30th September picture of the day…

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Tomorrow we enter October, the month when the clocks go back. I’ve an idea – how about we put them back all the way to 2016? Before Brexit, before all the shit’s that’s happened since, and waaaay before anyone had even considered Covid. OK, I know it’s not going to happen. An hour is all we’ll get tops – but I can dream, can’t I?

Fatigue with the 21st century is setting in already as it’s not exactly got off to a brilliant start and I’m not going to be here for the long-haul, so it’s time to think about what I do with the rest of it.

I the meantime, I’m continuing to sort through all the baggage of my life. Here’s something I came across earlier, which harks back to a simpler age. You wouldn’t have Google tracking an ID card like this – and the only time I carried a mobile phone was when I was on call for work. It was one of those weird things with a carbon-fibre ariel but still seemed like cutting-edge tech at the time. It would be another 6-7 years before I got a mobile phone of my own as by then I’d swapped careeer and turned freelance photographer so needed one. Oh, and trust me, even then, the NUJ press card was a damned sight more sophisticated than this effort!

OK, meanwhile, here’s the picture of the day, which is somewhere that could literally be centuries away. This is sunrise over the city of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India, taken in November 1991 when I was on the start of a solo trip around Asia. The view of the fort town was taken from the window of the old building I was staying in. Imagine opening your bedroom window and seeing a view like this?

I spent several days here before booking a 5 day camel safari out into the Thar desert, which is another story (when I get chance to scan the pictures). The people I travelled with were a real multi-national bunch and we had a ball. Sleeping out in the desert in a bed of camel blankets whilst watching for shooting stars was an amazing experience.

I did meet one young German girl back in Jaisalmer for whom the dice really didn’t fall as well on one of these trips. She was the only other person with 6 Israelies. I admired the way she dealt with the situation. Seasoned travellers will know what I mean…

I hope you enjoy these pictures of the day, for me it’s funny how they trigger so many memories and stories.

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29th September picture of the day…

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Just a straight picture today, no rants or biography as I’ve been too busy sorting out work commitments and scanning a few old slides – just to try and keep up the momentum.

I took this shot on the 25th May 2018 at Broadway Junction, New York. I love industrial as well as railway archeology and this fits the bill. The NY metro is elevated at this point and there’s lots of abandoned routes under the existing lines, you can see the girders that supported them sweeping around in broad curves.

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28th September picture of the day…

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Another manic Monday where the hours available were too few to fit in all the tasks at hand…

Despite that, I have had a productive day, even if a chunk of it seemed to revolve around eBay! I had a lot of orders to fulfil this morning, posting pictures and other railway memoribilia countrywide. Plus, I’ve now loaded another 60 plus old slides for sale, with as many again to follow on Wednesday – which should keep me busy when bids close on Sunday! The money’s certainly coming in useful and filling a budgetary gap. Here’s a sample of today’s listings.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/313236729179

I’d hoped that the Covid situation would have started easing now and the tap on work pipe-line would have started to open, but the spike in Covid cases has kiboshed that. Thankfully, I still have several writing jobs to keep me occupied…

I did manage to take a break from staring at a computers screen in order to get some exercise, pick up some shopping and post packages. My timing was excellent as the skies cleared whilst I was out and I had a perfect window for a break on the rocks over looking the Calder Valley, where I could soak up some sun (and vitamin D) whilst answering a few emails. Within an hour of me getting home the weather had turned deathly dull, leaving the day unrecogniseable and giving me no excuse but to knuckle down to some work – not that there’s much else to do at the moment because of the new Covid restrictions!

OK, it’s time for the picture of the day, which combines two loves. Travel and railways. I took it on the 14th December 2010. This is the magnificent railway station in Lucknow, Northern India. It’s a city I’d always wanted to visit but this was my first time. I was travelling through Asia for several months and was trying to arrange an interview with the head of the Delhi Metro Corporation for the International Railway Journal. Then India clamped down on visas because of terrorism and it all got very complicated!

A superb example of what became known as Indo-Saracenic architecture. Lucknow Charbagh station. It was designed by J. H. Hornimen and opened in 1923. Its architecture is a blend of Rajput, Awadhi and Mughal styles.

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26th September picture of the day…

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There’s no long preamble to today’s picture, other than to say it’s bloody cold here up in the Pennines so we’re having an easy night in and the heating’s on! This picture’s from somewhere you don’t need radiators. I took it in Trindidad, Cuba on the 5th January 2006.

An old man pauses to relight his cigar as he takes his Cockerel for a walk – as you do in Cuba…

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25th September picture of the day…

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No politics today, my spleen may still need venting but I’m giving it a day off. Instead I’m happy that I’ve finished the first in the trilogy of articles I’m writing for RAIL magazine about my week long trip around Britain by rail. Part one covers three days, so to me it feels a little rushed. Trying to describe all my experiences in 4000 words is always difficult as there’s so much stuff that I have to leave out – which is the hardest part of writing them. A week travelling around the UK by rail is enough to fill a book, never mind a series of magazine features. Hopefully people will enjoy it anyway.

I’m now going to have the weekend off to concentrate on other things. So – without further ado – here’s the picture of the day, which was taken on the 2nd February 2016 in Galle old town, Sri Lanka.

I’ve always enjoyed Art Deco architecture and this restored house really caught my eye. I’d have loved to have seen if the inside matched…

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24th September picture of the day – and a bit of a rant…

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I’ve had a busy day with Zoom calls for the Community Rail awards and also more ‘type-swiping’ as I continue to scribble my next series of articles for RAIL magazine.

Whilst I’ve been doing this I’ve been keeping one eye on the news as I watch UK events and wonder. I’ve stayed away from political commentary and events recently. Partly for my own sanity but also because some people get upset by it. Today I can’t let the utter madness that engulfing our country pass without some reference.

There’s now just 99 days left before we exit the transition period that’s kept us in the EU and we’re no nearer a deal than we were 4 years ago. If one isn’t struck next month, then there’s not enough time left to do so – which means we crash out of the EU with ‘no deal’ – and the usual suspects will blame anyone (and everyone) they can think of without once taking responsibility for their mess. It’ll be the ‘remoaners’, the people who didn’t ‘get behind’ Brexit, or the Judges, or anyone else who could see what a shit-show this was going to be as their natty three-word slogan (and my, don’t the like those) ‘take back control’ was nothing more than a sick joke.

All the promises of the Brexiters have evaporated like Unicorn farts. Now we hear that the Goverment is proposing a border around Kent to prevent 1000s of trucks clogging the county as they won’t have the paperwork needed to cross the channel. Oh, and then there’s the new border down the middle of the Irish Sea. You know, all those things Brexit fanatics dismissed as ‘project fear’. Of the ‘sunny uplands’ of Brexit we were promised there’s absolutely no sign. Instead, some political zealots still spin the line about ‘opportunities’ they can’t define – or name. Remember these clowns and their claims?

Meanwhile, our economy is about to take another hit from Covid as restrictions are tightened because some people (especially the young) ignored the memo, so a weakened economy is about to take a further hit from something that was entirely avoidable – the Brexitshambles…

Even if a last-minute, face saving deal with the EU is arrived at (and looking at Johnson’s talentless Cabinet I’ve grave doubts that’ll happen) we’ll still be in a worse position than we were. It’s mad. Utterly mad – but welcome to Britain in 2020. The only vision is myopic.

OK, I’ve got that off my chest, so it’s time for a picture of the day which reflects a different time when one country was finally coming out of nepotism and near dictatorship after decades of misrule. I took this picture in Yogyakarta, Java, Indonesia in June 1998.

President Suharto had (finally) stood down earlier in the year. Students like this had been in the forefront of the campaign to oust him, with many losing their lives. This group were supporters of Megawati Sukarnoputri, the daughter of the first president of Indonesia, Sukarno, who Suharto has ousted in a political coup in 1967. They used to demonstrate through the centre of Yogyakarta most days and that’s when I got this shot.

Sadly, Megawati, although elected, proved to be less than capable. However, Indonesia has come through turbulent political and economic times. A sobering thought for the UK is that in 20 years Indonesia is predicted to oust the UK as the world’s 6th most important economy – and we know what’s helped that come about…

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23rd September picture of the day…

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The weather’s been stereotypically grim up North, with low cloud, wind and rain most of the day, so the Calder Valley – well, what you can see of it – hasn’t been at its best. My day’s been spent type-swiping, as an old girlfriend once described her secretarial duties! I’ve been busy writing up part 1 of my Railrover trilogy and (as usual) the problem isn’t what to write – it’s what to leave out. 12,000 words over 3 articles souns a lot until you realise that’s only 4,000 words per article and one of them is three days worth of travelling the country. To be honest I could easily fill a book.

Whilst I’ve been ‘type-swiping’ (copyright Mary Jones!) I’ve been bouyed by the reaction to an article that’s hit the bookstands today. I’d written an eight page piece on the Tay bridge disaster and Sir Thomas Bouch (the man who designed the structure) for RAIL magazine a couple of months ago. It was a complex article as it required a lot of technical research to tell a story many people weren’t aware of. So, when you see reactions like this from an expert in their field it makes you feel it was worth the effort…

Hopefully people will find my travels around the UK’s rail network as interesting!

All this brings me neatly to the picture of the day – which was used to illustrate my Tay Bridge article. This was taken on the 29th May 2019. It shows the new bridge with the piers of Bouch’s ill-fated structure in front.

It’s a fascinating story as this was (thankfully) the only major railway accident in which their were no survivors. You can read the full story in the latest copy of RAIL magazine which is on sale today (you can buy electronic copies by the way…)

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22nd September picture of the day…

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The day started so well…

This morning the sun was shining and all seemed well with the word. OK, let’s qualify that – as well as can be expected in this mad time, despite all the crap and uncertainties facing us all right now. My mood was bouyant and I was looking forward to grabbing a short break away from the office to sit in the sun and do some reading. Then, in short order, it all fell apart for a variety of reasons – including the weather. Low cloud rolled into the valley, the sun disappered, the light became murky and the temperature dropped, taking my mood with it. The latest pronouncements from the Government on Covid were just another nail in the coffin.

So, today’s picture is of a happier place and a happier time. This was taken in Chinatown in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on the 5th January 2012. I was touring through Asia at the time and ended up in KL (which I’ve visited many times) to have a look at their changing railway system and also to get a camera lens repaired as it had packed up a few days earlier. There was a Nikon dealership in KL so I thought it would be straightforward. There was only one problem. The spares for my lens were sourced from Nikon factories in Bangkok – and Thailand had only recently suffered the worst floods for decades so my couple of weeks turned into nearly two months! This was no problem as I was trying to secure an interview with the head of Malaysian railways at the time, and that wasn’t a quick process either – so I got to know KL very well. Many of my evenings would be spent sitting outside a particular Chinese cafe on Jalan Sultan which was a great place to enjoy a beer, a meal, and people watch for an hour or two. On the opposite side of the street were a couple of stalls, one of which was fascinating to watch as they sold Chicken and rice cooked in a claypot.

When all this crap is over I really need to do this again – although the cafe where I used to sit has closed now. It was shut as some businesses were needed to close for construction of the underground section of the new Klang Valley metro system, which I found out when I went back in 2017 – although the Clay Pot stall was still there. I’ll be curious to see how things look now…

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20th September picture of the day…

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I’m back in the back-room of Bigland Towers after a very convivial few hours in our local pub where we’ve spent only the second time since lockdown bumping into old friends. What was so lovely was how the laughter flowed, and laughter is something that’s in rather short supply right now for several reasons – Covid being just one of them…

I’ve missed those opportunities for banter over the past few months. Yes, lockdown and its aftermath has been great for getting some things done, but it’s been shocking for socialising and face to face interaction and the ability to bounce ideas and humour of people.

I’ve made the most of it as it’s looking like the legion of muppets who think social-distancing is for other people are about to take us back into even tighter restrictions. Frustrating isn’t the word for it.

So, I’m brought onto the picture of the day, which was taken in the Paharganj in Delhi, India in 2003. The motorised ‘school run’ is very much a first world problem and one we really need to get a grip of. Kids being ferried to/from school in cars is a nightmare in so many ways. It benefits no-one. In India it’s rather different. Here’s a bunch of ‘posh’ kids being ferried home in the back of a cycle-rickshaw. Kids being kids – as soon as they saw me they started playing up for the camera!

I love street photography in India. You never know what you’re going to encounter and most people are only too happy to pose for a picture.

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Thank you!

19th September picture of the day…

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Today’s picture was – like most of the ones I pick – chosen at random. This one doesn’t come from any exotic foreign destination (far from it) it’s actually something very British. It’s a good old seaside pier! Only this one is very delicate and rather genteel in outlook as this ain’t Blackpool, it’s Clevedon! I took this picture on the 31st March 2001.

I love the elegance and spiderlike simplicity of this structure. I’m no stranger to seaside piers as I grew up in Southport, which has one of the longest in the UK. If I looked through my archive I could probably do a whole blog on seaside piers. Maybe one day…

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