|2144||Esplanade Park & Ride||Southport, Lord Street (Market St) Stop BE||PR1||Arriva NW&W|
|2801||Southport, Lord St, Duke St (adj)||Ainsdale, Ainsdale Village||49A||Arriva NW&W|
|7652||Ainsdale, Fairfield Road||Southport, Monument||49A||Arriva NW&W|
|2291||Southport, Monument||Birkdale, Birkdale Station||49A||Arriva NW&W|
|7651||Birkdale, Birkdale Station||Southport, Monument||49A||Arriva NW&W|
|2143||Southport, Monument||Esplanade Park & Ride||PR1||Arriva NW&W|
Slightly longer trip out than usual today, so we left just after 11:30. Stopping at Longport for LPG, we made good time except for a few minutes delay passing through "Historical market town", Ormskirk. Note to self...as you take the first left to go past the supermarket in town, you can use the right hand lane to go straight on. As we had been to Southport before, we decided to eat in Southport today as opposed to taking a pack lunch. We arrived at the Esplanade Park & ride site around 13:30. After a quick toilet break we did the next P&R which was mileage machine 2144.
2144 on arrival in Southport town centre (Matt)
Anyway, as we drove through town mum spotted a suitable cafe for us to have dinner in. Cleveland's Cafe in Lord street as mentioned here. Cleveland's boast home cooked foods so we decide to eat here. Matthew had a breakfast and a portion of chips, and the rest of us had home-made meat & potato pie and gravy. The pie was a quarter of a 9" pie and at £1.95 was excellent value. The gravy was nice and dark, but was not too thick or salty, and the pie was delicious! The only two minor criticisms of the place were the chips were frozen and not real, and the beans weren't the best quality. All the other items on the breakfast were cooked to perfection. we all ate and drank for under £15. Unusually Matthew didn't take pictures of the dinners but in this case we wished that he had! whilst we ate Matthew watched the buses on Lord Street so we could see what we were going to catch. The 375 Wigan was mainly Alexander bodied double deckers, Stagecoach's services were Enviro 400's and Optare Solo's and Comfybus ran Solo's and 'Goldfish bowl' C13 MFY was out on service #40. As we had seen a couple of Marshall bodied Dennis Darts out on the #49A Crossens to Wood Vale, we decided to ride up and down on this service. After we left the cafe, we crossed the road and waited for the first Wood Vale bound #49A. After a short wait, Arriva NW&W 2801 turned up.
Arriva NW&W 2801 about to work a #49A to Wood Vale (Matt)
We decided to do a very similar move to last time so we caught this bus to Ainsdale. Unlike last time, there was a bus opposite and we did not have time to get pictures and catch it. So Matthew took a picture of Marshall 7655 before we slowly walked across to the opposite side of the road.
One that got away...7655 in Ainsdale on a #49A to Crossens (Matt)
After effectively letting 7655 go, we had a 12 minute wait for the next bus. We weren't sure if we were going to get 2801 again back into Southport. Eventually another bus appeared, another Marshall and definitely not 2801. The bus pulled up and was Marshall 7652. We got onto a completely empty 7652 and Matthew took a photo of the inside of this bus. The seat covers appeared to be virtually new possibly having been completely replaced.
Inside 7652... (Matt)
So we did the first Marshall of the day back to the monument in Southport, We crossed the road and and had about a 5 minute wait before Plaxton bodied Dennis Dart 2291 made an appearance. Like last time we did this to Birkdale, and once again like last time there was a bus already at the stop across the road. It was a modern VDL so we decided not to rush and we let this go in favour of Matthew getting a good photo of 2291.
2291 on a #49A to Wood Vale (Matt)
After about 12 minutes and having seen Stagecoach double decker 15468 on a Liverpool - Preston X2, another Marshall rounded the corner 7651.
7651 in Birkdale on a 49A to Crossens (Matt)
So back towards Southport, and we called mum to see if she could get sausage rolls for the journey home. it turned out that the shop that sold sausage rolls was at the other end of Lord Street and that was never going to happen! never mind... When we got back we decide to sit and wait for the other bus on PR1 so that Matthew could get another new bus in for the day and in the meantime Matthew took some more photographs.
19038 on a Preston bound X2 service (Matt)
After letting 2144 go, eventually 2143 turned up on the esplanade park & ride. When we got to the terminal we ran around to the end to take a picture, and then went back into the building for a toilet stop before we went home.
2143 outside the environmentally friendly Esplanade park and ride terminal (Matt)
Matthew was a little disappointed not to have a sausage roll waiting for him in the car but was appeased with a bottle of Ben Shaws shandy. Another reasonably event free free return to Staffordshire with a couple of exceptions. Passing through Ormskirk a suicidal lady cyclist decided to do a right turn from the left hand side of the road. Both of us being first at the lights with the junction of the A570 and the A59. As the lights change she pedalled furiously to get ahead and then without signalling swooped across the front of me. Luckily I did not hit her and mum had a few choice words for her. Then just before we reached Keele services on the M6 we passed ex First Eastern Counties Dennis Dart 40256. A photo of the bus can be seen here. After a bit of research I found that this had been donated to the SELNEC preservation society from FEC. One of the reasons we travelled to East Anglia last year was in the hope of seeing one of these buses in Ipswich. By the time we went, they had been withdrawn from service. It seems ironic that in a one in a million chance that we would see one so close to home... (Mark)