Monday, 10 November 2014

2014 - Day Out 12: The Return from London

Date: Monday 10 November 2014

Our last few hours in London, before we have to begrudgingly make our way back to the West Midlands.

A Heritage RouteMaster
I wake up quite earlier than planned of meeting up with Mr UKBuses, so I make my way outside to the front of the hotel for some "fresh air" before going back to my room to have a shower and make sure that everything is packed before we have to check out of the hotel. With everything packed and me ready for breakfast, I make my way down to reception and wait for Mr UKBuses to appear and he appears on time, so he must have purchased a watch before he came to London. We make our way for our final breakfast in London and after a mountainous supply of bacon and a few pots of yogurt, we have five minutes to let our food (and Mr UKBuses to have a last cup of coffee) go down before making our way back to our rooms for the final time. Luckily for me, it is just a case of entering the room and picking up my bags and making my way down to reception to check out. Whilst I'm waiting for Mr UKBuses, I have time for some "fresh air" before Mr UKBuses makes an appearance. We bid farewell to the Travelodge Docklands hotel and make our way to East India DLR station, where at 09:25 we board our first mode of transport for the day and we are already off the plan.

Mr UKBuses should have gone to SpecSavers as instead of going to Bank, which was planned, we are on the wrong DLR train and end up at Tower Gateway. Not to worry, we make our way to the bus stop at the back of the Tower Of London and we catch a Stagecoach operated Heritage Routemaster Service 15 to Charing Cross, similar to the one pictured above left. We don't get too far whilst on the route before we are stuck in a traffic jam due to high volumes of traffic caused by roadworks along the route, we decide to alight, but with Mr UKBuses being in charge of the map allowance, we have no idea where we are and after a nice hike around the streets of London (Mr UKBuses is the old man!), we finally come across an underground station so we get our OysterCards ready and board the underground at Chancery Lane and get the Central Line to Tottenham Court Road where we change onto the Northern Line and arrive at our final destination of the day in London at Euston.

We have a bit of time to spare, so we head to The Doric Arch situated at the bus station, but find out that the pub isn't open and we wouldn't have time to have a final pint in London, so we head inside the station to have a final pint in The Britannia, but this is also closed whilst the station is undergoing redevelopment works. Luckily we know about another pub situated opposite the station and luckily we do get a final pint in London and we rest our legs for a while at "The Royal George". With the final pint supped, we make our way back across the road to London Euston Station, having a last "fresh air" break in London and as soon as we discover which platform we are departing from, we board our train and at 12:03 our Virgin Train takes us from London Euston to Birmingham New Street, stopping at Rugby and Coventry along the way.

We arrive at Birmingham New Street and we only have a couple of minutes to get to Platform 5b, where we board the London Midland train to Smethwick Galton Bridge, there is no time for a "fresh air" break as we have to rush up two flights of stairs to get to the platform where another London Midland train turns up to take us to Stourbridge Junction. This is where I say my goodbyes as I have to go into Stourbridge Town to visit the bank (Mr UKBuses wiped me out when it came to the rounds!!!) and also seeing as we have arrived back home to Stourbridge I do have a commiseration pint at J D Wetherspoons "The Chequers Inn" before getting National Express West Midlands Service 276 back home.

Another cracking weekend was had in London, big thanks goes to Mr UKBuses who made the plans for a superb weekend away. Speaking of Mr UKBuses, here is his bald spot:

Bald Spot 1!

Bald Spot 1: The bald spot is seen lurking around Canning Town Bus Station.

Bald Spot 2!

Bald Spot 2: The Bald Spot is seen lurking around another bus station, this time at Aldgate.

Bald Spot 3!

Bald Spot 3: What a black horse, The Bald Spot makes an appearance at The Lords Mayor Show.

Bald Spot 4!

Bald Spot 4: The Bald Spot is trying to make an appearance on the BBC at The Lords Mayor Show.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

2014 - Day Out 11: Remembrance Sunday Parade

Date: Sunday 9 November 2014

Out last full day in the capital, which will see us attend the Remembrance Sunday Parade taking place at Whitehall.

The Cenotaph, Whitehall
Its our third day in London and we have an early wake up call this morning as we decide to have breakfast early, I meet up with Mr UKBuses in reception and he is on time again, and we make our way to the breakfast room (otherwise known as the bar) where after a problem where the hotel staff were thinking we were trying to get a free breakfast, we fill up with loads of bacon, washed down with a load of yogurt (and coffee in Mr UKBuses case), giving five minutes to let the food go down before I go back to my room to get my scout uniform on ready for the Remembrance service at Whitehall. With me suited and booted, we meet up at reception with Mr UKBuses on time again and take the short walk to the East India DLR Station where we catch the DLR one stop to Canning Town, where we change the mode of transport and go underground onto the Jubilee Line to Westminster, where we alight and make our way to ground level and are opposite Big Ben.

The bands paradaing before the Remembrance Sunday Service
We make our way to Whitehall and the queue seems quite long, this is because this service commemorates 100 years since the outbreak of the First World War, we soon get past security with no problems (Mr UKBuses did have a problem lifting his wallet back into his coat pocket) and we make our way to a good viewpoint close to the Cenotaph, see picture above left, or so we thought. We get near to the corner opposite The Red Lion in Whitehall and there seems to be a blockage due to some people not wanting to let people get past so they don't lose their place in the crowd. Mr UKBuses soon advances to his spot outside The Red Lion by following a policewoman getting through the crowds, I'm not so lucky and am stuck in the crowds being pushed and shoved from behind by other people trying to get past, eventually nearly 30 minutes later I do get to join Mr UKBuses, that is after some "fresh air", in which a policewoman asked if "I needed that?", my response was a resounding "Yes". Luckily, I get to our spot just before the bands come out and take their place, see picture right, and the music starts just before the service takes place. Where we are standing, we can see the cameraman in front of us, who we were standing behind yesterday at the Lords Mayor Show, I bet he was thinking that we were stalking him!

The Red Lion, Whitehall
The service is started by a two minute silence with the cannon being fired and the chimes of Big Ben starting it off, followed by another cannon shot being fired to mark the end of the two minute silence, the service takes place with the Queen and Heads of State and political party leader's laying down wreaths on the Cenotaph, the service is finished with "God Save The Queen" being sung. After the service is finished, we take a couple of steps and head into "The Red Lion", see picture left, where we rest our legs for a bit, we have half an hour to wait before we can have a pint, so a coke is purchased to sup whilst we wait until 12pm. Luckily we get a seat as the pub is now becoming near full as other people have the same idea. At 12pm, we are at the bar and have a pint of "Sea Farers", and after that one is supped we know we have no chance of escape yet as the veterans march is still taking place which is weird as we are watching it on TV even though they are directly outside, so we decide to have another pint with Mr UKBuses shouting at me to get him another pint of "Seaman", in which he gets a few funny looks from the other patrons in the pub. It is just before 13:00 and after a wait outside the pub, we are finally released and we make our way as fast as we can before the crowds to Westminster Tube Station and onto the Circle and District Line to Tower Hill where we alight to a big crowd.

The Poppies at The Tower Of London

The Poppies on display at The Tower Of London.

Cheers from The Blind Beggar
After getting close we decide not to wait in the queue to see the porcelain poppies that have been planted around the tower, we do get a glimpse of them over a hedge just about, so we decide to leave the crowds behind and catch a Stagecoach operated Heritage Routemaster on Service 15 from Tower Hill to Charing Cross. We alight at Charing Cross and head straight underground onto the Bakerloo Line for one stop, alighting at Embankment to change to the Circle and District Line from Embankment to Whitechapel for our first joint visit to our London regular (second visit of 2014 for me!) "The Blind Beggar", see picture right, where we give our legs a rest for a while whilst supping a pint. With the drinks finished we cross the road and catch Stagecoach London Service 25 to Aldgate Bus Station where we take a few photographs in the fading light and then board Stagecoach London Service 115 back to the Travelodge Docklands Hotel for a rest.

After just over an hours rest, we meet back down in reception and head to the East India DLR Station where we catch the 17:45 DLR journey one stop to Canning Town interchanging onto the Jubilee Line and catching the underground to Green Park, where upon arrival we alight and change on to the Victoria Line to catch the underground to Victoria. Hunger is starting to kick in now and we decide to go to a J D Wetherspoons that we use quite often at Victoria, "The Willow Walk", where drinks are ordered and eventually we find a table to sit at so that we can order food. Food is ordered but we have waited a long time, so when the waiter passes by I state that we have been waiting nearly 30 minutes for our food, fair play to the waiter who was on his own in a packed pub with everyone ordering food, he soon came out with our meals. With our meals finally eaten and washed down by a pint, we head back to Victoria Bus Station where we catch a BorisMaster Service 38 to Green Park, where we alight so we can catch a bus to Trafalgar Square, the one we thought of does not turn up so we instead catch London Generals Service 19 to Picadilly Circus.

When we alight at Picadilly Circus, the extra pint we had at The Willow Walk has caught up on us so we go on a search for a toilet. After passing Planet Hollywood and Her Majesty's Theatre, we come across a sports bar called "Riley's", we decide to make use of the facilities first before ordering and after using the toilet, Mr UKBuses turned down the opportunity to have his nails done in the loo, we decide not to stay and we head back out onto the streets and we head towards Trafalgar Square and decide to pop into Fullers "The Admiralty" where we have a pint of Fullers "Sea Farer", Mr UKBuses gets the name right this time. We take a seat and rest our legs for a bit and am surprised that the place is so quiet considering it is right opposite Nelson's Column.

We decide to make our way back to the hotel so we have a little walk to Charing Cross where we get on the Bakerloo Line to Oxford Circus, but Mr UKBuses still needs his eyes tested as we discover that we are going in the wrong direction. A quick change and we end up back at East India DLR Station at 21:15 and head straight to the hotel bar for a nightcap.  The day has taken its toll on Mr UKBuses so he decides to retire whilst I stay up a little longer and have a couple more pints of Budweiser (on draught!) before I retire to bed.

Another superb day was had especially with the serene service at Whitehall and our visit to The Blind Beggar which has changed hands since we last visited in 2014!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

2014 - Day Out 10: Lords Mayor Show

Date: Saturday 8 November 2014

Out first full day in the capital, with a visit to The Lords Mayor Show and the Phantom Of The Opera musical in the evening.

The Lords Mayor Show
We get a bit of a lie in this morning, but at about 08:30, we meet up in reception, with Mr UKBuses being on time! We enter the bar, sorry breakfast room, and after getting past security we make our way to the food, that is after getting the apple juice / coffee for Mr UKBuses and a table sorted. The plate is loaded up with lashings of bacon and sausages and after that is consumed, I hit a new record by having four yogurts. After a few minutes to let our stomachs settle, we return back to our rooms to get ready before meeting back down in reception (Mr UKBuses was down there early!) and making our way around the corner to the East India DLR Station where we catch a 09:29 DLR train to Canning Town. We have quite a bit of time so as we are in the bus station, we take a few photographs before our bus turns up. Getting some liquid refreshment before the bus arrives, we catch a Stagecoach London Service 115 bus which takes us back past the Travelodge Docklands hotel and terminates at Aldgate Bus Station, where we alight, leaving us a few minutes to take a few photographs.

After the photographs have been taken, we cross the road to Aldgate Underground Station and onto the Metropolitan Line to Liverpool Street where, after alighting, we change onto the Central Line to take us to Bank, where after alighting we make our way to ground level where we mingle with the crowds before taking a spot to see the main parade at The Lords Mayor Show. We go for a different spot this year as there is no Helen Skelton on presenting duties. We are stuck behind one of the cameramen, see picture below top, and apart from seeing the main parade live, we can also see what he is filming and what is also going out live on BBC One. Quite a few buses are taking part in the parade and the parade must be a couple of miles at least in length to say that you are standing there for an hour before the parade even finishes, see picture below bottom (That is not Mr UKBuses!), at least we were lucky this year as the rain held off, hopefully it is not waiting to make an appearance tomorrow. With the parade over it is time to make a visit to a new destination in London or you can say the outskirts of London, so we head back into Bank Underground Station and back onto the Central Line.

The Cameraman at The Lords Mayor Show

Part of the procession at The Lords Mayor Show

Elstree Studios
Arrival at Liverpool Street, we change onto the Circle Line where we alight at Blackfriars and make our way to the train station, which is situated above the Thames so we had a nice view to look at whilst we waited for our Govia Thameslink train which we board and have a journey of just under 30 minutes where we alight at Elstree and Borehamwood, the railway station was nothing to write home about, but dotted about the bus station outside are rather revealing displays about celebrities and films that have been recorded at the nearby Elstree Studios. We wait and wait for our bus to turn up, but finally at 13:36 a Transdev London Sovereign service 292 bus turns up to take us to Elstree Studios, well the stop at Tesco situated next door. We have a look at the main Elstree Film Studios, see picture right, before taking a short walk to the BBC owned studios, unfortunately the main buildings hide Albert Square, so we couldn't catch a glimpse of The Queen Vic. After our little tour around Elstree, we decide to rest our legs at the nearby J D Wetherspoons "The Hart and Spool" where we have a couple of pints. I also make use of the free WI-FI and look up a website ( where we find out that a couple of On The Buses films have been filmed in the area and we deduct that one of the streets we walked down was a location of the film as well as the main high street outside the pub was also used as a location.

With the drinks supped we say goodbye to the couple next to us who are on standby and awaiting to see if they are going to view Strictly Come Dancing a bit later on. We make our way around the corner to Tesco and eventually board a Metroline service 107 service back to the Elstree and Borehamwood railway station. Upon arrival we both feel the effect of the second pint and the toilets are currently in use, Mr UKBuses does get the first visit though as the station manager opens up the disabled toilet for him, whilst he is in their the main public toilet becomes free. After our unplanned visit, we make our way to the platform and at 15:08 our Govia Thameslink train arrives, which we board and catch to Kentish Town and onto the Northern Line back to Bank, where we change again and onto the DLR which we catch back to East India DLR Station, where we alight and return back to the hotel to rest for just over an hour.

The Phantom Of The Opera Stage
We meet up back in reception at 17:45 and Mr UKBuses is on time again. As we leave the heavens open and the rain does indeed pour down, we do have to catch the DLR so it is a quick run to the East India DLR station and board a DLR train slightly damp. Just one stop to Canning Town, where we change onto the Jubilee Line to Westminster, which gives us time to dry off. We alight at Westminster and make our way to ground and it is still raining, but not as bad. We walk around the corner where we catch a Go-Ahead London service 453 bus to Trafalgar Square just in time for tea. We make our way around the corner, where Mr UKBuses wallet makes an appearance and gets topped up before we go into J D Wetherspoons "The Lord Moon on The Mall", which after a quick walk round and no tables available, we quickly exit and have to settle for food opposite in McDonalds. With our fast food eaten, we walk around to Her Majesty's Theatre to go and see "The Phantom Of The Opera", see picture left. We are located upstairs and decide to have a drink in what seems to be a very small bar. As our drinks our ordered we decide to take the barman up on his offer and order and pay for interval drinks and true to his word, the barman had put our drinks where he said they would be, it was a shame that both bottles had my name on. I did think when this show was chosen that it wouldn't be any good, but I must admit that I enjoyed the show from start to finish and the end was superb especially how the Phantom seemed to vanish into thin air. I would thoroughly recommend seeing this show.

Show over, we make our way back to Trafalgar Square and catch a Abellio service 3 bus back to Parliament Square, but Mr UKBuses map allowance fails again and we have to alight past the Houses of Parliament and have a few minutes walk back around the corner to Westminster Tube Station. Back onto the Jubilee Line to Canning Town and then the short hop on the DLR back to East India DLR Station, where we arrive back at the Travelodge Docklands Hotel just shy of 23:00. The events of the day have taken its toll on Mr UKBuses so he retires to bed whilst I am still awake so decide to have a couple of pints of Budweiser on draught as a nightcap before retiring myself.

A good day was had with the Lords Mayor Show up to its usual good standard and also did enjoy The Phantom Of The Opera, I thought it may have been boring but in the end it was a joy to watch especially the ending when The Phantom disappeared.

Friday, 7 November 2014

2014 - Day Out 9: London

Date: Friday 7 November 2014

It is time for our annual weekend away in London, this year we will see The Lord Mayor Show followed by a musical on the evening and the Remembrance Day Parade at Whitehall.

I have to make a visit to the town before meeting Mr UKBuses to get some last minute things for the weekend, so even before the weekend starts I am already off the plan. I text Mr UKBuses to let him know and to meet me at Stourbridge Interchange. After my last minute shopping is done, I wait at the stand for Mr UKBuses to turn up on his service 276 from Norton and realise that it is running late. I do get a phone call off him asking me where I was, which I reply that I am waiting at the stand and that you will be late arriving. He then informs me that he is waiting at the railway station as he had a lift (so Mr UKBuses is already off the plan too!), I make my way towards the railway station and meet up with Mr UKBuses and we board the Stourbridge Shuttle and make our way to Stourbridge Junction, where we alight and don't have to wait very long before we catch our London Midland train to Birmingham Snow Hill at 17:50.

Bottle Of Tilting Ale
After passing through Cradley Heath, where redevelopment works are well under way, and Rowley Regis we arrive at Birmingham Snow Hill, where we alight and have a bit of time to get some food and drink before we have to board our train to London, we decide to go to J D Wetherspoons "The Briar Rose" and sample a couple of pints of Doombar, but after a few circuits of the pub, there are no available tables so we have to leave the food. After our rest and refreshments, we make our way to Birmingham New Street, with me having some "fresh air" before we enter the station. Before we board our train, we purchase some sandwiches and crisps to eat on our journey. We board our Virgin Train which will depart from Birmingham New Street at 19:30, or so we thought, due to a trespasser on the line, we have to wait at Birmingham New Street and at 19:55 we finally depart Birmingham New Street and we our on our way to London Euston having some Tilting Ale, see picture left, along the way.

Travelodge Docklands Hotel
The driver of the train makes up time and after passing through Coventry and Rugby, we finally arrive at London Euston at 21:15. The first port of call is outside for some "fresh air", after the break is over we head back into the station and with our OysterCards at hand, we make our way underground and onto the Northern Line to Bank. Arrival at Bank and we are still underground and after a brisk walk through the underground alleyways we board the DLR (still underground) and make our way to the final destination. A few minutes after leaving Bank, we make our way back into normal level tracks and back outside and arrive at our destination and base for the weekend, East India at 21:58. We have a few minutes walk before we arrive at Travelodge Docklands hotel, see picture right, where after checking in and dropping the stuff off at our rooms (I'm on the ground floor again whilst Mr UKBuses has to climb stairs), we meet back up in the hotel bar where we have a couple of pints (and as always here I have Budweiser as it is on draught) before retiring for the night.

A good start to the weekend, even though we haven't done any sightseeing today, it means we can wake up in London and make an early start tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

2014 - Day Out 8: Blackpool

Date: Saturday 27 September 2014

Following on from our coach trip to Weston-Super-Mare in August, it was decided that we would undertake another one. Tickets were soon booked for a day trip with Whittles to the Vegas of UK, Blackpool.

Welcome to Blackpool!
We have a lie-in today as the coach is not picking us up until 10am, I have a little errand to run in Norton before meeting up with Mr UKBuses, but when I text him so that he can have a lift up to Wollaston, he responds saying he is already on the bus on the way there, so I rush to make my way to Wollaston where I finally meet up with Mr UKBuses just before 9.45am which means I have time for some "fresh air" before having to board. Right on cue at 10am, our Whittles coach turns up and we board and we have to choose different seats as the people on board have decided to use their own seating plan. With the seats finally taken we head off for our day trip ahead. We head towards Stourbridge and then down to Hagley so that we can get straight on the M5 and eventually onto the M6 to head up north. We do hit a little bit of a traffic jam as a build up of traffic is caused by roadworks along the way. Halfway through the journey and the coach stops at the Charnock Richard Services, so we alight for some "fresh air" and also an expensive sandwich from W H Smiths after we see the size of the queue at Burger King. We take a seat and eat our sandwich before heading back to the coach, after some "fresh air" of course, and also another change of seats as someone behind us could talk to their friends properly who were seated in front of us.

We head back towards the north after re-joining the M6 and Mr UKBuses decides to have a nap, whilst he is napping the girl sitting opposite us asks if I have a pen handy so that she could draw a moustache on the sleeping Mr UKBuses, wish I did, it was so tempting, but as this was mentioned Mr UKBuses woke up anyway. We were getting close to Blackpool and there was no further chance of a nap for Mr UKBuses as towards the front of a coach a group started to have a good old fashioned sing-along, of course I have to join in and also the group behind us did, Mr UKBuses declined to take part. After the singing stops we arrive in a sunny Blackpool, but we are held up at the coach park as another coach has pinched our parking space for the day, we do finally get onto the coach park and we make our way past the Pleasure Beach and onto the sea front. We don't have long to wait for our transport and we board Blackpool Transport's Service 1, buying our £4.50 Daysaver ticket (I thought I was back in the Midlands!) which allows us to catch unlimited buses and trams throughout the day. We make our way along the seafront, but we are passed by a few horse and carriages along the way, before arriving at our bus stop right outside the world famous Blackpool Tower.

Cheers from The Albert and Lion.
After taking a few photographs, we sample the J D Wetherspoons "The Albert and Lion", see picture right, which is situated right next door to the Tower. Mr UKBuses decides to buy the first round (that is a first!) while I look for a table and whilst Mr UKBuses is queuing (yes there was a proper queue to get served), it takes me a couple of laps around the pub before I spot someone leaving a table and soon swoop in for the kill. Mr UKBuses is finally served and he comes to the table and texts his work colleague who is also on holiday in Blackpool to see if he wants to pop in for a drink. We drink slowly just in case Mr UKBuses work colleague does turn up, but he does reply to say that he is at the Pleasure Beach with his family, so we finish our drinks and make our way back outside. Just opposite the pub is a tram stop, so we cross the road and wait to try out the new generation of Blackpool Trams. We don't have to wait too long before a tram arrives, we board and luckily spot a couple of empty seats, so we sit down and enjoy the ride.

Rigby Road Depot
We decide to go a long distance, all the way to the terminus at Fleetwood Ferry, approximately 8 miles sway from the main Blackpool Town. Along the way the tram passes the illuminations located on the seafront, and stops such as Bispham, Norbreck and Cleveleys before stopping at Fleetwood Ferry, the terminus where we alight. As we get off we start to feel the effects of the pint we had in Blackpool, so as we look around Fleetwood Ferry, we also keep an eye out for toilets. We cannot see any so we decide to have a walk further into Fleetwood town, which, as we walked down the main street seemed to be deserted, but we do spot Fleetwood's J D Wetherspoons "The Thomas Drummond". As we enter Mr UKBuses decides to run straight to the toilet which leaves me standing at the bar waiting to get served (no surprise there!), making his appearance again just as I have been served and paid (coincidence!). Mr UKBuses finds a table and I make use of the amenities, where upon my return, Mr UKBuses has virtually finished his drink, so I gulp mine down and we make our way back out onto the streets of Fleetwood. We find the closest bus stop and wait a while for Blackpool Transport's Service 14 to turn up and we board the bus and head back towards Blackpool.

Cheers from The Castle!
We arrive back in Blackpool, alighting at Talbot Road so that we can catch a bus to our next destination. Whilst at the bus stop we discover that we are actually standing outside the location of what was the old bus station, as soon as we discover this our next bus turns up so we board Blackpool Transport's Service 11, where it doesn't take us long to get to our next destination, Rigby Road Depot, see picture above left. We do have to have a little walk from the bus stop and we realise that we are by the football ground and a load of supporters are coming our way, so the club must have been playing at home during our visit, luckily Mr UKBuses does not upset any of the supporters and we arrive at Rigby Road depot where we take a few pictures of some of the heritage trams parked up and also chat to a fellow tram enthusiast. Nearby is a pub that I visited several years ago so I request a liquid refreshment break and we walk along the seafront for about ten minutes with Mr UKBuses moaning about the walk along the way. We arrive at "The Castle" and we make our way to the sports bar part upstairs as a quite loud disco was taking place in the bar downstairs, we make our way to the bar and as I turn around to ask Mr UKBuses what he desires, he has made another visit to the toilets, so I end up buying the round again (cannot believe that I have fallen for this trick twice in one day!). We find a table and Mr UKBuses has a chance to rest his tiring feet, see picture right. We are feeling hungry so we decide to finish our drinks and find somewhere to fill our stomachs before we have to get our coach back.

Back aboard the coach
We have a walk to the seafront and spot a queue outside a chip shop, so we decide that if there is a queue, the food must be good and opt for old fashioned Fish and Chips, we cross the road and sit on the sea wall and eat our chips whilst looking out to sea. We were not disappointed and it is a shame that we didn't have time to go back for seconds. We have to make our way back to the coach now, so we decide to go to the tram stop and sample the trams for our last journey of the day. We board and alight not long after at the tram stop outside the Pleasure Beach where Mr UKBuses and myself get some refreshments for the journey back, as we walk through the Pleasure Beach back to the car park, we have a bit of time to kill so luckily I spot a bar and decide to sample one last pint in Blackpool, and with the last pint supped, we make our way back around the corner to the coach park. Before we board, some "fresh air" is had and as we board a vicar, Japanese dressed girl, gangster and punks decide to board our coach and also an extra passenger boards as a woman who was on the coach earlier decides to bring on board a full blown inflatable penis. With everybody on board, we make our way to the seafront to start our tour of the famous Blackpool Illuminations, see picture left.

As we make our way along the seafront our coach driver informs us that we are going to have the abort the tour of the illuminations as the road ahead is closed off after someone has been run over and killed. Our thoughts went out to the family who would have to be told of this bad news and after several members of our coach party moaning about it, I could not help myself to tell them that someone would have to be told of the bad news, which is a bit more important than a tour of the illuminations. Luckily the driver did a diversion along the back streets of Blackpool and eventually joined the sea front again so that we could see the rest of the illuminations, which put a smile back on the faces of members of our coach party. With the illuminations over, we head back onto the motorway to start our journey back and as there was singing in the morning, we thought that the singing would be louder on the way back, especially after the coach driver put a Mamma Mia musical CD on, but the singers from earlier decided to just listen to the music instead, putting a smile back on the face of Mr UKBuses.

We are on the halfway point of our return journey now and we stop off at the services on the way back. I decide to make a visit to Waitrose on the other side of the motorway, saying hello to the vicar on the way and get a bottle of "Old Speckled Hen", it was a good idea at the time, but after I had paid for it I realised that I didn't have a bottle opener on me, and Waitrose did not sell them. We make our way back to the right side of the motorway and thanks to a metal railing, I get the top off my bottle and consume the contents whilst having some "fresh air" before we board our coach to complete our journey and with a change of music the coach was now playing Queen. After three hours of leaving Blackpool, we arrive back in Wollaston (and the first passengers off!) where we say our goodbyes to our fellow passengers and at 12.15am we alight. Mr UKBuses orders a taxi and I wait with him until it arrives before walking back down the road to home and bed after a glorious day out.

Perfect weather, perfect day, perfect company which means more coach trips next year. I haven't forgot this time, here are the bald spot pictures:

Bald Spot 1
Bald Spot 1: The Bald Spot is seen going to The Albert and Lion!

Bald Spot 2
Bald Spot 2: The Bald Spot is seen under Blackpool Tower!

Bald Spot 3
Bald Spot 3: The Bald Spot is seen at Rigby Road Depot!

Sunday, 12 October 2014

2014 - Day Out 7: Cats and Birmingham

Date: Saturday 20 September 2014

We couldn't wait for our annual trip to London to see a show, so we decided to have a local trip around the Black Country before making our way to Birmingham to see a musical.

The previous night was a late one for me, so I drearily make my way up to Wollaston and catch the 09:20am National Express West Midlands 276 into Stourbridge, along the way picking up Mr UKBuses, soon after we arrive at Stourbridge Interchange. Our next bus was due to arrive late, so I grab a bit of "fresh air" whilst waiting before making our way back inside the interchange where are late arriving WMSNT Service 240 arrives and we board. We make our way to our next destination and as we pass through Lye and Colley Gate, the driver has caught up his late running and we arrive on time at Cradley Heath Interchange. I have time for some "fresh air" whilst Mr UKBuses decides what bus to catch next on our "unplanned" day out around the Black Country, a Hanson's bus pulls into the interchange and we decide that this is the next bus to catch.

We make our way to the stand and board Service 208 which then takes us on a tour before getting to our final destination, we pass through Dudley Wood, Old Hill, Brickhouse Farm and Oakham before finally arriving and alighting at Dudley, at least we were kept warm on the bus. After alighting at Dudley, it is time to ensure that the coats are zipped up as the usual Dudley wind makes it really cold, I decide to take Mr UKBuses on a tour this time, with us going around Dudley via The Courthouse, The Three Crowns and The Griffin Inn, but we didn't get to sample anything as they were all closed, so we had a short walk around the corner and visited J D Wetherspoons "The Full Moon" to have a drink, a break and a warm. Doombars purchased, Mr UKBuses finds a table close to the front so we can watch the world go by, but Mr UKBuses only spots and keeps an eye on a female police officer who is standing outside, if only she turned around, she would have arrested him, meaning that the rest of my day would be full of peace and quiet!! We do have to make a move and also the police officer moved, so we make our way back into the Dudley cold and back to the bus station for our next journey.

Cheers from The Kings Head
Upon arrival at the bus station, we spot our next bus and board National Express West Midlands service 126 which will take us to Birmingham, or so we thought. As we are nearing Bearwood, we both need to make an urgent visit, the cold weather and pint we had in Dudley does not mix well, so we decide to alight the bus as it arrives at Bearwood bus station and make use of the public toilets at the station, but then disaster strikes as we find out that the toilets are closed, so I come up with a plan and we decide to cross the road and make use of the toilets in "The Kings Head", somehow it turns into my round again, as soon as we enter through the door Mr UKBuses makes his way to the toilets (well I think that is where he went, one minute he was there, the next he had gone!) leaving me at the bar. The drinks are purchased and table found with Mr UKBuses making his way back in time. Which leaves me to finally make a visit eventually finding the toilets after a tour of the pub (and loads of steps) to find them. After our visits, we quickly finish our drinks and make our way across the road back to Bearwood bus station, where we resume our journey (and Mr UKBuses getting run over by a pram before boarding), catching National Express West Midlands service 126 again to Birmingham.

We arrive in Birmingham and alight close to the Bull Ring where as we pass what was once the Bull Ring bus station, we spot a hole that we can look into and as we look we can see that nothing has been changed with the platforms where the stops situated still in-situ, bringing back memories of when we used to visit their years ago to purchase our Midland Red timetable booklets. With our trip down memory lane over we make our way towards the Birmingham Hippodrome, with me leading the way seeing as I know how to get to it. It is also time for lunch and also know that there is a J D Wetherspoons nearby, so we head for a warmth and lunch at "The Dragon Inn" which is quite busy, but we I do eventually find a table even though there was no sign of Mr D9 as I searched, whilst Mr UKBuses gets the round in. We rest our legs and warm up before ordering our food, with Mr UKBuses opting for a Tikka Masala, and I opt for something soft as I have a problem with my tooth, so opt for a bacon and cheese panini. The food doesn't take long to arrive and we devour it quickly giving it a few minutes to let it go down before we have to leave.

Inside the Birmingham Hippodrome.
We now make our way to the theatre to see our show, "Cats", and we only have a short walk until we arrive at the Birmingham Hippodrome, with the front of the cinema completely changed since we last came. Mr UKBuses hands me my ticket and we make our way inside, but before we make our way to our seats we do decide to take precautions and make a visit. We then take our seats and at 2.30pm prompt, the show kicks off, but must admit that the late night before had caught up with me and dozed off for the first ten-fifteen minutes of the show. The first half is finished and we make our way outside for some "fresh air" and a quick drink at the bar during the break, but after paying £4 for a pint, it should be drunk more slowly! With the bitter tasting pint finished we make our way back inside and take our seats for the second half and can confirm that I was awake for the whole of the second half and what a good show it was, but with the show finished we do have to make our way outside.

We make our way through Birmingham and past the bull ring to arrive at Birmingham Moor Street station where at just before 6.00pm, we board our London Midland train which takes us back to Stourbridge Junction where we change onto "The Dodger" to takes us back to Stourbridge Town, which is where I say goodnight to Mr UKBuses, who gets his National Express West Midlands service 276, whilst I have a nightcap at the third and final J D Wetherspoons of the day, "The Chequers Inn" before finally making my way back home after catching National Express West Midlands service X96 back to Wollaston arriving back home to get back and have a warmth.

Even though the temperatures weren't high, a good day was had and it was also nice to visit the Hippodrome for the first time since I was at primary school.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

2014 - Day Out 06: Weston-Super-Mare

Date: Saturday 23 August 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bald Spot 1

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

Bald Spot 2

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

Bald Spot 3

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

Sunday, 1 June 2014

2014 - Day Out 05: Swanage and Poole

Date: Monday 26 May 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Date: Tuesday 27 May 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bald Spot 1

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

Bald Spot 2

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

Bald Spot 3

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