Back to blogging…

Tags

, , , ,

Humble apologies for the lack of blogging recently but I’ve been taking advantage of the country slooowwlllyy opening up to get some work done away from the confines of the Calder Valley. Much as a I love the Pennines and home it’s so refreshing to be able to get out and about again, visit places old and new – and start to see what’s being happening whilst we’ve all been constrained.

In order to do that I’ve been popping over to Merseyside most days (bar today) in order to experience life in the big city and see what’s been happening with the rail network whilst we’ve all been doing our Rip Van Winkle impressions. I’ll blog about some of my experiences in greater detail when I have the time as my wanderings have given me a huge amount of material – and pictures. The pictures are slowly starting to appear on my Zenfolio website in the ‘recent’ section but there’s a few tasters in this blog.

I’d hoped to have been able to capture shots of the new Stadler built trains that will be taking over Merseyrail services from two of the oldest train fleets in the UK – the BR built Class 507/508 fleets. There’s a blog looking back over their lives and times here.

Sadly, the only 777s I could find on the network were a handful confined to barracks at Kirkdale, as you can see here.

Four of the new Stadler built Class 777s grounded at Kirkdale.

Also at Kirkdale was one of the older Class 508 units which had had an ‘interesting’ time at Kirkby when it tried to make its way to Wigan, despite the lack of track, electrification or that there was a chunk of platform in the way. In my day a ‘Kirkby kiss’ was a metaphor for a head-butt. Here’s the Merseyrail unit that tried to recreate the old tradition with a nice little board in front of it explaining what it failed to do…

– and failing at 42mph too…

My wanderings took me over the river to Birkenhead and the Wirral exploring some areas that I hadn’t visited for forty years, which was a bit of an eye-opener. To start with, here’s another ‘new’ train that’s having a few teething problems. OK, I admit, it’s not really new at all, this is ex-London Underground D78 stock converted to diesel power to be used on the Bidston – Wrexham line. The Vivarail conversions cover a variety of traction packages and are actually a clever idea.

As a former East Londoner I may very well have travelled on this old District Line train when it ambled its way across London from East to West. I’m looking forward to see how they work far away from London in the Welsh borders.

Whilst visiting Birkenhead North I was drawn to the dereliction of the old docks which once had an extensive rail network – although that was already well in decline during my last visit in 1981! Now the area looks like a backdrop for a ‘ColdwarSteve’ montage. I spotted this which summed things up for me. Derelict shipyards and docks occupied by a pair of mothballed Royal Navy ships and – what the hell’s an old Blackpool tram doing there?

I’ve got a whole host of pictures to finish editing yet which will appear in another blog. Tomorrow I have a couple of ‘Zoom’ meetings but hope to get them done before then. After that, there’s a lot more blogging to come…

I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this blog, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course (although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab!), but the revenue from them helps to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site – and right now (because of Covid), us freelances need all the help that we can get. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Thank you!

Into the valley…

*blog in preperation as its not a rolling one..*

For a whole host of reasons I’ve escaped from home today. I’ve not ventured far but I have made it Westwards to Todmorden. The weather’s gloriously sunny and the temperature’s made it into double-figures so with everything else going on I thought “bugger it”. Now that lockdown has eased there’s lots more people about as shops and some pubs have reopened. Seeing groups of people out together enjoying themselves takes a little getting used to but it’s a positive sign for the future. We’re all tired of the social isolation so it’s hardly surprising.

I walked down into Sowerby Bridge with the intention of getting a few shots at the station but as the weather’s so good and I’m currently writing an article on the Calder Valley line for a magazine I thought “here’s a good excuse for some new pictures” so I caught a train to Todmorden which is where I am now. Of all the locations on the line this offers the best photographic locations. That saying, I came out with the D5 and only the 50mm lens, so my options are limited!

Still, here’s the very first of the BR built Class 150s that’s called here as I’m typing this…

After decades of service around the West Midlands these units have pitched up here to help replace the Pacers.

14th April picture of the day…

Tags

, , , ,

In an effort to be positive, optimistic and get loads of stuff done I was up and scanning old pictures at 06:30 this morning but by day’s end I find myself in pensive mode for a whole range of reasons. Maybe I’m just feeling the weight of history on my shoulders when I look back at pictures I’ve not paid attention to for nearly 30 years and I realise just how much the world’s changed in that time – as have I.

It’s not that a lot of the day’s been a bad one as I’ve achieved quite a bit, but there’s still a niggling feeling that no matter how hard I run, time’s catching up with me…

The day dawned bright (if not particularly warm) here in West Yorkshire. It’s almost like the weather Gods are teasing us. They dangle Spring in our faces then slap us with frosts and freezing temperatures just to remind us how capricious and powerful they are! Despite the weather, Bluebells are beginning to stick their heads up in the local woods – the brave souls. Back at home the central heating’s still earning its keep especially early morning, although we’re hoping that can’t be for much longer. I’ve noticed the temperature more as I had a crap week on the exercise front compared to the previous so I’d been stuck more indoors but I’m determined to up the ante this one – so far with success, but the long round-trip walk through the woods can still be rather chilly although its wonderful to hear the bird chorus now it’s Spring. You certainly don’t feel alone when you’re walking as you’re followed by the sounds of all manner of feathered creatures – even if you can’t always see the buggers!

Back at home I managed to make a sizeable dent in my email inbox by wading through a four-figure sum of the traffic contained therein. Remember the old days when it was exciting to receive an email? I do – but a bit like my youth – those days are long gone!

I mention stuff like email because of the picture of the day which is from my 1991/92 travels when such things never even existed. Then ‘you got mail’ was a physical letter sent to a ‘poste restante’ address which was normally the main Post Office in a city on your route. It was all a bit hit and miss as many post offices would only hold mail for 30 days before returning to sender (and I lost a few that way) so you had to have a pretty good idea of where you’d be and when.

‘When’ or rather maybe ‘where’ is a question I’ve been asking myself about the location of today’s picture. I’ve loads more new scans to choose from but I’ve been trying to keep the trip linear, so today’s shot comes from the country I moved onto from the last pic in Thailand. I took this in Georgetown on Penang Island Malaysia on the 3rd May 1992. This was my first visit to Georgetown and I fell in love with it immediately. It’s one of my ‘happy places’ and I keep returning to it as a consequence. I really feel at home here. It’s laid-back, cosmopolitan, colourful and with a fascinating history. Oh, and the food is divine because of that melange of cultures.

Of course it was rather different 30 years ago as it was a lot more run-down, but maybe that’s one of the reasons I fell in love with it. It had the air of a place time had rather passed by – as this shot shows. I had to chuckle when (as an English speaker) I saw the name of the coffin shop…

Nowadays many of these of Chinese shop-houses have been converted into fancy homes or boutique hotels or eateries. It’s a double-edged sword. On one hand old businesses like this are forced out because of prices and the area becomes more gentrified and loses some of its history. But, on the other, it means more are restored to their former glory. My concern is that it could mean the place becomes another Singapore where the buildings are saved but the character of the place is lost.

You’ll be able to find more of my pictures from Malaysia in this gallery very soon…

I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this blog, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course (although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab!), but the revenue from them helps to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site – and right now (because of Covid), us freelances need all the help that we can get. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

13th April picture of the day…

Tags

, , , ,

Apologies for my absence over the past few days but I’ve been concentrating on other things. It’s the old story, there’s only so many balls a juggler can keep in the air at one time!

Like many people I’ve spent several days in awe at what the weather’s been throwing at us. It’s been bleeding ‘Baltic’ up here in the Pennines as the Mercury has dropped below freezing and we’ve been gifted with alternating show and hailstorms or bright sunshine. There’s certainly been some spectacular weather patterns but I’m hoping we can now have temperatures back in double figures – especially as we’re no longer in ‘Lockdown’ and the country is slowly returning to normal. To be honest, it’s made little difference to me as I’ve stayed away from those initial crowds as people queue to get back into shops or pub beer-gardens. I’m happy to wait a bit longer and let the novelty wear off again. I’ve still plenty to keep me occupied at home.

That said, I’m looking forward to being able to get out and about when the time’s right but in the meantime I’ve still several things to tick off my lists and until commissions start coming in I doubt I’ll be going far. Instead I’m still wading through work at home and trying to get another juggling ball in the air by beginning to scan old slides again and get as many done as I can before the summer months.

Here’s one from the latest batch of scans from my 1991-92 trip to Australia via SE Asia. I took this in the Khao San Rd in Bangkok, Thailand on the 12th April 1992 which was during the Thai festival of Songkran (Thai New Year) which is also a water festival.

Traditionally, Thai’s would pour water pouring on Buddha statues and the young and elderly is a traditional ritual, representing purification and the washing away of one’s sins and bad luck. But that’s been broadened out to Songkran being one glorious, nationwide water fight!

In the picture a couple on foot are unaware of what’s heading their way from a hotel balcony!

Back in 1992 the Khao San Rd wasn’t as big, bold and brash a tourist area. Many of the little hotels like this have given way to much bigger complexes as tourism to Thailand has grown massively in the intervening 30 years. Back then it was a real backpacker hub as Bangkok was a crossroads for people criss-crossing Asia. It still is, but now there’s many more less adventurous tourists too. I’d just flown in from Nepal and spent the first 48 hours as sick as a dog as I’d contracting food poisoning just before I left Kathmandu. I hadn’t known about Songkran (I didn’t buy a Thailand Lonely Planet guide till I arrived and could sell my Nepal copy) so it was quite an unexpected but welcome surprise and a real pick-me-up. To add to the fun, the local hoteliers association had set up strategic water dumps along the street – groups of 40 gallon oil drums that they kept filling up with a water tanker that sucked water up from the nearby Chao Praya river. People would hang around them with whatever water container they could find, waiting for victims. Tuk-Tuk drivers were especially prized as a way of getting your own back on people who’d been charging you extortionate fares, tio their credit, they took it in good spirit! For two days we had an absolute ball! Bangkok is so hot and sticky that time of the year it was bliss to be so wet. Mind you, the fun came at a price for me. I’d carried my camera around in a couple of plastic bags so that I could get shots of the fun without taking too many risks – or so I though. Sadly, I got caught in the same way as this and on the 2nd day my Nikon F801s (nice camera, not very waterproof) caught the full force of a soaking. Despite taking it into the Nikon dealers a couple of days later it was a right-off (the electronics were fused) and a new one cost me £358. Even so, I couldn’t be upset as the fun was worth it. You can find my other Songkran pictures here. I’ve always promised myself I’d get back to Thailand for Songkran – only with a proper waterproof housing for my camera. Of course, it’s Songkran in Thailand right now, so I hope my Thai friends are enjoying it, even if the atmosphere will be subdued because of Covid. Maybe next year…

I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this blog, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course (although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab!), but the revenue from them helps to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site – and right now (because of Covid), us freelances need all the help that we can get. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Thank you!

The truth about Jones’ Hill woods and Roald Dahl that you won’t hear from anti HS2 protesters…

Tags

, , , ,

Mind you, you won’t hear the truth from much of the UK media either! Sadly, many journalists lazily recycle whatever the protesters tell them without once bothering to fact-check any of it – which is why this fairy story about a supposed connection between Dahl and Jones’ hill woods has managed to spread.

Who to trust? Was Jones’ Hill woods really the inspiration for Roald Dahl to write ‘Fantastic Mr Fox’?

Well, how about the Roald Dahl museum? If anyone should know about this they should, surely? This is what they say about the inspiration for Dahl’s story on their website.

“Roald Dahl lived with his family in Great Missenden, a village in Buckinghamshire, UK. Their house was surrounded by fields and woods. As a passionate lover of the countryside, there was one particular tree – known locally as “the witches tree” – that sat on the lane near the Dahl home and came to inspire one of Roald’s own favourite stories: Fantastic Mr Fox.

The “witches tree” was a large, 150-year-old beech. Sadly the tree is no longer standing but when his children were growing up Roald always used to tell them that it was where Mr Fox and his family lived, in a hole beneath the trunk, just as the Fox family do in the story.”

So, not only was it NOT Jones’ hill woods – it wasn’t even a woods but a single tree that no longer exists and hasn’t for donkey’s years (hardly surprising as Beech trees have a typical lifespan of 150–200 years). Yet again we find those opposed to HS2 just making stuff up for their own ends (just like the ‘children’s memorial’ and dozens of other ridiculous claims).

The story gets detailed even more in this report called “Finding Fantastic Mr Fox” by the BBC’s ‘Countryfile’ which claims that:

“Beloved children’s author Roald Dahl once lived and worked in rambling Gipsy House, on the edge of the sleepy Chilterns village of Great Missenden, and when stumped for inspiration he would walk in nearby Angling Spring and Hobshill woods. It was among these ancient beeches and carpets of bluebells that Dahl set some of his best-loved stories, including my favourite, the tale of Fantastic Mr Fox. Dahl had a favourite tree, an enormous gnarled specimen in the heart of the wood, which he called The Witches’ Tree“.

Note no mention of Jones’ Hill woods, even if this report slightly contradicts the Roald Dahl museum.

And there’s more! In 2016 the Independent newspaper carried a story called ‘on the trail of Roald Dahl in Great Missenden‘. In this piece it claims that;

“Angling Spring wood was the inspiration behind one of the writer’s most charismatic characters, Fantastic Mr Fox. The gnarled Witches Tree is said to be where the four-legged family lived.”

Yet again, no mention of Jones’ Hill woods. But there’s more..

The Bucks geology website has an illustrated guide to walks around Great Missenden published by the Chiltern’s Conservation Board (who also might be expected to know the truth) which contains this informative piece.

So that’s another vote for Angling Spring wood – but no mention of Jones’ Hill! Here’s some more perspective courtesy of the Ordnance Survey. I’ve marked the position of Jones’ Hill and Angling Spring woods in relation to Whitefield Lane in Great Missenden, where Dahl lived. As you can see from the map, it backs onto Angling Spring wood.
Distance wise, Jones’ Hill is over 3 miles walk from Great Missenden High St. In contrast, Angling Spring woods are right next to Dahl’s home! Now, if you’re going walking with young children, which woods would you chose to take them to – a local one near home or one that’s more than a six mile round trek where you have to walk past loads of other woodland just to get to it?

If I can fact-check this claim by spending just a few minutes on Google, why can’t the BBC or any other journo’s do the same? Because it’s just too easy to swallow whatever the protesters tell them as it makes a nice tear-jerking story and to hell with whatever the truth is! As the old adage goes, never let the facts get in the way of a good story…

Not letting the truth get in the way is exactly what HS2Rebellion and the protesters have done. Yesterday HS2rebellion reposted serially failed Green Party candidate Mark Keir claiming to be pointing out the actual ‘Mr Fox’ tree being felled in Jones’ Hill wood on their laughably entitled and thoroughly dishonest “Save Roald Dahl wood” Facebook page!

How you chop down a tree that fell down in a completely different wood in 2003 is a mystery known only the anti HS2 protesters.

I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this blog, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course (although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab!), but the revenue from them helps to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site – and right now (because of Covid), us freelances need all the help that we can get. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Thank you!

7th April picture of the day…

Tags

, , , ,

Apologies for the lack of pictures recently, I’ve been sidetracked by various other events like the farcical protests against the HS2 railway which I can’t resist poking fun at! That the protesters have a level of bombast that’s inverse proportions to their ‘achievements’ is too good an opportunity to miss – hence my earlier blog today.

I’ve also been keeping busy trying to catch up on some work after the bank holiday where I took some ‘us’ time in order that Dawn and I could work together on household/garden projects rather than being holed up in separate ‘his and hers’ offices where we only come together to eat. One of the ironies of this working from home malarkey is that we still contact each other via email even though we’re only separated by a floor! I’ve no doubt we’re not the only ones and I suspect some readers of this blog might be breathing a sigh of relief whilst saying to themselves – “thank heavens it’s not just us”!

Whilst the old slide-scanning has had to take a bit of a backseat I’m still managing to get a few ‘banked’ ready for editing although my Zenfolio gallery page is a country behind at present as I’m scanning pictures from Thailand whilst editing and adding ones from Nepal. I doubt I’ll be able to catch up with myself either as I realise the most important thing is to have the pictures scanned as I can only do that at home whilst the editing can be done anywhere. I have dreams of taking a month off in Asia at a gorgeous beach somewhere where my days are split between relaxing and slowly editing pictures as the mood takes me. Mind you, it’s not just the slide scans. Recent events (mostly deaths, sadly) have made me realise that I’ve got a huge digital archive that I’ve never really sorted out and must get around to doing – one day. Maybe that month on the beach needs to be extended to two as I’ve got some wonderful material for a whole host of picture of the day blogs and ‘trips down memory lane’ – a series I’ve sadly neglected recently as there’s been too many other things to concentrate on.

I have to admit blogging has been one of the things that’s helped keep me sane throughout the Covid lockdowns. It’s a catharsis, a way of purging oneself of thoughts, feelings and ideas that need an outlet. The fact so many of you have signed up to read these rambles is as gratifying as it is mystifying but thanks – at least I know I’m not shouting in an empty room!

The mental gymnastics many of us have had to put ourselves through to get through this unique time with its unparalleled challenged is (sort of) reflected in my choice of picture of the day. Only these gymnastics are physical rather than mental – although they’re no less extreme!

I took this picture in Bhaktapur in the Kathmandu Valley, Nepal on the 13th March 1992. Myself and a mixed group of fellow travellers whom I’d met up with on the overland trip from India had got the bus from Kathmandu and stopped off on our way up the valley to Nagarkot. Whilst we were wandering around the square and I was busy taking pictures I spotted a crowd, so (naturally) my curiosity was piqued and I strolled over to see what they were gawping at.

It was an elderly Hindu Sadhu (a holy-man) who’d put himself in an extreme yoga position where he stayed for hours whilst raising alms from the admiring crowd. His long dreadlocks and fantastic eyebrows gave an indication of his real age, but his posture belied his years.

I’ve always been full of admiration for the fact so many Asian people of advanced years are far more supple than their Western counterparts – even if this is an extreme example. Still, it does show you the benefits of practising Yoga, something I wished I’d found the time to keep up doing. Maybe I’ll add it to the rota when I’m on that beach…

I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this blog, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course (although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab!), but the revenue from them helps to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site – and right now (because of Covid), us freelances need all the help that we can get. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/Thank you!

HS2 protesters go ‘beyond the fringe’…

Tags

, ,

Those of you of sufficiently advanced years or whom have a penchant for classic comedy may know of the 1960s satirical series ‘Beyond the fringe’ that starred Peter Cook, Jonathon Miller Alan Bennet and Dudley Moore. In one memorable sketch Peter Cook and Johnathon Miller spoofed the British in World War Two. The skit contained these (now famous) lines:

Peter Cook: “I want you to lay down your life, Perkins. We need a futile gesture at this stage. It will raise the whole tone of the war. Get up in a crate, Perkins, pop over to Bremen, take a shufti, don’t come back. Goodbye, Perkins. God, I wish I was going too.”

Parodies beget parodies – albeit sometimes unintentionally, and today – with their ‘war’ going so badly the anti HS2 protesters at Jones’ Hill wood provided their very own ‘futile gesture’!

This morning a handful of them attempted to block a road by the tried, tested (and serially failed) method of a ‘lock-on’. In this case an old oil drum containing concrete that a couple of protesters fastened their arms into. Some even boasted about the barrel used as it had been recovered from a previous camp and nicknamed ‘big boy’. The ‘cunning plan’ being this device would supposedly take ages to break into so they’d cause maximum disruption by preventing HS2 workers getting to work. Only a futile gesture it was…

The protesters and their ‘lock-on’ were in place before contractors arrived for work but they didn’t stop anyone getting there, they merely caused a traffic jam as vehicles were left nearby. The police soon arrived en-masse and shortly after midday the ‘lock-on’ had been cut up and rendered unusable and the pair of protesters taken away, presumably to be charged under S241 of the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992 for trying to prevent people going about their lawful employment. So, that’ll be two more of the tiny number of protesters left having their wings clipped by bail conditions then! It’s a kamikaze tactic that doesn’t stop a thing, but it gives the protesters something to stick on social media where they’ll get lots of ‘thoughts and prayers’ from useless keyboard warriors – as if that will stop HS2!

Here’s the Facebook post from serially failed Green Party candidate Mark Keir who’s one of the tiny number of regular protesters at Jones’ Hill wood.

The numbers for likes, shares and comments aren’t exactly what you’d call setting the world alight…

At this stage I don’t know if other arrests were made, but the fact there’s only a handful of protesters taking part tells you all you need to know. Meanwhile, what was happening inside Jones’ Hill wood? It was business as usual for HS2 ecologists, contractors and security staff – as this screen-shot of another of Keir’s video posts demonstrates!

So much for stopping people getting to work! In the video Keir hurls insults and expletives at the HS2 workers and security people as they go about their work unhindered.

It was also business as usual at all the other 300+ worksites on the HS2 route too as this was the only protest. Elsewhere there were a few people grumbling as they filmed work going on, but that’s hardly stopping HS2, is it?

I wonder how many more of these futile gestures the protesters can afford to mount before they run out of volunteers? The more the merrier in some ways as it has the effect of stripping the camps and making them easier to evict when the time comes – which will be soon for the remaining few camps. It’s soo tempting to resort to another WW2 parody about ‘for you, the war is over’ – but I’ll resist the temptation – honest!

Of course, the protesters like to claim that they have almost universal local support for their stupid stunts. The reality is rather different. Some residents don’t take very kindly to having these waste of time protests blocking roads – as this illustrates…

I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this blog, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course (although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab!), but the revenue from them helps to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site – and right now (because of Covid), us freelances need all the help that we can get. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Thank you!

6th April picture of the day…

Tags

, ,

Well, what a weird day weather-wise that was! There’s an old Crowded House record called ‘four seasons in one day’. That’s exactly what we’ve had here in the Pennines – and over a large chunk of the country apparently. Freezing temperatures, an icy wind and a mix of clear skies and storm clouds as dark as Hades have produced a constant rotation of snow, sleet and sunshine. It’s actually been quite entertaining to watch – but not so much fun to walk in! Instead, I’ve spent most of the day sheltering from the storms to work from home, catching up on work and scanning yet more old slides to add to the repository ready for scanning. Its a slow process at the moment as so many need retouching in Photoshop due to the blemishes and scratches. Even so, I’ve added another selection from India and Nepal to this gallery.

Tempting as it is to delve into the past to use one of these archive shots as the picture of the day I’m going to take the rare step of using a video that I took of some of the weather we experienced earlier – just for a change!

West Yorkshire, in April. In the hour before I filmed this we’d had a mix of sunshine, sleet and slight snow on an endless cycle

I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this blog, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course (although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab!), but the revenue from them helps to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site – and right now (because of Covid), us freelances need all the help that we can get. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Thank you!

It’s the end of the line for ‘StopHS2’

Tags

, , , ,

Funny how you never hear real news on the StopHs2 website – especially when it relates to yet another of their failures! Just as there was total radio silence about ‘Campaign Manager’ Joe Rukin’s embarrassing (and expensive) legal fiasco last October, there’s been no public announcement that the man’s finally admitted what the rest of us have known for years – he’s been wasting his time!

This fact has finally dawned on Rukin, who sent an email around to the groups supporters at the end of March – after yet another legal failure when his latest application for a Judicial Review was dismissed. Here’s part of what Rukin has said.

True to the end, Rukin’s not been honest with people. The truth is that he’s been looking for a proper job for several years now and the real reason he’s stayed is because he didn’t get one. Rukin’s retirement means that the only person left is Bournemouth based Penny Gaines, so effectively, it’s game over. I mean, seriously – ‘StopHs2’? based in Bournemouth? As a campaign group StopHS2 have been irrelevant for several years as they never managed to secure what they needed to stop HS2 – political support. The writing’s been on the wall since 2014 when the Phase 1 Hybrid Bill passed with such whopping majorities (both in the Commons and Lords). Cross-party support for HS2’s never wavered (despite some of the nonsense claimed by people like Rukin) and without the political numbers adding up in their favour – they were toast. The demise of StopHs2 puts the final nail in the coffin that already contains the remains of ‘AGAHST’ (Action Groups Against HS2), the High Speed 2 Action Alliance’ (HS2aa) and dozens of local ‘action’ groups up and down the HS2 routes.

Now, the only thing left is the dwindling number of protesters allied to Extinction Rebellion, Hs2Rebellion and the local Nimbys who support them. It’s only a matter of time before the bell tolls for them too. Despite their bombast and bluster they’ve not stopped a thing. Now they’re reduced to boasting of ‘delaying’ pockets of work on HS2 (conveniently ignoring the fact what’s caused the most delays to the project has been the Government shilly-shallying with reviews). The protesters ‘protection camp’ network has been shrinking ever since last summer, with many camps now being redundant as there’s nothing left to ‘protect’! Meanwhile, site clearances and construction on Phase 1 have ramped up massively, completely overwhelming the puddle of protesters. Now, Phase 2 has been given the go-ahead and a contract to create new woods and wetlands as part of early environmental works on the route between the West Midlands and Crewe was signed on April 1st.

The days of the final ‘protection camps’ that have any relevance to the route are numbered and we can expect to see their demise happen soon. No doubt there will still be isolated protests here and there and some people will be left in pointless camps on private land, out of harm’s way, but they’ll be posturing, nothing more.

The campaign to stop Hs2 never stood a chance. Now it’s spluttering to an ignominious end…

I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this blog, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course (although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab!), but the revenue from them helps to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site – and right now (because of Covid), us freelances need all the help that we can get. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Thank you!

3rd April picture of the day…

Tags

, , , ,

The country may be slowly reopening but this Easter our focus has been on the home front. No exotic jaunts or days out just slogging to do work around the house. I suppose you could call it a traditional Easter in some ways as we joined dozens of other people trying to get into a local DIY superstore (B and Queue, as it were)…

For years we’d promised ourselves that we’d do something about the virtually inaccessible narrow strip of land above our terraced garden at the back of our house. It’s not our land, in fact none of our neighbors know who owns it either. It’s been left to turn into a mess of Russian vine, ivy and Sycamore trees which have started to encroach on us and overwhelmed the gorgeous Boston Ivy that we used to have covering the high wall at the back of the terrace. The only way to gain access to the strip is by dropping a ladder over the wall from the road above it, so the for the past few days that what I’ve done. Today, armed with extra cutter C/o B&Q and myself joined by Dawn, we made some serious inroads into the mess, clearing all the parapet above our cottage and making some serious inroads into the neighbors on either side (much to their appreciation). We did it all with hand-tools which was masochistic but damned good exercise – even if I expect to feel sore tomorrow!

The Russian vine (God, how I hate that stuff, there’s a very good reason its other name is ‘mile a minute’) has taken a severe beating and several Sycamores trees are no more – none of which were occupied by any nesting birds, so I’m not expecting a visit from anti HS2 ‘tree protectors’. Taking these things down with a Bow saw certainly gives you a workout! Dawn was convinced that the work would give us a lot more light but I was skeptical. In the event I was proved wrong. It’s made a huge difference. Now we just have one more tree trunk remaining and a load of ivy to clear – as well as cutting up some of the Sycamores that have fallen into the gardens (the rest we’re leaving on the derelict land as a wildlife sanctuary). So, hardly the most exciting bank-holiday weekend but satisfying nonetheless.

Now, in the finest Monty Python tradition, it’s time for something completely different – the picture of the day. I did manage to get a few more old slides scanned yesterday evening and this is one of the results. I took this picture on the 14th March 1992 at the Buddhist temple at Bodnath, just outside Kathmandu in Nepal. A small group of us who’d met on the way from India had stayed in Nagarkot in the Kathmadu valley and then walked back to the city. Bodnath was en-route. The stupa is huge and the site is a fascinating place to visit, even if you’re not of any religious persuasion as it’s a great place to people watch as the devout (many of whom are Tibetan refugees) walk around the base of the stupa singly or in groups, spinning their personal prayer-wheels or using the ones that line the base of the tower whilst prayer-flags (like so much bunting, only with a more meaningful purpose) flutter in the breeze.

I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this blog, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course (although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab!), but the revenue from them helps to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site – and right now (because of Covid), us freelances need all the help that we can get. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Thank you!