Sunday, 10 February 2008

Pain & Strain

Well, what an enjoyable little break that was. I've been back a week now following our trip home to Devon. Stayed for 7 days at my Mum & Dad's in Teignmouth. Every day was a hectic social whirl (bar the first Monday, which involved appointments with our dentist in Dawlish). Managed to catch up with our many friends by nipping out for drinks, meals etc. It now seems a long, long time ago. I had planned to update this blog during last week but on my 2nd day back at work (Tuesday) I managed to strain my back. Following the failure to materialize of my allocated minibus (I still don't know where it got to!) I was instructed to take a vehicle stationed on the annexe at Workington bus station. As the air temperature was about 1 degree above freezing it was not a good day to be given a vehicle in which the heater was non-functional. After 2 hours driving this mobile fridge the fact that my core body temperature was lower than a snake's belly surely contributed to the pulling of the muscle as I reached to retrieve my driver's bag from below the seat. I continued to drive to the end of my shift but I'd completely seized up by the following morning. I've had to take 3 days off, something I was loath to do with this being a new job, to try and recover. Fortunately last week's rest days were Sat. & Sun. and the first of this week's is Mon. Hopefully I'll be fit for duty on Tuesday (4.25 am start!) As a consequence of this malaise today is the first time I've been able to sit in my computer chair for more than 2 minutes at a time. I've put a couple of photo's on from sunny Devon, as well as one I took today in not-so-sunny Cumbria!

Sunday, 20 January 2008

Busman's Holiday!

Yeeeesssss! Sixteen, yes, sixteen days off. At long last I am on the "proper" rota at work. I can now at least make some sort of fist of planning my life a good distance ahead. The fact that the next 3 trainees have passed their tests and completed their route learning means that they move on to the "All Duties" rota allowing me to move to the minibus rota. Having a line on the rota doesn't improve shifts or hours but it does mean I'm less likely to get all the crappy duties in the same week. Being handed a rota line has worked out very nicely for me as my 2 rest days this week were yesterday and today. Add that to the fact that I have 2 weeks holiday booked as of tomorrow and it's a bit of a result. By the time I get back to work on the 4th of Feb' I'll probably have forgotten how to drive a bus! The second week of my fortnight will involve a trip home to Teignmouth to see family and friends I've not seen since we moved here at the end of July. To say I'm looking forward to it would be a major understatement. Luckily my step-daughter will be taking up residence at our gaff whilst we're away, meaning that Simba, here, won't have to be sent off to the cattery. Below is a picture of the Haig Pit Mining Museum at Kells, on the cliffs above Whitehaven. I often pass it whilst driving the 1 service so popped up to get a piccie this arvo.

Monday, 7 January 2008

Hardware Failure!

Right then, here we go. There's been no update on here for some time due to the catastrophic self-destruction of my PC a fortnight before Chrimbo. A boot-up failure of the hard-drive motherboard ensured that its time was up. Fortunately my local PC repair man assured me that even though the unit itself was beyond saving the information within it was recoverable. Above is pictured my new PC which arrived on Thursday hot-foot from Dell. Thirty quid for an external hard-drive enclosure for the errant motherboard enables the transfer of all data to the new set-up, and mighty relieved I am too! Had a quiet Christmas and New Year, fortunately no buses ran on Christmas, Boxing and New Years' Days so I had a few days of well deserved rest. Back to reality now though, 04.25 'til 11.25 today. Day off tomorrow though. Don't intend to do much.

Friday, 7 December 2007

No, I haven't forgotten...

..about this blog! It's been pretty manic around here lately. I am now on the "All Duties" rota at work. This means that I am covering mainly minibus duties but I only get a couple of days notice of what those duties will be. It also means that (as I was advised at my induction) I'm getting all the "shite"! A week's duties are any 5 days out of 7, Sunday to Saturday and cover early, middle and late shifts. The first early kicks off at 4a.m. and the last late, which I'm down for next Saturday, ends at 1.35a.m. Consequently I don't know whether I'm coming or going at the moment and I need a line on the "proper" rota pretty damned soon. I'll still have crappy hours but at least I'll have a couple of months notice. With Mrs. B on an equally nightmarish pattern of shifts (including splits) we are like ships that pass in the night. One of us may soon have to take action. We've had pretty poor weather around here lately so I thought I'd post this picture, which I took earlier in the year near Maryport, to cheer myself up.

Sunday, 18 November 2007

It's All Over Bar The Shouting!

Apologies for the sparseness of updates but I've not had a lot of time! After all the training, the theory, the driving test, the route learning et al, it all kicks off tomorrow. At 04.45 hours I report to the drivers' room at Lillyhall depot to begin life as a bus driver. The day will begin with the staff pickup journey and then I'll be operating some routes in Whitehaven. ON MY OWN!!! No mentor to use as a safety net, it's do or die. I'll let you know how I get on.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

Busy Week

As the heading says, it's been a bit hectic. Did some "Type training" this morning. Seven o'clock start!! Spent a couple of hours with a driving instructor and went for some little drives in examples of the different vehicle types which the fleet contains. Single deck Volvo B10 bus, Volvo B10 coach, Volvo double-deck bus, Dennis Dart single-deck bus and Mercedes midi-bus (or "stretched limo" as it's known in the trade!) One of my more varied Sunday mornings. Spent last week route learning. There were a couple of 12 hour days in there, pretty tiring I can tell you. Some days were spent travelling around and making notes whilst others were spent with a mentor. On these days my colleague would drive the route once or twice with me taking over once I'd got the directions in my head. Driving several different vehicles in one day on different routes is quite an undertaking. Even more so when the majority are over ten years old and worn out. No 2 vehicles of the same type drive in a remotely similar manner. Add that to trying to get to grips with the "Wayfarer" ticket machine, attempting to not take any wrong turnings and trying to stay on time and you can see why I'm nigh on worn out! A second week of it begins tomorrow!

Friday, 2 November 2007

I Must Admit...

...that I thought my hair looked alright. Then I was told that I needed to do my roots. Turned out that I'd misunderstood. What was meant was that I needed to do my routes. Consequently I spent the day riding as a passenger on various bus services across West Cumbria in order to learn timings and fare stages. Next week I'll be out driving with a mentor on actual services taking actual fares. Scary, real scary!