Saturday 26 February 2022

Saturday Variety

Biblical Sell-By Date PLUS!!

But it wasn't like that at all. With Mrs fbb significantly indisposed, the celebrations were very limited - but it was a truly lovely day! There were cards (a few) the best of which was from Fran, a good friend and a regular at our Monday group.
That sort of says it all! There were choccies ...
... which fbb had to buy for himself from the Co-op. There was a fascinating book from Mrs fbb via the South American rain forest ...
... which will be reviewed in due course. 

No 1 son sent (also via the same route) an interesting but anonymous package which consisted of a tub of mini Twiglets ...
... which was "part of a set". You may wonder what the rest of the "set" was. All will be revealed at the foot of this blog.

But the best prezzy was also from Fran. 
Yep! An apple crumble and a tub of cream. It was so thoughtful in view of the old man's significant catering duties, that it brought a lump to his eye and a tear to his throat. The fbb's only do puds on special occasions and, despite the momentous anniversary, none was planned for yesterday; until Fran turned up.

And the partying continued until late into the evening when the fbbs retired exhausted after the last Death in Paradise of the current series.

The Goodness of God in giving both of the old crocks help and support via Prayer and via others is such a real Joy. Praise The Lord! 

AND the NHS have decided that Mrs fbb is a P3 priority for a new hip. The letter did not say what P3 meant or, indeed, whether P2 and P1 were up or down the list; but it sounds encouraging. The delay may be months rather than years.

P.S. After delivering card and gift, Fran had a go on the stair lift!

Another One Gone ...
As the weeks scuttle by, more news is breaking concerning the collapse of parts of the UK's bus and coach industry. Most weeks another coach company goes bust or simply throws in the towel, but here is Stagecoach in Oxford, as reported in Banbury.

In a public statement, Stagecoach Bus Oxfordshire said: “Due to low passenger numbers and rising costs we regret to inform our passengers that we will no longer be running service 200 between Banbury and Daventry from the above date with Saturday April 2 as the last date in service.

"For several years the 200 has been operating at a financial loss covering less than 85 percent of its costs during which time Stagecoach has absorbed the losses incurred.

"This has been as a result of low passengers numbers that have only worsened since the pandemic; falling to below 75 percent of pre-Covid levels.

"We have approached local authorities who are unable to provide the long-term financial support required and so our only option is to unfortunately withdraw this service.”

Stagecoach 200 runs between Daventry and Banbury.
It used to be a longer route branded as if it were the Great Central Railway line ...
... with buses so adorned. When Geoff went phutt, Stagecoach took over ...
... later cutting the route back and numbering it 200.
Needless to say there has been a reaction!
And, yet again, the press and those it cajoles into offering an adverse opinion seem to think that Stagecoach should be only too willing to lose money. The usual tear jerking examples are quoted.

Campaigners have called on Daventry' s MP to stop cuts being made to a vital bus service.

Woodford Halse mum Cindy Lingwood suffers with anxiety, depression and chronic migraines. She said: "I struggle to find work as it is; cutting this bus service takes away my chances of getting work tenfold. How can people get to work and how will the vulnerable people get to the doctors or get shopping? Not everyone has access to online shopping."

Cindy also said not enough notice has been given about the cuts.

"It's disgusting," she added. "They've left us with so little notice that we can't make enough fuss to change the decision. I felt isolated and alone during the Covid lockdown, but this is worse. Now I feel trapped."

Users of the service say it will cause hardship among many groups including elderly people and students.

Natalie Louise Laurie, who also lives in Woodford Halse, said her daughter needs the service to continue with her education. "How are we meant to get our sick children to the doctor's now with no surgery in the village? We will have to walk with a poorly child? We have no doctors in the village, so we are completely cut off and isolated now."

She said a lot of elderly people rely on the bus service. "They need the bus service to go shopping," added Natalie. "What about people who rely on the service for work and even Job Centre."

Stacy Brookfield, who also lives in Woodford Halse, said her son uses the service to get to college in Daventry. "He has no other way of getting there," she said. "It would end up costing around £80 a week in taxis. It's disgraceful they can just drop the one and only service here."

Disgraceful it may be, but in the face of losses who is going to pay. More disgraceful is the lack of obvious support from the Local Authorities who are the ones to help with the bills.

But maybe Stagecoach should share some of the blame.

How has Stagecoach publicised the service?

It hasn't.

Here is a route map for the 200 from the Banbury end..
Here is a route map of the 200 from Stagecoach in Rugby.
Oh dear. The Rugby map doesn't go as far as Daventry!

Even better here is the Stagecoach map for Daventry as supplied on line!
So clearly, Stagecoach have been promoting the 200! NOT!!

Needless to say there is no printed timetable.

And passenger numbers have fallen significantly since Covid (and, in passing, since Stagecoach stopped issuing attractive printed publicity.)


Lost And Gone For Ever
The above is Redcar Bus Station in United's day. It is located close by St Peters Church at the very eastern end of the High Street. Here is the location on Google Earth.
It is the bit paved with light grey something, between the two darker grey roads. It was some distance from the town centre, but close to the sea. It is the white gap that runs right through from High Street to Lord Street.
Here is the bus station with an Arriva enquiry office.
Arriva now have an enquiry office, sensibly, in the town centre; looks like it was once a bank. fbb does not know whether it is still open - knowing Arriva's attitude to its customers it would seem unlikely.
But its is nicely placed near the main town centre bus stops. The old bus station is long since closed but one twitterer snapped the old enquiry office in preparation for redevelopment.

The Arriva signs had been removed, and there, hidden behind them, was an interim company name.
Pre-privatisation the mammoth United Automobile Services was split. The Middlesbrough area became Tees and District.

Let's hope someone preserved that sign!

The Second Part Of "The Set"?
'Twas a small pottle of acrylic paint designed for adding "grime" to your precious model railway locomotive. 


Perhaps you are supposed to pour it over the Twiglets as part of "the set"?.

fbb finds that the easiest way to add grime to model railway rolling stock is to leave it outside on his layout in the rain! It works a treat. Shiny new models soon look tatty and weather beaten, not because thay have been painted with "grime" but because their grime is naturally applied!

Saves a fortune in pottles of weathering paints.

 Next Variety blog : Sunday 27th February 


  1. Happy Bday FBB !

  2. I'm only 70, but that card ("It's weird being the same age as old people" really resonated with me.

    Happy Birthday and keep up all the good work!

  3. Happy Birthday FBB.

    At my trust priority P3 means in three months or less, hopefully Mrs FBB will be sorted swiftly.

  4. The GA02/200 has been an operational basketcase for years - even when it ran through to Rugby (the other half being the GA01) it only existed because of funding from the combined county councils - unsurprising given it passes largely through country, with Woodford Halse the only settlement of any size between the two towns, and even that needs a diversion off the main road.

    Neither Oxfordshire nor Northamptonshire (as was) have a particularly generous attitude to bus funding and haven't for some years: FBB's implication that it is all down to Stagecoach not printing a timetable is a little unfair - had Stagecoach not taken it on, it would have ceased years ago with the rest of the erstwhile Geoff Amos network (who went bust...)

  5. Route 200 is a prime example of a bus service that is required by "society" but doesn't cover all costs.
    An LTA is (was) charged with supporting such a service, and only failing to cover costs by around 15% would seem to me to be a good deal, compared with some of the other basket cases around . . .

    As you say . . . both Oxon CC or Northants CC have form in not supporting such services, and being cross-boundary probably suffers from neither county being bothered.
    It is only a couple of years ago that Stagecoach stopped printed timetables . . . if the local Parish Council were interested, they could've funded a timetable themselves . . . house-to-house distribution and all that . . . cost probably 1000 copies on a copier. Not too difficult, really . . .