Autumn on the buses

We seem to be in the depths of winter now, with miserable weather and dark evenings lowering everyone’s mood. So I thought I would do a roundup of some of my autumnal perambulations with heritage buses.

The open top sightseeing tours actually finished on October 2nd, the weather having remained unusually bright and mild until then. Normally the season ends on September 31st. On the last day, even before the engine had cooled, I took the ex-Southport Corporation PD2 to her winter quarters, a secure location ‘somewhere in South Devon’.

FFY403-in-storageHere she is, in company with an open top Bristol VRT. The ‘standby bus’, a 1982 ex-London Transport MCW Metrobus, would join the PD2 later.

YDL318-Thornbury-Castle

A few private hire jobs for Crosville have also come and gone (unrecorded by this blog thus far) including trips to Kingston Seymour, Frome, Thornbury Castle (pictured left) and Ashton Court (pictured below).

KFM893-Ashton-Court

 

The Torquay-based open top Metrobus had to remain on the road a little longer as her MoT was due and I took her down to the Plymouth Citybus depot at Milehouse for this. She stayed there for a week or so to have some chassis and braking issues sorted out before she regained her Class 6 status. On my way back to Torquay I passed through Totnes and couldn’t resist parking her up at Steamer Quay where I often used to park while driving for Rail River Link last year!

KYV633V-Steamer-QuayAs you can see, it was a very wet day and the bus was running with water by the time I got back so before long I was called upon again to take her over to the storage facility for the winter. There she joined her sightseeing stablemate, along with several other vehicles very familiar to your writer!

KYV633V-in-storageComing bang up to date, today I completed a day-long Road Traffic Incident and First Aid course. This is part of my Driver CPC periodic training. I have to carry out 35 hours of classroom-based training every 5 years to keep my professional driving qualifications current. It wasn’t all theory, all the candidates had to take part in a series of test scenarios where assessment of casualties, use of bandages and CPR were covered. In one of these I took the part of a casualty with a damaged shoulder and a massive leg injury. There wasn’t any fake blood but there was plenty of simulated pain! Unfortunately, the two candidates who were assessing and treating me didn’t pick up on my bleeding leg (a sticky label on my trousers took the place of blood) so, while they successfully strapped up my shoulder, I went into shock and died from loss of blood! Fortunately this was all play-acting, otherwise I would be writing this from ‘the other side’.

At the moment I have two more private hire jobs in the diary for 2014. As they are both in December, I may have to dig out some warm gloves and my big Tilling overcoat!

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Pudsey goes to town on a big green bus

I do get some weird and wonderful jobs offered to me but I think yesterday’s duty with Southern Vectis 573 was definitely one of the latter. BBC Radio Bristol required a vintage bus in which to convey Children in Need’s Pudsey Bear around the region on November 14th to make a surprise visit to some primary school children. Crosville Motor Services apparently had the ideal bus and they kindly gave me the chance to do the honours at the wheel.

Pudsey-at-Perry-Court-School-2

But what they neglected to tell me, when asking if I was free on that date, was that it required an early start. A VERY early start.

I kid you not dear reader, I had to set my alarm for 2.30am in order to meet the BBC Radio Bristol crew in Keynsham at 6.30am. It took me 1.5 hours to drive to the bus depot from deepest Devon and then, having checked the bus, had a further hour or so on the road at 30mph max before I reached the rendezvous point.

And so it was that I found myself all alone in a car park in Keynsham, which is between Bristol and Bath. It was raining and still very dark. Not long afterwards the crew arrived in a support van covered in BBC Local Radio branding. Led by their charming producer Lucy they set to work decorating the bus, applying Children in Need stickers to the windows and hanging banners and balloons everywhere. Before we left for our first pickup point we had to wait until just after 7am when they were due to do a live piece on the radio to introduce the listeners to the day-long journey. This included me starting up the engine, at which point I became rather nervous. My last outing with this bus was rather spoiled by a failing battery but the bus was now fitted with two brand new ones. Thankfully she started, if a little reluctantly. Oh dear – an omen, perhaps?

“I’ll meet you back at base,” called one of the radio chaps as he hopped into the van. Our first stop was to be Broadcasting House in Whiteladies Road. I expect he thought he’d beat us by several minutes as our bus, built in 1962, is rather slow and cumbersome. But, despite the increasing commuter traffic, we got there first because I was able to use the bus lanes!

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