rear brake bracket. I don't think it will take much to fix but that will not be for a while yet.

27 Mar 2010

A very dark place

Well the operation was a success and I am now at home. I was extremely impressed by the all the staff I have come into contact both at the roadside and at the RUH. The amount of professionalism,skill,compassion and at times witty humour were a credit to the NHS. The final result was that the ankle was broken in three places and has had to be plated and screwed back together. I am not able to put any weight on it which makes everyday life very difficult for both myself and my Wife, I cannot even carry a drink. However the pain is under control and I only need to take a couple of paracetamol. Yesterday was a very dark day. Perhaps it was the drugs wearing off, or delayed shock but I found myself in floods of tears for no reason at all. I do not think I have ever cried in front of my Wife! Anyway today has been a much better day with friends coming round with breakfast and then a trip out in the car. Now just very tired and about to settled down/fall asleep in front of the TV.

21 Mar 2010

Operation

Sitting here with the sun streaming in I have been told the operation will be tomorrow. The situation is that i have broken 3 bones in my ankle and will have to have a plate fitted. This means no driving for up to 4 months! I am hoping to get a 'light duties' job so i can earn some money. I will keep the blog going but it will now concentrate on my recovery observations as a disabled passenger!

18 Mar 2010

Broken ankle

Writting this from hospital. Nealy arrived home last night when i slipped on some diesal. Not completly sure what happened but the result is that i am now waiting for an operation to put a plate in my ankle.

10 Mar 2010

Intersting site

Have a look at this site. Maybe I should have one of these on the coach!!


http://www.truckcam.tv/index.html

Wrong Turn

Found this on one of the blogs I follow.

http://www.hartlepoolmail.co.uk/news/Bus-driver-wrong-turn-highlights.6132600.jp

This is one of the easiest things to do. I have known drivers with years of experience to 'go the wrong way' An example of this in Bath is the '13' and '14' route. They both go the same way up the A367 and then the 14 turns off. If you have the 13 and then the 14 or the 14 and then the 13 it is VERY easy to forget which route you are on. However they is always someone on the bus willing to 'help' (complain to the papers)

7 Mar 2010

Bath Half Marathon

Been off for the weekend and  the weather was great. Took part in the Bath Half Marathon, not running! but with Raynet. Manned a road closure and provided communication support for the marshals. Had fun and games with members of the public who wanted to get through. It seems that although having 12 months notice of the Half Marathon they did not know it was on.Some people wanted to get to work and demanded they be let through!
The bike was in desperate need of a clean and now looks almost new just need some black paint for the stand. Only thing left to do is to replace the chain as the adjusters are on their stops.
Neighbour gave me a hand to move the shed to the end of the garden as it was cutting out the light into the kitchen. Any way one thing led to another and we ended up clearing the end of the garden of a large fur tree and other  bushes. This has left us with a nice place to sit in the summer.
The car is running well and spent some time sorting out some patches a rust and giving it a good clean. I always wonder why people do not clean around door frames. Back to work tomorrow, but only for two days then off again!!!

25 Feb 2010

Another car

Well bought another car. A Rover 400. Not my first choice but in good condition for the year. Only problem is the clutch pedal is very high and persuading Fiona it 'is not too big'!!

16 Feb 2010

Car needed

MOT for the car today. Failed! mainly on rust so on the hunt now for a new (to us) one. Typical though drive round on a normal day and all you seem to see is cars for sale at the side of the round for a few hundred pounds. But when you need one there aren't any. Hopefully something will turn up by the weekend.

10 Feb 2010

Rainfall

Just in case anyone looks at the records of my weather station there appears to be fault with the rain gauge. Or at least with the recording software. We have not over 1000mm of rain today!

31 Jan 2010

Where are we going?

Off for a few days and enjoying the chance to have a few beers and spend some time in the shack. Waiting for the Police to come round. Friday night some little ...t thought it fun to take the windscreen wipers off all the cars. I am sure they will be filled with a sense of well being. Anyway had to buy a new set and today while out with Harvey found a least one of them. Still they had to be replaced soon anyway. For those that do not know the contract First has with National Express is up for renewal. Given the current situation with First and NX and cannot see it staying with First. There have been a couple of rumours and meetings. First we hear that First wants us to stay a in Bath as Bus Drivers then we hear ' you are coach drivers' so will be transferred to any new operator under TUPE rules. So at the moment I do not know what I will be doing in the future. I would prefer to stay with NX but also want to keep my First bus pass!! However, given the current rate that First are loosing routes it well not be worth much soon. The only thing is that I do not think I will be out of work.

27 Jan 2010

Not Charging

Way home the other night the bike lights were getting dimmer and dimmer. Made it home Ok and stated to have a look in the morning. Found that there was only 10v on the battery and no increase when the bike was running. Took seat and tank off to get access to the wiring loom. Checked the charge off the magneto and that was fine but could not find any volts out of the rectifier. Conclusion was that it was dead and decided to order a new one. Middle of the night had one of those 'eureka' moments. In the morning stripped it down again and checked the volts through the loom. Came to a connector block and as I moved it the red wire fell off! Simply matter of soldering the wire back on to the pin. Tested and found a nice 14volts on the battery with the engine running. Job done and £23-17 saved!!

25 Jan 2010

Distractions

I was interested to see the news the other day. Police in Dorset were 'clamping' down on things that distrait drivers. Mobile phones, eating reading etc. This is all good and will hopefully improve  the accident rate. However no one seems to be concerned at some of the other distractions. I mean especially in London the hugh increase in advertising hoardings and brightly lit signs. There is no way that a driver can avoid not seeing these and potentially being distracted even for a second.
Another is the apparent increase on the companies designing buildings to show off their products. The one that springs to mind is the Audio garage alongside the M4 at Brentford. The traffic now slows at this point as drivers slow to view the extensive collection of Audio vehicles. These cannot be seen from the ground so I wonder how planning permission got through for this one. I also notice that Smart next door are doing the same thing. I wonder if I got stopped for eating a sweet I could use it as an example? Perhaps not.

16 Jan 2010

Snow

I think enough has been said about the snow and as listen the rain thundering on the 'shack' roof I am now glad to see it gone. I must say though it has been a very intersteing couple of weeks. I will try and put some photos into the gallery.

A very dangerous trick

I wrote this a last year but having seen a very near miss yesterday in the same place I feel I have to publish it.

Good trip today pretty quite on the roads especially in London arriving 25mins early!! Passenger numbers still down and Heathrow and Victoria look very bare of people.
Coming home today arrived at the A350 at 1715 , not a good time as the traffic is always heavy. For those that don't know it is a long dual carriageway that goes into one just before the roadabout. It always amazes me how drivers queue for up to a mile from the roundabout and leave lane 2 empty. I, as the highway code states

"134 You should follow the signs and road markings and get into the lane as directed. In congested road conditions do not change lanes unnecessarily. Merging in turn is recommended but only if safe and appropriate when vehicles are travelling at a very low speed, e.g. when approaching road works or a road traffic incident. It is not recommended at high speed."

trickle down lane 2 until just after the traffic lights and start looking for a spot to safely merge with the traffic. This always is met with speeding up and closing of gaps and the 'you are not getting in front of me whatever' brigade. If only they just kept going and all merged in turn there wouldn't be a queue. Tonight however they surpassed themselves. Just after the traffic lights a gent in a Honda pulled straight out in to lane 2, I assume to block me. To that gent I say. Have you suddenly become a policeman? You obviously have not read the highway code and your actions very nearly caused a major RTA as myself , and, the following traffic had to take emergency action, even at the low speed I was going. What if there had been an emergency vehicle behind me? As it was after I had pealed my hands off the horn I safely merged with the traffic. The gent contiuned to block me, and the following vehicles, by braking harshly and speed up and slowing down. What he was trying to do I am not sure, but I assume he knows.
I am sure you will have your own thoughts on this, some will say I am in the wrong some the other way round.

12 Jan 2010

Bike repair

Bit of overtime yesterday. Phone call at 1000 asking if I could do the 'Frome back'. 10 hours on a rest day, very nice. Good trip up and back. Roads still quite but surprised at how much snow was on the A4 around Marlborough.
Problem with the bike on the way home. No lights!! Managed to get home on sidelights and spent this morning trying to find the fault. It was the old problem of poor earthing. The fault appears to be the point where all the earths in the headlight cluster are joined together. Given the cold and time I decided to do a temporary repair. I ran a new wire from a good earth point into the headlight cluster. This will be Ok until I can strip in all down and do a permanent repair.

3 Jan 2010

Another Stealth Tax

I  was interested the story regarding adding £15 to fines to 'help victims of crime' This on the outside seems a very good idea. Until you think about peoples idea of British justice, these include 'the punishment must fit the crime' and also that it must be fair. Perhaps rather than adding money if I am stopped for not wearing my seat belt, I should be made to spend a day with a Paramedic team attending rad accidents. Any way the real reason for this this post was that I received a nice letter from DVLA telling me my photo license needed to be renewed. Sounds good until you read they would like £20!! I have not changed much in 10 years. I still have the left over photos when I first sent off for a photo license. Wonder what would happen if I sent one back again? 

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