A mini A-Z post, to explain what I’ve been up to, in the last week!
A is for Addenbrooke’s Hospital (was H, then previously A). After moaning in the last two blog posts about waiting for an appointment for an ultrasound scan, I got a letter on Friday (yes… 6th August) to come in at 17.40 on Monday 9th August! So, after the #tigert5 developments, pedal back to Royston, and we will go from there. Except… no food for six hours before! So, if you see me pigging out excessively before lunch tomorrow, then you know why.
C is for Computer. Didn’t mention this last time, as we’d not set it up. However, I had been using the Gateway laptop as my main computer, following the Mac getting hit by a power surge. Well, it was refurbished when I got it, so it’s not going to last forever. The keyboard has started to wear out, so a new replacement has to be plugged in… oh, and when it reboots, I have to unplug everything before it will restart. So, now I’ve got some money, I wanted to replace it. So, I agreed to buy a case and one or two bits from eBuyer, and C would add the remaining components from a machine of hers. So, ladies and gentlemen, I present to you – the Coolermaster! At under £60 for case AND power supply, think we got a good one here! C said it was a joy to put together. The old case (that was on the motherboard before) had a habit of overheating, but the Coolermaster has a huge airsuckything and several fans, plus mesh to aid airflow. I like it! Most of the stuff did transfer easily via Windows Easy Transfer, although iTunes then went mad and added everything already in the library, to the library. Also, got a Trust pen drawing device (Mini Tablet) on special at Maplin (
G is for Girlfriend. C’s been a bit tired the last few days – think I must have pinched her energy! (also see M).
H is for
M is for Mountain Dew. After getting cash in Hemel on Friday, needed a drink. Found a shop in Marlowes (nearest to the cashpoint that I used) stocking Mountain Dew. Well, that kept me awake until I got home! Also purchased another bottle for tomorrow – see A and T.
R is for #randomcoffeewednesday – well, we already have #muffmunchingmonday, thanks to Lizzy The Lezzy, #randomchocolatetuesday thanks to thebustocrookes, two for Thursday and one for Friday (#fannyfingeringfriday) from LTL. So, what’s missing? Random coffee on a Wednesday? Random Coffee Wednesday it is! When things settle down, it might well work out. Does anyone think #randomradiosaturday might be a goer?
T is for Tiger Line. Tomorrow is our big first day of the Service T5 – look out for Facebook and Twitter updates throughout the day with the hashtag #tigert5 (well, most of the day – see A). Following a lot of hard work over the last few months, it is nice to finally get the chance to see the fruits of my labours on the road! This past week we’ve been route learning, out and about meeting people in Amersham, Chesham and
As you will have seen from my Facebook status messages and tweets, we had a busy holiday, but enjoyable.
Friday 14th May – we got a taxi to Royston Station, FCC train to
Saturday 15th May – from the hotel with the German-accented lift (you may recall I mentioned this when I stayed here in early 2009), we got a cab to Haymarket for the hire car company Thrifty, before picking up EY 10 OAP, an automatic Ford Fiesta Titanium. The choice of letters was pointed out frequently! Anyway, from there, quick stop at Ferrytoll Park & Ride (snapped my first Nordi Travel bus on the 651, as well as a chance find of the new Fife bus map – first one in ages!) before continuing via the A92 and across the Tay Road Bridge to Dundee. As we arrived with plenty of time before our next event (at 15.00) we stopped briefly for a few things in town – I got some coffee beans and syrups from Braithwaite’s, as well as catching up on bus timetables! We then drove from
Sunday 16th May – we left Farnell, and drove through Dundee and the A90/M90 to the Kelty Interchange, before going via a back-road to the
Monday 17th May – we left Farnell via Forfar, A94 to Coupar Angus, back roads through Lethendy and Spittalfield to Birnam, then onto the road through Dalguise to Aberfeldy. After filling up the car with fuel, we parked it up, and prepared to sample Caber Coaches Service 91. This is essentially a beginners guide to Highland Perthshire, taking in some streets around town, before heading up for a loop around Coshieville and
Tuesday 18th May – we left Farnell returning via the road that we came back on the night before, the A94 to
Wednesday 19th May – we needed a rest from the day before, but agreed to do a handful of things that we had planned for Thursday, to spread the load. With the latter start, we met a colleague of Lynda’s for lunch at Brechin Castle Centre. L suggested meeting, largely as the colleague is about to go walking the Camino… From there, we drove through Brechin, Aberlemno, Lunanhead and Forfar, then onto
Thursday 20th May – bit of a star-shaped day. Started from Farnell, driving direct into Montrose, stopping for some pictures and coffee. We drove back the way we came to Farnell Crossroads but then continuing to Forfar West i.e. Orchardbank. This included a quick stop for lunch, then onto JP Coaches yard for some photos. From there, back to Forfar, cross-country to Barry Mill. C had never been here, despite living more than once in Carnoustie. We happened to walk in at the start of a tour, so joined in for the look. Took the car back to Sainsbury’s Claypotts for fuel, before driving to Linlathen (the scheme) where my mum, sister Ruth and new nephew Jonah live. We arrived to find Ruth was on the way home with Jonah. Shortly after their return, we went off to see my dad, back in the car past Claypotts then onto
Friday 21st May – trimmed this back a little, so I could get some duties done for Tiger Line early morning. Got those done quickly by mid-morning, we left, and started heading north on the A90 towards
Saturday 22nd May – we both needed to get our breath back! So, walk around Farnell village early afternoon, before we went out in the evening to
Sunday 23rd May – a quiet-ish one, but we drove through Forfar, Newtyle (quick stop to nab a pic of my dad’s old care home, now boarded up and for sale as homes), then onto Errol, Cairn O’ Mohr Winery. After drinks, stocking up on fruit wine and Arran cheese again, we proceeded to go back to Maza at
Monday 24th May – we finished packing up, and got back in the car. Drove via Forfar into
That was it… C liked the hire car, better than the Mazda we have! We got to meet new and old family members, and we both did a fair bit of mileage and shopping. Thanks to everyone who helped somehow with this!
Tuesday 25th May – was meant to be at PFH, but tired the day before, so decided to stay home. Wednesday 26th May – got a bit upset on the way to work at Switchboard, so back home. Despite these two days, I did get out to work at Woottens on Thursday 27th and Friday 28th May. We are now having a very quiet three day weekend to relax, and get back to normal, whatever that might be!
It’s been a busy time of it, with some good times of late.
Results of the medical tests were interesting – the most obvious test does not pick up any wheat/gluten problems, but other tests were sort of hinting in that direction. So, it’s still a case to be investigated. After discussions with the doctor today, further referrals are to follow, with more blood tests to be done by me in a few weeks too. I’m still feeling better, with the symptoms slowly disappearing. This has to be a good sign, no matter what is involved, I think.
On Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th April, we were out and about on the streets of Hemel Hempstead, Kings Langley and
Monday 26th April, C had an appointment at
On Tuesday 27th April, I went out on an Intalink Explorer. Centrebus Solo 305 took me on the 90 to Baldock. As you may recall on my previous posts, Cozy Travel took over operation of Service 391 (Stotfold/Baldock –
Today, Thursday 29th, out to the doctors this morning (see above). Now watching out the window, as rain threatens to return, just in time for the bank holiday!
Wednesday 3rd February – was a good day until I broke C's glass teapot. The problem was I was putting it down onto the worktop, and inadvertently whacked it into the side of the cooker top. She was on the phone at the time watching, so I couldn't really hide it!
Thursday 4th February – with my BABUS hat on, I was up early for a meeting into Bedford Borough Council's Local Transport Plan 3. A good first step in the compilation of the draft, and BCC were genuinely happy that we had a good turnout of people there. It was also good to put faces to names, even if I didn't get a chance to talk to everyone. So, that went well, except for one thing – my new boots tripped me up several times on the wet outside! My new boots did not have much grip on them, so I ended up slipping several times! (Since then I've got a rather large bruise under the knee, cuts and swelling to hands and fingers, as well as a sore arm and leg!) Travelled by train to Hitchin, Centrebus 80 to Hitchin town centre, Stagecoach in Bedford Mars Service M2 to Bedford (the last time I did the other route, the M1. This is where the “life on mars” quote for Facebook came from!) On the way home, M1 to Hitchin, then as I had plenty time to make my next train, as well as an Intalink Explorer ticket (10p more than a return from Hitchin to Bedford, plus it included the bus between train and bus), I stayed on the 94 through Hitchin Station to Letchworth, where I picked up my train journey to continue back to Royston.
Earlier in the week, I had a request from the editor of one of the local Archant papers, The Wisbech Standard, asking about the forthcoming bus service changes. Apparently they had seen my blog re the forthcoming Fens bus service changes (post 1 and post 2). Initally they wanted to quote from my blog, and I spoke to them on the phone, careful to stick to the facts. (I don't normally approach media in relation to transport, but they approached me!) This main article (not my photos) discusses the changes, with quotes from my posts on the forthcoming Fens service changes. Also interesting was their editorial bit (not my work either) which was highly critical – and I quote from one snippet, “This newspaper was only alerted to changes by a reader, and our investigations into the affect of the changes proposed by Stagecoach led us on a circuitous route and only thanks to a veteran bus 'blogger' did we finally access the information we needed.” So, if you wonder why I'm popular in Wisbech, now you know! It was interesting to spot even Stagecoach management saying they can see why people would be confused by the website...
Friday 5th February – out to work on Helpline in the morning, but then back home, as I was a bit tired (and sore!) from the previous day!
Saturday 6th February – out to Beefeater at Coreys Mill (Stevenage) for a change. We went to Sainsbury's over the road afterwards, but Caroline was unusually tired. She had a nap for a few hours once we got home. As well as food, C got a new (cheap) white teapot, and I picked up a few new T-shirts, and trousers and jeans - still to try those on!
Sunday 7th February – having a quiet day. Caroline has tried her new teapot that we got in Sainsbury's – just a cheap one, but it pours better than the glass one!
Firstly, my thanks to everyone for the birthday cards and wishes – most appreciated – and we were both rather impressed with the sheer volume of them!
Anyway, yes, it was a lovely weekend. On Friday, I'd been out to work on the PFH in the morning, then back home again. In the evening, we took a First Capital Connect train through to Kings Lynn, which is 54 ¼ miles from Royston by train, and about the same by road. As it was early evening, we had a through train, and took a cab to The Globe Hotel. We were staying there two nights, and had supper there on Friday night, as well as breakfast (well, more like brunch!) both mornings.
On Saturday, after a browse through the shops (it was wet and windy!) we had planned to sample the Norfolk Green Coasthopper service(s). We had intended to do this early last year, but for various reasons, we didn't. So, after brunch, we went for the bus, and each bought a Coasthopper Rover – all day travel along the coast for £6 each. The ticket machines have been upgraded since this review of Elaine's visit five years ago – I think the one in Elaine's scan was a laminated Wayfarer Saver, but the company are now using Wayfarer TGX machines.
The intention was to do as much of the route as we could in one day. Well, it's actually three seperate services, which change destination. The bus starts from Kings Lynn displaying Hunstanton 35, then changes to Wells (service Coasthopper), and then at Wells, changes to show Sheringham or Cromer (Coasthopper). The buses run through with the same drivers and tickets, and it's an enjoyable 50 mile or so run each way. We started at 1225, so we went Kings Lynn – Hunstanton – Wells – Sheringham on Optare Solo 316, named Pocahontas, seen here at Sheringham at the end of the journey. The driver has reset the blind to Sorry Not In Service, which flicks on the bottom line to include not only the new Coasthopper website, but NG pages on Facebook and Twitter as well!
We had arrived here, beside the preserved North Norfolk Railway...
... and the National Rail station (for National Express East Anglia Bittern Line trains to Norwich), which are apparently being linked for the first time in over four decades.
We had a look around the town, and found a rather nice sweet shop called The Chocolate Box amongst others, before going back for a bus back to Lynn. Our return bus, Solo 315, was dubbed Thomas William Coke, and this took us back over the same roads to Lynn. By this point, the light was starting to fade.
Upon arrival in Lynn, we went out to dinner at Pizza Express, this is Caroline...
… and me!
We had a good rest, and returned back to Royston on Sunday. We'd like to go back at some stage of the summer. Since then, we've mostly been working on the computers – the Mac I was using is on it's last legs, so now using the bigger of the two laptops as a desktop replacement computer.
It was a lovely weekend, and you can see the pictures taken here, as well as those taken on Tuesday too.
Monday I felt unwell, run down, tired, but more so than usual. Made plans to go out Tuesday, but hoped I’d not be unwell then too.
Tuesday, day out.
Bought my Explorer ticket off Arriva The Shires 2404 on the 331, although my first journey was on
Richmond’s Solo YJ 05 YMY 23 Royston, Bus Station – Hitchin, St Mary’s Square (driver doesn’t do change!)
Arriva Volvo/Wright 3302 100 Hitchin, Hermitage Road – Stevenage, Lister Hospital
Was going to change at the bus station, but as the next bus was behind..
Arriva Enviro 3557 301 Stevenage, Lister Hospital – Hatfield, Gracemead House
Had planned to get off at Welwyn but stayed on for the next one
Uno Dart 574 624 Hatfield, Gracemead House – Watford, Town Centre
Driver swapped at St Albans, and the outgoing driver was upset about his controller phoning his mobile! The replacement driver was okay, but questioned if I was interested in him, while snapping up the bus at Watford… he didn’t spot the engagement ring then!
Woottens Tiger/East Lancs A12 WTN T2 Watford, Town Centre – Hemel Hempsted, Bus Station
Uno Citaro 303 634 Hemel Hempstead, Bus Station – Hatfield, UH Forum
Next bus arrived 13 minutes late…
Uno Dart 650 641 Hatfield, UH Forum – Hertford, Bus Station
… and arrived into Hertford 17 minutes down, thus meaning I managed to miss the connection for the last bus to Royston….
Arriva Versa 2403 331 Hertford, Bus Station – Buntingford, Baldock Rd opp Greenways
… where C picked me up in the car, saved me walking the 7.5 miles back to Royston! You can see all the pictures here.
They have been condensed even smaller than the last (Ely etc.) lot, so do let me know what you think.
Wednesday/Thursday, and the hard drive on the Mac has failed. The majority (since yesterday morning, when the main hard drive started to go) had already been automatically backed up, although on restart, Entourage downloaded ALL the email (I leave four weeks on the server or so), not just those from the last 24 hours that had been missing.
Tuesday 23rd June – My Day In The Cities
This was a hot day, enjoyable, but also my first out alone (except for work) for some time. Caroline dropped me at Melbourn at my request, and I went for a bash on a Stagecoach DayRiderPlus on a day trip around Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, with some shades of similarity to my previous Peterborough trip – and yes, Broadway was closed this time too!
16023 26 Melbourn opp Car Park to Cambridge Bus Stn Met several ABF members!
21225 45 Cambridge Bus Stn – Huntingdon Bus Station
Took this one (in preference to the faster 55) so I had the option of getting off at RAF Wyton, but didn’t see the 30 anywhere, sp stayed on to the bus station for pics. This was my first passenger trip on one of the new high specification buses currently on the 15/45/55, with leather seats, WiFi, power points, and air conditioning – which all worked well on the hot day!
16130 46 Huntingdon Bus Stn – Peterborough Rivergate
Walked via pedestrian area, bought a few things and picked up stuff for the forthcoming ABF trip. I’d stopped into WH Smith, and had a look at their clearance stuff. I was reviewing whether or not to stick with my Moleskine diary that I’ve used for the last year or so (it was an 18 month one) and went for a reduced £5.99 fabric Filofax Mistral, Personal Size (the original 6 holes) in a white, turquoise, green, pink pattern. I had the Pocket and Mini before this, for as long as I can recall, back to when I first went south to London in 1999 and intermittently before this.
33696 citi5 Midgate House – Peterborough Bus Station
20849 32 Peterborough Bus Stn – Chatteris, opp police stn
16588 X9 Chatteris opp Police Stn – Cambridge Drummer St
16026 26 Cambridge Bus stn – Royston Queens Road.
See all the pictures here!
Wednesday 24th June – home for deliveries
A variety of stuff came and went, including our first delivery of food from Riverford Home Delivery from Riverford’s Sacrewell Farm, near Peterborough. Following rave reviews from shullie and others locally, we decided to giver it a try – a mix of this, less supermarket stuff, to be combined with other changes that we’ll talk more about later.
Thursday 25th June – Evening at work
An evening out for a work meeting, and I spotted traffic backed up all the way along the other carriageway of the A14. As it transpires, the traffic was stuck following a hit & run, where the driver drover the wrong way up the A14…
Friday 26th June – More of the same
Train to Cambridge, and I managed to get one of the ‘new’ green/blue 321 trains now at First Capital Connect. Afternoon at work – and another smash on the A14! (heard the latter on the bus on the way home!) Even the former MP for Huntingdon is also adding weight to the campaign…
... anyway, you can see all the pics I took here.
Sunday 28th June – Out & About
We went into Cambridge, had lunch in Pizza Express Jesus Lane, but I was rather worried about C’s tummy. In any case, C wanted pics of the poppies growing around Foxton, so I grabbed a few.
Monday 29th June – Royston to West London [Charing X GIC] without a train
Well, my appointment at the Charing Cross GIC (Fulham Palace Road/Greyhound Road) and the first day of new GreenLine Service 712 saw a dual need. After talking to Caroline about travelling south, I explained we’d probably have to pay peak fares to go back on a busy FCC train back to Royston in the evening crush hour… but there was only £2 in it to go via St Albans. So, started with Charter Travel’s 127 service to take us to Royston Bus Station on Mercedes P490 TGA, then Arriva The Shires Optare Versa 3403 on the 331 to Ware/Hertford, changing at Ware College to Arriva GreenLine Citaro 3403 on the 724 to St Albans Peahen, walked around to St Albans St Peters Street, a bite to eat at Weatherspoon’s (The Watermead Barn) before talking Arriva GreenLine coach 3906 on the Service 712 to London Victoria. Off-peak returns were going to be £2 cheaper each than returns, evening though we could not come back this way. While waiting for a Travel London 211 (two previous ones were turned short at Chelsea, Worlds End), Caroline’s bottle of sparkling water managed to overflow onto her and the person beside in the shelter! Eventually, Trident 9786 of the newly sold Travel London took us to Fulham Palace Road/Greyhound Road. Appointment was a little late, but no biggie, we had time. I was seen by Dr James Bellringer, but as it turned out, there was not a lot to do (see Brighton post the previous week or before). So, why go all this way? Well they did give me an appointment quickly, so I wanted to make the best of it. We discussed them taking over our trans care (in my case from Scotland, and in Caroline’s case, the private sector, following our findings from the PCT etc.) Quickly out again, drinks from Sainsbury’s below, then similar 9790 back to Victoria mainline station. We stopped for KrispyKreme’s before walking out via the first weekday of the C2 extension to Victoria [in favour of the 8/N8], before walking onto Victoria/Grovesnor Gardens to get Richmond’s newish VDL coach 593 FGF on commuter service 796 back to Royston Tesco. We had air conditioned comfort, and plenty of space to stretch out. It was a busy day, and you can see the pictures here.
In Other News…
Remember I mentioned the new pills? Well, I do feel they are starting to work, but I did find out the hard way that I can’t have alcohol with them – one glass of rose and I was feeling rather woozy!
I am a little behind on the OU stuff (plus many other things in life) so I am trying my best to catch up!
The next posts will cover our weekend manoeuvres.
Then, straight onto the A14, M11 (where I did this post on the road, using the new o2 USB Modem stick), M25, A282 Dartford Crossing, before stopping at Bluewater Shopping Centre. Can’t believe that it’s ten years old this year! As you will see from these two pictures, Bluewater is in a very scenic part of the Kent Thameside!
After stopping for drinks, we continued – although I was a little lost (usually in and out of the bus stance – sorry, Bluewater Transit Centre they call it there - not the car park) so in panic, inadvertently had us turn the other way. We managed to get back on the last turn before the Dartford Crossings again, and we were able to go south once more. However, C did manage to upset me a little with the driving, although when we talked (and resolved things) later, it was down to the fact that she was trying to get us there in time. (If anyone sees a copy of that ‘M25 and around’ map, let me know – saw one on the window of a clearance store, but they had none for sale last time I asked).
So, M25, M23, A23, A27 Brighton by-pass to Sussex University, down Falmer Road to Woodingdean, for my 1900 appointment at the Sussex Nuffield Hospital. Before arriving, we (naturally) got stuck at the Downs Hotel traffic lights. As you may recall from previous visits, many passengers and staff are emblazoned high on the sides of Brighton & Hove Buses double deck fleet. So, which one was it waiting? Naturally, the bus was Scania 608, featuring none other than B&H mechanic Gethin Donaldson on the offside. I found him by chance on Bebo, after seeing this vehicle several times on the 2/2A through Woodingdean!
After booking in, and following the directions to go down the corridor after the second door on the left, we’d gone the wrong way – apparently they’d moved him to a room which was basically just by the entrance. (Unfortunately, no-one told the receptionist, which is why I ignored the large sign asking Phil’s patients to come this way!) We sat in the waiting area, he was running a little behind, but was still quite eager to see what could be done.
Physical time – and he defied logic, and was, shall we say, successfully able to position his fingers to make a diagnosis (I can still feel it now, which is probably TMI but what the hell!) It IS a cyst, and he’s able to resolve it. Yes, the PCT are able to fund it – and I am looking at a one-day procedure, probably staying in that night because of distance, but just the one. This is probably 2-3 months away, at the Princess Royal Hospital, Haywards Heath.
(Maybe a little OT here but I recognised it from a bus timing point and destination (amongst others, Countyliner’s Service 40X runs hourly to/from hospitals in Brighton, using MAN/MCV Evolutions. The service operates with Trust funding allowing patients and staff to travel for free).
AFAIK there will be no need for any other changes in the run-up to the surgery, and (thankfully) no extended stay therein – has to be a good thing!
While I was a little shaken up following the journey and the consultation, I was starting to relax. This was helped by dinner at the local takeaway (I didn’t fancy more than a few bites before going in), before (at my request) we drove down Falmer Road to Rottingdean (pronounced Ro’dean apparently), and then along the coast before turning up West Street, past the railway station, and up Dyke Road and Dyke Road Avenue (avoiding the bus lanes and gates!) We stopped at the traffic lights at the Dyke Tavern, which (given the local residents) might sound a slightly unfortunate choice of words. However, we continued along through Devil’s Dyke back to the A23.
It was then that we deviated off to go through Haywards Heath, and I realised that my trips through here had been by train. Aah well. Now I had to negotiate our way through with the atlas, but did manage to get us to the PRH. Looks nice enough anyway. Back to the A23 via the filling station for a quick drink and chocolate, before back to the A23, M23, M25, A282 Dartford Tunnel this way, M25, M11 to Duxford, A505, and back to Royston. We got back around midnight, and it still took me a while to sleep…
… until about 0720 this [Wednesday] morning, when Caroline woke me for the second time (with coffee!) We had to leave at 0830 to allow for traffic for my appointment at Addenbrooke’s Hospital Forvie Site Brain Repair Centre for the HD clinic appointment previously booked. Slightly shorter than last time (Dr Barker is away, so it was Dr Wright), just a few tests, and lots of discussion and questions. Following this, the doc has asked my doctor to prescribe me Olanzapie (at a low 2.5mg to start with) to try and level things out, and building this up. If this is helpful, then it may eventually replace some of the other meds I’m on. It does make you more tired (although it may help with the sleep deprivation issues), and can make you put on weight – just like the rest of my meds – but, surprisingly, I was actually about five kilos less than the last time I weighed myself at home. Maybe it’s just the tolerance range, but it was something else to add.
Now at home, and having unpacked finally (we left most things in the car last night), tidied up, checked bank and other things, and now able to relax. Lets hope this is the start of the beginning, not the beginning of the end.