Chris Packham’s Judgement day…

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Today the High Court released the full details and legal argument of their judgement on Chris Packham’s appeal for an interim injunction to stop tree felling on the route of HS2, and also his application for a Judicial Review. Both were rejected last week, but today the judges (Lord Justice Coulson and Mr Justice Holgate) published their judgement which you can find here.

It’s brutal. If I were Packham’s solicitors I’d be reaching for either the brandy or the smelling salts because they do not come out of this well. One only has to wonder about the quality of advice they gave to Packham as the judges make no bones about what they think, or found. I’d also suggest the man himself should have a long hard think and consider if the money donated to his Crowdfunder to bring this (obviously) futile action which clearly had no chance of success (as the judgement explains) was well spent, or how the poor people who were mugged for more than £100,000 might feel about their money being trousered by lawyers when the case had no chance of success? Here’s some snippets. First up, the Judges opinion of Packham’s Solicitors…

packham solictiros

“Overlong and repetitive with an unfortunately imperious tone”? Ouch!

It gets worse…

packham 2

If his solicitors (Leigh-Day) cheeks weren’t burning after that last slap, they should be after this one!

As you’d expect from High Court judges, the judgement goes into great detail, with references to case law and legal opinion. It gives not a single crumb of comfort to Packham or his legal team. I said in previous blogs that Packham’s obsession with the Oakervee was barking up the wrong tree (if you’ll pardon the pun) and the High Court make that clear. Oh, the final sentence of the 30 page judgement is a zinger, not just for Packham, but also for the eco-fascists who’re breaking the covid-19 Lockdown to tie up Police, Court Bailiffs and security guards on the HS2 construction sites.

packham 3

The reaction to all this on social media has been muted so far, mainly because the judgement won’t reach many people. Twitter however, is different. Here’s on reaction, which sums things up rather well, including Packham’s predicament…

pete

So, if you support HS2 or not. Next time Packham and his legal time ask you for money. Don’t throw it away, again. Those opposed to HS2 have wasted millions of pounds on futile legal actions over the years, much of that money’s been raised from poor sods who’ve been persuaded to part with it via Crowdfunders and appeals. It’s wasted more millions of public funds in defending these actions. And all for what? Nothing. Hs2 is being built. Now…

 

Lockdown. Day 13 (Sunday).

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Yesterday’s lie-in seemed like such a good way of making weekends feel special again we had another one today! With days not deviating much from a set routine it seemed like the most sensible thing to do – although I eventually persuaded to rise as the sun was shining. The day promised to be the warmest of the year so far, so it would have been a shame to waste too much of it, especially as I had plans for some gardening, which would allow me to make the most of the weather. I still managed to get a few slides set up ready for scanning, but I’m tryig to keep that activity to the week as a way of structuring my days.

After breakfast Dawn kept herself busy with chores around the house whilst I finished off reconditioning our wooden bench. Rather than using my electric sander I decided to get some exercise by doing it the old-fashioned way, with a sheet of sandpaper and plenty of elbow grease. It looked pretty good when I’d finished, but there was one slight problem which I discovered when I went to unlock my phone which is protected by fingerprint recognition. I’d effectively sanded my fingerprint away and the phone wouldn’t recognise it! Thankfully, the phone has a password back-up, otherwise it could’ve have been rather embarrassing. Imagine having to explain to people why I never answered my phone, “I was waiting for my fingerprint to grow back”…

With the bench completed I dismantled a little cloche-type greenhouse we’d had but that I realised was rotten with rust. We only used it as a shelf anyway, so scrapping it freed up quite a bit of space and and allowed me to move some plants around. I really enjoy gardeing, it’s great therapy and there’s something about getting soil under your fingernails. My garden here is tiny compared to the space I had in London, but even so, I try to make the most of it (although I do miss my pond)!

I managed to catch a few peaceful moments on the bench afterwards, checking the news. Of course, the pandemic dominated. Even the news that the Labour party had elected Keir Starmer as their new leader by a landslide didn’t make much of an impact. Thank God we’ve finally got someone who could turn the basket-case the Labour party became under Corbyn back into an effective opposition party and possible contender for Government. It’s early days yet and we don’t know who will be in the Shadow Cabinet, but it’s certainly cause for something we’ve not had after 5 years of ‘Magic Grandad’. Hope.

As I was on cooking duty this evening and we needed a few basics the pair of us combined our daily exercise with a trip down into Sowerby Bridge and a visit to the supermarket. On a sunny Sunday in the run up to Easter you’d normally expect to find Sowerby buzzing with people visiting the canal basin or one of the local cafes or bars. The reality was, it was deserted.

Most people are taking the message to stay at home seriously. We passed a couple of dog walkers, a handful of families walking kids, not pets, and a few people like us who were walking rather than driving to the shops. The small queue at Tesco’s delayed us by only a few minutes. What caused more hassle was the one way system they’ve devised which means everybody’s walking in the same direction as you zig-zag up and down the aisles. Well, that’s how it’s supposed to work, but some people were clearly struggling with the system. If your shopping list isn’t written in the right order you probably will!

Yomping back up the hill to home we both sat outside in the garden and enjoyed my handiwork and the late afternoon sun before retreating indoors. Dawn amused herself phoning friends and watching TV whilst I cooked a chicken Korma both for us and for the freezer. A couple of years ago we bought one of those American style twin door fridge-freezers. To be honest, it’s been one of our best investments as we can batch-cook and have a range of fantastic home-cooked meals ready for whenever we need them – like the circumstances we find ourselves in now.

Cooking is another of my therapies. I really enjoy doing it. I’ll never get on MasterChef, but that’s not why I do it. I enjoy finding great recipes but I’m not afraid to tailor them to our tastes but with the Korma there’s no need. The recipe was given to me by Meena, an Indian friend in London many many years ago and it’s still unbeatable.

Dawn reckons it’s the best Korma she’s ever had, so I always try and make sure we have one stashed away in the freezer. We’re now set up with meals for the next fortnight, so during the week we can concentrate on work and other things, as I suspect we’re going to be in Lockdown for quite a few weeks yet. At least we’ve now got a lovely garden to sit out in and watch the world pass by if we find the Government do tighten the restrictions of getting out, although I’m remaining optimistic that they won’t. Time will tell…

Lockdown. Day 12. (Saturday).

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Weekends seem to mean so little now because with ‘lockdown’ every day is pretty much the same. Our only break from the routine we’ve got into is on Thursdays when we head over to Huddersfield to shop for Dee’s parents. This morning we both thought ‘sod it’ and actually had a lie-in which is pretty much unheard of as both of us are normally up early as Dawn’s exercising and I’m scanning pictures. It almost felt rebellious to still be in bed at 10am!

When I did finally drag my arse out of bed I made up for my indolence by getting stuck into some DIY. I’ve been meaning to waterproof the front of the house for the past few years. Where we’re situated, high up on the side of the Calder valley is pretty exposed and the front of the house takes a beating from the elements. Today the weather had warmed up sufficiently that I could apply the waterproofing coating to the stonework as per the manufacturers recommendations. Yep, I’m a bloke so I read the instructions! Our cottage is only small but it still took most of the afternoon as the stuff needs a couple of hours between coats. In-between I kept myself busy sanding down the wooden bench we have outside the front of the cottage in order to treat the wood with preservative and give it some TLC after the winter weather. Our home is South facing and it’s a lovely spot to sit in the summer, gazing across the valley, watching the wildlife in the trees opposite, or just chatting to our neighbours or friends passing by.

Ready for whatever the weather throws at us now!

Funny, isn’t it? We keep ourselves occupied with all those mundane little chores as if life is normal, yet it’s anything but – especially for those people who’ve had their lives altered by contact with coronavirus. Imagine not being able to attend the funeral of a loved one who’s passed away after contracting covid-19? The news reports that 708 people have died today. It’s a bare statistic, yet each one is a real person and almost all will have a family grieving for them in circumstances we know nothing about. Maybe, when we come out of all this, we’ll learn to appreciate what’s important in life – and what’s not. The events of the past few weeks have certainly made me look at life in a different way. I’ll be curious to see if we go back to ‘normal’ (whatever that actually means) when this is all over. Will be just forget about it after a couple of weeks and pick up where we left off? For some people, the one’s who will have lost their jobs, or even their loved ones, that will be impossible. It may be difficult for the rest of us as we still don’t know just what the economic damage is going to be at the end. There’s just so many unanswerable questions right now…

So, I’m not even going to try. Instead, I’m going to have a quiet night in (after all, it’s not like I can go anywhere!), enjoy some good food and prepare to make the most of tomorrow, because who knows what the future might hold?

Lockdown. Day 11 (Friday).

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I thought this lockdown was meant to mean that we’d have time on our hands? It certainly doesn’t seem to be working out like that for me. Friday was a bit of a frustrating day as I didn’t get anywhere near as much done as I’d planned. For once I didn’t even get time to get a walk in which left me way behind the 5+ miles a day that I normally manage.

Still, it wasn’t all bad. I did manage to sift through the next slide album in the queue for scanning which is the one containing the very first slides I took way back in 1989. I junked over 250 of the 830 in the album mainly because I’d got better pictures taken in the intervening years – or the fact that actually, some of them simply weren’t up to scratch! My standards and technical proficiency have changed somewhat in the past 31 years! Weeding out the rejects now saves me time when it comes to the scanning process. As I wasn’t so fixated on scanning slides I also managed to get some decluttering done and junk a load of old paperwork, which was mainly press releases and conference bumpf going back several years – none of which had any relevance anymore but you keep ‘just in case’. I’m getting much more willing to dispose of these things nowadays and be less of a hoarder, not just because of the space they take up, but also because life’s too short. When you consider the amount of stuff we surround ourselves with nowadays a bout of decluttering is no bad thing. Let’s face it , if I kicked the bucket tomorrow, most of it would end up in a skip anyway!

Another bright spot was the news that Chris Packham lost his legal case against HS2. I’d suspected he would as his action seemed to be completely without merit. I won’t go into it in detail as I blogged about it here yesterday. Maybe now we can finally get moving with a project that we desperately need for several reasons right now.

This weekend I’ll be keeping my foot off the slide scanning pedal as the weather’s meant to be improving and I’ve work to the cottage that I want to do. Normal service will be resumed next week as all the signs are that the lockdown is going to continue for several weeks yet. The death toll’s rising, which is tragic but hardly unexpected. We’re not going to be out of the woods for quite some time yet, so it’s a case of making the most of being cooped up at home and using the time to catch up on all those things that never made it to the front of the list. Who knows, by the time this is all over I might have all my old railway pictures online!

For me, Friday was the day when I’d often go up to our local pub, the Big 6, to meet up with friends and do the quiz, from the Pub Paper. As this is out of the question nowadays a few of us have got together to do it online, which isn’t quite the same, but at least we still get to interact and have a laugh. I do wonder just how we’d all cope with lockdown without the internet and modern communications. The ability to interact with family and friends – or just stream movies and binge-watch TV is making life more bearable. Just imagine how much of an emergency it would be now if the internet went down…

Lockdown. Day 10.

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Thursday’s are our most exotic day of the week as we escape from the confines of the Calder Valley in order to go over to Huddersfield to do the shopping for Dawn’s parents who’re both in the ‘at risk category due to their age – although neither of them act it!

I managed to get a bit of work done first before we got in the cars – a novel act in itself at the moment. When one considers the fact we’re normally cooped up at home it almost feels rebellious, although we do have a very good reason for doing what we do. This is very much an essential journey and one we make the most of. I still can’t get used to having a clear run up the bypass to Ainley Top under the M62 before entering the outskirts of Huddersfield with nary another car in sight. It really is quite surreal. En-route we called in at the ACoRP office at Huddersfield station so that Dawn could check on the vacant office and make sure everything was OK. Compared to last Thursday Huddersfield town centre seemed even more deserted. You could have dumped a herd of elephants in the square outside the station as the only occupants were a sad circle of traffic cones blocking one entrance to the concourse and one lonely member of station staff who’d nipped out for a fag.

We shopped at Sainsbury’s which was busier than last week. The queue was still well organised but it stretched far enough around the car park that were had to queue for 10 mins – hardly anything to complain about. There was no shortage of stuff to buy – unless you were after bog roll. What on earth are people doing with the stuff? Mummifying their kids with it? Whilst Dawn shopped for her parents I picked up the things we needed. It was all pretty painless, if still a bit surreal, but it’s surprising how quickly the odd becomes the norm.

Driving over to Dawn’s parents we were surprised just how windy the weather had got with gusts touching gale force. Because of it we didn’t hang around as it was unfair to leave Dee parents being buffeted by the wind so after exchanging shopping backs and having a chat at a distance over the garden gate we left and drove home. Our route back is different in that we pass over the M62, where we stopped just long enough for me to grab a shot of the (lack of) traffic. Wagons were still ferrying important goods East and West, but nowhere near in the same volume and car traffic was minimal.

DG341822crop

Battling our way through the winds we headed back to home and our life in lockdown, with the car parked up for another week. It’s no wonder that air quality is improving (especially in the cities) when you consider how many vehicles are off the roads at the moment. I’ll be very interested to see some of the numbers that’ll be crunched by the end of all this.

Hunkering down for a few more hours work Dee was busy at her makeshift workstation in the living room whilst I managed to get more old pictures scanned upstairs and dispose of yet another set. I’ve now finished albums that take the archive up to August 1991. Whilst we were dropping food off to John and Norah I asked John to dig me another one out of their loft where I have much of my archive in safe storage. So now I’m going right back to the beginning to scan the very first slides I took, way back in August 1989. In retrospect I wish I’d transferred to tranny film earlier, but then I only bought my first SLR camera the year before. My next door neighbour in London was selling his old Pentax ME super which I snapped up, and it’s on that these first pictures were taken before I bought my first Nikon a year later.

Back in 1989 I often used to spend weekends with Nancy, an old friend from Southport who lived in Peterborough. I’d travel up from London and we’d spend the weekend exploring the areas pubs and sights. Nancy shared my interest in railways and one weekend in August we drove over to the Rutland Railway Museum where I shot with my first roll of slide film. Here’s the picture which is numbered 0001 in my database!

0001. Coal products No 6. 0-6-0. Rutland Railway Museum. 13.8.1989.+crop

Who knew then that I’d end up making my living as a photographer? Certainly not me when I look at this picture. I had a hell of a lot to learn – but then I was doing this for fun. If I’d known then how much the railways would change I’d have been a little more diligent in what I was recording. Still, isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing? At least I have some fantastic memories captured on film going back over 30 years and this current crisis is giving me the time to finally dig these pictures out of the archive – some for the very first time – like this scene which now really is history…

0023. Signalbox. Addiscombe. 02.09.1989.crop

This is a picture of the signalbox at Addiscombe on the outskirts of South London, taken on the 2nd September 1991. It was the end of a branch line from London Bridge that was opened by the Mid-Kent railway in 1864. The railway gradually declines throughout the years with train services cut back, especially when this signalbox was burnt down by vandals in 1996. The whole line closed in 1997, only to be reborn as part of the Croydon tram network a few years later. Had I any idea what was going to happen when I took this. Did I heck as like. I’m just glad that I passed through there on a whim…

Chris Packham loses his legal case against HS2.

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A bit of good news today. Celebrity ‘Environmentalist’ (and paid tour-guide to the jet-set in exotic locations) Chris Packham has lost his legal case against HS2 today. In a double-blow he not only lost his call for an immediate injunction to stop tree felling in Crackley woods, the two judges hearing his case also refused his application for a Judicial Review on the grounds that “there was no real prospect of success” – which is hardly surprising as Packham had fixated on the Oakervee report and its conclusions, ignoring the fact it was merely a non-statutory review that had no legal standing unlike the Environmental Impact Assessment, or indeed – the Parliamentary process and legality of a Hybrid Bill that has been granted Royal Assent!

Needless to say, this leaves his eco-fascist supporters on the ground up shit creek. Or in their case – up a tree! Bailiffs are continuing with the eviction sanctioned by the High Court and already some of the tiny bunch of people in the trees have been brought down and several arrested.

Meanwhile, the game of bullshit bingo on social media continues with no lie too big to tell. The irony is the protesters are claiming this fiasco as a ‘victory’ as they’ve managed to delay work for all of – ooh – a few days! The levels of delusion and arrogance amongst the protesters is a sight to behold on social media- as is the bluster. They pretend they’re actually the law and will be taking others to court. Really? Remind me, who’s being arrested and who’s doing the arresting? These people need to give their heads a wobble. One day they’re issuing their demands (seriously? Get over yourselves!), the next day the real world loses its patience with them and they realise just who is in charge as they’re taken down from the trees by the law and nicked.

I wish I could have respect for people who claim to be protecting the environment, but honestly, this bunch do nothing but harm to the environmental movement because their sense of self-righteousness and inability to understand how ordinary people see their antics. Their sanctimoniousness is weapons-grade. They completely ignore the costs and logistics of keeping their tiny band from causing trouble. There’s literally hundreds of security staff, bailiffs and police being tied up here, not to mention the miles of fencing and other material needed – and all for what, so that the eco-fascists can ponce around in their pointless videos on the likes of Facebook and Instagram. But what does these videos actually show? Their utter failure to stop anything.

But, do you know the real irony about these people who’re kicking up a fuss about Crackley woods? Have a look at a map.

crackley

HS2 can be seen at the top of the map just clipping the edge of the wood and avoiding the majority of it. It couldn’t do any less damage than it is as this is clearly the optimum alignment. But, hang on – what’s that dismantled railway below it that pierced the very heart of the wood? That’s the former Kenilworth-Berkswell LNWR route (opened in 1884). It’s now part of the Kenilworth Greenway, which will be temporarily diverted between Burton Green and Berkswell during HS2 construction, and then restored alongside HS2 when it is completed, including passing through the new public open space that will be created atop the Burton Green green tunnel . . . reuniting the centre of the village that was cut in half in 1884 by the LNWR line! So, the Victorians clearly had less regard for the environment and ancient woodland than HS2 does!

I’ll look forward to seeing the Judges judgement on Packham’s daft court case on Monday. I suspect it’s not going to be kind. I feel sorry for the poor mugs who he persuaded into putting up the money for this through crowdfunding. Meanwhile, expect the Government granting HS2 ‘Notice to Proceed’ very very soon…

“Extinction Rebellion”. How to make friends and influence people (not).

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Regular readers will know of my exasperation at the UK’s ‘green’ movement, which seems to spend more time alienating people through its attitudes and behaviours than it does getting them on board. I find it intensely frustrating as we desperately need a credible Green voice in politics and in general. Sadly, we’ve ended up with a bunch of finger-waggers and self-appointed ‘saviours’ of the planet who’re either actively undemocratic or entirely useless. Instead of persuading people to change their behaviours in their own long-term interests and using democratic means to do so, they come across as a mix of eco-fascists and loons.

Here’s an example from the protests against building HS2, Britain’s new high-speed railway. Yes, I know – you’d think Greens would be all for it. But that involves being sensible, pragmatic and seeing the bigger picture. Those are three things noticeably absent from much of the UK’s ‘Green’ movement. Take a look at this.

hs2 rebellion

Seriously? Here’s a bit of background. These clowns are up a tree in Crackley Woods in Warwickshire, in defiance of a High Court Injunction. The only reason they’ve no food is their planning was so piss-poor they never took enough up into the trees with them for more than a couple of days. Instead (stupidly) they expected to be resupplied by friends on the ground. They’re now whining that the High Court Bailiffs and security people won’t let food through to them – and prolong the circus even further, which means everyone is more at risk from Coronovirus.

“Prisoners of war”? They inflicted this upon themselves and they’re free to leave at any time. Instead, they’re playing martyr. Not only that, they’re comparing themselves to people who’ve actually fought for their country to uphold the democratic system. What’s democratic about them? Nothing. They’re eco-fascists. They’re ignoring the fact the HS2 bill was passed by Parliament with a massive majority in both the Commons and the Lords, and they’re ignoring the law of the land as enforced by the High Court. They’re entirely self-appointed and (unlike Parliament) unaccountable. They consider themselves to be above the law. They also spout a load of uninformed rubbish, but that’s another matter…

Their hypocrisy is breathtaking. Their tiny and futile protests are costing a fortune due to the levels of security needed to protect the sites, the delays incurred and the fact they’re tying up literally hundreds of site security people, High Court Bailiffs and police officers when they should and could be at home, safe from exposure to covid-19. Than they have the brass-neck to point the finger at everyone else – and use the NHS in their propaganda.

How is this an advert for the Green movement? These people are preventing us building the rail capacity we need to get modal shift from air/road to rail. It’s madness – but that’s the level of intellectual bankruptcy of the UK’s greens I’m afraid.

The road lobby and oil companies must be laughing their socks off.

UPDATE.

I see the Coventry Telegraph has published a list of these clowns demands! – as if they’re in any position to make any – but then this simply shows how arrogant and out of touch with the real world these people are, and also how undemocratic they are. I’ve reproduced them here.

“We have 5 demands.

Ultimately, we want to stop HS2. It does not serve ordinary people. It does not accommodate for a culture gearing towards a society with ecology on the agenda. HS2 is proclaimed to be carbon neutral in 120 years, yet during a time of biological annihilation and climate emergency, they consider wiping out precious woodland and endangered habitat a sound ecological plan.
The British public have not been informed of the costs or the implications of the project. Considering this is the most expensive railway per mile in the history of the world, at an estimated £307 million per mile, and being paid for by public money, this is completely undemocratic. We therefore seek a democratic solution.
We demand a citizen’s assembly in the nature of the one used in Ireland for the repeal of the eighth amendment on abortion. This will ensure public money is used to meet public needs not private interests … This is our primary demand.
We also have demands that require immediate action.

• Stop HS2 during this pandemic . This is not essential work. HS2 should not be exempt from their current social responsibility. We have witnessed the impossibility of workers being able to keep to their social distancing.
• Stop this eviction, and all others, during this pandemic . We have witnessed the bailiffs be unwilling or unable to comply with the social distancing policy. Any kind of eviction brings high stress, which threatens the immune system. We are also at a height of 20 metres from the woodland floor, exposed to the elements with no free access to food or water. We are being given an ultimatum: either highly risk our personal immune systems, and therefore our close family and community’s health, or hold onto our current home, which is part of the little remaining precious ecosystem we all rely on. This is completely unjust.

• Stop any irreversible work until both Chris Packham’s court case on the legality of the project, and Notice to Proceed go ahead. That includes habitat destruction of any kind, work involving displacing homes, ground and preparatory works, etc.
• Should work cease, we demand that workers receive adequate compensation , the sum of which to be decided by the workers themselves, as only they know the needs for which this compensation need fill. The fallouts of poor decisions made by upper management and politicians should not fall upon those who are forced to implement them.
Signed, The thirsty occupants x”

And you wonder why I have no time for these people?

 

 

Lockdown. day 9

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Wahey! I managed to get the time to write this blog on the actual day! Mainly because I’ve not scanned quite as many old slides today and only added forty to this gallery – although there’s another 20 all set up to scan first thing in the morning.

That’s not to say it’s been an unproductive day, nor one without it’s lighter side. Dawn’s decided that when she mentions these blogs they need to talked about in her best Geordie ‘Big Brother’ voiceover which quite amused me ‘cos the connection hadn’t occurred to me. That said, I know who I’d rather be locked in a house with – and it isn’t a bunch of shallow, preening narcissists hoping to win a load of money. Not that I’ve got anything against earning money. I’m sure many of us would care to remember what that’s like right now!

Once I’d managed my quota of pictures and Dee had waded through the work she needed to do we combined our afternoon constitutional with a shopping trip. The weather’s been pretty good in the Pennines since the lockdown, which is rather ironic when you think about think about it but it did make the stroll through the woods and down into Sowerby Bridge easier. It’s not much fun in a howling gale or when the rain’s coming in across the valley horizontally. Plus, nowadays you can’t exactly nip into a nice warm pub for a ‘swifty’ whilst you wait for the rain to pass.

This time the shops we visited had everything we needed bar one thing. Tea. Dee likes Yorkshire tea and we couldn’t get that for love nor money. Both Tesco’s and Lidl were quiet, which was no bad thing. This was the first time I’d used Lidl since the lockdown and social distancing had really kicked in. They’re more relaxed about rules than Tesco and Sainsbury’s. There’s no-one stood outside limiting entry, but to be honest, they didn’t need to as there were so few people and the ones who were had already got the message. The only real difference was that each cashier had a Perspex screen separating them from the customers – but only face to face as their till packing areas are too small to allow real distancing.

The one group that really seem to be really enjoying the lockdown are Sowerby Bridge’s famous free-range geese! They’re strutting around like the own the place and are making themselves more and more at home now that those pesky humans in their motor cars aren’t around to get in their way!

Strolling home uphill with all the shopping was good exercise if a little tedious as it’s nearly all we get to do nowadays, which is why we’re excited about tomorrow. We have a legitimate reason to break out of the valley as we’ll be going to Huddersfield to do Dawn’s parents shopping for them. Funny how these things take on so much more meaning right now, isn’t it? It almost feels like an adventure.

Back home we’ve both knuckled down to a few more hours work, although I’ve been keeping one eye on Facebook, purely to keep an eye on the tiny anti HS2 protests at Crackley wood in Warwickshire, where a half dozen people are holed-up in tree houses, in breach of a High Court injunction. They’re supported by a rag-bag camp of a couple of dozen people on the ground, but it’s all pretty farcical as they haven’t got a chance of stopping HS2. The whole thing is a farce that’s being livestreamed to social media by the protesters, some of whom are coming under the ‘Extinction Rebellion’ banner. Some of the video is excruciating to watch. It’s like watching paint dry as they jerkily livesteam an hour of nothing really happening, then accompany it with a voiceover of someone rambling away or playing Stop Hs2 ‘bullshit bingo’. You can tick off the spin and trite phrases easy as they’re repeated on an endless loop. “Illegal eviction”? Check. “Ecocide”? Yup. “Hs2’s as wide as a motorway”? Got it. “It’s destroying the environment”? Tick. “It’s costing at least £160bn”?, that one too…

But the absolute, weapons-grade hypocrisy of these people is to try and use Covid19 and social distancing against the project workers. Why? Because if it wasn’t for this tiny bunch of self-appointed ‘eco-warriors’ ignoring the lockdown and flouting a High Court injunction in a futile protest, literally dozens of HS2 security workers, High Court Bailiffs and the National Eviction Team that support them (not to mention the police, who’ve got better things to do) could all be at home – or doing something vital out of harms way, rather than nurse-maiding a few people who want to play at ‘swampy’ whilst indulging in their ego-tripping across social media. Someone sending them love-hearts on Facebook is about a useful as Americans sending ‘thoughts and prayers’ to the survivors or families of the dead from the latest mass shooting. Here’s an example of the hypocrisy. This was posted to Facebook by some of the protesters, commending their ‘brave’ demonstrator whilst roundly condemning the Bailiffs, who’re only there because of this clown!

muppott

No doubt the eviction of the tree-dwellers will happen in the next few days, not that it’s stopping much work. HS2 have voluntarily closed down some other sides where it’s impossible to keep working within the social-distancing protocols. This is mostly on sites on built-up areas like London where staff have to travel to work by public transport.

The sooner the evictions happen the sooner social media will be spared this crap, self-aggrandizing videos and the bandwidth can be given over to something useful – like people who’re social distancing sharing photos of kittens, or something…

The pair of us are now having a few hours off from social media to spend some time together away from computers. See you on the other side!

 

 

Lockdown. Day 8.

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Admittedly, this is a day late as I’m actually writing it on April fools day but sadly, no-one’s popped up to admit Coronavirus was just a prolonged joke.

In theory, I should have plenty of time to write these blogs as – in theory – I’m ‘kicking my heels’ at home. Only that’s not how its working. I seem to have become a victim of ‘Parkinson’s Law’, where work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion!

To be fair, slide scanning is a slow, tedious process when done properly. Each slide has to be broken out of its plastic mount. Cleaned and remounted in a glass mount to keep it perfectly flat for scanning (so everything remains in focus and it doesn’t ‘pop’ the way slided so in projecters) whilst keeping everything as dust-free as possible. Once scanned, the slides are removed from their glass mounts and slipped back in their sheets which are then sealed and labelled. But it’s not all over yet, then the scans are checked and edited in photoshop, where colour-balances are adjusted and any scratches, dust marks or damage is cloned out or retouched.

After the first few dozen you start losing the will to live, even if it is lovely to look back at some of the old memories and remember when I took them. As it’s such a time-consuming job I take regular breaks for exercise in order to prevent developing corns on my bum and enjoy staring at something other than a screen by admiring the birds feeding or gazing across the valley.

Yesterday Dawn and I had to use the car for the first time since last Thursday as we needed to pick some stuff up from the supermarket that was too bulky to carry back in rucsacs. The Tesco’s in Sowerby Bridge was pretty deserted. There were no queues, so we walked in and found (mostly) well-stocked shelves – except for eggs. You could tell the panic-buying was over as they were selling off a lot of bread products at reduced prices. A couple of weeks ago you’d have been lucky to find anything even left on the shelves.

Whilst we were there we were gently ticked off by a ahelf-stacker for coming as a couple. Apparently, they now only want single shoppers but no-one on the door had bothered to tell us! Suitably admonished, we promised to shop solo next time!

Back home we packed away our shopping and continued working for another few hours. Before we knew it the time had flown. It was nearly 7pm when we decided to pack in for the day and get the exercise we’d have normally combined with shopping. We’re very lucky where we live as there’s some woods along our road, so we power-strolled uphill through them to the promenade above which seems to get quieter each time we visit. Having admired the view across the Calder valley we did a lap of Savile Park before retracing our steps home. Byt this time it was dark. It was actually a good time to go out for exercise as there were bugger-all people about. Judging by the flickering light we saw through house windows as we passed, most were already cooped up in front of their TVs/Computers/games consoles.

To be fair, that’s how we ended the day, with the pair of us curled up in bed watching Netflix on my laptop.

Lockdown. Day 7.

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The start to another week, although the days are getting harder and harder to separate from each other as the routine is pretty much the same. There’s no “hooray, it’s Friday, let’s go to the pub”, or “It’s Saturday, let’s go out for a meal/to the cinema/see a show”. Now the choices are nearly all binary. Work/Don’t work, take your daily exercise indoors/outdoors, go buy food/stay in – and this is only the first week. All those choices we used to be able to make have been taken away from us in the hope isolation will slow the spread of Coronavirus. Will it? It’s too early to tell yet, although some people are making optimistic noises. We shall see…

Our day started at 06:00 as Dawn was up exercising and I was determined to get an early start on scanning another big batch of slides. The weather was cooler and cloudier again today so there was no real incentive to go out. Instead, the day was spent working. I’ve had several picture requests from a magazine, so I’ve been sorting through the archives to fulfil them. After that the slide scanning marathon began. It’s a long, slow, tedious process which is only made bearable by being able to have diversions – such as music to listen to or a film to (half) watch. But at least I’m doing something productive. I feel for those folk who’re cooped up with little to show for it, other than perhaps an expanding waistline!

It’s difficult enough getting exercise during the lockdown without the recent reports of overzealous police and Council officers who’re essentially just making up rules by checking people’s shopping and deciding that they’re making frivolous and unnecessary purchases and trips, or telling shops they shouldn’t be selling Easter eggs and they’re ‘non-essential’. These are dangerous precedents. Policing in the UK has always been by consent, and if the authorities start to ignore this age old rule to resort to heavy-handed authoritarian pettiness we are in danger of seeing a cooped up population become increasingly resentful and fractious.

To help understand these laws and rules I offer this from ‘BarristerBlogger’ Matthew Scott. It’s humorous but legally accurate look at how the rules vary across the UK, and offers advice on what’s reasonable, or not. It’s well worth a read and might even save you a few quid if you’re unlucky enough to encounter one of these petty coppers.

Now, on the bright side, I’ve been ploughing through more and more old railway slides. Right now I’ve got as far as the summer of 1991 when the railways looked very different to the way they do now. I’ve been adding hundreds of pictures to the BR gallery but I’ve also added this new gallery – which is a series of pictures taken at Bath Road locomotive depot in Bristol. It’s all history now, the depot was closed and the site cleared back in the 2000s, so they’re an interesting historical archive. Looking back, I wish I’d taken more, but at the time I was saving up to travel the world for a year so I was being miserly with my film. If only I’d known what the future was going to look like! Here’s a sample of the Bath Rd pictures. Dented or crash-damaged locomotives were much more common in BR days as safety standards weren’t a rigerous. There was no TPWS in 1991! Here’s 47202 which was badly damaged in a crash at Frome on the 24th March 1987. 47202 was hauling a freight train which collided head-on with a passenger train hauled by 33032 after the freight passed a signal at danger (SPAD). You can find the accident report here.

47202 was dumped at Bath Rd for several years, but when this was taken on the 29th June it wasn’t going to last much longer. It was cut up on site by Maize Metals Ltd in September 1991. 

02743. 47202. Crash damaged. Bristol Bath Rd depot open day. Bristol. 26.06.1991crop

It’s not just the depot that’s gone. See the Royal Mail building in the background? After being reduced to a bare concrete skeleton for many years that’s now been demolished too.