Monthly Archives: June 2009

A taste of Heaven

I’ve been to Heaven today, liked what it’s like, and want to go back. So, from now on I’m not going to mutter under my breath everytime a passenger with a concessionary free pass only wants to go one stop, I wont get annoyed at the first passenger of the day offering a �20 note for an 80p fare, l’ll be patient when a passenger with a pushchair flags my bus down and wont take my advice the board the bus right behind me which is a low floor and onto which the pushchair can boarded with child in it, I’ll feel priviledged that they want so much to travel with me that they’ll spend 5 minutes folding the pushchair while the low floor bus overtakes me. Being this good will surely get me into heaven?

“What was Heaven like?” you must wonder. My heaven was lunch here. I’ve had some very good meals in very good restaurants which include meals personally cooked by Garry Rhodes, Albert Roux and Giorgio Locatelli as well as dinner at Raymond Blanc’s Manoir au Quatre Saisons. And this was every bit the equal of them and maybe a hair’s breadth ahead! The cost was 50% of one week’s take home pay (for the two of us) but worth every euro cent of it.

After this superb meal we drove up the coast for a few kilometers and took a walk in very warm sunshine along a beach. If my location in the left hand column still shows my location as La Moularderie that’s where we walked.

Off to France

Tomorrow is our wedding anniversary so we’re going away for a few days in order to enjoy it. Taking the fast catamaran service from Portsmouth to Cherbourg, only takes 3 hours and with an 08:00 departure time delivers you nicely in time for lunch. I’ve booked a hotel a bit further down the peninsula both because it looks good (an old castle) and that there is Michelin starred restaurant very nearby – that’s eating taken care of. I think we’ll drive down to Mont St Michel one day because Essy’s never been there. I love the first views you get of Mont St Michel, in the distance, in a beautiful bay. However, climbing up the narrow main street is an entirely different matter because it’s crammed with tacky souvenir shops and everything is dedicated to the parting of the tourist and his money! Mont St Michel is best seen from about 2 or 3 miles away. Apart from that day out I think we’ll just be taking it easy. Will report back on the trip next week.

Runners

Something happened today which has led me to writing about ‘runners’. Not runners in the regular sense of the word but in the bus driver sense of any intending passenger who is not at the stop but sees a bus they want and runs at it. When you start bus driving every old hand of a bus driver will tell you ‘never stop for a runner’ …….. and mostly they’re right! I used to stop for runners in Winchester on routes with a 10 minutely service. Almost without exception the runner would board and ask “Are you going to X ?” And, of course, the destination indicated in great big letters on the front of the bus quite the opposite! If they really had delayed the correct bus it was a 50/50 whether a �20 note would be offered for an 80p fare, or they spent the next 5 minutes searching for their purse/pass/whatever.

But now I’m mainly doing a run with a frequency measured in hours I do stop for runners. Today, I had already pulled off my stand at Salisbury Bus Station and was heading for the exit when the runner appeared, arms waving, in the middle of the exit. This runner was an elderly lady, rather than run her over I pointed to an empty stand just before the exit and picked her up. “Thank you for stopping” she said. “No problem” I said trying to sound really sincere :-)

When we got to Winchester she was the last to leave the bus and handed me a �5 note saying “Thank you for stopping”! I said that there really was no need for her to do that and she said “There really was no need for you stop”. I argued a bit with her saying that a pound for a cup of tea would be lovely but she insisted on the fiver :-)

Just before writing this I typed ‘bus driving stop for runners’ into to google out of idle curiosity and up came this blog. I’d not come across this blog before and it looks worth further reading.

Weekly tickets

I was boarding the last bus of the day from Salisbury to Winchester when a passenger got on and showed me a weekly ticket isued by Go-Ahead. “Sorry, that’s not valid on Stagecoach” I told the intending passenger.

“Then why do all the Winchester Stagecoach drivers accept it in Winchester?” he demanded to know. I told him that was a lie, that I was a Winchester driver, and was disproving his claim by refusing a Go-Ahead ticket!

Rather than buy a ticket for the express service which runs at this time of day and takes 45 minutes to Winchester he opted to get off and then wait for a Go-Ahead bus to Southampton where he’d then take another bus to Winchester. Total journey time was likely to be over 2 hours!

Maybe he does sometimes get away with using it in Winchester because it bears an uncanny resemblance to our own weekly tickets – Wayfarer ticket encapsulated in a plastic fronted sleeve which is also blue in colour like ours and identical in size! You have to read the words on it to know it’s not a Stagecoach weekly ticket.

1992

I was driving and listening to a local radio station (Wave 105) this morning and they were doing a ‘Guess the Year’ competition. A caller came on the line to the presenter and said it was 1992. “How did you get that?” he asked. “Well” the caller said “it was also the year of the Queen’s anus horribilis!!!! A moments pause and the presenter said “I think you mean annus horribilis. Anus horribilis is something quite different”. He then got a fit of the giggles and couldn’t go on, I nearly swerved off the M3 ’cause I also couldn’t stop giggling.

In case anyone’s forgotten here’s what wikipedia wrote about Her Majesty’s annus horribilis “Annus horribilis is a Latin phrase meaning “horrible year”. It alludes to annus mirabilis meaning “year of wonders”. Queen Elizabeth II brought the phrase to prominence, in a speech to the Guildhall on 24 November 1992, marking the 40th anniversary of her Accession, in which she described the closing year as an “annus horribilis”. �1992 is not a year on which I shall look back with undiluted pleasure. In the words of one of my more sympathetic correspondents, it has turned out to be an Annus Horribilis”.

Wikipedia doesn’t have an entry for anus horribilis, we must just try and imagine what it would be like!

Great night out

We went to The Brook last night to see Maybe Winehouse.

image

The Brook is a small, live music venue in Southampton with a few chairs and tables but mostly it’s standing. Before becoming a live music venue it was a regular pub so you can perhaps picture that it’s a bit cramped inside but that’s what gives it atmosphere, wherever you are you can’t be further than about 15m from the stage! That’s on the lower level, the upstairs balcony area is a bit more organised. I used to go there quite a lot but haven’t been for a few years. It’s mainly local groups and tribute bands like Maybe Winehouse who appear there but sometimes there are big names as well when, for example, The SAS Band appear. I’d forgotten how good the place is, will be going back again soon.