11th August picture of the day…

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Today’s been a productive – but also hot and sticky, day. 5000 words and a lot of research later my latest magazine article was emailed to the publishers this afternoon. Meanwhile, the next edition of RAIL – which contains an earlier article of mine as well as pictures illustrating others – hits the news-stands. There’s always a sense of achievement mixed with relief when a complex article’s finished. With the weather being what it is at the moment I’m looking forward to being released from the confines of the office, althought there’s still much to do. In less than a months time I’ll be starting my bi-annual tour of the rail network for RAIL and that’s going to present some very special challenges this year as well as a unique opportunity. This time planning will be far more important as options for travel and accomodation will be restricted. Even so, I can’t wait. After being cooped up for so long it’s going to be a delight to be back exploring.

The subject of exploring brings me neatly onto the picture of the day. Back in 1992 I was travelling through Sumatra and met up with a group of like-minded people who persuaded me to sigh up for a 10 day jungle trek on Siberut, the main island of the Mentawai Islands, 150km off the West coast of Sumatra. It was the most amazing experience. Joni, our excellent guide arranged for us to say in Umas – the communal village houses of the indigenous people who lived a hunter-gatherer existence out in the jungle. Our hosts were the local medicine men, the Sikerei, here’s one, who was an incredible character. I took this picture in May 1992…

T3763. Medicine man. Siberut. Mentawai Islands. Indonesia. 1992.

If you want to see more photographs of my trip to the interior of Siberut, you can find them by following this link.

 

 

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10th August picture of the day…

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It’s late and it’s been a long day where I’ve spent most of my time writing and researching a magazine article but that’s been fun as I’ve learned a lot in the process, which is always a bonus. I’ll say more about it when I have a publication schedule. I’ve also been ‘zooming’ to talk to a station friends group who’ve entered the Community Rail awards. To say the limitations of the  technology let us down would be an understatement. Anyone who claims this is the future is talking out of a fundamental orifice! It’s a reasonable substitute for face to face meetings in these Covid times, but it will never replace them.

It wasn’t the best day to be stuck indoors as the weather here in West Yorkshire’s been hot and humid with a mix of sunshine and showers. The rest of the week’s weather is looking mixed too – which might supply some photographic opportunities after tomorrow when I’m free of the office as the article I’m writing will be submittted.

The theme of storms leads me neatly into the picture of the day, which was taken at Coral Bay on the Perhentian Islands, Malaysia on the 8th October 2009. These East coast islands close later that month as the Monsoon brings stormy weather that render them inaccesable to tourists. On this day we were given a taste of what that must look like as this particular storm approached and I managed to catch it on camera…

DG36861. Approaching storm. Coral Bay. Perhentian Islands. Malaysia. 8.10.09.crop

You can find more pictures of these beautiful Islands here. Perhaps I’ll get back there one day….

 

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9th August picture of the day…

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Work and other pressure have meant that I’ve had to let blogging drift for a few days as there’s just not been enough time to do everything that I’ve been wanting to. Even my normal exercise regime has gone to rat-shit this week so I’m determind to pick up the pace next week – which promises to be challenging as there’s a lot to fit in!

On the bright side, all those of you who’ve been buying railway memoribila and old railway slides from me off eBay have your orders sitting in our local post box, ready for collection in the morning. I still have various old railway slides for sale and here’s a sample. For those of you watching in black and white, here’s what the link shows you!

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Right, lets move on to the picture of the day….

As well as everything else I’m doing at the moment I’m still trying to keep scanning other old slides as I’m determined to finish my railway archive before the end of the year. Right now I’m on an album of pictures from 2001-2002 which was when we started building what was then known as the Channel Tunnel Rail Link (CTRL) from London’s St Pancras station through to the existing high-speed line at Fawkham Junction in Kent that would make the trundle along the existing ‘classic’ line to Waterloo International redundent. The finished product wouldn’t open until 2007. As I was still living in London in those days it was a project I followed with interest and popped down to the worksites around St Pancras every couple of weeks – hence today’s picture. Right next to the original St Pancras station was a cluster of old gasometers which has to be demolished to make way for the extended station. I was there on the evening of the 24th July 2001 when the weather was perfect and got this picture.

09607. Gasometers. Kings Cross. 24.7.01. 09607. (1)

Unless you know the area around Kings Cross and St Pancras it’s difficult to explain what a transformation they’ve experienced in the past 20 years. It wouls literally take a book. All I can say is I’m glad to have known it then as well as now…

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Time enough to blog – and a new Magazine…

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I’m back after a hectic few days which have left me little time to blog as I’ve been busy writing a magazine article for RAIL and catching up on other work commitments. Today’s been in similar vein although Dawn and I did make our weekly trip over to Huddersfield to do the shopping for her parents. Whilst we were there we met up with a couple of colleagues in a pub beer garden – about the only place you’re officially allowed to now we’re in local Covid ‘lockdown’ and the rules and regulations have got increasingly complicated and bizarre.

It was good to see the pair of them. Graham gave me a copy of his new magazine which I’ve supplied pictures for and I look forward to contributing articles in future editions.

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‘Train Traveller’ is published by my friends at Key publishing. It’s a glossy, 115 page mag that features various writers experiences of travelling by rail all across the world. As you can see from the cover it features destinations both whimsical and exotic and talks about the experience of rail travel from the passengers perspective, not about the technical minutiae of railway operations. It ranges from New Zealand (shown on the cover) to a chance meeting of people on a Grand Central train to Yorkshire.

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There’s also book reviews and features from such well-known writers as Micheal Williams of the ‘On the slow train’ book series.

You can order the magazine though Key Publishing’s website by following this link. The magazine descibes itself like this

Train Traveller is the eagerly awaited publication for people that travel by rail just because they can. Covering inspirational routes in the UK and overseas, classic rail architecture, memorable journeys and spectacular destinations, Train Traveller is the antithesis of network delays and operator strikes. At its best, rail travel is an amazing experience, this special volume focusses on that best.

Train Traveller highlights journeys from both sides of the Equator and encourages travellers to escape the hire car rat race to view the world in comfort.”

Why not not order a copy, put your feet up and enjoy the travel experiences from the safety and serenity of your own home right now, seeing as many of us have had our travel wings clipped for now?

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4th August picture of the day…

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Apologies for no picture (or blog) yesterday. I’ve rather a lot on at the moment and I didn’t manage to find the time to fit one in on top of everything else. I’m writing writing for pay not pleasure this week, so something has had to take a back seat. On the bright side, once this week is over I should have more time to fit in a lot more things, including scanning more old slides as well as actually getting out and about for (hopefully) my first trip on the UK rail network since March.

Oh, I have added a few more bits of railway memoribilia and surplus slides to eBay, but as I’ve reached my sellers limit there’s no more on offer for now. Here’s one of the items on offer, a Pullman car company badge.

OK, onto the picture of the day. The weather’s wild and windy here in West Yorkshire still, so I thought I’d brighten up life with a bit of sunshine – but not any old sunset. This is something very different. Here’s a classic old ‘toast rack’ tram on the former Carioca aqueduct in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, taken on the 7th August 2002.

T13535. Tram on the Arco de Treles at sunset. Centro. Rio de Janeiro. Brazil. 7.8.2002crop

Sadly, following a fatal accident in 2011 the service has been cut back from what it was when you could get a tram all the way to Santa Teresa. You can find more pictures of the tramway (and Brazil) in this gallery.

 

 

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2nd August picture of the day…

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No musings today, instead I’m taking you straight to a picture. For once it’s not some far-flung destination. Instead it’s just down the road. This picture was taken in Bradford city centre on the 21st September 2019. It was a glorious September day and I was passing through on my way between the city’s two railway stations when I spotted the crowds of people congregating in the square near the town hall where people were playing in the fountains. The autumn light meant they were backlit, which produced this image.

DG334539. Kids playing in the fountains. Bradford. 21.9.19crop

If you want to see more of my UK travel pictures you can find them in this gallery on my Zenfolio website, Don’t forget that you can buy prints of any of thes pictures.

 

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1st August picture of the day…

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Today’s been very much about pictures – and DIY. I’ve been busy at home catching up on chores and also trying to get a few more old slides scanned as the momentum’s been lost a bit recently. You can find the latest selection by following this link. All the shots are from 2001 as I’ve moved on to the final few albums which are all from this century.

That said, I’ve also added another selection of old slides and railway badges to my eBay account. Feeel free to take a look as there might just be something that tickles your fancy.

https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Railway-badge-Pullman-car-company/313168801798

OK, here’s the picture of the day, which comes from the port of Rafina, Greece. It was taken at dawn on the 21st September 2002.

T14172. Side of a ferry at dawn. Rafina. Greece. 21.09.02crop

I love island-hopping by ferry and there’s few places like Greece to do it! This particular morning the sunrise was stunning and it illuminated the side of this ferry to perfection.

If you want to see more pictures from Greece, follow this link.

 

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31st July picture of the day…

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Oh, what to pick today? Oh, I know – how about this one from Australia’s Fraser Island, which I took on the 21st January 2007.

TD01986. Wreck of the Maheno. Fraser Island. Australia. 21.1.07.

This is the wreck of the TSS Maheno, which has been beached on the island since 1935 when it was en-route to Japan to be cut up for scrap and never made it. Here’s the story of the Maheno. Fraser Island’s rather a special place and I was lucky to visit it with Lynn and Alison all those years ago. If you want to see more pictures of the island, follow this link.

 

 

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Lockdowns, sunshine and railways.

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Funny old world isn’t it? Late yesterday the Government issued details of a series of local ‘lockdowns’ in response to growing numbers of Covid cases. One of the lockdowns is here in Calderdale.

We’d been blessed with very few cases for many months but within the space of a couple of weeks the numbers doubled. I can’t say I’m surprised because whilst many people have been taking Covid seriously it’s been obvious some really weren’t. They seem to have been (mostly) young people and sections of the Asian community. The latter is especially daft as the evidence is that BAME communities are more susceptible to Covid than others.

I visited our local Asian supermarket a couple of days ago and saw the problem first hand. Only 70% of shoppers were wearing masks, the majority of those who weren’t were Asian women. As the Asian community here is overwhelmingly Muslim you can appreciate the irony.

We’ve had the hottest day of the year so far and I’m fed up of being cooped up so I packed the camera, a book I need to read for researching my next RAIL article and wandered down into Sowerby Bridge where I sat on the station for a couple of hours. It was like being a kid again – only it was a bottle of IPA I had in my bag, not Tizer and I had to break off for a Zoom meeting after an hour!

Whilst I was at the station I noticed trains were the busiest I’d seen them since Covid hit. What was depressing was to see the amount of people who were boarding without wearing masks. Sometimes I wonder how on earth you get through to some people.

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At least this young lady had got the message about masks.

Train services are gradually returning to normal as the number of services continues to ramp up. More changes are due in September but what I dread is us returning to the levels we had pre-Covid where we’re running far too many trains on a network that simply can’t cope – so punctuality and reliability suffer. Now’s the time for a rethink, but do the Department of Transport have the imagination to do that? I’m doubtful. 

On the bright side, it was good to see open access operator Grand Central running trains again – even if it was off their core route and shuttling between Leeds and Hebden Bridge running services for Northern!

DG342570crop

Grand Central’s 180102 working 1T28, the 1343 Hebden Bridge to Leeds, passing through Sowerby Bridge.

It was lovely to be out and enjoying the sunshine and the heat, although there was no way I was going to be visiting any pubs as it was obvious the lockdown message was being widely ignored – especially by young white males who were packing the beer gardens of certain pubs. Mind you, some of the older generation were doing their best to make a mess of things, but that’s Wetherspoons customers for you…

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Just an average Friday afternoon as a drunken Wetherspoons customer needs medical treatement in the street outside, blocking a main road out of the town…

Strolling home along a deserted canal bank I spotted this lovely idyll.

DG342606crop

Shire cruisers are a narrowboat company based in Sowerby Bridge. It’s great to see their boats out and about again as life returns to the canals. 

Finally getting home I had a blissful hour in the garden before the rain arrived! Yep – despite it being the hottest day of the year we still had a storm. At least it saved me watering the garden!

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30th July picture of the day…

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This has been a really shitty day for a whole host of reasons that I won’t go in to, so today’s picture is coming from a ‘happy place’ that I love to escape to where I feel very much at home and miss – especially now we’ve all had our wings clipped, metaphorically and literally.

DG36962.Street food. Lebuh Chulia. Georgetown. Penang. Malaysia. 15.10.09.crop

I took this picture of a hawkers food stall on Lebuh Chulia in Georgetown, Penang , Malaysia on the 15th October 2009. I first visited Georgetown in 1992 and fell in love with it then. I’ve been back many times since and never been disappointed. The old town is a wonderful mix of architecture and cultures and the food is sublime. This shot is of Lebuh Chulia, a street in the backpackers area, but it’s far more than that as the locals still hold sway. Each night the shops shut and foodstalls like this appear, serving Chinese, Indian Malaysian or Western foods. I love the local dishes, but one stall that always amuses me is a burger bar decked out in Manchester United banners! – but that’s for another picture…

 

 

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