Crazy anti-HS2 campaigner of the week. No 33.

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This feature makes it’s first appearance in 2022. Mainly because there’s so few anti HS2 people left out there and the ones that are are nearly all crazy! However, this one is such a classic self-own I couldn’t resist.

Meet Iolo Williams, a minor celebrity in the Chris Packham mould. Like Packham he never lets facts get in the way of his occasional rants about HS2. This time with hilarious consequences! Here’s his tweet from yesterday when Williams channelled his inner Jeremy Corbyn to have himself photographed sitting in the vestibule of a train.

Ignoring the fact he managed to link in a spoof Avanti West Coast Twitter account, not the real one (attention to detail, much?) there’s several problems with his tweet which is just a cut and past job of anti HS2 soundbites. Let’s start with the fact that the new HS2 railway IS “investment in the current network” as it will be part of it, not separate to it. And most delicious irony? HS2 will relieve the very line that Williams is travelling on and complaining about having to sit on the floor! Without HS2 Williams would be doomed to sit on floors forever (as he seems incapable of reserving a seat) because there’s no extra capacity to be squeezed out of the West Coast Main Line. Of course, Williams also seems ignorant of the fact we spent £9bn upgrading that line just 15 years ago, which caused massive disruption for years that led to the service hemorrhaging passengers as it was closed nearly every weekend to allow the upgrades to happen. Those people transferred to far more polluting road transport.

This isn’t the first example of cognitive dissonance and complete absence of knowledge or fact we’ve seen from Williams. I’ve blogged about him before this time last year here when I had to look him up because I’d never heard of him. That’s when I found out he shares other traits with Chris Packham. Both of them fly people around the world on expensive wildlife trips to exotic locations and charge people for their company.

So, we have a ‘conservationist’ who objects to us building low-carbon mass transport that is vital to cutting our biggest source of Co2 emissions (transport) but who’s happy to generate God knows how many tonnes of Co2 flying people around the world. Here’s a list of destinations advertised on his website. Hypocritical, much? Even his Spanish trips advertise flights although it’s perfectly possible to get there by very low carbon transport (rail).

The Costa Rica trip alone involves a round trip flight of just under 11,000 miles!

This is why you should ignore the pronouncements of ‘conservationists’ when it come to the environment. They’re often part of the problem, not part of the solution. Here’s the science these people ignore. What Williams is opposing is on the bottom of this chart. What he’s based a business around is the opposite…

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15th May picture of the day…

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After a busy week we’ve had a quiet weekend here at Bigland Towers. Catching up on sleep was important as next week’s going to be another active and varied one – as will be the next few. Saturday’s weather was glorious with lots of sunshine and balmy temperatures, so the pair of us decided to walk into Halifax and visit the Piece Hall where a friend was exhibiting some of her charcoal artwork as part of a charity fundraising sale. The building and its internal square was packed with people enjoying the weather, bars and shops. It’s such a special place that it’s sometimes hard to remember that you’re actually in West Yorkshire and not somewhere in Italy.

Today the weather’s not been as generous although the threatened rain never materialised. Not that it mattered as we didn’t venture outside until late afternoon when we enjoyed a long stroll around the local area in order to get in some exercise. Halifax possesses some fascination old buildings, many of which have been repurposed over the years, so a wander invariably ends up in a game of ‘guess the house’s original purpose’.

Now we’re back at home and relaxing for the evening. Dawn’s cooking roasted vegetables with lamb rolls and I’m catching up on a spot of picture editing, trying to clear the backlog of pictures I’ve taken over the past few days. OK, it’s not exactly the ‘rock and roll’ lifestyle, but it suits us! Although talking rock and roll (and the Piece Hall, we’ll be back there twice over the next few weeks to see Nile Rogers and Chic, then Paloma Faith.

I’ll leave you now with today’s picture, which was taken at the Piece Hall yesterday, just so you can see what I mean about the building…

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Or – you can now buy me a coffee! https://ko-fi.com/paulbigland68312

Thank You!

The HS2 ‘rebellion’ derails in Staffordshire (day 4)…

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I thought I’d offer an update on the death throes of the HS2 ‘rebellion’ which is playing out in both Staffordshire and (shortly), in the Courts.

Four days ago bailiffs, security staff and police took over the last remaining protest camp on the HS2 route, the so-called ‘bluebell’ camp near Swynnerton. The few occupants remaining were caught with their pants down and the camp was swiftly repossessed. One lad got up a tree and was removed within a few hours whilst it’s believed that only 2-3 others made it into tunnels on the site. Meanwhile, a slightly larger group were surrounded and fenced-in at another nearby woods which they (complacently) thought was a ‘safe-haven’ for them. Cut off from supplies and any reinforcements, they’ve been told they can leave anytime they want, but they won’t be allowed back in.

This fiasco made local news on day one but since the media have shown little interest – and why would they? The unprepared tunnel rats have no communications with the outside world so aren’t producing any propaganda. Instead, the ‘campaign’ are relying on dire Facebook rants from two of the protesters ‘Drew’ (not his real name) who’s corralled inside the ‘bluebell B’ camp and who (judging by his video’s) seems to spend most of his time pissed and on Jim Knaggs who was at ‘Bluebell A’ but not on site when the eviction happened. If you’re suffering from insomnia you could always find Knaggs 20 minute long polemics where he invents a long (long!) list of HS2 ‘crimes’ and whatever else he can think of to fill the time with – including constant appeals to mugs to part with more of their money to fund no-hope court cases and fund the squatters beer, ‘baccy and food bills.

27 shares and 12 comments. Not much of a ‘rebellion’ is it?

Quite how any of these people are meant to be stopping HS2 when they’re hiding in tunnels or corralled behind Heras fencing away from the route is a mystery, but then sense is always in short supply when it comes to trying to talk to these people.

Meanwhile, HS2 contractors and security are busy demolishing the ‘Bluebell A’ camp and preparing to dig out whatever tiny number of tunnel rats remain. Over at ‘Bluebell B’ the impotent protesters bluster (and get pissed) in their cage whilst not being able to do anything else until they get bored, run out of food, fags and alcohol (and whatever other exotic substances they possess) and go home – or get evicted.

It’s farcical. The HS2 ‘rebellion’ has ended not with a bang, but with a whimper. There are no other camps anywhere on the route of HS2 and there’s not likely to be either. On Thursday 26th May HS2 Ltd’s legal team will be back at the High Court in Birmingham where their application for a route-wide injunction will be heard. The Final Hearing is estimated two last 2 days. If the injunction is granted (and there’s every reason to believe that it will) then any further trespass on HS2 land will become a criminal matter. The protesters claim this will make protests against HS2 ‘illegal’ – which is not the case at all. Here’s the wording of the injunction.

Protest will still be legal. Trespass, vandalism, interference and obstruction will not.

There’s another court case pending which has interesting ramifications as it will clear up the legality of protest. The Lord Chief Justice has granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court the case of an HS2 protester (Elliot Cuciurean). The LCJ has certified points of law of public importance for the Supreme Court to adjudicate upon, these are;

(1) Does the Human Rights Act 1998 require a court when determining a charge of aggravated trespass contrary to section 68 of the Criminal and Public Order Act 1994 to undertake a proportionality assessment when the actions under scrutiny occurred during a protest?

(2) What are the circumstances in which a court is required to carry out a proportionality assessment when determining a criminal charge when the actions alleged to constitute the actus reus* of the offence occurred in the course of protest?

*actus reas – action or conduct which is a constituent element of a crime

(3) What principles should a court apply both at first instance and on appeal when a proportionality assessment is required?

The Supreme Court ruling on these matters will remove any ambiguity in the future which is important as it establishes the law around aspects of the right to protest. This may help or hinder the protesters, but it’s important that it’s established.

Either way, it’s not going to save the HS2 rebellion, which is on its death-bed anyway.

I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this or any of the other blogs I’ve written, 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 me to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site (which isn’t cheap and comes out of my own pocket). Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Or – you can now buy me a coffee! https://ko-fi.com/paulbigland68312

Thank You!

Rolling blog. Let’s try that one again, shall we?…

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06:30.

I’m reprising yesterday’s trip to London, only today I’m hoping no-one’s been out cutting signal cables and the day’s punctual and hassle free. Today’s itinerary includes a media visit to a High Speed 2 construction site in the capital. I’ll add details later once it’s done.

Right now I’m en-route to Leeds only this time with a fully functioning laptop – even if it is light on a few programmes and features for now. The main thing is it’s fit for picture downloading and editing.

I’ll blog more later once I’m settled in on the London train…

I have this strange feeling of deja vu…

07:05.

I’m now at the part of the journey where it all went a bit ‘Pete Tong’ yesterday but (fingers crossed) there’ll be no repeat and I’ll be back in London in a couple of hours. I’m on another Azuma and everything is fine and dandy at the moment. My coach is only about a 1/3rd full so I have a table bay to myself. Now I’ve time to catch up on some work and maybe have a doze later. I must admit, I’m looking forward to having a lie-in tomorrow! The weather here in Yorkshire is glorious. Unlike yesterday it’s a fine sunny day. Hopefully London will compete…

08:40.

The trip to London’s gone without a glitch today. We’re now on the outskirts of London and I’ve plenty of time in the bank which will give me time to get pictures before I head off to the media call.

09:21.

Kings Cross looking busy.

10:30.

I’m getting nearer my next appointment and stopped off at Kilburn High Rd on the ‘DC lines’ out of Euston. It’s not a service I use very often nowadays but it has a lot of interest. I noticed this example of railway archeology on the opposite platform. The original station building perhaps (if much altered)?

The old Class 313s that worked the DC lines were replaced by Bombardier built ‘electrostars’ back in the 2000s. Now those trains have themselves been replaced with these ‘Aventra’ trains (also from Bombardier).

13:45.

OK, I can come clean on where I’ve been now. I’ve visited the HS2 tunnel vent construction site at Canterbury Rd in Kilburn, London. I was there along with the HS2 Minister Andrew Stephenson MP. Canterbury Rd is the first diesel free construction site. All the vehicles run on HVO or electricity – including this enormous electrically powered crane.

Before you ask – yes we did go down the vent shaft. It’s only 22 metres deep right now When it’s finished it’ll be 55 metres deep…

15:00.

Whilst I was in London I couldn’t resist a trip on some old friends who are being retired this weekend. The 46 members of the Southern Class 455 fleet have served London and areas South of the Thames since 1982. Now government cost-cutting has forced them into retirement and a one-way trip to the scrapyard from this weekend’s timetable change.

A familiar sight that will disappear this weekend. 455813 on the blocks at London Victoria having worked in from Epson Downs.

I travelled out as far as another old haunt (Wandsworth) photographing several units on the way. I’m sad to see them go as they were part of my London life for so many years and often carried me across the Thames from Victoria to visit friends in South London. It won’t seem the same without them.

Here’s an earlier blog which looks back over their lives and times.

19:00.

Much as I’d have loved to have hung around the rush-hour was starting so it was time for me to begin my journey North as I’ve a lot of things to catch up on. Besides. I’ll be back in London again next week, even if the Southern 455s won’t be!

Right now I’m speeding up the East Coast Main Line on another trouble-free journey. Rather than wait for the 17:33 to Leeds which is often very busy I tried a slightly earlier LNER service to Hull which enabled me to bag a table and begin downloading today’s mass of pictures. I have to change at Doncaster, but I’ve had a productive time so don’t mind.

19:21.

‘Kin hell! The curse of the ECML strikes again! The direct train I swerved (but would have picked up at Doncaster) has been cancelled due to a train fault. I now have over 30 mins to wait. There’s only one thing for it – a pint in ‘The Draughtsman’ on platform 3…

20:05.

My Doncaster sojourn’s been ended by the arrival of the next Leeds train, which is just as well as ‘The Draughtsman’ closes at 20:00 and the temperature’s starting to drop. I’m obviously not a ‘proper’ Northerner anymore, many other occupants of the platform are dressed as if they’re in Greece in June! Me? No, I’ve spent too much time in tropical countries which has obviously thinned my blood!

20:45.

My final train of the day is old school – a Class 158. This one’s working Halifax – Hull shuttles. The unit’s been refurbished with new seats, PIS and USB sockets so it isn’t too bad but you have to wonder how much longer these BR built units have a future.

That said, I’d hope the Class 150s would be for the bin first!

22:27.

It’s time to bring this blog to an end. I’m back at home which is where I’ll be staying tomorrow as I’ve a huge amount of pictures from Germany and the UK to edit – plus a couple of jobs have come in which will see me on the move a lot over the next couple of weeks – and I’ve still a few magazine articles to write. Oh, and there’s a lot more slides and other rail memorabilia to add to eBay

There’s lots to look forward to but right now that means one thing for me. Sleep! There’s only so many 04:30 alarm calls I can cope with in a week!

I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this or any of the other blogs I’ve written, 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 me to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site (which isn’t cheap and comes out of my own pocket). Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Or – you can now buy me a coffee! https://ko-fi.com/paulbigland68312

Thank You!

Rolling blog. Infrarail – and things…

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06:30.

I’m currently sat on Northern’s 06:00 from Halifax to Leeds en-route to London to join day 2 of the Railtex/Infrarail trade fair in London.

195128 arrives at Halifax on the 06:00 to Leeds

It’s a busy time that’s being made far more complex than I’d have liked by the fact so many things are hsppening at once (fairs, press trips and HS2 protester evictions) and to put the cherry on the cake I’ve got ‘technical issues’. The local cable network went down last night – just as my laptop was installing new updates. Now the machine’s having an attack of the vapours which means I’ll have to take it back to factory settings then waste a whole day reinstalling programmes and software on the damned thing! Ho bloody hum! On the bright side, I had time to copy all my files off the machine (just in case) as I’ve learned that the wifi being kaput is the first sign of issues.

So, this blog’s being brought to you courtesy of my smartphone. The weather’s doing its best to add to the gloom as it’s wet and miserable here in the Pennines snd it’s meant to be the same in London where I’m heading. Oh, and I’m also ‘cream crackered’ due to yet another early start after a late night trying to sort out the laptop. Still, as the old saying goes – you can sleep when you’re dead!

Moan over I’m actually looking forward to the next few days. There’s lots to see/do and friends and colleagues to catch-up with. But first, I have to get there…

07:15.

My transfer at Leeds between Northern and LNER was painless as everything was running to time so I had 20 mins to catch the 07:00 to London Kings Cross. This is the fast service that only stops at Wakefield Westgate before running non-stop to the capital, arriving into London at 09:00. LNER run another (slower) departure just 15 mins later which stops at Doncaster Grantham and Stevenage to arrive in London 30 mins behind the 07:00.

Today the train’s quiet. I’m relaxing at a table in coach C where I’m going to try and grab a little more sleep. See you later…

07:25.

So much for sleep! The Train Manager’s just announced we’re stopping at Doncaster where the trains terminating at Doncaster due to cable theft on the line “further down South”. No-one’s any idea what’s happening but the 07:15’s cancelled too…

07:45.

Well, I didn’t expect to be in Doncaster today! Apparently, the theft of signalling cable is between Peterborough and Stevenage, which screws up any chance of diverts via Lincoln. The station staff did a very good job of keeping disgruntled passengers informed and a plan B was soon put in place as LNER tickets are been accepted for travel to London on the Midland route from Sheffield to St Pancras – which is why I’m now sat on a Trans-Pennine Express 185 heading for Sheffield. Judging by how empty the rear set is some people are taking their chances that the ECML will reopen quickly, but as it’s cable theft I’m not risking it.

LNER passengers streaming off the 07:00 to catch unfamiliar traction to Sheffield…
Many didn’t bother heading for the rear of the two sets. I did!

08:25.

The miserable weather’s followed me to Sheffield where I’ve swapped to a rather battered and careworn East Midlands Railway 5-car diesel ‘Meridian’ – a far cry from the smart LNER ‘Azuma’ trains we had to abandon at Doncaster.

Needless to say, the train is very busy as it’s the only way for folks to get to London right now.

14:45

Well, that’s been an interesting few hours but not in any way that I expected. By the time I arrived in the capital I was running over two hours late. Plus, the weather was crap. Taking stock, I made a series of phone calls that meant I didn’t need to be at Infrarail after all. Whilst I’m going to miss catching up with some people I’ve had different priorities to think about. Plus, I’m going to be back in London again tomorrow anyway as I’ve now got a ministerial site visit in the calendar…

So, instead of looking at an arena full of sales stands I quickly nipped over to London Victoria for a last chance to get shots of some of the old ‘Southern’ Class 455s before they disappear after next weeks timetable change. Whilst I was at Ebury St I bumped into an old friend, the former Editor of The Railway Magazine – Chris Milner – who’d had the same idea as me!

Shots in the can I made my way back to Kings Cross to ponder my next move and see what the options were. East Coast services were still disrupted with services to most Yorkshire destinations canned through cancellations so heading back before rush hour and whilst I could seemed like the most sensible plan. I’m now sat on the 13:30 from Kings Cross to Edinburgh which I’ve been using as a mobile hospital whilst I nurse a sick laptop back to health. So far, so good. Restoring it to factory settings has cured the glitches and allowed me to connect to the internet (hence you reading this) but I’ve a long evening ahead of me reinstalling a multitude of programmes to restore full functionality ready for another busy tomorrow. Still, at least I’ll be able to have a good night’s kip tonight!

I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this or any of the other blogs I’ve written, 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 me to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site (which isn’t cheap and comes out of my own pocket). Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Or – you can now buy me a coffee! https://ko-fi.com/paulbigland68312

Thank You!

The HS2 ‘rebellion’ derails in Staffordshire…

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The eviction of the sole remaining outpost of the HS2 ‘rebellion’ began in the early hours of this morning when Bailiffs, security and Police moved in on the woods known as Cash’s Pit near Swynnerton in Staffordshire. It appears the few remaining protesters were taken by surprise, not only at ‘Bluebell’ camp (which was already under a High Court injunction) but also at the protesters satellite camp nearby, which they’d assumed was safe. Their ignorance and complacency was their undoing as HS2 security soon began to surround ‘Bluebell B’ with Heras fencing. The message to the protesters was simple. You can leave, but you’re not coming back – and you’re not getting supplies or reinforcements.

Meanwhile, at the original Bluebell camp Bailiffs and security moved in to begin dismantling the camp and removing any people foolish enough to have defied the High Court injunction. This is believed to be a mere handful as many ‘old faces’ had slunk off recently, leaving only a skeleton presence behind. It’s unclear just how many there are in either camp but the total is looking like it’s less than a dozen.

Of course, the protesters are trying to exaggerate these totals and claim that many people made it into tunnels and up trees. Not that it really matters as this is only going to end one way – just as it did in the other camps that were evicted one by one. Now this is the last act in the farce as there’s no more camps left and later this month the High Court in Birmingham will rule on HS2 Ltd’s application for a route-wide injunction which will ensure there won’t be any more if the injunction’s granted. You can find details of the injunction here.

What’s very telling is that on this occasion there’s so few livestreams coming from the protesters or their remaining supporters. Plus hardly anyone’s watching the ones that are being streamed. Mind you, as much of what’s being broadcast is coming from boring motor-mouth and ‘barrack-room lawyer’ Jim Knaggs that’s hardly surprising. There’s more repetition here than in morning prayers at a Monastery! What’s also clear is that the Bailiff’s and Police have already removed and/or arrested several people. How long the farce will drag is anyone’s guess, but I suspect it won’t be long – especially as the ‘rebellion’ is so weak nowadays.

Here’s one of the handful of people at Bluebell ‘B’ being detained, arrested and taken away earlier this afternoon as reported by ‘Drew’ (not his real name) who’s one of the few who were in the camp at the time.

Note how few comments and shares there are!

I’ll keep you posted on events…

Day 2 update.

The protesters were caught with their pants down. Both camps were virtually deserted. Several people have already gjven up and either been arrested or left voluntarily. No-one is in the trees and it’s believed there’s only two people in tunnels. Bailiffs are in possession of everything above ground at Bluebell and Bluebell B is cut off.

Morale is clearly at rock-bottom as even the protesters realise it’s a lost cause. They’re isolated and alone, havily outnumbered – and wasting their time. This could all be over very quickly.

I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this or any of the other blogs I’ve written, 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 me to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site (which isn’t cheap and comes out of my own pocket). Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Or – you can now buy me a coffee! https://ko-fi.com/paulbigland68312

Thank You!

Rolling blog. Berlin – the return…

04:50 (German time).

Ach – is it that time already? We’ve had a fabulous few days here in Berlin, which is why I’ve not been blogging. There’s been too much to see and do rather than sit down and write especially as the weather’s been so glorious, but right now it’s time to head to the airport for an early flight and return to the sceptic isle, which means I’ll blog about how our trip goes. Our German friend is rather critical of the new Berlin airport as she has to use it regularly for work. For us it seems like a breath of fresh-air after our experiences at Manchester (which we’ve all sworn we’ll never use again if we can possibly help it) so we’ll see what it’s like this time…

I’ve been so busy I’ve not even downloaded any of the pictures from my camera yet, so here’s a mobile phone picture from my solo travels yesterday when I left the rest of the group to their own devices so I could explore some places I’d not not explored before – and some that I had.

Right now it’s time to top up the caffeine levels before catching our ride to the airport. Back soon…

08:15 (German time).

We’re now sitting air-side waiting for our flight to be called. This airport is a breeze compared to Manchester. The Ryanair check in in Terminal 2 was fully staffed – and with happy proactive people who actually offered to help rather than waiting to be asked. The self check in machines all worked and so did the conveyor belts (with hand-held scanners so you could register your luggage). We were through in minutes. Security was equally efficient and the fact that my camera bag was held for a manual check (it nearly always is) didn’t slow us down.

Right Manchester, THIS is how you do it…

My only complaint was the shopping area isn’t fully open so the choice of eateries was very limited. Still, we managed coffees, croissants and sandwiches so all’s well with the world. Now we’re plane-spotting with grandstand views of the runway.

09:45 (German time).

Our ride home’s arrived!

15:30 (UK time).

Home again! This time, getting through Manchester Airport was relatively painless, even if the weather was almost as wet as when we were here last week. We weren’t detained at immigration or baggage reclaim so made it through pretty quickly. The bus pick-up worked well and we soon in Aubrey’s car for the drive through to West Yorkshire – although conditions on the M62 were wet (to say the least). Now the pair of us are back at Bigland Towers getting used to the sudden change in temperature after balmy Berlin! This isn’t the end of the journey for me as tomorrow I’ll be in London at the Infrarail trade fair and I have stuff planned for Thursday which will keep me blogging on another favourite topic – the HS2 railway, but until then I’ll bid you auf Wiedersehen!

I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this or any of the other blogs I’ve written, 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 me to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site (which isn’t cheap and comes out of my own pocket). Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Or – you can now buy me a coffee! https://ko-fi.com/paulbigland68312

Thank You!

Rolling blogs. Berlin day 1…

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09:30.

We’ve had an easy start to the day due to arriving so late last night. We’d not made any plans for our first day anyway but whilst we were en-route I was in contact with a German friend and colleague who lives here in Berlin. Ellen has arranged to meet us for lunch. I’d suggested the group might like to try somewhere traditionally German, so we’re off to Sophieneck in Hackescher Markt.

The weather here in Berlin is gorgeous and such a contrast to rainy, gloomy Manchester. It’s warm and sunny and ideal for a walking tour of the city. I’ve been coming to Berlin regularly for many years now but Dawn (who used to live in Germany many years ago) hasn’t been for 20 years and the rest of the gang are city virgins. It should make for an interesting day…

23:30.

Well, that was a pretty crap rolling blog, wasn’t it? We’ve had such a fun time and seen so much that blogging was the last thing on my mind. Instead, I’ll flesh this out in the morning as I’ve a bit of time before we meet to head out and explore on day 2. Instead, I’ll leave you with a picture of the day – from today).

To me decent, energy efficient and user- friendly public transport is the epitome of a good city. Here’s one of Berlin’s modern low-floor trams which are exactly that.

I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this or any of the other blogs I’ve written, 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 me to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site (which isn’t cheap and comes out of my own pocket). Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Or – you can now buy me a coffee! https://ko-fi.com/paulbigland68312

Thank You!

Rolling blog. Berlin bound…

Having spent the morning pottering around, writing, posting off eBay buyers purchases and prepping the garden to survive our absence Dawn and I are waiting for friends to arrive to take us all to Manchester Airport for our flight to Berlin. I can’t quite believe that after 2 years and one aborted attempt (thanks Covid) the five of us are finally on our way. Sadly sans the 6th Musketeer – Tony Allen – who passed away last year. Still, we’ll sink a few in his memory…

I’ll blog about our journey as and when I can…

15:15.

We’re on our way…

15:42.

Oh, the joys of the ‘cobbled motorway’ (aka the M62)…

16:29.

We’re using a car drop-off place on the Styal Rd, just South of the airport railway delta junction. It’s a great use of acres of disused greenhouses as all the vehicles are kept undercover. Now we’re on the bus to take us to the terminal.

Or second form of transport today…

17:30.

Oh, the fun of Manchester Airport and Ryanair check in. The self bag drop is farcical. Half the label printing machines are broken. When you do get your bag labelled you join another queue to drop off your bag. But there’s only one person doing it. Then the belt’s broken! So we’ve been standing here for nearly an hour! My friends have found a way of passing the time..

1950.

We’re late, fed up of queuing and haven’t had a drink, but at least we’re on the plane…

Saturday morning update…

Our plane was an hour late into the Brandenburg airport but I can’t fault the flight crew, who were a mix of Spanish and Italian. They were lovely. Getting through the airport was a breeze as (unlike Manchester) everything works. Even the immigration staff were friendly although I’ll never get used to our loss of freedom and our new 3rd country status (thanks for nothing Brexiters). As we were arriving so late we’d arranged for a taxi pickup for the half-hour trip to our hotel near Alexanderplatz. We checked in with just 20 nins left before the bar closed at 1AM so headed straight to it before going to our rooms. Once again the staff were lovely and also flexible so we managed to squeeze two rounds in before they shut up shop and we retired to bed at 02:00.

Tomorrow’s a new day…

Rolling blog. Wandering…

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09:30.

It’s Thursday so it’s time for my weekly visit to the ‘other’ valley (the Colne) and Milnesbridge. I’m taking a modified route this week but it still involves walking, trains and canals. I’ll be blogging through the day as I travel, so feel free to pop in and see what I get up to….

10:30.

Having walked down into Sowerby Bridge instead of through to Halifax I’m on my first train of the day, Northern’s 10:22 to Leeds which will carry me as far as Dewsbury. This turned out to be a wise choice as the onboard Passenger Information System (PIS) screen shows onward connections and I noticed the Grand Central service I used last week is cancelled. That would have really screwed me up! Instead I’m on a quiet 3-car Class 195 and stress-free as I’ve time in the bank.

Today’s a good day for a wander. The Mercury is creeping up and the sun is shining through high broken clouds so I’m glad I’ve brought the camera. Plus, it’s interesting to observe early progress on the Trans-Pennine route upgrade (TRU). There’s nothing major to see yet but preperations are much in evidence. Many new safe access to trackside walkways have been installed, existing work compounds enlarged with many new ones being built. Vegetation clearance has been carried out over the past few years (with more needed).

11:00.

My visit to Dewsbury was brief – around 10 minutes. I had just enough time to grab some shots of this attractive and well-maintained station before moving on. As well as being good-looking the station boasts a good little cafe and the excellent West Riding refreshment rooms with its great range of real ales.

My next train was a six-car TPE service fromRedcar to Manchester Airport. Unlike the Northern train it was rammed. A situation exacerbated by the number of students here at Dewsbury who were travelling to college in Huddersfield. Being wedged in a TPE vestibule felt like the old days had returned!

11:30.

Like the students, I decamped at Huddersfield. Running earlier than last week I had plenty of time to buy a delicious bacon roll and coffee at the cafe and get some pictures before my next train.

A few weeks ago this area between the tracks at the East end of Huddersfield was a mass of Buddleia. Now it’s all been cleared, reopening photo opportunities that disappeared several years ago.

12:55.

Everything came together. My train arrived in Slaithwaite on time and the walk along the Huddersfield narrow canal was even easier this week as a lot more of the towpath has been resurfaced. I made it in under 50 minutes. Here’s a view from my journey.

OK, back later…

16:15.

I’m back!

Meeting over I had a mooch around Milnsbridge for an hour and checked out a photo location I’ve not visited before on the road bridge high above the railway to the west of the viaduct and next to the old goods yard. Here’s the view looking West towards Slaithwaite

It won’t look like this in a few years time! Here’s looking in the opposite direction as 802208 comes off the viaduct and passes the site of Milnesbridge goods yard which is now an industrial estate.

Right now I’m back at Huddersfield waiting for the 16:35 to Halifax and basking in the sun as I do so. There appears to be quite a few traincrew issues today with several services (Northern to Sheffield and TPE to Redcar) cancelled with staff shortages being given as the reason. At least my train’s turned up in the shape of a refurbished ex-West Yorkshire PTE Class 158.

22:00.

I’n now home and putting this rolling blog to bed as I’ve got to pack. Why? Because tomorrow our little gang (the 5 from the 6) are off to Berlin for a few days. It’s mine and Dawn’s first trip outside the UK since the pandemic, so we’re really looking forward to it. The next week or so will see me doing a lot of travelling and touring as well as attending a trade fair back in the UK, so expect lots more blogs to come – starting tomorrow when our merry band make our way to Germany via Manchester Airport…

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