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.