Monthly Archives: June 2011

An explanation

You may have noticed that this blog was not accessible for some weeks. The reason for this was that my ex-employer, Stagecoach (South) Ltd suddenly decided that the blog did not comply with their employee policy on web sites, blogs etc. I say suddenly because the blog has been running for 4 years, was known to Megabus back in the days I started the blog and infact I passed some customer comments/questions which arrived at the blog to them. During the years since I’ve been back driving local routes many more members of Stagecaoch staff have become aware of the blog and some have even contributed comments.

Out of the blue I was called into the office of the Winchester Operations Manager, Richard Tyldsley, and told of the company’s objections to many of my posts. I gave my response only to be instructed to close the blog to public view immediately. In order to comply with that request a password became necessary. I then instigated a Grievance Proceedure against being instructed to close my blog. The Grievance was heard by Mr Tom Bridge, the Operations Director of Stagecoach (South) Ltd, and we hadn’t got far into the discussion before it became abundantly clear that Stagecoach were going to find a reason why almost every post infringed their policy. Here are a few examples of what I consider to be really stupid objections to some postings.

Dread. Here the objection is that the customer may recognise herself. “How do you think she would feel when she reads that”? I was asked. Well, if she doesn’t know she’s got garlic breath there is nothing else in the post that could identify her and lead her to think ‘that’s me’. If she knows how bad her garlic breath is she should be more considerate and attempt to mask it!

For some reason, which even Mr Bridge struggled to find when I pressed him on exactly which part of the policy it contravened, he took objection to Wheelers Coaches and wanted it removed.

A confession was objected to for reasons which were probably so laughable that I’ve forgotten quite what was wrong with it.

Mr Bridge put on a very serious face to claim that my thoughts on Bus Passes would be taken by the reader as the official Stagecoach stance on Concessionary travel!

Back to the passengers recognising themselves again with Giving change.

There were quite a lot more examples like this and then we came to the one which made me realise that there was no point at all in continuing to try and put across my viewpoint. Ticket design “Do you not see the security risks in posting pictures of tickets on the internet”? (Cough ….. splutter …… try not to laugh) Anyone who thinks those low resolution, non-life size pictures of tickets will be printed from the web page, cut out and then be passed off as the real thing really needs to see a nice man in a white coat. If you’re going to forge tickets invest in buying just one so that you’re copying the real thing. If you’re really a cheapskate just look around the floor of the bus and you’ll find discarded tickets of all types including expired period passes there for the picking up. I realised at this point that Stagecoach would find/invent a reason to disagree with everything I ever wrote.

I withdrew my Grievance and despite huge misgivings agreed to keep the blog out of the public domain. Obviously, I didn’t agree with the company but as an employee reluctantly accepted that I had to comply with their request however unreasonable I found it. I thought that would draw a line under the matter – Stagecoach had got everything they wanted as far as I could see.

However, I was then served notice that a Disciplinary Hearing would take place the next day in relation to the postings which had appeared and I would receive some form of punishment on my work record. This was the straw which broke this camel’s back – I was no longer prepared to take more of this nonsense and gave 7 days notice. The company reaction was that since I was still employed for 7 days the Disciplinary Hearing would take place the next day and the outcome would be placed on my record! Consequently I amended my 7 day notice to notice with immediate effect. So instead of them having 7 days in which to organise cover for my rota duties they only had a couple of hours. I was then treated then as if I’d been dismissed, a Controller was summoned to escort me to the paying-in room and observe the paying-in of my takings, take from me all company property and then ensure that I left the premises!

Now I’m no longer an employee of Stagecoach (South) Ltd I’m not beholden to comply with their employee policy on blogs, nor honour my agreement as an employee to keep the blog out of the public domain. Well done Stagecoach, I think Mr Tyldsley may have shot you in the corporate foot!

Watch out for future information I’d never have dreamt of posting as an employee :-)

London weekend photos

Our 5th Wedding Anniversary was on Friday so we’ve been to London for the weekend. Here’s the first of the photos I planned to take having made absolutely sure that I didn’t forget my camera. Just one little problem, I did forget the battery which was sitting in its charger in my study! We’ll just have to go back and do it all again!

I’ve something in common with Royalty

In April my daughter treated me and the ‘Missus’ to Sunday lunch at the Waterside Inn at Bray for my birthday. Now I read that Prince Philip was treated to his 90th birthday lunch here as well; in his case the tab was picked up the grand children. I wonder if he sat on the chair I’d sat on? Much more fun musing on that rather than ‘I wonder if the chair I’m sitting on is the one he sat on’. It’s nice to be first!

First we had drinks on the terrace in glorious sunshine. Rebecca lives in Milano so a Campari and Soda seemed an appropriate aperitif. The tiny freebies with the drinks were a little limited for me, there were three including a foie gras based one. Rebecca is a pescatarian so foie gras is a no, no for her and Essy doesn’t like foie gras so I had to eat them all and leave the others for the other two!

We all chose from the Menu Gastronomique and I started with a Spinach and Sorrel Soup with a soft poached egg in it, shreds of chicken, and topped with slices of truffle – intensely green and utterly delicious.

For the main I had stuffed saddle of lamb with morel mushrooms and vegetables which included baby artichokes and asparagus. The lamb was better than perfect if that’s possible :-) and the jus was so intensely flavoured I wouldn’t leave a drop of it mopping it up with a piece of bread!

With this we drank a Rose from Michel Roux’s vineyard in Provence.

For dessert I chose Pistachio Creme Brulee with vanilla ice-cream in a crisp basket. Absolutely top notch.

I never have coffee after a meal but enjoy the petit fours as an extension of dessert. These were outstanding and included a small sugar coated cube of jelly – it tasted like a whole bottle of Ribena had been reduced to a teaspoon! Nougat was great and a tiny passion fruit tart superb.

Service was impeccable, Rebecca placed her handbag on the floor alongside her chair. Within seconds a small table was brought alongside and her handbag lifted from the floor to sit in glory on its own little table! I estimate that there was about one front of house staff to every 4/5 diners. The wages bill for the establishment will be enormous and must account for a significant proportion of the bill.

Bus company shut down after officials find people traveling in luggage compartment

We’ve all seen pictures of buses in third world countries with passengers riding on the roof, clinging to the back etc because the bus was full. But now the idea has spread to the US where Bus company shut down after officials find people traveling in luggage compartment — again.

A Michigan tour bus company was ordered to cease operations after six people were found traveling in one bus’ luggage compartment.

Along with the uncomfortable travelers, authorities also found mattresses, pillows and luggage when the bus was pulled over in Ohio on May 27th.

“People’s lives were needlessly placed at risk,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood in a statement. “Safety is everyone’s responsibility and it begins with practicing common sense. That means not putting human beings in cargo holds.”

The bus was run by Haines Tours.

According to the report by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, the driver told the officer that he had stashed some passengers in the luggage department because there was no more room on the passenger part of the bus.

Even more frightening? The bus company was warned in August of 2010 that it cannot transport people in the luggage department of its vehicles.

It was not immediately clear why the passengers agreed to sit in the luggage compartment of the vehicle.

The company can operate again if it meets government requirements and develops a plan to ensure that passengers are never stashed anywhere but the passenger area of the bus again.

The incident comes after a series of high-profile bus crashes that have killed dozens this year, including one from New York to a Connecticut casino.

In North Carolina, another bus company was ordered to shut down on Saturday because government inspectors said the company hires drivers who don’t have the required licenses or aren’t medically qualified, WCTI-12 reported.

The company said it plans on hiring new drivers so it can resume operations.

Cruise ships

Yesterday we had a day out on the Isle of Wight. We spent the morning in Ventnor basking in the sun and then had a late lunch at the Four Seasons in Wroxall, I mentioned the pub in The Holiday posting in August of last year. A slow drive back to Cowes and then boarded the Red Funnel ferry. Within a 40 minute period we saw 4 cruise ships departing! I know that Southampton has positioned itself as a premier cruise port but four departures within 40 minutes surely ranks it as the Heathrow of cruise ships! Here are the ships we saw.

MSC Opera departing on a 9 day Norwegian Fjords cruise.

Celebrity Cruises Eclipse departing on a 15 day Italian Mediterranean cruise.

P&O Cruises Azura departing on 15 day Baltic Capitals cruise

P&O Cruises Oceana departing on an 8 day French & Spanish Break cruise.

The eyeballing game

I’ve been having a bit of fun doing the eyeballing game. I’ve tried it three times now and the odd thing is that I don’t get any better the more I play it. My first score was 4.0 which has remained my best! Post your score as a comment please.