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9th September - 11th September 2012 ~ Intrepid Travellers

The sudden heatwave saw Saturday's heavy traffic repeated on Sunday with consequent delays to X1 services. Mid afternoon the 14.10 Peterborough - Lowestoft with 37565 was running 16 late although the 11.48 from Lowestoft which should pass it at Walpole came through first only 5 late with 37577 (below) which had replaced 37574 at King's Lynn.

The bulk of the traffic was returning westbound and 37573 was seen twice, firstly arriving at King's Lynn 17 late as the 14.48 from Lowestoft and later coming into Lynn on the 19.10 from Peterborough 13 late. 37579 on the 16.48 from Lowestoft was seen at the Pullover roundabout 14 late in a queue of slow moving westbound traffic and 37569 on the 20.10 from Peterborough was 15 late at Walton Highway. Evening services on Sundays are rarely late.
Monday dawned with various Geminis sporting rather disturbing looking adverts for the film 'Savages' ! 37575 was the first X1 I saw and with a very noisy fan (unusual for a B9) this was working K3-XL09 which was 8 late into Wisbech. The corresponding westbound service, Y6-XL12, was 11 late with 37568, but only 3 late returning. Indeed several services were a few minutes late to Peterborough, but almost all had regained the lost time when passing me eastbound. The only mystery involved L11-XL17 10.45 King's Lynn to Peterborough which was booked to be 37160. Instead the service wasn't seen by Bruce or myself westbound and then came back east about 4 late with 37158. I think there must have been a problem with 37160 as it was seen arriving at the Southgates from the east at 12.47 (over 2 hours late), though this may have been a test run from the garage ?
Now something else unusual happened on Monday so I will let Chris take up the story :

 My friend Robin and I (known to ourselves alone as 'Them Two Old Geezers' or 'The Last of the Summer Beer') decided on Monday to undertake what we have christened The X1 Challenge. 
Starting in Dereham on the 9.37am we headed east to Lowestoft arriving some 5 minutes late, giving us just enough time to go to the bus station loo - a major worry for blokes of our age. A day of possible loo-deprivation also involved us strictly limiting our intake of liquid refreshment for most of the day, resulting in near dehydration by the time we got home.
Suitably relieved, we clambered aboard the same bus for the journey to Peterborough. Neither of us were looking forward to having to tell the driver we were travelling all the way through and were extremely grateful that we could scan our bus passes, thus avoiding that minor embarrassment. Arriving practically on time in Peterborough, we decided not to stay on the bus and return straight to Dereham, but to give ourselves a half hour break for loos and a drink. It took most of that half hour for us to regain a vertical position and to re-learn to walk in a normal looking fashion as our knees had become locked in sitting mode. I guess the purist would have stayed on the same bus thus undertaking the whole trip on the same vehicle, but by this time we were almost beyond caring about such niceties. Also, we realise that we failed to undertake the Peterborough bus station to rail station and return section, but promise to go back and do the missing link soon, or maybe not. (As it happens my wife thinks I have many missing links).
On the journey between Peterborough and Wisbech we were idly chatting when I casually said I wondered how many buses there were on the route. To our delight and amazement, a very pleasant young woman in the seat in front turned to us and said, 22, but only 19 out at one time. We were staggered that someone who seemed so un-annoracky should have such arcane information at her fingertips. She then, of course, told us about your blog and I promised to email you . We were also pleased to realise that you have friends!  The bus arrived about on time, I think, in Dereham. Had I been previously aware of your blog and the importance placed on running to time I would have taken closer note of precise seconds of lateness or earliness, so excuse my lack of attention to detail.
We were talking at one point en route about how people can focus on a particular facet of life (we all do in some way, I guess) and how this becomes very meaningful to them and can illuminate things for others. Is this a peculiarly British, even English thing, we wondered. I don't know, but thank you for creating the blog as, late on in our trip, just the knowledge of it's existence, brought to us by your friend, added to our enjoyment of the day.

Well, as you can imagine I was highly delighted to get such an email from someone with the same warped sense of humour as myself, so here is my reply :

What a great email - just my sense of humour. My friend Cheryl is pretty much a daily X1 traveller hence her knowledge of the subject and the fact that she spent about 10 years working with me !

Fancy you not knowing about the X1 blog ! We were on Anglia TV and in the national press last year, but then again it probably wasn't because I was considered 'normal'. Never mind, I was delighted to read of your long distance jaunt - now there's dedication for you. You will also be fascinated to learn that your journey from Dereham to Lowestoft and then back to Peterborough - (actually no, I still can't believe you did the whole journey in one go, even the drivers don't do that) - was on Gemini 37566, the rarest of the X1 beasts by virtue of its misfortune to be involved in mishaps and breakdowns more often than the other 21 buses. It is one of three which I've never yet manage to travel on ! Your other steed was 37578 which is common by comparison.
Do keep me informed of any future X1 expeditions and I hope that you'll get that elusive beer next time, loo breaks permitting.

Right there is just time to tell you about Tuesday on the X1. Once again all buses ran to within 10 minutes of the timetable except one. This was L11-XL17 which is due to depart from Wisbech to Peterborough at 11.18. Today 37567 was 15 minutes late, but with the A47 behaving at this point, some smart changeovers resulted in it departing King's Lynn for Lowestoft just 5 late at 13.07. So with all going well, all it needed was a collision between a bus and a lorry at Guyhirn roundabout at about 15.30 to disrupt things. Delays were not too severe, but westbound from Wisbech, at least K1-XL07 & K2-XL08 took the diversionary route via Wisbech St. Mary. Due to gas main roadworks closing the short stretch of road from Freedom Bridge into the Old Market this then entailed a further diversion down Leverington Road past Asda and then left down Harecroft Road to regain the diversion onto South Brink. I spoke to X1 driver Malcolm this evening and he said that K5-XL11 also took the diversion. Tonight 37579 on L8-XL14 was required at Lynn garage for attention to its on board security cameras, so freshly serviced 37159 went forward to Peterborough at 18.50
Finally an update on 37571. The fire damage was not particularly serious, although it did fill the bus with smoke and this was why it came to a sudden halt in Gorleston. The fault was with the demisters and it is thought that it may be something to do with the long period that 571 spent out of service following the accident at Thorney a couple of years back. It is hoped that 37571 will be back on the route in the next few days.

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