At our meeting on April 14th Mr Pip Wright came to talk to us and show us photos on the theme of ‘Exploring Suffolk by Bus Pass’. As most of us are of an age to own one of these things we were eager to get information about how to use them in order to set out on some local adventures. In 2007 he applied for his pass by submitting his passport to prove that he was really old. Since then he had written two books on the subject, the first on Suffolk, and, after the bus-pass scheme was extended to cover the whole of the country, on East Anglia. He had in fact used his pass to travel in both Wales and Scotland.
His first trip as a bus-travelling virgin was from Stowmarket to an auction in Bury St Edmonds. The journey took a long time as someone had worked out an ingenious route that did not once touch the A45 but it was also highly enjoyable. This wetted his appetite and he soon began to plan other journeys. To get to Saxmundham he first had to travel to Ipswich and he was delighted when the bus he was on zoomed past queues of traffic in the dedicated bus lane. One thing he soon found out was that there were often more than one bus route between the same two places. From Ipswich to Woodbridge there are in fact four different routes one of which comes close to Kirton before passing Hemley and Newbourne The recreational bus user can therefore make the same journey four times and yet not repeat himself.
When he started he was getting by without using timetables but soon found it was a more rewarding experience if he worked out an itinery before leaving home. Suffolk timetables come in a series of small pamphlets while Essex puts every single route into one big book. Norfolk is a dead loss where timetables are concerned; there are about 45 different bus companies and no co-ordination between them. He sometimes drives to the start of some of the prettier routes, parking outside the towns to avoid incurring a fee. One of his favourite journeys is the Coast-Hopper Route along the north coast of Norfolk.
Mr Wright finished with a self-composed song about bus-pass travel which opened our eyes to how many rhymes you can make from Suffolk place names.
By the way, I must compliment who ever chose the new curtains in the hall. They are so efficient at cutting out the light when drawn for slide showing that I now have to use a torch when taking notes for my press release!
V E Bines