Wednesday, 10 February 2016

The Perfect Day

As an enthusiast, we often have bad days when it comes to spotting. You get to your location, it starts raining, then you realise you left your gloves at home, your battery runs out, people are everywhere so you can't get a photo, the driver swears at you or deliberately speeds up to blur your pic, then the bus you want to catch home ends up being an hour late or early and  you're left wondering why you ever became an enthusiast in the first place. Well yesterday was not one of those days. Yesterday was the first days worth of spotting where everything went perfectly. Want to know why? Then read on...

FirstIpswich's 20514 WV02EUP
I arrived in Norwich at about 0800 in the morning before walking down to City College on Ipswich Road. My plan was to take some photographs of the many buses and coaches which were transporting their students to the Norfolk Showground to sit their mock exams. First had registered their special service 100 whilst other companies including Simonds, Norse and Marett's Chariots also helped out. Upon arrival I was greeted by First's Chris Limbach, who told me what to expect and basically outlined the plans for the day. The college had shut off some of the student car park to make room for a line of vehicles which were waiting to load which meant it was possible to get some good photos without loads of parked cars getting in the way. The first coach I saw was FirstIpswich's 20514 WV02EUP. Recently repainted and refurbished, the coach used to operate the X1 between Norwich & Great Yarmouth alongside sister 20515 WV02EUR. Both were transferred from Worcester in 2012.

39480 JJD480D passes 39623 NML623E outside the college
As promised, one of First's Routemasters was also present, but much to my delight it was later joined by a second. This was originally meant to be Great Yarmouth's Volvo Olympian 34111 W431CWX but since the plan was drawn up, it's suffered some damage which is likely to result in the vehicle being withdrawn. Fortunately though, the driver of the second Routemaster was none other than Des Speed, and he kindly allowed me onboard later on in the day when he was running empty to the Showground so that I could photograph at the other end of the operation. When we arrived there, there was a long line of coaches, mixed between Norse and Simonds. One of them, Norse 7175 LKZ4453 was the vehicle I used to travel to school on every day and so it was nice to 'catch up' with it, looking as clean as ever although it seems to have had plastic surgery on it's left-hand mirror.

Norse's 7175 LKZ4453 in green surroundings
My plan then was to walk over to Costessey Park & Ride to photograph a couple of buses up there which I managed successfully before heading over to Sainsburys for lunch. Whilst I was leaving the shop, I came across a route which I didn't even know existed. Sanders Coaches operate a free shuttle service to and from the supermarket and Costessey every Tuesday and Friday. 

Having refilled my stomach I then waited for X1 back to the city centre which arrived bang on time, and to add to my already fantastic day the front seats were vacant so I settled in for the ride back, making use of the free WiFi available to passengers. 

My day was still to improve however when I noted a couple of very rare workings, which you'll be able to read about next month in our Rare Spots series which you won't want to miss! Then to top the day off, my bus home was being driven by the driver who I photographed going through the floods in Saxlingham Nethergate which made local news reports as well as the worlds biggest selling Buses Magazine so I was able to get her contact details so I could send her copies as she was yet to see the photos in print.

So that sums up my 'Perfect Day'. There were no late buses or blurry photos, though I did nearly have a battery calamity before I remembered I'd packed my charger so that turned out ok, and I'll leave you with a list of vehicles noted, and some more photos from my trip, which will all be uploaded onto my flickr in due course.

First: 20501 AO02RBY, 20514 WV02EUP, 32438 LK53LZL, 33055 LN51GKO, 33151 LR02LXK, 33164 LR02LYA, 39480 JJD480D, 39623 NML623E, 66340 MV02VCP

Simonds: EM10GSM, YVF158, 4940VF, FJ06BSO

Marett's Chariots: BG65VXU

Norse: 7112 Y324YUT, 7118 Y334YUT, 7175 LKZ4453, 7179 LB52UYK, 7183 YM51WGN

a standing convoy of Norse vehicles, with First's Routemaster JJD480D at the back
FirstNorwich 33055 LN51GKO displaying the special 100 service
Marett's Chariots newest vehicle which the driver says is only four weeks old
32348 LK53LZL came to help from Great Yarmouth
and finally, Norwich's 66340 MV02VCP passes Simonds YVF158

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