Open-top bus was best for Bestival’s great unwashed

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I spent last weekend on the Isle of Wight, having what can only be described as a ‘busman’s holiday’

Yes, I’ve been driving a bus. Several of them actually, as Bestival took place on the island and I helped to transport festival-goers.

It hosts two major festivals each year, usually the first and last of the festival season.

In my time I’ve worked on radio during these festivals, interviewing performers.

I’ve also been a festival-goer, staying in my mate Jimmy’s old Hymer mobile home.

But this time I was part of the small army of people responsible for shifting the majority of the 50,000 revellers from the site to the island’s four main ferry ports.

If you remember, a few years back I trained to drive a bus with First in Fareham.

I took the first Eclipse bus on a ‘race’ against the radio car during rush hour. Thanks to the wonderful new busway, I won easily.

Since then, I’ve put my bus-driving to good use and earned a few extra pennies into the bargain.

This time the experience was one not to be forgotten.

Driving a big double-decker through country lanes in bright sunshine during the day is a delight.

But by night, thousands of people needed moving and the heat was on.

Luggage downstairs, revellers upstairs was the order of the day, with countless rucksacks and folded-up tents to be accommodated.

The bus was packed to the rafters as we slowly swayed our way back to Ryde and the ferries back to the mainland.

A whole variety of buses were being used and drivers were able to pick the ones they preferred.

There were big red dual-doored buses from London, buses that were past their prime but still of interest to enthusiast, plus a fleet of open-toppers.

These proved to be the drivers’ favourite. Why? Was it due to the lovely weather?

Well, no. It was more to do with lots of the weekend’s great unwashed (and hung over) crammed together in a confined space!