Social Saturday Social Enterprise Tour

Want to find out more about why The Big Lemon is going electric? Would you like to learn how other Brighton businesses with a purpose, on a mission to change things for the better, started and are flourishing in the city?

On Saturday 13th October as part of Social Enterprise UK’s Social Saturday we’re taking people on a bus tour of local social enterprises (businesses that do good) in Brighton.

We want to share with people why buying from Social Enterprises has a greater positive impact on everyone & everything than buying from other businesses. #buysocial #actlocal

Social enterprises are set up to trade for a social purpose and using business to create a more equal society. They are creating jobs where they’re needed most and tackling some of the biggest challenges we face from homelessness to climate change. They are changing the way we do business and you can support them.

Social Saturday is about championing these businesses. Browse our online marketplace featuring some of the best ethical products out there, find social enterprises and Social Saturday events near you and get involved in the campaign showcasing the impact and strength of the UK’s social enterprise movement.

Social Enterprise UK

The Big Lemon will take you on an exclusive tour on the UK’s first Solar Bus to find out more about us and to visit:

–  HiSbe Food – The Rebel Supermarket

The Community Kitchen – Brighton & Hove Food Partnership

–  The Bevy – The Bevendean Community Pub

A tasty lunch will be provided by “The Community Oven
Coffee tastings by a local coffee Social Enterprise
The Fair Shop will be there to tell you about their shop on Queens Road

Times: 10am start 2pm finish.

Be quick to book your space as the solar powered electric bus only has 27 seats!

Book your tickets here

Lewes Bonfire 2018

**SOLD OUT FOR 2018!**

It’s that time of year again! The Big Lemon will be running coaches to the Lewes Bonfire from Brighton. The bonfire is one of the biggest in the country, there are six societies putting on five separate parades and firework displays on the 5th, and this can mean 3,000 people taking part in the celebrations, and up to 80,000 spectators attending in the small market town with a permanent population of just 16,000.

Trump effigy from 2017 on his way to be burnt!

Careful travel planning is essential for Lewes Bonfire because on bonfire night a lot of the roads are closed and you can’t park anywhere. Buses and trains are difficult too, because on bonfire night everyone and their dog wants to go to Lewes.

With The Big Lemon you can reserve a seat on a dedicated coach that will take you direct to the heart of the action and give you a guaranteed seat on the way home too 🙂

Coaches leave from Old Steine, Lewes Road (by Elm Grove), Lewes Road Bus Garage and Falmer (adj Sussex University on the A27)

Departure Date

Monday 5 November 2018

Departures:

Old Steine Stop D @ 1630 & 1830

opp Bottom of Elm Grove @ 1640 & 1840

opp Lewes Road Bus Garage @ 1650 & 1850

A27 adj Sussex University (opp Falmer Station) @ 1700 & 1900

*IMPORTANT* Due to the road closures in Lewes we are sadly unable to get passengers any closer then the Ashcombe Roundabout. This is a 15 – 20 minute walk into central Lewes. The road closures end at 2300 so all coach returns will be from Cliffe Industrial Estate, Lewes BN8 6JL. All coach tickets purchased guarantee a seat on board our coaches.

Return:

2300 & 0030 from Cliffe Industrial Estate, Lewes BN8 6JL

Costs:

Adults: £10, Under 16s: £5 (All tickets are return tickets)

**All tickets have sold out for 2018**

Brighton Pride 2018 service information

Happy Pride 2018 Brighton!

We hope everyone has the best time this weekend celebrating that love is a human right! Much love from all of us at The Big Lemon!

Due to the Pride Parade and the St Jame’s St street party there will be some edits to our service on Saturday 4th August & Sunday 5th August. 

Please be aware due to volume of traffic this weekend the timetable may be hard to maintain, please bear with us:

Saturday 4th August:

52 Route

  • 16:15 and 18:00 from Woodingdean to Brighton Station will go via Edward Street.
  • 17:15 and 19:00 from Brighton Station to Woodingdean will go via Edward Street and Rock Gardens.

St James Street & The Sealife Centre bus stops will not be served.

47/57 Route

  • From 09:30 to end of the day: Bannings Vale to Brighton Station will go via Edward Street – The Sealife Centre bus stop will not be served.
  • From 10:23 to end of the day: Brighton Station to Bannings Vale will go via Edward Street and Rock Gardens – St James Street & The Sealife Centre bus stops will not be served.
  • 10:18, 11:18 and 12:18 from Bannings Vale will terminate at Rock Gardens.  The Old Steine, North Street and Brighton Station bus stops will not be served.

56 Route

All day London Road will not be served.

  • From 12:00 the service leaving from Patcham will terminate at the Level, this will then return via Ditchling Road to Fiveways, this will continue on this loop until 14:51 from Asda.
  • From 12:00 the service from the Knoll Estate will terminate at Brighton Station, then return via Seven Dials, this will continue until 14:40 from Knoll Estate.
  • From 14:40 to end of the day, the service from Knoll Estate to Patcham/Hollingbury will go via the Level and Ditchling Road to Fiveways.
  • From 14:51 to end of the day, the service from Patcham to Knoll Estate will go via The Level.

And on Sunday 5th August:

57 Route

  • All day Bannings Vale to Brighton Station will go via Edward Street – The Sealife Centre bus stop will not be served.
  • All day Brighton Station to Bannings Vale will go Via Edward street and Rock Gardens – St James Street & The Sealife Centre bus stops will not be served.

 

 

Our very first Walking Holiday was a winner!

This May Day bank holiday weekend we took twelve intrepid explorers on our very first walking holiday along the Western Section of The South Downs Way, from Winchester to Amberley.

It was truly glorious.

The Village Inn in Buriton

We picked up the walkers at 8am on Friday from The Old Steine in Brighton and drove along the scenic route to Winchester, via Steyning and Storrington, where we started the walk in beautiful sunshine at the cathedral at 10am.

As you can see we took it very seriously *no fun allowed here* from the start!

Winchester Cathedral

We stayed in The Trooper Inn in Froxfield and The Village Inn in Buriton where we ate hearty breakfasts each morning that set us up for the day.  They also provided us with packed lunches for our mid walk picnics and water refill stops and most of our delicious evening meals.

Day one: Winchester to Exton. 

Highlights included walking through Winchester City centre & the impressive cathedral grounds; a cheeky pasty & cream tea stop; meandering through the cool and calm shade of the freshly sprouted, lime green woodland canopies, deep purple bluebells, and dipping our very hot & tired feet in the stream at The Shoe in Exton!

Day two: Exton to Buriton.

We were overtaken by a couple of hundred runners who were running the entire South Downs Way in just three days! We obviously took a more leisurely pace and walked up Winchester Hill picnicking at the top overlooking bright yellow rapeseed fields and the ancient hill fort.  Some stopped at the Sustainability Centre for afternoon tea whilst others carried on up the monumental Butser Hill, through the shade of Queen Elizabeth Country Park and down past Buriton Chalk Pit to The Village Inn for celebratory rhubarb gins!

One of the nicest things about our walks is that you can go at your own pace.

Day three: Buriton to Heyshott.

The 360 views from Beacon Hill were incredible, followed by a surprise and very much appreciated Caroline’s dairy icecream (also sold in Harrods!) from Manor Farm Farm Shop near Cocking.

Ending with drinks in the idyllic beer garden of the Unicorn Inn.  Yes that’s right, The Unicorn Inn, where dreams come true: feet escape walking boots and are soothed on cooling beer garden grass, icy cold beers & soft drinks and welcome cups of tea refresh the weary walkers!

The Unicorn Inn, Heyshott

Day four: Heyshott to Amberley.

The team of hardy walkers set off in search of the Badger Faced Sheep! Finishing in Amberley where we shared a delicious cream tea, bought for us as a last day treat by the very kind Christina from Dental Health Spa.

Much laughter & many stories were shared over the four days, friendships were made and everyone received a much needed fresh air & countryside reset.  We are thrilled.

Well done to everyone who came and to Neil for organising such a winning holiday.

One of the walkers said:

It is one of the best things I have done in my life!

Feeling inspired?

We’re busy plotting our next adventure for the autumn, if you think you’d like to join us on our next holiday or if you’d like more information hot off the press then e-mail kelly@thebiglemon.com.

Can’t wait that long?

In the meantime, to whet your walking appetite, you can join us on one of our regular Sunday Walks.  The next walk is on 3rd June Bexhill to Battle through Forewood & the 1066 battlefield.  The walk is 7.1 miles ending at The Bull for refreshments of your choice.  For more information and to buy your tickets click here.

See you for a countryside reset very soon!

 

We say Goodbye and Good Luck to Norman….

The Big Lemon’s Managing Director, Norman Baker, has announced he will be leaving The Big Lemon in January 2018 to pursue new challenges, having achieved what he set out to do by raising the profile of the organisation locally, nationally and internationally; and winning a number of new contracts, thereby establishing The Big Lemon as the foremost independent bus operator in Brighton & Hove.
Norman said “It’s been an exciting challenge to lead The Big Lemon through a period of significant growth and I believe the company has a bright future. I would like to thank the team for their dedication and support, and all those in the community including our passengers and supporters, the city council and our industry colleagues. It has been a pleasure working with you all.”

Tom Druitt, The Big Lemon’s founder and CEO said “I would like to thank Norman for his huge contribution to The Big Lemon this last year. He has taken the organisation to the next level and we now have the opportunity to grow our impact far beyond what was previously possible. I wish Norman all the very best of luck in his future endeavours.”

Chichester Christmas Market – 9th December 2017

There are a few seats left on our fun day trip to the wonderful Chichester Christmas Market, on Saturday 9 December 2017.

It’s a great opportunity to find a range of carefully selected top quality crafts and unusual, individual and top quality gifts for all your friends and family. And it’s perfectly timed for Christmas!

Over 60 festive stalls will be on display in the pedestrianised areas of North Street and East Street, with The Cross as the central point.

Travel in style with us to this popular Sussex event, on a guaranteed seat on one of our super comfy coaches with one of our friendly drivers.

 

So everyone can come, we have a range of departure & drop off points:
  • Longridge Avenue A259, Saltdean – 08:30
  • Rottingdean White Horse – 08:35
  • Brighton Old Steine Stop S – 08:50
  • Hove Town Hall Stop D – 09:05
  • Shoreham High Street – 09:20
Return Date & Time
Saturday 9 December 2017 – 17:00

    Book your seats here.

We’re hiring PCV Bus Drivers – immediate start….

The Big Lemon has a reputation for a friendly personal service and we always look for the most cheerful friendly drivers to drive our buses!

We have vacancies for full time drivers, and some part-time drivers, on local bus services. Drivers ideally must be over 25 years of age with two years driving experience. A manual PCV licence is essential.

Salary: £11.10 per hour starting salary, rising to £11.50 after 3 months

Hours: 39 hour per week – overtime available

We offer a workplace pension scheme, full uniform, staff bus pass valid on the whole network, free lunches and the chance to be part of a great team that won the The Award for Best Place to Work in Brighton & Hove at the Brighton & Hove Business Awards in 2016.

We have opportunities for immediate start – if you’re interested please download a Driver Application Form and email it to kelly@thebiglemon.com or call us on 01273681681.

Our now Coach Services Manager explains in a nutshell why it’s great to work here:

We’re 10 years old today!

So The Big Lemon is 10 on 1 September 2017.  And we’ve come a long way since the idea for a truly sustainable, community based bus and coach company lit up like a light bulb in the head of our founder and CEO, Tom Druitt all those years ago.

I wasn’t around in Brighton when it all started but I bet there were plenty of people at the time who were patronisingly dismissive of the whole idea and regarded it as a flight of fancy that would vanish as soon as it arrived.

How wrong they were.

Ten years on, and The Big Lemon has never been stronger. Over those ten years we have built a reputation for being at the cutting edge of environmental innovation, and for great passenger service.  People like us and want to use our services, which is a great testament to all those who have been involved in building the company, not least our drivers who are the public face of The Big Lemon.

Ten years on and we are still innovating and ahead of the game. This year we have introduced the first solar-powered electric bus in the UK and have since added another such bus and an electric minibus. Our solar panels not only power our buses, but our offices too, and have enough power left to export to the grid. Our conversion of diesel vehicles into electric ones is also a first for the UK, and we are working with the Sheffield company Magtec on this frontier-pushing project.

Our first solar powered electric bus launch in                 April 2017.

Ten years on and we are looking to expand the bus routes we offer in the Brighton area and have delivered a set of creative and seductive proposals to Brighton and Hove Council to make this a reality.

Ten years on and our finances have never been healthier, with record profits last year, demonstrating that doing the right thing by the environment and by our passengers makes sound economic sense.

Ten years on and we have accumulated a cabinet full of awards for what we do, and are currently  shortlisted for three more as I write, including two highly prestigious national awards.

So I’d like to say thank you and well done to those who have got us this far. But we are also conscious that this is not the time to rest on our laurels. We have big ambitions to grow and we are already scoping out and pacing the route ahead.

Meet “Om Shanti” the UK’s first solar powered electric bus!

Our new solar-powered bus got a tremendous reception when we had our official launch on Friday 28th April, at our depot in East Brighton:

Om Shanti
*Om Shanti* in the depot on launch day

We were joined by a great number of friends and supporters, and local elected representatives, including the city’s mayor, Pete West:

Our amazing supporters, sponsors, partners, Caroline Lucas MP, Pete West the Mayor of Brighton & Hove with the city’s first zero emissions bus powered by sunshine!

The media were there in force too, and we were especially pleased to have ITV Meridian along, whose coverage can be accessed here.

Big lemon makes History
We made history in The Argus

The specialist press was also present, and here you can see the extensive piece published by Bus And Coach Buyer.

There was a chance for everyone who turned up to have a ride on the bus and everyone seemed impressed. The interior has been tastefully refurbished and is unrecognisable from the vehicle as it had been. As for the drive, people expecting a milk float (as some still do from electric vehicles) were surprised  by both the smooth ride and the impressive acceleration.

The bus is now undergoing trials and awaiting formal clearance to operate as a passenger-carrying vehicle.

There was also a chance to be shot up in the air in a cherry-picker to see the new solar panels that are on the depot roof and that power our new buses, and to have a tour of the depot led by our CEO Tom Druitt.

IMAG6034_1
The solar panels on the depot roof from the cherry picker

The bus used to be a regular diesel bus, and has been converted to a 133 kWh electric bus by Magtec in Sheffield. It is powered by a 21kW solar array on the roof of the bus depot, installed by Brighton Energy Coop and part-funded by Viper IT Solutions, Infinity Foods and Buddies Cafe as part of our M&S Energy crowdfunding campaign last autumn.

Tom & Pete West Placque Unveil
Pete West, the Mayor of Brighton & Hove and Tom Druitt and our Solar Bus Roof sponsor placque

The party was held at Dotties Cafe, a wonderful social enterprise cafe in East Brighton Park, with fabulous food kindly provided by Higgidy Pies and lemon based cakes and vegan curry from Real Junk Food Project, a fantastic collection of craft beers from Crafted Crate, “Lemony lemonade” from Karma Cola and local award-winning gin from Brighton Gin. Thanks guys, what a treat!