My most recent outing with Hants & Dorset Bristol FLF DEL893C was surely the most bizarre yet. The weather was fairly chilly but I didn’t expect to meet Santa and a Polar Bear!
To start with, I had a nice surprise waiting for me. My boss had sent me a cryptic text telling me that the FLF was all ready and I was to let him know what I thought. As I drove up the motorway towards the depot I wondered what had been done to it, that I should let the boss know what I thought. Had it been fitted with antlers and a big red nose? Had it been repainted into my favourite Tilling livery, red and cream? Had a Gardner 6LXB been shoe-horned into the engine bay? No, none of the above. I found the FLF waiting for me outside the garage and, as I opened the cab door, I was greeted by the unmistakeable aroma of fresh paint. The cab had been given a coat of Tilling Green paint, with silver and black adornments to match.
This was, apparently, a parting shot from the engineering apprentice who had now moved on to pastures new. It looked fantastic! It looked so good that I was reluctant to climb up inside for fear of spoiling the shiny silver floor! Needless to say, I had to make my mark with my muddy size sevens as I made my preparations and checks before setting off. I had plenty of time in hand so I wandered round the garage and took some pictures of some of the heritage buses under restoration and repair. I’ll share these in another post.
The trusty Gardner 6LW gradually came up to working temperature as I drove out on the A370 towards the M5 motorway junction. I was amused to see a handful of high-powered motorbikes burble past me, the riders clad in Santa suits. Across the other side of the motorway junction there is a large layby with a snack bar parked within. I had to do a double-take as I drew closer because the entire layby was full of Santas on Bikes! I idly wondered what event they were taking part in – I was to find out later because they featured heavily in my entire day!
My Job Ticket indicated that I was to pick up a bridal party from a narrow street in Westbury-on-Trym so I arranged with the customer that I would park up on nearby Falcondale Road and await a text message when they were ready, to save causing an obstruction in the street. As I waited, yet more Santas passed by in dribs and drabs, heading into Bristol from ‘oop north.