A hectic Saturday lunch time in the sun . . . in the mid-1970s

Late Saturday morning in the traffic office. Early July, the sun is shining and it's hot.  Everything going to plan so far, but it's been a hectic morning, answering phone calls and sorting out drivers queries.  Cup of coffee urgently needed!  Two 53-seaters and the minibus up at Heathrow airport, the VAL coming back from Dover with students.  More students out on day trips to Stonehenge and Longleat.  A 29 and a 45 on a church outing with picnic in the New Forest somewhere.  And the biggest job of the day, planned months in advance, three 53s on a social club day out to the West Country.  Hope the weather is the same down there so they can enjoy their boat trip on the River Dart.  But by now I expect one or two on the trip will have had a pint or two already and won't be able to tell which way the boat is going!  This is a very long day out right through to late evening and we've two drivers on each coach because of the hours, which has left it a wee bit tight to cover some of the other work today.  Had to pinch one of the regulars off the bus route and send him down to Devon.  But that's where our part-timers come in handy ....... at present I'm waiting for Brian to come in to do the lunchtime relief on the Rossmore bus route. 

Chris, our young lady admin assistant comes in with the coffee - and a message from Brian.  He's been held up on the way in, trouble with his car, he'll be delayed, sorry to ring so late but he couldn't find a working phone box.  Can't be helped I suppose, it can happen to all of us.  Look at the clock, tight for time, almost 12.  Have to take Dave off for lunch, he's been on service since 7 o'clock this morning.  No time to ring round for another part-timer.  Ask the fitter, can he spare an hour?  No, not if you want the YRQ back on the road for Monday morning schools.  Leave it, miss a couple of trips?  No, not on Saturday, busiest day of the week, can't let the passengers down.  Plus the phone won't stop ringing for ages if we did that!  Nothing else for it, I'll have to do it myself, shut up the office for an hour.  Chris has a half day on Saturday, should finish at 12.30, helpful as ever she says she'll man (woman?) the phones for an extra hour till I get back.

Into the car, drive up to the Ashley Road stop, only a mile thankfully, only takes a few minutes.  More problems, nowhere to park, the car park behind the Co-op is full of Saturday shoppers.  Drive round the front to the stop, there's Dave loading his bus for the 12.00, almost a full load.  He's looking round for his relief Brian.  "Take it up to the other end one more time, Dave.  I'll follow you and take you off at Trinidad, you can go to back to the yard for lunch in my car."

climbing monkeys hump
UFX520L climbs the hill from Heavenly Bottom up to Monkeys Hump

Obligingly he agrees, he's a good lad - as are all three of the regulars on the Rossmore run.  Ten minutes later and I'm in the driving seat of the most photographed vehicle in the Rossmore fleet - Bedford UFX520L, with its permanent destination display  "Monkeys Hump and Heavenly Bottom Express".   Time to go 12.15, start away from the terminus, just one young lady on board.  Nobody at Trinidad Crescent, next down to the Brixey Road stop. Half a dozen people here, do they want me or the Hants & Dorset service to Bournemouth?  Half and half it seems, three for me and three for him.  Nobody at Good Road, the young lady off at the Rossmore Hotel, and just Gerald to pick up.  He's had a few pints in the Rossmore and now he's going for a few more at the Liberal Club I expect.

Nobody at Rossmore post office, and four more at Hatchers Field, where I turn right from Rossmore Road into Albert Road.  Steep hill here, take it slowly, pass the other bus coming up, quick wave to the driver of 521.  We are going down  from Monkeys Hump to Heavenly Bottom.  No need to stop at either of the stops at the bottom of hill, so change down, a bit of wellie and start to climb up the long hill towards Ashley Road and the Upper Parkstone shops (or "up on hill" as the locals call it).  Drop everyone off, turn round by the Co-op, back on the stop for the 12.30 away, thirty or so people waiting, most with carrier bags, and there's a few shopping trolleys. We'll be a few minutes late leaving after we've loaded everybody and their shopping and taken the fares.  Luckily most people know the fare and have the right money, that helps a lot.  

Off we go again, swing left into Albert Road, a bit tight as it isn't that wide and there are cars waiting to come out into the main road.  Coast down the hill and this time we're sure to have to stop at Heavenly Bottom to drop one or two off.  But that means a standing start with a load of passengers, so it'll be a second gear slog all the way up the hill to Monkeys Hump.  Pass the other one at the top, he flashes his lights, we both stop, but he only wants to ask me if he can have next Thursday off.  Let's get through today first!

Along Rossmore Road, a half dozen or so off at every stop.  A quick toot and a wave to my friends John and Marie, enjoying a stroll in the sun with their little girl Vikki, my god-daughter, on their way home to Lincoln Road.  Half a dozen people sat outside the pub in the sun, enjoying a thirst quenching pint. It is hot today!  Drop the last person off at Brixey Road, nobody going right to the end this time.  Couple of hundred yards further, swing left into Trinidad Crescent to turn round.  Oh dear, two cars parked almost opposite each other, can I squeeze through?  Yes I think so, just, but only with an inch or two to spare each side.  Parking often a bit of a problem round here and you can't always get through without asking somebody to move.  If only people would think before they parked their cars ....

So back to the terminus again, park by the Labour Club, one round trip done, one more to do.  Gosh it's hot and sticky now in the mid-day sun.  Whatís the time? Should have left at 12.45, it's 12.50, five minutes down already, time to go.  Down to the next stop, hang on that's my car, it's Dave, "alright guv'nor, I'll take back on, I've had me cuppa and a ciggie and a ham roll".  That's good, everyone happy, he's had a break, I've done a run on the service, no trips were missed (and Dave will get an extra half hours pay).  I can go back and drink that coffee, and relax for a while, all's well that ends well.   "Oh guv'nor, Chris says to get back to the office quick as you can, Bob's broken down on the M2 on the way back from Dover in the VAL  ............."