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.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

2013 - Day Out 13: London Remembrance

Date: 10 November 2013

It is the last day of our London weekend and before we head back to the West Midlands, we pay a visit to Whitehall to pay our respects at the Remembrance Day Parade.

The Cenotaph at Whitehall
Despite being up late last night, I wake up at a respectable (and early for a Sunday!) time of 7am, so first of all I throw on some clothes and get some "fresh air" before returning to my room and getting refreshed for the day ahead and changing and making sure that I have everything packed in my bag ready to check out after breakfast. Packing done, I make my way for a quick "fresh air" break and meet up with Mr UKBuses for breakfast, after devouring a healthy pile of bacon, sausage and beans and numerous pots of yogurt, we say goodbye whilst we collect our belongings, and also for me to get changed into my scout uniform, checking out before meeting up again at reception where we make our way for the final time this weekend to East India DLR station to start our journey, changing at Canning Town and onto the Jubilee Line where we get the tube all the way to Westminster making our way to ground level where after a quick "fresh air" break, we make our way around to Whitehall walking along the main road as it is closed to traffic whilst the parade is taking place.

Our view on Remembrance Day at Whitehall
We make our way to Whitehall where we are met with the security checks taken out by the Metropolitan Police, we have to queue a while whilst making our way to the main area, with Mr UKBuses doing a few warm up exercises ready to lift his heavy wallet out of his pocket to put in the belongings tray to be examined. We pass the security checks and Mr UKBuses hooks up his chain from his wallet to his safety point in his coat and luckily he didn't manage to pull a muscle to put his heavy wallet back into its safe place. We are a bit later arriving at the parade this year so we find it hard to get to our normal spot by The Cenotaph, so we decide to stay close to The Red Lion, see picture right, where we still manage to get a good view of the Cenotaph, I get a better view by climbing onto one of the stone walls opposite The Red Lion, Mr UKBuses does try but gives up as it is high up. I "do my best" and help a couple of kids and their mom up to get a good view of the ceremony. We still have a while to wait before the actual ceremony starts and Mr UKBuses takes his place on the corner opposite The Red Lion so that he can video a few clips on his camera when the parade starts.

Cheers From The Red Lion!
It is 11am and before the parade and service starts, there is a two minutes silence which takes place and the start and finish is marked by a cannon shooting. With the two minutes silence over the service starts and with the current and past Prime Ministers making an appearance, this is followed by an appearance by Her Majesty The Queen, who along with the current political party leaders lay wreaths at The Cenotaph. In the middle of the service I ascend from my viewpoint and join Mr UKBuses for the rest of the service and after saluting (I was in uniform) and singing The National Anthem, which means it is the end of the Remembrance Day service. We learn from last years mistake, so instead of trying to get crushed by escaping Whitehall, we make our way inside The Red Lion, see picture left, as we enter we have to wait about ten minutes to get served, but as more people pile in, the manageress decides to start serving early, with me getting served first. Mr UKBuses has already found a seat and I nearly drown him as I don't put my pint down properly. We look at the television and see that they are showing the parade which makes us feel a bit weird as we are watching it on a television screen whilst we are only a few feet away from the actual parade. Another round is purchased as the crowds are still trying to get out. After we finish our second drink, we make our way out and instead of being crushed like we were last year, we simply walk around the corner and onto Westminster Bridge.

Cheers From The Bear and Staff!
Instead of catching the London Underground, we go off plan and catch Go-Ahead London Central's service 12 which will be on diversion as Whitehall is closed, we board and as we get to Piccadilly Circus we alight as the traffic is moving slowly. After a "fresh air" break we go back underground and onto the Piccadilly Line where we alight at Leicester Square. As we have a bit of time to spare, we pay a visit to one of our old favourites, The Bear and Staff, see picture right, which gives us a chance to rest our now aching legs. Mr UKBuses finds a table whilst I get the drinks in (hang on, when is it his round?) and after about twenty minutes we finish off and make our way back to Leicester Square Underground Station where we make our final tube journey of the weekend and we board a train on the Northern Line and alight at London Euston Railway Station. Mr UKBuses is on the hunt for food, so whilst he goes to Burger King and I am still full from breakfast, I make my way to The Brittannia inside London Euston and have a last pint in London, followed by my last "fresh air" break in London before meeting back up with him and looking at the screens to see which platform our return train to the West Midlands will depart from. Once the platform is announced we make our way and board the train and get ourselves comfortable ready for the journey ahead.

It is now 14:40 and our Virgin Train departs on time and as we say goodbye to London (see you in 2014), the train manager announces that the shop in carriage C is now open, so whilst Mr UKBuses starts to nod off, I make my way to the shop for a return journey bottle of the special "Tilting Ale", with no snores from Mr UKBuses, we arrive at Birmingham New Street at 16:05 and it is a rush to get to the correct platform for our connecting train to Smethwick Galton Bridge, luckily we make it in time and board the London Midland train which gets us quickly to Smethwick Galton Bridge, where upon arrival we make the trek to get to the correct upper platform where our next London Midland train arrives just after 16:30 which gets us to Stourbridge Junction, where after another platform change, we get the Stourbridge Dodger which takes us to Stourbridge Interchange. I wait with Mr UKBuses until 17:05 where the National Express West Midlands service 276 bus arrives to take him home, this is where I say my goodbyes as my stomach is starting to rumble so before I get home I make a diversion to J D Wetherspoons "The Chequer's Inn" for a beer and a burger meal, where after letting my food go down, I walk home where I put my feet up for the rest of the night.

Another great weekend was had in London, with a couple of shows and parades being seen. I have to thank Mr UKBuses a lot as if it wasn't for his plans, this weekend would not have been possible. Speaking of Mr UKBuses, his bald spots from the weekend can be seen below.


Bald Spot 1

Bald Spot 1: The Bald Spot makes an appearance at Aldgate Bus Station.

Bald Spot 2

Bald Spot 2: The Bald Spot makes an appearance at Liverpool Street Bus Station.

Bald Spot 3

Bald Spot 3: The Bald Spot makes an appearance at Victoria Bus Station.

Saturday, 9 November 2013

2013 - Day Out 12: The Lord Mayors Parade, London

Date: Saturday 09 November 2013

It is the second day of our London Weekend, today we will be visiting The Lord Mayors Parade and finish the day with another theatre show.

Despite not sleeping well on my first night at a hotel, considering I went to bed just after 12am, I slept until just after 6am, where I get dressed and pop outside for some "fresh air", returning to my room where I have a shower and feel refreshed before meeting Mr UKBuses for breakfast. After a filling breakfast followed by a few pots of yogurt, we head back to our rooms to get our coats before meeting back in reception where we walk around to the bus stop and catch Stagecoach London's service 115 at 09.35am alighting at the terminus of Aldgate Bus Station. A few pictures are taken whilst we are there and we then make our way to the bus stop to catch Stagecoach London's service 205 to Liverpool Street Railway Station, where we have time to take a few photographs at the bus station, once we find it. In the end we walk through the railway station where at the back is the entrance to the bus station where a few photographs are taken. Some "fresh air" is taken and texts answered from Mr D9 (mentioning Wimbournes!) before making our way to the London Underground at Liverpool Street Station, catching the Central Line for a journey of about one minute alighting at the next station of Bank

Its our Helen!
As we leave Bank station, we get some liquid refreshment for the parade and make our way back to ground level finding a spot to see the parade and as soon as we take our spot, the heavens open and the rain pours down. We see the presenters, this year being Chris Hollins and my favourite, Helen Skelton, see picture right. We are standing by Chris as he prepares to go live on the BBC, and he took time out to speak to some of us in the crowd. With the rain coming down faster, I get wet and even more so by people who have their brollies up and the rain dripping off them making me more wetter. As the parade starts, I see our Helen for the first time, which means that I have now got a big smile on my face. The parade lasts about an hour with quite a few floats and people passing us, my highlight was the scantily clad dancers going past. With the parade coming to an end and surprise, surprise, the rain stopping just as the parade ends, we make our way back underground getting onto the Central Line again at Bank and making our way to Marble Arch Underground Station, where we stop off at J D Wetherspoons, "The Tyburn", see picture below left, for lunch and this is the first time we have made a visit to this establishment. We are still full from breakfast so we decide to spend a bit of time drying off whilst enjoying a pint, Mr UKBuses buys this round so I give him one of my CAMRA vouchers once I spot a drink on one of the pumps, I find a table while he waits to get served, he comes back with my voucher saying that they couldn't accept it, what I thought was a pint of bitter, turned out to be a pint of cider. Whilst drying off I send a tweet to Helen Skelton, who replies with a kiss on the end of my reply, which makes my day and I have a smile on my face for the rest of the day.

Cheers from The Tyburn!
We are drier than when we came in so we make a move and head to the bus stop where we catch Arriva London's service 73 where we alight at Victoria Bus Station after a journey of fifteen minutes. We take a few photographs whilst at the bus station before walking around the roadworks to find Stand J, where after a long wait, Metroline service 24 turns up and we board another Borismaster, staying on the bus for about twenty-five minutes before alighting at Leicester Square. Upon arrival at Leicester Square, we make our way straight into Leicester Square Underground Station where we catch the Northern Line for a short journey changing at Embankment onto the District Line, where after about fifteen minutes we arrive at Whitechapel where upon leaving the station, we make our way to our London regular, "The Blind Beggar". Upon arrival, the pub is quite busy due to a rugby match being shown on the television and it is my turn to buy the drinks, but Mr UKBuses still has the dearest round of the weekend so far as this round comes to £8.10. After finishing our drinks we say goodbye to The Blind Beggar, we will be seeing it again in 2014, and cross the road to catch Stagecoach London's service 205 alighting at Aldgate bus station, taking a few photographs before catching Stagecoach London's service 115 back to the hotel.

We alight at our hotel bus stop, arriving back at 16:10pm, where we make our way back to our rooms to freshen up before heading back out for the show this evening. After freshening up, I make my way to the hotel bar to have a couple of pints of Budweiser whilst Mr UKBuses has a nap and just before 5.30pm, we make our way to East India DLR station going one stop, changing at Canning Town and onto the Jubilee Line, making one more change at Waterloo onto the Bakerloo Line, where we alight upon arrival at Charing Cross Underground Station. We get to ground level and walk past Trafalgar Square and make a return visit to J D Wetherspoons "The Lord Moon Of The Mall" where we hope to get a bite to eat before the show. As the drinks are purchased, Mr UKBuses tries to find a table but as last night, the pub is packed and we have trouble finding somewhere to sit. We stand at the back of the pub and after about twenty minutes we spot that someone is on the move, so we get cheeky and put my coat on one of the chairs to claim the table whilst the previous occupants get themselves ready to leave. As they leave the table someone else heads for our table and an argument nearly ensues, I claim that we have been waiting for ages and that my coat was actually on the chair, taking my tip from a German and a towel and a sun recliner!! Food is ordered and we have to rush it a little bit as we have to make our way around the corner by Charing Cross Underground Station again to make our way to the Adelphi Theatre.

We arrive at The Adelphi Theatre where we find our way to the upper stall and with myself not feeling to good when we get to our seats and turn around to look at the stage we soon find how high up we were and whilst this goes on, Mr UKBuses seems to be having a vertigo attack. We take our seats and cling on for dear life and we watch The Bodyguard with me eventually getting the storyline towards the end. It was a good show and during half time, Mr UKBuses decided to join me for some "fresh air" outside to get back on a steady ground level. With the show over, we make our way outside of the theatre and back to Charing Cross Underground Station where we take the Bakerloo Line to Waterloo before changing onto the Jubilee Line to Canning Town where we alight and change onto the DLR to take us back to East India and the hotel, where I bid goodnight to Mr UKBuses to sample a couple of nightcaps before going to bed myself, a bit later than planned as I was talking to a few people in the hotel bar, I did eventually get to bed just after 1am.

Another brilliant day was had and another west end show was visited, back to bed for a little rest ahead of the Remembrance Day Parade tomorrow.

Friday, 8 November 2013

2013 - Day Out 11: We Will Rock London

Date: Friday 08 November 2013

For the last few years we head to London on Remembrance weekend to visit The Lords Mayors Parade and Remembrance Day service at Whitehall, its that time of the year again so we make our way for 3 days in the Capital.

Welcome to London
With the bags packed, I get a lift to Norton and text Mr UKBuses to meet me at his bus stop, he responds with "come around to his house", so I get to stay in the warmth for a bit whilst Mr UKBuses gets himself ready, his dad is on the computer and didn't realise I was there. After Mr UKBuses is ready we make our way to the bus stop and see a National Express West Midlands service 276 go past in the opposite direction, which we later find out is the one that we were supposed to catch so it was running late, but on it's return we board and make our way to Stourbridge Interchange to get the Stourbridge Dodger with no Mr Tonks in sight. We arrive at Stourbridge Junction with us having to catch a later train than planned, and we alight at Smethwick Galton Bridge to catch a train to take us direct to Birmingham New Street. We have a little time to spare in Birmingham so we make our way outside of Birmingham New Street where I get a "fresh air" break before heading to McDonald's for a bacon roll. Once breakfast is consumed we make our way back to Birmingham New Street to get our train to London.

No snoring in the quiet zone!

No snoring in the quiet zone!

Tilting Ale!
Mr UKBuses gets some liquid refreshment for the journey ahead before we make our way down to the platform to catch our 10.30am Virgin Train to London Euston. We find our seats and get comfortable and I remind Mr UKBuses that we are in the quiet zone, so no snoring, see picture above. As the train departs, it is announced that the shop is now open in Coach C, so I make my way there and buy a bottle of Tilting Ale, see picture right, a beer brewed especially for Virgin Trains, I do have to wait a while though as the shop had no bottle opener. After I get my bottle top off I make my way back to the seat and Mr UKBuses is still awake, but not for long as he soon nods off for a nap, and he took the advice of the poster by him and he didn't snore. Just before 11.55 our train pulls up at London Euston and we alight and make our way outside so I can get some "fresh air" whilst Mr UKBuses takes a few photographs around the bus station.

Cheers from The Ten Bells
It is time to get our OysterCards out and we make our way underground where we catch our first tube of the weekend. We get on the Northern Line at Euston and we alight 7 minutes later at Charing Cross, passing through Trafalgar Square where we make a visit to J D Wetherspoons "The Lord Moon of The Mall" to have some lunch, with us both opting for a Beer and Burger, we do get served quite quickly and our food arrives very quickly too, we have a second pint to wash our food down, before heading outside to get our first London bus of the weekend. We catch Metroline service 24, which are now operated by Borismasters, alighting at Westminster where we make our way onto the underground and onto the District Line and after 15 minutes on the tube, we alight at Aldgate East, where as we are ahead of the plan and we can't check into the hotel until 3pm, we make a return visit to The Ten Bells, see picture left, and it is Mr UKBuses round. He pays a visit to the loo leaving me with a ten pound note (the Queen was blinking due to being out in the light) and upon return he nearly faints as he has his change given back to him, the round costs him £8.20. He takes his time in drinking his pint as he wants to savour the taste of the expensive Guinness. It is nearly time for checking into the hotel, so we leave The Ten Bells (in which we actually got a seat inside this visit) and catch Arriva London service 67 to Aldgate Bus Station where a few photographs are taken before catching our bus to the hotel, London Stagecoach service 115 is the bus we have to catch so we board and take a seat at the back on what would be a busy bus route, especially as the kids were leaving school.

We are on the bus for about thirty minutes and luckily we spotted the hotel just in time before going past the bus stop. We quickly run to the hotel as the rain has started to come down and check in at Travelodge Docklands in East India, Mr UKBuses isn't very happy as he is given a room on the fourth floor whilst myself has the pleasure of being on the ground floor. A quick change and freshen up before our evening entertainment, I decide to make a visit to the hotel bar whilst Mr UKBuses has a nap and with Budweiser being on draught at the hotel, this will be my chosen tipple whilst staying at the hotel for the weekend. After the first pint is finished, I make my way outside for a cigarette and then head back indoors for another pint of Budweiser before Mr UKBuses makes his way down from the fourth floor and with me finishing off my drink, we make our way to East India DLR station to catch our first DLR of the weekend, we tap in with our Oystercards and catch the DLR to Bank, where we change onto the tube and onto the Central Line for a short journey to Holborn, where we get some food before the show tonight.

Sir Freddie Mercury
We head out of Holborn and it is rush hour and staff aren't letting a lot of people into the station as it is overcrowded already. We make our way to J D Wetherspoons "The Shakespeare's Head", where it is my round which I order whilst Mr UKBuses tries to find a table. Drinks ordered Mr UKBuses is finding it hard to find a table so we have to have our drinks and make our way back out for some food, luckily opposite is a Burger King, so we have our burgers and after they are consumed we have to get to Tottenham Court Road and the Dominion Theatre, so I decide that we have a short walk and after about ten minutes (and Mr UKBuses frustrated as he sees two buses pass us along the way), we see the statue of Sir Freddie Mercury, see picture right, which means that we have arrived for our performance of We Will Rock You, the second time for Mr UKBuses and the third time for myself. After buying a We Will Rock You T-Shirt, and liquid refreshment, we make our way to the seats. Mr UKBuses has a good view of the stage and so do I until an eight foot man decides to take a seat two rows in front of me, which means that I have to watch the show at an awkward angle, I do hire the binoculars though so I can get a better view of Scaramouche when she comes onto the stage. We have a break halfway through the show, so I make my way outside for some "fresh air" and upon my return we decide to have a toilet break before the second half commences stopping off at the bar along the way for some more liquid refreshment to consume during the show.

After the final song is sung on stage (Bohemian Rhapsody), we give a standing ovation and get our coats on ready to make the trip back to the hotel, as we make our way into the Underground station I realise that I still have the binoculars in my pocket so we quickly return to The Dominion Theatre to hand them back in before making our way back to Tottenham Court Road Underground Station, getting on the Central Line to Bank before changing back onto the DLR and arriving back at our home for the weekend at East India Station, tapping out and heading back to the hotel, where upon arrival Mr UKBuses heads to his room and I have a couple of nightcaps in the hotel bar, where the barman remembered me from my last visit in April where he posed with my wrestling belt when I watched the WWE at the 02 Arena.

Our first day in London has got off to a good start, after a nightcap or two, I head to bed to feel refreshed for the day ahead tomorrow.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

2013 - Day Out 10: Showbus International

Date: Sunday 22 September 2013

This year the biggest bus rally in Europe was being held in central England, with the destination being Long Marston Airfield which is close to Stratford-Upon-Avon and it also meant that it was a cheaper admission fee to pay.

Showbus 2013
 Mr UKBuses is kindly on driving duties today and just after 08:30am he picks me up from home and as I get into the car and belted up, away we go. There is no need for maps or directions today as he has a woman giving him directions (well a woman's voice on the SatNav) so as we head out of Oldswinford and through Hagley and Bell End, we make our way to the big traffic island at Junction 4 of the M5 Motorway where we are told to "take the next left", Mr UKBuses follows the instructions given saying thanks to the woman after each instruction (I didn't want to tell him that there isn't a dwarf woman inside the plastic case telling him where to go). We are not on the M5 for long as we split off and join the M42 to get us to Stratford-Upon-Avon, we do have to have a little spin on the M40 before we arrive there. As we leave the motorway, we make our way through Stratford-Upon-Avon and then it is only a few miles to go until we get to Long Marston Airfield, but the woman gets us lost and sends us a different way, I knew he should have chosen a man's voice as I knew a woman would get us lost. We do finally get on the right road and arrive at Long Marston after a drive of approximately one hour.

We make our way into the airfield and I pay our admission fees to get us into Showbus (Only fair as Mr UKBuses is driving and using his fuel), after we have paid, we are directed to the car park (well a field) where we are shown where to park, Mr UKBuses decides to nearly run over the marshal as he backs into the space to get out easier. Parked up, we make our way from the car park to the show, but then I realise something about the parking, the way everyone else is parked, Mr UKBuses would have had to reverse out of his space, so we go back to the car and he turns it round to leave in the right direction (no wonder the marshal was giving him a funny look!). With the car the right way we now make our way to the showground and as we have arrived early we decide to check on the stalls first to see what we can find, well that's if Mr UKBuses would stop thinking it was a disco as he seemed to be dancing to "Kung-Fu Fighting" most of the time, this was due to a large number of wasps that were flying around the airfield. I did find a few photographs including a rarely spotted scene in Wollaston Farm with a Midland Red D9 operating the local S53 service. Stalls scouted and Mr UKBuses legs aching we head back to the car for a break before looking at the buses on display today, but we did make a diversion to a Routemaster kitted out with a grill for a bacon roll (Phil Tonks would be proud), we took this back to the car and ate and rested for a bit.

Foxy Bingo! Carol showing off her gongs!


Cheers!
Break over and we make our way back to the showground to have a look at the buses and take some photographs. Bizarrely there are two different sections where the buses and coaches are being exhibited one area close to the car park and another area which seems like a mile away, we have a look around the buses and coaches parked up by the car park first with Mr UKBuses clicking away on his camera. Whilst looking around we decide to have a break before going to the other area and I have found a place to have a good rest, the bar! Before resting we have a look around the coaches where I spot the coach that is used in the Foxy Bingo adverts (See picture above left) and I also see a special liveried National Express Coach which has a big picture of Carol Vorderman with her gongs out, sorry it was her holding some Pride of Britain awards (See picture above right). The coach section finished we have a little rest in the bar, well Mr UKBuses decides to pop in their first as we lose each other whilst taking photo's, I spot him coming out as their was no way that he would put his hand in his pocket to buy the round! Mr UKBuses has a coke seeing as he is driving and I opt for a pint of Magner's Draught Cider, there was bitter available but I wasn't keen on this as it was smoothpour (see picture right). We rested our feet under cover at the bar, but we still were being joined by the wasps!

Who is this bloke?
With the rest break over, we make the walk to the other area where the buses are parked up and this area is the one I like as it is playing host to many vehicles from the Midlands. We start clicking away with our cameras and also in this section are a few buses that we have seen and sampled a ride on from previous visits to the Weymouth and Torbay Vintage Bus Running Days. We make our way around the airfield looking at Midland Red D9's, S23's and 101 - Midland Red's first Leyland National, also in this area we come across old WMPTE Fleetlines, MCW Metrobuses and BCT Daimler's as well as current vehicles in the National Express West Midlands fleet. Even though I got some good shots, some bloke kept getting in my way (See picture left). After loads of clicking camera's, we have a last look at the stalls before another visit to the bar (and the wasps) to give our now aching feet a well deserved rest for a few minutes before making our way back home.

Just before 15:00 we get in the car and as we leave the airfield, sitting at the entrance is "Mad Ron", so we shout our hello's and goodbye's out of the window at him before making our way through a now busier Stratford-Upon-Avon and a trio of motorways to arrive back at Stourbridge, where Mr UKBuses takes a little detour to kindly drop me off at for a quick liquid refreshment before heading back home.

A good day was had, with the weather being good for us and we didn't have to travel too far to get to the rally and back, and we had good company with the wasps turning out for us. A shame that Showbus will be returning to Duxford War Museum next year. I nearly forgot, there were some bald spots at Long Marston:


Bald Spot 1 at Showbus 2013

Bald Spot makes an appearance for Central Buses.


Bald Spot 2 at Showbus 2013

Bald Spot makes an appearance before a rest in the bar.


Bald Spot 3 at Showbus 2013

The Bald Spot can clearly be seen making appearance for Midland Red.

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

2013 - Day Out 09: Manchester

Date: Saturday 07 September 2013

It is time to go further afield and we decide to visit a new location. I meet up with Mr UKBuses and make our way to Wolverhampton before getting the train to make our way to Manchester.

Welcome to Manchester
Its 07:36 and our first journey of the day is about to start and I board National Express West Midlands Service 276, sending Mr UKBuses the standard text to say that the bus is on its way and as we head around Norton Mr UKBuses duly boards and we make our way to Stourbridge Interchange to wait for our next bus. As there aren't many early morning journeys on Saturdays direct to Wolverhampton we have to catch National Express West Midlands Service 246 to Dudley, where upon arrival we don't have long to wait before the National Express West Midlands Service 126 arrives and at 08:36 we depart on our way to Wolverhampton. Along the way and very close to Wolverhampton disaster strikes, the ABS brakes fail on the bus we are travelling on so we have to alight and wait for the next service 126 to arrive, which is only ten minutes which means I can have some "fresh air" and Mr UKBuses also reminds me it was his birthday the other day (sorry Mr UKBuses - Happy Birthday you "Old Git"!). Our next 126 arrives and takes us on the now short journey arriving at Wolverhampton Bus Station a little later than planned.

Upon arrival we make our way across the new footbridge to the Wolverhampton Railway Station, but before we do, it is time for some "fresh air" before making our way to the platform via W H Smiths for some liquid refreshments. We have just over ten minutes to wait before our train arrives and the platform guard keeps us occupied with her pleasant smile. At 09:49 our Arriva CrossCountry train arrives at Platform 1 and we board and get our seats to make ourselves comfy for the journey to Manchester. The train departs and just as we come out of Wolverhampton disaster strikes, we are stuck on the track due to a points problem up ahead on the line. We are stuck in the same spot for about half an hour before we are back on the move and we make our way through Stafford, Stone and Stockport before arriving late in Manchester, but I think the train may have a problem also until I find out that it is Mr UKBuses who is having a nap and making a loud snoring noise! We walk along the platform to the concourse and we now have to buy our day ticket, a One DaySaver ticket which covers travel on bus, rail and trams in Manchester, but after walking twice around Manchester Piccadilly Station we end up where we started before we spot where we have to get them from.

With more time wasted we quickly make our way to the platform for the Manchester tram which once we alight we have to go one stop and as we depart the main railway station we start to see the sights of Manchester City and after a few minutes on board we alight our tram at Piccadilly Gardens, a big public square where buses and trams terminate and stop so this is a good photo taking spot and a good welcome to the city. As we are running late we decide it is time to have lunch, with our J D Wetherspoons located in the area we search for it, and search for it, and search for it and after walking around five different streets we give in and ask a man standing outside of another bar. He points us in the right direction and we eventually spot it and find out that we must have walked straight past it two or three times. We enter "Wetherspoons Piccadilly", and it is quite busy, so Mr UKBuses finds a table whilst I wait at the bar to get served. It is a while for me to get served and it doesn't help when the barman keeps asking customers for ID, I finally get served and order a "Spitting Feathers", which is what describes my mood when the same barman asks me for ID!!! Seeing as I'm in my mid thirties I don't carry any ID on me so after showing him my bank cards with my name on, he says he can't accept them, I then produce my CAMRA card which has the same name on and explain that I wouldn't be able to be a CAMRA member if I was underage so he agrees and pours the drinks. I take the drinks to the table and we choose our lunch, Mr UKBuses orders his usual BBQ Chicken Melt without the melt and I opt for the Gammon, Mr UKBuses thankfully agrees to order the food after my experience at the bar previously. The food doesn't take too long to arrive and despite the staff, the food was brilliant and went down quickly.

The BBC at MediaCity UK
To catch up, we decide to head out to get the tram to our next destination and we board at Piccadilly Gardens and go a couple of stops to Shudehill, another interchange between trams and buses so more photographs could be taken at this location. We don't spend a lot of time here so we can catch up after our delay at Wolverhampton earlier, so we head back onto the tram and alight at St Peters Square where we have a little walk and toilet break before arriving at Albert Square (and no there wasn't a sighting of Phil Mitchell or Alfie Moon!!!) to catch our first Manchester bus of the day. We don't have long to wait before our Stagecoach Manchester Service 50 turns up and takes us on a journey of approximately 20 minutes to the Harbour City tram stop, we actually alight a stop before (Mr UKBuses Map Allowance has not been paid!!) and have a short walk to the tram stop. We just miss our tram so "fresh air" is taken before our tram turns up and takes us one stop to MediaCity UK, which is the location where most of the BBC production has moved to and soon will also be the new home of the ITV Studios, across the water replacing the old "Granada TV" Studios a few miles away, this will also be the new home of a newly built Coronation Street set.

Cheers! From The Lime
We have a walk around MediaCity and also have a quick look around the Imperial War Museum North, having a look at the displays from past wars that Great Britain have been involved with. After our museum tour, we decide to make our way back across the water passing the BBC studios and decide to have a liquid refreshment break, we find a place called "Lime" a bar / restaurant. I'm informed when we get to the bar that the first round I purchased was Mr UKBuses birthday drink so it is my round here also. A pint of Fosters for Mr UKBuses and a pint of Bitter for me works out at £6.90, no wonder he wanted to miss out on this round!!!! We rest our feet and decide to savour the drinks (especially at those prices) before making our move to get back to the city centre. We deviate from the plan and decide to catch the Stagecoach Manchester Service 50, we keep an eye out for the Granada TV Studios on the way back, but with no luck we alight at Albert Square (Still no sign of Phil or Alfie), and take a walk up to Piccadilly Gardens where more photographs are taken.

Whilst Mr UKBuses finishes off his photo taking, I get some refreshments fro the train journey back and we board our final tram of the day and alight at Manchester Piccadilly Railway Station. We have time to have some food before our train is due to depart so we head to Burger King. I ask for a plain beefburger and when I am served and about to eat, I find out that I have relish and gherkins all over my burger, so I head back to Burgerking to complain and get a replacement, they change it but the manager tries to charge me again because they had to throw my original burger away, I refused to pay and the manager gives me my replacement begrudgingly after I tell him that it was the person who originally served me for giving me the wrong food. We take our seats and eat our food. We have a bit of time left and I decide to have a quick drink in "The Balcony Bar" located inside the railway station meeting back up with Mr UKBuses after the pint is finished, the barman recognises my accent and reveals he is from Walsall originally, this is the only person today who has served me who seems to have good customer service.

We make our way to the platform to get our train back to Wolverhampton, at 17:06 our Arriva CrossCountry train departs and it doesn't seem that we are on the train long when we arrive at Wolverhampton at 18:15. Upon arrival we walk to the bus station and get our National Express West Midlands service 126 which departs at 18:40 and arrives in Dudley at 19:10 which gives us 5 minutes waiting time for our last bus of the day. At 19:15 we board National Express West Midlands Service 276 and for me (Mr UKBuses just misses out) I travel the entire route from Dudley to Wollaston, alighting at 20:18 and I head to San Wu House (my normal Chinese is closed due to holidays) for a hot Singapore Chow Mein to devour when I get back home.

A good day out was had with good company and a good first visit was had to Manchester, not the top of my location list, due to bad customer service in Manchester, but would return for a further investigation of the area and below are the bald spots caught whilst out touring Manchester.


The bald spot at Picadilly Gardens.

The bald spot is caught at Piccadilly Gardens.

The bald spot at MediaCity UK.

The bald spot is having a look around MediaCity UK.

Sunday, 18 August 2013

2013 - Day Out 08: Worcester

Date: Saturday 10 August 2013

In April at the Stourbridge Beer Festival, I became a fully fledged CAMRA member and to take advantage of discounts to members I decide to visit another beer festival which is being held at Worcester racecourse.

The 14th Worcester Beer Festival
Disaster strikes before I even leave the house as vandalism on the line at Kidderminster means that there are no trains running between Kidderminster and Worcester, undeterred I make my way into Stourbridge and visit J D Wetherspoons, "The Chequers" to sample a traditional breakfast to help soak up the ale sampled at the beer festival. Breakfast eaten I make my way to Stourbridge Interchange, catching the Dodger to Stourbridge Junction, on the way I receive a phone call from Mr WME to inform me that the Great Malvern train has been cancelled and that he will be on the earlier train, luckily I arrive in time for the train to Kidderminster and meet up with Mr WME, Mr WME senior and Nickolenko. We arrive at Kidderminster and Mr D9 must have lent me his bladder as I need to visit the toilet straight away (and that is even with sampling no beer), so a visit to the Severn Valley Railway station is needed and after business is taken care off we make our way to the normal railway station to wait for our replacement coach to take us to Worcester. I light up to have some "fresh air" and lo and behold the coach arrives and pulls up mid break. We board our coach which takes us to Worcester via Droitwich and arrives at Worcester Foregate Street, just after 11.45am.

Three Walkers at The Berr Festival
We alight and make our way for the short walk to Worcester racecourse, the venue of the 14th Worcester beer, cider and perry festival, with Mr WME senior chatting about F1 along the way. We enter the venue and everyone has their 1/2 pint glasses in hand and for some reason I ended up with a pint glass. A photo is taken by Mr WME before we sample the ales and we are under way with beer tokens in hand to sample the ales. I look for the Ginger Tosser, but it eluded me that day, but when I said to Mr WME that I was looking for the Ginger Tosser, I don't think the bloke behind the bar was too impressed with me, it was the barman with ginger hair! The first ale is sampled and I have a pint of the Settles Signal Light, in honour of the failure on the railway line earlier, whilst Mr WME Senior has the Black Hill Stout, Nickolenko has the Plum Dunkelweizen and Mr WME has the Exmoor Beast. We find a picnic table in the huge tent and take our seat for the afternoon, see picture right. My Signal Light goes down well and we are off to sample the second ale of the day, I opt for a pint of the Cannon Royal's Blonde Bombshell, whilst Mr WME senior opts for Old Dairy's Gold Top, Nickelenko opts for the Ginger Doodle Stout and Mr WME has the Raspberry Wheat Beer.

Mr D9 is well catered for!

Mr D9 is catered for by his own loos!

The festival is stormed by Troopers!
Still full up from my breakfast, Mr WME senior and Mr WME have their packed lunch whilst Nickelenko has a good portion of the vegetable curry available at the festival. Whilst they are eating I opt for a visit to the facilities and Mr D9 even has the supplied toilets named after him, "Andyloos".  After some "fresh air" I make my way back to the table and finish off my Blonde Bombshell, before finding my next ale. Normally at festivals I would try different ales and not have any local brews which are always available for me at local pubs, but I decide to sample an Enville Ale beer which has eluded me all the years it has existed and opt for a pint of the Cherry Blonde, and Mr WME also samples the ale too, and what a wait it was with a distinctive taste of Cherry's. Mr WME senior samples Friday Gold and Nickelenko samples Clash London Porter. We take our seats again and as the festival gets busier we are treated to a gang of Stormtroopers, I make another visit and get a photo of the Stormtroopers, see picture left, who are enjoying the sun outside and after some more "fresh air", I make my way back inside. Nearly out of beer tokens, it is time to look for a last ale and Nickelenko kindly gives me some of his tokens so I can enjoy a last half at the festival, I opt for Monty's Desert Rat, Mr WME senior opts for a Joshua Jane (and also has enough tokens left to have a half of the Old Slug Porter), Nickelenko opts for a Exmoor Beast and Mr WME has a last half of Skullduggery.

Mr WME and Mr WME Senior!
With our last ales finished, we make our way to sample a few of the pubs in Worcester, but before we leave, Nickelenko, Mr WME and myself have a go on the tombola and I am the only one that wins a prize and opt for a Fullers beer towel. We make our way from the festival and head into the city, with our first inn being The Plough which is located on Fish Street and I show off my beer mat flipping skills and I opt for a beer mat advertising the beer festival we have just left. Drinks consumed we make our way to the next pub, which is The Cardinals Hat, a nice traditional pub, which is one of the oldest pubs in Worcester, next up we make a visit to King Charles II, a joint venture between the Sadlers and Craddocks breweries and was also the pub sponsoring the beer festival, seeing as it is owned by the local Stourbridge breweries it meant that we should visit the place with Mr WME senior opting to buy the round on this visit. Drinks purchased and we make our way upstairs and if feels like we are drunk as the floor and table didn't seem to be level.

Cheers from The Paul Pry!
We leave the King Charles II and make an unplanned visit to the pub next door, The Swan With Two Nicks, on our visit it was renamed The Swan With Three Nicks as Nickelenko was with us, we opt for Draught Bass and Malvern Hills Trevor Stout on this visit, see picture above right. I check Twitter and find out that the rail services are restored and running normally albeit with a few delays, so we have time to visit another couple of pubs before making our way back, and it is time to visit The Paul Pry, see picture left, which is located on The Butts and after that whilst we have time we visit our last pub of the day and whilst Nickelenko and Mr WME senior visit Tesco Express to get some food for the trip back, Mr WME and myself make our way to The Dragon, see pivture below; for our final pints of the day and we don't have too far to walk as it is located near to the Worcester Foregate Street railway station.

Cheers From The Dragon!

Cheers from The Dragon!

With the beer starting to take its toll we make our way back to the station and catch the 18:51 London Midland service back home with me saying goodbye and alighting at Stourbridge Junction before making my way on The Dodger and catching National Express West Midlands service X96 back to Wollaston and I get visit my local Chinese to get my traditional trip tea, but I opt for something different and decide to have a chinese curry.

Overall, a good day out sampling many different ales at the Worcester Beer Festival and visits to local public houses afterwards and even though the beer took its toll on me at the end of the day, it was a successful trip and a good beer festival.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

2013 - Day Out 07: Weymouth Vintage Bus Running Day

Date: Sunday 16 June 2013

Our third day in Weymouth and today is the reason for the visit, The Weymouth Vintage Bus Running Day. So far we have had really good sunny weather, but you can guess as the day we most want it to stay dry, the weather changes and decides to rain.

Weymouth Beach
I wake up and i decide to slide out of the bed and actually fall out to avoid the first pain of the day of standing on my swollen leg, knocking my head against the wall, so I still get pain when getting up. After getting dressed, I make my way to the front of the hotel for some "fresh air" and as I make my way outside, the weather has decided not to play the game today and it is drizzling and a bit windy bringing a chill to the air. After my break, I meet up with Mr UKBuses and make our way for breakfast to have a full English (no egg, extra bacon and sausage) to fuel us for the day ahead at the running day. After breakfast, we quickly head to the rooms to get our camera's and make our way across the sea front, where Mr UKBuses is way ahead and I hobble my way and take a seat whilst he is taking some photographs, and also purchase an umbrella so photo's can be taken at the running day. To get to the Weymouth Vintage Bus Running Day Rally HQ (Lodmoor Country Park), we have to catch First in Dorset service 503 which is luckily being driven by Clive, a driver who used to worked with Mr UKBuses, Clive is our driver on the route to rally HQ.

A classic BMMO Bus
We arrive at Rally HQ and as we hobble to the vehicles on display, the umbrella goes up and photographs are taken, it is Mr UKBuses turn to take photo's whilst I hold the umbrella (unfortunately I missed his head when trying to hit him with it a few times) ensuring that the bald spot is kept dry and then it is my turn to get the camera out and take a few pictures. We still have a bit of time before the rides commence so we have a look around the stalls, and whilst Mr UKBuses is browsing the photographs on sale, I head to the bus stops and take a seat to rest my leg. The rides are about to start and we board our first journey of the day:

Journey 1: Service 454 - Weymouth to Railway Station Circular. This journey was operated by an Ex-Southdown Leyland National 2 HFG 923V.

Journey 2: Service 23 - Weymouth to Bowleaze Cove. This was operated by South West Coaches Mercedes-Benz 709D L317 AUT. This bus would be haunting us throughout the day on our rides. Whilst at Bowleaze Cove there was time to take photographs, so I decided to stay on the bus for obvious reasons whilst Mr UKBuses got off and took a few photographs, see picture below. The rain was stopping and the sun was starting to make an appearance.

Watch out there is a bald spot about.

Watch out there is a bald spot about.

Journey 3: Service 22A - Weymouth to Portland Bill. This was operated by South West Coaches Volvo B6LE YEZ 6691.

The famous lighthouse.

Good old Portland Bill

Whilst at Portland we alighted and as is now customary we have a liquid refreshment break in the expensive Pulpit pub, see picture below, I was looking forward to this as this year it was Mr UKBuses turn to buy the round and even though he tried his old trick of going to the toilet, he didn't get away with it and purchased the round. With a little rest of the leg and drinks finished we make our way back to the bus stop for the return journey and disaster strikes. The journey is being operated by the dreaded Mercedes Benz minibus and obviously there was no room, so we had to wait a further 30 minutes for the next bus to arrive and a big queue was forming for this journey. Unfortunately the arriving bus was packed and no-one got off so there was no room, it looked like quite a wait but the owner and driver of this bus went beyond the call of duty and let us on to stand (at our own risk, which was fair to be honest) and we arrived back at Rally HQ. The return journey was operated by Ex-Wilts and Dorset Bristol VRT JJT 437N.

Cheers from The Pulpit!

Mr UKBuses round this year!

Journey 4: Service 23 - Weymouth - Bowleaze Cove. Another visit to Bowleaze Cove, this time on an Ex-Devon General Bristol LH POD 8300H.

Inside the depot at Weymouth.
It was time for our final journey of the day and we catch the 454 Service to Weymouth Railway Station, where we alight at The Kings Statue and decide to go back to the hotel for some rest and put our feet up. I did nod off for a bit, luckily waking in time for me to visit the shops to get some sweets for work (a tradition when we go away) and a sneaky pint in J D Wetherspoons "The William Henry", avoiding the lift this time. After my pint, I make my way back to the hotel and Mr UKBuses has made an appearance earlier than planned as he is sitting in the hotel bar. I drop my stuff off upstairs and make my way to the bar to enjoy a pint before we go to get tea, this time we sample a curry at our Weymouth favourite, "Chilli's", stopping off at First in Dorset's Weymouth Depot to take a few photographs, see picture left. Mr UKBuses opts for the Chicken Tikka Masala and myself the not so hot Chicken Tikka Korma, and it was a lovely meal too, thanks to the chef.

With our stomachs fed, we decide to have a walk around Weymouth to visit old favourites that we didn't manage to visit last night. First up is The Wellington Arms, a pub first (and last) visited on our trip in 2011, and a pub that I stayed in for five hours after watching the longest Grand Prix ever when the 2011 Canadian Grand Prix was being held in very wet weather (and also Mr UKBuses and Mr WME left me in whilst they enjoyed a visit to Chilli's) and was won by Jenson Button who came from last place to take the lead and the win on the final lap. This visit wasn't that long this time, and we enjoyed a pint of real ale and it was a nice pint too, kept right by the Landlord.

Cheers from The Chapelhay Tavern!

Cheers from The Chapelhay Tavern

Next place to visit was a distance away and luckily my leg wasn't as sore as it was during the day (I found out that the pain wasn't to bad on the evening's) so we hobble across the bridge and up some steps to The Chapelhay Tavern. I've always liked this pub as it has good memento's covering the walls, friendly staff and friendly regulars, but this time was a bit of a let down as the bitter that we purchased tasted a bit vinegary and would've made a good use if we had some chips, see picture above. Luckily we only purchased half and after a quick visit to the toilet (with glass sneakingly in hand), my drink had gone and Mr UKBuses decided to leave his.

A lovely night to sit outside The Boot

A lovely night to sit outside The Boot

We only had a short walk and luckily it was downhill so I didn't have to clamber up steps. Another favourite of ours, The Boot Inn. Again the staff and regulars are always friendly and every visit to The Boot makes you feel very welcome and part of the place. This pub is owned by The Ringwood Brewery so it has to be said that we have top sample a Ringwood Bitter, which was again as always kept right and it went down very nicely, we opted to sit outside again this year in the evening sun, see picture above, and we accompanied by a visit from a ten week old boxer dog.

Stan says Cheers from The Globe!

Stan says "Cheers from The Globe"

One more pub to go and we make our way back to what is Mr UKBuses favourite pub in Weymouth, The Globe where we sample the nicely kept Jail Ale, see picture above, and Mr UKBuses does get his favourite seat in the pub tonight, a bar stool right next to the bar. We get talking to the people we met here last night and Mr UKBuses calls it a night and makes his way back to the hotel. I'm not too far behind and about ten to fifteen minutes later I make my way back to the hotel, where a couple of pints are had for a nightcap for the final night's stay at Weymouth, before heading for bed, I have a last "fresh air" break of the day and have a look across the road to the moonlit sea and also spot that the lasers are on for the first time this weekend. After the fresh air is finished, I make my way to my room where I rest my tired leg, which is now getting very swollen, including my toes which I can now not bend and get one final night's sleep in Weymouth.

A good final day and congratulations to the organisers of the Vintage Bus Running Day. A tiring day but well enjoyed it is nearly time to go back home, but even though the Running Day won't be taking place next year (it is Torquay's turn to host the event), I'm pretty sure that Weymouth will still be visited at some point next year.

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Date: Monday 17 June 2013

Sadly it is our last few hours in Weymouth before we head back to the Midlands.

I wake up early and hobble around the room on by now a very swollen leg and ankle and ensure that everything is packed. Once everything is packed I make my way downstairs for some "fresh air" before meeting Mr UKBuses for breakfast. I go for the healthy option today and opt for cereal. Once breakfast is finished and Mr UKBuses enjoys his fifth cup of coffee, I have a fresh air break before going to my room to pick up my bag and we make our way back downstairs and hand our keys in and say goodbye to The Royal Hotel. There is one last thing to do whilst still in Weymouth and that is to have a final pint in J D Wetherspoons, "The William Henry", see picture right, which is now customary before leaving Weymouth. Pint finished, we make our way, or in my case, hobble to Weymouth Railway Station and after a final "fresh air" break in Weymouth we say goodbye to Weymouth and board our 10:03 South West Trains train for our first leg of the journey.

We arrive at Southampton Central Railway Station and I have time to sneak outside for some "fresh air", and as I make my way back into the station, our train arrives and we board the 11:46 CrossCountry train which is heading to Newcastle, but we will be alighting halfway. Time for a nap for both of us and as we head through Banbury, we realise we are getting closer to home and as we arrive near Birmingham New Street, we get our bags and stand by the doors, it seems to be an eternity as we wait for a platform but eventually we arrive and alight and we have a rush to get our connecting train to Smethwick Galton Bridge on Platform 3B, having a quick glance at the new concourse at New Street along the way.

We arrive at Platform 3B and just about get on our Arriva Trains Wales train which takes us to Smethwick Galton Bridge where after alighting we have to get to our platform for the Stourbridge bound train, but instead of climbing the stairs and my leg, we get the lift to get us there. At 14:43, we board our London Midland train and as we make our way back home, Mr UKBuses rings Mr UKBuses senior to arrange a lift and upon arrival at Stourbridge Junction we get into the car where Mr UKBuses senior kindly drops me off right on the doorstep.

After dropping the bag off and slightly worried about how swollen my ankle is, I head straight off to Russell's Hall Hospital where I am admitted for 9 hours to get two drips pumped straight into my blood to help alleviate the swelling. It was not a fitting end to the weekend, but at least I'm now on the mend.

The weekend was really good, it would not have been possible without the planning of the days by Mr UKBuses. It is a shame we had to come back, but the weekend was really enjoyable with thanks to Mr UKBuses and his company for the weekend. A big thank you to Mr UKBuses who had to put up with my slow walking and my dodgy leg all weekend, who would have thought that I would struggle keeping up with Mr UKBuses. Sorry for the lack of bald spot photo's but Mr UKBuses was too quick for me and I needed one hand free to hold a walking stick to keep me upright.