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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 (Cambridge city centre) yesterday – it will be useful for drawing route maps etc.


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
Holiday. We’ll have one soon!


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 [ profile] 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 St Albans. I got some pictures from Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and you can see them via those links.

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When I did the last one of these, I did not intend to make this into a monthly personal blog post, but then again, I’ve been busy. Also, the State of the Suzy posts were meant to be every month – who knows…?


A is for Anniversary. Yesterday was our 3 Years 4 Months anniversary. We didn’t do anything special (see under C) but we had a little celebratory meal inside the day before, in addition to the events under C.


B is for Busy. Yes, been busy again.


C is for Civil Partnership. I was at a friend’s, which was my first, yesterday. Malc and Ray got hitched in the Hotel Russell. A handful of random photo shots here, but suffice to say, we enjoyed the day.

D is for Driving Licence.
Well, I got the full “clean bill of health” from the HD Clinic earlier this year, so I decided I would apply for a driving licence. I’ve never had one before, and I did know that one day, it would be refused or revoked on medical grounds. Well, it transpires that as my meds sometimes make me sleepy, they aren’t even giving me a provisional. (They even sent me £50 application fee back, which came in handy the week before payday!)  So, Plan B was to apply for one of these travel permits (“bus pass” as they are otherwise known), or ENCTS (English National Concessionary Travel Scheme). Bear in mind that I’ve now been refused a driving licence, I now qualify, so nothing to lose! I took the application down to the council offices in Letchworth a week past Friday (22nd July), and arrived in the post yesterday (31st July)! So, yes, I now get free travel, across most of England, off-peak (or all day in London & Herts). As you can probably imagine, this may well save me some money! Before anyone reminds me that this is subsidised by the taxpayer, my income is taxed too, so I am still contributing substantially towards the cost. I knew I’d be refused a driving licence one day, the HD would see to that. However, it was a bit of a surprise, but Plan B was a good one! (Plan C was to appeal Plan B, then Plan D was to appeal Plan A). Interestingly, driving licence applications give you six months to appeal in England or Wales, or 21 days in Scotland. Why the difference?

F is for feelings. Again, doing very well.


G is for Girlfriend. Caroline is now working in Stevenage, following the relocation of her work, earlier this week.


H is for Hospital, which was under A last time (Addenbrooke’s). Well, I’ve had the dietician appointment, fine; some good points included a kilo and a half less since my referral letter! I am still waiting for the call back re the other appointment from the Gastroenterology department, so my Doctor is now chasing.


R is for Randomness. Now, Dougie (thebustocrookes) does an interesting thread called #randomchocolatetuesday where he takes a random chocolate, photographs it, then eats it – the posts are a lot better than this brief recap. So, if I had to do one Random thing, what should it be, and when? In previous work, when I didn’t work Fridays, I had my own personal policy of “try something new Friday” – back in the days before this blog! So, what should mine be? Transport related, GF food related, Health related, Love related, Clothing related, Shopping related, Coffee related? Thoughts would be welcome…


S is for Shopping. End of month means a few new things, as ever. However, I mention this as I’ve got a new wardrobe – well, got some more clothing, ordered online. MY account was clear, and it’s around this time of year that I need some stuff for both seasons. Some stuff I’d not had on in a long time… C seems to like the way the slinky vests go around my chest!


T is for Tigers. Well, I will try and keep transport stuff separate from these posts, but Tiger Line/Woottens are my main employer, so there may be the odd sighting or report here! In my post earlier today, I explain how things are going, with a picture of one of the repainted buses. Monday 9th August is the target date, and I’ve just got the resetting of the Wayfarer (ticket machines), setting up the electronic blinds (the traditional blinds for the new Tigers have arrived, and been fitted) and the last bit of route learning, and the launch. Duties are being issued to drivers this week, and all going well, we’re ready to roll on 9th August 2010. You can see a set of pictures here, which includes some “mid-way through” shots.



On top of all that, there are some other projects that I’m doing, behind the scenes.

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Words and pictures from Paul H in the land of Transdev Yorkshire, who is currently in the midst of rebranding the Volvo/Wright Gemini double deckers on Route 36. These feature various different bursts on the back.

Ooh I'm mad - the Union has blacked our latest 36-returnee due to a complaint from a driver being upheld, so we're having to change it...

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Yesterday was a rather fun day, despite the soaring heat in Cambridge (no I’m not being sarcastic!) incurred on the way to work yesterday morning. We were all surprised, as it didn’t seem like three weeks since I was there last, but it had been! Mornings are busier than afternoons, and this was no different!

After leaving Milton, back to Cambridge, but off the bus at Chesterton Lane, and around to Shire Hall to pick up some timetables that I had left for me to uplift. After that, citi5 back to town, then changed to a citi1 for the next part of the trip. As a few of the passengers from the back got off, one of them asked ‘have I seen you on tv?’ Nope, not me… not unless that old cctv footage of me running into the newly-installed automatic doors at Dundee bus station early one morning has made it onto YouTube… but seriously, while questioning is a lot more rare down here, they are usually a bit more refined than some of the more cruder things that I’ve heard in my lifetime.

Anyway, popped in to see [personal profile] auntysarah, and as ever, she beat me to posting the story of our meet to her journal. We spent half an hour or so around the back, in the warm, with the sun reflecting off the fishpond. It was a very civilised way to spend half an hour, just moments away from the hustle and bustle of Hills Road, Mill Road, and Cambridge Railway Station.

So, after that, went for the 1640 26 bus back to Royston, which comes down Hills Road for the college users, so a very easy walk around the corner. Got home, C got in just seconds after I did, and I then had a further kitchen experiment with some noodles and sweet chilli sauce.

The highlight of today so far, I’ve cooked mozzarella cheeseburgers (yes I cans has!), and a further stir-fry, this time self-cook Chow Mein. Also, another soft toy has arrived, it’s a pink stress ball shaped like a pig, a reward from Pigsback – I might save up for the cuddly one, but that will take a while more, as most of the 200 points needed came from a signing-up reward.

So, we are having a quiet day now, but getting a delivery of groceries this evening, and may be out tomorrow. Monday and Tuesday I am not planning on doing too much, but Tuesday night, I am travelling up north to spend a few days in and around Dundee. Caroline is going to be driving up north Friday into Saturday, and we will meet somehow on Saturday, as we’re going to a double birthday party (C’s side of the family) on Saturday in Angus. Sunday – well, I’ve left aside a trip I’ve organised for the Anglia Bus Forum, along with a few other offers, so we can travel south in the hired car, and I may well take some more of the stuff down from my flat in Dundee, things I could not manage in a bus or train. Might get the chance to pop into Lathalmond on the way down, who knows - we'll see how things go on the day.

Longer term, June C will be away most of the time, so I will be doing some work around moving out of my flat in Dundee – I plan to leave at some stage of July. This is likely to be intermixed with days here and there too, as times change. In July and August, I would like to do a bit more work on top of what I’ve been doing recently, and ramp things up gradually once more. We’d then hope C would have a date for her surgery, and we are looking at early-mid autumn for that. After that, and once C is back in Royston recovering, I’d hope that my mind and body will both be ready for more regular hours and work, but we shall see. This has been said, assuming nothing else changes, ha ha!

(Me on TV? Well, there are some times I feel like someone (Beadle’s replacement) is going to pop out of a bush and say ‘You thought you’d came here to do xxxx,’ LOL)
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While browsing the Stagecoach group website for other reasons (in the midst of preparing for a forthcoming ABF trip, and I needed a logo to go on the notes, as they’ve supplied the bus!) I did come upon a press release about the virtues of in the US - and apparently (although not mentioned), there has been some kind of competition with the First/Laidlaw operation and Stagecoach (CoachUSA/Megabus) – not that I’d know such things so intimately.

The press release made mention of new services based on NY State, with some place names that sounded familiar from chats online. So, interestingly enough, a new service by Megabus (USA) is about to be introduced (On May 30th) from New York (Penn Station), via Buffalo NY (Niagara International Airport) to Toronto, Canada (Royal York Hotel). The service between NY and Buffalo is around seven hours (around what Amtrak trains take to get to Rochester), while between Buffalo and Toronto is two and a half hours. (I’ve not investigated time zones yet, but that trip should be straight enough).

Now, a couple of points here. Firstly, I’m fairly sure I did an April 1st spoof a few years ago, of a new Megabus service from Dundee to NY (it sounded like a good get-away-from-it-all at the time…), so I have to say, be careful what you wish for, or there maybe a chance of through ticketing one of these days!

Second, there was a person who I’ve known online for five and a half years now, and has been consistently solid and wonderfully supportive to me. I did say I’d consider visiting in a few years, back in late 2006 - according to Google Maps, it’s about 55 miles from Buffalo to Spencerport/Rochester.

You can tell what I’m thinking. Give it a couple of years (from now), who knows. Having said that, I guess it’s another one of these ‘brand recognition’ things – I don’t know who is who over there (so much – Amtrak, Greyhound etc.) but I do know the megabus brand well enough. Saves investigating who, what and where, if it’s a concept I already know. Wonder if they can send a text from the USA system with a ticket code to a UK phone? If not, no hassle, I can scribble it down or print it off. Then, there are the rest of the operators and their procedures etc. that I hear sporadically about. Coming from 4,000 miles away, a slightly easier default option maybe nice.

I doubt that was the intention of product recognition behind having the same brand name on both sides of the pond. Having said that, I’ve just done a price check for those journeys in September (to get the timing information, as the ‘schedule’ – we call them timetables over here - isn't there yet), and they are USD $1.00 each. Yes, looks like I’ve still got the touch. At the current rate of exchange, even with booking fees, that’s less than the local fare within Royston town on Stagecoach 26!

BTW, as I read the press release, Neneh Cherry’s Buffalo Stance was going through my head. When I googled the song, I was surprised to find Westlife have covered it. Is nothing sacred?
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It's been a busy, positive day, as the weather stays good and everyone remains happy! Caroline's second new long black dress has arrived (remember when the first one of two arrived?), I got a copy of the new May edition of the West Lothian area bus & train timetable (as well as catching up with requests for some other leaflets and stuff),  but Caroline was surprised to see a letter from Spain, with a stamped envelope, addressed to her former male clone, personally. Turns out it was her first Spanish lottery '419' type scam - well, first one on paper at least!


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September 2010



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