Every Grand Design has its set back, and COVID-19 was ours. As the country was forced into lockdown in March, we were faced with a dilemma. What now?
The answer was to make the best of a bad situation. Whilst key worker children were still in school, we chose to get on with all those jobs that never get done around school, new sheds went up, the site was sorted, weeding was done and Lee who was furloughed cracked on with woodwork, squirrelling away at the bus.
In the meantime we got in contact with Norwich Electrical to help us out with the internal electrics in the bus. The electrics have been an issue for a while, for a number of reasons so it was a relief when they said they could help. Andy and Adrian from Norwich Electrical kindly visited when restrictions were lifted a little and had some fab ideas which worked with our budget and still maintained the bus feel we wanted. James was then dispatched to us to make the magic happen, and that he did! Within a few days he had stripped out old electrics, run in new cables, put in a few crafty hidey holes for plugs and lighting and brought the bus to life. The lighting alone has made a massive difference and some clever arrangements have lit up the woodwork beautifully. Check out some of the photos – more to follow when it gets darker!!
We have also been busy working on the outside areas, laying new paths which the boys did in 30c heat and rock solid ground, they really do deserve a medal!
COVID may have set us back, but we certainly fought back!
Welcome to the new year and hopefully lots of updates. We have been out of action over the winter months mainly due to the weather, back to back storms and a couple of repairs! However, things are moving again and we have set a date of July to be completed – fingers and toes crossed a big party and grand opening awaits!
The bus survived the winter months remarkably well with only minor leaks, which will be re-sealed as soon as it’s a bit warmer. The new summer house however took a bit of a battering one weekend and lost its roof – check out the photos! Thankfully there was no serious damage to the roof or the structure, so Lee and Paul were able to fix and patch it up.
A group of us gathered to begin re upholstering the seats and Claire joined us one weekend to start on re-covering cushions with donated fabric. My mum came in to show the others what to do and Kathy soon became the upholstery version of the karate kid, wielding her electric staple gun like a pro. The seats were covered with fabric really kindly donated by Norfolk Upholstery, whilst Claire worked on fabric and cushions donated by Mrs Duffy’s family.
Lee also came back to do some more of the woodwork for the bus and started on an outside canopy / shelter. When this is complete it will add an extra area for the children to use outdoors and will look amazing. He has also been working on the inside of the bus converting his imagination into reality.
We are now turning our minds to internal electrics, flooring, furnishings…and many more exciting things.
Time for a long overdue and much needed update. Since the arrival of the bus we’ve been squirrelling away, the summer holidays happened and the seasons have shifted from nice warm days to the damp gloomy autumn days we have experienced recently. However it’s not all bad as work has progressed regardless. So where to start?
After the buses arrival we managed to find a scaffold platform which has been a god send for Mike Chris and Paul who have been sealing the bus. Lotus really kindly donated several boxes of sealant which has been amazing and allowed the boys to crack on. Again as the seasons have changed we are still having to keep an eye out for leaks and plug any gaps but the end is in sight.
The bus seats were also stripped out and removed which presented a couple of problems, one being that the seats downstairs were bolted to the underside of the bus. This did mean some crawling and shuffling around but the seats eventually came free. The second problem was the bolts upstairs had fused to the floor!! Although the seats themselves came away, it left the bracket on the floor exposed which I can tell you was painful to trip over…which I did…multiple times! Ouch! This was only resolved recently after an angle grinder was taken to them.
With the seats removed and the boys monkeying around on the scaffolding we started on stripping an old scratch proof coating from the windows. Because the bus is an ex London bus, the requirements at the time were for the windows to be scratch proof – meaning a plastic coating. This hadn’t aged well and had lifted in many places so needed to go which was an unpleasant job. As it was so old it was like dust when it came off of the windows and made quite a mess, however plenty of scrubbing and scraping we shifted it and the bus is looking so much better for it!
Just as the summer holidays started the electricians moved in and started on phase one to get electricity to the bus. This was a really big day and meant we could crack on without the need for the school to be open. The electricians stripped out the old circuit box in the bus which helpfully has a lockable door, this was a messy but necessary job to remove the redundant wiring and made way for the new fuse box and sockets. They then connected up an armoured cable to the schools fuse box and suspended it between the school and the bus.
Moving on in time, once school started, we decided it was time to seed the bank to re-instate the grass and a decision was also made to seed near the bus to try and slow down weed growth. We spent a weekend weeding the bank and prepping it and then a further weekend with a rotovator turning over and levelling the ground near the bus. This was a fun and tough activity and we can safely say Kate, Rachel and I crawled to bed that night. The summer house was also built the same day which was very exciting!
We have also had Lee on site (Miss Stedman’s partner) who is amazing with wood and has started on the internal of the bus. I’m keeping this under wraps for now as Lee has some amazing plans but check out the pics for some sneak previews.
Following many discussions with First, Easton College and Kerley Recovery we all agreed on a date and came together on Wednesday for the buses arrival. We had the most humbling and wonderful afternoon watching these companies give up their time to help manoeuvre the bus into position.
Kerley arrived at the Vulcan Road depot as planned and by 12.30 the bus was parked up at Bawburgh Village Hall awaiting the go ahead to bring it down to the school. We arranged for the children to be there for its arrival and they thoroughly enjoyed sitting on the field to watch.
Getting the bus through the main gates was the first challenge and seeing the bus suspended on a really long boom from the back of the tow truck was incredible. Once through the gates the bus was then hooked up to Easton College’s tractor and the journey really began.
Squeezing through the gates onto the field was a tense moment, especially when there was a loud bang which sounded like a chain snapping. We all held our breath for a few seconds, but thankfully it was just the chain slipping from the tractor so it was re-hooked and off they went again.
Next came the pinch point which was the pesky bend in the bank! This as we expected did take some time and felt like a 400 point turn but the team were fab and worked tirelessly to make it work. The bus was rolled forward at an angle, then pulled to straighten it a bit and the process repeated quite a few times. The bank did attempt to put up a fight and had to be dug to free the bus in a few places, but after much shuffling they finally got it around the bend and then it was a straight run to get it pulled into its final resting place!
Kerley Recovery then spent another hour or so getting the bus on sleepers to make it safe, and sorting out internal parts which needed tidying up. In the meantime Easton College offered to let the children look at and go on the tractor!! The children thoroughly enjoyed this and took it in turns to “have a go”.
We are forever thankful and had the most awesome, humbling and heart-warming day watching all of these people work together and give up their time to help manoeuvre the bus into place. They were so professional and worked like troopers and a shining example of resourcefulness, collaboration, resilience and creativity!
Richard Jarmy kindly took photos for us and set up a time lapse of the whole process which you can view below, we hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
“I've got an idea” Rachel said, explaining her elaborate bus idea to Kate.
“I like it, I reckon we could get a grant for that! Although this is becoming a habit” Kate said.
(Kate who is a grant sourcing mastermind has previously helped obtain a grant with other parents to get a new playpark for the village. They felt nothing could stop them!)
So they set to work looking for appropriate grants. With just days before the closing date they came across the Aviva Community Fund and decided they had no time to lose. In a coffee shop on Unthank Road (no doubt scoffing cake) their vision and The Bawburgh Big Ideas Bus was born! Never in their wildest dreams did anyone think that months later we would be where we are now, but with hard work from the staff, parents, village residents, family and friends the dream started to become a reality.
When Aviva let Kate and Rachel know they had been successful with the grant they really did have tears in their eyes, if only they knew the hard work was about to being...
I hope you enjoy following the story, there will no doubt be more hurdles to come but I can assure you, sheer stubbornness and perseverance will get us to our goal.