Monday, 30 June 2008

Weekend in Bristol

We've just returned from a weekend in Bristol. Many months ago we purchased tickets for Mick Hucknall's first performance of his 'A Tribute to Bobby' show. For the uninitiated Bobby 'Blue' Bland is a seriously respected blues and R'n'B singer who came to prominence in 50's and 60's America. Mick, who has decided to end the 'Simply Red' part of his performing life has decided on Blues and R'n'B (the real one) as a new direction.

Some weeks after getting the Sunday night tickets an email arrived from his marketing people asking if we would like to take up an offer of joining 500 others at just over £40 a head for the rehearsal - no hesitation - thus we've spent 2 days in Bristol.

Many thanks to friend Wozz who put us up at The Mall pub he runs in The Mall, Clifton.

Saturday lunch was spent at Las Iguanas in Whiteladies Road with a woman that Zena knows from her childhood and her husband. The four of us ate and drank and drank and 8 bottles of wine later we returned very drunk to get ready for the first of the 2 gigs. I have no idea how I managed it but I was still well away as we taxied down to the Colston Hall. The rehearsal gig went down a storm. It was very relaxed and intimate as the band and Mick ran through their set before slipping a couple of SR numbers in.

On Sunday after a roast dinner at The Mall pub we strolled along to Clifton Suspension Bridge. Neither of us are particularly good at heights but we did manage to get over and back. Once back on the Clifton side we went up to the turreted building overlooking the gorge and bridge. Climbing to the top of the tower we took a look inside the camera obscura that someone is restoring. What an amazing device!

The main performance on Sunday was good although there were a couple of times they lost it and one song had to be restarted twice. Once because they messed up and the second time because someone fell ill in the audience (hope he's OK).

Thursday, 26 June 2008

Fist Group are at it again!! Update

Great news for the people and businesses of Colerne.

Small independent bus operator Faresaver will operate a service Monday to Saturday

Details of how this has been managed with help from B&NES are here

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

Sorry People... Fist Group again........

I suspect that this might be turning into an obsession; this constant itch that is 'Fist Group', that rears its ugly head repeatedly; but do you know what? I don't give a twopenny damn.

Last evening I was in a hurry to get home from work - I was to look after my partners niece for a couple of hours.

I had reached the top of Bathwick Hill at 1743 to catch the bus that is due to leave the bus stop at the University at 1741 the next stop on the route is The Youth Hostel and is timed at 1746 which is about a quarter of a mile down the hill. The bus was already on its way down the hill.

A dozen other passengers arrived, waited, chatted, took cover from the rain and walked on down the hill. By 1815 there were still a dozen or so people waiting so in all I estimate that 2 dozen people had expected to catch a bus to town from the top of Bathwick Hill in the previous half hour.

I'd had enough, I knew there wasn't a bus at the top so couldn't really expect a bus empty enough to board within 15 minutes. After missing 2 buses out (1756 & 1811) there was bound to be a queue at the top and this fact was borne out by people who stopped to comment as they continued to walk down the hill.

A couple of minutes later a bus slowly ground its way up the last stretch of the hill full of passengers for the university, followed by another 50 yards behind with a few people on board, followed another 50 yards behind by an empty bus.

By now I'd had enough, I called a taxi to collect me from outside the house across the road (they're not allowed to pick up fares without an address?).

Five minutes later an empty bus - the last one to go up - came down - 'Sorry, not in service' was the only comment. Everyone groaned, shrugged their shoulders and a couple more walked on down the hill.

Finally at about 1828 a laden bus arrived and picked up anyone still left at the stop followed immediately by a less full bus. I declined the opportunity to board as the arrival of the taxi I'd called was imminent.

The cab duly arrived moments later and I was in town before the last bus down.

This morning a went to the bus station to find out what had happened to the buses above and what explanation they could give:

1. It's the University's fault for not letting them know about the Open Day. They had put 2 extra buses on. I pointed out that they only had 4 buses out when I saw all 4 of them between 1745 and 1845.

2. I had no idea about traffic conditions in Bath yesterday evening (my fault?). I pointed out that if conditions were bad then they should know about it very quickly on a route that has a 'round trip' time of 30 minutes. Why were there no extra buses put on to meet their commitment to a timetable?

3. If we want more buses we would have to pay higher fares (Blackmail). Fist Group make profit hand over fist at the expense of the taxpayer and private individuals. Fist Group will not put extra buses on because they don't have to. There is no compulsion to provide anything more than a minimum service. Their only legal obligations are to run to the published timetable when they have no one else to blame for not doing so and the great god 'Shareholder Value' - screw the traveling public we'll just have to wait for the next bus.

4. I don't know anything about running a bus company. I pointed out that I had worked for Bristol Omnibus Company some years ago and had been a bus user in Bath for 37 years - I don't drive and don't own a car, of course I know about buses.

The real kicker is that the Chief Executive of Fist Group - M. Leekhead has been given a knighthood for 'Services to Transport'.

Way hay, their shares just dropped another 14p. So much for shareholder value.

When are we going to get the Public Transport Services that this Town, Country and Planet needs to survive the CO2 overload? The answer to that question is - When it gets NATIONALISED - not for profit means proper investment. Public Service must be Public and a Service.

Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Introducing the 'Georgian City Kit'

This Blog is called Bath 'n' Stuff because at the time that I created it I was in a real piss about the monstrosity that was being perpetrated on us by B&NES, the developers and owners of the Southgate area of Bath.
In particular I was distressed because they had gone to a great deal of trouble to produce a Georgian look alike for the shops, residential and leisure part of the development and then demolished a perfectly balanced piece of 30s built classical Georgian styled construction; only to replace it with a modern glass and concrete horror for the bus station (Fist Group again, sorry).
Anyway the first of the new buildings has now emerged as a forest of concrete pillars supporting concrete floors. This is now being clad in its dressing of precast and Bath stone faced panels some 10ft square and bolted on to the concrete pillars.
A couple of questions come to mind. In the first instance; knowing how porous Bath stone is; how long will it be before lumps of this Bath stone facing start falling off the concrete backing? Secondly; having seen how easy it now is to produce a Georgian style building in Bath stone faced concrete panels; when will we see Georgian Bath spreading across the country? You fake it anywhere now.
Am I right to be worried about the devaluation and disappearance of the artisan crafts and skills that will be wiped away when the last Bath stone mason pops his clogs?

Friday, 6 June 2008

Fist Group Again - Timetables

Now I'm sure that for the few readers I have, this whole Fist Group thing that I have going here is getting boring, so perhaps this'll be the last for a while (here's hoping).
Anyway - yesterday morning I arrived at the bus stop in Corn Street at 0925 and boarded the bus (18) to the University. While passing my Uni-Ten card through the reader I asked the driver when he was off and he replied "0926". I thanked him and he drove off, it was by now 0926. All around town and on the First Bus website the timetable (as described at the time of linking) for the 18 stated that the buses from Corn Street to Claverton Down ran on the hour and quarter hours. I was puzzled because you'd expect the driver to know when and where he's driving as it's all written down on his card but here was a bus that wasn't running to the published University Holiday timetable but one invented by First for their amusement perhaps.
This morning I went in to their office at Bath Bus Station and asked the man there what I should do and was informed that the timetable was in fact wrong but that it would be right next week. Go figure. The suggestion that they get the web based timetables fixed was met with amusement and I suspect that suggesting they correct the sheets on all the Bus Stops would be met with the same response.
Right there you have it. Is this any way to run a Public Access Transport Company??? Ha!!