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OK, cast your minds back a few weeks. On the day I got the phone call to give me my (initial) date for surgery on 2nd August, I briefly mentioned that I’d been looking in on some work, and voluntary work as well.

Well, I’d been into see the Cambridge & District Volunteer Centre, initially curious to see about opportunities to keep me going in the meantime. As you may have noticed, some employers aren’t quite so sure when you mention a surgical date coming ahead, but I still wanted something to do, and I didn’t want to be on the proverbial scrapheap as it were! They have a weekly drop-in facility whereby you can pop along to the premises in Regent Street, and get advice on what you can do. Now, as this was the first time I was volunteering, they were able to give me some advice, as well as some suggestions.

So, I left the centre with ten different suggestions, had a bite to eat, and then went for a bash to Cambourne on the citi4. It was on that run, as we went through west Cambridge, that I had the call from Liz. What happened after that, as they say, is history.

Once all the GRS related stuff was out the way, I dug out the sheets again. I managed to get it down to three possibilities that might look flexible enough (i.e. not for specific dates) to wrap around my time off work, and didn’t involve too much physical work. (Well, it’s not a good time to start doing it).

One of the potentials was to work on a helpline for the families of prisoners, to give them advice, information and support. The trust involved in running the service near Cambridge came highly recommended from the woman at CVC, as she says “they always look after their volunteers very well”. So, I emailed them, didn’t hear back until last week I think it was, because Jo was away. (In the meantime, one of her colleagues, Hilary, had emailed me the application). So, to cut a long story short, I had a phone call on Friday, asking me to come in today for a chat, and a talk about things.

After Caroline left for work for the day, I got ready with the usual blouse & skirt, plus a ‘butterfly’ necklace that I found in Tesco just over a week ago. 26 to Cambridge, then a citi2 to Milton. The village was quiet enough, and the helpline occupy part of a converted house! As I’d shot past it (and in fact, all the way up to Milton High Street), I walked back down Cambridge Road, and as a result, I bumped into someone getting out of her car, who I was coming to see!

So, after a brief time upstairs in the call centre (one room with two phone lines – and an almost identical facility exists in Manchester), we had a chat about my life, forthcoming surgery commitments, what I’ve done before, why I want to volunteer etc. After all that, we got our diaries out, and worked on dates and stuff. So, I go back a week on Thursday – 30th August – for my first of two days of training.

While I’ve changed so much over the last few months, the one thing missing was a job – something to do, something to keep me busy. Now, I’ve found it. Voluntary, short hours, just enough to have a break from the norm, and to be able to maintain my skills in a new environment.

As I am sure you will have questions, I will explain a little more about the work… taken from the website

The Prisoners' Families Helpline is a free and confidential service for anyone who is affected by the imprisonment of a close family member or friend. The Helpline is a consortium of 3 organisations and co-ordinated by Action for Prisoners' Families. The service is provided by the Ormiston Trust in Cambridge* and POPS in Manchester.

When someone is sent to prison you may feel as if you too are serving a sentence. Perhaps you feel confused or lonely and would like someone to talk to. You might find you have questions about the prison system or visiting and keeping in touch.

We can provide you with up-to-date information and guidance about prisons in England and Wales. We can also link you with different services and local support groups in your area. If English isn't your first language we can connect you to a translation service. We can give out information over the phone and also have a range of printed information sheets that can be sent to you.

As well as providing information, we offer non-judgemental support and a listening ear. Please call us if you would like to talk things through.

We are usually open:
Monday - Friday 9.30am - 5.00pm
Monday evenings 6.00pm - 8.00pm.
Saturdays 10am - 3pm
We are not open on Sundays or bank holidays.

Prisoners' Families Helpline can only support families of prisoners in England and Wales. If your friend or relative is in prison elsewhere, there are other organisations that can help. Families Outside is a Scottish charity which helps hundreds of families a year through the Scottish Prisoner's Families Helpline. Through research, training and partnership work they aim to raise awareness of hte needs of families affected by imprisonment so that they can get the information and support they need to cope.
Freephone 0500 839393 Monday - Friday 1pm - 5pm

*The Ormiston Children and Families Trust works to promote the well being of children and young people, especially those disadvantaged by their life experiences or circumstances. This is achieved through direct service provision and by raising awareness of related issues through research, publications, conferences and events. We are one of the largest voluntary providers of support services to children and families in the Eastern Region. Ormiston opened its first project in 1981 and we currently have twenty five community and prison based projects across five counties – including the Cambridge facilities for PFH.
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Following the... ahem... failed terror plot at Glasgow Airport, there have been a number of blogs and sites set up in memory of John Smeaton - perhaps the best one is

As the website says, "Nobody gets between 10,000 Weegies and a £99 week in Ibiza booked on Thursday night through Barrhead Travel."


(wonder how John could handle the potential bus war developing outside the terminal?)
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I went out around the city centre, to deal with various affairs of mine.

In West Marketgait, I could see roadworks had closed off this bus bay, but a temporary stop was plonked right in the middle… of the bus bay…

… but further down, pedestrians were being guided into the building site beside the former Burns & Harris building.

I ignored them all, and decided to play hedgehog on the narrow strip of tarmac down the middle of the dual carriageway instead –probably safer!
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Found this interesting advert here.

"Wherever Your Dublin Takes You" is the new tag line, which isn't as good (I think) as "Changing With The City"...
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You may remember back in 2005 that I mentioned that the North Weald bus rally was once again off, with the organiser having some choice words to say about the efficiency of the local authority in question. Well, they seem to have resolved all the issues, and after a three year gap, the rally is back on for this Sunday.

As part of the rally, two special services will be operating. There is an "excursion" running as a special Service 718 from London Victoria to the rally. For those who wish to come off the Central Line or other local buses across Essex (or just go for a bash), a special Service 339 will be running about every 20 minutes to/from Epping Underground Station. The services are being operated by Blue Triangle, and it is understood that the unique twin-staircase Volvo Ailsa V3 will be in attendance on at least one of the 718 workings.

Brief details from the NLTS website...


At North Weald Airfield, near Epping, via A414 from junction 7 on M11. This event is being organized in association with Blue Triangle Buses and the Harlow Lions.

200+ Buses and Coaches on display

Transport Bazaar with wide variety of stands

Real Ale Beer Tent

Refreshments provided by Kate’s Kitchen

Vintage Bus Services to & from Epping Central Line Station, Ongar for Epping Ongar Railway and Stapleford Tawney Moletrap p.h. First bus from Epping Station at 10.10, then every 10 minutes until 10.50, then every 20 minutes until 15.50.

Rally open 10.30 to 17.00. Admission £7.00 (includes travel on route 339 to and from Epping Station), accompanied children free."

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Ever wonder how life would be if we travelled in ways that benefited our health and our environment? We’d have safer roads, cleaner air and a better quality of life.

It’s easier to do than you think. Change Your World is asking people to swap just one car trip from 1-7 July and choose something that’s better for the planet instead.

And guess what? If we all give up one car journey that week we’ll reduce car traffic by 10%. Fancy giving it a go? Sign up at now, to make your swap and for the chance to win a bike worth £449.99.

Change Your World is run by Sustrans, charity number 326550

suzyscottdotcom: (Default)
As posted to the Forum earlier...

Details of the service changes commencing on 9th July 2007 - largely connected to the opening of the new Markinch rail/bus interchange - are as follows. The relevant timetables are available at the appropriate travel shops and on the Stagecoach in Fife website.

Service 30 (Dunfermline – Glenrothes) Evening and Sunday journeys will be diverted within Glenrothes to serve Napier Road. The following Monday to Friday journeys will be withdrawn – 1855,1955 Glenrothes bus station to Adam Smith College and 1900,2000 Adam Smith College to Glenrothes bus station.

Services 39/39A/39B (Kirkcaldy – Glenrothes - Newcastle) The current “short-working” journeys between Glenrothes bus depot and Newcastle via Napier Road will be renumbered 39B, with no change to the current timetable. However, the 0731 Glenrothes bus station to Newcastle journey on Mondays to Fridays will be withdrawn.

Service 40/40A (Kirkcaldy – Glenrothes) Some additional journeys will be provided operating between Glenrothes bus station and Coaltown of Balgonie via Woodside and Markinch station. These extra journeys will generally run hourly during the evening, and all day on Sundays. There will also be a few extra journeys at peak times Monday to Friday.

Service 43/43A (Leven – Kennoway – Glenrothes - Whitehill)
The 43 service will be diverted to serve Markinch station, and a revised timetable introduced maintaining the hourly frequency between Leven and Whitehill. A new hourly evenings and all day Sunday service 43A will be provided, which will operate as per the 43 but omitting Milton of Balgonie, but additionally serving Markinch High Street/Balbirnie Street and Prestonhall.

Services 44/44A/44B (Leven – Methilhill – Glenrothes - Whitehill) A revised timetable will be introduced maintaining the hourly Monday to Saturday daytime frequency between Leven and Whitehill. The Monday to Friday morning peak journeys serving Buckhaven and the industrial estates in Glenrothes will be renumbered 44B, and will additionally operate during the afternoon peak period. A new hourly evenings and all day Sunday service 44A will be introduced between Leven bus station and Glenrothes bus station, which will operate as per the 44 but omitting Cameron Hospital and Windygates.

Services 46/46A (Buckhaven – Leven – Star – Glenrothes – Caskieberran) The 46 service will be revised to operate hourly during the day on Mondays to Saturdays from Leven bus station to Glenrothes bus station via Kennoway, Star and Markinch station. See new services 52/52A for an improved level of service for Buckhaven, revised services 50/51 serving the Casan area, and the new 43A/44A services which provide an improved level of service during the evenings and Sundays.

Services 50/50A/51/51A (Mountfleurie – Leven – Methilhill) A revised route and timetable will be introduced incorporating a circular service serving Letham Glen, Casan, Turpie Road, Mountfleurie, and Letham Avenue operating hourly in each direction. The level of service between Leven bus station and Methilhill will be reduced to every 15 minutes.

New Services 52/52A (Leven – Buckhaven) These new circular services will each operate hourly during the day on Mondays to Saturdays serving Leven bus station, Aberhill, Buckhaven Shore Street, Muiredge, Methilhaven Road and Leven bus station. Service 52 will operate clockwise, with the 52A operating anti-clockwise. They will therefore provide an improved level of service to the Shore Street area of Buckhaven.

New Service G3 (Glenrothes bus station – Whitehill) This new service will provide one journey on Monday to Friday at 0715, replacing the facility currently provided by service 43 serving Napier Road, Macedonia, Viewfield and Southfield industrial estates.

New Service X4 (Leven – Glenrothes) This new service will operate hourly during Monday to Saturday daytime from Leven bus station to Glenrothes bus station via Glenlyon Road, Windygates Road, and Markinch. Peak time journeys will extend to/from Lundin Links/Lower Largo.
suzyscottdotcom: (Default)
... hmm, no u-turns to be smelt here...

"The current design will no longer be accepted on London Buses after 30 June, and we would advise anyone with spare tickets at home to use them over the next few months.

We will be happy to exchange tickets for the new style after 30 June 2007, subject to authentication. Please be patient as this may take some time, depending on volume of requests received."

So, this is of course different to what Transport for London were saying a few months ago (the press release has been moved to here)...

"The current design will no longer be accepted on London Buses after 30 June 30, and we would advise anyone with spare tickets at home to use them over the next four months as there will be no refund or exchange of tickets."

In other words, if you do have any left after the end of the month, do NOT bin them - as they WILL be exchangeable, and still valid for "eternity" - whenever that runs out next.


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