Tuesday, 30 August 2016

Midlands to Magyar [1]

Leicester correspondent David has just had a partial knee replacement. He visited fbb mansions in Seaton a couple of weeks ago and seemed very mobile, claiming the crutch was for sympathy. Of mature years (a few more than the fbbs!), the operation and recuperation had meant that his annual jaunt around Europe with a former University colleague (Roger) was at risk.

In the end, David decided to travel later and join Roger and his Mrs for the conclusion of their trip.

So the fantastic voyage began last Thursday, 25th August as David set off from his pad in Groby, Leicester.

By bus of course.
Arriva service 27 or 29 to St Margarets bus station in Leicester. Thence Skylink ...
... to the Airport. Once hourly and run by Trentbarton subsidiary Kinch, this route has expanded dramatically over the years, partly due to the increase in air travel and partly by absorbing some local bits and pieces in the Kegworth area.
So David had a 20 minute frequency ...
... and therefore plenty of choice and plenty of time to arrive for the usual security and other lengthy procedures now de rigueur for any plane flight.
The airport was originally a Royal Air Force station, RAF Castle Donington, which was decommissioned in 1946. The site was purchased by a consortium of local government authorities in 1964, when a major programme of building work and runway investment was begun. The airfield was renamed East Midlands Airport to reflect the area it served, and it opened for passengers in April 1965.
It has got a bit bigger since.
David's "carrier" was Jet2.com ...
... which flies Boeing 737s and has a fleet of 60 aircraft.
The flight schedule seems long ...
... bit we need to remember different time zones; always confusing for poor old fbb.

Budapest Airport opened its stylish new terminal in 1950.
This became Terminal 1 and is now joined by terminals 2A and 2B. Terminal 1 closed in 2012; all bewailed by an enthusiastic on-line air traveller!

The current Hungarian government can claim credit for a series of mistakes but allowing the national airline (Malev) to go bust without a successor, when in fact the previous government had left a detailed blueprint for setting up a new airline, is certainly among the most painful. An absolute first is also the fact that Terminal 1 at Ferihegy is now going to be closed since with Malev gone, there is simply not enough traffic to justify keeping the old terminal operational. No other major airport in recent history was forced to close a terminal because they had run out of aircraft.

Although everyone still refers to the Airport as "Ferihegy" after the district in Budapast in which it is situated ...
... it was renamed Budapest Liszt Ferenc Nemzetközi Repülőtér (Budabest Ferenc Liszt International Airport) on the 200th Anniversary of the composer's birth.

He looks a bit like the late great Spike Milligan.

But for becrutched traveller David, the fun is just beginning.

As we shall see tomorrow.

 Next Magyar Blog : Wednesday 31st August 

Monday, 29 August 2016

Bute Bits and Largs Leftovers

 Cumbrae Scooter Rally 
Last Friday (26th August) there was heavy demand for crossings to The Isle of Cumbrae.
As the fbb's began packing for their return to England, there was the repeated sound of Vespas and Lambrettas spluttering towards the ferry queue. A two boat service was running for most of the day using the "spare" parked at Largs pier all week.
It gave ferry-watches the opportunity to compare the two sizes of ferry ...
... and hearken back to the early days of car carrying craft when they were even smaller!

 Largs bus depot / bus station 
fbb does vaguely remember been taken by his Mrs (probably before she became his Mrs!) to enoy the spartan delights of this shed plus bus stands. Whilst searching for Western S M T information for Rothesay, the piccy popped onto the screen.
Roughly speaking it stood alongside the railway station.

 Bus Business on Bute 
fbb is now on dangerous ground. He has tried to remember what actually happened on Bute pre- and post- privatisation. Here's hoping someone "out there" will tie up the loose ends and complete and/or correct fbb's incomplete and unreliable memory.

Pretty much the whole of western Scotland was in the hands of Western S M T, later Western Scottish. That included Largs, The Island of Arran, Dunoon and the Isle of Bute. Here is a service 90 bus outside the Port Banntyne depot (of trams fame)
When the Scottish Bus Group was split in 1985, Bute became part of Clydeside.
Although the main rump of Clydeside went to Arriva, Stagecoach ended up with Bute and much of the pared down Western Scottish.
In many parts of Scotland the silly season of bus competition happened. Even on the little Isle of Cumbrae two companies' vehicles met the ferries from Largs and ran together down the road to Millport. Eventually they agreed a one-day on one-day off deal. Now there is only one.

All sorts of mischief happened on Bute. Arran Coaches was the big fly in the ointment ...
... followed by and including West Coast Motors.
Whether Stagecoach lost or West Coast won, or whether there was some clandestine agreement, is lost in fbb's brain. But Stagecoach capitulated and West Coast now reigns supreme on Bute and in the Cowal peninsula (a k a Dunoon). Stagecoach still holds sway on the Island of Arran.

 A Peek at the "Pav" 
fbb mentioned The Pavilion as one of Rothesay's great assets, built in 1938 but somewhat decayed and unloved.
Work is under way to refurbish and reujuvenate this marvellous building. The report on the proposals is on-line and includes some stunning pictures of the interior. Here are a few.
Once again the lure of this rich magnificence to the humble Glaswegian holiday-maker or day tripper can be easily imagined. What a contrast! The "Pav" closed completely last year for a much needed re-vamp.

And there was even a Caretaker's house ...
... in need of some remedial work!

It will be really great to see this iconic building in full working order and used as it was intended.

And talking of full working order: thanks to another correspondent for this item.

 Tootle - loo Rothesay! 
And here it is / they are:-
Conveniently located at the car assembly point for the ferry and once Gents only, these facilities have been restored to their Victorian opulence and mantained in working order, complete with small gift shop.

Stand up:-
Sit Down:-
And please wash your hands.
Magnificent. You can't beat Twyfords for superior sanitary wear/
One of the most desirable and useful visitor attractions in Rothesay.

 Next Hungary bus and rail blog : Tuesday 30th August 

Sunday, 28 August 2016

The fbb's Wee Sail ...

Doon Across the Watter to Rothesay
Largs to the Islsnd of Bute via Wemyss Bay
McGills publicity says "every 15 minutes" to Glasgow by 901 or 906. But on Monday to Friday it doesn't quite work out like that.
Additionally, at xx23 and xx53, you have Stagecoach's Clyde Coaster from Ardrossan; so three buses in five minutes, then 25 minutes to wait. The fbbs boarded the 1020 and were sold a zonal day ticket for £5 as it was cheaper than a return. You soon realise the benefits of "free" travel for the old 'uns (in England) and you also wish the National scheme were national. Nicola hasn't declared UDI yet!

But the interior of the fbb's chauffeur driven Mercedes was very comfortable ...
... and the views were superb.
That blue-grey line in the distance is the Isle of Bute. Without a doubt, one of the delights of this "sail" is the magnificent restoration of Wemyss Bay station and ferry walkway. It is thanks to tireless local efforts and campaigns that this wonderful building has been preserved where others, say at Gourock, have been replaced by much smaller facilities.

The circular ticket office still sells tickets for the trains, just one departure every hour.
Other parts of the building are in use; there is a bookshop ...
... a cafe and a superb display of old travel posters in the entrance archway. But the highlight is the vast curved and covered walkway from platforms down to the ferry ...
... essential, as you can see, to cope with the crowds waiting for the 1100 departure. The vessel was the MV Argyle ...
Built in Poland, she was launched on 12 September 2006. Following delivery, the fitting out process took into account design modifications based on lessons learned from sister ship MV Bute. She was formally named at Rothesay Bay on 4 May 2007 before joining the Caledonian MacBrayne fleet later in the month.

After a cup of coffee in Rothesay's Electric Bakery ...
... it was time for a bus ride. The fbbs eschewed the open top circular tour at £9 a shot ...
... and went for a £4.40 return to Kilchattan Bay.
A blog correspondant mentions the three piers on Bute, additional to the main one at Rothesay.
The bus passed Craigmore Pier, no longer equipped with a pier ...
.... but with the landward buildings now a smart little Restaurant.
The service 90 (tendered journeys are numbered 490, but exactly the same as the 90) continued along the coast ...
... until diverting inland to skirt round the Mount Stuart estate. 
Mount Stuart House on the east coast of the Isle of Bute, Scotland, is a Gothic Revival country house and the ancestral home of the Marquesses of Bute. It was designed by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson for the 3rd Marquess of Bute in the late 1870s, replacing an earlier house by Alexander McGill, which burnt down in 1877.
The House itself is not visible from road or bus, being designed for great views over the sea and imposing views from water. But the bus diverts via car park and entrance building/visitor centre when the estate is open, as it was whilst the fbbs rode past.
Like Craigmore, Kilchattan pier has gone ...
... with, once again, the on-shore buildings remaining.
But after the string of sea-front houses that is the village of Kilchattan bay, there comes nothing. The road ends ...
... fittingly with a turn-around for the No. 90/490 bus. Although running 10 minutes late due to having lots of those awkward creatures, namely passengers, the driver allowed fbb to photograph sign ...
... and bus before riding swiftly back to Rothesay.
Had the old crusties stayed on the bus after Rothesay, they would have followed the tram route to Ettrick Bay, passing close to the third defunct Bute pier at Port Bannatyne.
Sadly, like the trams, this facility is utterly defunct ...
... with nothing remaining of booking office and/or waiting room.
But the pier remnants do serve to remind us that pre-motor car, pre-bus and often pre-roads, these steamers were the lifeline of the community; bringing passengers and goods, carrying mail and animals to market - all before leisure travel had been thought of.

Life moves on and the good old days were perhaps not so good after all.

The fbbs returned to Rothesay, Wemyss Bay and Largs by outward route reversed. The original plan had been to travel later over to Bute and purchase a single ticket back to Largs on The Waverley, due away from Rothesay Pier at 1815.
That was until the miserly old man found out the price.

£17 single!


For barely 30 minutes afloat!

Ouch and treble ouch!

The bus to/from Largs and Calmac ferry totalled £22.20. Return.

Tomorrow we mop up a few Rothesay snippets. Meanwhile the fbb's returned to Seaton yesterday, again, as outward route reversed; but with less stress we guess. Bless!

[The above sentence was written in advance of the homeward journey; which didn't go as smoothly as predicted : full explanation later in the week. It wasn't as bad as it might have been.]

 Next Rothesay snippet blog : Monday 29th August