Saturday, 31 December 2011

Trip to Biddulph 31-12-2011


40383Ladybank Grove, BlurtonHanley BS23AFirst Potteries
248Hanley BSBiddulph, High Street9Bakerbus
40140Biddulph BS‎Longport, adj Longport Road99First Potteries

In order to try and make the best of the daylight at this time of year, we decided to stay local today. Matthew stopped in bed until gone midday as it was he college holidays. Research was no done today and I didn't even get chance to pre-book a Smartday ticket. We eventually set off just before 13:00 and walk the distance to the Ladybank Grove stop in Blurton. As we got there there was a Solo on the stop bound for Hanley. It was dud 40027 which we had previously done in June.

First Potteries 40027 in Blurton
After Matthew got a picture the bus pulled off so we had another 10 minutes to wait for the next one. Whilst there we saw 40017 on a Newcastle bound #22 and 40152 on a Longton bound #22. We also saw recently rebuilt 40170 head towards Newstead which we thought might be our bus to Hanley. Surprisingly, 40383 turned the corner which must have come from Longton on a #23A. It is a bus we had done before , but we wanted to get to Hanley as quickly as we could. On the way past Stoke we saw a long row of Wardle Transport buses on football duties. We also saw Arriva Midlands 3489 on the 164 to Shrewsbury. On arrival at Hanley Matthew got his empty bus picture.

Inside 40383
At this point I tried to persude Matthew to go after Arriva Midlands 3489 as it seemed unusual and is an old bus. Matthew didn't want to go anywhere until he had had time on the balcony and had eaten some chips from Tony's cafe. Uncle Dave stood with Matthew on the Balcony and I went to get the chips. Whilst I was getting the food Matthew got a picture of Wardle Transport 4547 on a Britannia Stadium bound football bus.

Wardle Transport 4547 on Football duties
Whilst eating the chips, AM 3489 pulled off and there didn't seem to be much interesting around. With Stoke being at home there wasn't much chance of a double decker on a #61 Tunstall service. We had passed step entranced bus Wardle Transport 2038 on a #41. but this wouldn't be back in Hanley for a while. There had already been one of the new Hybrid Bakerbus, 246 on a #9. So we decided to wait for the next one to see if it was another and therefore required. Surely enough, after a short wait Bakerbus 258 appeared, and we went down to catch the 14:40 to Biddulph.

Hybrid Bakerbus 248 on it's Saturday #9 turn
The driver went away for a short while a re-appeared 5 minutes before booked departure time. We went upstairs and found somewhere to sit. The bus engine started up and about a minute before departure shut down again. At departure time the bus pulled away in near silence and the engine did not restart until halfway down the bank inside the bus station. This was he first time we had been on a Hybrid bus and it was very strange! I must have been the first time for other passengers too as one woman was commenting about the bus engine cutting out. We asked Matthew were he wanted to go and he chose Biddulph. On the way we must have gone on to electric power at least a dozen times. As we approached Biddulph the bus was virtually empty. I decided to get off in the High Street and Matthew got a picture of the top deck as he left the bus.

Inside Bakerbus 248
Outside he got another picture...

248 in Biddulph high street
We asked the driver where we caught the bus back and he told us ~around the corner by Sainsbury's". It was the first time we had been Biddulph since Sainsbury's had been built and we were surprised to see a bus station capable of having 4 buses there at a time plus a modern comfortable bus shelter. Apart from Bakerbus 248 on stand was a Bakerbus Solo and First Potteries 40148. Also arriving was 60176 on a 7A service. We gave Matthew the choice of bus to do Back towards Stoke-on-Trent but he had different ideas! Matthew decided he wanted to visit the new Sainsbury's. We went inside and he chose to buy some Cornflake cakes and a bottle of Coke. We also visit the bus shelter and had a quick wander around the general area. Due in before 16:00 were a 7a to Hanley, a 9 to Hanley,a 99 to Newcastle and a 94 to Newcastle. I wanted to catch something out of town and then catch a 94 or 99 forward. But Matthew was holding out for the 94. He turned down 60012 on a 7A. However, when First Potteries 40140 Matthew wanted to do this. Matthew is a big fan of ALX200 bodied buses be they Darts or Volvo B6's.

First Potteries 40140 in Biddulph bus station
We got on the bus, unusually we got on first so Matthew got a picture of the empty bus.

Inside 40140
On the bus, it was starting to go dark. I estimated a journey time of 30 minutes to Longport, and I phoned up mum to meet us by the BP garage there. The bus was virtually empty and there weren't many people at all on the bus by the time we got off in Longport. Matthew got another picture of this beast as alighted in Longport.

40140 at the stop in Longport
Mum had beaten us there by a few minutes and so when we got off we were able to go straight to the car. Matthew continued to eat his Cornflake cakes and had a can of Coke. As we returned home we listened to Stoke vs. Wigan match. We heard Stoke come from behind to eventually take the lead. Wigan had a late equaliser from the penalty spot and the game ended a draw. We got home a fraction before 17:00...Mark

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Trip to Birkenhead 27-12-2011


2457Birkenhead BSKing's Parade, New Brighton410Arriva North West & Wales
2436King's Parade, New BrightonWoodside BS411Arriva North West & Wales
2436Woodside BS‎Birkenhead BS411Arriva North West & Wales

Christmas over, we decided to go out on this first day of proper bus services, albeit a Sunday service. Today we had decided to go to Birkenhead. Research was non existent , just taking our pack of Birkenhead timetables we had collected up previously. Matthew slept in a little late so we did not set off until around 12:30. The weather was dull but unseasonably warm. We picked up Uncle Dave on the way and set off North on the motorway. The M6 was very busy. The traffic probably added at least another 20 minutes onto our journey. The M56 was a bit quieter, and the was traffic outside Cheshire Oaks on the M53. We arrived a little before 14:00 and parked up by the bus station. Today we took some food with us because we want to make sure we at least did a couple of buses before it went dark. At the bus station Matthew was at little undecided as to what buses to catch. Everything Liverpool bound seemed to be very full so we decided against going in that direction. We nearly got on a #40 to Saughall Massie, but then we realised that they do not sell Saveaway tickets on the bus. Matthew and Uncle Dave waited at the bus station whilst I went to the Conway Park railway station to pick up a saveaway ticket. Whilst there I saw a National Express coach parked up in Europa Way. When I got back we had a few more moment of indecision before we saw a #410 to New Brighton coming towards the bus station. We quickly raced around the outside of the bus station to stand 10 where required 'Goldfish bowl' 2457 was waiting for us. The bus filled up to near full and we were soon on our way. After an uneventful journey up through Liscard we arrived in New Brighton. Matthew then got a picture of the inside of the empty bus.

Inside 2457 (Matt)

Once off the bus Matthew was able to get a good picture of the outside of the bus too...

Arriva NW&W 2457 in New Brighton (Matt)

On arrival there were a few buses parked up include a double decker from Maghull's bus and coach hire. Before Morrison's was built, we would probably have spent time chasing Matthew around the tennis courts! Now we have to visit the supermarket. Today after using the facilities we went in a brought a pack of 2 cream cakes and a bottle of Orange Lucozade. After we had been through the till we went to the bus stop. On lay over was our bus back to Birkenhead on service #411, required 2436.

2436 in New Brighton (Matt)

As the bus pulled of to work our service, newly allocated to Laird Street 2426 pulled up.Hi matty great blog and fab pictures I know birkenhead area well I live in london but like to travel and birkenhead and new brighton I enjoy the ferry from birkenhead to liverpool is great and the bus ride under the 2 tunnels to liverpool is great ride I so pleased you enjoyed yourself with the others happy new year

2426 in New Brighton (Matt)

The bus pulled around and we got on it. The journey back via Seacombe was quiet, all but for the fact a man with ill fitting tracksuit bottoms stood up and mooned the bus before he pulled his trousers up. This action caused a couple of teenage girl to burst into uncontrolable laughter. I did think that there was going to be trouble but the bloke got off the bus without incident. as we had the rover tickets we decided to do this bus to Woodside and back to the main bus station so we didn't have to walk and also to give Matthew an extra mile or so on the bus. After we arrived back in the main bus station, we ran around to the car park and got a decent picture of 2436.

2436 in Birkenhead bus station (Matt)

We were soon joined by mum and then we went back to the car to eat sausage rolls and in Matthew's case a cream cake. We stopped at the Shell garage just out of Birkenhead on the A41 to put some air on one of the tyres which seemed a little flat. Once on the motorway we made good progress on a busy M56. The M6 was stop start most of the way down to the A500. on the way home we picked up LPG in Longport and then we dropped Uncle Dave home. After a quick trip to Macdonalds we were home a little after 18:00...Mark

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Trip to Northwich 17-12-2011


865Northwich InterchangeNorthwich, Iron Bridge (SW-bound)1Arriva NW&W
861Northwich, Iron Bridge (NE-bound)Northwich Interchange1Arriva NW&W
3360Northwich InterchangeWharton, nr Wharton Gardens37Arriva NW&W
3329Wharton, opp Wharton GardensNorthwich Interchange31AArriva NW&W
7644Northwich InterchangeDavenham, opp Prospect Drive37Arriva NW&W
2619Davenham, Green Lane (cnr)Northwich Interchange31AArriva NW&W

Christmas is approaching and with it all the potential problems of overcrowding on the buses. As such we decided to go to somewhere a little quieter this week. Matthew chose Northwich from the list of destination we gave to him, and this was good because it also closer than many of the other places we go to. Short journey time are important at this time of year with it going dark before 16:00. There had also been a small snowfall the day before with about an inch of snow falling in Stoke on Trent. Research consisted of going to the Cheshire and Chester west council site and download and printing some Arriva, GHA and Network Warrington timetables and also printing a section of the local area bus route map. We set of a little later than usual at 12:15 and there was heavy traffic on the A500 and M6. For some reason I didn't look up the route and decided to go down the A54 instead of the A556. This route to Northwich took us through Middlewich, and as we passed by the town we spotted a large food van at the side of the road opposite the local garden center. We had already decided that today we would stop on the way to Northwich for something to eat instead of visiting a cafe in town, mainly because we had struggled to get a seat in a cafe when we visited in October and we though it would be even worse today. The food van called The Country Kitchen was on a small car park and after we did another circle of the one way system to get back to i we parked up on the car park. We had a sausage bap, bacon bap and a bacon and egg back plus 2 teas and it all came just over £9. at least the mistake on the route meant that we got to eat as planned. After we had finished our food we headed North towards Winsford, which we skirted around the edge of and then we continued into town. This time we parked a little closer to town than last time in a car park behind the local fish and chip restaurant. We arrived a fraction before 14:00. When we got there there wasn't much about bus wise. There was a #1 service sitting on stand which was required Arriva NW&W 865 and Matthew got a picture of it.

Arriva NW&W 865 in Northwich Interchange (Matt)

We looked up the time of the next GHA bus towards Chester. On a Saturday, the next bus was 14:40 so we would have had a long wait in the cold. We decided to do a filler move on the #1 and then to try and pick up the GHA bus on the way in. 865 had already been standing next to for a few minutes so we jumped on the bus and booked Arriva day rovers. By the time we left the service was reasonable full for the mile or so trip Westwards out of town. We decided to get off near Greenbank Raiway station as we knew the 82 passed by there from our last trip to Northwich. After about around a 5 minute journey, we alighted just after the station.

865 by the Iron Bridge stop (Matt)

When we crossed the road we realised that we hadn't passed the inbound service which was slightly overdue. As it was very cold we decided that if the Arriva bus turned up first we would catch it...Afterall we had already got a ticket. After a couple of minutes, a very full looking 861 appeared and Matthew got a picture!

Close up of 861 (Matt)

2 out of the 3 of us did manage to get a seat, but the bus was quite full of shopper going to pick up thing for Christmas. When we arrived Matthew waited for the bus to empty so he could get a picture inside. As we waited we saw a double decker appear on stand behind us.

Inside 861 (Matt)

Picture taken we went down to see where the double decker was going. It was on a #37 to Crewe, so we decided to do it to Winsford. We got a quick picture and then boarded to bus.

3360 about to work the #37 to Crewe (Matt)

On board the bus, we went upstairs to a virtually empty top deck. We checked Matthew's list and we saw that he had traveled on this bus before. Matthew was able to get a shot of the empty top deck behind our seats.

More smarties...Top deck of 3360 (Matt)

We had booked to Winsford, and we had not got a timetable for this service so we didn't know where we would meet the return service. Looking at the map it could be seen that various 31 and 37 services took different routes through the villages South of Northwich. We wanted to get off just outside Winsford where it was a residential area, and hopefully somewhere where all the service ran through. We got off on Wharton Road and then crossed the road to return to Northwich. Looking at the timetable on the stop it appeared that we had succeeded, as there were buses every 10 minutes. The next bus was a #31A at Wardle Transport minibus 1451. It appeared around the corner and it seem to be a Palatine II. Which as far as we knew there weren't any in the area. As it got closer we could see that it was definitely a Palatine II. The bus approached and we could see it was required 3329.

Nice surprise...3329 on a Northwich bound #31A service (Matt)

We did this very nice bus back to Northwich, and when we arrived back Matthew hotographed to now empty top deck of the bus.

Inside 3329 (Matt)

Back at Northwich there was another interesting bus which Matthew had not been on before. It was Marshall bodied Dart 7644. Matthew got a picture of this and we decided to do this to the edge of town.

7644 about to work a #37 (Matt)

On the bus, Matthew photographed the back which was still empty at this point.

Inside 7644 (Matt)

The bus filled up quite well and we departed towards Crewe. The bus seemed to go on a different route than we remember and the bus traveled a short distance along the A556. as the bus turned back towards Winsford we decided to get off. Matthew got another picture of this fine beast.

7644 in the middle of nowhere! (Matt)

Looking at the bus stop we could see that buses here were every half an hour and only towards Sandbach. We decided to walk forward as on the map this loop that is served by the #37 met up with the #31 in Davenham. We walked until we reached a main road and then asked a local where the stop for Northwich was. The stop was about 50yds away from where we were. On getting there we saw there was a bus back in less than 10 minutes. Matthew had indicated to us that he wanted to go to the toilet whilst there but with the bus imminent we decide to head back into town. I texted mum to see if she could locate a toilet for us so we could head straight there as soon as we got off. The bus soon appeared and it was a Plaxton Centro. Matthew had only been on one of these before so we realised that there would be a good chance of it being required. As it approached we saw it was 2619.

2619 in Davenham (Matt)

On the bus we looked up on his list to find that 2619 was the one of these type he had had before. Mum texted back with the location of the toilet which happened to be right next to the bus stops. When we got off we went straight to the faclilties. on the way back to the car matthew got another picture of 2619 in the fading light.

2619 on arrival at Northwich (Matt)

Back at the car we had sausage rolls and drinks. We turned the radio on to hear Stoke were drawing 1-1 at Wolves. We set off home this time along the A559 towards the A556. Crouch bundled in a goal to give Stoke a late winner, making it a record breaking 4 consecutive wins in the Premiership. As it was a low mileage trip we went straight down the M6 to Hanford, not getting LPG on this occasion. We were back home for around1 17:20...Mark

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Trip to Ellesmere Port / Chester 10-12-2011


2438Ellesmere Port BSChester BS401Arriva NW&W
2342Chester BSSealand, Western Avenue (NW-bound)10Arriva NW&W
2277Blacon, Western Avenue (cnr)Chester BS10Arriva NW&W
2298Chester BSHigher Shotton, Shotton B&Q (NW-bound)X11Arriva NW&W
689Higher Shotton, Shotton B&Q (SE-bound)Chester BS10Arriva NW&W

After a weekend away, Matthew was ready to go out again and for this trip he chose Chester. No research required for this trip we only have to pack our Chester timetables. We set off just before 12:00 stopping at Longport to top up with LPG. Despite heavy traffic on the M6, we got to Ellesmere port by 13:15. We went to eat in the market as usual put we could get a table. After waiting or over 5 minutes with no table looking like it was going to open up, we decided to eat elsewhere. We walked onto the main street and found a chip shop that had a couple of tables, called the Port chip shop or something similar. We ordered the food and as I was rushing backwards and forwards with trays of chip to the table the bag that was on my shoulder fell and swung onto my chips sausage peas and gravy! I cleaned the bag and then we ate our meals. As we ate we could see buses on the main road turn into towards the bus station. Heading into Chester in front of our bus was Arriva NW&W 2404 (dud). After we had finished eating and we had split up from mum, we headed to the bus station to take a few picture before going to Chester. GHA double decker DD05 was parked up and acting as the drivers mess today. After around 10 minutes our bus , which was the 14:17 to Chester approached. It was the same bus we had last time...2438!

Starting to become a mileage machine...Arriva NW&W 2438 o the #401 to Chester (Matt)

The bus was only half full and we had a unremarkable journey down to Chester. The bus was warm compared to the 5'C outside and was very welcome. When we got to the bus station Matthew photographed the inside of the empty bus.

Inside 2438 (Matt)

The first thing we noticed on arrival at Chester was a great big wheel that had been erected adjacent to the bus station. With light fading fast at this time of year, the plan was to catch a bus quite quickly. This also prevented us from freezing in the cold. 2258 was on a #10 which Matthew required, but it was a relatively new Dart. Rhyl allocated 2350 also made an appearance on an X11 which Matthew also turned down.

Rhyl's 2350 in front of Chester's wheel (Matt)

When the next #10 appeared it was 2342 which Matthew decided he wanted to catch. This was a refurbished V reg Dart which was also required. We did this bus which filled up quickly and was pretty much full as it left town. We decided to do this to the Welsh border so we could get back and possibly catch something else before it went dark. It was the first time we had bailed here and as we got off Matthew was able to get a picture of our bus just inside Wales.

2342 just inside Wales (Matt)

It was quite difficult to cross the road here as it was really busy with Xmas shopper leaving Chester. We eventually crossed and Walk all the way back into England...All of 75 yards! We had around a 10 minute wait for a return bus, and the pavement was narrow. Matthew was bouncing with excitement as he waited for the return bus. In the distance we could see the bus on this very long straight stretch of road. We could see it had Alexander ALX style bodywork, something that we have not seen on a Chester allocated Arriva bus. As it closer we saw it was dud Dart 2277, a vehicle which we had traveled on earlier this year into Llandudno!

After the long walk back into England, Ex Welsh Dart 2277 approaches (Matt)

The bus was nearly empty as most inbound services are at this time of day. Once again Matthew photographed the empty bus at Chester.

Inside 2277 (Matt)

When we got back we saw Optare Solo 689 on a #10. It was unusual to see a smaller vehicle on this service and Matthew didn't fancy it. We also saw 2358 which Matthew required and he didn't fancy this either! As we waited for our next ride we saw that First Manchester's 61527 had been painted into Park & Ride colours presumably for extra cover.

Now in Park & Ride colours... First Manchester 61527 (Matt)

whilst we waited for 2358 to depart, I rushed of to Somerfield to get some lottery tickets. The next bus of interest to appear was Dart 2298 on the X11, which we decided to do. We crossed the bus station and got a picture before we boarded.

2298 about to do the X11 to Holywell (Matt)

The bus filled up and was full and standing as we left town. as we boarded GHA's Aleander bodied bus SB27 was seen on the X20 to Winsford. We decided to do this bus just past Queensferry and just before Shotton, so as to give us a choice of service back to Chester. We got off at the stop know as Higher 'Shotton, B&Q' even though the B&Q is no longer there. by now it was properly dark and so we weren't able to get good pictures of moving buses. We decided to do the next bus regardless as it was getting quite cold now. The Next bus turned out to be the Solo we'd seen earlier 689. It was nearly empty. Matthew got on and honked the horn....Beep. I don't know why but he likes to do this on Solo's, and sometimes it get him into trouble! Matthew got a picture of the inside of this bus as we arrived in Chester.

Inside 689 (Matt)

As we got off the bus, with the aid of street furniture and his camera timer, he was able to get a picture of the outside of 689 too...

Arriva 689 in Chester bus station...unusual on a #10... (Matt)

As we were about to leave we saw 7553. It was then back to the car for sausage rolls before setting off home around 17:20. The journey home was non-stop and we pulled up outside the house around 18:20. Not a bad day considering the cold weather and the time of year. 3 out of 5 buses were new for Matthew...Mark