On the road in Sri Lanka
I did type a long post detailing our last two days but it was lost in the publishing process I guess there were far too many people on the bet st the hotel but locally its now 5am so I'm probably one of the few awake. Lets rewind then to Monday in Colombo we were up fairly early our luggage had gone off with our driver we just kept our shoulder bags. We wandered down the railway which runs along the coast past the hotel and hot some shots of the intense commuter services and then hopped on a train into the city to fort station. From there we got a tuk tuk to the busy junction we had sussed out hear to the docks access road. It was a slightly challenging junction with light and position but well worth going heavy traffic was constant and there were some gems of classic trucks amongst the general mayhem. In one incident a road work gang arrived UK repair a pothole and one was nearly killed when a car tried to undertake at the works sent the guts shovel flying up in the air a close shave. Most of the classic trucks are leylands from end of aec onwards not like Uruguay but still good. We then went back to fort and had hassle with cops over filming the only time so far. We got the train we had booked on Sunday it was an all first class express air con not really any choice of we were to get a ride in plus do trucks. The train ran an hour late and much of the tide was in darkness which was tedious it was half ten at night and our driver was waiting for us but it was another hour from there to our digs which were in a weird hotel north of Jaffna which was a throwback to my 1980 trip. Thankfully we were soon on the road again and on our way east to trincomallee with some useful stops along route and no hassle at all in these former Tamil Tiger towns although we saw plenty of war damage and all the minefields. The road had just been upgraded and was better than our roads at home there were however plenty of obstacles appearing which included cows dogs monkeys buffaloes goats etc. trincomallee isn't much of a place but I managed to get enough shots at he bus station in the afternoon rush hour to finish off a programme on this area. We were booked into a resort hotel chaaya Blu which is a shock to the system as Martin and I would seldom e stay anywhere quite like this. Guests seem to be Dutch Japanese Australian and yanks, not encountered any Brits. Dinner was a farce as nearly everything was seafood even the buffet , Martin likes seafood I don't and thankfully we only gave one night eating here I expect breakfast wil be kippers!! The large swimming pool is red hot to swimm in hood my trunks are dry in a couple of hours time as we set of further east to batticolea or batti as its known, not the coast toad is open it will be a short journey in the minibus, the speed limit is just 70kph so very sedate not the worlds best driver some crazy manoeuvres and never wants to change down a gear. We should be going sling the coast which is hopefully a scenic trip hoping to get the buses covered thus afternoon. The buses are split between government ones which look pretty similar to those of 1980 and private ones which are needless to say Ashok leyland lankas on the whole although Tatas are also used plus second hand jap buses .the rail stock us very mixed all dmu or loco hauled .
Good afternoon from Colombo Sri Lanka
Hello everyone world wide and welcome this this travellers blog written on the road as we reach Sri Lanka today. We are at the ozo hotel situated on the sea from heading south out of the city towards Halle direction. We arrived after a so so flight with emirates it was never going to measure up to the flight from Manchester to Dubai although martins from gatwick wasn't anything to write home about. The aircraft was a Boeing 777 which was rubbish compared with the air bus which had lots more space and great seats the 777 were like a form of medieval torture. I met up with Martin at the exec lounge at Dubai and then again at the airport at Colombo which is now connected to the city by a brand new toll road with on a Sunday anyway no traffic at all we nearly had it to ourselves. I was through immigration in a few ticks very little fuss and our driver cum guide was thee to meet us. I really don't know what he makes of us but I think he already realises we are a lot more experienced than him and we have both visited the country before he was born. His family live in the toad north three hours along the track and we've let him take our main bags on ahead he'll stay with his family tonight and well meet him tomorrow up near Jaffna. It seems that in reality the train still hasn't reached the city it's about 10 miles out where it stops. He was quickly into the thick of it today as we ambled around the main bus stations and we wre amazed atvyheceffext privatised station or competition has had with hundreds of bus companies including owner drivers competing against a very down at heel government bus service. Considering it was a Sunday it was just right as there were thousands of buses but not much other traffic. My. Knee and martins ankle are both holding out so far at li much time we went to fort station and purchased our rail tickets for tomorrow. We are going on the 2.45 pm super all 1st class express to Jaffna it suits the planned schedule although a non air con would have been more atmospheric. We managed to suss out the best place for me to film the lorries or trucks which ever you prefer there is a road which I'd seen on google earth map and the light should be fine and most of the dock t traffic seems to head that way. I saw my first uk classic truck parked up from the minibus which well be getting to know better as the week goes on, well co ver Jaffna on Tuesday morning before we head to trincomallee . No hassles filing really just the occasional begged by t its nothing like India go r that and people are only at most mildly curious most are busy getting on with there work. The roads are much better although there are shanty towns most live in proper housing although no doubt well see the rural reality from our air con train tomorrow. I had a sit by the pool late afternoon and supped a beer enjoying the breeze its been sunny so far but sto rm should hit later and then hopefully clear again. Not sure what Martin will do in the morning there are no t many tickets discarded but they are all different and represent the various companies of which as stated there are very many
Welcome to Dubai middle of night
A superb day really which takes a bit to convince me but we had a nice evening with sue and then a bit of a lay in before the girls headed off to Dublin for the first Dublin port rally if you want to jump the queue they will be set up and trading by 9. 30 Sunday morning and afterwards carry on to hil and Sean over in south Tipperary . I was picked up as usual a polite few minutes early be arrow cars who are really the bees knees amongst taxis and the journey through terminal one at Manchester was everything that my last passage should have been through terminal two where the dreaded Barlow character runs an outfit which befits a tin pot despot state like Cameroon Britain anyway it was really efficient and I was soon quaffing merlot in the exec lounge so much so that when I settled in my seat with some nice arias on the radio I nodded off and then woke over the Netherlands no recollection of start briefing or take off. . The food on emirates was superb and so was he service a nice new airbus very comfy seats and couldn't be faulted. Smooth flight and now its nearly 1am at Dubai just taken my ration of polls and waiting for Martin to catch me up as its in the 30s through the night I might well take my pullover off at Colombo it will for very humid as wel as hot . Airport here is crowed by lounge is very pleasant but tempting though the food may be I've had enough and will stick to water and orange juice and try to get some sleep on the four hour hop to Sri Lanka hopefully a briefing on our first day here tomorrow evening all the best to our readers world wide
BOARDING CARDS ISSUED, BAG ALL PACKED
OK bring it all on I'm ready to hit the road now, the hand baggage is all packed and that's it, nothing to get lost in transit. Actually if I take out my nibbles and documents and book to read on the journey I would get down to the weight limit so I don't feel too bad about what I've got for the journey. Its a shame that I can't already check in for the return but guess we'll be able to accomplish this on the return legs. There didn't seem to be any seat choice options but then I've no idea how full the flight will be etc and its only 7 hours to Dubai and then on to Sri Lanka is just another 4, a piece of cake after the Pacific flights in February.
My knee and back faced a few challenges earlier today when I had to visit another site this time near Chester and take some photographs, there was yet another induction process and a long wait as there were delays in activity waiting for parts to arrive. This did give me more opportunity to get my emails cleared and lessen the burden for when I return. As Martin has said a couple of times its been hard to drive up enthusiasm for this trip but I'm sure that something of an adventure will develop as its been 34 years since i was last there and more than that for Martin, changes will be many fold I'm sure. We really have to hit the ground running on Sunday, hopefully if the new by pass road to the city is open our trip to Colombo will be short, if not it will be lunch time although its probably quicker on a Sunday.
My objectives would be to look ahead at truck film location for Monday and to get some bus shots plus decide if we are travelling north by train if so procure tickets with the help of our guide. Afternoons are usually the wettest time and this again restricts film time, but then we have no other agenda so I'm sure subjects will appear and tickets for Martin will pop up in all directions even if we can't understand them, over to No1 guide yet again, still he will have something of a change from normal tourist tosh. My flight leaves 2pm tomorrow I should have an hour or so spare at the exec lounge to pre load on booze , I can't remember Emirates being over generous on that front but certainly not the worst, Air France really lash out with decent stuff. As long as we can get a few puiddings and lashings od Ice Creams all should bode well on the tour. Looks like the government have decided to go bombing people again , didn't quite catch where was it Tipton or Bradford perhaps or perhaps that was discussed at the UKIP party conference, it all clouds into one after a while. Last time I visited Sri Lanka it was before they descended into 30 years of civil war lets hope they fair better this time around. EBay shop on holiday setting you can order still but Amazon suspended for the week and our own shop feel free to buy, buy, buy. Tonights entertainment a few more truck shots at random, why not.
Hi folks its Thursday so its pub night except its last Thursday of the month which at the Golden Pheasant means quiz night, get the garlic out and cross yourself, the plague which hit Plumley carries on and ruins our one and only pleasant night of rest in the week. Many's Jazz is already pretty full with the stock for the Dublin Port Rally this coming Sunday, remember this really is your last chance to shout if you want us to bring any DVDs along which are not Irish as we are restricted with space in the car to thousands of photos and dozens of DVDs but just a tiny portion of our sales. Actually the van is also packed and that is ready for Bridgeton in Glasgow when we get back from Sri Lanka. Martin emailed today, I think we will both be making the very best of our driver and minibus on this trip neither of us being that well empowered on the leg front.
The rest of the stock is piled up in the garage, anyone requiring earlier DVDs to pick up at Bridgeton also needs to give prior notice. The Scottish stock is 100% of all our releases covering Scotland and we've topped up especially on Glasgow and the earlier archive material plus all the exciting goings on this year. This will be our forth trip up this year so no complaints out there but Ireland rather lanquishes in the wings, perhaps I'll be able to get a few views when we go over before Christmas to see friends Hil and Sean in South Tipperary. Just had the call for dinner. I've ordered up another couple of the Atlas buses, I've duplicated one order but I expect I'll be able to pass it on hopefully at a profit. Most of my packing is by the case, a trial run coming up later to see how the weight is going.
I've been out on one of our sites day, not too far from home but although visit was going to be relatively short, safety tour, see apprentices etc and take some shots of them working it actually took me hours to get in, I was eraly but then we waited nearly an hour for a chap from Germany to arrive to participate in the induction which was the full lengthy one rather than the 15 mins usually given to visitors thus it was afternoon when I'd done, called back home for a brew as I live on the route back more or less then a quick flurry of activity trying to clear the 'desk' ready for my hols. I'll leave you with more from our recent Youtube uploads. One more blog tomorrow then its blogs en route as and when I can. Weather here cloudy and muggy, Sri Lanka cloud, sun, thunder, hot, hot muggy, sweat etc!
Having a bit of a sort out as little packages of models seem to land quite regularly in the Spencer household and the contents have to be housed somewhere. The shelves in the office are well laden with myriad models all to 1/76 scale or thereabouts and I've kept the Atlas editions model buses at 1/72 seperate as they do look a little on the large size but are wonderful at filling in the gap in my collection showing the world of buses which after all really is my hobby and spaking of which Buses worldwide magazine has just landed with the renewal form and quite a steep increase in cost but they offer an e version which came around as a sample but I couldn't read the writing as it was too small and I don't want to have to magnify the paragraphs one by one and any way what would i have to pass on to John down in Sussex and distribute to the East Sussex Omnibus Society which renewal was also received recently. The weather has really gone autumnal now and the central heating went on last night.
I nipped up to Oldham to see the new tram into the town although really it is a bit our of the way and very hard to find from the bus station, the long shadows dont help photography at this time of year. I looked the weather up for Dublin on Sunday it looks set reasonably fair with the slight chance of a shower late afternoon. Sue has just got back from a month in Portugal and will be going to Ireland with Mandy, she comes up Friday. I'm getting my photographic side soted for Sri Lanka although I need the still camera tomorrow as I'm off to a site near Middlewich tomorrow morning to take some shots of the lads including apprentices at work plus do a safety visit. The weather here today was sunny at times but plenty of clouds drifting around, still mild for the time of year. I went out and filled the bird feeders although they are still living off the land, talking of birds I had a pigeon strike my windscreen on the way to work this morning. My knee is still giving me a lot of pain, I won't want to be doing too much walking in Sri Lanka.
I might chase up news on flights to Dhaka for February as after Cuba we have nothing booked yet for next year, I like to have a few on the 'boil' keeps me interested, sometimes it all seems too much but I;'m feeling quite mellow at present, must be because its the second of our two dieting days this week and I'm ready to pig out tomorrow. I've got all my PPE ready in my 'flight' bag for the site visit, I'll go in casual as it doesn't really lend itself to putting on over a suit. I'll load the clips from Stockport DVD tonight plus get some of the stills on which i never got around to doing. Here are a few clips from recent uploads.
COUNT DOWN TO SRI LANKA
Given my perchant for forgetfulness these days it may come as no surprise to hear that I've done a packing check list and over half the items are already checked off as complete, Mandy has been getting the clothes ready and all the liquids for the little plastic bag. We shall be travelling light as usual with just hand baggage, no risks of waiting for lost luggage if we get there so do the bags, I'll hopefully meet up with Martin in the plane changeover in Dubai somewhere in the middle of the night, I hope that the exec lounge card produces something better than the last couple of trips when we've been let down. The Natwest bank have been on to Mandy this teatime, the credit card stoppage wasn't quite as random as it was explained at first and it turned out to be an attempted fraud on the card, we'll have to keep an eye on that. Anyway all set now and I think the only purchase required is my customary stock of sweets for the journey and lest the food not be to my liking but I can't remember that being a problem. The only really awful trip I remember for food was our very first trip to Thailand when I survived on cheese toasties in Hua Hin, a very long time ago.
Lots going on as usual on the DVD front, I'm busy at present typing but I've just been making covers, done now are Stobarts Widnes and the Rochdale and Bolton programme both of which are now uploaded to our shop. I'm just burning the master DVD for part two of Showbus 2014, they should also be ready and listed this evening but not until I've shifted Bedford and Cambridge. Tonights clips on Youtube should include Showbus perhaps more lets see how I get on. Its a very damp, dull, chilly evening and already getting dark at 6.30 pm, the weather though is generally set to remain mild in the days, over in Sri Lanka its about 29-34 depending on location, there is usually a thundery shower in the afternoon, typical tropical weather, lets hope we are in the minibus each time it rains. Tonight the photo selection comes from our coverage of Showbus on Sunday, I'm hoping to get a lot uploaded to our still photo sales site, links vis this site see 'link' page, its that sim,ple. I've got all the stock of DVDs ready in the van for our trip to Bridgeton in Glasgow, Mandy has all the Irish stock of photos and DVDs ready to load in her car for the Dublin Pirt rally on Sunday this coming weekend, really hope that the weather is good and that this becomes an established part of the rally calendar, perhaps also opens the port up for photography a bit more and get security off our backs.
NO SOONER HOME THAN PACKING AGAIN
I've been compiling a check list ready for the packing for Sri Lanka, so forgetful these days that I thought I'd best make a list and check everything off and lets be honest its not as if I take a whole shed load of stuff with me but I really don't want to forget anything vital, the only thing I haven't got to hand is a bit of gaffer tape so I'll try to remember to go to B&Q tomorrow, they are only a minutes drive from work and it comes in handy for all manner of emergency situations and breakages etc. Then there are the things that I'm just thinking of now like a spare microphone battery, wonder if that will make it back to the lounge where the list is. All this panicking stems from forgetting my tripod on Saturday. What i have done tonight is to remove all the low numbered stock from the van right down to the exact box which fits the main stand and then load up the Scottish material ready for the Bridgeton museum open day in Glasgow early October after I get back from Sri Lanka. I went through the stock and Mandy will get replenishments ready where required so we'll have the full hit with an emphasis on Glasgow. By then she will have done the Dublin Port rally, perhaps if there are many photos left we'll bring the Irish stock up to Glasgow as I'm sure there are a few of the Northern Irish lads who often come across.
Today I also managed to quickly get through all the photos from the weekend and get them dressed up ready to storte in the archive and of course upload on to our Smugmug still photo sales site, its a bit like Flickr but you can purchase copies of the prints from just 50p for a 6x4 print, there are many thousands already uploaded, in fact my entire collection should be there eventually. I might even add some of the more scenic shots where of historic interest, places like Syria perhaps where things will never be the same well at least for many years. I've got shots from many places that have had civil strife and wars, it usually happens after I've visited, must be something I said ( again). Anyway tonight i'm cracking on with editing the weekends film, already done is Bedfordshire and rendering prior to burning the master is Cambridge, it was really good to see so many fellow enthusiasts out with the cameras and meet so many friends at the show on Sunday, it was just a shame that it was such a rubbish trading day.
Another package arrived from Hattons today, a good bit of catching up going on, the Leyland Royal Tiger Southdown livery came but its exactly the same as the first version which is really strange as Hattons had it as a forthcoming release but its just more of the same, no idea what to do with it but I may have some transfers to convert the destination which is a bit specific as Hayling Island.The Commer Commando looks better in the BOAC livery , I've put the Atlas collection models of European buses on one of the few remaining spare shelves in the office, space is really getting to be at a premium, I need to have some inspiration as to storage in the future as its already far too crammed in to do the collection justice and I'd really like a few in scenic settings, might have a look in the attic in the winter I kept most of the scenary from the railway layout. So ready to upload they maybe but here is a selection from Cambridge from Saturday, enjoy, it was like mid winter!
I'll get the covers done for all the recent releases tomorrow night, Showbus included.
MISSING US ALREADY BACK FROM SHOWBUS
Sorry we missed last night but the ipad decided to lock up and I couldn't figure out what to do with it other than throw it out of the window, generally this has been my only experience of Apple and I wouldn't knowingly want to have another of their products. The solution when I was able to look it up on Google was 10 second of button pressing but why the I Cloud back up request came on I know not as neither do I know what icloud is and certainly have never used it. Evidently they want to sell you an expensive service agreement if you contact them about it, thank goodness the net has solutions to these little ploys used to con us.
Show bus was despite the weather forecast very overcast for much of the time later on with frequents threats of showers which looked like really happening towards the end but rather smuggly we had already almost finished packing the van. I was provably our worst Showbus for 20 years for sales which is a bit of a blow, the last two years events at both locations were almost identical this year the usual crowds had thinned yet again and the numbers with bags and packages were few and with such a huge entry price I don't think it leaves much to spare. Thankfully this was offset by orders in the post and on the net which of course then leads you to think is it actually worth the cost, the stands are way overpriced, our little patch was £175 including gaping holes where there were drain cover. I asked Martin Isles if all the buses were coming through the one entrance after the pay booths, I was told yes but then the first 6 buses carried on down the runway, then I found there were two sections so gave up there although thankfully still early in the day and went to the site entrance and found they were being routed via the hard standing road rather than down the hedge surround by fences, thus a great improvement and I was soon joined by hundreds more photographers. Later in the morning the land warfare section hotted up with an old Soviet beast trying to bump start a tank, I think watching the DVD some may think there were some very throaty buses coming in.
It was back to the Showbus mix of some gems and new revelations, some special liveries you may have missed, a few new uns and then dozens of similar vehicles from local coach firms which certainly boost the numbers but don't add a lot of interest. I think last year near Stratford was a pleasing change and although the facilities were spartan and the wasps angry it introduced a fresh element and perhaps it could stand yet another location for next year and ring the changes but I don't think this would meet with general approval as the majority seem warts and all in favour of Duxford. We went straight down Saturday to Bedford, very cloudy, forgot me tripod had to find an out of town shoppinbg place which had a Currys they together with two Stagecoach lads guided me to my desired object and after getting back to our parking spot near the bus station I got into action just having to get used to the smaller and more wobbly Chinese tripod as opposed to the sleek Italian job I use normally.
The lack of sun ansd shadow made life easy so quickly got an hour of film at the bus station especially interesting as its being redeveloped , Stagecoach now getting more independent competition there. Cres all very friendly and then on via Bedfordshire with a diversion to get a couple of shots for an American customer whose family came from that way we landed in Cambridge as the town was grid locked with traffic and drunken football hooligans who were being marched out of town by the police, a good beginning. About 20 bus enthusiasts around at various times, quite a good turn out, weather shocking nearly black by teatime but the video camera seems to relish such challenges and another good batch of shots ready to edit, just downloading the images now and some shots from Bedford to start the photo review of the weekend. I hope to cover the brand new buses at Stockport before I go to Sri Lanka next Saturday.
READY FOR SHOWBUS
Each day seems more hectic than the last as we hurtle through yet another year, I thought the back problem was well gone as I've had virtually no pain the last two days then the muscle pain comes back, nothing serious but annoying all the same especially when I though episode end had come. I panicked a bit when reading buses magazine, in the events section it had the Glasgow Bridgeton museum as having had its open day, it was referring to another event but really confusing calling a nearby date the same thing. Well its the biggie this weekend, well at least we hope so, I rather liked it in the midlands last year much closer for us and saved a bomb on overheads. Duxford has housed Showbus for a good few years though and Woburn was a rather muddy place making Duxford Showerbus a mere amateur in the rain stakes. This time all is looking good, even if not unbroken sunshine it should be dry and fairly mild if it has fallen back to the seasonal average thats fine with us. We haven't had any special requests to put aside stock for anyone to collect so if you want anything specially there is only one of each so come along and purchase early, we are always happy to mind your purchases while you look around.I didn't hear anything back from Martin Isles on our old position, I'm not that bothered now as I don't think I could scramble up that steep bank these days but the whole episode leaves a sour taste.
I see in Buses that they have a big spread on their Gaydon event which other sources say wasn't such a success as they'd make out, I hope it doesn't deplete from Showbus, I know their entries are well over 400 mind you they get over 2000 trucks at truckfest so it certainly isn't the biggest commercial vehicle event. We are bringing a copy of all available DVDs, no photos of any sort, that will be very different at Dublin Port rally when Mandy and Sue will have thousands of Irish north and south photos spanning several decades all courtesy the magic camera of moi, they will also have copies of Irish DVDs, if any of our friends want Mandy to bring along other DVDs no problem just send us an email and it shall be done! I got another parcel today from Hattons, these were the items I'd pulled off their forthcoming releases list last week which are actually already available they are pretty poor at getting things on their site updated but i suppose we all struggle with that sometimes although this site is smack on at present. I got the commercial DVD work out of the way, some people still clicked on it and two people actually took time to comment they didn't like it , its a crying shame about as good as the person who sent a cheque all sealed up and special delivery, its the third time Mandy has had to travel several miles to the sorting office to collect envelopes.
Frustrating isn't the word sometimes, anyway at least we've got all the Scottish vote stuff out the way now, strange at work the venom expressed against the Scots now just didn't seem to exist from an English perspective before now there is a lot of antipathy against them. I don't know where the Cameroon thought it was floating but the idea that English people want more representation is way off the mark, less is probably the truth with councillors, MPs, MEPs we could do with less of a cost burden on our taxes, when we had a referendum in the north west whether we wanted a local parliament it was about 99% against, a bit like when they asked Mancunians if thaey wanted a congestion charge to be introduced and the council would pay for running the trams from it, they still wanted to charge to go on them, needless to say that voters gave that one an equally wide berth. The Manchester airport line should be running about a year ahead of schedule unlike the Edinburgh line which was years late and only a third long and half the trams rotting away in the yard. Anyway I've also just finished the Bolton / Rochdale film plus Stobarts Widnes Port , I don't think I'll get time tonight to do the covers though but clips will go on Youtube, yes get clicking we are back on stream with the transport this evening. So as they say see you all at Showbus on Sunday. Pictorial imagery tonight courtesy of my recently uploaded on Smugmug shots taken down on the A40 a couple of weeks back.
PMP Sponsors the North West Vehicle Restoration Trust at Kirkby.