Who Let The Dogs Out … Woof … Woof …

I am going to split this up with subheadings today … it has been one of those days!

Buses

All I can say is “Oh dear … what a shambles!”

For the past 10 weeks or so we have had consistency in our morning bus services – it was actually one of the decisive factors in me starting this journey of discovery for myself – a reliable routine!  The 22 goes form Kirriemuir to Dundee via Glamis and Charleston.  The 20 goes to Dundee from Kirriemuir via Forfar.  If I catch the 07:16 (no 20) it sits around in Forfar and so only arrives in Dundee 5 minutes before the no 22; however using the 22 service means I can leave home 15 minutes later – catch a 20 into Kirriemuir and then change to the 22.

For the past 10 weeks or so the no 22 has epitomised what rural bus services should be about … people.  The team of local drivers for the most part have understood that this connection is important (even though not officially a connection) and it has worked.  Today a driver returned from extended leave to drive the no 22, the no 20 into Kirriemuir was a few minutes late and the 22 had gone – we then found out it had left early (a lassie arrived at the Square to try and find another bus to Dundee that did not involve waiting an hour – at least I was able to help her with some information).  So having missed the bus I have travelled on every week day for around 10 weeks I had to cross the road and get on a 27a to go back past my house and then change bus in Forfar to catch a 20 with arrives in Dundee around 15 minutes after I have been getting there.  That 15 minutes is critical – it means I have missed the X7, one of the 73s and one of the 99s and with a few minutes delay it could jeopardise the 59, 57 and 16.

So with the return of someone who thinks he knows best … my reliable, routine bus service is a mess.  But it didn’t end there!  I ended up on a bus driven by a driver who does not like me (that is his problem I am really not fussed) and who has a poor attitude (arrogant, patronising and chauvinistic).  Recently he heard a colleague thank me and praise me, but nevertheless I was surprised when he  engaged me in conversation as I was waiting to alight the bus.  Even better on my return journey he was driving again – there were several attempts at banter … I cannot help but feel that someone(s) has told him that he has got me wrong and he needs to fix it!

On that return journey he was late into the bus station and disappeared to phone the company.  There were roadworks causing delays so he was asking permission to take a detour to avoid delays.  I heard him tell a passenger it needed someone with brains to sort it out … problem was “Brains” hadn’t considered that there may be passengers waiting for the bus on the route it wasn’t taking.  He could instead have loaded the bus and left on time on the normal route.  With delayed loading we were 10 minutes late by the time we returned to the usual route and then he drove at 30 mph for quite a way.  I had texted ahead to say I would be 5 minutes late for an appointment by this time.

Coming out of Forfar the bus got boxed in by some thoughtless drivers coming the other way … this was not the driver’s fault but it added to the delay.  Then in Kirriemuir there was another diversion for roadworks so eventually I was 15 minutes late – never mind he tried and he made an effort to mend his manners.

On the morning journey a neighbour complained about the filthy windows and I had to point out it was road salt.  The same person though told me that I am known by other passengers as “the bus lady” as in “… oh I always ask that lady that knows about the buses, you know the bus lady that you talk to”.  I think several more drivers are coming round to that way of thinking too so maybe we can start to make progress with an area forum where passengers, drivers, Management and the Council can work together to improve sustainable rural public transport (another of my cherished dreams).

Shellfish Smorgasbord anyone?

I walked from Monifieth High Street, along the boardwalk to access the beach by playing fields.  I walked towards Buddon Ness (the distant landscape above) along a sandy beach absolutely littered with shells.  There were tellins, cockles, mussels, razor clams, scallops, winkles, masses of them. I enjoyed playing guess who’s feet these were and spotting some huge shells.  Buddon Ness is home to a military range and when the red flags are flown it is not possible to walk on the beaches around it’s edges.

So I turned back and started the main walk I had in mind – Buddon Ness to Dundee (A distance of 7.5 miles along the beaches).

You have probably seen enough shells now … I came to the conclusion that the reason there are so many shells and so many intact is that the waves don’t really break an tumble on this part of the beach.  What makes me think that? well there was plenty of glass but it was all fresh – no seaglass.  The other weird thing was I crossed a breakwater and there were no shells – but there were piles of pebbles – a really strange and very clearcut division.

So Who Did Let the Dog Out?

My next mission was to get some decent photographs of the waders on the mudflats.  All of a sudden I hear “yap yap yap yap woof bark yap yap yappity yap yap” and across the mudflats into the sea runs a dog.  It looked like a spaniel and was a golden reddish colour at a guess.  It ran to and fro and to and fro chasing all the sea bids and barking.  Just the sort of behaviour that gives dog owners a bad name with the non dog owning public.

After 10 minutes it returned to Monifieth and I thought I might stand a chance of the waders resettling.  I walked a little further and then heard all the commotion again.  If anyone on the dunes heard an expletive I apologise … it was really upsetting me to see our small waders getting chased like that – they don’t have the energy reserves to fly far and all the time they were fleeing they were not feeding and they eat a huge number of small molluscs to keep healthy.

Again it came away eventually and clearly had lost its person – it was heading in my direction and I was ready to lasso it until an owner could be located.  It turned away again.  Two people asked if it was my dog – bloody cheek!  There was a third and a fourth chase before it eventually stopped and by then I had no chance of photographing any birds in a 3 mile radius!

So whoever you are – before you let your dog race around like that again would you mind just stopping to think; our wildlife doesn’t need that treatment and other people use the beaches for activity other tan dog walking!  I didn’t get pictures of the mutt otherwise “wanted” posters would be appearing up and down the coast!

On three lighter doggy themes:

  1. I was greeted by Donnie (a guide dog) on the bus this morning – I haven’t seen him for around 6 weeks and he had clearly missed me.  I reminded him he had to get settled until he was told he was stopped working and then he could have a fuss.  His person announced that Donnie is a big sook (definition: sook – big softie (ya wee sook)) and laughed.
  2. Rory must be the number one doggy name for male dogs this year – I met three today and two of them were (different) golden retrievers
  3. I got a lift home after a meeting this afternoon and got mugged by a wee wire haired jack russell – he is a lovely wee thing.

Anyway I digress …

Peace Restored – the Walk Continues

I walked along the beach until I reached a wide burn – this wasn’t one I was going to paddle, not least because the rocks on the other side looked seaweedy and slippery!

Halfway from Barn Hill Rock Gardens to Broughty Ferry I was rewarded with a photo opportunity for some large waders, which I assumed were curlew.  When I looked more closely at the second photo I am fairly sure they are not curlew – the bill is straight or possibly slightly turned up at the end and they have very pale bellies.  I think these are bar tailed godwits … but cannot be 100% sure.

Then I got a surprise when I walked right to the end of the beach below the castle and sitting on a rock just outside the harbour was this heron … I went round the castle to see him from the front and he was totally relaxed about being watched.

Looking towards Dundee as I decided whether to stop walking or continue – my foot was starting to be really painful – I had a panoramic view of the bridges, the grassy beach and the rig Rowan Norway.

I could not resist a quick snap of this character – someone has been having some fun and it is really quite artistic.

At the end of the Grassy Beach I estimated the distance to the City Centre as just over a mile and a fairly uninterestign walk along main roads.  I decided to quit and get the 73 back that last little bit, partly because of time (I needed to be back in Kirriemuir mid afternoon for  a meeting) and partly becasue I wasn’t sure my foot could take another mile of hard surface walking.  As it turns out it is actually nearer 2 miles so I made a good choice.

On the Buses (again)

I travelled home on 97 today – she has had a distinguishing feature for most of her life in the fleet – a lightning shaped crack in the drivers cab door; she has been mended with a replacement bit of glazing s she is all smart and shiny again.  However, that now means I have to check my mobile wifi to identify 5 of the buses once aboard (94 still has a small chip in her windscreen).

Going full circle on my theory that the driver has been told he has got me wrong as we passed a bus going the other way the drivers waved and acknowledged each other as usual but then the other driver put his hand right out of his window and waved cheerfully at me with a big grin.  It made me smile.

Although I was late for the meeting it was a good one – The Community Council organises the Christmas light switch on each year and we are just finalising this year’s event.  You will have to wait a few weeks to hear more and see the pictures … but it involves a pony!  Now I need to go do some repairs on my back pack and Dog is pestering to go watch fireworks again (he will have to pester because they are right next door just now and even I think that is too close for his own safety.  Another definition of “sook” is to sulk and that is what he will be doing … oh well!

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About nonehpets

I have an interest in how interior design and adapting a home to support living independently for longer can be complementary. The blog Life Long Design is part of an holistic plan for establishing a social enterprise which will offer the people of Tayside opportunities to explore Telecare and the wider scope of assistive technologies. Enabling individuals to make more informed and responsible choices in the care and support they need in their independent living. I am also keen to see public transport more widely adopted and sustainable rural bus services in particular supported. The Blog Travels with a Megarider shares my journey to find serenity in my life as I make that transition form employment to social entrepreneur. One of my methods in increasing serenity is to travel as many miles as I can on a fixed price bus ticket and explore my own local places of interest. Places that I used to go past and had never stopped to look at; places of peace and tranquility; places where I have had some wonderful conversations with complete strangers. I would like to share with you a response to when I described that one paragraph in an e-mail made it sound simple: "Believe me, Cathy, it does not sound simple. You are taking on an incredible challenge for all the right reasons. It is ambitious and admirable - the sort of project that can change lives, including yours." He is right it is ambitious but when did we every achieve anything by settling for the status quo and ignoring what doesn't work for people? So I would welcome your company from time to time on this journey either simply as a reader or if you are brave enough adding your own thoughts to the comments as you feel moved.

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