Everyone loves an adventure! especially when it includes a Land Rover, MINI, a myriad of noisy schoolchildren, a steamed up bus and some good old fashioned walking.
Patrick Warner explains….
My elderly daily transport, a 50th Anniversary Land Rover Freelander was dropped off at the Garage last night to investigate a rapid recent increase in fuel consumption and a horrendous belt squeal which has in the last week or so, alerted my neighbours to my departure for work every morning, so we planned what Cowley’s marketing team would call a ‘Mini Adventure’ this morning as the wonderful Mrs W was working locally for the day. The plan was for her early new generation Mini Cooper to combine dropping our daughter off at school with both of our runs to work but when we went to set off, the normally eager little Mini decided that today would be the day when she would fail to start with what displayed the symptoms of a flat battery.
My prized MGF was still tucked up in the garage under her duvet as I don’t tax her during the winter months so with that option unavailable, a hasty reorganisation of the morning run was planned and Mrs W made a call to the RAC whilst I checked local bus times to see if I could get to work without waiting for a patrol to arrive during the morning rush hour. It transpired that Stagecoach’s local operation provide the ‘Uno’ service every few minutes from an estate on the North Western edge of Eastbourne via the local General Hospital and Town Centre on through a busy transport corridor to another large estate in the North East of the town in a ‘u’ shaped route with half hourly extensions numbered 1A which go on at the eastern end of the route to Hailsham, a small town a few miles north of the Borough boundary. Now the Uno doesn’t serve our area of the town but I calculated that if I walked for about a mile and a half, I’d be able to catch it and then walk a further couple of miles from the farthest end of the extended route’s terminus to my rural workplace. Off I went!
After a brisk walk I arrived at the bus stop spot on the expected time published online, I found one man waiting but no sign of the bus and on enquiring if my fellow passenger was waiting for the Hailsham bound bus, he confirmed that he was but that I need not have rushed as it is always about five minutes late due to congestion as it makes it’s way through the town centre. This morning turned out to be extra heavy as the 61 plated Uno branded Enviro 300 single decker arrived seemingly fully loaded with a throng of standing passengers a full fifteen minutes late.
Now for a few observations on bus travel which seemed a stark contrast with my memory of bus travel of over twenty years ago before I learned to drive. People don’t pay the driver anymore, most board with either a pass or an oyster type card which touches a pad next to the ticket machine. The noisy ageing 1970’s and 80’s smoke filled double deckers with grey interiors have been replaced with more frequent modern low floor single deckers with bright, colourful, clean and smoke free interiors where stickers advise passengers that even the latest electronic cigarettes are not permitted.
Back to 2014 and at the next stop a lady with a buggy managed to get on and I soon found out that there was room to get to know my fellow passengers at much closer contact as we were packed further in like sardines in a can. Then came a small exodus as several children got off a few stops later at one of the local secondary schools. I managed to take one of a couple of vacant seats at this point but got some very strange looks from other passengers when I vacated it again a couple of times during the next few stops in favour of female passengers.
As we left the outskirts of Eastbourne and moved through surrounding villages in Hailsham, passenger numbers reduced heavily, revealing heavily misted windows some nearer the front with amusing images of stick men and smiley faces which I assume may have been drawn with fingers of young children riding the Uno. Towards the rear and one could see oversized depictions of the male anatomical organs along with derogatory comments about the lifestyle of Tracy and sexual preferences of Kev.
Suddenly my observations were interrupted by my final lesson as Katy Perry’s ‘Roar’ blasted out into a bus which was now fairly quiet as I realised that the volume setting used to enable me to hear my iPhone ring over the din of an ageing Freelander at speed whilst listening to BBC Radio Sussex on my travels to keep me up to date with news and current affairs, was rather louder than was required in a now fairly peaceful and mostly empty bus. ‘Roar’ is the ring tone I use to identify Mrs W from anyone else who may call and she was calling to advise that in contrast to our expectations, the man with the bright orange van had been, confirmed a new battery was required, replaced it whilst she waited and was now ready to meet me at the end of the bus journey and save me the onward walk to the office.
Amazingly, the battery taken off the Mini turned out to be the original fitted from new which had served faithfully for the best part of thirteen years and over 97,000 miles – that’s got to be a record surely? As luck would have it our challenging day of travel also ended with a positive result on the Freelander too, with the cause of the high fuel consumption being a split hose on the air intake and fuel adaptions miles out of range along with a couple of cream crackered auxiliary belts. A new hose and belts along with a tweak to the fuel adaption settings on the diagnostic kit meant we were able to pick up a much smoother and quieter running Landy on the way home too.
So after a day in true Autobritannia style combining travel by car, bus and foot, we will be hoping for a less eventful day tomorrow!