Monday 27 October 2014

SB&TP - The First Year

Just over a year ago I was doing what I did most evenings, that being perusing the various bus blogs covering the area - both the Ipswich ones, Roy's, the Norwich one that existed at the time, Andy's and the X1 blog. I always got a buzz when I read a new post, or saw a pic of a bus I'd recently been on. I had sent some pics in the various blogs and enjoyed seeing them published - still do! I was particularly impressed by the efforts of the younger bloggers, and still am even if they have the tendency to be annoyingly normal teenagers at times. It was them that gave me the crazy thought that if this technology had been around when I was their age I'm pretty sure that a certain friend of mine who I know reads this blog and I would have had a blog on Maidstone & District that would have been gargantuan in size and detail!

And so I thought why not give it a go and include railways too when I can, although obviously for me getting around by bus is a lot cheaper, not to mention essential and so gets priority. Ergo on 21st October last year SB&TP launched itself into cyberspace. The very first post outlining the aspirations of the blog can been seen by clicking here. Having just read it back I wouldn't change a word of it, especially one part, which I'll come back to later.

Throughout this post I'll be posting fav pics I've taken over the last year. and we'll start with a pic of one of two fully electric buses Red Arrow had at their Waterloo Garage. Although I thought the ride they gave was hideous I was still lucky to be allowed to wander round the garage taking pics of anything I wanted.

One of the Chinese Build Your Dreams electric buses at Waterloo Garage on 18th Feb
I'm a bit of an all or nothing person. If I do something I want it to be good. Half measures don't appeal to me except in the case of housework, but I had no idea just how time consuming this blogging business would become. Because I have decided against small posts covering one item - my choice and not criticing that type of post as if everyone had the same style it would be boring - they can take hours to write and quite often come in at 1200 - 1500 words long. Then there is gathering the information. I deliberately decided to cover a wide area, basically because no one else really did, and I started out with no contacts. So I found that news gathering isn't what it's cracked up to be and therefore thought I'd do more on my experiences as a passenger. No one else writes about ride quality, punctuality, or the convenience of services on the whole, challenging the operating companies. I knew such a stance might not be popular and a few members of the establishment treated my arrival with some resitance. Can't say I blame them really as let's face it, a new bloke turns up on the scene and starts criticising left right and centre. Not what they were used to. I have tried, however to be fair and I think that is recognised now.

A real surprise when I went to Braintree was First 68000, used as a Staff Bus. Seen on Nov 7th 2013

I have been to places I would normally never go in search of something to write about, and have had some great experiences. Thanks to Megabus I hope to go to even more places over the next year as I fear if I spend too much time around here, Norwich in particular I stand a real chance of going colour blind! But one day that stands out took place in mid July, when I spent an extremely hot day in the compnay of Harry Stanley from Norfolk Scene observing the first day of the Summer drags from norwich to Great Yarmouth. Little did we know that it would be just about the only day they ran this year without a major hitch, and in the process I took what for me is just about my favourite picture of the year. I can understand why so many people stand on freezing cold platforms taking pictures of trains as we all feel like Hollywood directors trying to get that perfect shot. trains are so photogenic, and when they are moving it's even better.

47501 pulls the IC set out of Yarmouth on 12th July this year
I'm grateful for my hobby. Due to my eye problems I could easily go very stale and unmotivated, and it gets me out of the flat doing something that I have always enjoyed. I've had memories brought back and stayed in touch with an industry I love, and will always have in my blood. but most of all I have met new people. People who talk my language and share my passion. The next generation of enthusiasts, enthusiasts who have done so much within the industry now enjoying it rather than running it. Managers doing the running now, when profits and shareholders seem to mean more than passengers and services, and drivers and other staff willing to have a natter and go that extra mile - literally in some cases. Of course it doesn't always go smoothly - I fell out with my kids sometimes, and I have some amazing bust ups witrh my best friend, however we always made/make up and it's the same here. Whenever two passionate people disagree it's always going to be entertaining, but as long as they make up and shake hands that's all that matters. There's not a single person I've met that I regret meeting, and that says a lot for the enthusiast community.

The Scania E300 gas bus demonstrator Anglian had on loan in February, with the most apt registration.
And now this blog, which only started out as my random jottings has reached the stage where I'm being invited for meetings with people I'd have only dreamt about this time last year. Meeting the three guys last week has not only proved there are many different ways to skin a cat, but that the hard work has been well and truly worth it. I've got out, made friends, and learned how to do something I really had no idea about when I started. Now to push on, go to more new places, meet even more new people, put more noses out of joint by saying it as I see it, and who knows where we will be thistime next year.

Of course what motivates me to get my backside out of bed everyday is the knowledge that there are people appreciating what I do by reading the blog. That's actually pretty humbling, and to see viewing figures grow week in week out never fails to give me a thrill - the blog's readership has grown by a thurd in the last two months alone. So thank you everyone for giving me a purpose in life again. It's a gift I'll take good care of. 

Plenty of memories wrtapped up in this bus,


  1. Favourite post I've ever read here Steve, been a pleasure to read and a lot of laughs. Sorry for being one of those typical annoying teenagers! Keep it up mate :)

    1. Thanks Kieran, and normal sounds better than typical.

  2. What a great post Steve as always i'm a teenager aged 16 that isn't annoying great pictures and amazing post once again.

    1. Now come on Lou - sixteen, never annoying? You'd be the first one in history :)) Thanks for your continued support.

  3. Great stuff as always Steve. Always give your blog a look. Many more years of them to come. In addition you have met me! LOL. Keep up the good work

  4. And you have met me - now who is the most honoured! Seriously though you have been an inspiration to me, held me up when things have got tough and it's no coincidence everyone looks at you and ENBB as the one who sets the standard we all strive to match. Thanks for your support and friendship. Truly invaluable.