When I was 12 I would spend hours in my room, poring over bus timetables to create days out for myself. Mum was happy to let me loose on the world as long as I left her a complete itinerary of where I was going to be and when, and a promise to let her know if anything went wrong resulting in having to amend things. No internet, no mobile phones, just 10p in my pocket for a phone box and a bucket load of trust. I have been organising such days out ever since, for myself and others.
Last week I decided to follow Mr Anon's advice and get off my "lazy ass", and check out the new services in North Norfolk ending up in Kings Lynn. Thus I spent a lot of the previous night scanning timetables to find the best route to take (anything but the XL). I wanted to go via Fakenham to take in First's new X29 from Norwich, which they have introduced following Stagecoach's withdrawal. The idea was to go from Norwich to Fakenham to Wells to Hunstanton to Kings Lynn. Just one problem. The X29 arrives in Fakenham 5 mins AFTER the Coasthopper to Wells departs. No worries, I thought, I'll get the X44 to Cromer, then Coasthopper right round the coast, changing at Wells to Kings Lynn then come back via Fakenham. After all the X29 used to combine with the X8 to provide a Norwich - Fakenham - Kings Lynn service so it's bound to connect. Not so. The X8 is now the 49, operated by Lynx and has been reduced to a two hourly service, except in the afternoon where there is a gap from Kings Lynn between 1400 and 1635. Obviously the 1400 is too early if I want to observe operations in Kings Lynn so the 1635 it is. Unfortunately there is also a 2h12m gap in the X29 from Fakenham and yes, te 1635 from Kings Lynn arrives in the middle of it, meaning a 56 min wait for a connection that used to be a through service. Ahhh I hear you ask, why don't you go Norwich - Fakenham - Kings Lynn as they wouldn't be daft enough to lose the connection at Fakenham would they? Well, if you get the 0950 X29 from Norwich to Fakenham you arrive at 1108, and the next 49 to Kings Lynn is at.....1300! The 1100 departure leaves before the bus the route used to connect with as a through service. Great isn't it!
And it's all my fault! Apparently I'm not good enough to work out these things according to a highly experienced young man who called me out on Twitter, saying it wasn't difficult to arrange a day up there. I should also have caught an earlier bus if I waned to make connections - I was catching the first available bus having driven 20 miles to the stop as it is the closest route to still have evening buses should I wish to stay out later but hey what do I know - and that because he has two part time jobs in the industry and I don't that made him better than me. My nose is still greatly out of joint so I thought I'd share with you one of my pathetic efforts of a day out a few weeks ago. Btw I aborted my trip to Norfolk but have arranged to pay a visit to Lynx in a couple of weeks so I hope it will be worth the wait. I just won't attempt to go via Fakenham!
So, having taken dear Mother back to Kent I stayed overnight, left the car at Bluewater, and started on a circular trip of great proportions. First was a 96 to Woolwich, a perfectly acceptable Gemini2 Volvo B5LH. At Woolwich I started my circle on a 54 to Elmers End.
|Leg one a relatively rattle free E400|
|The Gemini 2 and its unpleasant seats|
|A tram crossing the road in Croydon|
Today the route is operated by a fleet of single door Gemini 2 bodied B9's, although they have been tuned so low they are barely recognisable as B9's. This is the only TfL decker route operated by single doors. It also boasts usb chargers, although you need to make sure you bring the right lead....! As a route it's not the prettiest I've been on, although the non stop section between Kingston and Heathrow is a joy compared to the stopping services I've been on in the past. The Heathrow perimeter road from the top deck of a bus is to be highly recommended, and I managed to snap this one coming in.
|Snapped from the X26 on the Heathrow Perimeter Rd|
|Just a horrible bus!|
|The First Berkshire Citaro at Heathrow Terminal 5|
|The Optare Metrodecker at Windsor|
A 148 Borismaster from Victoria to Westminster, then a E400 MMC 53 and I was back at Woolwich.
|The Borismaster on the 148|
|Back at Woolwich after the 53|