Bristol Lodekka outing to Clevedon

My first heritage bus duty of 2020 was a wedding in Clevedon using ex-Southern Vectis 573, a Bristol Lodekka I have driven many times before.

It was also my first duty from Crosville Vintage’s recently established storage unit just outside Weston-super-Mare which is best suited to the double deck members of the fleet. There had been a vehicle change during the previous week because a London Transport RT had originally been allocated but this vehicle was still under repair elsewhere in the UK. I didn’t mind using YDL318 instead as I am very familiar with it. Besides, I have a Tilling winter uniform but not a London Transport one!

Also during the previous week I had used a couple of spare hours between school contract runs to carry out a recce by car in Clevedon because I was not sure about access for the bus into Clevedon Hall. This is a large hotel near the sea, formerly a private residence, which is a popular wedding venue. There is a driveway up to the original main entrance but there isn’t enough room to turn a bus around so I went into the hotel reception and found out that, when they have coach parties arrive, the vehicle reverses up the drive. I walked down and visualised a Lodekka doing a reversing manoever. Satisfied that it was all do-able, I went on to St Andrew’s Church which is only about 10 minutes drive down the road. There is a narrow one-way system serving the church where low hanging branches also posed a problem but I decided that there were alternatives!

Having earlier had a guided tour of the storage unit I arrived on the Saturday morning to prepare and do my walk round checks. Since having an engine overhaul last year, the Gardner 6LW seems to be reluctant to burst into life when cold so there were a few anxious moments while I coaxed the old girl into life. In previous years I remember she would fire up after a couple of turns. The storage unit soon filled with pungent exhaust smoke so I quickly brought the FS outside into the open.

Continue reading

RoSPA Occupational Advanced Driving Test

So I’ve decided to postpone Part 2 of my round-up of 2019 day trips with Bakers Dolphin to bring you something more recent instead. I’ve had a rather testing time of late, but in the best possible sense!

I was asked a couple of months ago whether I’d be interested in doing some driver assessments at work, as part of an ongoing programme to improve the standard of driving. I really wasn’t sure whether I wanted an extra role so I beat around the bush a little before saying that I didn’t feel qualified. In response, some rather nice things were said about the standard of my driving and reference was made to some feedback that had been received over recent months from customers. I was also told that I would be enrolled in a week’s training to equip me for the proposed role which would culminate in an Advanced Driving Test.

After thinking about it for a few days I reckoned that, if my own standard of driving had been recognised and the company was willing to invest in me by putting me through a course, I should take the opportunity to improve my situation. So I said yes, I would go ahead. I had decided that, if I failed any part of the test, I would drop out and continue as a coach driver as before.

Just after the Christmas/New Year break, I sat down with two of my colleagues and prepared for a week of intensive training with Steve, a very experienced driving instructor and examiner from the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA). The week alternated between classroom-based study and practical sessions out on the road in our training coach.

Continue reading