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The day was wet and we can consider the garden very well watered, not a job that i will need to do tonight and they look all the better for it with perky plants all round. Back to trousers and pullovers from shorts and shirtsleeves, a distinct chill in the air. Anyway I pushed on with the tasks before me and although I need to enter them on the shops here are the DVDs which are now ready.
As promised we have a selection of photos from Liverpool filmed yesterday
The weather outlook for Friday seems to have gone downhill but I've started Bus Spot Ultra Burton on Trent and I have the Iberian adventure in mind with the ex London trolleys etc plus I'm still musing over the series on the history of British Bus grouping post deregulation. We shall see what transpires!
We enjoyed what is probably the end of our early summer weather but fingers crossed we catch some of the rain passing south through Britain. Today I'd had down for Birkenhead particularly as Stagecoach at least had said they were operating 70% of normal pre pandemic services. There were certainly more buses than there would have been but I'm sure that the total of Arriva and Stagecoach must have fallen short of this figure. I did see my first' Bus Full Social Distancing' screen on a single decker which had what would look at first glance an almost empty bus but they only seat 11 at the moment. I only saw one bus with no passengers so ridership is going up. The weather was superb and I doubt if I get to see another day so fine on Merseyside for a while. There were road works causing diversions and giving a lot of background noise. Birkenhead is about as bottom of the pit you can get in many ways but there is an upside , any change and it just has to be better and this was reflected in an almost sedate side to the near empty town. The bus drivers ( and police!) were very friendly , the thumbs up works wonders these days.
It was obvious that sticking it out at Birkenhead for an hour of film would just result in the same buses going round and round and as I was but seconds away from the Mersey tunnel I decided to head through and sample Liverpool in lock down. A lot of people strolling around aimlessly and a few wide boys in sunglasses and car radios blaring through open windows plus the latest Liverpool fashions for hot weather, don't even think about it! Anyway there was a sighting of the PTE retro heritage bus but a taxi parked in the way so prevented a quality shot. No hassles really other than noisy little school kids playing clunking roller boards on empty concrete, the architecture looked quite splendid in the sun and with quiet pavements. The traffic getting out of the city back to the M62 was quite intense and the M56 going to Birkenhead blighted by miles of road works, new barriers going in.
I have to go on to my Youtube site sometimes to delete comments and block users, new films have as most know been blocked to comments for some time due to the very hurtful, incredibly violent and nauseating comments on older films, you can't back track to ban comments. I know many of you loved leaving comments and they were really nice but this chap was one of the 'England' flag brigade and skull and crossbones on it, seeing what he listened to and posted on his own site explained a lot and the reason I have no intention of allowing comments and if you give the nicest and best comment ever on an old film you still get blocked from the channel as I want to eliminate this form of communication. Youtube themselves do nothing tom prevent this type of abuse just lip service when someone important mentions them. They are run by the country that produces racist killers and arms the population with automatic weapons, it is now presided over by the most dangerous bigot around , I just hope that we can remove our own puppet prime minister before his henchmen let in the USA to clean up any remnants of our country left over.
Here are some shots from todays trip to Birkenhead, Liverpool follows tomorrow. Loads og DVD covers to make over next two days plus 5 DVDs to edit as well and lots to get uploaded as digital versions. Online orders have finally dried up today so perhaps we have a bit of a rest albeit there was a lot in snail mail.
As long as the weather outlook hasn't changed we'll be filming in Birkenhead tomorrow. The way ahead on buses has started to become clearer now, National Express West Midlands were the front runners taking their services up to 70% of pre Corona now Stagecoach has done the same nationwide and I assume the others will fully suite as it must be related to the further government subsidy as current buses now need larger or more vehicles to cover the drastically reduced seating due to social distancing. This will then go up to 80% when the shops open mid June and then I guess everyone reviews the situation afresh. This will see me ticking off locations on the to do list further afield such as Bedford and Northampton and going north to Newcastle Co Durham etc as the slots for doing this are weather dependent and not down to a full diary at present it shouldn't be too hard but lengthier trips are a pain without toilets and cafes or hotels as Mandy won't come with me to share the driving when facilities aren't certain.
Today was a rewarding sunny breezy day at Immingham where yet more construction work seems to be in progress, still if it means more lorries thats for the good to us. Not a cloud in the sky all day but it was cooler than back in Cheshire and we had a sit in the garden when I returned home. A back log of DVD covers to do on Wednesday. Thursday we are tied up running the van and IQ back from servicing in Northwich but hopefully I'll get some work done. Up at 6am this morning didnt seem bad at first but very tired now, out of practice, 4am starts are a way off as yet! Did anybody get their Buses magazine June copy, I never received mine and I did remind them. Slide show tonight from Immingham, say no more!
As we teeter to the end of our summer and what will probably be a May etched in our memory forever it was the now familiar round of domestic and transport tasks with the added luxury of sunshine and heat. I got the overnight DVD orders more or less sorted and then spent the rest of the morning up ladders and on the roof cleaning the fascia boards , gutters etc , not unpleasant in the sunshine. After lunch I got all the PMP fleet cleaned and polished and then around 3.30pm I finally sat down and added to the moneys worth we have got out of our new garden bench/seats. In between I've been diving indoors to swap around scanned cine films and DVD masters which I've edited and burnt to disc. I think we have Sunday and Monday and perhaps Tuesday morning left before it becomes cooler and less sunny. I've been looking at bus operator web sites, I think the bottom line is that while services increase a bit on Monday they are still subsidised and supported by government. I will get to Birkenhead as scheduled perhaps elsewhere next week but I'm reluctant to go too far without a substantial service going on to record.
I've got one more DVD from the Shropshire trip and two of Manchester left to prepare, then it will be covers to make. I have though added them to the list of DVDs and put that on the shop front page. So lots to do and it has been a lovely day even stopping for lunch which is normally a piece of cake has not become pate, cheese, crackers, M&S Eccles cake. No wonder we've put on weight, not sure if I'll be able to lose it again. I am mindful that I have promised another Bus Spot Ultra and the Iberian trolleybuses plus a history of one of the bus groups which itself is mammoth as they have some of the most involved ancestry you could imagine with the NBC break up and municipal sales into all manner of businesses and combined ownership none of which seems easy to put together without writing a book first as a script. Photos tonight from the last of the Shropshire albums last week.
As it seems that many bus operators will be at least doubling their subsided key worker services from this weekend it seemed a bit daft to go to Birkenhead today and struggle rather than wait until Monday when the weather should still be fine and services I think roughly doubled. We didn't get up too early and after breakfast its a quick drive to Trafford Park, the new tram route was running and the whole complex throws up some new photo opportunities which I explored at the end. I managed to get two hours of film and still got home to spend a wonderful hot sunny afternoon in the garden with Mandy punctuated with real lemonade, beer and G&Ts, what a prefect day. The Metrolink tram drivers were as enthusiastic and the lorry drivers in their waves and an afternoon like that restores your faith in human nature, the only big downside I have seen is a decrease in standards of driving and increased speed and road rage.
The truckers are invariably friendly and whatever their origins, the Polish lorry drivers wave away as much as any yet their breathren from the bus world inhabit that world of new fascism and try to implement their disgusting views by threats and intimidation, the great sorrow is that companies are aware of this and some like First, Rotala and West Coast Motors to name but a few do nothing to rid their ranks whereas Stagecoach whatever their shortcomings are always quick to act and week out the offenders. Already Hungary has become a virtual dictatorship we implore those settling in Britain leave your opinions behind you if you come to this county. Lilewise National Express Group and their West Midlands staff are exemplary just again the Scottish branch. I had been a poor year though before the pandemic when I was physically attacked and assaulted by a woman Trent Barton employee, that I never would have believed possible.
We heard the sad news today that Bill who used to help out with Graham Lunn on his rally stand has passed away, he always had a witty work of wisdom whether you wanted it or not but was always the first to offer assistance back in the days when he was mobile.
Each film visit filming can create its own ambience and lend you to imagine associations with past experiences. The bright dazzling sunshine and friendly drivers of Metrolink at Trafford Park and the almost quiet empty neighbourhood made me recall outings in the south of France where businesses almost always seemed to be closed, I rather thought lock down there must have looked as normal times from British eyes. The landscaping and gentle curves were taking off to Montepellier etc although slightly less colourfull or lengthy trams.
The next Bus Spot Ultra could well be Burton on Trent and I am nearly minded to start the film of old London trolleybuses and British made buses in Portugal and Spain from HD scanned films. Meanwhile shots from Manchester Trafford Park
The weather outlook for Immingham was mist and cooler temperatures than in our part of the country so I revised my plans and went to my spot near Oswestry by the truck stop and got two superb hours in brilliant sunshine with lovely drivers and even got some classics. Tomorrow I'll be attempting to get something of the key worker bus services in Birkenhead.
I even saw a Foden twice but neither time close to the camera and afterwards I went on to fabulous Tern Hill where I promised to return and will again, super spot there. Busy starting to download and edit clips on Youtube in due course!
Time is running away from me tonight, we were at Southern cemetery tending Mandy's Hardy family graves in the morning, glorious warm sunny weather. Used fibrous begonias which can survive without much water. Wiped the bird poo off the Hardy family commemorative bench as best we could.
Tomorrow filming trucks at Immingham meanwhile here are shots of the Doncaster trip yesterday, might get to Birkenhead Friday.
After basking in the sun over the bank holiday weekend it was almost like back to work, I was up at 7am ( once this would have been 5am) as traffic is less awful at rush hours but still encountered queues on the A500 D road around Stoke, lorries blocking the A50 trying to overtake at 0.5mph and more hold up on the return life must be on the normal direction now. The weather was better than expected and I was filming at Lincoln before 10am in bright warm sunshine. Very limited services, my now straw poll of passenger numbers and those wearing masks continues to show some growth in passengers overall today ave passengers I'd say 4 and wearing face masks , Lincoln zero, Doncaster1. The surrounding area in front of the bus station which looked as if it would end up tidy and well planted now looks plain grotty, my cafe that is at the side of the bus station and excels was of course closed, lots of waves from the drivers, the car park , the main central multi story that is, had just the ground level open with circa 15 cars parked. The only incident was a nasty young chap in a banger who thought it worth having a go and seeing if he could knock me down , he exited the car park and veered all over the road, driving standards seem to have fallen or have we forgotten how bad they were over the past two months.
Next on to Doncaster, well what can I say, now Dave say something nice, ok I had a brief chat with a lovely First driver by hell fire corner roundabout, I had a chat with a nice lady who was as confused as me with getting around the shopping mall to the car park etc. The car park is indeed confusing but it seems the only act in town the others were all closed off, so the one above empty shops was open, it must make sense to somebody. Now the meat, well I had read they had blocked off the town centre to all traffic and rerouted the buses. The whole town is plastered with no entry and bollards, concrete, Co-op divi notices etc, they missed out putting up a diagram as to where the bus services now go, roughly they follow the old bus station route round the back of the car park/bus station and also pass up in front of what I understand is a refurbished Civic amenity area, oops no that's a tip, anyway it doesn't look like a town hall but there was a scattering of temporary stops at random, one lane blocked by a delivery lorry and chaos with just four buses, albeit the most I saw moving at one time, or not moving in this case. It was a bit of a slog getting the rest of the hours film which includes Lincoln, no chance of two programmes filmed in a day unless it is lorries you are after. Weather a bit more cloudy in Donny but warm. Heavy traffic on the return on M1 and M62 etc, Doncaster though is the most traffic I've seen in a town so far. Photos from Lincoln for today.
All DVD orders are ready to go off in the post as we return to normal after the bank holiday which was perhaps one of Cheshire's sunniest ever. Apart from getting the DVD orders ready and felling a couple of branches on the ugly fir tree which is encroaching our gardens it was a long sit in the sun reading. I've got a few photos filed and am ready to start film scanning, editing etc tomorrow. In mind is a trip to Doncaster which is on my list and has revised pedestrian areas there and perhaps relocated bus stops and some service enhancements from the most minimal skeleton key worker service. It is hard to determine which are going to be back to normal first regards routes and frequencies some are putting deckers on single deck routes to enhance services, I hope nobody forgets low bridge restrictions along the way. Sad to hear that Shearings have bit the dust and alongside them National Holidays, two of the biggest names in coach holidays but i expect several other companies will fail due to the flu epidemic over reaction.
Our own shop has all the DVDs on it, I'll start getting more digital downloads on tonight, I haven;t bothered with eBay updates as yet, I implore people to use our shop on this site, every order placed with Amazon or EBay robs us of revenue to support our trips which you benefit from Also as we are not for profit and really just sharing our hobby we will not tolerate abuse and whinges about post times in the present circumstances, surely people know that things aren't normal to that extent. Questions sent via Facebook, EBay or Amazon and are not specific to the item will be replied to politely with a thank you for your message and nothing else. Our email is on the DVDs and web site as is the phone number, I detest all these American media platforms and look at them as little as possible and certainly don't want to correspond via them!
A busy but productive day all these are now edited and covers made and loaded to both the PMP shop on this site plus Amazon, I'll see if I can get my head around EBay later.
It took until lunch time to get the DVD covers made and then after lunch through to 2pm getting them on the shops after that I put the front garden bedding plants in as the weather started to brighten up and the wind eased off. It has at last turned into a pleasant evening, there are a lot of freshly planted items which will need a good watering especially as no rain on the horizon for the next two weeks. I'll be watching out for suitable film locations to take advantage of bright sunny days.
PMP Sponsors of bus rallies for 25 years.