Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Notable or Nutty News-bites (3)

An "Unusual" Andover Timetable
Nothing odd here, surely? But in the other direction ...
Please do not spill the beans just yet as a fuller review will appear in a later blog.

And A Similar Question from Sheffield
Under ideal circumstances, "repeat patterns" should have a matching start and finish column of times. Some sloppy presenters of publicity do allow the odd minute difference here and there but this one, as they say, takes one of these:-
The challenge from fbb is a simple one. Taking a piece of paper, attempt to write out the missing times.
And, when you have done that, there is a bonus. Try this one, from the same timetable.
Stagecoach Yorkshire and South Yorkshire PTE have invented an extra "newspeak" definition. "about every 10 minutes" now appears to mean "an arbitrary and completely incomprehensible frequency".

Not just one biscuit but ...
Do these people know what drivel they are serving up to their disillusioned and rapidly departing customers? Do they care?

How to encourage bus usage NOT.

More Links For Lynx
When fbb rode the new T1 between Bristol and Thornbury a few weeks back he was disappointed in the less than spectacular vehicle branding and the rather ordinary First Bristol leaflet.
But he should not have doubted. There was more to come.
Clicking on this panel reveals that the branding is to be extended to the Yate and Chipping Sodbury areas from 2nd September. More on the full scheme later, but in the "package" is a shiny new leaflet for the T1 and T2 ...
... and a picture of a bus.
Now that's more like it! The T1/T2 leaflet contains some minor improvements to the fast T1 which uses some of the Metrobus infrastructure.

And, at last, we have a clearer map of the gyrations of the T1 and T2 in Thornbury.
But, more importantly the services to Yate become Y1 to Y6 and are jiggled and improved.
James Freeman (Managing Director) said: “We have always wanted to refresh and strengthen the services to and from Yate and make the services quicker and more reliable.  The South Glos Lynx services represent an investment in the overall journey experience for our customers in this part of our network. One of the biggest improvements is that for the first time in years customers from Chipping Sodbury and Yate will have access to services that travel further into the city centre of Bristol and customers will not be required to alight at Bristol Bus Station.  We hope customers will also appreciate that we brought the services together under a uniform network identity and also introduced some newer, low-emission vehicles that improve air quality along the route”.

Following the example of the T1 and T2, the new Y1 will use the M32 and run to Colston Street in "The Centre".
The Y1 will operate "traditionally" via Fishponds, as per the present 47.
fbb guesses that the timetables will not have incomprehensible repeat patterns, so extra passengers might actually be able to work out where and when the buses go. Ace!

That would be a novelty in some other areas.

How Much?
We know that railway modelling is no longer a boys hobby; it is for rich retired folk and fbb can only manage the "retired" bit! Northampton correspondent Alan is creating a narrow gauge layout for which he has bough the Bachamnn (in America) "Skarloey". ("Thomas" fans will understand.)
His second loco is also from Bachmann ...
... in the livery of the Ashover Light Railway.
Alan points out that a member of his "miniature" train crew is sadly stuck in a large pool of Blu-Tak. And How Much?
Various web sites offer some small reductions. 

But how about one of these?
It is by a firm called Fourdees Ltd. It is a magnificent model with loads of detailed, done a grave injustice by a small picture. It, like Alan's engines, is to OO scale (4mm to the foot) and runs on track with a gauge of 9mm.

And the price?
Yerrk! Alan won't be buying one!

Attack Of The Killer Snail!
After a huge snowfall earlier in the year and the crushing effect of a a snoozing cat enjoying the summer sun, there has been some progress on the re-fettling of fbb's little outdoor railway. 

Peterville Church Square is being resurfaced, but the residents need to lock all their doors after this foul and threatening creature arrived seeking something (or somebody) to eat.
fbb reckons that it is a scale eight feet long.

Remember the carriage shed roof which blew off the layoutl and onto the paving slabs? The 2018 smash happened not long after fbb had replaced all those fiddly glazing bars from the last meteorological "event" in 2017.

At last, thanks to the dextrous digits of No 2 grandson, glazing bars have been replaced, gutters and downpipes have been added and the windows have had a repaint.
The loco yard viewing platform has been re-glued and given a health and safety fence. Visitors to the yard will be able to view locos and coaches at close range. The cat has been warned of dire and possibly terminal consequences if it hankers after a snooze and crushes it again.
Calamity! The bungalow's front wall has fallen down the cliff.

Tomorrow we return to The University of Northampton for that surprise building.

 Next Shed-work blog : Wednesday 15th August 

Monday, 13 August 2018

Notable or Nutty News-bites (2)

Do They Ever Use Their Own Stuff (2)?
Yesterday fbb mentioned that a former failed Guildford minibus was spotted in Sittingbourne, operating a local service to Kemsley.
But to be honest, your chubby blogger could not remember where Kemsley was ort what sort of service was on offer. But Arriva's web site jumped not very smartly to the rescue. Up popped a timetable for the 347 from which the extract below was culled. (click on the timetable to enlarge it)
Not that there are FOUR buses an hour, two via Newman Drive Pond (Pond-less on the above destination blind.

But note that there are EIGHT journeys in the repeat pattern block.

Note 1 means Schooldays ONLY; Note 2 School Holidays.

The challenge for our blog readers is to spot the difference between the schoolday and the school holidays times. It is far from easy, but fbb suspects that his readers are made of strong stuff and can cope with the challenge.

The WHOLE Monday to Friday timetable has all journeys duplicated and annotated, just to allow the confuser to included the few journeys that are actually different.

Really, do they ever use their own stuff?

Do They Ever Use Their Own Stuff (2)?
There are numerous timetable changes in Sheffield from September 2nd, the wold's most popular date for confusing the customers (sorry!) revising the timetables. Bearing in mind that there is likely to be NO printed material until weeks after the change and that the bus companies don't actually rush to tell you about their services, how easy is it to find out about any given route on the TSY web site?
There is diddly squat about forthcoming timetable changes on the home page. Of course you could laborious search for every service that you might be interested in and hope the new table is there waiting for you. And you have to keep looking.

Surely there is a list of the changes somewhere?

Indeedy there is! From your mobile phone tap on the "menu" icon - no fbb didn't know what it was either, until No 3 son expounder thereupon.
Getting there! Tap " news and updates" ...
... erm, getting there? Tap again on "service changes".
Maybe we won't bother with the July changes (July 22nd 2018) but we can tap the September heading.

And there - at last - is the list. It is lengthy and often couched in mysterious bus planners argot; but at least it is there. Oh, yes; and some of the information is wrong ...

... e.g.Stagecoach 44 is not changing in the slightest!.
But beware ...
 It will be obvious from the list which timetables are published and which are "pending".
Not on fbb's phone it ain't! You just have to prod aimlessly on the screen until something happens. In fact, regular users will soon learn that you prod the route number on the left. The only result of more general prodding is an increase in detritus on the screen. "Barnsley 1" is there in all its glory, but "Barnsley 2" is not.


Suppose we want Sheffield 1 (which, as is clear from the display, includes Sheffield 1A - they are not separate tables).
Tap the line for 2nd September and ... wait in almost unbearable excitement ...


Tap "here" and ...
... you get nothing.

Five or six updates behave in this way - and, as you might expect, these five include the services with the biggest changes.

Really, do they ever use their own stuff?

Give up travelling by bus and read a good entertaining book.

How About An Agatha Christie Novel?
One of fbb's favourite Miss Marbles series on the telly was the Beeb's version starring Joan Hickson.
He enjoyed all the stories, which were generally true to the original narrative. The more recent ITV series have mangled Aggies tales to the point of anguished destruction and should be ignored. If fbb has a fave, it would be ...
... at Bertram's Hotel. The story involves a dotty vicar (Rev Pennyfather, played by Preston Lockwood) ...
... and a gloriously deceptive baddie (Bess Sedgwick, played with glorious gusto by Caroline Blakiston).
So what has this go to do with Public Transport?

A later edition of the book has a pseudo Routemaster on the cover - not totally out of place as the story was first published in 1965.
So come to Hartland in North Devon ...
... and you could stay at "Bertram's Hotel"!!!???
It is a posh self-catering establishment parked in Mine Host's back garden.

The walls are adorned by Agaths memorabilia and pictures ...
... the Routemaster bus illustration is on the bulkhead at the foot of the stairs. The accomodation looks very comfortable ...
... good enough even for Jane Marple and Bess Sedgwick.

The bus is a London bus - it must be, it's red; and it began its life with London United the first time around.
Then to new owner Transdev ...
...and finally back to London United (name only) under the ownership of R A T P, a k a Paris City Transport.
It ran in the Hounslow area.

The bus finally ended up with Sussex Coaches operating school journeys in the Crawley area ...
... until sold for static use by its present Christie fan! fbb might like to stay there, but perhaps Mrs fbb ...

Tomorrow we go to Newbury.

And fbb has not forgotten Stuttgart!

 Next News-bites blog - Tuesday 14th August 

Sunday, 12 August 2018

Notable or Nutty News-bites (1)

Thrice Wrong!
What was fbb writing yesterday about the frailty of memory? This picture of the imposing front of UON's Avenue Campus was NOT the Technical High School ...
... it was the Girls Grammar School, now moved to the outskirts of the town. The tower block of the Technical High School was on the same campus (although we didn't have them for schools back in 1958!) but round the corner on Trinity Avenue.
The site is now occupied by the Malcolm Arnold Academy (i.e.School).
And a small(ish) fbb did not have the choice of going to "The Tech" because it opened three years after he arrived at the Boys Grammar. He did meet the "Girls" (strange creatures in those days) when he signed up for ten lessons of ballroom dancing. The requisite number of female partners were imported from St Georges Avenue.

The lessons were not successful. Getting the simple steps right was no problem, but turning corners was beyond the young-un.

The Badger Awakes From Hibernation!
Most bus companies, when privatised and sold off in the 1980s, retained something of their traditional name; but part of Bristol Omnibus awarded itself the mysterious label of "Badgerline". It was certainly different!

Big Badgers ...
... begat smaller badgers ...
... but the yellow and green in various combinations remained. Badgers appeared on other companies in the group.
But it was all culled after the merge with Grampian led to the boring barbie of First Bus. A badger did re-appear on the commemorative single decker of First Bristol (and thereabours).
But news now breaks that, in yet another re-brand and promotion scheme, buses operating in Weston super Mud are being repainted and labelled as ... ta da ...
... Badgerline.

A Model Bus Company - Model
Also in Bristol, we note that bus model specialist Creative Master Northcord is producing a model of a First Bristol bus branded for route 1 Cribbs Causeway - Bristol - Broomhill.
The model will retail at about £50 (OUCH) but First Bristol staff can have one for £35 (LESS OUCH). Can fbb be an honorary staff member if he is even nicer about the wonderful bus service in Bristol?

Thought not!

New Brizzle Argot - Or Just A Silly Ideal**?
Pictured at a stop in Old Market recently.
It was quickly corrected. BUP STOS would have been better!

** True Brizzle Folk add a letter "L" to any word ending in "A". Idea - ideal, opera - operal, hypothermia - hypothermial (maybe not).

Shared Journey Shared (Twice)
Occasional correspondent Roger had written elsewhere about his lack of enthusiasm for the latest craze whereby you hail your dial-a-bus on an App. He confiently predcuts that "App-a-bus" will fail as did its older ancestor.

But on a recent visit to Sittingbourne where "Click" is the Arriva version of the doomed craze. Roger made two journeys, both of which involved unimpressive delays, BUT - shock horror of shock horrors - both trips carried Rog and ONE OTHER PASSENGER. One young lady ...
... was a District Nurse using Arriva Click on her rounds.
The other journey participant was a young man, purpose unknown. Roger reckons the "takings" worked out at about £7.50 per hour, so a stonking loss.

Not Guildford, Now Kemsley
Whilst at Sittingbourne, Roger spotted one of these ...
... last "enjoyed" on a local service in Guildford. The failed minibus idea has led to the vehicles appeared elsewhere in Arriva's empire. BT66 UAN popped up in Sittingbourne on a local service.
With excellent use of the electronic blinds ...
... it was on its way to Kemsley.
The journey was not heavily loaded.

A Blast From The Past
When fbb was still at school, he attended Northampton Crusaders bible class. Together with a few chums (including Northampton correspondent Alan) he started a little Model Railway Club, meeting on alternate Mondays.

It held a couple of exhibitions of very low quality and fbb's end to end OO layout (Cranleigh) was joined to Mike's to make a "continuous run". He called his Ockley and Ewhurst. (Geography experts will spot the link)

fbb had long since lost touch with Mike, but via a convoluted chain of internet, ancient picture of young fbb and a chance recognition, Mike has been back in touch. Amongst the glorious nostalgia, Mike reports that he, like fbb, has returned to railway modelling in his "old age" - a few years less old than you esteemed blogger.

Mike has descended to N gauge (2mm to the foot, 9mm track gauge and too fiddly for fbb's podgy digits) and he sent a picture.
Encouragingly for fbb and his outdoor efforts, Mike's layout isn't finished either!

But the rematch is telling evidence of the wonders of the internet, and a significant reminder of the joys of a shared hobby. The "gap" is about 50 years.

 Next News-bites blog - Monday 13th August