I, too, use buses a great deal and find Traveline very useful. However, it is not infallible and if planning a complicated journey, it is wise to use it intelligently. Most of my journeys are in Greater London and the Home Counties where bus services are quite good and more frequent than in more rural areas. But even here, some of the routes recommended by Traveline are not always the best. When planning a complicated journey, I examine the map for significant towns and then check the individual legs against Traveline’s recommended route; I sometimes find that I can find a better journey.
Another trick I’ve learnt is to allow, wherever possible, a 20-minute gap betwen connecting services. This definitely improves the chances of completing the journey. Many bus companies have a dedicated phone line that will provide real time information.
Complicated bus journeys require a particular attitude of mind that is more suited to the retired than for those in work. I normally take a book and if there is a significant time gap between services, I retire to the local library, or a supermarket with seats, and read.
I have made some quite lengthy bus journeys and thoroughly enjoyed them. I travelled from Littlehampton, Sussex to Amersham, Bucks using the following legs:
Littlehampton - Horsham
Dorking - Kingston-on-Thames
Kingston - Heathrow
Heathrow - Amersham
Every bus arrived and departed within five minutes of the scheduled time.
As for Kate’s query about being put down at a location that is not a scheduled stop, I’d consult the bus company; most of the help desks in my part of the world are very helpful.
I would never dream of spending money on a hat that has been advertised as having passed hrough an elephant twice. All my sun hats have come from market stalls and I can't remember ever paying more than £2.00 for them. But then, I'm a thrifty chap and prefer to lead fashion rather than follow it!
For several years I used poles extensively but then found that I was losing my sense of balance, presumable because I was relying too much on the poles. I now only use them in upland areas when making steep descents. Most of the the they remain strapped to my rucksack. My natural sense of balance has improved.
I'd be intersted to hear if others have experienced this phenomenom.