Monday, 12 June 2017

Monday Oddments

Damory Doom Developments
Dorset County Council have released details (?) of their cunning plan which was hatched as long ago as September 2016. No actual timetables are yet published but the scheme starts in July immediately after Damory's capitulation.

Here is the outline:-

Apparently this will cover 70% of the withdrawn services and 90% of customers who were in line to lose their buses. There is no explanation as to what the deprived 10% can do to get about. School services have been awarded to various operators with only one operator per school. Again, it is not clear whether these services are "closed" or available to the paying public.

Whilst the soundbites talk of "needing to make £XXX of savings", nothing has yet been revealed about by how much this cunning plan will improve the councils parlous finances. Or, of course, by how much the Social Services budget will have to increase to cope with those who lose their public transport.

fbb will report more when timetables are available.

Wantage Weekend Wonderings
It is fifteen months since the fbbs last visited number 1 son and family. For various intensely practical reasons (the toilet and bathroom are downstairs) the aged parents usually stay in a nearby hotel. This year it was back to the Bear.
Sadly, this time, their room did not offer a view of the Market Place bus stops, but the breakfast restaurant did. And there have been changes. First obvious happening is that buses on the Thames Travel 32/X32 route were not in TT's livery.
The "connector" brand runs between Abingdon, Didcot and Harwell Campus and incorporates existing TT routes in a clever and complicated timetable ...
... operating every 15 minutes between Didcot Station and Harwell Campus. In Wantage Market Place there is an inadequate departure list ...
... incorporating loadsa notes
At times it interworks with the hourly Wantage local service ...
... and more bizarrely, the hourly 67 to Faringdon.
Thames Travel is part of the GoAhead group.

Two points emerge from these observations. One : the "connector" brand has become very woolly and possibly meaningless. Two : do local people understand how it all works?

On Saturday morning fbb sat on a bench by the bus stops concerned and looked and listened for a smidgen under 90 minutes.
A significant percentage of potential passengers felt the need to ask drivers whether they were "the bus for Grove/Didcot/Abingdon/Faringdon/Ulan Batur". Nobody cast an eye on the real time screens.
Which is not surprising. Only one person looked blankly at the departure lists and wandered off.

The industry does not make it easy to travel by bus.

Disturbing Daisy Delectation?
No 2 grandson offered fbb a daisy bud to examine, or so your aged author supposed.
fbb duly examined the bud and, lacking any public transport interest, cast it on to the lawn for other creatures to enjoy. He was immediately upbraided by grandson who insisted, "I gave it to you to eat."

fbb did not spot the barely concealed snigger from No 1 son and his wife.

Never the one to decline delicious food, the old man chewed the florescence with gusto.

And in a few seconds his mouth exploded!
He had just consumed his first AND LAST "Electric Daisy" as promoted by Ethno-Botanist and TV presenter James Wong.
Electric Daisy?

Acmella oleracea is a species of flowering herb in the family Asteraceae. Common names include toothache plant, paracress, sechuan button, buzz buttons, tingflowers and electric daisy. In Brazil it is called jambu. A decoction or infusion of the leaves and flowers is a traditional remedy for stammering, toothache, and stomatitis.  It has been shown to have a strong diuretic action in rats.

And the taste sensation? fbb used to test 4.5 volt batteries ...
... by sticking his tongue across the two twangy terminals. If the tongue tingled, there was still juice in the battery. DO NOT USE THIS METHOD FOR TESTING MAINS WIRING!!!

The Electric Daisy "flavour" was similar but multiplied by 10. The tingle lasted for over an hour and produced amazing quantities of saliva. It was an experience that could, at best, be described as "interesting"!

Perhaps a tank or to of these buds could help with bi-mode trains when the wires run out?

L & B P S
fbb has become very interested in the project to rebuild the Lynton and Barnstaple Railway. The April 2017 edition of the Railway Modeller contained a review of the new Heljan 00 scale 9mm gauge model of one of the original Manning Wardle locomotives.

The front cover shows a re-creation of the scene at Barnstaple Town Station with a "main line" train to Ilfracombe in the background.
Here is similar loco 759 at the same platform as modelled but photographed from the "big train" side.
It is not as clean and shiny as the model!

 More Oddments tomorrow : Tuesday 13th June 


  1. To be fair to Thames Travel, they are operating in a county that doesn't fund a single subsidised bus service (since July 2016). Along with many operators, they have taken on work commercially to provide at least some communities with a service, and if the only way it can be supported is through interworking, I'm sure the locals would rather have bus than a bus in the right colour. The 38 used to be run separately, and the 67 was part of a small network of services covering the "sparse" area between Farringdon and Wantage, most of which now have no service at all.

    Indeed, some of the work that was taken on commercially has already been withdrawn, or will be shortly. Heyfordian withdrew all theirs, and both Pulhams and Thames Travel are due to withdraw more in July. The council website says it all. A link to Traveline, Park & ride/Dial-a-ride information and link to the real time website. No map, no operator list, nothing.

    Apparently the real time displays are being moved to a different software provider. The website seems to be working O.K. (

    (Previously an Anon... using the tip given by commentors how to name yourself without a Blogspot account)

  2. Being a local, I assure you the real time display here is not often faulty. It has massively improved in the last few months.
    Thames Travel on the other hand... they have almost run me over multiple times for dangerous driving, rude drivers, inability to coordinate timetables (often they have 2 buses waiting in the bus bay for 30 minutes each which leave the busier Stagecoach services stopping in the main road!) and lastly Connector buses all over the county, spotted in Reading, Chinnor and Bicester, not to mention frequent use of buses not even branded for the company in use (several Enviro 400s branded for Southern Vectis and Oxford Bus Company, as well as lots of Citaros branded for OBC). Personal experiences have led me to stick with Stagecoach: more modern, nicer buses, regular friendly drivers who always try help the customers and much better timetables and layover!