I have reluctantly decided to give up driving the Agatha Christie bus to Greenway House. My last day was a few days ago and it coincided with a local village fair, which made life interesting because I had to drive the bus right through it!
The annual Gooseberry Pie Fair at Galmpton virtually takes over the centre of the village but they do try to keep the main road through the village clear. Apart from the Fair, my last day was pretty much like any other day on the Greenway House bus. Loadings were rather light for a summer Sunday. My heaviest load of the day was the final run into Torquay at just after five when 11 extra passengers joined the handful that I’d brought in at lunchtime. The extras had arrived on the Fairmile boat from Torquay but were travelling back on the bus.
Unfortunately my day was marred by a faulty governor on the Leyland PS1’s engine, which surged and hunted uncontrollably every time I touched the accelerator. This behaviour made it impossible to give my passengers a smooth ride which was very irritating! I had to apologise for the resulting rough ride otherwise my passengers may have thought it was the driver revving the engine unneccessarily!
Of the 14 times I had to pass through the village about half were affected by the Fair. There were cars parked on both sides of the road which leads into the village. After a couple of journeys, accompanied downhill by squealing brakes and uphill by a surging engine and massive clutch judder, I resorted to using another road which emerged on the Brixham side of the village.
I know I’ve only been driving the bus since March but I did wonder if some of the Greenway Ferry folk might have said they were sorry to see me go but none did, apart from the lady who runs the bus from the Brixham office. Looking back, I think I became a source of irritation for them as I always seemed to be complaining that something or other was broken or faulty! Having said that, there are many aspects of the job that I will miss. It’s always satisfying to have done a full day’s work, running to time and dealing with various hazards (mostly traffic in the lanes) along the way. I will miss the cheery banter I was able to have with my passengers. I will certainly miss the lovely people who work or volunteer at Greenway House itself. They were always pleased to see me and often asked how my day was going. I will definitely miss my lunch breaks in the stunning grounds of the house, especially on warm sunny days when I just about had time to walk up to one of the highest points in the garden and take in the views of the Dart while eating my sandwiches!
One thing I won’t miss is having to give an entertaining commentary while driving. That was something I worked hard to perfect but I was never really satisfied with it, partly because it always had to take second place to driving smoothly and safely. The exertion (and exhaustion!) was mental as well as physical.
It’s been an interesting, if short-lived, adventure and now I’m looking forward to working as a freelance designer and artworker for a local creative agency. I’ve been plagued by persistent back pain when driving the Greenway bus, which is another reason for leaving this particular bus behind. I’m not sure if it’s the heavy steering or the way I climb into the cab but something about it doesn’t agree with my back! For the time being I shall continue driving the open top sightseeing bus (and for Crosville) until the volume of design work demands more of my time.