The Slow Bus to Ipplepen

It didn’t start well. Two minutes into a two hour bus ride from Bude to Exeter and son one needs the loo.

Remarkably, the urge passed (pardon the pun) and he soon settled down with his book. I stared out of the window at fields, hedges and windmills. Why do they look more interesting from the top floor of a double decker than from the car?

The car in question had been spirited home by husband who needed to work and we were headed off on a 4 hour bus adventure that would have taken less than half of that in the car. 

But I wasnt complaining. Somehow I get a thrill of excitement setting off anywhere without the car and just my rucksack on my back  – well two rucksacks, an IKEA bag full of wetsuits, and carrier with lunch in it.

As we trundled on I fell to musing. Could buses ever become hip? No one I know travels anywhere by bus. Not only are they expensive round our way, but they are not on most people’s travel radar. They are seen as the down-market transport of the elderly, teenagers and the poor.  Why is a bus more plebian than a train? A mystery.

What would it take to rehabilitate the humble bus? Could it create jobs, lift rural economies, reduce climate change, take cars off the road, provide more opportunities for the young if we funded more frequent, regular bus  services? Maybe.

I wonder how many politicians regularly travel by bus.

Then we stopped for a snack at Exeter bus station cafe and my romantic thoughts met a swift cold shower. Stuffing popped out of the sofas, the very lightbulbs seemed to dangle despairingly from their cobwebbed cables. Bus revolutionaries have their work cut out.

After another hour winding through Countess Wear, Kennford, Kingsteignton, Newton Abbot and finally Ipplepen. We had made it, unaided by our own car, to our destination. And I am going to travel more by bus. The timetables and ticketing were all online, it cost £16 for a whole day group ticket anywhere in Devon and Cornwall.  The staff were friendly and the views great. Couldn’t have been easier.

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