Rolling (ish) blog. Rail live revisited…

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11:00

Oh, the joys of having a lie-in! As I stayed in Birmingham last night after a long, hot and busy day I thought “sod it, I’ll have a lie-in and get to Rail Live an hour later than yesterday” – which was a great idea until I turned up at New St station only to find that – due to a shortage of units – Cross Country had cancelled the 10:30 to Worcestershire Parkway! So now I’ll arrive two hours later…

Even so, it’s worth going as I’ve a couple of meetings to make, plus the rain that had been forecast hasn’t materialised so hopefully there’s no need to hide in marquees.

As phone reception’s non-existent on site there’ll be a gap in blogging. Right now I’m on my way as I’m taking an earlier train via Worcester Foregate Street rather than kick my heels at Birmingham New St. One thing I did notice whilst I was waiting for my train was the gradual rollout of the resignalling programme at New St.

The new signals aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing examples of their kind, but they’re less prone to failure and the fact they’re hinged at the bottom so they can be swung down to platform level for maintenance means there’s no need for the traditional ladders attached to allow access to the signal head.

11:55.

It’s going to be one of those days, isn’t it? I’m currently in Worcester. I’d hoped to get a couple of shots of trains framed by the lovely old GWR semaphore signals before mine arrives, but one of the two I have a window for has been cancelled!

12:23.

Almost there! I’m now on a GWR Class 800 on my way to Honeybourne to catch the Avivarail shuttle to the site and into a communications black-out! See you on the other side…

Depending on how my meeting goes and who I bump into I’m hoping to leave earlier than yesterday in order to get some pictures on the way home, but let’s see what happens. The last shuttle train leaves at 16:00.

18:00.

I’m back! Despite arriving on site later than I managed to get all my meetings in and saw all the people I was hoping to (and more) – mainly because we were all in the same place at the same time – outside the Porterbrook marquee!

I’d have liked to have spent more time exploring the stands as (really) two days isn’t enough to see everything so I didn’t even try.

After leaving on the 15:00 shuttle I retraced my steps via Worcester as far as Droitwich where I stopped off to get a couple of pictures of the fine array of old GWR semaphore signals. The weather had clouded up so the shots weren’t as warm as I’d hoped, but that’s life. Sadly, West Midlands Rail are having a bad day, with many trains cancelled due to crew shortages, so half of what I hoped to photograph wasn’t running. I’m now on the 17:34 from Droitwich which is still running but has stops at Bromsgrove and University dropped as it’s running fast from Droitwich to New St via the line through Stourbridge instead of its booked route. Good for me, but not others. I suspect getting back to West Yorkshire might be ‘interesting’…

19:45.

The problems I was anticipating at Birmingham failed to materialise. One of my options was running late enough for me to miss my connection but plan A worked out just fine. So much so I had time to saunter into the city to buy a snack for the train. The area around New St’s teeming with life once again as people enjoy the good weather and chance to let their hair down again. The atmosphere wasn’t oppressive or claustrophobic either as most people were being cautious and respectful of others.

Back at New St I managed to find a seat on Cross-Country’s 18:57 to Manchester Piccadilly. It was a busy train but not uncomfortably so, despite a growing number of people returning to the railways.

I have to admit – I’ve really enjoyed the chance to network and mingle with real people again and from many conversation I had at ‘Rail Live’ I know that I’m not alone in that. The idea that everyone’s going to work from home in the future is just stuff and nonsense!

Not that I’m looking forward to having some home time myself in the next few days as I’ve got a lot of things to do – not least get all these pictures edited! I’ll be back on the road again soon enough as next week I’ll be visiting the HS2 construction site at Calvert in Buckinghamshire – so watch this space…

21:20.

The final leg…

A brisk but pleasant stroll across Manchester city centre between the two stations saw me arrive in enough time to catch the 20:55 to Leeds and home – although looking East the skies look anything but inviting due to the masses of heavy grey cloud I can see on the horizon. I suspect the fine summer weather I’ve been experiencing may be about to come to a rather abrupt end…

Homeward bound on this beastie…

No matter. It’ll save me worrying about having to water the garden and I’ve plenty to do indoors! Expect to see lots of pictures appear on my Zenfolio picture website over the next few days. Oh, and tomorrow there should be a blog on HS2 as the Amersham by-election is being held today, so the result will be in tomorrow and I’ll be looking at how the Green Party’s throughly dishonest and hopelessly Nimby based anti HS2 campaign fared. But for now – goodnight! I’ll leave you with one last picture from ‘Rail Live’ which I took yesterday. Here’s Vivarail’s Class 230 destined for Transport for Wales (TfW) to work services on the Wrexham to Bidston line. It was used to form the shuttle train from Honeybourne to the Rail Live site…

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

Thank you!

Rolling blog: Is it that time already? Heading to ‘Rail Live 2021’…

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06:30.

What is is about those nights when you know you’re going to be up at silly ‘o clock that your sleep pattern goes to pot? Instead of a restful night your mind races and refuses to rely on the alarm clock, so you end up lying there wating for the damned thing to go off? Last night was one of those nights!

Still, I may be bleary-eyed, but a couple of cups of Sumatran coffee have seen me right and I’m now sat on the 06:04 from Sowerby Bridge on the first part of my journey down to Rail Live 2021.

The weather here in the Calder Valley’s already heating up as we had a stunning evening yesterday and cloud cover overnight to keep the warmth in. Hopefully the good weather will remain the same in the Midlands, although we do have rain forecast for tomorrow morning. I’m not anticipating too many problems as there’s always a few marquees to hide in for a while if need be!

My current train is worked by a 3-car Class 158. This service is never busy at the best of times and this morning there’s just four of us sharing the front car after departing from Todmorden. I’ll be interested to see how busy the city of Manchester is later. My travels over the past couple of weeks have demonstrated how rail travel is quickly picking up again as people enjoy their re-acquired freedoms, so let’s see how today goes…

06:40.

After calling at Rochdale our numbers in the front car have climbed to 15 early birds, most of whom are heading into work in Manchester.

07:30.

Like most on my train, I abandoned the service at Victoria. This time of day’s too early for most ‘suits’ (many of whom are still on furlough). Instead it was tradespeople and shop workers who made up the crowds as we teemed up the bridge from platform 5. Walking across the city centrw from Vic to Picc I passed many homeless people who were starting to emerge from sleeping bags and duvets from doorways along my route. A sad sight.

Piccadilly was emerging from its slumbers too as the concourse shops prepared for business whilst passengers miled around looking for their trains. Mine wasn’t hard to find. A Class 221/220 lash-up on platform 4 forming Cross-Country’s 07:27 to Bournemouth. XC are running a reduced hourly service from Piccadilly in order that they’ve sufficent Voyagers available to double the size of their trains to aid in social distancing. It’s a wise and welcome move as – pre Covid – their trains often resembled sardine cans!

220018 leading the 07:27 Piccadilly-Bournemouth is my chariot to Birmingham..

The cheery Train Manager in the rear set’s kept passengers well briefed about the train and social distancing rules and requests (cover nose and mouth, try to only occupy window seats to keep the aisle safe). Both sets are staffed, so I expect a ticket check. There’s also a trolley service, so I can get my coffee fix!

08:20.

The ticket check took place as expected but there weren’t many to examine as my coach (F – at the front of the train) has remained quiet with only half a dozen passengers using it. That said, those half dozen have changed a few times as people have joined and departed at Stockport, Macclesfield and Stoke! Cross-Country may be an intercity operator but many of the people it carries use it for short hops rather than long Journeys. I can’t imagine anyone on here will be travelling all the way from Manchester to Bournmouth!

09:30.

Having half an hour to change trains at New St took any pressure off me so I was able to top up my caffeine tank without rushing. I’m staying in the Ibis here tonight so there was no need to worry about grabbing a few pictures either. I’m now on a Cardiff service to take me to Worcestershire Parkway, the new Interchange with the Cotswold line which I’ve only passed through before now.

10:30.

My trip to Worcestershire Parkway went without a hitch. I even had enough time between trains to admire the new station which seems light, cool and spacious with decent facilities and landscaping.

Now I’m on my penultimate train of the journey here, a GWR class 800 to Honeybourne…

10:50.

Now for something a bit different. A Vivarail Class 230 working the shuttle to the site. This one is a 3-car set (010) that will be used by Transport for Wales on Bidston – Wrexham services.

1930.

Massive apologies for the gap in the blog but the site is a massive communications black-hole! It wasn’t possible to keep a 4g signal for more than moments much less upload pictures, so I’m now playing catch-up. Plus, I kept bumping into people I knew every five minutes, and there was so much to see and do that the time flew. I’ll update this blog fully when I get back to Birmingham (I’m en-route now).

When we arrived on site the sun was absolutely cracking the flags. It was less than an ideal day to be wearing high-vis, but at least we didn’t gave to wear full PPE, just vests. The site is vast, so there’s lots of wandering around trying to find things and half the stuff I wanted to I never got to see as I kept meeting people. Real people, not just their screen image – and that was what was so lovely.

22:00.

I’m at my hotel in Birmingham, spending the evening sorting out pictures from today before round 2 tomorrow. What was a special event for me and one I was proud to be part of was the naming of a GBRf locomotive after a recently departed old friend – Major John Poyntz.

The naming was carried out by representatives of John’s old regiment and his widow, Jill who was later joined on stage by members of their family.

15th June picture of the day…

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I’d only intended to take one day away from blogging after getting home from the best part of a week away, but there were so many things to catch up on (including family life) that – well – something had to give! Plus, my time at home is getting interrupted more as the country starts to open up, despite the much leaked ‘hiccup’ in relaxing the final Covid restrictions which mean June has now become July.

I haven’t been ignoring work. Far from it, but I have so many pictures to collate, edit and get onto my website that it’s going to take some time. I’ve made a pretty good start as several hundred rail, shipping and travel pictures have already been added to my Zenfolio website, but there’s almost as many still to do. You can find what I’ve added so far by following this link which will take you to the recently updated section, showing you which galleries have been updated.

There’s only a short blog from me tonight as I have to be up at (very) silly o’ clock in the morning as I’m travelling down to the Midlands to spend the next tow days at the ‘Rail Live’ event. It’s the first major rail trade event to happen since lockdown hit us all back in 2020 and I’m really looking forward to it. So many friends and colleagues will be there, all enjoying the first chance we’ve had to meet up for far, far too long. I’ll be rolling blogging from ‘Rail Live’ over the next couple of days, so keep an eye out for those.

Right now I’ll leave you with the picture of the day which is from my recent travels. One of the things I really enjoyed was that the trip wasn’t purely about railways. It was also about exploring places I’d either never visted before or hadn’t really got to know in any depth other than by passing through. One such place was Wivenhoe in Essex, on the railway to Clactio-on-Sea. This shot was taken at the old ‘dry’ dock (which is now anything but) on the river Colne. Now the dock’s lined with rather posh properties.

I really enjoyed the feel of the village and maet some lovely people there. That fact that it felt like it was rather out of a film set was reinforced when I spotted a blue plaque on one of the properties nearby that explained Wivenhoe was for many years (in fact, from 1958 until her death aged 92 in 1998) of the actress Joan Hickson, who became famous for playing Agatha Christie’s ‘Miss Marple’!

Right, time for bed!

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

Thank you!

Rolling blog: take the long way home…

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09:30.

My time in East Anglia has come to an end and I’ve begun to make my way home via London. Trains are getting increasingly busy so I’m avaoiding 2 – 3 car units and trying to stick to longer trains at the moment. I’m currently on a GA 12-car set to Liverpool St which is only about 1/3 full. Mind you. there’s engineering work North of Ipswich this weekend, so that’s cutting down on the numbers travelling as it’s the dreaded ‘bustitution’ up to Norwich and North of Bury St Edmonds on the Ely line.

The weather’s still good so no doubt I’ll be stopping en-route. The first one planned is an old stomping ground. Stratford in East London. The place is virtually unrecognisable since the days I lived down the road, but it’s a good place to while away an hour with the camera.

10:45.

God, I’d forgotten just how much Stratford has grown and changed over the years! Bits have been bolted on everywhere. New London Overground platforms here, the Docklands Light Railway there (and there)! Plus, an entire Jubilee line terminus in the basement. It’s all a big mess that’s made worse by a multitude of overhead structures (some redundent) and the encroachment of Buddleia. Add in the fact it’s now hemmed in by high-rises and its no longer the lovely place for photography that I remember.

The only bright side was that all c2c services from Fenchurch St were being diverted through the station, adding something different.

Because of these constraints I moved out three stations East to Manor Park where there aren’t the same constraints (as you’ll see from pictures later)

12:20.

Having spent a profitable hour at Manor Park capturing shots of trains (and passengers) I’ve moved West to Forest Gate. On the train I had one of those experiences I’ve missed. Some folk like to pretend that no-one strikes up conversations in London – especially on public transport. As someone who lived in this city for 25 years I’ve always known that was bollocks and today was a good example. As I boarded the front of the train I made eye contact with a young Londoner of African origin, we both nodded to each other and I stood opposite each other in the vestibule. As often happens, having a big camera hanging off your shoulder tends to provoke questions, so this young lad started to ask me what I’d been taking pictures of. Within minutes we were deep in conversation (he was on his way to Stratford to see his mum, who gas Parkinsons). It was so nice to be able to interact with strangers again. It also reminded me why I miss London. It’s such a cultural melting pot. The rainbow of faces I’ve seen in the past couple of hours…

15:30.

I really enjoyed my break in East London. The camera was working overtime due to the sheer number of services along the lines. It’s sometimes easy to forget how intensive rail services are around London. The good news is that they were all really busy in both directions.Here’s my train into Liverpool St.

16:17.

The London Underground was just as busy as the Overground network as people are enjoying the good weather as well as the relaxations in freedoms. Having got the tube from Liverpool St to Kings Cross I elected to walk the rest of the way to Euston and enjoy the sunshine rather than be stuck in tunnels. The Euston road was teeming with people who all seemed to have the same idea in mind – enjoy the sunshine. At Euston I decided to visit somewhere I’ve not been able to go to for ages and enjoy a swift pint outside of Adnams ‘Ghost Ship’ outside the Euston Tap at the front of the station.

Cheers!

Now I’m speeding up the West Coast on a lightly loaded 15.20 Euston to Manchester Picaddlilly although with such good weather I’d rather be by the lineside somewhere, but hey ho! – I’ve taken so many pictures this past week I’m going to be busy for another one just sorting them out!

18:15.

I’ve left London and the South-East behind for now and walked across Manchester city centre which was packed with people. It’s a bit disconcerting at first after spending so long avoidjng people but I’m gradually getting used to it. The weather’s just as sunny as London but there’s a noticeable drop in temperature up North! I’m now on my final train of the trip, a 3-car Northern Class 195 which seems tiny compared to the 8-12 car trains I was photographing earlier! The change in topography is fun too. As much as I enjoyed the big skies of the flatlands across the Fens it is good to be back amongst the hills of the Pennines.

I’ll bring this blog to an end now as I’ll soon be home. I’ll be taking a break tomorrow but I’ll be back next week – hopefully with edited pictures to show. Plus, I’ve still got a few hundred old slide scans to dip into for picture of the day.

Rolling blog: Extra time…

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13.20.

Sorry for the lateness in starting this rolling blog but I decided to treat myself to a lie-in and a more thoughtful and less frenetic day today. I’d originally planned to head back to West Yorkshire today but I’ve extended my stay by another night as there’s so much to try and catch up with photographically. Having been confined to barracks because of Covid you forget how much you’ve missed out on seeing in that time.

I’ve just been exploring the railway between Norwich and Ely, stopping off at stations I’ve not visited for several years and certainly not since the new trains started running. Right now I’m en-route to Ely (again) to change-over to another route. I’ll update this blog once I have…

20:20.

OK, OK – I know! This has been a crap rolling blog – despite all my best intentions. Part of the reason is that the trains I’ve been on have been busy, there’s none of this ‘having a cosy table bay of four to yourself. In fact, the train I’m on now (an AGA ‘Stansted Express’ set pressed into service on Norwich – Liverpool St) doesn’t even have tables, so my laptop’s balanced across my legs!

That said, it’s been a good day, even if I didn’t get to do everything I wanted and the weather spent most of its time being overcast. I’ve visited some stations I’ve not been to for donkey’s years and got really useful pictures. I’ve also observed how passenger numbers are very much on the increase again, driven by schools, colleges and leisure travel. But that’s not all, there’s a lot more ‘suits’ around again too as business travel picks up with companies coming out of both lockdown and furlough.

Today’s route took me from Ipswich to Norwich in order to station hop along the line to Ely. My first port of call was Wymondham. As well as taling pictures of the lovely old station building where the cafe and beer garden have now reopened. I also ventured into the village for a mooch around only to find that it was market day. The town’s done an excellent job in making the centre ‘covid safe’ with planters narrowing the roads to make more space for what matters: People.

23:00.

It’s far too late to be blogging now, plus I have to be up early to pack my kit and start making my way from the flatlands of East Angular to the rather less flat Pennines. That said, I’ve really enjoyed my time here and the chance to explore places old and new. There’s so much that I could write about but there’s not enough hours in the day – and I still have hundreds of pictures to edit yet. Here’s a final one from today. Once a male-dominated industry (except in times of war) the UK’s railways are making great strides in becoming more inclusive and representative. I noticed this young Muslim train dispatcher at Ely earlier. This is the future of the railways…

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

Thank you!

Rolling blog: Flatlands frolics…

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08:20.

Having fallen into a pattern of getting up at 06:00 to make the most of my time here today was no different apart from the weather. The wall to wall sunshine we’ve had these past few days had been rudely interrupted by clouds this morning, leaving the looking decidely mixed. Even so, there should be plenty of photographic opportunities. I’m already on the move, heading to Norwich for a meeting with an old friend who’s recently changed jobs. Having worked with Richard Clinnick on RAIL magazine for 15 years (we were on his first job together) I’m keen to hear about his new role on another magazine I’ve worked for – the International Railway Journal.

Right now I’m sat on another of Anglia’s Class 745 12 car units. I really like these trains but I noticed that one of the Stansted Express variants was working a Norwich – Liverpool St diagram earlier. They seem rather inferior, with no tables and what looks like reduced legroom in the airline seats. Hopefully, I’ll get to sample one later today. Here’s how the priority seating/wheelchair area looks on my train.

10:02.

My meeting with Richard had to be cancelled at the last moment due to him receiving a text from the Covid ‘Track & Trace” system telling him to self-isolate for 24 hours. Talk about timing! Instead I hung around Norwich long enough to get some pictures before catching the 09:27 to Stansted Airport to head along another old familiar route, the line via Wymondham to Ely. I’ve written about my trips on this line several times over the years. It used to be very “old railway” with mechanical signalling, jointed track and even telegraph poles festooned with dozens of wires. All of those are gone now. Instead the Stadler 755s zip along the line at an impressive pace. The old signalboxes still remain, but they’re all boarded up and derelict.

Sadly, cloud cover is 100% around here, blue skies are a memory again.

12:00.

My sojourn in Ely coincided with the heaviest cloudcover of the whole trip – aided and abetted by a partial eclipse! To cap it all, the photo location I walked to was now so overgrown it was pointless for what I was after. That’s the danger when you don’t visit a place for 25 years I suppose! Just before I left the cloud cover cleared so I did manage a few useful shots. Next up – Cambridge…

19:00.

Sorry about the lack of updates – I got sidetracked! In Cambridge I took a couple of hours off to meet an old friend. An old girlfriend actually. Margot and I were an ‘item’ back in the 1970s but haven’t seen each other for well over 35 years, but through the magic of Facebook we regained touch with each other a couple of years ago. Margot’s happily married with two grown-up sons but as I was in the area and we still share common interests like travel and photography, we decided to have a light lunch, a G&T and remember old times whilst sat in her garden. It was lovely to see her after all these years and realise just how much time has passed.

Back on the road again retraced my steps to Ely but the weather was still playing silly buggers, and as memory lane was in vogue today I headed up to a place I’ve not visited since the early 2000s. Kings Lynn. I didn’t linger, I just wanted to refresh my memory. Nowaday’s the line’s worked by Great Northern Class 387s rather than the old WAGN Class 365s (a train I miss). What surprised me was just how rough riding the 387s were on that line. OK, I was sat over a bogie, but every time we passed over a road crossing the violent hunting and crashing make me fear we were going to end up in the dirt. This happened at several crossings which was rather disconcerting when you realise it’s not just a one-off.

On the way back I stopped off at the lovely old station of Downham Market which retains its original buildings and a working signalbox, which surprised me as I thought this section of line from Ely to Kings Lynn had been resignalled, but obvioulsy not. The place was a pean to the vanished BR region of ‘Network South-East’ as nearly all the signs carried the branding of a company that vanished in the 1990s.

22:00.

I’m now relaxing back at the hotel after a long day’s exploring, albeit with mixed photographic results due to the weather but that hasn’t detracted from the sheer joy of being out and about again, rediscovering some old haunts whilst realising just how much has changed in the intervening years. There’s still lots to try and capture so I’ve decided to extend my stay here in Ipswich by another night in order to try and maximise my time away. Plus, let’s face it – it’s not like I’m going to be jetting off abroad next week…

Hopefully the extra time will also allow me to spend more time catching up with some of the places I’ve missed so far. The forecast isn’t brilliant tomorrow but harsh sun isn’t always the best for some pictures. If the weather’s not so condusive I can always retreat somewhere to catch up on photo editing and bide my time. Let’s see what happens – and where I get to…

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

Thank you!

Rolling blog: Fenland foray…

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09:30.

Sorry for the delay in starting this. I’ve been up since 06:00 and I was on my first train from Ipswich by 07:34 – and in glorious weather too. Then it all went a bit “Pete Tong”. I plugged in my laptop on the train so I could check in with the world (and write this), then spent the entire trip to Saxmundham battling against the ‘blue screen of death’ as my laptop flashed up the dreaded words ‘exception error’. Fortunatly I managed to reset it (eventually). Not for the first time my machine doesn’t chew automatic updates properly when they’re swallowed from indifferent wifi on the move…

Still, I can breathe easy for now as I backed up all my data and pictures as a precaution. For now I’m going to be blogging via my phone, so please excuse fat finger syndrome and a spull-chucker that thinks I’m wanting to write in Serbo-Croat!

I’m currently kicking my heels between trains at the pretty and well-heeled market town of Saxmundam. You can tell it’s well-heeled as it boasts two new supermarkets and one of ’em is a Waitrose.

The station’s looking good too. The Lowestoft bound platforms been renovated, the old station building’s undergoing a rebuild and the car-park’s recently been extended. The large flower bed that separates it from the Ipswich bound platform’s been replanted by the local community group and includes a new herb garden. All that’s needed now is for passengers to return in numbers.

I’ve traversed the East Suffolk line many times. In fact I wrote about it last September as part of my bi-annual Round Britain rover for RAIL magazine last September but I’ve never had time to stop off at any of the stations and towns en-route. Today’s an opportunity to make up for that omission.

Despite much recent modernisation, with resignalling and new track the East Suffolk line still takes me back to the old days as there’s long lengths of the old 60ft sections of jointed bull-head rail to provide the famous ‘clickety-click’ sound of classic rail travel. I’ve heard a sound I’ve not come across for years, the bang as a fishplate copes with the rails expanding in the hot sun!

11:15.

I backtracked from Saxmundham in order to spend some time at the excellent station restoration project at Wickham Market. The old two-storey station building has undergone a massive make-over to convert it into a cafe and meeting rooms for the benefit of the local community. The scheme was funded from several different sources including Community Rail Network and the Railway Heritage trust who helped with the replacement of the station canopy. The lovely volunteer behind the cafe counter told me that the copies of the original spandrels were made by Hargreaves in Sowerby Bridge – talk about a small world!

Right now I’m on the 10:42 train making my way North towards Lowestoft, maybe I’ll stop off on the way if something else looks enticing…

I’m travelling in the front car of a three car Class 755 but this set (329) seems noticeably noisier than others I’ve travelled on due to vibration from the engine compartment. Even so, it’s head and shoulders in quality above the old 2-car Class 156s it’s replaced!

13:15.

I’m now on my way to Norwich after a short layover in Lowestoft which I used to buy some extra summer clothes from M&S. With not having been able to visit Thailand recently my old multi pocketed shorts (ideal for travelling) had to be condemned! I’ve now found a half-decent replacement. But God, Lowestoft was depressing. I’ve visited the place many times. I’ve even stayed overnight, which was ‘fun’ but each time I return it seems to get worse. I stood out like a sore thumb for all these reasons: I’m not clincally obese. I’m not festooned with ‘tats and I don’t use either a walking stick, Zimmer frame or mobility scooter! Honestly, the place was like God’s waiting room.

16:45.

I took a break in Norwich in order to have coffee with an old friend. Dominic and his family moved up here from Chelmsford at the end of last year, so it was good to be able to catchup after so long – even briefly. The town doesn’t seem to have changed much. Whilst I waited outside the station I watched an armed police team and the transport police detain one youth whilst a gaggle of women in matching hen party T-shirts stood smoking and spilling booze. On a Wednesday? Must be some hen do!

Right now I’m en-route to the broads again to recreate some photographic favourites featuring the new trains rather then the elderly and wheezing class 156s…

19:20.

I’m on the rails again after getting the picture that I wanted of one of the new Class 755 trains crossing the swing bridge at Reedham. Sadly, I only got one bite of the cherry due to the rail timetable and time constraints. Even so. It’s a lovely place to while away an hour and watch the boat traffic on the broads. Reedham boasts two pubs on the river but only one has reopened at the moment. I can’t post a picture right now as I was concentrating on using my Nikon, but I will later.

I’ve been coming to Reedham for years and find it a lovely spot. The railway might have lost some of its interest now it’s been modernised and the old mechanical signalling’s been replaced, but the local station friends group makes up for that. They’ve done an excellent job with the station gardens and the small museum they maintain in one of the original station buildings.

The Reedham swing bridge – just waiting for a train…

22:30.

My final update for the day as I’m now back in my hotel in Ipswich, juggling plans for tomorrow as I’ve a couple of people to catch up with whilst enjoying this superb weather. My trip to Norwich was ‘interesting’ to say the least. On my return from Reedham I nipped into town to buy a sandwich. The first thing I saw was very positive. The ground floor of an office block just the other side of the River Wensum has been converted into an NHS Covid vaccination station. Dozens of people were inside with more queuing outside. The really positive thing was they were all young people. Sadly, the good impression didn’t last. a few yards up the road I came across a group of young people and one slightly older woman who were all well gone already. They were arguing as it was some girls birthday and the woman had trapped said girl in a lift three times (no, I can’t work it out either). It seemed like the usual carry-on that you get in Norwich most weekends when every village idiot for miles descends on the place. I thought no more of it until one of of the young men blurted out in exasperation “Oh Mum!”…Maybe Ry Cooder should have forgotten about Texas and written a song about Norfolk…

Anyways, here’s one last picture from today now that I’ve go them dowloaded onto the laptop (which seems to be behaving itself). When I got back to Ipswich I had chance to have a look at one of the new Bombardier Class 720s as one was waiting to return to London. Oh dear! They have 3+2 seating and the aisles are so narrow they’re a tight squeeze even for me. With a camera bag on my back I stood no chance of getting through, so imagine what they’d be like with people occupying those seats?

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

Thank you!

Rolling blog: Off to the seaside…

08:00

I had a really good nights sleep at my hotel. There’s something to be said for windowless internal box rooms – there’s no noise from seagulls or pigeons – or any light pollution! So, for once I wasn’t awake before my alarm. I was out of the hotel door before 07:00, grabbed a breakfast sandwich from the just opened Sainsbury’s, then wandered over to the station. Ipswich was just starting to show signs of life at that time although the number of vacant shops is noticeable if not unique. A lot of towns are suffering from the double whammy of Covid and Brexit – and the full customs regulations and red tape haven’t even started yet! Meanwhile, the questions over the final relaxation of lockdown continue.

Leaving aside such imponderables I made my way to the station in enough time to bag a couple of pictures before catching the 07:33 Liverpool St service back to Colchester in order to explore the line to Clacton. The train was worked by one of GA’s new 12 car Class 745s but I didn’t have long to enjoy the comfort as the trip lasts little more than 10 minutes!

Expect some pictures and a rolling blog of the days activities soon…

09:36.

I’m currently sat outside the station cafe sipping coffee and enjoying a chance to put my feet up after a lightning wander around the seafront – which is deserted! OK, it’s only early but I expected to see a little more life other than few joggers and dog-walkers. Still, it’s a nice day for it…

Arriving on the same train I was about to take my leave on was a friend who works for the Eversholt, the train leasing company who own the soon to be retired ‘Dusty bins’. He’d come to inspect the a pair of units stabled at the depot which are due to go off for storage on Thursday. We had enough time for a quick chat before I caught the 10:05 to head to Wivenhoe.

11:52.

I’ve passed through Wivenhoe many times but never stopped before. Today I made up for that mistake and discovered its charms. It’s a pretty little village on the banks of the River Colne, with an eclectic mix of buildings and yachts on the river. Judging by the amount of “black lives matter” posters in windows and adverts for folk clubs and other groups it’s of a mire liberal mind than one might assume from such a place. There’s a welcome absence of ‘big brand’ shops too. Instead there’s a variety of local businesses. Here’s a couple of shots to show what I mean.

15:45.

After a pleasant couple of hours I’ve moved location yet again. Returning to Colchester to regain the main line I’ve pitched up at Manningtree in order to explore the branch to Harwich Town. I’ve not been along here for several years. In fact the last time was working trackside for Network Rail, taking pictures of the work they’d done to stabilise some of the embankments. That was a stunningly sunny day too – one when you really didn’t want to be decked out in full rail PPE!

The pub on Manningtree station’s reopened, but it’s a shadow of its former (historic) self. The original bar was ripped out years ago and the place was extended into an adjacent room. Now (understandably) the only real ale they’re selling comes in bottles – at a price – but at least they’ve found a way of surviving. Here’s the view of the Harwich bay from their outdoor seating.

A journey down this line’s always a trip down memory lane for me. It was this route i’d use to get the Harwich – Hook of Holland ferry when I way squatting with friends in Amsterdam in 1981, then on regular trips to the city when I’d moved to London. Sadly, the days of the old boat trains are passed and Harwich is a shadow of its former self.

21:30.

Well, I have to say – it’s been a fabulous day. I’ve actually had chance to explore some places to day and even Harwich dealt me a couple of wild cards because I had time to wander around the place. OK, it wasn’t exactly teeming with life, but the history there is fascinating. It was the same when I returned to Ipswich. I got back in time to stock up on provisions for tomorrow, after which I was tempted to venture further but we’ve had such a lovely evening I thought I’d explore the town more and revisit the old dock area which I’ve not wandered around for donkey’s years. To say it’s changed is an understatement. I didn’t recognise much of it and struggled to get my bearings because there’s so much in the way of new developments. To be honest, I really enjoyed wandering around, my first impressions have altered as it’s clear there’s still a lot of life here, it’s simply that the centre of gravity has shifted somewhat. The new developments in what used to be the docks look really interesting, although I do woner about the build quality of some. There’s one massive multi-storey estate that can’t be more than 10 years old where the lower floors are already swathed in scaffolding – hardly a good sign. Other developments look much better – although I’m sure they’ll have a price tag to match. The old adage that you get what you pay for rings true here.

Needless to say, after such a great day I’ve a huge amount of pictures to edit and I want to make the most of tomorrow, so I’m going to sign off now with a lst couple of shots from the day.

The new rises from the old. Whilst there’s still derelict old buildings like this on the edge of the docks, they’re being dwarfed by the modern new high-rises that are taking their place.
Once the docks were about commerce. Now they’re about accomodation – and flashy yachts.

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

Thank you!

Rolling blog: Time for an adventure…

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07:20.

Apologies for the recent gap in blogging, it’s not that I’ve not been up to anything so had nothing to say (exactly the opposite) it’s simply been a case of not having enough time in a day to fit everything in!

This weeks will be a little different as I’m off on my travels and flying solo so the focus is rather different. I’m spending the next few nights based in Ipswich in order to explore and record the changing rail scene across East Anglia and Essex. Right now I’m on the 07:00 from Sowerby Bridge to Manchester Victoria in order to head South to my old home town. London. Despite the gradual easing of Covid restrictions this train’s still quiet. It’s a three-car 153/158 lash-up and there’s only half a dozen of us in the front 153 right now. I’ll be interested to see how busy it is by Manchester…

The glorious weather we’ve had over the past few days has faded away this morning, leaving us with low cloud and spots of rain. Even so, the temperatures good and ideal for lugging around a camera bag and rucsac – which is just as well!

I’ll be blogging throughout the day, so feel free to keep popping in to see what (and where) I get up to…

07:45.

Due to problems with another service my train’s become an “all shacks” service to Manchester, stopping everywhere en-route, which means we’re filling up. My car’s still less than half-full, but it’s clear passenger numbers are gradually recovering from the lockdown nadir. The weather here in Lancashire’s sunnier than t’other side of the Pennines, so I’m hoping for for a pleasant stroll across Manchester later.

09:30

And relax…! I’m currently back in familiar territory, speeding South on 1A16, Avanti West Coast’s 08:55 Manchester Piccadilly – Euston Pendolino. My earlier arrival at Manchester Victoria saw me do a double take as I passed throught the station. One of Northern’s new CAF built units was sitting in platform 2, one of the pair of East facing bays. It was only when I noticed the number that I realised something unusual. It was one of their electric sets, not diesel. This is the first time I’ve seen an EMU in the bays as currently (pardon the pun) there’s nowhere for them to run to as the wires don’t extend futher East than the station environs. At the moment Network Rail are extending electrification as far as Stalybridge as part of the trans-pennine route upgrade (TRU) so in a few years time this will be a common sight, but not right now…

10:15.

My Pendolino’s eating up the miles to Euston, but there’s one noticeable thing missing at the lineside. As we passed Rugeley the four giant cooling towers from the old coal fired power station have vanished. They were demolished using explosives over the weekend.

10:24.

Our journey South was going really well until Rugby when running early turned into a 6 minute deficit after being checked twice, first at Trent Valley Junction, then in the station where a sister Pendolino pulled up alongside us. Having cleared Hillmorton Junction we’re picking up speed again although I’ve no idea what the problem was as there’s been no announcements to explain.

12:15.

Our slightly late arrival at Euston didn’t disrupt my plans as I was in no hurry. I paused long enough to get shots of the remains of the old Euston signalbox which has been flattened to make way for HS2, then strolled to Euston Square tube station to catch the train to Liverpool St. The capital’s still eerily quiet due to the absence of foreign tourists and office workers still on furlough, but life’s returning. My tube train was certainly busy.

Liverpool St mainline station was far busier than last time I was here too although the mezzanine remained closed. What’s also changed is the trains. New stock from Stadler and Bombardier mixed with older BR built vehicles which still hold on despite the fact they should have retired by now. Class 315s can still be found working some TfL rail services to Shenfield and my train (the 12:02 to Ipswich) was formed of three elderly (if refurbished) Class 321s!

19:30.

Apologies for the gap but I’ve been busy travelling and my phone’s decided it doesn’t like the East Angular phone networks so it’s refused to connect to anything! I’m currently on a train to Felixstowe so I’m using the train wifi to pen a few words.

I’ve certainly had an eventful day so far and the weather’s been absolutely glorious which has been great for pictures. I made my way up to Ipswich in fits and starts, stopping off at several stations on the way in order to build up a haul of pictures and also see what’s changed since I was last spending time on the Great Eastern Main Line. I must admit that I was surprised to find so many of the old BR built trains still working. The Class 321 ‘Dusty Bins’ are still the mainstay of the electric services to places like Clacton, Southend and Ipswich, although I did see some of the new Bombardier Class 720s in service and several more out on test. Of course the 720s have been delivered late and Covid has hammered the driver training schedule, so it’s hardly surprising the 321s are soldiering on. They’ve never really liked them as a train, the internal layout was inferior to many other regional trains but Greater Anglia have done a good job with refurbishing the units to make ’em bearable. Even so, I’m looking forward to trying out the new Class 720s. Right now I’m on one of GA’s other bew fleets, the Stadler built Class 755s. I think that they’re an excellent train from a passengers perspective. The internal layout is very good with a variety of airline seats and table bays of four, plus they have wifi and plug sockets (although the sorkets are kaput on the set I’m on). They also go like rockets!

22:00.

I’ve managed to get my phone to agree to communicate with the local phone networks, so I’m typing this last update from my hotel room in Ipswich using it tethered to my laptop. The hotel want to charge me for the pleasure of using their wifi but my phone contract has such a huge monthly data allowance there’s no need. Day 1 of the adventure’s been fun. The weather’s been superb and I’ve really enjoyed being able to explore old haunts again as well as get a good selection of pictures. Editing them will keep me busy over the next few evenings but that’s not a problem as Ipswich isn’t exactly ‘sin city’. Most of the town centre seems to close-down after 18:00 but that hardly surprising as the place is deserted. I’m trying to remember if it was always this way, and I suspect it was. There’s what looks like a couple of reasonable pubs but otherwise the only things that are open after 19:00 seem to be take-aways and kebab shops. Like a lot of English towns nowadays, there doesn’t seem to be many people living in the centre so once the shops shut it’s game over. Either way, it’s not a problem for me as I’m not here looking for nightlife. There is one thing I wouldn’t mind finding whilst I’m here. Apparently, there’s a replica Noah’s ark that’s been impounded in the docks as it’s not seaworthy. No, seriously! Take a look!

Ark’s aside, tomorrow’s going to be another busy day, so I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures from today before signing off…

Here’s a pair of the new 5-car Class 720’s built by Bombardier approaching Colchester whilst working 1N47, the 16:05 Clacton-on-Sea to London Liverpool Street

Also at Colchester were this contrasting pair…

One of the new Stadler built 12-car units that have replaced loco-hauled sets on London – Norwich Intercity workings passes an old BR built Class 321 eking out its final days working services between Clacton and London. These particular trains (321/4) were originally built for working out of London Euston to Northampton and Birmingham before being cascaded to Anglia services.

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

Thank you!

The theatre of the Absurd: the Green party and the Amersham by-election…

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Over the past few years I’ve become increasingly cynical about the ‘green’ credentials of the Green Party of England and Wales (please note, the Scottish Green party is a seperate entity and a very different kettle of fish, they’re actually sensible!) mainly because I had to study their policies on transport, rail privatisation and High-Speed 2 way back in 2015. Everything I’ve experienced since has made me even more cynical. Frankly, as a ‘green’ party, they’re not fit for purpose. They’re little more than a posturing protest group where dogmatism is allowed to override science and facts.

The latest example of this is the antics of their candidate for the Chesham and Amersham by-election on June 17th. The local ‘green’ party chose one Carolyne Culver who is currently the leader of the ‘Green’ group on West Berkshire council.

The by-election was called following the death of the sitting Conservative MP, Dame Cheryl Gillan, who passed away on the 4th April 2021. Gillan was a Brexit supporter and opposer of the High Speed 2 railway which passes through the constituency.

The ‘Greens’ have decided that the ‘cunning plan’ of their campaign in Amersham and Chesham will be to base it around a single issue (opposition to HS2) in the hope of attracting the ‘Nimby’ vote. To that end Culver is running one of the most cynical and opportunistic campaigns I’ve ever seen from the GPEW. Imagine, a party that’s supposedly concerned about ‘green’ issues and global climate change pandering to parochialism, nimbyism and self interest – and the truth (and science) be damned!

Here’s an example. This is Culver’s statement on the local Green party website.

Carolyne says,

“The people of Chesham and Amersham have been taken for granted for too long. The government should scrap HS2 and invest in local services and infrastructure instead. The destruction of the environment, homes and businesses must stop. HS2 tunnel boring has started, threatening the chalk aquifer and water supply. The residents of this constituency are bearing the brunt of this project but will gain nothing from it. At the same time, they have to put up with poor quality, unsafe roads and inadequate bus services.

“Spending more than £100bn on HS2 is frankly obscene. The Covid-19 pandemic has taught us that we need to spend more on the NHS and adult social care, school students who have missed out on education, and helping people back into work and to reskill.

“I have campaigned alongside local residents and other Green Party members to protect Jones Hill Wood and the
Leather Lane oaks. I have witnessed the anger, despair and disbelief of residents affected by HS2. If elected to
parliament I would be a fearless advocate for local people and opponent of HS2.”

So, no mention of anything to do with anything outside of local issues and forget GLOBAL Climate Change! It’s a manifesto for Nimbys, nothing more. It’s also pure posturing. HS2’s being built, now. Even if by a miracle Culver was elected (she won’t be) it’s a dead issue as far as Parliament is concerned. She can no more stop it than fly in the air.

There’s more…

This is the “vote Culver” website which contains the following gems.

“Carolyne is the only candidate endorsed by the Stop HS2 campaign”. Well, ignoring for a moment that campaign is as dead as a Dodo now that Joe Rukin hung up his inflateable white elephant for the final time earlier this year, it’s also bizarre thing to boast about because this conflicts with the Green Party policy TR244, which says “The Green Party supports the principle of a new north-south high speed line which would reduce the number of short-haul flights within the UK.” Except when it actually comes to putting your money where your mouth is and building one, obviously! Hypocritical, much? Confused, much?

It gets worse. Culver is shown on her website holding this banner.

That’s 6 claims – and not a single one is true! Let’s go through them.

  1. ‘Biggest deforestation’? I nailed that lie here. It’s not even close…
  2. 108 Woodlands ‘destroyed’ Another lie nailed. In fact, not a single ancient woodland is destroyed (but a minority do suffer some loss of area).
  3. ‘Experts say’? No, experts (plural) don’t say. In fact, only one man has claimed this, Lord Berkeley’s sidekick Micheal Byng. It’s a figure no-one else recognises. Oh, and as for the HS2 only ‘saves’ 15 minutes, that’s complete cobblers too, as the official journey times show. Culver seems unaware (or just doesn’t care) that HS2 isn’t just a Euston to Birmingham service only running between the two stations so there are multiple journey time savings. This claim was always idiotic, it’s even more idiotic now that HS2’s being built from Birmingham to Crewe, but does Culver care? Obviously not.
  4. No ‘local’ benefits? HS2 frees up capacity on lines running through the constituency, it also helps take lorries off the roads (cutting local pollution), can reduce domestic aviation and contribute to UK GDP (which benefits everyone) – and cut transport Co2 emissions which benefits the whole planet, not just a few local Nimbys.
  5. The old Working From Home (WFH) and videoconferencing claim isn’t borne out by any real statistics either, least of all by the fact road traffic’s almost back to pre-Covid levels and rail traffic continues to recover. It’s middle-class wishful thinking, nothing more. The reality is the majority of people can’t work from home.
  6. Err, no taxes are paying for HS2, like most big-ticket infrastucture projects and Government spending, the money’s borrowed on the Gilts markets where the costs of borrowing have reached historic lows.

Oh, and as for that ‘NHS not HS2’ economic illiteracy – I dealt with that here.

Still, facts eh? Carolyne clearly wouldn’t know one if it bit her.

There’s (yet) more. Here’s an interview Culver gave to the Bucks Free Press which is a rehash of all the daft claims off her website plus extra scaremongering about local water supplies.

What’s facinating and depressing about all of Culvers electioneering is the way she’s running a rabidly parochial campaign all about local issues like potholes and with an obsessive focus on HS2. You’d be forgiven for thinking she’s running for the position of Councillor, not Member of Parliament. None of the great issues of the day – like Brexit, the economy, or most bizarrely – Climate Change – even get a mention!

So, what’s her background? Could that help explain this? Her bio says;

“Ms Culver, a Green Party county councillor in West Berkshire, has spent much of her career working in communications in the charity and university sectors, including the Berks, Bucks and Oxon Wildlife Trust and the University of Oxford. She has also been a teacher, lecturer and journalist.”

Hang on, how can someone who’s educated and worked most of her life in PR and Comms be so tone deaf and inept? Her campaign’s a PR car-crash – literally! Here’s a classic example from this week, when another ‘Green’ party car crash (Natalie Bennet of ‘brain fade’ fame) popped in. What did the two of them do? Toured HS2 worksites – in a 2014 built petrol-driven car! Here’s a Green party candidate who opposes building a green electric railway that we need to get modal shift from road/air to rail to tackle global climate change and she’s touring around the sites in a petrol driven car!

Needless to say, this Tweet soon attracted attention – and it wasn’t kind…

Sadly, like most ‘green’ candidates or members of the heirachy, Culver doesn’t like being questioned or challenged. Raise any of these issues with her or ask how someone from a party whose priority is supposedly global climate change can run such a parochial, fact-free campaign and this happens…

See what I mean about that tone-deafness?

The really dumb thing about this apparently experienced communications and PR ‘wizard’ running an anti HS2 based campaign is that Culver hasn’t bothered learning about Cheshaam and Amersham’s political history in relation to HS2, because Culver’s not the first one to optimistically think opposing HS2 will win her a safe-Tory seat. UKIP tried that one too!

Let’s delve into a bit of history…

The Chesham and Amersham seat was formed in 1974. Only two MPs have held it in all that time – both Tory. Dame Cheryl Gillan first won it in 1992 and held it until her death this year. Although she was a Brexiter, the area returned the biggest Remain vote on the UK mainland at 55%, it was second only to Gibralter. But, like many Tory MPs what mattered to Gillan wasn’t the views of her constituents, it was her local Tory party association who are the real power behind MPs and their views. Nonetheless, on the back of HS2 passing through the area and the vocal cries of a Nimby minority, UKIP were persuaded that if they stood on an anti HS2 platform they just might take the seat. Hence bombastic nonsense like this.

UKIP were to be disappointed as the local HS2 nimbys had been writing cheques they couldn’t cash by boasting of support thay didn’t have as the General election results in 2010, 2015 and 2017 demonstrate. Oh, they also show the problem Culver and the ‘Greens’ have. How on earth does she think she’s going to persuade dyed-in-the-wool Tory voters to vote ‘Green’ when they couldn’t even bring themselves to vote for a party that was so close to many Tory hearts (UKIP)?

UKIP never got close to unseating Gillan, despite HS2 and the ‘Green’ vote has been up and down like a bride’s nightie! In 2019 it was 3042, or 5.5%, only mariginally better than it was in 2015!

So, Culver doesn’t stand a hope in hell of winning. Her only achievement by running such a fact-free and parochial campaign will be to tarnish the national party’s image even further. I mean seriously, a ‘green’ candidate who campaigns on potholes and better roads, but doesn’t even mention Climate Change? It’s time the GPEW grasped the nettle that’s their mad policy on HS2 before it does them any more damage. Sadly, with the dogmatic leadership they’ have in place, I can’t see that happening, which takes us back to the theatre of the absurd. By pushing ahead with HS2, Boris Johnson and his Government have proved (with their rail policy anyway) they’re actually greener that the ‘green’ party! How absurd is that!

UPDATE: 6th June 2021.

Things haven’t got any better with the ‘green’ party. Exactly the opposite in fact. Seemingly stung by the criticisms of their campaign, the Chiltern ‘green’ party has resorted to blocking anyone on Twitter who has the temerity to question the wisdom of their campaign – including other Green party members and voters!

It’s a classic example of ‘groupthink’ and why the party is so out of touch with ordinary voters. Mind you, as this policy come right from the top and is practised by the majority of ‘green’ leaders it’s hardly any wonder it’s taken up by the grassroots. The ‘greens’ block list is beginning to resemble an old London telephone directory in size!

It’s incredibly unhealthy for a supposed democratic party but then I’ve always maintained that the ‘greens’ are no such thing, as they’re proving by their actions. This is a protest group that brooks no dissent from the party orthodoxy.

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

Thank you!