Sunday, 14 September 2014

2014 - Day Out 06: Weston-Super-Mare

Date: Saturday 23 August 2014

It has been over ten years since we last did it, so Mr UKBuses and myself decide to go nostalgic and contact Whittle to book a coach trip, there was no Brendan today though and our driver was Ben.

I don't have to walk far to get to the pick up point, a three minute walk to Wollaston, so I make my way up to the village arriving at 07.50am with Mr UKBuses arriving at the same time after getting a lift from his dad. We have time to go to Spar to get a drink for the journey ahead, after making our purchase we make our way to the bus stop situated by The Princess and as we arrive, the Whittle's coach comes into view and we are greeted by Ben our driver and shown our seats, which are the front row, so we have a good view on the journey to and from Weston-Super Mare. As the coach has arrived a few minutes early we do have a few minutes to spare to wait for a few more passengers, so I take the opportunity to get some "fresh air" before they board. With everyone aboard at this pick up point we make our way to pick up the rest of the passengers who have booked today.

Mr UKBuses supplies the travel news!
We leave Wollaston and go via Stourton to get to the rest of the pick up points, those being Franche, Kidderminster and then a scenic view through Bewdley and finally Stourport at 9.00am before Ben gets to go full throttle to Weston-Super-Mare and onto the M5 motorway. We are on the coach for over an hour before Ben pulls into the motorway services and luckily for Mr UKBuses, we get to visit the Michael Wood Services, which is located twenty-two miles away from Bristol, I wonder if the owner of these services is related to Mr UKBuses. We have about twenty minutes here, so Mr UKBuses has a bite to eat at Burger King and after his food has been cooked, we make our way outside enabling him to eat his food and me to get some "fresh air", break over, we make a little visit before re-boarding the coach, and also Mr UKBuses himself warns of an upcoming traffic problem, see picture right. With everyone on board, we make our way out of the services and onto Weston-Super-Mare, a couple of minutes down the motorway, disaster strikes and we get caught in a traffic jam near Bristol. Our driver Ben looks at his Sat-Nav and informs us that there is about 16 miles of tailbacks and we slowly make our way down the motorway and it seems as the Sat-Nav is right and after we pass Bristol, the traffic jam starts to disappear and we soon gather speed for the final leg of the journey. We arrive at Weston-Super-Mare at 12.30pm, an hour and a half later than planned.

The Cabot Court Hotel
We alight on the sea front near the new pier and after a few photographs are taken and some "fresh air" had, we carry on along the sea front and our first port of call is for food and we soon find the J D Wetherspoons, "The Cabot Court Hotel" where we first order a pint, whilst I am stood at the busy bar waiting to be served, Mr UKBuses conveniently dodges the round to find a table. I eventually get served and find Mr UKBuses and peruse the menu. With Mr UKBuses going for his usual of BBQ Chicken Melt without the Melt, I do indeed opt for the usual Beer and Burger, but instead of the traditional chicken burger, I opt for the pulled pork burger (with onion rings!) and after waiting nearly another ten minutes to order and then a further fifteen minutes for the food to arrive, it was well worth the wait and will be having that option on future outings. With the food quickly consumed, we wait a few minutes for it to go down and for us to finish off our drinks, before trying to find the way back out onto the sea front, Mr UKBuses makes a visit first though so I get some "fresh air" whilst I wait looking out to sea.

Cheers from The Dragon Inn!
We make our way along the sea front and spot an old Bristol VRT bus operated by Crosville on a tour around the town, we do board, but we find out that we cannot buy a day ticket on this bus, so we have a walk around the town to where the main bus stops are and after a few photographs are taken we board First Buses of Somerset's service 3 which will take us to our first destination, and after going through a big estate we arrive close to an out-of-town shopping centre, but we get off one stop before, which is located handily right outside the First Bus Depot, so a few photographs are taken before we walk down the road to another local operator, Coombs, where more photographs are taken. We are both needing a bladder break and luckily a big Asda store is around the corner, so we head inside and use the facilities before making our way back outside and to the nearest bus stop where just as we arrive, service 3 pulls up and we board to make our way back into the main Weston-Super-Mare town centre.

The hair does not move!
As we arrive back in the town and alight our bus, we spot that the next bus we was going to catch was just departing so Mr UKBuses said that we should go to the second J D Wetherspoons in the town but he wasn't sure where it was, luckily I spotted it just across the road from where we were standing, so we take a few steps and arrive at "The Dragon Inn", see picture above right. Drinks are ordered and paid for this time by Mr UKBuses, but his pint doesn't look to good, but we find a seat and sup our drinks and just before 3.30pm we make our way to the bus stop and board Crosville's service 100, which we take a seat on the open top with Mr UKBuses hair staying still, see picture left, and make our way to Sand Bay taking in the seafront and Kewstoke before arriving at the terminus at Sand Bay. We have a few minutes to spare so I have some "fresh air" whilst Mr UKBuses takes a few photographs before re-boarding and going back along the sea front to Weston-Super-Mare where we alight and decide to have one last pint in Yates, with me this time mistaking a beer pump and getting some traditional somerset cider. Drinks supped, we have one final walk along the front and have a quick look on the pier where I buy a stick of rock and nearly faint when I find that this has cost me £1.25, no wonder Mr UKBuses did not make his way into the shop. Off the pier and a few photographs taken before Ben brings the coach to the sea front to pick us up promptly and on time at 5pm.

With everybody back on board, we depart sunny Weston-Super-Mare on time and make our way back to the West Midlands. Luckily as we head onto the M5 Motorway, there is no sign of any jams, so we head north and as we pass Bristol, we near Michael Woods Services again and Ben decides to pull in and let us stretch our legs for a bit. On the return leg, I decide to join Mr UKBuses for a Burger King, so with the food ordered, we wait and wait and after a couple of people who ordered the same food after us and are getting their food first, a girl behind the till asks if I am OK, when I respond that I have been waiting ages and want a refund, my food suddenly appears, a bit strange that. With the food finally cooked, I devour my burger and make a quick visit outside to get some "fresh air" before joining up with Mr UKBuses and making our way back onto the coach. The coach departs the services and we make our way back along the motorway, dropping off passengers at Stourport, Bewdley, Kidderminster and Franche before we alight and thank Ben at Wollaston. Mr UKBuses is just in time to catch the National Express West Midlands service 276 back to Norton whilst I have a nightcap at Graham's Place before heading back home after a delightful day out.

Despite arriving late, a good day was had and it was nice to go on a coach trip again, so good, that one is planned in late September with Whittles again to Blackpool. Here are the bald spot pictures:

Bald Spot 1

Bald Spot 1: The bald spot is seen having a break at the Michael Wood Services.

Bald Spot 2

Bald Spot 2: The bald spot has arrived and is seen walking along the sea front at Weston-Super-Mare.

Bald Spot 3

Bald Spot 3: The bald spot is feeling sad as it is seen again on the Weston-Super-Mare sea front just before boarding the coach back to the West Midlands.

Sunday, 1 June 2014

2014 - Day Out 05: Swanage and Poole

Date: Monday 26 May 2014

Day three of our mini break and after a long journey across to another county to Exeter and back yesterday, we are staying in Dorset today, visiting a few places and having an evening away from Weymouth.

Weymouth Beach
After a good nights sleep, I awake for our final full day in Weymouth and Dorset and after a "fresh air" break as soon as I wake, I make my way back up to the room to have a lie down and watch the morning news before it is time to meet up with Mr UKBuses for breakfast. We have chance to have a bit of a lie in this morning so we meet up a bit later today in reception for breakfast and as we meet up, we make our way to the "breakfast room" to fill up to keep us going throughout the day. Mr UKBuses makes his coffee and gets his toast whilst I get the cranberry juices ready before making a dash and filling my plate up with loads of bacon, sausage, hash browns and beans. We start eating once Mr UKBuses gets his breakfast assortment sorted and after devouring our cooked breakfast we wash it down with a few yogurts, but disaster strikes, there is no vanilla today, so we have to make do with Strawberry and Raspberry. Breakfast eaten, I make my way for some "fresh air" whilst Mr UKBuses finishes off his coffee and once he has supped up his coffee, we make our way back to the rooms to freshen up and get ready for the day ahead. We have to make our way up to the Kings Statue to get our first us of the day, but we decide to have a look at the bus stop opposite and find out that a First Wessex service 503 is due and we decide to get this into the town, especially when we see who is driving it, Clive a former work colleague who used to work with Mr UKBuses in the West Midlands. We arrive early for our bus and Clive has a bit of time for his next journey, so we have a chat about old times and what is happening fleet wise with First in Weymouth. Clive has to depart so we say our goodbyes and make our way to the bus stop at Kings Statue, stopping off along the way to pick up a bottle of pop to keep us refreshed whilst on the bus.

We have to venture onto First Wessex's service X53 again today, but we are travelling in the opposite direction to Poole which means that we will be on the bus for approximately an hour and a half and not three and a half hours as we were yesterday when we caught the X53 to Exeter. Before we board I notice that my trainer is falling apart and the sole is actually hanging off, with no time to go back to the hotel, I hope that we can find a Shoe Zone in Poole to get a cheap pair of trainers as a replacement, so we board at 09:57am and our on our way, I cant quite remember what villages we pass through to begin with as Mr UKBuses and myself had a nap, I know that we passed through Wool as we were stuck for a while at the level crossing whilst a train passed through, which meant that an idiot driving behind our bus was constantly beeping his horn even though it was impossible to move anywhere. We are nearly in Poole and we get confused as it seems that the route has changed as we head down by the harbour area, which also meant we had nice views before arriving at Poole bus station at 11:27am. We have about fifteen minutes to wait, so whilst Mr UKBuses takes a few photographs, I go in the nearby shopping centre to find a cheap shoe shop, but with time not on my side, I have to make it back to the bus station so that we can catch our next bus, even though Mr UKBuses was standing at the wrong stand to begin with. With the bottom of my trainer now becoming worse, we board More's service 52 confusing the driver as we board when asking for the day ticket, which we are on for less than half an hour before we have to alight at Sandbanks at 12:09pm, walking from the stop around the corner to the stop by the Sandbanks Ferry boarding point.

We have a twenty minute wait at Sandbanks, so a bit of "fresh air" is had and we take a seat at the bus stop watching the ferry crossing the water a couple of times. We can see our next bus, but obviously it is the other side of the water, so has to wait for the ferry to go across to bring it to our side. By the time the bus gets across the water, the bus is running approximately 10 minutes late so we board "The Purbeck Breezer" service 50 at 12.35pm, and make our way to our next destination of Bournemouth, we are only on the bus for 25 minutes, and the bus has caught up time. We alight in Bournemouth and Mr UKBuses decides to watch a show that is going on in the main square, with me starting to walk off. He tells me to stay here for a bit, with him thinking I was making my way to the pub, but when I point at my now totally useless trainer, he understands what I'm looking for and we go off in search for a cheap shoe shop. We spend about twenty minutes looking and decide to give up, especially when we find T K Maxx, which doesn't have a good selection of trainers, I decide on a pair of pumps which cost me nearly twenty pounds (and I thought T K Maxx was supposed to be cheap!) and with me not planning on buying replacement shoes, I have to get the credit card out again to pay for them. We make our way back to the bus stops where Mr UKBuses takes a few photographs, whilst I visit W H Smiths to get some more refreshments for our next journey. We take a walk down to where the old bus station used to be (now a car park), before making our way to the bus stop for our next bus, we did arrive nearly twenty minutes early which is a good job as the bus turns up twenty minutes earlier than planned.

Cheers from The Anchor, Swanage!
We board "The Purbeck Breezer" service 50 again which for some reason the open top buses aren't being operated today and make our way back to the Sandbanks to catch the ferry, but before we depart I change from my one and half trainers I have left, into my new pumps. We board the ferry and it is a good job we aren't on the open top as I can see the ferry bobbing about, which would have made me felt a bit more sick if I was in the open air. We make away across the from Sandbanks and make our way towards our next destination. After a journey of an hour and twenty minutes, we arrive at Swanage and after a few photographs are taken at the railway station, we head around to the depot to take a few shots before walking into the town centre, and it felt so good to walk around properly with out a trainer hanging off as we walk into the town centre, I find a big bin so I can dispose of my old trainers, but I can't complain as I had a lot of use of them over the last couple of years. We decide to have a break and we have a change and head into The Anchor this year, see picture right, and Mr UKBuses takes his seat whilst it is my turn for the round (I don't know how that happened!), and after a pleasant service from the landlord, we take our seats and rest our legs for a bit and mourn the passing of my trainers. We look at the time and notice that as we arrived in Swanage earlier than planned, and we make it back to the railway station on time, we can catch the earlier bus service into Poole which means we can have more time to take a visit to the depot to take a few photographs. So we head back to the railway station and at 3.30pm, we board "The Purbeck Breezer" service 40, even though people tried to push in, we still get good seats and we depart on time and have a journey of an hour an ten minutes, passing through Corfe Castle and Wareham along the way before arriving back in Poole.

As we have more time to spare, we make our way around to the depot to take a few photographs, before going back to the bus station and through the shopping centre to the other side of the depot to take a few more photographs. We are getting hungry and decide to visit J D Wetherspoons "The Lord Wimbourne" for some food and also to meet Mr UKBuses relative. Before we do, we make a visit to the railway station so we can buy our train ticket to get us back to Weymouth tonight. We make our way back to the town and into The Lord Wimbourne and as we are early we order a drink and wait before food and after a while Mr UKBuses brother arrives and more drinks are ordered and food is also ordered too. Mr UKBuses opts for his Chicken and Bacon Melt, "without the melt" and I opt for the Scampi and Chips again as it is soft food as my tooth is still a bit sore and playing up. Food is eaten and we stay at The Lord Wimbourne for a few hours and also a few pints and catch up with Mr UKBuses brother and how he is getting on and what he is getting up to in the area. It is just before 9.00pm so we finish our drinks and make our way to the railway station.

Cheers! on the train
As we are near to the railway station, we say our goodbyes to Mr UKBuses brother and make our way to the platform and wait a while for our train to arrive. It is 9.14pm and our South West Train arrives on time and we board and take a seat and get comfortable for the journey ahead, as no cheers photo was taken in The Lord Wimbourne a selfie was taken on the train on the way back, see picture left. As we make our way back into Weymouth we pass through Parkstone, Hamworthy and Wool, arriving at Weymouth Railway Station at 10.00pm. We alight our train and make our way out of the station and as there are no buses running back to the hotel this time on a night on Bank Holidays, we decide to go for the easy option and visit the taxi office opposite the station. We order a taxi and we wait about five minutes before it arrives to take us back to the hotel. It only takes a few minutes to get us back to the Premier Inn, but it did save us the walk as it had been a long day and we were both tired. Mr UKBuses opts out of a nightcap in "The Lodmoor", but I decide to have one, but have to pop to my room first before popping back down to the bar and having a couple of pints before I retire. After enquiring about what time the bar closes, the barmaid on duty does me a favour by taking for two pints which means that I don't have to rush to down the first pint in time for last orders. I repay the favour when she mentions that she has to bring the big board in from outside, so I bring it in for her before she pours my second pint and after my nightcap is finished, I pop across the road to have some "fresh air" whilst watching the sea in the dark, and also the town illuminated in the distance before I retire and hopefully get a good nights sleep ready for the long trip back tomorrow.

Another beautiful day was had, and a nice final night in Dorset (Poole and Weymouth) was a fitting night to end the mini break.


Date: Tuesday 27 May 2014

It is our last morning in Weymouth and with our bags packed ready for the trip back home it is nearly time to say goodbye to one of my favourite locations in England.

The Premier Inn, Weymouth
It is our last few hours, so I wake up early getting some "fresh air" before going back to my room to ensure that everything is packed away ready for departure after breakfast, which I meet Mr UKBuses in reception of the Premier Inn at 08:15am and make our way to the breakfast room / The Lodmoor public house for our final feast in Weymouth. I get the juice in for us whilst Mr UKBuses gets his coffee and toast sorted before making our way to the buffet to load our plates up with bacon, sausage, etc to fill us up until we get back to the West Midlands. We devour our food and the traditional yogurts are had, with Vanilla back in supply today. I nip outside for some "fresh air" whilst Mr UKBuses finishes off his coffee before we go back to the rooms and ensure that everything is all packed up and nothing is left behind. After the final check is done we meet back in reception and make our way to the bus stop opposite the hotel.

We only have to wait for a few minutes before a First Wessex service 503 turns up to take us to the Kings Statue in Weymouth and it is Clive driving again today. It only takes a couple of minutes before we arrive and with not a lot of time left, I leave Mr UKBuses chatting with his past work colleague, saying my goodbyes to Clive myself as I alight to have my now traditional last pint in J D Wetherspoons "The William Henry". I have finished my drink by the time Mr UKBuses arrives and we make our way back to the railway station, but before we arrive we make our first visit of the long weekend to the First Wessex Weymouth depot to take a few pictures, it is situated virtually opposite the railway station so don't have too far to walk. We arrive at Weymouth Railway Station and Mr UKBuses visits the shop so he can get a drink for the journey back, but is frustrated that a few people in front of him are wanting coffees which slows up the process of him getting served (and only a couple of minutes left before we have to board our train). Luckily we have a minute to spare and we board our South West Train which is heading for London Waterloo (we are not going that far), and at 10:03am our train departs and we say goodbye to Weymouth for another year. We have to change for our next train at Southampton Central, which means we are on the train for just under an hour and a half, passing through, Parkstone, Poole and Bournemouth before arriving at 11:28am. We have a bit of a break here so I decide to pop out to the front of the station and have some "fresh air" before we have to catch our next train.

After my break is over I rejoin Mr UKBuses on the platform and at 11:46am our Arriva CrossCountry train arrives and we board and take our reserved seats, which are not occupied this time, ready for our journey back. As soon as we leave Southampton, the refreshment trolley makes it way down our carriage and I opt for a bottle of Sharp's "Doombar" to keep my throat wet during this leg of the journey. We are on this train for approximately an hour and a half passing through Oxford before arriving at Banbury, where we have to change for our third leg of the journey back home, again we have a bit of time to spare so I head outside for some "fresh air" before heading back into the station for our next train.  At 13:43pm, our next train arrives and we board a Chiltern Railways train which will take us to Birmingham Moor Street, luckily as we board we spot a table seat straight away so that we can stretch our legs out and we are on this train for 50 minutes before arriving in Birmingham and we pass Warwick, Leamington Spa and Solihull along the way before arriving at Birmingham Moor Street at 14:34pm.

We only have a few minutes to wait, which luckily I can make use of the facilities before our next train arrives. At 14:39pm our London Midland train arrives and surprisingly it is being pulled by a Class 153 train, a train which used to be used on the Stourbridge Shuttle service. We make our way to Birmingham Snow Hill, waiting at the station a few minutes before it carries on along the homeward bound journey. Mr UKBuses has arranged a lift so as we arrive and alight at Stourbridge Junction at 15:08, we say our goodbyes and I head into Stourbridge via the Stourbridge Dodger visiting the bank and shops and also a sneaky pint in J D Wetherspoons "The Chequers Inn" before I make my way back to Stourbridge Interchange and catching a National Express West Midland's service 276 to Wollaston Junction and after alighting I have a short walk home before I can put my legs up for the rest of the day.

The break in Weymouth has been a brilliant few days with fantastic weather, fantastic company and a big thank you goes to Mr UKBuses who had planned all the bus journeys we went on, if it wasn't for the plans, we may have been stuck in the middle of nowhere. No doubt that Weymouth will be visited next year and hopefully there will be a Weymouth Vintage Bus Running Day in 2015. I didn't manage a lot, but there are a few depot bald spot photo's below from our holiday in Weymouth:

Bald Spot 1

Depot Bald Spot 1: The bald spot is seen outside Stagecoach South West depot at Exmouth.

Bald Spot 2

Depot Bald Spot 2: The bald spot is seen at Wilts and Dorset's depot at Poole.

Bald Spot 3

Depot Bald Spot 3: The bald spot is seen outside First Wessex's depot at Weymouth just before it caught the train back home.

2014 - Day Out 04: Exeter and Exmouth

Date: Sunday 25 May 2014

Day two of Weymouth break 2014, today sees us visiting another English county and a long time on the buses.

The King's Statue, Weymouth
I wake up early and not having a good sleep, I head outside for some "fresh air" before going back to my room and having a lie down and watching the news before getting ready to meet Mr UKBuses for breakfast before we head out for the day. We meet in reception just before 8:00am and make our way to the "Breakfast Room", which is in fact The Lodmoor public house. Its our first breakfast in Weymouth and as is the case when we stay at Travelodge Docklands, it is an all you can eat breakfast so we can pile up as much as we want on our plates. To start off with I get the Cranberry Juice and Mr UKBuses wants some too, I get this for him whilst he gets his coffee and he makes his toast ready for the feast. While Mr UKBuses waits for his toast, I make my way towards the bacon, and I pile on loads of bacon, sausages, hash browns and beans to fill me up for the day ahead. I start whilst Mr UKBuses gets his selection of food and after finishing the feast, I make my way to the yogurt and help myself to a couple including Strawberry and Vanilla flavours. With the Vanilla being very tasty I get a couple more and it looks like I'm nicking all the yogurt when Mr UKBuses yells across the room to get him a couple. With breakfast finished, we let it go down whilst Mr UKBuses finishes his coffee, and before going back to the rooms to get ready for the day ahead, I have some "fresh air". Once we are ready, we meet back up in reception and make our way to the bus stop opposite the hotel.

Which one is the dinosaur?
When we reach the bus stop, being a Sunday service, we find out that there are no services into Weymouth before we have to catch our bus from the Kings Statue, so we head onto the coastal path and walk by the sea, eventually ending up along The Esplanade and after about a mile we arrive at the Kings Statue ready to get our bus, before we do though, we head into the cafe for a bottle of pop to keep us refreshed on our journey ahead, which will see us cross the border from Dorset into Devon. I keep our place in the queue for the bus as it is starting to increase, whilst Mr UKBuses takes a few photographs. Just before 09:20am, our bus arrives and we board First Wessex's service X53 which will take us three and a quarter hours to get to our next destination. The X53 is branded for The Jurassic Coast and as can be seen in the picture right, there is a question to be asked, which one is the dinosaur? We head off into the direction of Bridport and I copy Mr UKBuses and decide to have a nap to try and catch up on sleep that I lost out last night. Before we arrive at Bridport, we pass through Burton Bradstock and West Bay and whilst I'm enjoying my nap, a passenger next to me decides to wake me up to say how wonderful the views of Chesil beach are as we pass it, thanks a lot I was enjoying catching up on my sleep. Wide awake now, I keep my eyes open whilst Mr UKBuses snores away and just over an hour after boarding the bus, we arrive in Bridport coach station. The driver turns off the engine and shouts down the bus that we will be stopping here for about five minutes, so we can get off the bus and stretch our legs if we want. A perfect opportunity it is then, so I decide to alight and grab some "fresh air" as we have another two hours on the bus before arriving at our destination. Break over, I board the bus and retake my seat and we depart Bridport and before our next destination, we pass through Lyme Regis, Beer (yes, there is a place called Beer!) and Seaton before arriving at 12:32pm at Exeter Bus Station. We have about eight minutes here so I grab some "fresh air" whilst Mr UKBuses pops down to the lower level, as being a Sunday there are a lot of Stagecoach vehicles not in service and parked up.

We make our way to Stand 8, and at 12:40pm on time, our Stagecoach South West service 57 bus turns up, so we board buying our Explorer Tickets and take a seat for our journey of just over half an hour, where Mr UKBuses catches another nap before we arrive in Exmouth at 1:16pm. The sun is shining and seeing as we have been on the bus most of the day, we decide to have a break and Mr UKBuses takes me to J D Wetherspoons, "The Powder Monkey" for a drink (even though he took me there, it turns out to be my round!!!!), Mr UKBuses waits at the bar, with my money, to get served whilst I make use of the facilities, and when I return he still hasn't been served even though there are five members of staff behind the bar. Mr UKBuses copies me and makes use of the facilities and when he returns, we are still waiting to be served. Eventually we do get served and seeing as it is a nice day, we decide to sit outside soaking up the rays of the sun in the beer garden located at the entrance to the pub. Drinks over, we go on a short walk and to Stagecoach's depot in Exmouth, taking a few photographs. Photographs over, we head back into town and to the bus stop, we are ahead of schedule and decide to catch the earlier bus back to Exeter so we can spend more time there before travelling back into Dorset.

We board Stagecoach's service 57 again at 1.58pm and make our way back to Exeter, arriving earlier than planned at 2.35pm, which means we have just under an hour to spend in Exeter. Mr UKBuses takes some more photographs and on the plan is a map showing the locations of two J D Wetherspoons pubs in the city. We head off in what we think is the right direction and even though we have walked halfway around Exeter, we are by the Cathedral where one of the pubs are supposed to be located but we cannot see it and give up the search and head for a pint in "The Ship", where we take a seat and give a little fuss to a black Labrador sitting with his owner on the next table. Rest over we make our way back through the city to the bus station and after taking a bladder break (another three and a half hour journey ahead!!), we make our way to Stand 14. We know when our bus will be turning up as we can see it parked up on the lower level and when it is nearly time, we can see it moving and coming up to the bus stop and we board and take our seats ready for the long journey back. We head back through Lyme Regis and have a bit of trouble in Beer when an old bus is at our bus stop where we have to turn around, the bus moves for us and causes a bit of problems for the traffic, once we pick up the passengers, we are on our way and arrive at Bridport at about 5.30pm, where the driver stops the engine, so I make a bolt for the door and whilst he is in the outstation, I get some "fresh air", before boarding and retaking my seat. The driver has been gone a long time and Mr UKBuses worries that he has done a runner and that we are stuck in Bridport, I offer to drive us back but before I can get in the cab, the driver turns up and we are on our way again and just over an hour later, we arrive back at the Kings Statue in Weymouth, where we alight and run up to the next bus stop which means that we catch First Wessex's service 4 back to the hotel, arriving back at 6.53pm.

Cheers From The Chapelhay Tavern
We have just under half an hour at the hotel, so we quickly freshen up and meet up in reception and make our way to the bus stop opposite where we catch the final bus of the day into Weymouth, First Wessex's service 4, with the same driver who took us to the hotel previously and being as this is the last bus, it doesn't take him long to arrive at the King's Statue dropping us off before going back to the depot around the corner. We are feeling hungry so we head to J D Wetherspoons "The William Henry" and we make our way to the top bar, Mr UKBuses gets the round in and I search for a table. Two trips around the pub and there are no tables available so it looks like we won't be eating here until Mr UKBuses spots people leaving and faster than a bolt of lightning I get the seats before anybody else has the chance to. Mr UKBuses brings the drinks over and we peruse the menu before I go to the bar to order the food. Mr UKBuses opts for his usual BBQ Chicken Melt "Without the melt!" and as I have a sore tooth I need to eat something soft, so I surprise Mr UKBuses and opt for the Scampi and Chips. Seeing as the pub is quite busy it does take longer than usual for the food to arrive but when it does arrive, we soon get to work devouring it. We give it a few minutes to let our food go down and once we finish our pints we head out and sample a couple of our favourite pubs in Weymouth, we make our way down to the bridge and stop there a few minutes as there is a music festival going on, we then continue over the bridge and up the steps to our first pub, "The Chapelhay Tavern". When we arrive the pub is quite busy and Ringwood's Forty-Niner is ordered and we are pleased this year as the pub is being used a bit more and the beer doesn't taste like vinegar, see picture left. We take our seats close to the bar and listen to the coastguard radio.

The Boot, Weymouth
We spend a bit of time here and give the pub's German Shepherd dog a bit of fuss, she is starting to look a little old now, hopefully she will still be around when we visit next year. Drinks supped and we leave The Chapelhay behind and take a short walk to our next favourite pub and a few minutes later we are walking down the hill and we can see "The Boot", see picture right. As the sun is till shining, we decide to take a seat outside and I go into the bar to get the round, which seeing as it a Ringwood's pub we opt for the Forty-Niner again, when I come out I realise that I have purchased the last two rounds, here and at The Chapelhay, so no wonder Mr UKBuses has to get a seat quick, as his wallet must be getting heavy for him to carry around. In the space opposite there are a few people enjoying the sun and the pub must have been and still is quite busy with live music blaring out from the pub, seeing as it sunny and also a Bank Holiday tomorrow the people are celebrating the fact and this can be seen with the people enjoying themselves opposite. Whilst we are outside it is rude not to have some "fresh air" and once the break is over we finish off our drinks and head to the next favourite of ours.

The Globe, Weymouth
We make our way down to the harbour bridge and also try and spot where the webcam is situated and across the bridge we go and down one of the side streets where we come across another one of our favourite pubs and it is also our second visit this year to "The Globe", see picture left. Mr UKBuses purchases the drinks, which are Dartmoor Brewery's "Jail Ale" and once I come round after passing out when he got his wallet out, the pub celebrates his purchase and seeing as his "Stan" stool is not available tonight, we spot the pool table, so decide to have a game. With the balls racked up, we have a good game which sees me being victorious. Whilst we were playing, a young woman put her money on the table and seeing as I was the winner, it is up to me to take her on. She breaks and she gets off to a bad start, but as the game progresses, she starts potting her colours and eventually she gains the win, Mr UKBuses is in the corner having a giggle and being the true gentleman, hands are shaken and congratulations are handed out to her. It is starting to get late now, so Mr UKBuses and myself decide to finish our drinks and make our way back to the hotel,

Cheers from The Lodmoor, Weymouth!
As there are no buses running to the hotel on Sunday nights, it is decided that we get a taxi and I dial one and we only wait a few minutes before it arrives. I also know what to look out for as when I ended the call to the taxi office, a text came through telling me what colour and kind of taxi is coming to pick us up. We get in the taxi and it doesn't take too long for us to get back to the hotel. With the taxi driver dropping us outside "The Lodmoor", we decide to have a final pint of the night in the Brewers Fayre chained public house, see picture right.  With the bar not closing until 11pm, I decide to have one more for a nightcap whilst Mr UKBuses retires to his room. I bid him goodnight and after I finish my drink, instead of going straight back to the room, I cross the road and take a seat by the sea and have a final "fresh air" break listening to the waves and looking at the lights in the town. Once my fresh air has gone, I make my way back to the hotel room, where I decide to keep Mr UKBuses awake by coughing as I pass his door. I get into bed ready to get some sleep for the next day and I am glad to say that the sleepless night the previous evening had caught up with me and I went straight to sleep and had a good night's kip and due to the later start in the morning it was good knowing that I could have a lie in.

With brilliant weather and a visit to some favourites on the evening, day two has been a brilliant day, and better sleep was had that night.

2014 - Day Out 03: Bridport and Weymouth

Date: Saturday 24 May 2014

It is time for our yearly visit to Weymouth. Due to no Vintage Bus Running Day taking place this year, we have decided to still visit the Weymouth area but have changed our days we usually stop and have also decided to visit Weymouth a bit earlier in the year than we normally have our break.

Weymouth Harbour
It is time for our yearly visit to Weymouth and after months of waiting, the time finally arrives for us to make our way down to the south coast. This year there are no Vintage Bus Running Days in Weymouth or Torquay this year but we still decide to have a break in Weymouth and also we decide to visit over the Bank Holiday weekend, a few weeks prior to our normal dates of visiting. It is 07:20am and making sure that I have everything packed, I make my way to Wollaston to get our first mode of public transport and catch National Express West Midlands 276, which arrives promptly at 07:36am and I board sending Mr UKBuses the standard text telling him that the bus is on it's way (which he did not receive until we boarded the train at Stourbridge Junction - Vodafone giving good service again!) and to make sure he is at his stop. The bus departs and we make our way through Norton, picking up Mr UKBuses before arriving at Stourbridge Interchange to get the Stourbridge Dodger to Stourbridge Junction where we have to change trains for our first leg of the train journey and as we make our way to Platform 2, we discover that our train to Birmingham Moor Street is in actual fact waiting at Platform 3 (the normal platform for Worcester bound trains), so we rush under the platforms to get to Platform 3 and out of breath, we board our London Midland Train, which virtually upon boarding, departs and passes through Smethwick Galton Bridge and Birmingham Snow Hill, before arriving at Birmingham Moor Street, where we have to change to start the second leg of our train journey. We have a bit of time to spare so we make our way out to the front of the station where I have some "fresh air" and Mr UKBuses pops to the shop to get refreshments for the journey ahead. We make our way back inside the station where, at 08:55am, we board our Chiltern Railways train which takes us via Solihull to Leamington Spa, arriving at 09:24am, where we alight to change for out third leg of our train journey.

We have a bit of time to kill in Leamington Spa, so we make our way out of the station for some "fresh air" and the rain from Stourbridge has followed us here, we hope that we leave it behind in Leamington Spa as we make our way back to the platform to get our next train. As we arrive at the platform we look at the departure board and notice that disaster strikes and our Arriva CrossCountry train is going to be late by 11 minutes. Fortunately we had a break of 14 minutes at our next destination and hopefully this train would be able to make up time, so at 09:49am, our Arriva CrossCountry train arrives and we board coach F looking for our reserved seats, luckily we had a table seat, unluckily though we had squatters, but they soon moved with a few dirty looks off other people who knew them. We were on our way now and after a two and a half hour journey passing through Oxford and Reading plus a snoring Mr UKBuses, with me keeping awake and sipping a bottle of Sharp's "Doombar", we arrive on time at Bournemouth at 12:11pm. With the break now at 14 minutes before our next and final leg of the journey, we head outside the station where myself has some "fresh air" looking after Mr UKBuses bag whilst he pops over to Bournemouth bus station opposite to take a few photographs, that is after Mr UKBuses has to "Seek Assistance!". Pictures taken and break over we head back inside Bournemouth Railway Station where Mr UKBuses makes use of the facilities and as he comes back onto the platform our last train of the day arrives and we board knowing that we are only 50 minutes away from the seaside and our final destination. The train departs Bournemouth on time at 12:24pm and we pass through Poole, Parkstone, Hamworthy (An award winning chip shop is situated here, I have been informed) and Dorchester South before we arrive on time at 1:13pm at Weymouth Railway Station. We alight the train and make our way to the front of the station and the sun is shining on our arrival.

Our first pint at Weymouth at The Waterloo - Cheers!
We cannot check into our hotel until 2:00pm, so we make our way towards the residence of the weekend and have a well deserved pit stop and first pint in Weymouth at one of my favourite back street pubs in Weymouth and one that we didn't get to visit last year, "The Waterloo", see picture right. Two pints of Knob were ordered and whilst I'm at the bar, Mr UKBuses finds a comfy sofa to sit on, I know he has found a seat as I hear him scream as he falls into the sofa as he didn't realise how soft it was. Pints ordered and taken to the table we have a well deserved break before checking in. With our drinks over and nearly time to go to our rooms for a freshen up, we make our way to the seafront and walk to the hotel situated next to "The Lodmoor Pub" and also the next to the site where the rally normally takes place, we arrive after a five minute walk at the Premier Inn. We have to wait a while as there is no one on reception and when the receptionist finally arrives we have to wait even further as the person in front is trying to pay for Wi-Fi access but the receptionist has no change to give her. It is our turn now and Mr UKBuses gets his room sorted and my room isn't even ready for me to check in yet. We also decide to book our breakfasts for the days we are stopping and our forced to pay by credit card, as money seems non-existent in this reception. Seeing as my room won't be ready before we leave for our trip this afternoon, Mr UKBuses kindly lets me drop my bag off in his room and seeing as I don't have anywhere to freshen up, I make use of "The Lodmoor" next door for a refreshing pint, whilst Mr UKBuses prepares himself ready for our journey this afternoon. After about twenty minutes Mr UKBuses meets me in The Lodmoor and we make our way to the bus stop virtually outside the hotel, I enquire about his room and he informs me after having a wash, they had left no towels in his room, luckily a cleaner was outside his room as he was preparing to make his way to reception. This doesn't look like a good start for our stay at the Premier Inn group of hotels.

Cheers from The Greyhound in Bridport!
We only have a few minutes to wait before we catch our first bus in Weymouth, our First Wessex service 31 arrives at 2:49pm and we board and get our return tickets and take a seat towards the back of the bus. This is the last day of operation of service 31, which will resume tomorrow in service as X31 (starting from Dorchester instead of Weymouth). We are on the bus for just over an hour, passing through Dorchester and Winterbourne Abbas before arriving at our destination of Bridport, alighting at East Street. We have a short walk and arrive at J D Wetherspoons "The Greyhound", see picture left, and after drinks are ordered (Mr UKBuses round this time), we take a seat and have a rest. It is whilst sitting down that we decide that we are getting a bit hungry, so we decide to have our tea here instead of waiting a couple of hours before arriving back at Weymouth for a bite to eat. Mr UKBuses opts for a Chicken Tikka Masala for a change and I opt for my usual Chicken Burger and Chips. It doesn't take that long for the food to arrive and we soon tuck in, also having our free pint that comes with the meals. With our food devoured, we wait a few minutes before finishing our drinks and walking down to the coach station to take a few photographs, when we arrive there, we find out that there is no vehicles at the First Wessex outstation situated here and also they have knocked down a couple of buildings opposite from the last time we visited. The buildings were a bit rundown and the demolition of them makes the area look more pleasant. The rain has followed us from the West Midlands and a downpour ensues, which means we take cover in the bus shelter. A few minutes later our First Wessex service 31 arrives to take us back to Weymouth and at 5:11pm, we depart Bridport and make the return journey stopping outside the hotel at 6.16pm. We make our way to reception and my room has become available and I can now freshen up before we go around Weymouth for the evening. We make our way to our rooms and luckily my room is opposite to Mr UKBuses, so I pick up my bag and make my way to my room and freshen up and unpack my clothes for the weekend.

Its Stan Ogden at The Globe
With me now freshened up, I decide to have a sneaky pint in The Lodmoor whilst Mr UKBuses finishes getting ready and I opt for a pint of Budweiser as I found out they had it on draught earlier. I make my way to the hotel reception to meet Mr UKBuses and he spots me coming out of the "Breakfast Room", as he comes out of reception to meet me, he informs us that we have just missed a bus five minutes previously so we both make a visit to The Lodmoor (Budweiser's all round), whilst we wait for our next bus. After finishing our drinks, our next bus is due and we make our way to the bus stop opposite and catch First Wessex service 4 this time which takes us to the Kings Statue, where we alight. A few photographs are taken before we head into J D Wetherspoons "The William Henry", but as we make our way to the top bar, we find the place really busy and decide to go to another pub to start the evening off. We decide to walk to "The Clipper" which is not too far away but as we arrive we find out that the pub has closed down, but looking at a notice in the window, it looks like it will only be a temporary closure. With two pubs down and no drinks purchased, we decide to visit one of our regular pubs in Weymouth, "The Cutter", drinks are purchased and we find out that in the back bar there is a Karaoke taking place, so it would be rude not to have a song and I opt to take the Microphone and sing Metallica's "Nothing Else Matters", with Mr UKBuses taking a seat nearby, I found out that he is videoing the performance. With the song finished and our drinks finished we head to another pub and we decide to walk around the corner and make a visit to one of our favourite places, "The Globe" and after purchasing a "Jail Ale", Mr UKBuses takes his "Stan" stool, see picture right, and gets himself comfortable for a pint or two.

Drinks finished, we make our way back to The Cutter to have a few more songs on the Karaoke with Mr UKBuses hearing going, he decides to call it a night and heads back to the hotel whilst I stay for a couple of more pints and songs, calling it a night just before midnight, I finish off my drink and have a slow walk along the Esplanade taking in the sea air and head back to the hotel and straight to bed to get (hopefully) a good nights sleep ready for day two of our Weymouth break.

Apart from a short downpour of rain in Bridport, the weather has been quite good for our first day in the Weymouth area. Hopefully a good nights sleep will be had before our visit to Exeter tomorrow.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

2014 - Day Out 02: London

Date: Saturday 05 April 2014

It is our first visit to London of 2014, despite the early start, the weather is looking good so it is off we go.

A massive blue cock in Trafalgar Square
It is just after 06:15am and I make my way up to the Wollaston to get our first bus of the day and at 06:30am National Express West Midlands Service 276 turns up and after the driver letting me on to get warm, we wait a few minutes before we set off and at 06:35am, I send the standard text to Mr UKBuses to say that the bus is on its way and we pick him up from his stop in Norton at 06:41am and we head into Stourbridge Interchange where we interchange from the bus to the railway station and at 06:55am we board the "Stourbridge Dodger" to take us to Stourbridge Junction where we jump onto the 07:01 London Midland train which takes us to Smethwick Galton Bridge where we interchange once again onto platform 4 where we catch another London Midland train into Birmingham New Street arriving at 07:44am which means we have a bit of time to kill before catching our train to London, so we head to the nearest McDonald's where we devour a bacon roll and we then make our way back to Birmingham New Street, having a "fresh air break" before entering the station and finding out which platform our London train will be departing from.

First Class all the way!
First Class Travel!

Year Of The Bus BorisMaster
We find and make our way to the platform and the 08:30am Virgin Trains to London Euston is already waiting at the platform so we make our way to Coach H and take our seats in First Class, see picture above, which means we get free water (or coffee in Mr UKBuses case) and a breakfast snack box to feed us along the way. We pass through Coventry, Rugby and Milton Keynes before arriving on time at London Euston alighting the train at 09:59am and we don't have to walk far to the main concourse as the First Class carriages are closest to the station. First thing to do as we arrive in London is for some "fresh air", and Mr UKBuses decides to use the break to take some photographs around the bus station at London Euston. Fresh air break over we make our way onto the London Underground and after tapping in on our OysterCards, credit is added for our day ahead and we make our way onto the Northern Line to make a quick journey to Charing Cross making our way from the underground to Trafalgar Square. We make our way across Trafalgar Square, which is closed off for a jet wash, but we do get to see the fourth plinth being occupied by a massive blue cock, see picture at the start of this post, as we pass it. We leave Trafalgar Square behind and make our way top the bus stop where we catch our first London bus of 2014 (also seeing the special liveried BorisMaster celebrating London's Year Of The Bus, see picture right) and our bus turns up, so we board Go-Ahead London Central service 12, tapping in our OysterCards as we pass the driver and we take our seat for our journey of approximately half an hour to our first destination of the day, Peckham, and we arrive at 11:18am at Peckham Bus Station where a few photographs are taken before we catch our next bus.

The Nags Head, Peckham
At 11:26, we board Arriva London Service 197 to take us to Nigel Road, where we alight and see the public house that made this area of London famous, "The Nags Head", see picture left. As we walk towards it, it looks as if we won't be able to sample the place as it looks like it is closed, so a couple of pictures are taken of the exterior and I double check the door to see if we can enter, and luckily the door is unlocked and a few people are already consuming pints, so it would be rude not to sample Del and Rodney's regular. Unfortunately there is no real ale available so we have to opt for a tastelessly smooth pour bitter, but despite this, The Nags Head seems to be popular with the locals and with no sign of Marlene or Boycie, we make our way back to the bus stop on Nigel Road to take us to Peckham Rye Railway Station, with Arriva London service 197 being used again, but as we make our way down the road, we come to a standstill and after a few minutes we decide to follow other people and alight and walk the rest of the way to the railway station, as we start walking down the road, the traffic is on the move again and our bus flies past us. It is 12:15 and our South Eastern Railways train arrives and takes us to and terminates at Victoria Railway Station at 12:28, where we decide to get some lunch, but before we do that we visit the Ladbrokes shop in the station to place a bet on "Tea For Three" who is taking part in the Grand National later that day. Once the bet has been made, we make our way to one of our favourite J D Wetherspoon pubs, "The Willow Walk".

We enter "The Willow Walk" and at the most of times, this is a busy pub, but Mr UKBuses does find an empty table which he takes his seat whilst I'm left at the bar to buy the round (I think that may have been planned!), drinks are purchased and its is now time for food. Whilst the menu is perused, I discover that we were lucky to get a table today as half of the pub is closed off due to a flood in the empty offices above The Willow Walk. Food is chosen and Mr UKBuses opts for his standard BBQ Chicken Melt, without the melt and myself opting for a Chicken Burger and chips. The food doesn't take long to arrive and after devouring the meal, we are ahead of schedule and with The Willow Walk getting busier, we decide to ditch the plan for the afternoon and "go with the flow" for the rest of the day. First of all we make our way to the bus stop opposite and we board a BorisMaster, being operated by London Metroline, on service 24 which takes us to Leicester Square, passing Westminster and saying hello to Trafalgar Square again before arriving at our destination. We alight at Leicester Square and jump straight onto the Underground where we catch a train on the Piccadilly Line to take us one stop to Piccadilly Circus Underground Station, we make our way back up to ground level and decide to take a short walk with Mr UKBuses leading the way we are lost and actually end up back at Leicester Square where we started from.

The Red Lion, Westminster
We make our way to the bus stop at Leicester Square and catch London Metroline's service 24 again to take us on the short journey to Charing Cross. We decide to go back onto the plan and visit our London regular "The Blind Beggar", so we go back underground at Charing Cross and onto the Northern Line where we get off at Tottenham Court Road Underground Station to change onto the Central Line, disaster strikes when we find out that there are engineering works taking place this weekend on the Central Line, so we have to abandon the plan again and decide to give The Blind Beggar a miss, so we head back onto the Northern Line and decide to go to Westminster, which means that we are going to be nearly catching all of the underground lines today, as we arrive at Warren Street where we change onto the Victoria Line where upon arrival at Green Park, we change lines once again and we go onto the Jubilee Line to get us to our destination of Westminster Underground Station. Seeing as we can't make it to The Blind Beggar, we decide to have a pint at Westminster and visit a pub we first tried out on Remembrance Day last year, "The Red Lion", see picture right. The pub is quite packed and seeing as it was sunny, we decide to take a seat on a bench outside of the pub and think back to November when we were standing nearby watching the service at the Cenotaph. Drinks over, we decide to make our way back to London Euston a bit early so that we can see The Grand National and hopefully pick up some winnings, we make our way back to Westminster Underground Station and onto the Jubilee Line and Northern Lines to get us back to London Euston.

First Class again!
We arrive at London Euston at 03:54pm and make our way out of London Euston and visit "The Royal George" where we get to have a pint and watch The Grand National, an added bonus is that we also get to see the Qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix on the screen next to the one that is showing The Grand National. Whilst Mr UKBuses finds a seat I'm stood at the bar again getting the round in (I sense a pattern emerging here) and we then take our seats in time for the start of the National. Mr UKBuses concentrates on The National whilst I'm concentrating on the qualifying, speaking to other F1 fans on the next table at the same time, and from the look on the face of Mr UKBuses I know that something has happened and am informed that "Tea For Three" has fallen. We drown our sorrows and make our way back across the road to London Euston station where we get supplies for the train back, whilst we don't know what platform our train will be leaving from, Mr UKBuses suffers with the bladder and we decide to enter "The Britannia" so Mr UKBuses can use the facilities and I get a quick pint whilst he uses them (All this to save him 20p!). We make our way back to the concourse and have some "fresh air" before finding out which platform we will be leaving from and make our way to the train where we board and upgrade to first class, see picture left, and leave London Euston on time at 05:03pm.

We make our way back through Milton Keynes, Rugby and Coventry along the way on our Virgin Train, with Mr UKBuses taking his usual nap before arriving on time at Birmingham New Street at 06:27pm. We only have a few minutes spare before getting our connecting train to Smethwick Galton Bridge, but since alighting the train and making our way to the concourse, Mr UKBuses disappears and after a phone call we are reunited on Platform 4B where we board our London Midland train leaving Birmingham New Street at 06:38pm and arriving at Smethwick Galton Bridge at 06:46pm. We have just under twenty minutes to wait before having to catch our London Midland train to Stourbridge Junction, so we head out of the station for an overdue "fresh air" break. With the break over, we make our way back down to the platform where we board our London Midland train at 07:02pm and we are lucky to get a seat as the train is busy, we arrive back at Stourbridge Junction at 07:22pm and have three minutes to get to the other platform and catch the Stourbridge Dodger promptly leaving on time at 07:25pm and arriving back at Stourbridge Interchange at 07:28pm, where we interchange for the last time of today and at 07:35pm our National Express West Midlands Service 276 turns up to take us home, as we pass through Norton, I say my goodbyes to Mr UKBuses and stay on the bus until the terminus at Wollaston popping into the Chinese takeaway for tea / supper before heading home to eat it and relax.

Another good day out in the Capital, hopefully the first of many in 2014, good weather was had and thanks go to Mr UKBuses for doing the plan, speaking of Mr UKBuses here is his bald spots -

Bald Spot at Trafalgar Square.

Bald Spot 1: The Bald Spot makes an appearance at Trafalgar Square.

The Bald Spot awaits Service 12.

Bald Spot 2: The Bald Spot awaits the bus for Peckham.

The Bald Spot at Peckham Bus Station.

Bald Spot 3: The Bald Spot arrives at Peckham Bus Station.

The Bald Spot paying its respects.

Bald Spot 4: The Bald Spot visits the Cenotaph.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

2014 - Day Out 01: Worcestershire

Date: Saturday 01 February 2014

It is time for the first outing of 2014 and we decide to stay local and visit a few towns of a wet Worcestershire.

The floods in Bewdley
It is our first outing and as I wake up I have a very sore throat and also a nasty cough, a brilliant start to the day. After devouring breakfast, I ensure I have everything for the day ahead including the camera and plan and make my way out up towards Norton to meet up with Mr UKBuses. As I make my way across Swan Pool Park and even though I'm wrapped in many layers of clothing, I can still feel the chill and make my way up The Broadway stopping off at The Broadway shops to get myself a bottle of still Vimto to help soothe my sore throat. There is no sign of Mr UKBuses, so I make my way towards his house, sending him a text along the way to "Get Out of Bed!", I am just around the corner and he appears. With the morning greetings out of the way, we make our way to Norton Road to wait for our first bus of the day and as we are waiting my mom and dad pass by so an obliquity wave is handed out by both of us. We are not long at the stop when Whittle's Service 125 arrives from Stourbridge and we board paying our £3.20 return fare (we can't buy the Connecta Day Ticket until we get past the Old Waggon and Horses at Iverley) and make our way to the back of the bus where Mr D9 is waiting for us (and it is good to see him again). We pass through The Broadwaters on our way to Kidderminster, where at 09:30 hours Mr D9 is pleased when the Cash Counter reports to Mr UKBuses, and after the recent wet weather, the local stream has turned more into a river, up the hill we go from The Broadwaters past The Land Oak and down Comberton Hill past The Railway Station into Kidderminster Town Centre and Kidderminster Bus Station, where we alight.

Cheers from The George Hotel
We don't have long to wait for our next bus, which is good considering the chill in the air, so we hang around the bus station taking a few photographs and also get commandeered by an old man wearing a Severn Valley Railway jumper informing us of the buildings we are standing by which used to be part of one of the biggest employers in Kidderminster, Brintons Carpets. We do eventually get rid of him and make our way to Stand 7 where we board Whittles Service 2C which takes us to our first location of the day Bewdley, to get us there we first purchase our Connecta Day Ticket from the driver. We head past the Safari Park ensuring that no-one mistakes Mr D9 or Mr UKBuses as one of an escaped monkey, before arriving in Bewdley, where as we head towards the river we can see that the recent wet weather has taken its toll on the River Severn and the flood defences have been employed. We alight in Load Street and as it is cold, we make our way to J D Wetherspoons "The George Hotel", see picture right, where we purchase our pints and keep warm. Once the drinks have been supped, we leave enough time to have a walk down by the riverside where we can see that the river has already started to burst its banks, see picture below, slightly before making our way back to the bus stop to get our next bus back to Kidderminster. We wait for our bus, but instead of our original service (292), we catch an earlier bus, Whittles Service 2A which gets us back into Kidderminster a few minutes earlier than planned.

The river Severn breaching the banks at Severn Side North, Bewdley

The river Severn breaching the banks at Severn Side North, Bewdley

We alight at Kidderminster bus station, where we all decide to make a visit to the nearby Tesco, not to do shopping, with the drink at Bewdley and the chill in the air, we make use of the toilet facilities and make our way back to Kidderminster Bus Station where Mr UKBuses makes a run across the Tesco car park as he spots our bus on the stand. There was no need to panic as the bus was not due out for a few more minutes, so we take our place in the queue at Stand 10 before boarding our 11:25 Diamond Service 303 which will take us to Worcester. We travel through Hartlebury, where after passing through a tight spot, the bus sets off a car alarm without even touching the car and Ombersley and we have a slow arrival into Worcester, we alight at Worcester Foregate Street Railway Station at approximately 12:15 which means we only have a few footsteps before we make our way into J D Wetherspoons "The Postal Order" where we have dinner. Whilst I have visited this place before, it has always been a pleasurable experience, but this time it was different. As Mr UKBuses found a seat, Mr D9 and myself stand at the bar waiting to be served. Other people (also known to the staff) came to the bar after we had and got served first, so it seems that now, regulars / local people seem to get preferential treatment. We eventually get served and take our seats, with Mr D9 deciding to elbow some of my drink over me along the way. We peruse the menu, with Mr D9 and myself taking the normal bet about what Mr UK Buses is going to eat. I win as Mr UKBuses opts for the BBQ Chicken Melt (without the melt), Mr D9 has the Gourmet Burger and myself the Chicken Burger. Food has been ordered and it arrives quicker than the first time we waited to get served at the bar. The food is devoured so we have a few minutes to let it go down as we finish our drinks off.

Andrews News at Worcester Bus StationWe now make our way to Worcester Bus Station where a few photographs are taken before catching First Worcestershire's Service 35, which takes us to their depot at Padmore Street. As soon as we alight, the rain starts pouring down, we still have a look around whilst getting soaked, but no photographs are taken by myself as it is too wet to get the camera out. We walk back around to the bus stop and a little sprint is required as another service 35 bus is pulling up. We board and make our way back to Worcester Bus Station where Mr D9 takes a little visit leaving his newsagent shop unattended, see picture left. We now make our way to Stand P, luckily undercover, where we wait a few minutes for First's Service 144 to pull up and we board to make our way to our next destination. We make our way through Droitwich Spa, where some D9 driving takes place and Mr UKBuses has a nap and arrive at Bromsgrove Bus Station at 14:46. We only have a few minutes here, so Mr D9 makes another visit and has the usual photograph taken before we have to catch our next bus, whilst Mr D9 is making a visit, Mr UKBuses sneaks off and returns with a cone of chips, due to his sneakiness Mr D9 and myself nick a couple of chips, as they were tasty it could have turned into a "Chester" incident. Diamond's service 145 turns up at Stand 4 at 14:58 and we board to make our way to Redditch.

Diamond Church Lane Depot, Redditch
We arrive in Redditch after 20 minutes on the bus and after the bus driver makes us dizzy by going around a roundabout a couple of times and our first port of call is Diamond's Plymouth Road Depot, the rain starts falling again as it did when we were at the First depot in Worcester so no pictures can be taken. Next we decide to take cover and we scupper Mr UKBuses round plans and visit J D Wetherspoons "The Royal Enfield" first, once we have had a rest and finished our drinks we visit Diamond's Church Lane Depot, see picture right, and after photographs are taken, we head to the bus stop and wait and wait. I decide to walk it and beat Mr D9 and Mr UKBuses to our next port of call, "The Golden Cross", I wait outside for the pair to arrive as it is Mr UKBuses round and whilst Mr D9 makes a visit to use the facilities, Mr UKBuses gets the round in and he surprises us by having a whiskey, and after his round plans were scuppered, his round at The Golden Cross turns out to be cheaper than what we have already paid in Wetherspoons. Our time in Redditch is nearly up, so we make our way across to the bus station, stopping off at the newsagents along the way to get a couple of snacks for the journey back. Mr D9 makes a visit to the dreaded toilet in the Kingfisher Shopping Centre, this time with no waiting. We wait at the bus stop whilst Mr D9 is undertaking his business and we decide to wind him up as he rejoins us by saying that we have just missed our bus and that we are now stranded in Redditch. A few minutes later our bus does turn up at Stand F and we board Diamond's Service X3, which departs at 16:48.

We are on the bus for about 45 minutes passing through Bromsgrove and Chaddersley Corbett along the way and discussing Mr UKBuses turkey which he gets off the farm in Chaddersley Corbett each year. We arrive in a dark Kidderminster at 17:33 and after getting value for money on our Connecta tickets, we make our way back around to the bus station where we have to wait about fifteen minutes for our bus back to Stourbridge. It is getting rather cold now and on time Whittle's Service 125 bus turns up at stand 8 and after showing our return ticket, we depart Kidderminster at 17:52 passing through Iverley and Norton before arriving back in Stourbridge at 18:13. We have time for our last drink of the day and it is my round which Mr UKBuses gets his own back by going to J D Wetherspoons "The Chequers Inn" rather than "The Edward Rutland" where I can get a discount off the pints with my CAMRA Card. We get in the warmth and Mr UKBuses finds a table whilst Mr D9 and myself purchase the drinks. We have a thirst on and Mr D9 evens the rounds total up by purchasing a second round and whilst we finish our drinks off, we log onto the phone to see what times Mr D9's connection at Dudley will turn up. Drinks finished, we make our way back to Stourbridge Interchange and whilst we say goodbye to Mr D9 who makes his way to the 246 stand, Mr UKBuses and myself makes our way to our stand to catch the final bus of the day, National Express West Midlands Service 276, with Mr UKBuses bidding farewell and alighting at Norton, and I continue to the terminus at Wollaston. Before I make my way into the warmth at home, I stop by the Chinese to order my meal and whilst it is getting cooked, I sneak next door for a crafty pint of Bathams Bitter at "The Unicorn" before picking up my meal and getting back to a nice warm home where I rest my feet after a good, but cold, day out.

Despite the cold and damp weather, the first outing of 2014 was a success, which was in part of the company of Mr D9 and Mr UKBuses, this outing should set the precedence of the rest of the outings for 2014. Even though it was chilly, some bald spots did make an appearance (the heads must have been cold), these are below.

Bald Spot 1

Bald Spot 1: Mr UKBuses bald spot makes an appearance outside Diamond's Church Lane Depot at Redditch.

Bald Spot 2

Bald Spot 2: Mr D9's bald spot investigates the flood waters at Bewdley.

Bald Spot 3

Bald Spot 3: Mr D9's bald spot looks at Diamond's Chruch Lane Depot in Redditch.

Bald Spot 4

Bald Spot 4: Mr D9's bald spot has another look at Diamond's Church Lane Depot in Redditch.

Bald Spot 5

Bald Spot 5: Mr D9's bald spot receives medical attention at Redditch.