Sunday 30 June 2024

Sunday Variety

 Technology Edition

Nothing to do with Virginia Woolf's iconic novel, but we are going to the lighthouse, where something unusual is happening in the realm of public transport.

It all  begins with Stagecoach 700 ...

... which has had a whole host of "identity refreshes" over the years. Likewise, vehicle liveries have been "refreshed" on and off. 

Recent observers have spotted; borng Stagecoach current corporate ...
... appalling motorway maintenance livery ...
... with barely visible route branding.
The best of the recent, a scheme which applied throughout the route, was this.
The route has been split up ...
... and, much more recently, reduced in frequency, even on the busy section from Wick to Brighton - now chopped from every 10 to every 12.

It is said that the the best advert for a bus service is its bus stops. Thanks to a contribution from No 3 son, fbb has been taking a look at stops along a section Brighton Road in Shoreham served by the 700. The actual locations are not important; readers may have fun seeking them out on Streetview. Sadly the poor quality of if what should serve as a beacon of advertorial opportunity is often utterly depressing.

Some, however, are just about presentable as here at Eastern Avenue.

One at Amenity Tip ...
... has a frame with a timetable but a very faded flag.

The stop at Kingston Avenue ...

... has a mysterious black box on the pole - possibly a remnant of some electronic information, but no timetable.

All these have been for buses travelling towards Brighton. On the opposite side of the road at the Lighthouse ...

...we have a sticky label affixed to a bigger mysterious black box which is, most definitely ...
... an exceedingly dead departure display! 

But back on the to Brighton side what do we see?
It is yet another little box, and a little box with buttons.
You can get "audio", but it is hard to communicate in a visual blog.

 The "messages" ...
... could be anything, but there weren't any.

There is a button for "timetables" which aren't! 

Disappointingly it is simply a departure list in print that is too small for many users to read, and too closely spaced to mitigate mistakes in reading.
Why doesn't it fill the whole screen?
Then there is "real time", which, at least, is big enough to read.
Real time? fbb thinks not. 

The 700 runs every 12 minutes at this point and those "real" times are exactly 12 minutes apart. Were fbb a betting man he would bet his whole stock of chocolate peanuts that these times are simply an extract from the theoretical published timetable.

Either that or Stagecoach's service regulation team is brilliant beyond imagination!

This little gizmo (how good is its protection against vandalism?) appears to be a one-off experiment as, at the next stoop along the road. Travis Perkins ...

... technology reverts to normality!
And the lighthouse?
Once upon a time it guided ships through a gap in the "bar" and into the River Adur and various docks.

Train Technology Travesty

After a less than pleasant Voyager trip from Sheffield to Exeter St Davids, relieved only by the fact that their seats were booked all the way, the fbbs were very glad to be sitting on a cool comfortable SWR six car diesel for the last leg to Axminster.

The Voyager was delayed en route by "a preceding late running train" but picked up a bit at Temple Meads where a longer layover is scheduled. The five car train was reduced four so there were no "unreserved" seats and far roo many passengers. There was also far to much bulky luggage.

That overcrowding is why Cross Country has disposed of its lovely roomy, comfortable HSTs. 

Good decision whoever made it!

But SWR was a joy by comparison.

Except ...

... for anyone who cared to observe the displays in the ceiling, things were somewhat awry.
The train left Exeter at 1525, not at 0235 as was shown in the train on departure. The clock was working perfectly, ticking over (without "tick") every minute but from a totally wrong start time.

As the train approached each stations the passengers were offered a full list of evey stop that the train would make but including all those that it had already made!

Each next stop was revealed on the scrolling screen promptly and helpfully.

Except that every station was called ...

... Exeter Central. This, as we all know, is the first stop after St David's just a couple of minutes up the hill!

Isn't technology wonderful?

It's Hard to Spend £6.95!

Painting small things is tough for fbb - a combination of his (possible?) ARMD eyesight difficulty  and occasional wobbly left hand mean that detail is decidedly difficult. fbb did try Sharpies (fibre topped pens) but the ink is translucent and only works on light coloured background like paper.

Then this advert appeared in fbb's in box.

The pens supposedly deliver acrylic paint rather than ink which should be more dense as in the yellow on the model chair above. The main market for these is military modelling but it might help with Peterville railway.

One pen might not be a good test ...

... but a full set of 34 colours would be excessive and ill-used at Peterville as many of the pens are camouflage tints. 
So your ham-fisted modeller chose a pack of three: red, yellow and white ...
... and FREE postage. It's a pre-order with delivery due in July - so it's worth a try.

Although fbb has an account with Jadlam, the company has gone potty on security and identity so, in addition to user name and password, the old man needed two sets of verification using downloaded six figure codes. The whole process generated SIX emails.

Whatever happened to the on-line equivalent of ordering something and paying the money?

The whole process took over 20 minutes - but everything is so easy on-line!

Magnificent Models For Much Money

fbb has commented before on the ptofusion of ready-to-tun models in "O" gaige (7mm to the foot). They are all magnificent. They are all expensive; but bear in mind they are nearly four times bigger than "OO" in volume.
A single Pullman car will cost you £400 - and yes, this is for one coach. But what a coach! The price is reduced to £375 if you buy three or more. So here is the gift you have all been waiting for.
Work it out! 8 x £375

But they will be utterly jaw-droppingly magnificent.
Of course the table lamps work!

Did someone say there is a cost of living crisis?

 Next Open Top blog : Monday 1st July 

Saturday 29 June 2024

Totally Topless Tour Part 1

Dateline Wednesday 26th June ...

... sees a small knot of people joining an open top bus at Woodseats Library in Sheffield, surely an unlikely urban location for topless travel!
The vehicle, housed at Stagecoach depot in Chesterfield, then proceeds down Woodseats Road ...
... before turning left at the bottom of the hill and joining the A621. 
No one notices the former Beauchief tram terminus ...
... or the service 97 First Bus coming in the opposite direction. Everyone on board is far too excited for such mundane detail - specially two elderly gentlemen obviously on an old crocks day out!
They are on their way to Chatsworth House but NOT to visit that noble pile.
The open topper climbs through Totley and past the service 97 turning circle in the middle of nowhere ...
... ignored by all but the two old men! Likewise the terrible twosome will also remember when Sheffield Transport buses ran occasionally via Holmesfield to terminate at the sausage-about at Owler Bar.
It is some "sausage".
The moorland ride to Baslow is simply gorgeous in the sunshine but with a noticeable breeze to make the experience pleasant rather than overheated.
Soon the route descends ...
... to the bus stops at Baslow Nether End. There are many ends to Baslow ...
... but "Nether" proffers some buses to enjoy. The dark red one is service 218 to Sheffield operated by T M Travel ...
... whilst the red and white is a Hulleys 170 from Chesterfield to Bakewell.

It is but a short hop from here to the first major stop.
Chatsworth has become something of a public transport hub in the summer with lots of stuff calling there. Here are T M Travel in Edinburgh livery, Stagecoach bus (as opposed to a tour) and T M Travel in maroon.
But the topless twosome (PLEASE NO!!!) are off on the RED tour to Bakewell on the bus that carried them, also topless, from Sheffield.
Stagecoach provides a simplified route map ...

... taking happy open toppers via Pilsley to the former Hassop station and then in a loop via Bakewell and Ashford in the Water. This was the original route as previously operated and and reported by fbb in an equally previous blog.

The route is pleasant and offers a novel way of visiting a series of Derbyshire communities; but scenery wise it not "spectacular'. 

Here is Bakewell looking back towards Chatsworth.
A quick whizz along the main road takes you to Ashford in the Water, a most joyous village. 
It has riverside gardens ...
... some pleasant typical Peak District cottages ...
... and a gurt big tree on the village green.
All very pleasing and made the more enjoyable from the top of a topless! 

For fbb of course, the locations are very familiar from his residency in Sheffield. The delights would be more delightful for a big city visitor from afar.

The RED route's half hourly frequency also offers plenty of opportunities to alight and enjoy a wide range of eateries (it's a proper Bakewell pudding) ...
... or take a brisk walk amongst the glories of Derbyshire.

It is perhaps significant that every RED tour bus that fbb spotted was lightly loaded even though it was a gloriously sunny day where the breeze of toplessness formed an admirable antidote to the sweatiness of sedentary activity or a torrid trudge round Chatsworth house itself.

Perhaps the "tour" lacks that special "something" that applies to, for example, a seaside open top ride?

By today's standards, however, the prices represent very good value, especially as the fare includes connectional journeys from Chesterfield and "south" Sheffield.
The two ancients pictured above thought it was good value, too, but that is because they set off on the second route (BLUE) immediately after they arrived back at Chatsworth.
It is true that the BLUE is a must do with many a new view, and historic too. 

It will feature in Monday's blog.

 Next Weekend Variety blog : Sunday 30 June