Saturday, 29 March 2014

Poundland Pandemonium! -- UPDATED

See my photographs of the pigeons now on the EDP website: Click here

Today, I had to be in Hemsby, but wanted to be in Halesworth photographing the last operating journey of the 521 before Borderbus take over on Monday. With this in mind, I got my bus timetables out and tried to find out whether or not it would be possible for me to do both. After about half an hour of scribbling and scratching my head, I'd done it! A way to have a couple of hours in Hemsby to do what I needed to do, AND still get to Halesworth in time for the 1604 service 521 from Aldeburgh.

My journey started not-so-bright and early in Hempnall, where fog was causing a difficulty on the roads. Nevertheless, I caught the 0743 service 84 to Norwich which despite the conditions was running on time. It came in the form of ex-004 regular slimline Solo 960 AU58AKK which gave a pretty standard bus ride through Shotesham and Stoke Holy Cross before dropping me off in Norwich just after ten past eight. I had a good half an hour before my next bus so walked to St Stephen's Street to see what was about. After about five minutes sitting on the bench outside Chapelfield's entrance, I noticed there was a bit of commotion inside the Poundland store opposite. I crossed the road to find members of staff running amok chasing a pair of pigeons with bottles of water and a mop!

I couldn't quite believe what was happening, so much to the annoyance of the Poundland staff, I begun pointing my camera through the window to capture this surreal moment. After a good ten minutes, they gave up and opened the shop with a warning to customers that there were some pigeons in the store. I entered and headed over to where they were roosting to try and get a better shot, when one of them peed on the stock below. I quickly informed a member of staff, who then had a go at me for scaring them which they believed caused them to pee everywhere! I was rather taken aback by this accusation, and replied by telling them that it wasn't me who had managed to end up with feral birds in my shop. 

Anyway, by the time I had left the building, it was time for me to catch my X1 to Great Yarmouth. Upon boarding, I said a quick hello to Karen who was driving 33821 YX63LKL before I settled down in the comfortable leather seats with an episode of Impractical Jokers on my new Samsung Galaxy Tab. When the show had finished, I was still on the Acle straight so I had time to plan what I would do with my half an hour of free time I would get in Great Yarmouth before my next bus. I decided to walk the short distance to Beach Coach Station where I observed three vehicles.

The first was BF Hotel's "Just for Groups" branded King Long BX10DHN. This was my first King Long I'd ever spotted so my mood was instantly lifted. 

The other coaches present were Solitaire Travel of Essex's Scania Irizar YN05WJO (Pictured later in post) and M Pearson of Chesterfield's Scania chassis VanHool Alizee BIG4964. 

After a disappointing hunt in nearby Sainsbury's for some hot food resulted in zilch, it was time for me to catch my number 1 to Hemsby. Although it was originally thought that the ex-X1 Geminis would operate this route, they are still more commonly found on the 6, 7 and 8 which leaves the 1 and 1A to the Presidents. Today was no different with 32207 LT52WTN taking me there, and 32204 LT52WTK taking me back. It was rather warm on board 32204, so I opened the front left window only to be immediately attacked by a tree which the driver seemed to have forgotten was there. Twigs came flying in the window and one landed nearby me.

 I didn't pass a single bus on the 1/1A that wasn't a President.

I also found time for a quick visit to FirstGreat Yarmouth's Caister Road depot, where I observed 20109, 32208, 32213, 34110, 34112 and 37574 parked at the rear of the yard.

From then onwards, my day would consist of Anglian buses, and this didn't start well. My service 81 to Beccles arrived twenty minutes late in the form of 452 AU58AUV. The driver informed me that the delay was due to a breakdown. I was now dangerously close to missing the connecting 62 from Beccles and this excuse didn't do anything to lighten my mood. What didn't help was a seemingly regular passenger who decided that alighting the vehicle at a bus stop was the perfect time to have a catch up with the driver. 

M Pearson seems to take inspiration from Reynold's Coaches with a similar registration and a name adorning the front.
You'll be pleased to know that despite the setbacks, I arrived in Beccles with about 10 minutes to spare. I even had time to nip to Tesco for a sandwich before running back to the Old Market Place where I was expecting my 62 to be waiting. It wasn't. The whole place was empty apart from a lone Streetlite; 350 MX60BWH. The driver was seemingly on his break, chatting to some locals. I guessed he was operating the town services as he was in the lesser used left side lane. An X2 and an 80 bus later, and there was still no sign of the 62. I was getting increasingly worried that I would miss the final Nightingales' running of the 521, when the driver of the Streetlite suddenly jumped in the cab, switched the engine on, followed by the destination screen which read "Kessingland via Halesworth 62". At last! I was so relieved! Even the fact that the driver had just been sat there for ten minutes after he was supposed to leave doing nothing, couldn't take away my excitement as I boarded and headed to my destination.

I arrived about five minutes before the 521 was due so sprinted to the railway station, crossed the tracks and found the bus shelter. I thought I should probably double check the times, only to find out that Suffolk County Council are so organised that they had already changed the timetables for Borderbus' take over! 

So relying on my memory I waited and moments later I hear the familiar sound of a Beaver coming round the corner. I had never photographed the 521 before so I didn't know which direction it came from and unfortunately for me, I was facing the wrong way. I just stood and watched in despair as it drove away. Then it stopped, reversed and parked only about 100 yards away! I ran as fast as my legs would let me and thanks to the friendly driver who agreed to turn the screen back on for me, I was able to get my picture. 

She seemed to be in the 'bus loop' so we stood for five minutes chatting about Borderbus and their new Enviro200 they have acquired to operate the service; she was very pleased with it's private registration!

Whilst in Halesworth, I took the opportunity to photograph Anglian's 450 YN07LFU and 460 YN05HFF both working the 88A, with the latter later turning into my bus back to Woodton on the 88. A mere nine and a half hours after I left, I was finally home. I would definitely describe today as a long day, and I wasn't impressed when I was reminded the clocks go forward tonight. But all in all it was a successful day and I achieved everything I set out to do. 

Another big thanks to the driver from Nightingales for the friendly chat and for turning the screen back on.

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