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.

24 Dec 2012

Happy Christmas and thank you

So, here we are at another Christmas. This one is looking much better than last year. This year has not been the best but looking back it is very true that all those problems make you stronger and appreciate life much more. I have also come to realise that God will not abandoned me and will always provide the things I need rather than those I want. I would also like to thank all those that have helped me over the year. That help has come in many ways. Most very small, and that is also something I have come to realise this year that it is the small things, like asking someone how they are and stopping to listen that can make all the difference. So a big Thank You to you all and Happy Christmas and I hope 2013 is a happy one for you.

11 Dec 2012

Parking on Bus Stops

Some people seem to think it is OK to park or stop at Bus Stops. You may see this as a trivial matter but I will give you a couple of situations that might change your view.

You are a young lad and ring the bell for the bus to stop. Due to a parked blue badge holder nipping into the shop to get his fags and paper the bus is unable to get to the stop and stops in the road. The driver warns you he is not at the stop and to be careful.As you step off the bus a cyclist comes alongside the bus, wrongly assuming the bus is stopped in the traffic and not alighting passengers, it misses you but leaves you swearing at the bus driver.

You are an elderly lady and ring the bell for the bus to stop. Due to a lorry unloading the driver is unable to get to the raised kerb. The drivers lowers the bus but it still a good 6 -9 inch step down. You are using your walker and become very worried about how you are going to get off. Before the driver can get out of his cab a boarding passenger helps you down. You thank everyone and go and give the van driver an ear full.

You are blind and have your dog with you. You ask the driver to let you know when you are at your stop. the bus stops but the driver tells you that he has had to stop away from the raised kerb due to a parked car. You ask him to help you and your dog. He takes the dog and then helps you down on to the road, helps you to the kerb and ensures you and your dog know where you are and you go on your way.

So next time you think of parking or stopping on a bus stop, please don't.

9 Dec 2012

Meningitis, a year on.

It is hard to believe that is a year since I contracted Viral Meningitis. This changed my life and I thought it would be a help for anyone suffering from this to see what recovery is like. I thought maybe some bullet points would be the best way to show my recovery.  

  • December 2011. Emergency admission and week spent in hospital.
  • January 2012. Returned to work.
  • April 2012. Headaches reduced and feely more 'myself'.
  • October 2012. Period of depresstion as began to realise what I had gone through.
  • November 2012. First time I had felt 'Me' and not frighted about contracting it again.
  • December 2012. Still some short term memory and tiredness issues.
This is a very brief outline of the last year but I hope it shows that the recovery, although long is almost 100%. It should also be noted that some of the above can also be put down to age and general life fluctuations. More information can be found at these two excellent sites.

http://www.meningitis-trust.org/

http://www.meningitisuk.org/

Finally some advice on what to do if you suspect someone has Meningitis.
  • Call NHS Direct/NHS 24 or your GP.
  • Go to your nearest accident and emergency department.
  • Dial 999 for an ambulance.
  • Describe the symptoms carefully and say that you think it could be meningitis or septicaemia.
  • Early diagnosis can be difficult. If you have had advice and are still worried, get medical help again.
  • Trust your instincts.

23 Nov 2012

Lifes stuggles

Coming to the end of a weeks holiday and I have to say it has not been the best week. Had great plans on fixing the bike, sorting the house and just having a relaxing time. So here I am at 0600 with a stinking cold wondering just where live is taking me. The bike is still in bits as the brakes have seized and I have not done any of the jobs I planned to. Anyway made a cup of tea and checked my email. I was surprised, though I should have not have been to find this.
http://www.ucb.co.uk/word-for-today.html
Is this a message and a hint? I would like to think so. As my faith tells me, God will never abandoned me. However, that is great when things are going well and you have everything you need, but a completely different matter when it seems that wherever you turn you find problems.
So has anything come from my early morning? Well, perhaps this is all part of Gods plan for me. It could of course be the enemy causing me to be feeling like this? Which ever it is I think it may be time to fasten my seatbelt take life by the neck and 'enjoy' the ride, and look forward to reading this in the future wondering what all the worry was about.

22 Nov 2012

20mph Zones

It is road safety week this week. yes news to me too. We have a few 20mph zones around the area and I am all for reducing the speed in built up area as the path from my house comes straight out on to the road. However, I do worry that this can lull pedestrians in to a false sense of safety. I say this because in the 20mph zones I travel through I do notice that pedestrians assume vehicles are travelling slowly and walk out in front of them. They forget of course any vehicle hitting a pedestrian is going to leave the pedestrian worse off.

Flooding

Not been affected myself, yet. But for those that may be interested this is the link you need to check your local river.

http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/riverlevels/120718.aspx

20 Nov 2012

Bit of a result

Due to a bad Christmas present selection a couple of years ago I ended up on the Three mobile phone network. I had no problems with it and it enables me to listen to the radio and run APRS anywhere I am. The only problem I had with it was using the phone in the house. So when the contract came to it's end I rang them up with a view to go back to O2. I got the usual thing about beating any deal and didn't listen much until I mention the in home problem. the Indian voice said 'we can fix that' Well I listen a bit more and cut a long story short I now have a new phone Samsung Galaxy Pocket which is much better than the reviews. And, Home Signal This uses VOIP technology to give 100% signal throughout the house. So I am most impressed and I got a cheaper deal!
Our TV was also on the way out and I put a not on Facebook to see if I could get it repaired. I had a couple of replies and ended up with a rather nice replacement which had been heading for the tip!

18 Nov 2012

A little embarrassing

Very cold this morning but decided to use the bike to go to church. Got up to North Road and closed the choke. Bad idea. the bike stalled and I was not quick enough in getting my foot down and the bike and myself ended in a rather untidy heap. No major damage, just broken mirror and bent brake lever and a scratch on my leg where I tried to pick the bike up. I must say thank you to the young lady who came and helped me lift the bike up and the driver of the Shell tanker who came over to make sure I was OK. It goes to show no matter how short the journey ALWAYS wear safety gear.

17 Nov 2012

Union Elections

I am a member of the Unite Union. I have to say before I became a driver I always thought of Unions as left wing anti government and only interested in calling strikes so they could have a day off. However, almost the day I started driving my view changed. I was asked to join the Union and did not, until one day I was out with a 'shadow driver' who asked if I had joined the union. I told them I did not believe in unions. Then then asked me to tell them who was left on the bus. I looked and only saw one young lady sitting at the back. 'If that girls said you assaulted her who do you think will stand by you?' The company? I said. Think again I was told. I joined the union the next day. I am not militant but daily I see the rights of workers being attacked and see how much normal working people are struggling. I understand companies have to watch the money. However, many decisions are being made that make no financial sense and seem only aimed at getting more for less from workers. It is therefore vital that every work place has union representation and ideally 100% of the workforce are members. So after all that what is the post about? Our branch chair is retiring and therefore there are elections on the 22nd for a new one. I was asked if I would stand as at that time it seemed there was only only one candidate. Since then a few have put their 'hat in the ring'. This is good news as it shows there is interest in the union within our depot. I have 'set out my stall' so we will see who wins.






4 Nov 2012

New Timetables and new buses

New timetables come in today which means duty changes. Fortunately being on the 'Long Day Duty' mine have stayed pretty much the same however some of my collogues have had major changes made and it still remains to be seen how they will all work out. We also have new routes, changed routes and changed times to deal with so happy that tomorrow I am on City work which at least means if things go wrong I haven't got too far to go. We have also had our first new bus delivery in a while. These are the new Park and Ride Buses.
These are Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 H Hybrid Double Decks. Or as I call them big milk floats. However, these are rather nice and if you drive them correctly will run of batteries for almost all of the journeys as the system uses regeneration from the brakes to charge the batteries. 

9 Sep 2012

31 Years!

It was the Dorothy House Midnight Walk last night. Raynet was once again asked to provide radio cover for the event. This involved keeping track of the walkers, ensuring they had a safe walk around Bath. It was thankfully incident free However, as with all these types of events it was good to try things out as radio coverage can be a serious problem in the city due to the high buildings. During the evening along with the paper work I received a certificate which marked 31 years as a member! I think I have been involved with Emergency Communications ever since I was licensed, which was November 1980. This got me thinking about what I have done in those years and how much the field of communications has changed but also how so much has remained the same. I have not been very active over the last few years but I still get a buzz from setting up a station and spending hours listening to signals from half round the world.One major thing that has changed is that in 1980 I could leave my parents house on Friday night and return on Sunday having participated in a 24 hour contest, now in 2012, well I haven't done a contest for a few years but I think I may struggle a bit!

6 Sep 2012

Zumba

To try and keep fit Fiona, my wife goes to Zumba classes at a local school. As part of this she is taking part in a sponsored Zumba evening. It is an aid of a local cancer charity which cares for people in their homes. She is looking for sponsors so please have a look.

JustGiving - Sponsor Fiona now!

14 Aug 2012

Blogger or??

One of my fellow Bloggers and drivers, has just posted his last Blogger post. Shame as his views were sometimes the opposite to me and at times really made me look at my beliefs. So this made me think is it worth carrying on on Blogger given that Facebook and Twitter have taken a more central role in peoples on-line lives. The answer is. Of course it is who else would listen to rants and raves? So back to should I go or should I stay? Well I am staying, but my posts, thanks to http://dlvr.it/ s appear on my face book page and I am now trying out Goggle+. I am on Twitter but as yet can find no real use for it, but give it time. Also this page gives me chance to show what I find interesting and show links to other blogs and in fact I use it as my home page.

13 Aug 2012

What a week

Home now after one of the best, varied, stimulating, fun and thought provoking weeks of my life. I am currently watching the closing ceremony of the Olympics and getting a little emotional. I have been extremely privileged to work with the best group of drivers, controllers and spectator assistants. Together we have provided the best transport system I think this country has ever seen. Although there have not been the expected number of spectators we have ensured they all had a fantastic experience even before they had seen any sailing events, and even on the day with no wind they all left with smiles on their faces. So what next? it is back to work in Bath from tomorrow but I hope to take,in part many of the processes that were in place in Weymouth and try and ensure all my passengers journeys exceed their expectations. Obviously there will be the tickets, journey times, traffic to contend with but I hope the experiences of Weymouth and London will show what can be done given a little effort and a hand shack with 'thanks mate for today'. I have a few photos which I have put on Facebook. You can see some here
 https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.10151331816100884.567904.627560883&type=1&l=0aa11d405b

If you want to see some more details on the operations in Weymouth this is an excellent source
http://fecx1news.blogspot.co.uk/2012/08/guest-blog-now-its-all-over-your.html

10 Aug 2012

The week so far

Here we are with three days to go. I have enjoyed my time here more than I expected. Amazing though it may seem this is the longest I have been away on my own so that has been difficult at times,It has though been a privilege to work with some great people and be in some way involved in people being able to be a part of the greatest show on earth. Yesterday was a little of a downer because of the lack of wind, hence no sailing. However, everyone I saw seems to have enjoyed the experience and many will be back today when hopefully they will see more Team GB medals.

7 Aug 2012

First Day

First day of driving down in Weymouth and a pretty relaxed one. Have an hour coach ride to work and back which is across some pleasant countryside. Was a little nervous driving new routes in a 'strange' town but it all went well. Great to have a large team loading and unloading, also great to have so many smiling faces looking at me, certainty puts you in a good mood.Traffic was fairly heavy today as it was surfing today. Only problem was a bus fire on the bridge, not one of ours and only minor. So more of the same tomorrow.

6 Aug 2012

Training Day

Back from a long training day in and around Weymouth. Lots of information to take in and been round all the routes we will be driving, including diversion routes. I just hope I can remember them all. However, the working is pretty relaxed and everyone seems happy to help.The bus fleet is all '12' plate Volvo B9 which of cause makes for a pleasant drive. I will upload photos to my Facebook account.

4 Aug 2012

Back from New Wine

Just back a from New Wine. Bit of a strange week this year. I have not really been able to get in to it as much as I usually do. I think this is the fact I only did one week and have the week at the Olympics still to come. However, I still enjoyed it and met some great people with fantastic testimonies. We had the usual jobs to do, patrol, venues gates etc. The usual lost children and found parents to deal with. We also had some very heavy ran which left a lot of tents under water. We did our best to direct the water away from tents but given the volume and speed of the rain in many cases it was a lost cause and the only thing to do was remove the tents in the waters path. It is a times like these that the true Christian spirit really shows through with offers of tents and bedding from around the camp-site. We also had a visit from the Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance. This required most stewards being deployed around the show ring to enable it to land without any campers wandering into it's path. The crew then had what seem an exciting trip on a buggy to the patient. So now to look forward to this week and my Olympic duties down in Weymouth.

22 Jul 2012

Day at New Wine

If you live in the UK you will be aware the effects the weather has had on many outdoor events. New Wine did not escape this. The ground became water logged (which it often has during previous events) however, the amount and duration of the rain gave the ground no chance to drain and dry out. So, it required a lot of hard work by the set-up crew, a break in the weather with two days of sun, a lot of prayer and the decision to delay the start by 24 hours to ensure New Wine 2012 is now under way. This meant I could spend the day on site, and see Fiona. I spent most of the day on Brown Gate ensuring delegates got on to the site with a minimum of delay. I think we managed it without to many problems and hope those on site get what they want from the teaching's, worship and fellowship.I am now back at work this week. I may pop down Thursday but will see how the week goes.

15 Jul 2012

New Wine & Olympics

A week until New Wine starts and two weeks until the Olympics. I have to say I am getting a little bit excited about both. I will only be at New Wine for one week although Fiona is stewarding both weeks. I am a little disappointed not doing both weeks but as I am driving in Weymouth during the Olympics I am not able to take three weeks off in one go. This will be the longest time I have been away on my own, although I used to work away from home three days a week. This will be six days, or more if things overrun.However, technology has moved on and with mobile phones, Skype etc I will be able to keep in touch. I will try and keep the blog updated.

8 Jul 2012

Too many Bus Stops?

Over the last few years councils have tried to encourage Bus use. They have put in Bus lanes, priority routes etc. This is great and numbers seem to have increased. They have also improved and added more Bus Stops with electronic signs etc. This is great as it means people only have to walk a short way to catch a bus. However, there is a downside to this. If someone boards a bus at the beginning of it's journey and travels to the end rather than the bus stopping ten times it could now stop twenty or thirty with both passengers boarding and alighting. This is obviously great for those boarding and alighting close to their homes but a passengers comment of 'did I get on the slow bus?' says it is not always appreciated by all. What is the answer? Maybe on some intercity routes companies could introduce fast, direct services with limited stops maybe once an hour and retaining the multi stop journeys the rest of the time.

3 Jul 2012

Indicators

Even I can remember cars without indicators and the ones that popped out. I never had to use hand signals during my test, but they were mentioned. So why nearly forty years latter when car safety has come on so much is the use of indicators becoming a thing of the past? I say this because there appears to be a belief that you only indicate if you think it may help another road user. The IAM and other road safety groups have not helped this by saying thta to indicate when there is no other traffic about is a sign of lack of attention.This is fine IF people USE their mirrors and LOOK up from their in car equipment. Recently I have approached mini roundabouts and been confronted with vehicles at all exits, none of which were indicating. So, were they going straight on or turning right? I have vehicles stop and it is only the fact that there is a side turning I worked out they were turning.
 The highway code states.

103

Signals warn and inform other road users, including pedestrians (see 'Signals to other road users'), of your intended actions. You should always
  • give clear signals in plenty of time, having checked it is not misleading to signal at that time
  • use them to advise other road users before changing course or direction, stopping or moving off
  • cancel them after use
  • make sure your signals will not confuse others. If, for instance, you want to stop after a side road, do not signal until you are passing the road. If you signal earlier it may give the impression that you intend to turn into the road. Your brake lights will warn traffic behind you that you are slowing down
  • use an arm signal to emphasise or reinforce your signal if necessary. Remember that signalling does not give you priority    
 So please whenever you make a manoeuvre remember
M - Mirror
S - Signal
M - Manoeuvre




30 Jun 2012

What I feared most

When I was driving coaches I was asked many things, but one  has always stuck in my mind. I arrived in London after a very wet drive. One of the passengers asked 'do you ever worry about having an accident and do you think about the passengers and what would happen if you did and what do you fear most' Wow, never thought about that. And that was the point.I just worry about driving safely and, it sounds a bit selfish, worry about myself. I think if you worried to much about the 50 or so passengers and what would happen if you had an accident I think you would very soon end up in the funny farm. However, of all the things that can and do go wrong, the thing I have always worried about is hitting a pedestrian. Unfortunately that has now happened. The bus I was driving came into contact with a pedestrian. I will not go into the full circumstances for obvious reasons. However, there were no serious injuries apart from shock on all sides. One interesting thing is it is very true in that people say you go on to some kind of auto pilot and just do what you have to do.  In this situation there are a set of rules that have to be followed. Ambulance called, Police called although they come automatically in these situations, Inspector called. A senior member of management team is also notified and the driver given a company breath test, although in this case the Police did not. I am still driving, back on the horse etc. with no problems apart from  I get a little twitchy when I see pedestrians close to the road.

9 Jun 2012

Well chuffed

As a driver you obviously have to remember a lot of routes. As a driver in Bath I have to know around 25 routes, some short city routes and some long 'country' routes. As a new driver this seems an impossible task. However. with the help of 'buddy' drivers and other drivers you soon pick them up. However, like any other job you find yourselves driving the same routes therefore there comes a time when you come across a route you have not driven for some time or only driven a few times. This happened to me today. I was scheduled to drive the 271/2712 these go out to Devices via Melksham. The last time I drove these was before I started on National Express so it must be over six years ago so you can imagine I was a little apprehensive about it. Anyway I asked a few drivers and also used Google maps to 'drive' the route and much to my surprise drove it tonight without any problems and even ran on time.

6 Jun 2012

Storm Cam

With the weather people predicting the extreme weather  tonight and tomorrow I thought it was a good time to try out the web cam. You can see it here http://90.220.85.65:8888/
The camera is looking towards the Midsomer Norton railway which is on the hill.

23 May 2012

Olympic Training

As you may know I was selected to drive during the Olympics and will be working in Weymouth. Today I had my first training course which was about the Olympic values. I have to say my first thoughts was ' I know all this, as I work with people every day' However, the day was a real eye opener and did take me out my comfort zone. It also struck me that it has all suddenly become real and just what I will be doing in enabling people to watch something they may have spent a life time dreaming of. What a responsibility! I also get 7 hours towards my  Driver CPC

Health Update


If you have read any of my posts you will be aware I have had my fair share of hospital visits. One of the things I found helped me recovering was not only the excellent medical treatment, but the wealth of information posted on the internet by normal people giving their story, so if you are reading this while sitting in hospital and wondering what the future holds I hope it helps.

In March 2010 I was involved in a motorcycle accident which resulted in my ankle being fractured in three places. You can read about my progress in earlier posts. So, what is life like two years on?  I have full movement in it and do everything I could do before. However, I do suffer with a far bit of pain and stiffness. This seems to be mainly in the morning or after long periods sitting. It is also affected by changes in the weather or should I say changes in pressure. There is a large amount of metal still supporting the leg so that of course may be causing some discomfort.

December 2011 was probably the worst point of mine and my family's  life, when after an ear infection I became extremely ill with Viral Meningitis. This illness does everything it says on the tin, and more, it was the actions of my Wife and our Doctor that saved my life. I and my family knew nothing about it, so the information on the Meningitis UK and Meningitis Trust web sites was a real comfort. So how am I getting on after six months? This illness has really left it's mark on both me and my wife. We both look at life in a different light and realise you really do not know what tomorrow brings. The medical effects at present are headaches, which have reduced over time, stiff neck and tiredness. These of course could just be down to my age. The most worrying aspect though is memory problems. This shows as short term memory loss and lack of concentration. Again both these could be down to other factors. However, not withstanding these the main thing is that I survived and am leading a pretty normal life.

10 May 2012

Conversations

One of the things you need as a Bus Driver, is to be a people person. I typically come in to contact with over 100 people a day, from all walks of life. Some are happy, some are sad, some are drunk and some have obviously taken more than prescription drunks. And some are just going from A to B. But as a driver we have to  interact will all these. You have about three seconds to decide what type they are as they board the bus. I always start with Morning, Afternoon or just Hi. This can then transform into a short conversation on any topic. The level of these can make it seem you know these people, but of course you may never see them again Then again you see them the next time you do that particular duty and the conversation continues from where it left off. All these are carried out with a smile and appearance you understand everything they are saying.

29 Apr 2012

Shifts

One of the things about Bus driving is that you work shifts. That is not working a fixed 9-5. Some weeks you may be working 0500-1400 the next 1400-0000. I have always worked in jobs that have shifts in some way so have got used to it. In fact it can be very handy having time off in the week as I hate shopping or driving on a Saturday. I currently work on a 'Long Duty' which is around the 50 hours a week or 10 hour day. These do not have any real early starts, so suit me. However, there have been some duty changes recently which mean I am stuck on the same duty for two weeks. Apart from the Park and Ride work I did last year in Bristol I cannot remember working the same hours for this length of time. Also it is a 0919-2002 duty which is a real pain as it leaves no time for much else apart from work and sleep. Still it will come to an end and I have a job and you never know I might get to like it and change to a fixed duty.. Eh. don't think so.

16 Apr 2012

At Last

For those that live near me or drive past will notice I always seem to be pumping my front motorcycle tyre up. I suspected the valve was faulty and planned to take it to my local dealer for replacement. Anyway my hand was forced today when I could not get any air in to it.Took it to the dealer, turns out there was some corrosion around the valve and a slight nick in the rim which was causing the slow puncture. Anyway £10 latter I had an inner tube fitted so tomorrow I will have the ritual tyre pumping.

13 Apr 2012

Major Radoworks in Bath

If you are thinking of coming to Bath from 14th April 2012 then maybe think again. Below are details of the closure of one of the main bridges into the city. The next three weeks are going to be fun!

CHURCHILL BRIDGE, BATH

 
 (TEMPORARY PROHIBITION OF USE BY VEHICLES) (TEMPORARY PROHIBITION OF USE BY PEDESTRIANS) ORDER 2012
 
Notice is hereby given that the Bath and North East Somerset Council in pursuance of the provisions of section 14 of the Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 as amended intends to make an order the effect of which will be to close temporarily to vehicles and pedestrians the entire length of Churchill Bridge, between A36 Lower Bristol Road & A367 Broad Quay.

This order is required because works are being or are proposed to be executed on or near the road consequent upon bridge deck refurbishment and will be operative from the 14th April 2012 for a maximum period of six months. However, the restrictions may not be effected for the whole of the period but it is anticipated that the road will be restricted as and when traffic signs are in position and only for so long as is necessary to execute the works which it is anticipated will be for TWENTY ONE DAYS.

ALTERNATIVE ROUTEMotorised Vehicles- clockwise- A36 Lower Bristol Road, A36 Claverton Street, A367 Wells Road, A36 Lower Bristol Road, A36 Pines Way, B3118 Midland Bridge Road, A367 Green Park Road, A357 Avon Street, A367 Corn Street, A367 St James Parade, A367 Southgate Street, A367 Broad Quay. Anticlockwise- A367 Broad Quay, A367 Green Park Road, B3118 Midland Bridge Road, A36 Pines Way, A36 Lower Bristol Road.
For Pedestrians- A36 Lower Bristol Road, Southgate Footbridge, Broad Quay (cyclists who wish to use pedestrian diversion route will be required to dismount before using the Southgate Footbridge).
 


6 Apr 2012

Good Friday

Well I did not take part in the Walk of Witness today as I have been having some problems with my ankle.I did feel a little guilty considering that Jesus walked up to four miles with a large cross after being flogged and beaten which he was then hung on until he was dead. However, the outdoor service was pleasant and provided a time of reflection on what God does for us. There was also a time after for lunch and a time of fellowship. As I said before I am working Easter Day which hopefully will be quiet as no shops are open.

5 Apr 2012

Easter

Worked half day today as a 'Rest Day' 318/319 to Cribbs Causway and back. Very quiet as we are now into the Easter holidays. I am off tomorrow Good Friday and plan to take part in a walk of witness. This is where Christians re-enact the walk Jesus made with his cross to where he was crucified.
Unfortunately I have work both Saturday and Sunday. A little annoyed about the Sunday as it is properly the most important day in the Christian calendar. This is is the day when Jesus rose from the dead. This one day gives us the knowledge that we to will rise again and live forever. Some people will say how can you work? why do you nor refuse on religious grounds? the reason is that I knew when I started the job this would be the case and my view is that I am on this earth to do Gods work so by working Easter Sunday I will be helping people to attend church, see their families therefore carrying out the work of God. Happy Easter to you all. 

20 Mar 2012

Thinking on your feet

Most of the time driving a bus is fairly straightforward. You drive down a road you know, a bus you know and even passengers you know. So apart from weather, traffic etc you tend not to take much interest in the area you drive. However, every now and then a situation arises that forces you to think and act in an 'out of the box way'. Monday was one of those days. I had the 319 to Cribbs Causeway I like this route and until Parkway Station had been uneventful. As I approached Parkway the traffic stopped, I managed to fight my way to the bus lane and got into the station. The traffic had still not moved much so I assumed it was an accident. Leaving the station I saw two of our vehicles at the side of the road and I thought the worse. I pulled up behind them and saw that the cause of the hold up was the road towards Cribbs was closed with Police carrying out accident investigation work. This is never good to see, one, because someone is very badly hurt or worse, and two, it can mean the road is closed for hours.
So we now had a situation where we had three buses with passengers wanting to go to Cribbs.'Can't you go another way?' was the question. Well yes but which way? This is where you have to contact the Traffic office and seek advice. they have to check width, height, weight restrictions. It turned out that the only way out of this was a long detour back the way we came. Having sorted the route what to do with the passengers. Out of the tree buses I was the only one with enough time so I took all the passengers off to Cribbs. At Cribbs the situation was interesting as very few buses had got there many passengers were stranded. I decided to take any one going beyond Parkway. This worked well and a few others came along as they could be dropped off along the way. I was displaying 'Not In Service' so would not normally stop on the way. However, the situation dictated that I stop and enquire where waiting passengers were going. This resulted in some very relieved passengers getting to their destination. Back on time at Downend a passenger boarded and said my doors were broken. They were correct as I discovered the air working the doors had failed. The procedure for this is to take the bus to the depot empty as you can not have passengers on with open doors. However, I had about twenty elderly passengers who were going to Kingswood. So the 'procedure' used here is to move the passengers as far down the bus and drop them at a safe stop which in this case was their destination. A some say driving a bus is boring.

12 Mar 2012

A Reminder?

Busy weekend with the Bath Half marathon yesterday. This is the first time I have worked during this event and it was very interesting to see the other side of the event. There was a change in road closure times which lead to a couple of interesting exchange of views with marshals. I was not driving during the race and was based in the Bus Station ensuring passengers found their bus. There were some very annoyed people so seemed unaware of the marathon. You do have to wonder how someone living in the city could have missed the signs which have been on  nearly every lamppost since January. As a result of all this I arrived home completely shattered. Woke up this morning feeling very ill, my first thoughts was the big 'M' making a return so a trip to the doctors. It seems that I had just got very tired and it was my brain and body reminding me how ill I had been. Very restful day and back to work tomorrow.

4 Mar 2012

How to use the Bus

Had a complaint from a passenger that I had not stopped at the stop they were waiting at. They also complained that the bus behind had not stopped either. I informed them that they had not signalled me to stop. The comment that came back amazed me ' why should I put my hand out?' Well the fact that at least two buses passed them would suggest other wise. However, it did occur to me that more and more people are using the bus who have never used one before so that may be a reason. However, if you are new to something is it not a good idea to try and find as much information before hand?

My company has a answer to this and I have copied their handy 'How to Use the Bus' information. It is shown below.


If you're travelling by bus throughout the country, this simple step-by-step guide will help make your journey as easy as possible.
If you have any questions please contact us.
1
Plan your journey - To plan your journey, simply go to journey planning section. Find the service number you need and the timetable for your bus will be worked out for you. You can then print this for the service or just the stops you need.
2
Choose a ticket - We offer a range of tickets to suit different types of trips, whether you are travelling every day or just once a month. Details are available in our Tickets section. Day and lower value tickets can be bought on the bus from the driver. Season tickets are best purchased before you travel and are available at local outlets or you can buy online - (Opens in a new window).
3
Locate the correct bus stop - Bus service numbers are generally displayed on bus stop signs or on the timetable panel. Services can be displayed together, so check the sign for your service number. Each bus stop has a code, by texting this code to 84268 you will receive details on the next buses due at the stop. Or find your bus stop at www.traveline.org.uk - (Opens in a new window).

Catching your bus

4
Signal the bus to stop - As the bus approaches, check the route number and destination displayed on the front of the bus. Raise your arm as a signal to the driver that you want the bus to stop.
5
Buying your ticket - If you are unsure which ticket you need, just ask the driver who will be happy to advise you which ticket is best for your journey. Having the correct fare available will help reduce delays when getting on the bus.
6
When you want to get off - Simply press the bell once, as you approach the stop where you want to get off, stay seated until the bus stops. If you are unsure where your bus stops ask the driver for help when you get on the bus.

Easy access, comfort & safety

To make it easier for you to get on and off, most buses can lower their suspension. Special seating areas are available on many of our buses for passengers who are disabled, elderly or using a buggy. Please bear in mind that special seating areas can get full at busy times of the day.

3 Mar 2012

Pictures


 Here are some pictures I took on my travels around Bath while on the '2' route.

View from the stop at Engsleigh


Looking towards the Abbey

A slightly closer view of the Abbey

So what are these for?

'New' bus today and it had some strange 'additions'












It is a while since I have driven a bus with these extras but after a few minutes it all came back. Including the lack of syncromesh between 2nd and 3rd!!

24 Feb 2012

New Ticket machines

Bit late on posting this but as regular bus users will now First has upgraded all it's ticket machines. Like every new thing there are good and bad about the new machines. I get the impression that the designer did not spend much time travelling on buses. They also do not seem as robust and 'bullet prove' as our previous machines. However they have the facility to read 'smart cards' and take payments from smart phones. They also have GPS, which once activated will enable full real time tracking, All this I see as a benefit to both drivers and passengers.Also many of the routes are being upgraded to  Showcase routes as the  Travel + web site states the key benefits of these are
The key benefits of the new showcase corridors are:
  • New bus priority measures - such as bus only lanes and traffic lights which turn green as the bus approaches. Driver notes : These are great for getting back at the driver who is desperate to overtake you
  • New bus shelters, larger bus timetable displays with more detailed information and raised kerbs to improve access. Driver Notes : These are great as we now have low floor buses have a look at the front nearside of most buses for an explanation.
  • New buses - our partners First have invested £20m in more than 120 new buses. Driver Notes : I assume this means the NEW manual mini buses we have in Bath.
  • Real time information - displays at bus stops which tell you when the bus is due to arrive in real time. Driver Notes : These seem to have some problems out in the sticks due to the hills, which of course in where you really need it.
  • Improvements for all road users - such as cycle lanes, new pedestrian crossings and general road widening Driver Note : IF ONLY THE CYCLIST AND PEDESTRIANS WOULD USE THEM.

19 Feb 2012

Bike

Over the last couple of weeks time and money spent on the bike. It passed the MOT with a couple of advisories for the chain, brake discs and the front wheel bearing. My bike does not have a centre stand which makes working on it a bit difficult. I have therefore bought a paddock stand which will enable me to do most jobs. I have had the chain and sprockets replaced and due to the age of the bike and it's lack of love I took to my local dealer who did the job for a very far price. Weather is improving and have had some rather pleasant rides to and from work.

17 Feb 2012

When things go wrong

Leading on from my previous post about Venerable Road uses. This shows that even if the VRU is in the right it is them that suffers.

 
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-17066798

So what about the current buses

Just seen this article on a direct service from Radstock/ Midsomer Norton to Bristol. great news as the current 178 is a little long! Any way the thing that stands out is -

In Paulton, service 379 will run via High Street instead of Ham Lane and Brittens Hill because the buses will be too big to negotiate the narrow sections of road. In Bristol, service 379 will run via Victoria Street, Baldwin Street and the city centre.

This service currently uses the exact same buses Volvo B7 as the 178 and 178 which uses Volvo B7, Dennis darts and Volvo Deckers. The narrow section I assume is Ham lane. This is VERY narrow and requires more luck than skill to avoid hitting the wall or parked cars. So my question is if it is too narrow for the 379 than what happens when same the vehicle is used on the 178/179???

The picture below gives some idea of the width of the road. Remember a bus is up to 8ft wide.Life gets REALLY inserting when  you meet another bus down here.




View Larger Map

15 Feb 2012

Blue Badge Holders.

I come across many Blue Badge users during the day and most seem unaware or choose to ignore the rules.  Today though a blue badge user went to new heights.
As I went to turn right in to a road a Bath a vehicle was stopped a few feet from the junction. This is not unusual as people sometimes stop to check a map. Anyway a gave a toot on the horn and expected the driver to see the three buses behind him and move off. However, he did nothing and continued to read his newspaper. I gave another toot and the driver moved down the road into a narrow section, once again blocking the road. I gave another rather longer toot and the driver waved his blue badge at me. At this point I got out and went up to the gent and advised he was blocking the road. He told me that as a professional driver I should be able to get past. That would have meant mounting the pavement which of course is against the law


You MUST NOT drive on or over a pavement, footpath or bridleway except to gain lawful access to property, or in the case of an emergency.
[Laws HA 1835 sect 72 & RTA 1988 sect 34]

The gent did then move, by mounting the pavement !


So how many rules did this gent break. Well just about them all.

parking opposite or within 10 metres (32 feet) of a junction, except in an authorised parking space;

where it would make the road narrow, such as by a traffic island or roadworks;

where it would hold up traffic, such as in narrow stretches of road or blocking vehicle entrances;


on a pavement, unless signs permit it.

If you do have a blue badge and use it correctly I apologise but please ensure you read the rules and responsibilities that come with it. You can find them here.

http://www.direct.gov.uk/en/disabledpeople/motoringandtransport/dg_4001061

11 Feb 2012

Venerable road users

Ok, for those that know me will realise I do not have much regard for cyclists. This comes only from what I see in my daily travels. However, I thought it might me a good idea to try being a little more positive so I have come up with some advise for Venerable Road Users. This includes, cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians.
The main thing to note is that if a VRU comes into contact with other road users the result is more than likely the death of the VRU. So my view is that the VRU's need to practice defensive working and stop blaming the other road users.VRU's must assume other road users HAVE NOT seen them and act appropriately. You need to ensure you make yourself visible, by using lights, reflective clothing or even using a bell or whistle.
When I took park in some motorcycle training a Police officer told me.

'It is no use stating you were in the right while sitting in the back of an Ambulance'


7 Feb 2012

Winter driving survival kit



An interesting short video on what to have in your car in winter.                      



                             

Winter driving tips






Another video, this time on driving in winter conditions


              

5 Feb 2012

Health Update

Nearly three months since the illness that changed our lives in ways that only now are we realising. I have made a very good recovery only now left with headaches, tiredness and short to medium memory lapses. Of course these are things that a lot of people have and may have nothing to do with the meningitis.  The one thing that does stand out is a mental one. When I find myself in a situation such as walking the dog or on an empty bus,I do find myself reflecting on how incredibly lucky I have been and thinking a lot of 'what ifs'. But, I am here, I survived and I have a life to live, and perhaps some work for the Lord to do. I have learned how devastating this illness can be and how quickly it can strike, so I ask you to have a look at the various organisations sites listed on the left here, because as we found out it can strike anyone.

1 Feb 2012

Driving at the Olympics

As you may know I volunteered to work at the Olympics. I have now been told I will be working at the Weymouth Park and Ride. I have to say when I heard I was a little disappointed until of course I realised it's by the sea, and in August. I don't anticipate much free time to sit by the sea, but having worked in London in August I know what it can be like. I have to attend a training day where I assume I will find out more information.

26 Jan 2012

Dogs

Had a couple of incidents with dogs over the last few days both of which could have ended in a very serious accident simply due to a lack of common senses on the dog owners behalf.
The first was on our way to see the in-laws. We had not gone far when a lady crossed the road some distance in front with two dogs neither on leads (no problem) as we got closer I noticed a man on a bicycle with a dog on a lead. Just as we got level with him the dog took off after the two other dogs across the road. The man was pulled from his bike and lost his grip of the lead. The dog then ran straight in front of us. I do not know how we missed the dog as the road was wet, good job I had replaced the worn front tyre. The man was OK and apologised, but this goes to show how dangerous this practice is.
The second was just up the road when I was driving the 178. A lady was walking a couple of little dogs as I started to pass one took a dislike to the bus, as some dogs do, and ran in to the road. At this poit the lead should have stopped it, however, it was one of those extending leads and it appeared that the owner had no idea how to lock it. It was a good job nothing was coming the other way as I was able to make a nifty move out the way and avoid the dog. I never got on with these leads and seeing this I don't think I will ever use one.
So, if you walk your dog make sure you have the dog on the inside and not on the kerb edge and make sure you are in proper control.

21 Jan 2012

This and That

First week back at work over and done with. Went very well, it was really good to be back. Still have some headaches and what I can only describe as befuddlement. However, this may be just being so ill rather than the after effects of the Meningitis. Once again I seem to have been incredible lucky to have recovered this well and this fast. On a four day weekend and took advantage to put the bike through the MOT. I had a few concerns the main one being the chain, which is on it's last legs. Anyway amazingly it passed! It did have a couple of advisories on front disc and the chain. Will have these done when our financial situation has stabilised a bit. Also this weekend off to see the in-laws who we should have seen the weekend I was ill.

12 Jan 2012

Note from above?

Back to work tomorrow and getting a little nervous. Not sure why as I was off for nearly three months when I broke my ankle and had no 'back to work nerves'. Whatever the reason, given the nature of the illness I will have to take thinks easy. One thing that has helped me is my Faith. I firmly believe that there is a God and that he protects me. Throughout my illness I have continued to pray and ask God for help and guidance. Sometimes it is only some time after an event I can see God's plan. However, today was a 'straight to the point' moment. I prayed that I would not be so worried about work. When I checked my email this morning my UCB Word For Today was, Don't Be Afraid!  so perhaps this was a 'note from above'

8 Jan 2012

Busy Day

It is my Mothers Birthday this week so we decided to go and see the family. As I get discounted rail travel we went by train. We caught the 0813 train from Bath all was going well until we were just outside Tylhurst. The train was slowing for Reading when a nice smell of 'brakes' drifted through the train. We came to a stop and a few moments of nothing and then the announcement that there was a 'technical problem with the train' about 20 minutes passed and it was then announced that an axle had become faulty and we would have to limp to Tylhurst station and change trains. This we did and in fact was very handy for us as the train went straight through to Slough. We were met by my Sister and spent a very pleasant day with the family including a very nice meal at the Fox and Pheasant.  Coming back was interesting as well. We came back much latter than planned so did not have the train times to hand. In the end to say it was tight was an understatement. We were OK from Slough to Reading as we got the fast train. However, when we arrived at Reading we asked the next train to Bath '2059 platform 7' we were on Platform 1 and the time was 2059! We just made it. We then had to get the bus at Bath. The train stopped at Didcot and we got that sinking feeling as the time went pass. Turned out it was early and 'waiting his time'. Arrived in Bath 2208 and a brisk walk meant we caught the 2215 bus and got home at 2300 The end of a very pleasant day.

5 Jan 2012

Time to reflect

Looking back on some of my recent posts I can see how confused I have been. So now the hospital has confirmed the image shown on the CT scan is only left over's from the ear infection it now seems a good time to look back on what has happened to me over the last couple of months, and how I got here.This will not only help me but I hope will help one of you spot a case of meningitis as mine was.
The whole thing started back in November when I started with two colds back to back. They came and went very quickly. I was then left with blocked ears, this got progressively worse and eventually resulted in a trip to the doctor. They diagnosed an ear infection and I left with a course of antibiotics.
Things then went down hill fast. We had planned to go and visit our parents and as our car is a bit old had treated ourselves to a hire car. We picked it up on the Friday and had a couple of things to do in Bristol. I was still feeling a little rough but but it down to the infection and the effect of the antibiotics.
Saturday came and we set off to see my parents. We went out for lunch and I began to feel very ill. My vision was poor and I had a severe headache. We put this down to a possible migraine and after having some pain killers I was feeling OK again. We travelled home again without any problems. It is at this point that things get fussy and I have to rely on Fiona's account of events. Sunday arrived and we were supposed to go to Wales to see the in laws.I felt most unwell and Fiona ended up ringing the out of hours doctor and taking me to our local hospital. I had a full check up and left with very strong pain killers. Also the doctor said I was extremely dehydrated and I could either go in to hospital then and there or go home and try and drink plenty. I elected to go home. Perhaps I should have taken the first option.Most of Sunday was spent in bed trying to drink,which meant the visit to Wales was off.
Monday morning came and I felt very ill. Fiona rang our doctor at about 0900 and they said they would visit after morning surgery, about 1230. At about 1030 Fiona was extremely cornered as I was becoming delirious. She contacted the doctor who could hear me in the background. She then arranged for paramedics to attend and within an hour I was admitted to the RUH. At this point I was extremely ill and the next two days are a blur, but I had various tests which showed I had Viral Meningitis. I was filled with antibiotics and left hospital after a week, much to the relief of my family.
I have been incredibly lucky. For those that don't know  Meningitis is the inflammation of the lining around the brain and spinal cord.It therefore has the potential to kill or at worst leave you with live changing effects. During the first few weeks I had some problems with my speech and hand eye coordination and severe tiredness. Fortunately it seems I am just left with the tiredness and some problems getting words out. These hopefully will pass in time.
I am back to work next week which will make it a month since I went in to hospital I can only thank Fiona and the doctor for being on the ball. All the medical staff from the paramedics and helicopter crew to the hospital staff.
To all the people who prayed for me and  who sent good wishes in so many ways,you do not how much it meant to me. And ultimately to God for getting me through this, I have to say any doubt I had about the power of prayer has gone out the window.
Please have a look at the links on the blog, I hope I show that it is not just children that can get this frightening condition.



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