In the photo below you can see two double deck buses sitting serenely outside a country house but the tortuous journey they had to make to get there tells a different story.
The job in question called for a pair of red double deck buses to convey wedding guests from Huntsham Court in Devon to a church in Taunton for the marriage ceremony and back again afterwards. But what you need to realise, dear reader (and which also filled me with fear and a sense of foreboding), is that Huntsham Court lies in the middle of the Devonshire countryside.
The venue can be reached by several routes, all of which are narrow and twisty. But for drivers of highbridge double deck buses such as my colleague and me, it is the trees and their overhanging branches that present the greatest worry. As I researched the various routes on Google Maps I realised that I’d been to this venue before with a modern coach and that the road I had used then seemed to be the most suitable, although far from ideal.
The looming presence of overhanging branches near a farm and another on the driveway of the house itself was sufficiently worrying that I decided to drive the route in my car the day before so that I could get out and assess the clearance for myself. Having also driven one or two of the other potential routes, I reckoned that this one was do-able but only with the assistance of a conductor walking in front.
My conductor was Mrs Busman John, who has joined the team quoting the old adage ‘if you can’t beat them, join them’. Together we prepared London Transport AEC Routemaster RM1001 (1CLT) and collected my old friend Cherry on the way. She was conductress for the other bus, which we met at Tiverton Parkway where driver Andrew was waiting for us.