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Monday, 9 March 2015

The pensioners' big dipper

Last Wednesday I had an eye appointment (dreary, boring) in Kendal involving drops  thereby prohibiting driving.

I've lived in Arnside for nearly fifteen years now and I went to Kendal on the bus for the first time - quite an adventure.

Five minutes walk from home took me to the bus stop for the 9:35 and a chat with a neighbour  who lives not far from me but we have never previously spoken. The bus arrived on time empty. I had to be instructed by the driver on the ritual of using my bus pass  - he seemed quite resigned to dealing with yet another geriatric befuddled pensioner.

By the time we got to Milnthorpe (about three miles) the bus was full - full of greys, and there was a strong whiff of Vick camphor rub and mint humbugs, and a cacophony of chattery-chatter. I never saw a single person who paid. I got the impression that many of the passengers just came for the ride and the social occasion - it was all very period, like a scene from Dr. Finlay's Casebook. I felt a bit guilty, and possibly anachronistic sneaking a quick photo down the bus with my iPhone.

From Milnthorpe a left turn took us on a network of country roads only about a foot wider than the bus, and through tiny villages. The driver seemed to be up against a tight schedule scything along much faster than I do in the car, and the closeness to hedges, lampposts and walls on the lefthand side demonstrated astonishing skill; I wondered at our avoidance of major contact with anything other than twigs and branches. There were occasions when cars were met coming the other way, and it was invariably our driver who did the backing up showing another facet of his mastery of bus handling.

We landed in Kendal on time at 10.21 after 56 minutes exhilarating travelling time that would have been much longer due to caution if I had been driving my car. My direct route to Kendal would normally take about twenty minutes. I returned on the 12.45 docking back at 13:40, so it doesn't have to be an all day event as I had anticipated.

Would I do it again? Oh yes!


AlanR said...

I can’t wait to get my bus pass.

John J said...

I can't wait to get mine either! I should have received it last November but the goal-posts have been moved and I've now got to wait another 5 years.
By that time the Bus Pass will probably have been abolished.

Phreerunner said...

Yes, Alan and JJ, the goalposts will continue to move, but just be thankful you are not as ancient as people like Conrad and me, who are old enough to have had to renew our passes. Free prescriptions are pretty useful as well!

Sorry you couldn't join us in Silverdale, Conrad, but you seem to have had a good time on the bus!

afootinthehills said...

Does this mean you will now abandon walking and backpacking in favour of a more exciting life of bus travel?

I didn't apply for my bus pass when I became eligible (60 up here, but then it would be wouldn't it?) but I'm now thinking that was a grave mistake.

welshpaddler said...

Conrad, handy for linear walks. Take car to end point and then bus to start and walk.

Don't leave car at the start as you may miss bus back!

Sir Hugh said...

Alan R. and John J. - If you weren't saying that tongue in cheek don't wish your life away - advice from an old man: look after your knees.


Phreerunner - renewing? Mine doesn't expire until 31.3.2018. I already replied on your blog about the Silverdale thrash.

Afoot - I'm thinking about it.


welshpaddler - good thinking.

Roderick Robinson said...

Just a minute, just a minute. "Never saw a person who paid". How about via taxes during a working life? And if you really find the experience stigmatising, you could always withhold your pass and pay in cash. That would quickly put an end to this them-and-me moralising. Chances are if you didn't smell of Vick you smelt of something - whether you like it or not you are now part of the grey herd. Voluntary ascents of Niggley Naggs, however heroic, don't get you off the hook.

Anyway I am glad you found the journey exhilarating. I use the bus as infrequently as possible for two reasons - one legitimate the other subjective. There is simply not enough knee-room and any trip longer than that down to Hereford and back would be too painful.

The other is a need to be in charge of my own destiny, a feeling that steals over me as I wait in the bus station, staring down at the pavement dotted with crushed fag butts and hideously suggestive areas of moisture. Actually buses aren't too bad, it's planes that are the killer. All that queueing, being processed, hours spent killing time and being pushed around. Getting into the car at the end brings with it a wonderful sense of release - for better or for worse I am my own master, I am no longer dependent on others. An affirmation that I am a person and not just a transportable load.

The expression of the guy at the front of your pic suggests he didn't give you permission to photo him and wouldn't had you asked. A paradigm of old age, if you like. He probably doesn't blog and the only way he has to show his resentment at the onset of decay is to frown. Poor old sod.

AlanR said...

Martin, I was due my pass in August 2015 and now its moved to November 2017. The bus fares on my route from Rochdale to Manchester have gone up 25% this week. Considering fuel has come down about 20% and they are using stop/start busses i find it hard to see how they justify any increase.
I wouldn’t mind if the buses got cleaned once a day but they are filthy. At least the passenger would see something for the money.
Roderick. Driving on our lovely M60 is just as frustrating as flying.
Soap box now back in the man cave.

Sir Hugh said...

RR - Yes I know I'm a grey, but it's hard to bear. I had plenty of legroom on the bus - my seat was parallel to the side of the bus with nothing in front, but the atmosphere was stifling. I fully agree with your second sentiment. It is specially rewarding returning to the car at the end of a demanding walk.


Alan R - Last time I flew they wouldn't let me take, even in my rucksack in the hold, my Pocket Rocket stove burner which is just a piece of metal - I wasn't trying trying to take gas cylinders with it. I had to scrounge packaging from an airline desk and faff about posting the thing home (It had cost £30 or £40), and then spend half a day in Carcassonne buying a hideous heavy Camping Gas stove which I could hit with a lump hammer every time I see it.

gimmer said...

when we lived in Yorkshire, we read the Dalesman magazine: one of the enduring memories is of the regular column of anecdotes from the once weekly 'bus to market' from remote (in those days) Dales villages and farmsteads - sounds as though little has changed, except the passengers then paid their 3d's themselves and were always smiling and laughing. Dales bred, not off-comers, as my father called them - the true voice of countryfolk: I wonder about your bus load!
Autre jours, autre moeurs.

Anonymous said...

Good to read you are getting out and about, and the leg improving.
Just returned from a week's walking, used 13 local buses (one never came). Couldn't use my bus pass, but the most expensive trip was only 4 euros for an hour-long journey. Lanzarote.

AlanR said...

To who commented about flying.
When i flew to Iceland i carried my Ice Axe through. I didn’t even put it in the hold. It was only as i boarded the plane that the stewardess’s said. You cannot bring that on a plane. I said that nobody had challenged me about putting it in the hold. Anyway she put it in the cabin with the Pilot and i got it back when we landed.
I also took a "White Light” all around the world in my hold bag. It is used to detect dye in leaking hydraulic circuits. After about 15 flights and 4 long hauls i was challenged at Heathrow on the short return trip to Manchester. They wouldn’t let me on board with it. It told them where it had been but they were very angry and took it off me. What a job i had to get it back.

AlanR said...

Sorry. I meant Black light not white.

Sir Hugh said...

gimmer - My most memorable bus ride was circa 1960: Sligachan to Glenbrittle, Isle of Skye - driver: Willie Sutherland. It was more terrifying than being driven round Oulron Park by a racing driver on a track day I attended.


bowlandclimber - just been reading your posts. It doesn't sound like one of your better trips.


Alan R - 'twas me who rambled on a bout flying. When I reply to comments I put them all under one heading with replies to individuals separated with a dash line. I notice many other bloggers reply individually to each commenter thereby ostensibly increasing the number of comments on a post, presumably good for their morale?