Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Day 2 Part 2: Winchester to Bracknell

Stagecoach 86: Winchester - Basingstoke
Where were we? Oh yes, boarding the 86 (Stagecoach) double decker to Basingstoke. As I tried to write the blog amidst the bumps (and with two students behind me discussing the merits of my tablet in great detail) we wound round and up towards Basingstoke.

Before we started this journey, we thought it would be fun to apply to the Chris Evans show to see if they would like to track our “Lands End to John O’Groats via Ipswich journey” on radio. Again, we missed a trick and we realised, as we sped (literally) through Whitchurch to Overton that we should have said; “Lands End to John O’Groats past your front door”. Oh well. It was a fun journey, and I think I am starting to be able to spot those routes that are fairly tightly timed and take in every passing housing estate available.

Stagecoach 2 - Basingstoke - Tadley
At our next stop, Basingstoke, we collected Michaels ‘boy’, Simon Storey; another member of the Omnibus team and our local guide for Berkshire. The driver of the Stagecoach Jazz 2 to Tadley was rather pleased that he was included on our schedule and not only let me off at the start because I had to include his bus in the LEJOG story, but once we got off waited and posed for Michael as he wanted a snap or two! Our stop at Tadley, however, was in the middle of nowhere. There used to be a pub there (which is how the stop got the name ‘The Tadley Falcon’) but it had long gone. All we saw was a fair amount of rush hour traffic and the multi barbed wire Aldermaston Atomic Weapons Establishment glowing behind us.

I am not suggesting that they actually still test atomic thingamejigs there, but our next bus, Reading Buses X2 appeared almost luminous green! 

Reading Buses X2 Vitality
Reading Buses have an excellent Phone App which tells you when your next bus will actually be with you. This worked brilliantly for us – telling us that the non arrival of the bus bang on time was nothing to worry about. Traffic in Reading had made the outward journey to Tadley difficult (and therefore late) and the information reflected this. It actually arrived a little quicker than the app suggested…. Or does the AWRE also play with time locally.. although I suspect it was the driver trying to make up time. It was an excellent example of how modern technology can inform and stop passengers getting concerned… with correct and near spot on information.

Nevertheless, on board was Jake – Reading Buses PR man who escorted us on the journey into Reading. And in Reading, the main man of Reading was waiting for us – James Freeman and his Networking guy. Now, although the X2 is a relatively new service for Reading Buses, it isn’t operating their state of the art cow (sorry, gas) powered buses… which were the requirement for Reading Buses public relations. And so, we went off in search of one for a photo – and afterwards had our blog stipulated silly photo with case handle:

And there we were, Lands End to Reading… so we all went for a coffee (for which if I forgot – thank you very much James).

It felt a little odd, being waved off by the MD of Reading Buses as we departed on the First Bus 190 to Bracknell! The journey was smooth and uneventful, although Michael realised that after two days of our journey north to John O’Groats we were now travelling South! The driver was very interested in our trip (though he did confess he dislikes travelling by bus!). One comment – what is going on with the footpaths in Bracknell?! Lots of underpasses and a rather ungraceful jump of a centre barrier saw us at our first Travelodge of our stay.

First Bus 190 to Bracknell
And there endeth the day. Oh – thank God that, from last Wednesday, Wetherspoons serve food until 11pm!

And here is Wednesdays carefully crafted plan:

07:55 – Depart Bracknell on First Green Line (702)
10:10 – Arrive at London Victoria – Buckingham Palace Road

10:15 – Meet with TfL… Jez swaps places with Peter Hendy… Michael happy once again. Jez hoping to meet sister in law, Harri. Jez happy once again:-)

10:58 – Depart London Victoria on Metroline (24)

11:30 – Arrive at London – Tottenham Court Road

11:41 – Depart Tottenham Court Road on Tower Transit (25)

12:40 – Arrive at Stratford Station

12:56 – Depart Stratford on Stagecoach (86)

13:55 – Arrive at Romford Station

14:05 – Depart Romford on Blue Triangle (498)

14:37 – Arrive in Brentwood – Sainsbury’s

14:57 – Depart Brentwood on First Bus (351)

15:34 – Arrive at Chelmsford Bus Station

15:40 – Depart Chelmsford on First Bus (71)

17:06 – Arrive in Colchester – Osborne Street

17:55 – Depart Colchester on Carters (91)

19:08 – Arrive in Ipswich – Old Cattle Market

19:10 – Meet with Ipswich Buses… much merriment will ensue

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