I’ve recently set up a Twitter account for Quantock Motor Services to enable folks to keep right up to date with news about the Running Weekend at the end of May. If you have a Twitter account, follow “quantockms” on your computer or mobile phone to receive updates.
It will really come into its own during the week prior to the event and during the actual weekend (May 28th/29th). We plan to post snippets of news about final preparations, changes to timetables and other useful information. During the event, if you’re following us, you’ll be notified as soon as a change or delay happens. If for instance one of the buses becomes unavailable, we’ll post news of its replacement. If there’s a delay to a service, we’ll try to post information as soon as possible.
This is a bit of a trial, as the person doing most of the updates will also be the Depot Despatcher, a very busy person! Full details about the weekend (I’m conducting on the Saturday) are on the Quantock website.
Today I found myself both conducting and driving. Not at the same time, of course.
The Service 400 ‘Exmoor Explorer’ season started today and I was rostered to conduct on the first trip. I made sure I arrived early at the depot because much had changed since we last ran this service. We’re operating from a new depot and certain key staff have changed. I needn’t have worried, as it turned out. Although I arrived before anyone else, I found our rostered vehicle at the front of the garage, clean, fully fueled and stocked with new leaflets. All I needed to do was fill out my waybill!
My driver today happened to be The Boss and he delivered the first surprise of the day. “Would you like to drive us up to Porlock?” I didn’t need to be asked twice and promptly headed towards the cab. Now, it’s 25 years since I last drove a Bristol Lodekka out on the road although I’ve driven occasionally around the industrial estate where our old garage was located. With a good deal of apprehension and my concentration in overdrive, I pointed our lumbering 1957-built 70 seater towards the north coast of Somerset. A crash gearbox, especially when mated to a heavy Gardner 6LW engine, is not like driving your average modern car but I’m pleased to say that I didn’t crunch any gears or clip any kerbs.
We duly arrived at Doverhay car park in Porlock and headed off for a decent breakfast at the Lorna Doone Hotel in the main street. Highly recommended.
The weather was forecast to be scorching hot, and so it turned out. We set out from Porlock with 4 people on board but arrived at Minehead seafront to find about 30 more people waiting at the bus stop. While going round collecting fares, I had to be on top of my game because the fares had gone up from last year but I don’t think I shortchanged either the passengers or the Council. It’s still a bargain at £7 for an adult for a 2 hour round trip with stunning scenery viewed from the top of a vintage bus. For those with a bus pass, it’s even better – free!
Regular readers will have noticed a deafening silence on this blog on the topic of training to be a bus driver. The fact is, I’m waiting for a call from my instructor, who is currently preoccupied with office duties. I’ve passed all the theory modules of the PCV test and I’m now due to have practical training with two of my mechanic colleagues. So it’s a case of waiting by the phone. Metaphorically, of course.
Next up on the radar is the WHOTT ‘Drive It’ day which is this weekend. I’ve signed up to drive up to four of the heritage buses in their collection so news of this event will be posted sometime next week.