Monday, 17 August 2015

An eventful trip, from Birmingham to Heathrow

So, I had a flight from Heathrow, and needed a convenient way to get there :

Althou the coach can take up to 3 hrs, for a 2 hr journey, its normally harmless, so, booked a seat :

This is a copy of what happened :

I had a pre-booked seat, FFFNHB62 on 12/8/15, at 13.45, Birmingham-Heathrow.

At the coach station, the coach was called 10 mins before departure, and the waiting passengers, all loaded.

It seemed many passengers had multiple bags, and a 5 or 6 man band, had a few guitar boxes, which also added to the stowage.

We left Digbeth at 1.45, and reached Birmingham International, at approx, 2.15.

On Arrival, it appeared there were at least 8 passengers attempting to board, and, there was no apparent space for the luggage.

The coach driver, addressed the seated passengers, and said there would be a delay, while a mini-bus was called, to carry the extra luggage.

All passengers waited on the bus, which wasn't comfortable, as the bus was switched off, and there was little Fresh air.

After 30 mins, I looked outside, and the coach driver was in a heated argument with a burly male passenger, who was waiting to board. The driver expressed the opinion, people should be complaining to the call centre, who had over-booked the coach. (I am not sure why, the new passengers were not allowed to sit on the bus - but, with the lack of air, maybe it was a fair choice).

A few mins later, I left my seat, and really not trying to be combative, just  asked the driver, if he had any details as to the extent of the delay. He said, he would not call the call centre, and had no idea.

Now I can understand the luggage issue, but, don't comprehend why he couldn't give an approx time of delay etc. All passengers were attempting to catch flights .. I had some leeway, and wanted info to base a decision as to what to do, should the delay, drag on.

The band members were sitting opposite me, and they had a flight leaving at 6.40 pm, which, I thought it unlikely they were going to make, as the coach was apparently due to stop at Coventry, before the Heathrow terminals. One band-member, tried to call the help line for National Express, but, was re-directed from the website, to another number, as the one he dialled was apparently out-of-service. In the end, he gave up, trying to call.

Other passengers were starting to ask questions, but, the coach driver just ignored us.

At 3.pm, a delay of 45 mins with no information, I collected my laptop, and left the bus. I asked the driver to open the luggage hold, and he said he wouldn't help me unload the luggage. Fortunately, I had seen where my luggage was loaded, and being near the front, felt I could move my 2 pieces .

The driver would not open the hold. I asked him to open it, or I would call the police. He opened it, stayed in his driver seat, and I got my bags.

I then re-boarded the bus, and asked him for his name. He refused to give it, so, took a picture of both him hiding in his seat, and the bus registration.




He said, "have a nice flight".

(( I dont really know why he was so sour towards me. I was just asking polite questions. The coach driver never swore at me, or raised his voice, or acted threateningly - just seemed to contemplate his life - which I suspect, is generally no fun, dealing with members of the Public.))

I went to TOA taxi, and negotiated a £190 charge, from Bham international to Terminal 5.

I made my flight, and had some time to tweet some comments, but, my data allowance ran out, before I could do much.

After reaching my international destination, I am not going to let this just rest. The Twitter account of #nationalexpress informed me, no compensation is payable for a 45 minute delay. Having had some time to look etc, I am not sure this is totally accurate.

I have looked up EU regulations, and it is the duty of the carrier to inform the passengers, of travel info, both before and during the journey.

It seems reasonable, that in a delayed journey, the passengers are kept informed etc - especially when the coach destination is to an airport.

If he had just been civil, taken a deep breath, and communicated to his passengers, the problem and how it was being-solved, and the time-frame,I may have come to a different decision.

As I was leaving the airport, I saw a mini-bus arrive, so, presume they were on their way, after about a 50-55 minute delay (providing the argument with the burly new passenger had been sorted). I didn't stay to see the mini-van drive off, or any discussions with the new passengers.

I expect more passengers missed their flight. Clearly, the driver was under pressure, but, he let it get to him. I don't see why I should suffer, and will obviously give National Express a chance to comment, but, if I am not satisfied, will take this to the small claims court (when I am back in the UK)


Once overseas, I had some further issues with data on my cellphone, and the nationalexpress twitter account, suggested I direct message them, and someone would contact me. The twiiter account of National Express has been v helpful, which reflects well on the conmpany, but, the bottom libe, is I paid £23 for a coach ticket, which I was unable to use, and paid £190 for a taxi, for fear of missing my flight.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Womens Ashes - Test at Canterbury

The female Ashes series has gotton a lot of media coverage, with attendances and TV viewers being roundly sought after.

I attended the One Day game at Worcester, and it seemed pretty clear to me, Australia have a very solid top/middle order, which England never looked like breaking down.

On the eve of the game, most bookies bet, something like :

Eng 3.4

Australia 2.6

Draw 2.8

Its only a 4 day game, so, the draw has a decent chance. I would have England, much bigger, and although the markets are v small, have a position against England.

///

Aus win the toss and bat.

Overcast, so, do respect the draw, but, cant fathom how England are gonna take 20 wickets, so, have laid max Eng at 3.75 avg.

//

Aus 54-0 after 16 overs ;

Eng 8.00

Australia 2.7

Draw 1.94


Nice to look at a green book, after last week.

//

This is going pear .. from 80-2 at Lunch, Shrubsole has bowled really well, and Aussies look in a fair amount of trouble, at 97-4.

Eng 2.6

Aus 3.2

Draw 3.0

Have laid more Eng.

//

100-5 and Eng touch 1.90 .. laid more, so, my overall avg is now 2,7

Will try to reduce liability, if it gets back there.

//

Aus 126-5

Eng 2.70

Aus 3.5

Draw 2.80

///

COP Aus 268-8 .. which is a v fair effort, given they were 100-5.

Current prices, (with weather forecast generally improving)

Eng 4.4

Aus 2.4

Draw 2.80

Now comes the traders dilema. I can bank a profit, (which usually is a reasonable option, and even feel, 4.5 or so on Eng, is about right - but, still cant pull the trigger).

I am genuinely surprised, Lanning and Perry scored so few runs, and have to believe, they will be better in the 2nd dig.

If  I had no previous position on this game, I would lay the draw .. but, have a fair amount of travel in the next few days, making weather watching tricky, so, I will probably just leave my position as is.


//

Day 2 - and some nasty rain, came from almost no-where. Delayed start, to about 12.30, but, time can be made up .. might lose 8 overs today.



Wednesday, 5 August 2015

4th Ashes Test - Trent bridge

I may do a blog on this test, even thou, I cant watch much of days 1 and 2.

On the eve of the game, they now bet :

England 3.2

Australia  2.08

Draw 4.6

Over the last week, the draw has been the really weak link - maybe the groundsman is worried he produced such a poor pitch for the England v India game last yr, that, hes determined this will have more life.

The weather forecast is better, but, I still cant have England this short, and have a big position against them, going in.

///


Aus lose the toss, and Eng decide to bowl, on what did look to be a green-top.

At start of play :

England 3.0

Australia 2.12

Draw 5.1

//

Australia lose 3 wickets, inside the first 2 overs :

England 1.58

Australia 3.75

Draw 9.6

//

Going for a long walk ..

//

Done a few laps, and booked the loss at the end of the day .. U could argue, I should have bailed, once they lost the toss, and were put in .. but, thats gambling.





Saturday, 1 August 2015

England 2 - Australia 1

3 games in, and although I did get to watch a lot of game 3, I must confess to being a little jaded with the contest.

England and Australia both have serious weak links, and it was always a question, of which link would prove most vital.

Having won the Edgbaston test, in 2 and a half days, losing Jimmy Anderson may prove to be the pivotal point of the contest.

Initial compilers, priced game 4 as :

England 3.2

Australia 2.4

Draw 3.7

At these odds, I have Eng a max lay .. win or lose, they cannot start that price - I would have them seriously bigger than 4.3 - and have laid with gusto.

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

144th Open - St Andrews

Having almost got close to going to the Masters last yr (as a spectator/patron) .. my golf game isn't quite that good - I had the chance to wander round St Andrews, during the week when the open is being played.

Driving to the course, its v well signposted .. and u get funnelled to a park n ride, with buses operating v frequently, which drop u off outside the entrance.


As u can see .. entrance money is not cheap - even £25 for the practice days - and having reached the course at 5pm or so, just wanted to have a quick look round (the last bus going back, is at 7.30), so, really had little time.

The 3 ticket booths were not manned .. so, when going to the security area, when asked for my ticket, I clearly hadn't got one.

The security guy, said I couldn't come in !!

Ok, maybe he was doing his job, but, this cant be right. I wanted to pay - etc.

I asked he call his boss etc, and, v quickly, a compromise was established, where I would be escorted to the merchandising area, (free of charge), and then, my escort would lose me.

This was both good and bad. I couldn't fault the service, but, spent £700 on various shorts/caps etc .. I would have spent more, but the Ralph Lauren Golf jacket, all had v poor zips .. and for £160, it just was too much.

UPS are a sponsor - and have a concession outside the merchandise hall, where they will ship your goods. I had a 10kg box, which cost £15 .. hardly a bad deal .. and hope it gets home (overseas), ok.

On leaving the credit card killing zone, there is a Bobby Jones exhibit .. which I briefly looked around .. one of my favourite films, is The Legend of Bagger Vance - which I never knew, is played on a golf course, quite near the Masters - but, anyway - its about one of Bobby Jones' last rounds of gold, and its a v good film.



Anyway, after this, went out onto the course - free wifi - and was able to watch Tiger Woods, play 3 holes in a practice round, with Gary Woodland/Matt Kuchar and Jason Dufner .. which was all good.

The course is amazing .. I have to try come back, and play one day - even thou the bunkers, look a serious challenge.




I would have to rate the experience 10/10 ..


Tuesday, 14 July 2015

ICC T20 qualifiers

The minnows, are playing a range of qualifiers, in Scotland and Ireland.

The local attendances has been limited .. maybe 300, if the home side is playing, on a good day (Saturday/Sunday) .. but, the support, of other countries, has at times, been amazing.

The Afghanistan side, have a few v decent players - and locals, have come from far and wide to watch, the star players.

Mohammed Shahzad (77), has been a joy to watch, as he demolishes the opposition bowling.





Travelling support from Afghanistan - they have driven 50 miles .. for a game, that was always likely to be rained out - and was.

Tomorrow they play Oman .. who managed a win against the Netherlands, which is quite a scalp - but, would be v surprised, if they are a match for the Afghans.

Saturday, 11 July 2015

England 1 - Australia 0

The 1st Ashes test ends in 4 days .. and its not a steam-roller job from Australia.



I didn't actually watch much of this, listening mainly on the radio, whilst watching cricket elsewhere, (about which, I will write later).

Its possible Aus were a little under-done, but, Eng have momentum .. the Lords test will be fascinating viewing ..