Yes the best does get better and today proved it and as if the hospitality wasn't enough we were treated to one of our favourite of miguels cooking his famous duck confit preceded by blue cheese rosy to and followed by pear crumble and ginger and home made ice cream with a light caramel on the dude superb plus amazing company so yes the best indeed dies get better even if it means a Kate night. Today was also sort of special as we went to to the marquenterre bird reserve at the bai de Somme and Mandy had a go at getting around one of hhenlingvwalks as her first go with the wheelchair. The soft sand made it all a bit of a challenge and I had to lend a hand with the occasional push . The sun shone all day which was better than we had hoped. In the morning we shall be heading south west about 4 hours drive to tours and making a start filming the new tramway. Greeting from France to al our loyal readers worldwide hopefully we shall be able to blog tomorrow evening.
Lost in France well not really
We were up at 5am this morning and by half past on the toad a nice clear run down the m6 m42 m40 m25 etc although just as we neared the Chanel tunnel there was a trailer turner over looked like it had stock on board but thankfully for us in the north bound carriageway. They had closed the motorway near the tunnel going south. We checked in and got an earlier crossing really no delays at all and we were soon passing under the channel and popped up to find the weather in France was as bad as it had been in Kent and it just got worse but we had decided to make our way across country towards corbie and then cut down to Amiens where I could go to the wine shop and stock up on my pastis . Thus accomplished we cruised back up to corbie and found a house full of guests and Ian and Miguel were in the midst of entertaining, we had dumped the cards in he hallway and about 7.30pm we thought we should head up to our room to settle in before dinner. The usual restaurant at Bonney village was shut for the holidays so we'd been booked in at the new restaurant in corbie near the church it was still damp and occasional rain although not at all cold. Typically France there was scarcely a person seen as we cut across country this afternoon. The meal was so do a warm plate on mains would have helped, I can't see it replacing Bonnay but very clean and friendly and spike better English but then that also takes away a little of the fun. We are having an early night here in the heart of Picardy, a mixed crowns of Australians and Brits plus a couple of very pleasant Germans everyone seemed to get on very well. Nothing much on the net tonight other than from my cousin in Australia . Hope all is well with our readers world wide this evening, you could hear a pin drop in the centres of corbie at 20pm and its only 9.39 English time. Still can't complain the peace and quiet is very welcome but a little sunshine Tomorow will be very welcome .
Of course just a dream as in reality they have the most pitiful employees and the public relations team fit for promoting taratula spiders as kids toys. I hadn't even noticed nor posted because of the Stagecoach driver in Dundee giving a rather distinct V sign especially after smiling and waving, is it just a Scottish thing well no but there is a lot of it about up there. I was assured once that Stagecoach gave their employees an induction and explained about being on view to the public, representing the company and bus enthusiasts etc. Now how companies compare in the reality is really astonishing whereas Stobarts gain publicity through their image and the drivers generally back it up to the hilt and are happy to wave especially to a friendly smile and wave back. Stagecoach, now there's a thing, v signs,obscenities, attacks, lectures, assaults yes this is the reaction of employees in charge of buses, with peoples safety at their mercy, with families, young enthusiasts subjected to this abuse. It just seems to get worse by the week , of course comparisons aren't always easy but Stagecoach just seems to have the worst of that rotten core and although there are thousands of lovely drivers they must be disgusted surely by the reactions of their colleagues. Does management not take heed of these displays of vulgar abuse, of obscenities and unprovoked attacks, do they not care , why are they involved in a public service industry, are they fit to manage anything bigger than a dinky toy if this is the best standard they can attain.
The recent games in Scotland did show the country at it's worst, police on the rampage, civil rights abused, innocent people had cameras taken and shots deleted, people stopped and searched because they are bus enthusiasts. Now the British government has raised the sate of public panic as they are expecting an attack on this country, perhaps the potential terrorists should knock on Stagecoaches door they seem to have a lot of people who are up for some aggro. I expect there will be yet more attacks on the poor old transport enthusiasts now the feds are fired up. It was a dream back in the day when we were up against the British cavalry who were sent in to charge the striking miners, those who know their history remember the likes of Peterloo when the army attacked people looking for basic human rights- I dreamt that the lads had been armed overnight and mowed down the class traitors on both occasions.
Living in modern Britain is getting to be a step back into the Stalinist or Nazi era, modern socialism wouldn't stand a chance as one facist squad lines up after another as they argue over who is the most awful, the UKIP, The tories The liberals, what a bunch - kids now have electronic music and games instead of brains, the social revolution that we pushed forwards in the 1960/70s has just produced a generation of monsters, society is in retreat, the criminals rule the city, in Manchester the chief constable says he wouldn't go out at night in the city. Daily we hear of the atrocities that were committed in our cities upon children and again and again it was councillors, politicians,police who together contrived to keep it all from the public. Where do we go from here, well down the pub for a pint or a bottle of red often takes the edge of things. Who would have thought that an innocent hobby would make us the front line in so many battles. So many things have now vanished, faith, loyalty, charity, caring,spirituality, patience- our country sinks each day , overcrowded, under resourced, struggling, gasping, clutching.. as it breaks into tiny pieces and each fragment will hate the other and eventually civil war once again, perhaps Scotland will have it's own 'troubles' who knows, who cares any more.
Tonight after a busy end to the week and approaching the holiday weekend well it is for us! I had my hair cut and managed to tie up as many loose ends as possible. We are pretty well packed now, I've finished the Lincolnshire DVDs and the last of the 3 volumes is on our shop, see store page of this site. I'll upload the latest photos on the Smug Mug site, see links page to take you to photo sales, only 50p each. Off to France early tomorrow , a couple of days in Piccardy then down to Tours and back up to Le Havre, a mix of transport interest. Tonight some French photos nudge nudge.
I had a bit of a lay in well an extra 30 minutes but I was still running early to get the little IQ down to RRG in Altrincham but they don't start until 9am and I was there about 8.15. I'd washed it on Monday but it had got a bit dirty in the rain and we were still using the short cut home as we now have 4 way traffic lights at the end of Plumley moor Road so we've not gained much, had a fright in Plumley, got to the new set of road works half way across road but no lights or cones, nothing really I would have though illegal, the chap in front indicates to go over to right at obstruction, then slams his brakes on and starts to reverse as I'm behind, it's mrs scary from their post office husband anyway carried on and filled up as light was flashing and got a chocy bar at a shop near garage, it was a coop no wonder they're in trouble they make ethnic convenience stores look like Harrods. It was still way too early, I'd bought a paper and parked up and checked in, they said it would be 2 hours, seemed a lifetime for a first service on such a tiny car, sat watching rubbish day time telly which isn't that much different from rubbish night time stuff really. Then finally they indicate that it is nearly ready, well i think it was the washing and valeting, the dearest car wash in town at £125 a throw, they produce a mile long report of jibberish, who would ever read it, all you do is plug a computer in and it gargles it out, the only thing they inspect is the tyres and they are almost like new.
Then they spend time asking, telling you how to fill in questionnaire which come to check on service, only the top score absolute perfection will do, nothing else counts, tak about intimidating customers, and what about the wretched radio, I asked the chap if they'd sorted the traffic announcement setting which the head mechanic had given up on when I collected it, the kid at service counter just replied that he couldn't set his either, and they wanted full marks. Mandy gets much better service at Chester Honda which is rather neatly situated at Ellesmere Port but they don't like to say that. Time had flown by and it was getting on towards dinner when I finally got back to the office. Loads of work piled up but I'm on the run down to our French trip now and trying not to get hot under the collar, still 4 out of 6 candidates failed to turn up for training but their company will have to pay, can't afford to be mr nice guys forever. Mandy had of course gone down to Chase Town in Staffordshire this afternoon to collect her wheelchair, coming back the motorway was gridlocked after a much earlier accident, whats new there then, she cut across country with millions of others and it was gone 6 when she arrive but I'd cracked on with the DVD editing and got covers done and Youtube trailers ready for the lincolnshire road Car programme, I'm now on the next and last Lincolnshire volume which I hope to get done this evening, we've skipped pub night as we'll be drinking enough in France in the coming days. The health clinic phoned this afternoon and confirmed that I don't need to take anything for the Sri Lanka trip. I sent an email to catch up with Alan Mortimer wherever his travels have taken him. I also tried ringing my auntie Thelma in Sussex but she was probably asleep as it was mid afternoon. I remembered to bring home from work photo files from recent trips which need filing, Mandy is just getting pudding ready, using up cream left over from John and Maureens visit the other night. There seems to be some give in my trousers so guess the weight is heading back down, soon fix that with Miquels dinner Sunday night! Photos from the files that need filing from Lymm the other week, really do need to find a couple of fine days for more tucks locations in UK!
NOW WE LOOK BACK AT SUNNY SCUNNY
In the UK press they are looking at child sex abuse in Rotherham which seems to have gone on with the police and social services knowing what was happening, nothing new there then but I blame the German Luftwaffe, if they'd done a proper job back in the blitz and flattened it altogether that wouldn't be a Rotherham, honestly if you want to see misery and hardship, violence and scum then thats the place to be all with the added twist for transport enthusiasts that being part of the South Yorkshire area the bus stations hate bus spotters with a passion, remember this was the place where the young lad was sitting writing down bus numbers at the bus station, he had learning difficulties doing no harm to anyone, security threw him out, yes nice people there. Well you have to take the rouigh with the smoothe and smoothe I've found Scunthorpe to be, a little old lady came out near the bus station when it was snowing and offered me a cup of tea, now Scunny isn't exactly famed for being a cultural capital but the people could teach Rotherham a thing or two. Also for bus fans a nice accessible bus station and never any hassle. Our coverage is starting as I prepare the remainder of our Lincolnshire material. Only back to 1994 I'm afraid, it was a really cold foggy October day, remember like iot was yesterday and thinking i wish I'd been there many years earlier. The films scoop up a few locations in Road Car territory some we've hardly ever visited again, some food for thought there.
Today i dropped off the irish negs for copying at ASDA, it was hectic again at work, I spent the whole morning shuffling about bookings and making arrangements, confirming, changing etc, looking forward to getting it to a stage where I can get some admin assistance with it. THen in the afternoon I went through some very technical material which I'd asked the experts to look through as a training programme needed some changes, as per usual I ended up struggling through most of it on my own. When I got home I mowedv the lawns and got the recycling bin full ready to put out next eek after we get back from France. The weather for the trip is looking good, we'll be up early Saturday and down through the tunnel and on to Corbie and then Sunday havcew a very relaxing days perhaps on the Amiens canals. Then Monday we head west to Tours, also have Tuesday to finish if required and then Wednesday stop at Le Havre to film the trucks at the harbour before heading back to the channel tunnel and home.
There were quite a few orders this morning which kept Mandy busy, she's picking up her wheelchair tomorrow and probably giving it a trial run in France. I've got the first service for the little IQ car which is at Sale so a lay in as they don't start until 9 which i thought very late as mosr garages hjave started at least by 8.30 The next TV recorder still misses out recording some programmes , hadn't much choice getting one as the old one was broken, they don't seem to improve much but we certainly don't need Sky etc hardly have time to watch Emmers and Crorrie!
With all this Lincolnshire stuff nowt but bring you some shots from that neck of the woods. By the way had a pleasant evening with John and Maureen last night, had tummy troubles later, too much beer and wine , well not really, diet day again today, much better all round now!
I wouldn't have said that the bank holiday weekend was that quiet but by our standards I suppose it was with an evening of reading and listening to music as particularly relaxing although I always seem to be bobbing up and down stairs to load, unload, etc films in the making etc. We are hosting friends John and Maureen Bishop this evening and they phoned a few minutes back to let us know they were at their hotel in Middlewich. I've just made the cover for the Grimsby bus archive film and loaded the DVD on to the PMP shop. Next will come Scunthorpe but not tonight Josephine as someone once said. I think the next archive series of British buses will go down to Cambridgeshire as I'm now in line with the Midlands as I try to complete UK geographic coverage. There will still be lots of overseas films to put on to DVD but those are usually projects for winter nights.
I went to drop off the memory stick with Irish photo files to ASDA for printing ready for the Dublin Port rally but the counter was closed they only have one person on in the morning and it must have been tea break although they have nothing to tell you, I'll try again tomorrow and also pick up new stocks of bird food which alas is now empty in the dustbin out in the garden shed. Mind you there is still plenty of food if they'd care to move between feeders a bit more. Lots of Hedgehog droppings so they are still paying regular visits. Very busy at work with training timetable this month, its getting hectic as the holiday season wraps up. I had a look at Sri Lanka health warnings and we don't even need malaria tablets these days as the country has almost eliminated it, certainly moved on from 1980 when we were last there.
Anybody had any dealings with the Atlas editions buses of the world series in 1/72 scale, I've ordered a couple up via China which I assume creep out the back door of the factory, the South American issues look most unusual and certainly answers a few why don't they make a.... from my lips issued so often, shame they were mainly issued in Peru some very inflated prices being asked. Lots of interesting Chinese buses and trolleys about but they are 1/64 scale why go and introduce yet another scale, Honh Kong has helped OO become the accepted world standard for many items such as aircraft and smaller militasry models, the detail in resin models is amazing to see and such a wide range of subjects lots of scope there for model bus releases. Anyway a quickie as our guests will be here shortly so onwards to Grimsby.
IN THE DEEP MID WINTER AND IT'S AUGUST!
It's really hard to believe it was summer a few weeks back and now its freezing, minus 2 the other night in Northern Ireland, here in Lower Peover the wind and rain has gone on all through the day. We haven't been idle though and thankful we weren't booked into any rallies this weekend. Another lay in bed all the way through to 8am and then we cracked on with the jobs lined up, I got the Northampton and Leceister DVDs done and the covers made, all the Shropshire bus archives are also finished, there are clips on Youtube yesterdays stuff clips on tonight. It's been quiet on the net guess everyone was on the beach? So what else well cleaned the van and cars and then we got all the DVD stock ready for Manchester Heaton Park , Showbus and then Glasgow, we have sorted the Manchester and North West area out for a special feature display at Heaton Park and we'll have the grand slam of all ouyr recent DVDs at Showbus p[lus we'll have our South East photo stock if the weather looks reasonable. Mandy was changing out a few DVD covers which had gone brittle over time exposed to the hot sunshine, no it wasn't today the sunshine. I made a bit of a bargain got another of the Atlas edition Stobart models for a fiver on EBay, but as I said although we've a pile of orders since Thursday its very quiet on the order front. Using the wire plate stands which we got a few weeks back I've finished the cupboards display of the family china.
We also got the ruby wedding photos into the album the my sister Yvonne had bought us. I've also sorted some out to send to my auntie Thelma down in Eastbourne. We've been listening to more tracks on my MP3 player, I added quite a lot yesterday and have another batch to put on from today. I've now started the next batch of archive DVD films from video never before on DVD, the first is Grimsby and then there will be Scunthorpe plus a few odds and ends from that neck of the woods. Next weekend we'll be in France staying with Ian and Miguel in Piccardy before heading South west to film the new trams at Tours and then on the way back a few tricks on the French coast. So you can see we aren't letting the grass grow under us. Oh by the way we've also ditched all the old video cover masters which took quite a while to load up into boxes ready to go to the tip, shame really as they must have some historic or collectors value but we need the space.
We are having one of the weeks dieting days today as we'll be having John Bishop and Maureen round for dinner tomorrow evening. We had a whole night listening to music and reading last night but we'll be back with the telly catching up with the soaps tonight. A couple of trailers for my latest archive features, still waiting for help with the Japanese film!
My prowess with the MP3 player is such that i can soon download a couple of dozen more tunes and have them loaded on to the MP3 player and enjoy listening to them whenever we wish, its almost like having our own Brian Matthews sounds of the 60s although actually ours are more like 30s-80s and what an eclectic mix we have although it can sound a bit samey sometimes as I suppose its like real ale you enjoy what you know and are familiar with. I like stuff I can sing along with in particular even if I can't sing in tune, its only Mandy who has to suffer. Really it makes you wonder what has happened to all the middle of the road and easy listening music that once proliferated over pop music. Its getting harden enjoying a wide range of music as it all seems to get ever more specialist, perhaps my MP3 player is the last in the world to have such a wonderful mixture from Nat Gonella through to the Jam by way of Vera Lynn and the Beach Boys and a few anti war songs countered by some nice rebel music from Ireland and marches from England.
Gosh what would people make of all that well in my book a well rounded individual with an open mind unless its whats those pratts have blaring out in cars for all to hear which don't have even one half a note between electronic wave upon wave, punk seems so tuneful compared to that. After all the talk of there being no butterfliues around this year today the Buddlia bushes were full of a joyfull mix of colour as the young butterflies emerged engorged on my plants. The lights are flickering expecting yet another electric failure which will see us having an early night, not exactly in the middle of nowhere the power supply company gives not a toss about our villages, they say they don't even have a statutory duty to provide us with power, its like living out 1984 even thouygh its actually worse. The current threats in the middle east will give the reactionary government the chance to bring in yet more laws to restrict ordinary people in their lives, not content with cameras on every street corner and our cars logged every rtime we move them, and every telephone call , email or enquiry at Google tracked by GCHQ down in Cheltenham, we even do a cut price effort for the yanks. Anyway I really despair at the way our country has sunk between the right wing, a safety culture, being fixated with the yanks and afraid of having the place as we'd like it to be.
In another time and place it must have taken an awful lot of faith in human kind to resist the Nazi movement if you were an ordinary citizen, they felt in the 30s like the Russians do now after having their faces ground into the dirt after the yanks thought they'd 'won' the cold war. War it seems can never be won and the awful people in the middle east who seek to condemn whole countries to the dark ages bridge political divides as well as religious sects. How we address it all and decide what to do seems futile but it is really boots on the ground other than divine intervention which brings change. How we decide to put the boots and whose boots seems to be the question, just don't let us be tarred with the yankee brush in the process. Mandy made her own little stand this week going into the shop in the centre of Manchester which is beseiged by anti Jewish elements, they sell a lot of Israeli products, she pushed the Islamist protesters aside, let them that cast the first stone not live in a greenhouse I say and if they all had a decent hobby to keep them amused they wouldn't bother about rocketing women and children. Meanwhile some butterflies in my garden today!
Each time I see one of these new wave of bus stations it beggars belief that someone actually had a toddlers learn how to draw by easy stages kit and it was their 3 year old toddlers first attempt that the jokingly took into work that was selected as the winning design. The list is really too long to go into in detail but the Mansfield one has too tight a turns the Stoke one is just too small and has no room for layovers, Chatham seems to do its job fine but Northampton defies any sense of reality and perhaps the piss poor performance of the architect's young child has resulted in several casualties well at least it did today when a local taxi driven by I can't say but you can guess ploughed into a van through the chicane which is at the exit from the bus station, he was being cut out of his vehicle. Now I'm sure that they drivers of the vehicles were partly to blame, to my mind 10 miles an hour would be as fast as I would want to negotiate that ben but it was interesting to note that the pile of tatty barriers and sand bags opposite the exit must have been in response to some previous mishap, now they are shouting at pedestrians and herding them like cattle at an auction when they should have made the area a shared space and forced the buses, taxis and delivery vans to crawl through safely and why should the pedestrians always be penalised on the road. The accident this afternoon gave the Stagecoach staff there chance to excel and instantly gave vent to their little Hitler complex and shouted and balled at everyone with more panic than the IRA bomb that wrecked the centre of Manchester caused.
What is it about Stagecoach that staff and drivers seem to be such bin end and barrel scrapings, obviously there are many super employees but it isn't these that you remember. Anyway one crash and the centre of the town was at a standstill although thankfully the exit from the bus station cleared the roadblock and most routes could more or less continue although at the bottom by the plusher part of town there was a whole tail back of buses trying to decide what to do for the best. Northampton is home to my sister and family so I suppose I should go a bit easy by really there is little that a nuclear bomb couldn't rearrange very well. They all talk as if it were the east end or was it East Enders, English is a minority language and really just built on the awful place we visited earlier in the day, Leicester. If the nuclear bomb could be carefully placed so as to zap the two places it would indeed be a great economy for I'm sure that they don't come cheap except the Lydlls bombs which are have the price of well know branded ones. I managed to spill the dregs of he tea this morning on the hallway carpet, we though we had it cracked but had to get the cleaner etc out when we got back. I'm now burning the second of the Shropshire archives covering 1998/99. I may even get another volume done later this evening, there certainly doesn't seem to be much on TV unless you are a frustrated child with a Dr Who syndrome.
At Leicester I did get shots of the single decker tramway commemorative bus but the cream deckers escaped still and video as the camera case fell off, I was looking for the retaining screw as it drove off never to be seen again.We got ripped off in a cafe which was run by a type of person that we can't mention but we don't get many in Lower Peover, said they had a toilet then took our money for breakfast and said it was broken, asked for money back but he wasn't playing nicely, ost £5.10 before we even got going, it was a long walk for Mandy but we made it to the safety of Marks & S. When we got home the new models from Oxford diecast were waiting for me, in Stobarts early livery an old DAF and then a slightly less ancient Leyland DAF, I never saw these in advance listing on their site, they are both very nice models and I'm sure they will sell out pretty quickly. We never seem to get surprise bus models just like that!
SATURDAY'S BUS COVERAGE CONFIRMED
Whilst not exactly the best weather forecast we have heard for a bank holiday it looks as if we'll be able to salvage something from the wreckage of a typical British summer, I know down south they had plenty of hot weather, up North it was more like a week or so and we want our fair share so there. We'll be starting off in Leicester which has seen a lot of changes to the fleets and is usually interesting and seldom produces negative responses when filming, our own video coverage started there in 1998 I think and of course that was predated by still camera days although not all the negs survive from the earliest days as i exchanged and gave away quite a few decades ago, silly me. Talking of which we do still welcome donations of stills negs or cine film which we can put on DVD. The days of cine are long gone but we can inject new life in it and are presently working on three volumes of cine derived material covering the trams of Japan. It's stalled at present penind someone jumping in via Youtube to identify the remaining sequences. I'll hold off loading more until we get past volume one.
This hasn't held up our UK video bus archive work and I'm just taking the clips off our new Shropshire volume covering 1990-97 with shots at Shrewsbury, Ludlow,Telford and Oswestry. Remarkable looking back at how old it now feels nearly a quarter of a century on, I know the many enthusiasts in the region will be wanting too see the brief clips loaded on Youtube tonight which act as trailers for the event. I'm also downloading the list of 'Irish' programmes which Mandy will be picking out of the stock and taking with prints of my Irish stills to the new Dublin Port rally - only a couple of paste tables worth this time but if successful we shall bring the complete stand next year including yours truly! It was very hectic at work today in the lead up to the holiday weekend which is complicated by the fact that our friends in Aberdeen have already had their August holiday weekend at the beginning of the month. After covering Leicester tomorrow I tread cautiously into Northampton which has been the scene of nasty run ins with both security scum and police barrel scrapings.
Last night we had a splended evening at the Horse and Jockey in Chorlton ( great food and beer), Manchester where we met up with Tony O'Mahoney at the Southern Cemetery to relate Mandy's Hardy family tales to actual grave sites of family and provide Tony with more anecdotes for his renowned history and nature tours of the cemetery which boats quite a wide range of birds. Tony also furnished me with an almost complete set of the Catonsville Road Runner magazine which I helped produce for a while back in the early 1970s in my hippy era. Actually I thought they looked a tiny bit better than I remembered and were quite a curiosity looking at them with the benefit of hindsight. Parkfield Free School featured , I taught there for a while, there is no official history of that venture or the roadrunner which hopefully i may be able to persuade Tony to rectify.I was also able to catch up on some of the stories surrounding people who passed through the Brundetts Road community in the era . Strangely some of the organisations of the that time such as collectives left long term headaches for people as the groups split up and left legacies of tangled legal webs around ownerships of properties etc. Well enough rambling, a few more clips to download of Shropshire and then I'll start volume two and post the first on our shop. I may be tempted to offer miserable weather weekend offers on EBay. This means we end up with Shropshire photos tonight.
PMP Sponsors the North West Vehicle Restoration Trust at Kirkby.