Thursday, 27 December 2012

2012 - Day Out 20: London - Remembrance Day Parade

Date: Sunday 11 November 2012

It is our last day in the City of London and we hope to get back on TV this year when we spend the morning at the Remembrance Day Parade at Whitehall, it is an early start so after the bags are packed, we make an early start to get the prime spot in front of the BBC TV cameras.

Our spot at the Remembrance Day Parade in Whitehall!
I wake up and after getting ready, make sure that everything is packed before I go downstairs for some "fresh air" and check out before Mr UKBuses rises from his pit. My stomach feels loads better today but we haven't got time for breakfast this morning before we have to leave Travelodge Docklands for the last time this year (I will be back here in April 2013 to watch the WWE at the 02 Arena again). Mr UKBuses said to meet him in reception at about 08:30am, but I think he needs a new alarm clock as he is twenty minutes late again. He checks out and we are on our way to our last London destination for this weekend and we are off to see The Queen - not "We Will Rock You", the real Queen, we are off to Whitehall to see the Remembrance Day Parade. We say goodbye to the hotel for the final time this weekend and we take the short walk to the Docklands Light Railway station at East India for the final time this year. I get my Oystercard out ready and tap in on the point that I have grown to hate this weekend, but at least it lets me tap in. We don't have long to wait before our train pulls up and we go one stop to Canning Town and thankfully, Mr UKBuses decides not to do any singing as we walk to the London Underground platform, which means that the current blue skies will stay that way. Our train arrives and we are on the Jubilee Line, and are on the train for eight stations before we arrive at Westminster Underground Station.

As we make our way outside of the station we see Big Ben in front of us opposite the station entrance and as I get a "fresh air" break and make our way around to Whitehall, the crowds are gathering in big numbers already. As we turn the corner, the police are ready for the security and bag checks which I failed last year due to leaving my Asthma Inhaler in my pocket. This year I leave nothing to chance and take all things out of my coat and trouser pockets including my cigarettes, the policewoman who was checking my stuff turned round and told me "those are mine I'm afraid, I'm going to have to confiscate them for myself!", little did she know that when she was searching in my bag that she would be going through my dirty underwear! Now its time to go through the security metal detectors and this year I pass the test and am able to collect my things and put everything back in my pockets, Mr UKBuses is still being checked, perhaps they were having trouble getting into his wallet. After passing security we head up towards the Cenotaph to get a prime spot for watching the Remembrance service, the location can be seen in the picture above. 

To ensure that we get a good spot, we had to get here early so there is just over another hour to go before the event starts, so we just wait around looking to see if there is anyone famous lurking about. The time soon passes by, even with the help of a jolly gentleman behind us by keeping our spirits up with his jokes. It is nearly eleven and the start of the parade. The bands have started to make their way down Whitehall and are taking there places, we have a band wearing large bearskin hats on their heads which sort of limits our view towards the Cenotaph. As soon as the bands have taken their places, the dignitaries start taking their places with Prime Ministers past and present as they appear from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office. Once the dignitaries take their places, Her Royal Highness, The Queen makes her appearance, with the press photographers starting to click away, taking over the sound of silence and as Big Ben strikes 11, a shot is heard starting the two minute silence and is ended by another shot being heard. The main service is underway with Hymns being sung and prayers being spoken. After the service is over, the parade starts and we start to make our way back to Westminster Underground Station to get some food before we have to board our train back to the Midlands. Everything is going fine, even passing Jeremy Paxman along the route and as we pass The Red Lion, disaster strikes. Everyone who has watched the parade seems to want to get out at the same time and we hit a bottleneck, we are stuck in the middle of the crowd and we cannot move anywhere backwards or forwards, and I make sure that the person behind me who keeps pushing my spine into all different directions trying to get past when no-one else in front is moving anywhere by calmly SHOUTING at her to stop trying to break my back. Mr UKBuses is quite a way behind me (and he heard me!) and after nearly an hour and a half being stuck, the parade has finished and the police start releasing the crowd by moving the barriers. With a bit of space, I have a well deserved "fresh air" break whilst quickly making our way to the Westminster Underground Station.

Our First Class train is due to depart at 13:20 so we don't have long to get to London Euston Railway Station, we enter Westminster Underground Station and rush down to the correct platform and we don't have to wait long before a train arrives. Somehow after we board, we arrive at London Euston Underground Station and rush up to the main concourse of the railway station to find out what platform we are on. We run down to the train and board with a few minutes to spare. We board our Virgin Train and find our seats in first class and decide that it will only be tea and biscuits for our free food, whilst Mr UKBuses gets himself comfortable I make my way all the way down to the other side of the train to get to the shop and get some sandwiches and crisps. I spot a bacon Ciabatta bread sandwich, so opt for a warm one of those and a couple of liquid refreshments for the journey back. I get back to our carriage after walking a mile back down the train and Mr UKBuses is enjoying biscuits and drink, nice of him to save mine - but at least I get my own back when I pass him his sandwich and I pull out my hot bacon sandwich. After we devour our much needed food we get comfortable for the rest of the journey.

We arrive in Coventry and are surprised how quick it has taken us to get there, it may seem only a few minutes for Mr UKBuses as he has had a kip for half of the journey. We are near Birmingham and we can tell as the train slows down to nearly a standstill just outside of Birmingham New Street, but we eventually arrive and we get our belongings and alight the train and catch our connecting London Midland train to Smethwick Galton Bridge. We arrive at Smethwick Galton Bridge and have the arduous task of walking up a few flights of steps to get to the right platform for our Stourbridge bound train. We have a few minutes to wait even if the minutes on the time estimated board keep changing up and down and we eventually board our train which takes us on the faster journey back to Stourbridge Junction, only stopping at Rowley Regis and Cradley Heath on the way back. We have a bit of time to spare and I am able to have a well deserved "fresh air break" outside of the station before getting the "Stourbridge Dodger" back into Stourbridge Interchange where we go to our stand and catch National Express West Midlands Service 276 back home after a brilliant, if not exhausting, weekend.

Another successful weekend break was had in London again this year, this was due to the good company of Mr UKBuses and also down to the fact that he came up with good plans for each day spent in the Capital, the weekend would not be possible with the good planning of Mr UKBuses (Big Thank you!). Plus when we got home I checked on BBC i-Player and we were on the BBC coverage again, about 2 minutes 30 seconds in.

2012 - Day Out 19: London - Lords Mayor Parade

Date: Saturday 10 November 2012

A busy day is ahead so after a good nights sleep it is time to feed our stomachs with a buffet breakfast (bacon, bacon, bacon!) before seeing the Lords Mayor show today followed by a show of a different kind tonight.

The Lords Mayor Show
As always the first night away from my comfortable bed, I don't sleep to well and also with my stomach still not right it looks as if I am going to suffer today. I get up and make my way downstairs and have some "fresh air" before Mr UKBuses makes an appearance in time for breakfast, which was at 08:30am. After waiting in reception, I send Mr UKBuses a text to ask him where he is (he must have had trouble finding his industrial strength Brylcreem) and twenty minutes later than planned he finally turns up in reception. We make our way to the hotel bar, but not for beer this time as it doubles up as the breakfast room. It is a buffet breakfast so that we can pile our plates up as much as we want, I love the breakfasts at this hotel, but seeing as my stomach was still playing up I don't over indulge and even though there was not a lot on my plate, I still struggle to eat what is on it. I try and sooth my stomach by having a yogurt or two and after Mr UKBuses finishes his morning cup of coffee and I finish my apple juice, we quickly make our way to our rooms and pick our stuff up needed for today and meet back up in reception to make our way to our first show of the day, The Lords Mayor Show. We make our way to the East India Docklands Light Railway Station, having some "fresh air" en route and as we enter the station, the Oystercard is being accepted this time after last night's refusal to let me clock out, I also discover that I was charged fully for the last journey we made back to the hotel last night.

We go just one stop on the Docklands Light Railway and arrive back at Canning Town, it looks like rain as Mr UKBuses has adapted a famous London song and is singing "Canning Town". Instead of making our way to the Jubilee Line we make our way out of the station to the nearby Canning Town Interchange, briefly stopping off so that Mr UKBuses can get some cough sweets to ease his cold. We have time before we catch our first London bus of the weekend and take a few photographs and I also spot something that I have never seen before, a dual door Optare Solo. Just after 09:45, we make our way to our stand and catch Stagecoach London's service 115, passing through Poplar and Limehouse along the way before arriving at Aldgate, where we have a bit of time and take a walk around the bus station and take a few more pictures. After the pictures have been taken, we cross the busy road that is Aldgate High Street from the bus station and head on the London Underground where we head onto the Metropolitan Line. This is where we catch a new "S-Stock" Underground train which looks weird to begin with as you can see all the way down the train from each end. We are only travelling one station and we quickly arrive at our next stop, Liverpool Street Underground Station.

Floating meat at the parade!
We leave the Metropolitan Line behind and change at Liverpool Street onto the Central Line where we travel one more station again and arrive at our destination for the first show of the day, The Lords Mayor Show. As we arrive at Bank Underground Station, we make our way to ground level and find a suitable place to stand to see The Lords Mayor Show. We have a bit to go before the show starts and we can see the band assembling opposite us from where we are standing, close to the entrance of Bank Underground in Princes Street. Mr UKBuses keeps his eye out for Fearne Cotton, one of the usual presenters of the television coverage which is shown on the BBC each year. I have a feeling that she will not be presenting it this year as she is currently pregnant. We see one of the presenters but don't know who she is and it confirms that Fearne won't be there when the second presenter appears, Mr UKBuses is not feeling happy now that Fearne won't be there, but a smile beams across my face when the other presenter is one of my favourites (who I had also seen up close when she presented Blue Peter's Olympic Roadshow in Wolverhampton in June), Helen Skelton, (see pictures below). The show begins and there are a load of old lorries, buses, taxi cabs, floats, bands, horses and even dogs going past in the parade. There is also a big piece of meat that goes floating past us, (see picture right). After an hour or so, the parade finishes and before we make our way back on the London Underground, I manage to get one last look at my Helen who is debriefing with the television production team. Back into Bank Underground Station we go and we catch a fully loaded train to our next destination, that is after I'm let through the barrier after being told to "seek assistance" due to the barriers not liking my Oystercard, Mr UKBuses gets through safely and is nearly on the floor with laughter after seeing my predicament again.

Wish I was that dog!

I wish I was that dog!

I'm over here Helen!

I'm over here Helen!

Helen, come back!

Helen, come back!

We are on the Central Line and as we feel like a sardine, we go four stations, arriving at Tottenham Court Road Underground Station where we change onto the Northern Line and go one station arriving at Leicester Square to have a liquid refreshment stop. We were supposed to go to J D Wetherspoons "The Montagu Pyke", but end up in J D Wetherspoons "The Moon Under Water", where a "first" is happening, Mr UKBuses purchases the first round of the day. The pub is quite busy and there are no tables available so we stand next to Noel Edmonds, well a Deal Or No Deal fruit machine with his face on it. A couple of people move from the table in front of us and eventually after wrestling with their coats they move and Mr UKBuses is like a whippet and grabs the table so we can have a well deserved rest from standing on our legs for the last couple of hours. Two other people take our place at the fruit machines waiting for the next lot of people to vacate their tables. After finishing our drinks we make our way to the next destination so that we can sample two different types of rear platform buses, so after purchasing fresh poppies for tomorrow from street collectors, we make our way to the bus stop and catch the Arriva London service 24 bus for the short distance between Leicester Square and Trafalgar Square.

The new rear platform in town!
Upon alighting at Trafalgar Square, Mr UKBuses decides to go the wrong way and eventually we find Stand S, where we will catch the old guard, an Heritage Routemaster on the heritage route service 9, or so we thought. Due to the Lords Mayor Show, this service was terminating short due to road closures, so instead Mr UKBuses uses his map allowance and we board First London's Service 23 where we alight at Piccadilly Circus and have a short walk to the Arriva London's Service 38 bus stop to at least catch the new guard, The New Bus For London - otherwise known as the Borismaster, or so we thought. We decide to wait at the bus stop for a while and after about four normal buses go past, a Borismaster finally arrives and we board at the front tapping our Oystercards as we pass the driver and after a short while, we arrive at Victoria Bus Station where we this service terminates and we alight via the rear platform. After waiting a couple of minutes for the tourists to have their pictures taken on the rear platform of the bus, I finally manage to get a picture myself, see picture left, whilst I am doing this, Mr UKBuses does his normal trick when he is at Victoria Bus Station and goes missing. I wasn't that lucky though, as after a few minutes I find him again and we decide where to go next. We decide to go off the plan and "go with the flow" and as we didn't make a visit as planned the night before, we head off to our London regular.

Cheers from the Blind Beggar!
We head back onto the London Underground and make our way to Victoria Underground Station (the place where we purchased our Oystercards) and we wait for a District Line train to arrive, we have to wait for a train to pass before our train arrives, and we make our way along the District Line where we alight at our now regular London Underground Station, Whitechapel, where I'm sure that we could walk to our destination from the station blindfolded (due to health and safety and loads of people in the way shopping at the street market, we would never try this), and after a couple of minutes walk, with a "fresh air break" on the way, we arrive at our London regular, "The Blind Beggar", where we take a rest at the bar looking out onto the streets of Whitechapel. My round and I "Take Courage" for my choice of ale, whilst Mr UKBuses opts for his "London Pride". We make ourselves comfortable, see picture right, and take the weight off our feet, the barmaid is getting stuff ready behind the bar to make, what looks like, Mulled Wine and something which would probably be nice to drink and keep you warm at the same time now that Winter has arrived. As this is going on, "The Blind Beggar Cat" makes an appearance and duly jumps up onto the bar looking at what is going on, Mr UKBuses gets the best view as the cat's bottom is right in his face. Despite the view, Mr UKBuses must be feeling ill as he puts his hands in his pocket and purchases another half to sample before we leave. Without getting to comfortable we decide that we have to leave so that we can get back to the hotel ahead of our other show tonight, so we finish our drinks and say goodbye to the bar staff and our regular - till the next time.

Is that Marwood or Mark Wood?
It was time to make a move and Mr UKBuses puts his map allowance to good use seeing as we are off plan and we make our way to the nearest bus stop passing a construction company with a similar name to Mr UKBuses (only the "K" is missing in the middle), see picture left, and we wait a few minutes for First London's service 25 to arrive which takes us to Bow Church, which is where we alight to get onto the Docklands Light Railway as we tap in I notice that I need to top up or else I could be short tomorrow, so we make our way onto the platform and have a few minutes before our train arrives. I spot a top up machine and after getting it ready I attempt to make a payment, but the machine is not accepting my notes, I try again and still have no joy, on the final attempt I have to get another type of plastic out of my wallet and pay on my Credit Card, which luckily the machine duly accepts. Our train arrives and we board to make our way back to the hotel so that we can freshen up, we have to change at Poplar whilst on the journey so that we can get onto the other Docklands Light Railway line to take us back to East India and the hotel, enjoying some "fresh air" along the walk. We have a short rest and freshen up before we have to make our way back into the London night to see our second show of the day.

After a quick rest and freshen up, I decide to pop outside for some "fresh air" and a quick Boddingtons before Mr UKBuses makes an appearance. At about 17:10, he appears in reception and we make our way back to East India Docklands Light Railway Station, to make our way in the opposite direction than normal, to Bank and it is a new experience on this DLR journey as towards the end of the ride we actually go underground which makes it easier for us to make our way onto the Central Line at Bank. Once on the Central Line we go three stations and alight at Holborn and make our way outside the station, where we visit our second J D Wetherspoons of the day, "The Penderel's Oak", where we decide to have a bite to eat before our show. Drinks are ordered and table found, I go to the bar to order the food, with Mr UKBuses opting for the BBQ Chicken Melt, without the "melt" and myself a Chicken Burger. It takes about fifteen minutes before the food arrives, and we both get the wrong food, Mr UKBuses BBQ Chicken Melt arrives with the "melt", which I can understand a mistake being made with that choice, but I get a Beefburger, so a complaint is made and after showing the waiter the receipt where it clearly states "Chicken Burger", the food is returned back to the kitchen and fresh meals are cooked. Another fifteen minutes pass and our food eventually arrives with the correct order. We have less time to eat our meals now, and with my stomach not quite one hundred percent, I cannot rush it down me like Mr UKBuses does with his meal, so I have to leave half of my meal so that we can get to our show on time. We make our way back to Holborn Underground Station to get to our important destination of the night.

Upon arrival it is back onto the Central Line and one stop to Tottenham Court Road where we alight and after a "fresh air" break and crossing of the road, we are standing outside The Dominion Theatre, the place where we need to go for our second show of the day, Ben Elton's "We Will Rock You". We head inside and there is still a bit of time before we can take our seats so after purchasing a bottle of Beck's, which at £3 odd is quite expensive for a half a pint drink and after purchasing a Queen T-Shirt from the merchandise stall (I had to really), we take our seats and wait for the show to begin. We are interrupted just as the show starts as people turn up late and have to get past us to get to their seats, but despite the interruption, we make ourselves comfortable and enjoy the show, with me trying not to burst into song every time they sing a Queen song on stage. A thoroughly good show was had and even though it wasn't part of the storyline, the actors at the end came back on stage to give a performance of the classic "Bohemian Rhapsody", but unfortunately it has to come to an end so we make our way back outside and back to the Tottenham Court Underground Station, it must have also been hard for the actors and actresses singing on stage as some words in the Queen songs have been changed to coincide with the storyline of the show.

It is 10:30pm and we arrive at the Central Line platform just in time for our Central Line train to take us to Bank, where we change back onto the Docklands Light Railway and emerge from the tunnels to take us back to East India Station arriving just before 11:00pm, where after tapping out with no problems tonight, we make our way back to the hotel where we say goodnight before heading to our rooms. As I get back to my room, I still have the adrenalin pumping from the brilliant performance I had just seen, so go back outside for a "fresh air" break and a nightcap in the hotel bar before retiring for the night.

A long and successful day was had, with the evening show taken its toll, another well deserved sleep is needed and we hope that the weather stays dry for us tomorrow for when we get to meet the Queen (of a different kind) again on our last day in London. Night Night!

2012 - Day Out 18: London

Date: Friday 09 November 2012

Following the successful weekend break in London last year, we thought we would do it again. So with the Oystercard ready, hotel booked, rail tickets purchased and another type of ticket booked, we depart Stourbridge at dinnertime so that we can spend the evening around the Capital.

Travelodge Docklands
I wake up and don't feel to good, I have picked up a stomach bug and feel a bit queasy, but with all the plans made and tickets purchased I do not let this get in my way and finish off my packing ready for the day ahead. I have to pop into Stourbridge before meeting up with Mr UKBuses and decide to surprise him by catching the National Express West Midlands service 276 to his bus stop in Norton and after a ten minute wait he walks around the corner where we wait a few minutes before our 13:56 journey arrives and we, well myself, are back on the 276, which takes us into Stourbridge where upon arrival at Stourbridge Interchange, we alight and change onto the "Stourbridge Dodger" which takes us from the Interchange to Stourbridge Junction where we wait a few minutes for our train to take us to Birmingham. At 14:39 our London Midland train arrives and our first leg of our journey to the Capital is complete as our train takes us to Birmingham Snow Hill.

Upon arrival at Birmingham Snow Hill, I get my train ticket out ready to show the ticket guard at the barriers as when we normally try to escape the station, the ticket barriers do not recognise our tickets and do not let us out. Mr UKBuses decides to give it a go and he gets through, so it is my turn and with my experience with these ticket barriers I fear the worst, but the ticket barrier lets me go through too. As we leave Birmingham Snow Hill I get some "fresh air" and we have a bit of time to kill in Birmingham, so we decide to go to J D Wetherspoons, "The Briar Rose", where we sample a real ale and decide to have a second one as we still have a bit of time to kill. With the drinks finished, we take a walk down to The Pallasades and into Birmingham New Street Station, where we have a change and catch the Virgin Trains to London. We board our train and get our reserved seats making ourselves comfortable with our train departing at 16:10, we pass through Birmingham International and Coventry before arriving at London Euston at 17:34, along the way I have some new kind of "fresh air" break on the train, a legal electronic cigarette.

At this point I would normally have some "fresh air" but we don't have time (luckily I had a few drags on my electronic version on the train) and with the Oystercard at hand, it is straight onto the London Underground and onto the Northern Line at Euston, making our way to Bank where we change onto The Docklands Light Railway to take us to our final destination. We arrive at East India and as we make our way out of the station, I have a well overdue real "fresh air" break whilst we have a short walk to our accommodation for the weekend, Travelodge Docklands, a place where we stopped last November and I also stopped in April this year when I came down to watch the WWE Raw TV Taping event at the nearby 02 Arena. Cigarette extinguished we make our way to the reception to check in. I end up being on the 2nd Floor this time and they cater for the elderly with Mr UKBuses having a room on the ground floor. We go to our rooms to drop our stuff off and have a freshen up.

There is a bit of time left before we meet up so I decide to have a sample of the hotel bar and have a pint of Boddingtons, as I sup my ale I decide to have some "fresh air" and when I return, Mr UKBuses has the same idea and has made his way to the bar and is sitting at a table with his pint, it is a shame that my pint is on another table, but I decide to join him and we finish our pints before heading to East India for our night ahead. We get on the Docklands Light Railway and go one stop to Canning Town where we change our mode of transport and go back on the Underground and onto the Jubilee Line. We alight at Waterloo and change onto the Bakerloo Line which takes us to Charing Cross where we sample our first proper public house of the weekend, J D Wetherspoons "Lord Moon Of The Mall".

After finding a table we decide to have a pint and some food, with my appetite not being up to much, I just opt for a bowl of chips whilst Mr UKBuses has is Masala. After our grub is finished and pints supped, we consult the plan and the next place to visit is our London regular, "The Blind Beggar", but as I'm not feeling too good, we decide to make our way back to the hotel and have an early night.

Despite my tummy bug, it was a successful first day, we get some well deserved sleep ready for a busy day ahead tomorrow, night night!

Saturday, 6 October 2012

2012 - Day Out 17: London

Date: Saturday 29 September 2012

It has been a while since we visited London, the last time was in May. With all the Olympics over we return to the capital now that the number of people visiting has died down.

The Olympic Park, London.
Its an early start with us having to catch the first journey of the morning of National Express West Midlands service 276 which departs Wollaston at 07:36. I make my way to the stop and Autumn has arrived with it being dark and a bit on the chilly side this morning, I arrive at the stop ten minutes early and so does the bus, but the driver kindly lets me on to keep warm and as we depart I send the standard text to let Mr UKBuses know that we are on the way and as we arrive in Norton he is at his stop and boards. We make our way into Stourbridge visiting the Stourbridge Interchange and after making our way to Brook Road, we alight where I have chance to have a "fresh air break" before boarding our train. We have a while to wait so we pick the best place in the waiting room at Stourbridge Junction, right underneath the heater. Our train is due so we make our way to Platform 2 and at 07:22 our Chiltern Railway train arrives and after we board we find a table seat and make ourselves comfortable as we don't have to change as this train takes us straight into London. Mr UKBuses has a nap whilst on the way, passing through Birmingham Snow Hill and Moor Street, Solihull, Warwick Parkway and High Wycombe, but he does keep having his nap interrupted by the train horn going off a few times, the ticket inspector and his own snoring.

The Borismaster
Just before 09:39 we arrive at London Marylebone and as we were on the first carriage we don't have far to walk. After the ticket machine keeps our outbound journey tickets we make our way out to the front of the station so that I can get some "fresh air" and after four months away, we get our Oyster Cards out ready for our first trip of the day in London on the Underground, and I must admit I have missed the smell of the Underground. We have a couple of stops to go on the Bakerloo Line to Oxford Circus where we change onto the Victoria Line and make our way to London Euston. After a journey of three minutes we change once again onto the Northern Line at Euston but Mr UKBuses map reading skills need working on as he takes us to the wrong platform and we head into the wrong direction, we are slightly ahead of the plan so as we arrive at Camden Town Underground Station where we change onto the right direction platform and catch our Northern Line train to our original destination of Angel Underground Station where upon arrival and making our way back to ground surface we intend to catch a new London bus called, unofficially, "The Borismaster". As we make our way towards bus stop F we see the bus at the stop and as Mr UKBuses gets a shot of the bus it starts to pull off but it has to stop at the traffic lights so we are able to jump on at the rear onto the open platform for our first experience on the officially named "New Bus For London". We have a ride of about approximately thirty five minutes on Arriva London's service 38 and the ride is quite smooth and also quiet as The Borismaster is a hybrid bus and a bus I totally recommend to catch. We arrive at our destination of Victoria Bus Station where a few photographs are taken of the buses at the station, see picture right.

Cheers from St Stephens Tavern!
After a few shots are taken, we need to take a short walk to the bus stop for our next London bus journey of the day and bus stop J at Victoria is situated opposite one of our favourite J D Wetherspoons pubs, "The Willow Walk", but we don't have time to visit it today and after five minutes of waiting our Go Ahead London service 24 bus arrives, and Mr UKBuses gets a bit annoyed when someone pushes the queue as we board. We are on this bus for approximately fifteen minutes before we arrive at our next destination and we know we have arrived when we pass Westminster Abbey, with Will and Kate not being there today, and as we enter Parliament Square we alight to get the next Underground journey to another destination, but we make a diversion first. Situated close to the entrance of Westminster Underground Station is a public house, "St. Stephens Tavern", which Mr UKBuses decides to make a quick visit and it is in their we enjoy a pint of "Badger", Mr UKBuses enjoys his drink as it does go down rather quickly, see picture left. After our quick diversion, we make our way to Westminster Underground Station and onto the Jubilee Line where we return once again to Stratford.

Cheers from The Goldengrove!
We are on the Underground for just under half an hour before we arrive at Stratford Station, which can be called an interchange as you have the Underground, Trains, Docklands Light Railway and a bus station all situated in the same place. A few photographs are taken in the bus station before we take a short walk to our first J D Wetherspoons of the day, "The Goldengrove", which is a small Wetherspoons outlet which must have been quite busy during the Olympic period seeing as it is very close by to the Olympic Park. We get our drinks, "Cragrat", which we tried during our visit to Torquay, and find a table so that we can order some food. We pick the best table "Number 1", see picture right, and we peruse the menu, but have decided to have our usual, Mr UKBuses opts for his BBQ Chicken Melt - without the "Melt" - and I opt for the Burger and Beer option (The chicken variety). After ordering I return to the table to see Mr UKBuses has got the usual condiments - Tomato Sauce, Salt, Vinegar and of course, Horseradish Sauce. We don't have long to wait when our food arrives piping hot and I also get an extra burger between my burger buns, a return visit to this Wetherspoons is needed in the future! After a few minutes of letting our dinner go down we decide to visit our next destination which is not too far away and we return to Stratford "Interchange" to get the DLR.

Cheers from The Widows Son!
After getting into the station we make our way to our platform to get us to a place called Stratford International, the home of The Olympic Park. After arriving we make our way outside of the station and find out that the area has been fenced off so we were unable to have a look around the main home of the London 2012 Olympics, so we head back onto the DLR and change at Stratford to get us to our next planned destination, but seeing as we had a shorter than planned lunch break and had a bit of time spare I suggested an addition to the plan which was agreed by the Chairman and was only one stop extra. We decide to visit Devons Road, a place that I have visited a few times as this was the location of the London office of where I work before it was closed down. Looking at the office building from Devons Road DLR Station I could not make out who has taken over the building but we decided to go to "The Widows Son", see picture left, the pub that was situated next to the offices. We decide to have a quick pint and then get to our next planned destination, giving the "Caravan cafe in the wall" a miss as we had just had lunch, but rest assured they do nice bacon sandwiches. Back to the Devons Road DLR station and we don't have long to wait before the DLR arrives and we make our way to Bow Church DLR station and as we make our way to the main road, virtually opposite the station is Bow Bus Depot something that I missed on my many visits to this DLR station. We take a few photographs of the garage before making our way back to the bus stop outside of the DLR station.

Cheers from The Blind Beggar!
We board our bus, First London service 25 which takes about fifteen minutes to get us to our next destination, Whitechapel, and we keep a look out to make sure we get off at the right stop. Luckily the map allowance is paying dividends as Mr UKBuses does in fact choose the right stop and we cross the main Whitechapel Road to our London regular "The Blind Beggar", see picture right. As we walk in there a quite a few people in today as they are watching the football match on the pub's TVs so we go outside into the beer garden to enjoy the autumn sun. After the drinks are consumed (and Mr UKBuses purchased this round!), we make our way back out to Whitechapel Road and down to Whitechapel Underground Station, where we make sure that we choose the right line train, in our case the District Line to get us to Tower Hill Underground station. As we arrive at the station I have trouble escaping as my Oystercard doesn't want to scan on the barrier, but the station guard is close by and lets me through, somehow checking my card without me having to touch anything. We make our way to the bus stop outside the Tower of London and it is not long before our Stagecoach London Heritage Routemaster turns up on Heritage Route 15 which takes us to Charing Cross and along the route the conductor comes along with his scanner for us to touch in. As we go along the route the legs become crossed.

We arrive at Charing Cross and luckily we are not far from The Silver Cross, where I sneak in and make use of the toilets before sneaking out in a "Mr D9 stealth operation". Mr UKBuses waits outside and we decide to catch Go Ahead London's service 88 to get us to Westminster. We alight at Westminster Abbey and have a short walk to the Underground station and we again pass the St Stephens Tavern that we visited earlier and go Underground where we catch the Jubilee Line to Baker Street. With no signs of Sherlock Holmes, we change lines to the Bakerloo Line and go one stop arriving at Marylebone. We are well ahead of the plan and decide to catch the earlier Chiltern train back to Birmingham and we have time to get some provisions for the journey ahead. I pop into Marks and Spencer's and get some Jalepino "Doritio" style crisps and liquid refreshment and Mr UKBuses visits Burger King. Whilst he is in Burger King I pop outside for some "fresh air" and he is still waiting when I get back into the station. He finally gets his food and we have a race against time and about a minute to get to the Platform to get the 16:30 train, but we make a quick dash and luckily we get onto the train with seconds to spare.

We depart London and we make ourselves comfortable for the journey ahead, with Mr UKBuses tucking into his burger, I try my crisps and after a few handfuls, I decide to put them away as my mouth begins to go on fire in a Torquay "curry house" style, luckily I have a couple of cans of liquid refreshment to douse the flames. We arrive at Birmingham Moor Street at around 18:12 and we don't have long to wait before a London Midland train arrives and it goes straight through to Stourbridge Junction where we arrive in time for me to have some "fresh air" before having to catch the 18:59 "Stourbridge Dodger" back into the Stourbridge Interchange just in time for Black Diamond's Service 276C which takes us back home to have a rest after a good day out in the capital, but I do have to stop off on the way for my now standard post trip Chinese meal.

Another brilliant day thanks to the company and planning of Mr UKBuses and a welcome return to the capital city of London, with our next visit including a couple of nights stay.

Strange bloke with a bald spot

Whilst in London there was this strange bloke who kept getting in the way of my photographs and you could tell he has a bald spot. He also looks like the same person who kept getting in my way in Torquay:

This strange bloke at Westminster!

Strange Bloke Picture 1: I was taking a photo of the Cenotaph at Whitehall and this strange bloke with a bald spot stood in front of me! 

The strange bloke by Big Ben!

Strange Bloke Picture 2: I was taking a photo of Big Ben at Westminster and this strange bloke with a bald spot stood in front of me! 

The strange bloke outside Tower Hill Underground Station!

Strange Bloke Picture 3: I was taking a photo outside of Tower Hill Underground Station and this strange bloke with a bald spot stood in front of me, and you can definitely tell he has a bald spot on this one! 

The strange bloke waiting for The Routemaster!

Strange Bloke Picture 4: I was taking a photo of an oncoming Routemaster outside the Tower Of London and this strange bloke with a bald spot stood in front of me! 

Sunday, 9 September 2012

2012 - Day Out 16: Torquay Vintage Bus Running Day

Date: Sunday 02 September 2012

Its our last full day in Torquay and we visit the event of the Torbay Vintage Bus Running Day which has become an annual event and today we have the sun shining down on us so that we can enjoy the classic bus rides ahead.

The Torbay Vintage Bus Running Day
It is the day of the Torbay Vintage Bus Running Day so we ensure that we go fully fed and meet up at reception where we make our way to the breakfast room for our English Grill, I decide to pig out and have some black pudding and extra bacon on mine, we are a bit later than yesterday so the music is already playing and not being started today by Mr UKBuses coffee pouring skills. With our breakfast eaten, I pop outside for some "fresh air" before going back to my room to pick up the camera ready for the action in today's running day. We hand our room keys in at reception and decide to buy a Stagecoach South West's "Torbay Dayrider", which is good value and will be used to get back from Torquay this afternoon and also will be used when we visit Torquay on our last night of the break. We get off at the stop where the "big hot air balloon" once stood and is just a few steps to the showground at Sheddon Hill Car Park. We arrive a bit early but a programme is purchased from the people behind the Torbay Bus Routes website to enable us to plan our rides later on today, but first we get a few photographs of the vehicles parked up and have a look around the stalls, quickly purchasing "More Room On Top", the latest book about Midland Red's D9 and D10. One improvement this year is that the services were now departing from the show ground, a stop was still available along the seafront. Our first ride is due and we catch the following services:

Even dogs enjoyed the rides.

Even dogs were enjoying the rides.

Journey One: The first service we caught was service 136 to Paignton, this journey departed at 10:30 and arrived back at 10:55 and was operated by a 1972 Bristol LHS / Marshall bodied VOD 88K which originally operated by Western National.

There is a bald spot!

Who is this mysterious person with a bald spot getting in the way again!

Journey Two: The second service we caught was service 118 to Kingswear, we thought we would get this trip out of the way and there were quite a few seats left so we weren't squashed in like last years afternoon trip on this service. Along the way we stopped at Broadsands Viaduct giving us an opportunity to take a photograph at the viaduct with some mysterious person getting in the way again, see picture above. The journey departed at 11:05 and arrived back at 12:40 and was operated by a 1983 Leyland Olympian / ECW bodied A680 KDV and originally operated for Devon General.

Journey Three: The third service was service 141 to Occombe Farm, this departed at 13:00 and arrived back at 13:45 and was operated by Badgerline coach 1978 Leyland Leopard / Plaxton Paramount 3200 MK I bodied PWS 492S.

A well deserved break at The Belgrave.

Having a rest at The Belgrave.

It was time to have a break before a couple of afternoon journeys, and we went to "The Belgrave", see picture above, which is situated next to the show ground, as we were supping our pints I was able to catch up on the Belgian Grand Prix which was being led by Jenson Button. After our drinks we went back to the show ground and carried on our journeys.

Journey Four: The fourth service was service 50 to St Marychurch, this departed at 14:15 and arrived back at 14:56 and was operated by Bayline Ford Transit C526 FFJ.

Journey Five: The fifth and final service we caught today was service 55 to St Marychurch (the reverse of service 50), this was operated by a 1195 Mercedes-Benz 709D / Marshall Dual Door Saloon bodied M245 UTM. This departed the show ground at 15:05, we decided to alight in Torquay town centre, arriving at the Torquay Pavilion at 15:43. It was on this service that I learnt that Jenson Button had won the Grand Prix, Mr UKBuses decided to go back to the hotel and I would stay in the town for a celebratory drink.

A Stagecoach South West service 12 is at the bus stop so Mr UKBuses has a quick dash with me giving him his day ticket on his little jog, I decide to stay in Torquay whilst Mr UKBuses has a bit of rest at the hotel and have a celebratory drink to honour Jenson Button's win at The Belgian Grand Prix. First of all I go to J D Wetherspoons "The Green Ginger" and sit out on the patio to enable me to have some "fresh air", whilst sitting at the table a gentleman takes a seat and as we get talking he states that "I'm from Birmingham", I insist that I am actually from The Black Country. After my drink is finished at The Green Ginger, I have a walk down The Strand and sample a pint at "The Hole In The Wall" which is no different from last year with friendly staff and regulars making me feel welcome. I decide it is time to get a bit of rest before we venture down Torquay for the evening, so I catch the Stagecoach South West service 12 back to the hotel and have a bit of a kip.

After a quick nap, I make my way to the hotel bar to meet up with Mr UKBuses, whilst waiting I get chatting to a gentleman called Glyn who is from Swansea. I introduce Glyn to Mr UKBuses when he arrives and his wife asks me if I could have a look at her I-Phone as she cannot send emails, I duly get them to work and Glyn rewards Mr UKBuses and myself with a drink from the hotel bar. After finishing the drinks, we make our way to the bus stop and after catching Stagecoach South West service 12 into Torquay we have our first drink at "The Green Ginger", we both opt for the "Crag Rat", which I sampled earlier, Mr UKBuses also likes it and as we drink these we look at Sean O'Kanes appearance in Grange Hill via my Blackberry Playbook.

It is now time to eat and opt for a curry so we make our way around the harbour to Curry Ocean which we sampled on our visit last year, but as we arrive it is full so we have a walk into the town and come across Simla Spice where we opt for the buffet, so after our starters we opt for the main course and Mr UKBuses recommends the Chicken Tikka Jalfrezi, he must have known how hot it was and as I sampled a couple of bit's of chicken, my mouth starts to set itself on fire, Mr UKBuses and the waiter found this funny, but a drink was needed so after we finished we went next door to "The Clocktower" where a extinguishing pint was had, I also enjoyed this pub as there was some Metallica blasting out of the jukebox. After we finished our drinks we went to our last pub of the evening and one of our favourites, "The Hole In The Wall", where we actually got a seat inside this year and we were entertained with a singer. Just after 22:30, we make our way back to the bus stop where Stagecoach South West service 12 arrives a few minutes later to take us back to the hotel. Our last hotel drink is had at the hotel bar before we get some much needed sleep ready for our journey back home tomorrow.

An excellent last full day in Torquay and a big thanks go to the organisers of The Torbay Vintage Bus Running Day for the excellent planning of the event and also a thank you goes out to the people behind the Torbay Bus Routes website who helped marshal the event.


Date: Monday 03 September 2012

It is sadly our last day of this break and we have to sadly say goodbye to Sunny Torquay and head back to the West Midlands after an excellent weekend.

I wake up early on our last day, so I decide to have a little walk around Torquay heading towards Cockington to begin with and returning to the hotel via the Torquay railway station. I return back to my room and ensure that everything is packed ready for our departure later, but first it is time to have our last breakfast, so I meet up with Mr UKBuses and we head into the breakfast room for our final English Grill (without the eggs!), and we are not disappointed even though I didn't get my extra piece of bacon today. Breakfast over we make our way to our rooms ensuring that we have everything and meet up at reception and hand our room keys over for the final time, it is time to say goodbye to The Corbyn Head Hotel and to all the staff who have been marvellous during our stay. We make our final walk in Torquay and after ten minutes of walking by the seafront we turn off to get to the Torquay railway station, before we do we say goodbye to Torquay.

The weekend was tiring for him!
We arrive at the railway station, I pop into the station cafe to get refreshments for the train journey ahead, and we make our way to platform two, but before we stand on the platform we pop outside so that I can have my last Torquay "fresh air" break and once it is over we make our way onto a packed platform where at 10:13 our Arriva CrossCountry train arrives and we board taking our reserved seats and with no changes until we get to Birmingham we make sure that we are comfy. We depart and it is goodbye to Torquay which has supplied us with good weather all weekend and we sadly make our way back to the Midlands. Along the way we pass through the local towns such as Newton Abbott and Dawlish riding right by the sea which is always a good view. Mr UKBuses decides to have a nap, see picture right, and we make progress passing through Bristol Temple Meads and we see the local Midlands stations with the usual Network West Midlands branding which means that we have arrived back in the Midlands. As we near Birmingham an announcement is made to state that the train, which was originally planned to terminate at Manchester Piccadilly will now be terminating at Birmingham New Street due to signalling problems just after Wolverhampton. We take notice of this and quickly get our stuff together and make our way to the door so that we avoid the rush by all of the other passengers, some of which were not too happy.

We arrive at Birmingham New Street and with not a lot of time to get our connecting train to Smethwick Galton Bridge, the "fresh air break" is denied and we make our way to the correct platform. We don't have to wait long and we board our London Midland train which starts to get packed with the passengers of our last train, so it is standing room only and it feels like we are on the London Underground, I keep closing the doors so that people will not try and cram themselves in to the now non-existent space, and after a late departure we make our way across to Smethwick Galton Bridge, where we have to change to the upper platforms to get our connecting train back home. At 13:53 we are back on the plan and our London Midland train arrives and quickly departs stopping at Rowley Regis and Cradley Heath before arriving at Stourbridge Junction, where we again change platforms for the Stourbridge Dodger to get us to the Stourbridge Interchange. Mr UKBuses is asked how the weather was in Torquay when the ticket inspector checks his ticket and as we arrive at the Stourbridge Interchange I say goodbye and thank him for a lovely weekend, the first thing I do when I leave him is to have a well overdue "fresh air" break. I have a quick "good weekend" celebratory pint at J D Wetherspoons "The Chequers Inn", seeing Mr UKBuses going past on his National Express West Midlands service 276 back home and waving at him (I don't know if he spotted me), before making my way back home to unpack and have a rest after a good weekend.

Another classic break which would not have been possible for the great planning and great company of Mr UKBuses - A big THANK YOU for the excellent weekend.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

2012 - Day Out 15: Plymouth and Torquay

Date: Saturday 01 September 2012

It is the second day of our break in Torquay, and we continue with the success of the first day with the weather already looking good and today will also see us cross into another county.

The accommodation
I wake up early and decide to get some fresh air to fully wake me up and have a walk around the back streets of Torquay arriving back at the hotel in time for Mr UKBuses waking up and meeting at the breakfast room ready for our first cooked breakfast in our hotel accommodation for this weekend. We are shown to our seats and coffee is served before our order is taken. Mr UKBuses decides to do an "Mr D9" when, at the moment he pours his coffee, background music in the breakfast room is started, at least he didn't start it off with a burp. The waitress takes our order and after a few minutes, she returns with a couple of plates in hand, Mr UKBuses gets his cutlery ready to tuck in, but alas it is the breakfasts for the people sitting at the table behind us, we don't have to wait too much longer and after a further few minutes our breakfast arrives. Brown sauce is ordered and Mr UKBuses has trouble pouring it, giving it a few slaps and I was hoping that a big dollop would fall out of the bottle covering his breakfast. We both tuck in and soon we have finished and give it a few minutes before we move to let our breakfasts go down and have a final preparation before we get our first (actually operated by FIRST Devon and Cornwall) to our first destination of the day. We have about twenty minutes to wait but we go to the bus stop opposite The Corbyn Head Hotel and get a bit of fresh air and also a chance for me to have a "fresh air" break before our long journey ahead.

At approximately 09:10 our First Devon and Cornwall bus arrives and we board Service X80 which will take us on a journey lasting just under and hour and fifty minutes to get us to our first destination. Our first point of call on the journey is Paignton, where we pick up a few passengers and start our journey to the next point of call, but the driver has read his running board wrong and when we arrive by Paignton Zoo, we make a U-turn and head back to Paignton Bus Station to wait for the proper time before leaving and getting to our next point, making me dizzy in the process by going round in circles. We shortly arrive at Totnes where the bus driver has a break, giving me a chance to have a sneaky "fresh air" break before the driver takes us to our final destination of Plymouth. Just before 11:00 we arrive in Plymouth, alighting at the bus station and whilst I have a "fresh air" break Mr UKBuses gets his photograph count started. From the bus station we make our way down to the Royal Parade and at the end of the road is stop A8 where our next bus turns up at 11:24, First Devon and Cornwall's Service 2 which takes us to the Sugar Hill district of the city.

Cheers from The Morley Arms!
After we alight our bus we have a short walk to the First Plymouth Depot, but we are not close enough to take any good photographs of the vehicles parked up, so we make our way back to the bus stop which is based just outside of The Morley Arms Public House, and as we arrive we just miss the bus, so we decide to pop into the hostelry and sample a pint of "Doom Bar", see picture right, being served by a friendly landlord. We spend a few minutes to sample our drinks and make our way out to the bus stop, where First Devon and Cornwall's Service 7 turns up to take us back to The Royal Parade in the City Centre. We make our way along the Royal Parade to stop A1 taking a number of photographs along the way, as we arrive at the stop so does our next bus, First Devon and Cornwall's Service 81 which will take us across the county into Cornwall. After fifteen minutes we arrive to catch the Torpoint Ferry and as we cross we are officially over the border crossing from Devon into Cornwall. We arrive in Torpoint passing both The Kings Arms and The Queens Arms along the way before alighting at The First Deport in Torpoint. We take a few photographs of the depot, which is similar in build and looks of First's depot in Hereford. We spot a bus coming and we run across the road and get there just as the returning Service 81 pulls up and we board, taking the short journey back to the Torpoint Ferry and return from Cornwall back into the County of Devon.

He always gets in my way!!!!

Who is this mysterious person (who has a bald spot forming) always getting in the way!

Cheers from Plymouth Hoe!
We arrive in the Plymouth district of Milhouse where we alight and cross the road to see another depot, Go-Ahead's Plymouth Citybus Depot. After asking a security guard he refers us to the main reception where we gain permission to have a look around the depot and take a few photographs of the vehicles parked up at the garage. After fifteen minutes walking around the depot, we return to reception to say thanks and also to inform them that we are leaving the site and as we pass the security guard we say thanks again and return to the bus stop opposite. After a few minutes wait we board service 81 which takes us back into Plymouth where we alight at the bus station taking a few photographs before having a walk down to the Hoe where we have a break and a couple of pints of "Butcombe Bitter" in The Admiral McBride, see picture left, before returning to the Plymouth bus station to take a few more photographs before boarding the returning service X81 back to Torquay at 16:10, where after having another "fresh air" break in Totnes, we pass through Paington and arrive back at our bus stop outside The Corbyn Head Hotel just before 17:50, where we decide to have a bit of rest before our night out in Torquay.

At 19:15, we meet up again and have a pint of "Tetley's Smoothpour" at the hotel bar, showing Mr UKBuses my find of "The Interceptor's" (click here it is about 05:20 in) appearance on Grange Hill on YouTube ("Who put this ball in my bottle bin? You're in trouble Pal!"), before making our way back to the bus stop to catch our Stagecoach South West's service 12 bus into Torquay for a bite to eat and to sample a few public houses in the town. After purchasing our "NightRider" ticket we alight in Torquay town centre and have a little walk up to The Strand where we enter J D Wetherspoons "The London Inn", where we have our first pint in Torquay Town and after perusing the menu we order our food, Mr UKBuses opts for the Chicken Tikka Masala which includes his poppadoms this year and I opt for Scampi and Chips, but when it arrives at the table it turns out to be Fish and Chips, but I opt to eat it rather than sending it back but realise I should have, as I get halfway through my fish and come across a few bones. We have a few minutes after our food and finish our drinks off and move on to the next public house.

We have a walk around by the harbour and visit a pub that we sampled last year, "Seamus O'Donnell's", an Irish Bar, and as we walk in we decide to opt for a Guinness (Well it is an Irish pub), but we quickly change our mind when we see something on tap which has not been seen for years, and opt for a pint of Caffrey's. The refurbished back room is full so we head outside where I can take advantage and have some "fresh air" and enjoy the cool summer night overlooking the harbour. With our drinks finished we decide to visit another old favourite from last year but as we head up the little alleyway leading to the pub we hear what is on next door and without much decision making we head  into "The Devon Arms" ready for a bit of Karaoke. Starting off with Robbie Williams "Angels", I put a few more requests in and just before 10pm Mr UKBuses decides that he has had enough of all these X-Factor wannabes and heads back to the hotel. I end the night off belting off a few more classics such as Boomtown Rats, Bon Jovi and Metallica. Just before 11.30pm the Karaoke finishes and I make my way to the bus stop only to see it pull off without me, so I enjoy a nice brisk walk along the seafront and back to the hotel to get some well deserved rest.

An amazing and enjoyable second day even though I did end up with a bit of a sore throat at the end of the night, rest is needed for tomorrow for the day at the Torquay Vintage Bus Running Day.

2012 - Day Out 14: Torquay

Date: Friday 31 August 2012

After our successful trip to Weymouth in June, it is time for another mini break down to Torquay which will also be where the Torquay Vintage Bus Running Day will be taking place on Sunday. We will be staying at The Corbyn Head Hotel, which we used last year and hopefully experience a good weekends accommodation again this year.

Welcome to Torquay
It is an early start and with the case already packed weeks beforehand I do my first task of the day and send Mr UKBuses a text to say that I am on the way, but I won't be on the bus, I have saved Mr UKBuses some money by saving some shoe leather and Mom SBI picks him up in the car and drops us off at Stourbridge Interchange where we make our first journey of the day on public transport and we board the Stourbridge Dodger, but Mr Tonks is not driving this morning, but Roger is, luckily they didn't let me lose behind the wheel. Safely delivered, we alight at Stourbridge Junction where we board our London Midland train to Birmingham Snow Hill where we alight at 08:45 and make our way to the barriers. We don't even attempt to try and use the barriers and show the attendant our tickets who duly let us threw explaining that they wouldn't  have worked. We have a bit of time to spare, so we decide to go to J D Wetherspoons "The Square Peg" where we feed ourselves with bacon (making sure Mr Tonks was not around), and after finishing our breakfast we make our way to Birmingham New Street to get our next train to take us to the coast. Before we enter the station, I decide to have my last "fresh air" break in the Midlands (and have to wait three and a half hours for the next one!!!) and we also get some refreshments from W H Smiths before boarding our train operated by Arriva CrossCountry and departing at 09:42. We take our seats and have some rest, passing through Bristol Temple Meads, Weston-Super-Mare and following the coast around Dawlish before arriving at Torquay just after 13:00.

The first thing I do when I get off the train is leave Mr UKBuses for dust as I run out to the front of the station to get some "fresh air", with my break over we make our way along the seafront and after a five minute walk we arrive at our accommodation for the weekend, The Corbyn Head Hotel. We book in and the receptionist remembers us from last year and after our keys are handed to us, we make our way to our rooms and have a rest and freshen up before meeting in reception to get our first bus. We only have to take a few steps as the bus stop is virtually outside the hotel. We don't have to wait long before our bus turns up and we catch the Stagecoach South West Service 12 which takes us to the town centre in Torquay, which is where we alight and walk down The Strand to our next stop and after about ten minutes wait Stagecoach South West's Service 11 arrives which will take us to our first destination of the day. We pass through Shaldon and after forty minutes we arrive.

Stuck in Teignmouth
We pass through the railway station at Teignmouth and as we head into the road opposite we hit a problem, the bus in front cannot move as there is a car parked (with a disabled badge) in the road which means that the buses cannot get round the corner see picture right, so we alight and make our way into The Triangle. On the way we decide to pop into "The Brass Monkey" for a quick drink. Mr UKBuses decides to have a quick look outside to see if the buses have moved, I can clearly see what he is up to as I can see him on the pub's CCTV and after we finish our drinks we make our way back round to The Triangle where we catch our next bus, Stagecoach South West service 2 which passes through Dawlish and Dawlish Warren before reaching our next destination, the City of Exeter, as we left Teignmouth the buses were still stuck, but the police were in attendance. After arriving at Exeter, we alight our bus and take a few photographs around the bus station and coach park and also the bus depot opposite. We make our way back to the bus station to get our bus, even though we do see a First X53 service to Weymouth about to pull in, but our stuff is at the hotel so we decide to wait a few minutes when our next bus turns up, Stagecoach South West's service X46 which leaves Exeter just after 17:20 and takes us back to Torquay and drops us right outside our hotel. We go back to our rooms for a rest and refresh before our evening out.

A drink in the hotel
We both meet up about and hour later and have a drink in the hotel bar to decide where we would go tonight (See picture left), eventually we decided to visit Brixham so we finish our drinks off and cross the road outside the hotel, where we waited a while for Stagecoach South West service 12 to turn up, but it did and we catch it and after a journey time of just over half an hour we arrive in Brixham. The first stop is J D Wetherspoon's "The Vigilance" where it did take a while to be served but we eventually did and sampled Weymouth Bitter. We were going to have food here but it was quite busy and looked like we would be in for a long wait if we ordered. It did quieten down so we thought we'd give it a chance and ordered our food, Mr UKBuses opts for his Chicken Tikka Masala with Poppadoms and I opt for the Beefburger and Beer. I arrived at the table and Mr UKBuses enquired how long the food would be, I must admit I did joke and say "40 minutes", but we were quite shocked when it arrived just after ten minutes. We eat our food and decide to try a pub that we liked last year, so we walk through the town working our food off to get to the next pub.

Cheers from The Hole In The Wall.
After a ten minute walk we arrive at "The Hole In The Wall", see picture right,  a pub that we tried twice last year and it deserved a welcome return this year due to the friendliness of the place last year. After ordering our drinks, we decided to sit at the bar, but the atmosphere felt different this year and it seemed that it must have been weirdo's night judging by the few people in our area of the pub. We soon drink up and before we catch the bus, we spot another pub over the harbour so decide to have one last drink in Brixham and sample "The Rising Sun", a nice pub with the people seeming more friendlier than they were in The Hole In The Wall tonight. We have a quick drink here and walk back to the bus stop and as we arrive the bus is waiting for us, so we board and take the ride back through Paignton before reaching our hotel. A quick nightcap in the hotel bar is sampled before getting rest for the day ahead tomorrow.

A perfect start to the weekend with perfect weather and perfect company, a welcome return to the coast.