Another old BR EMU class bows out. The Class 456…

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Sunday 16th January saw the last passenger services operated by the old BR built Class 456, 2-car electric trains. The whole class of 24 units has now gone off-lease from Southwestern Railway and will be returned to the company who owns them, Porterbrook. It’s extremely unlikely these 750v 3rd rail units will find work elsewhere so it looks like a one-way trip to the scrapyard beckons. They were originally meant to be surplus to requirements in 2019 but long delays to the replacement class 701 sets being built by Bombardier at Derby meant they hung on for another two years. As 3rd rail units they were confined to the old ‘Southern’ network they were built for in 1990-91 and have led a busy but undistinguished career.

Constructed at York and based on the Mark 3 coach bodyshell and powered by the famous EE507 traction motor (some of which had been salvaged from old 4-SUB units withdrawn in the 1980s) these 75mph units were originally destined for the South-Western division of the old Southern region. A change of plan occurred during construction which meant that they were allocated to the Central section instead. Although they’d been due to enter service in early 1991 a problem with the inability of drivers to see platform mounted CCTV screens clearly meant they had to have the drivers seat modified so didn’t enter passenger service until the 30th September 1991.

Their main sphere of operation was the South London lines, especially the route from Victoria to London Bridge. In later BR years under Network South East they increased their sphere of operation to include such places as Tattenham Corner and the loop via Crystal Palace.

At the end of BR the units became part of the Connex franchise, although only one unit (465024) ever wore that companies livery. They soldiered on under later operator Southern (who refurbished the entire fleet) until 2013 when they finally made it to the old South-Western they’d originally been ordered for – only by now it was run by the South-Western Trains franchise! Refurbished once again when the appearance of the front ends was changed by removing the prominent covers off the top of the jumper cables the units settled down to working services from Waterloo to destinations such as Guildford and Woking.

I’ve compiled a picture record of all 24 members of the fleet which stretches back to 1991 when they were still being tested and drivers trained before they entered service. It covers all the 5 operators of the trains, BR, Connex, Southern, SWT and SWR.

n the 15th April 2011 456001 and another member of the class call at West Norwood on a service to London Bridge.
The 27th April 1991 was a beautifully sunny day in London and I was lucky enough to get this shot of new 456002 on test from Selhurst depot, pictured here at Norwood Junction. It’s sporting the Network South-East livery that all the units were delivered in.
Sitting on Wimbledon Park depot on the 30th June 2014 is newly refurbished and repainted 456003 which has been transferred from Southern to South-West Trains. In the background is 456013 which is awaiting its call to works.
Here’s 456004 leaving Streatham Common with a service from East Croydon to London Victoria on the 16th July 2001.
Passing a London skyline that’s changed dramatically since this picture was taken on the 5th April 2005 456003 (left) and 456005 (right) cross the viaducts outside London Bridge with a service for South London.
It’s the 1st November 2012 and the final member of the class (024) keeps company with 456006 which is carrying the rail safety advertising livery it gained after being the first of the class to be refurbished at Wolverton works in 2006.
On the 28th April 2014 a pair of 456s with 456007 bringing up the rear depart from Guildford with a service from Ascot. Whilst the units still carry Southern livery all branding has been removed and they are in fact working for South-West Trains.

456008 leads sister unit 456009 plus 455829 into Honor Oak Park in South London on the 4th October 2013.

Back at Guildford on the 24th April 2014 and another pair of unbranded ex-Southern units with 456009 leading 456005 wait to operate a service to Ascot from the Surrey town which became one of the main destinations for the fleet under SWT aegis.
Here’s a seen that’s disappeared completely now. 456010 sits in platform 11 at the old London Bridge station before working the 17:59 service to Caterham on the 3rd March 2003.
It’s the 20th April 2010 and 456011 in multiple with a Class 455 works a Southern service into Norwood Junction from London Bridge.
With just over a month left in service, 456012 is seen at London Waterloo with a service to Guildford on the 7th December 2021.
456013 leads a 10 car formation with two class 455s around the curve from London Rd station into Guildford on the 3rd April 2018.
456014 in tatty NSE livery arrives at Clapham Junction from London Victoria with a service for Epsom Downs on the 31st March 2004.
Another photographic location that’s changed dramatically over the years is this shot of the approaches to London Victoria with the old Battersea power station as a backdrop. Here’s 456015 ambling into the station on the 22nd April 2004.
This is the (in)famous Waterloo platform extension blockade in 2017 during which another class 456 derailed and hit the adjacent engineers train due to a signalling fault. On this day (5th August) 456016 arrived on the rear of its train without incident.
456017 enters the tunnel at Crystal Palace with a service for London Victoria on the 1st October 2013.
456018 sits in the bay platform 3 at Woking whilst working Woking – Waterloo shuttles on the 21st December 2019.
456019 calls at Honor Oak Park in South London on its way to the country on the 16th June 2011.
Working a route the units were synonymous with for so many years, 456020 calls at Denmark Hill station whilst working a service from London Victoria to London Bridge on the 12th November 2011.
It’s the 31st August 2007 and 456021 is pictured calling at South Croydon on its way to London Victoria.
Yet another aspect of the London skyline that’s changed dramatically since this picture was taken. Here’s 456022 pulling away from Wandsworth Rd with a service from London Bridge to Victoria on the 15th March 1996.
Almost exactly a year later than the previous picture at the same location. 456023 works a London Victoria – London Bridge service into Wandsworth Rd on the 6th March 1997.
The final member of the class, 456024 leads a pair of class 455s off the Hounslow loop into Twickenham on the 4th July 2019.

I mentioned that only one member of the class ever received Connex livery. Searching through my archives I realised I only ever managed to capture it in one picture – and that was by accident! Here is is sandwhiched between wo other units outside London Bridge station on the 5th April 2005…

I hope you’ve enjoyed a look back at the life of these units and pictures that show them in service for over 30 years. Many of the old BR Classes are disappearing over the next year or two so expect other blogs like this – just don’t expect pictures of each class member. 24 is more than enough! But, you can find many more pictures like these on my Zenfolio website. Just click on this link. Cheers!

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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 appreciate all the help that we can get to aid us in bouncing back from lockdowns. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Thank you!

15th January picture of the day…

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Apologies for blogging absence but I’ve been busy on other projects these past few days which have left me little time for writing, although I promise to make up for that this next week. One of the activities that’s kept me occupied wasn’t a new year resolution, but the new year has seemed like a fine time to do some decluttering and finally get rid of stuff I’ve had sitting around in boxes and cupboards ever since I moved to West Yorkshire from London in 2010. Loads of old books have been sorted and sifted, with most going to a local charity shop whilst a few have been kept back for sale on eBay. I neglected eBay all last year due to the madness of the customs changes brought about by the Brexit shambles and also all the new postage rates. I kept meaning to restart selling but other activities got in the way as the country rebounded from Covid and I could get out and about again. This year will be different as I’ve a lot of stuff to shift and (hopefully) monetize. As well as disposing of books and magazines I’ve been digging through cupboards to consolidate all the old camera and computer gubbins that’s all been stashed away – including what feels like miles and miles of old cables and chargers with all manner of redundant plugs and USB connections. Standardisation of these damned things can’t come soon enough! Oh, I also found some old Blackberry’s. Remember them? I had several over the years and found their QWERTY keyboard and decent screens a boon. Ironically, I found them just as the company (who no longer make phones) announced it was withdrawing support for them, rendering the devices unusable. So, so long Blackberry…

Another day of decluttering beckons tomorrow, although it’ll be some time before everything’s finally sorted and disposed of one way or another. Even so, we can both notice the difference already – much to Dawn’s delight as she’s been trying to get me to do this for ages!

OK, on to today’s picture which is all part and parcel of the decluttering in many ways as these old slide albums used to take up a hell of a lot of space before I started getting them all scanned and stored out of their folders and plastic mounts. Today’s picture was taken from atop the dome of St Paul’s cathedral in London in February 1996.

The tallest building on the picture is the old Natwest tower in London’s ‘square mile’. I really should go back up to the dome of St Paul’s and recreate this shot in 2022, because this aspect of London’s skyline has changed out of all recognition now!

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 appreciate all the help that we can get to aid us in bouncing back from lockdowns. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Thank you!

 

12th January picture of the day…

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Funny old world, isn’t it eh?

I took a break from blogging yesterday due to the fact that you never know what’s going to happen in life and Tuesday was a classic example. I’m now propelled on a course which I hadn’t mapped but could prove to be very different to the one originally charted. All will be revealed soon.

Mind you, life’s full of surprises at the moment, although the fact our Prime Minister can no longer deny the utter shit-show that’s his Premiership is less of one. We all knew he knew about the parties at number 10 during lockdown, it’s just that it’s taken so long for him to finally admit that fact – sort of, ish…

The Prime Mendaciter apart, I’m amazed at the number of people who still fall for this shyster and the rest of his chaotic Cabinet. I try not to do politics too much in these blogs (although that’s probably about to change) as the invective would flow. How this country has been laid low by the forces that sold it Brexit – and then Johnson – which people then voted for is one of those things I’ll never come to terms with. What it has done is make me feel that this is no longer the country I was quietly proud of and was happy to call home. What on earth have we become – apart from an international laughing stock? Nowadays it’s embarrassing to admit to being English.

My sense of detachment from the UK is growing, and 2022 may well see that manifest itself more as the world gradually reopens for business. Covid is looking like its burning itself out and we’re going to be living with a virus that’s endemic rather than being a pandemic. Once that’s true across the majority of countries we can begin to return to some sort of normalcy and I can make up for lost travel time.

Talking of travel, the picture of the day comes from yesterday’s jaunt to Leeds to look at the work Network Rail carried out to extend platforms and increase capacity at the station. Work that was part of the Trans-Pennine route upgrade and that the Dept of Transport dishonestly claimed was part of the universally derided IRP. But then lying is endemic in Government right now…

So, here’s one of the former Scotrail Class 170s which have been cascaded to Northern from Scotrail leaving Leeds in lovely light as it works a service to York via Harrogate.

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 appreciate all the help that we can get to aid us in bouncing back from lockdowns. 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. Motorway ping-pong…

10:00.

We’re just packing up here in Surrey before heading back North once more in a game of motorway ping-pong that we’ve been playing quite a bit recently. The kids have gone to school, Dawn’s brother’s waiting for his flight back from Spain, I’ve stuffed the car with our luggage, so all that’s left is to take ‘Tilly’, the family’s Cairn Terrier for a walk then we can head off.

The weather’s dry but dull so the journey shouldn’t be too onerous and we’re in no rush. The plan is to have a minor diversion in Northamptonshire to have a look at some of the High-Speed 2 construction sites, so expect some pictures later…

11:25.

We’re on the way! Driving through the centre of Farnham was interesting. The town was dead and the roads quiet. You could see from the numbers of cars parked up in people’s driveways at many folks are back working from home. Mind you, in an affluent area like this they have both the space and the type of jobs that allow that to happen.

12:00.

We’re currently bowling along the M4 which is busier than we thought it might be but nothing like normal.

15:30.

We’re now making steady progress up the M1 in Nottinghamshire after a stop at Brackley to have a look at the HS2 work. I’ll add more details and pictures later but our visit confirmed that work on this section is in its early stages compared to other parts of the route. This gave me chance to get some shots which will be an interesting contrast to what it will look like in six months time when earthmoving is in earnest. Here’s where the bridge is being built to allow HS2 to pass under a realigned A43.

We covered a loop from Brackley which took us past the old Great Central station where the street level booking office has been converted to a chip shop and poodle parlour!

9th January picture(s) of the day…

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Sorry – I took a day off from blogging yesterday as I was too busy travelling and wanted to savour the time I had exploring railway byways to enjoy the sights and concentrate on the photography rather than trying to type a commentary at the same time. There was also the added complication that I didn’t really have much idea where I was going to go at first!

As is usually the case at weekend various railway lines were closed for engineering work. In this case it was the South-Western main line around Weybridge which meant many services were being diverted via Guildford, including those from this neck of the woods. Despite the appalling weather forecast and heavy rain we’d suffered all morning I decided to venture out anyway. Dee gave me a lift to Farnham and I tootled off to Guildford on a very quiet train, then thought about where to go. A plan formed in my mind and I decided to head East towards London, stopping off on the way to grab shots in locations I’d not visited for quite some time – or not at all. My route was via Effingham Junction where I managed shots of diverted Weymouth services. It’s not a place where you’d normally find the 5-car Siemens Class 444s thundering through, so that was a bonus to add to pictures of the elderly suburban sets that normally ply the route between Waterloo and Guildford, These 1980s built Class 455s are living on borrowed time as they’re being replaced, but the new trains are late. Very late…

444041 and 444031 thunder over the junction at Effingham whilst working 1W69 the 1323 London Waterloo to Weymouth which would normally run via Woking, but that station was the terminus for services from Southampton and Salisbury, so the Weymouth line trains were run this way. The road bridge over the railway by the station provided an excellent vantage point, even if it was a wet one!
.Having terminated at Effingham and stabled in the yard to let other services past, Class 455s 5868 and 5707 run back into Effingham Junction station to work 2D40, the 1402 Effingham Junction to London Waterloo.

Having secured the shots I wanted and being fed up of the heavy showers I moved Eastwards, having decided to visit one line I’d always missed off travelling on. En-route I passed through several stations which would be worth exploring at a later date as they still retain many of their old buildings and character, Leatherhead a good example. My next stop was Epsom where I switched from Southwestern Railways to Southern for a trip to Sutton on the edge of London. On the way I passed through Cheam (a name made famous by comedian Tony Hancock) where the station once boasted two fast lines running through the centre which were provided in the the days when freight was an important part of the railway. Nowadays it’s a rarity as the old Southern is overwhelmingly a passenger railway. I left the train at Sutton. It’s a busy junction served by both Southern and Thameslink services (via the Sutton loop). Although substantial, the four platform station’s looking a bit run-down nowadays, despite a series of refurbishments through the 2000s. The problem with it became obvious when I arrived in the middle of a torrential downpour. The roof leaks like a sieve! The platforms were awash with water and the covered footbridge between the four platforms wasn’t much better although to be fair, contractors are on site refurbishing the whole structure at the moment, which means there’s lots of scaffolding poles that need to be negotiated as well as puddles.

I was here to catch a train on the 6km line to Epsom Downs. Despite living in London for 25 years I’d never made it down the branch for one reason or another, so today seemed like a good time to put that right. I was pleasantly surprised to find that the old Class 455s I was expecting to find had been replaced with dual-voltage, 100mph class 377s – not that either of these features would be needed on this route!

The Epsom Downs line is an oddity. For the first Kilometer it’s double track, after that it’s a single-track branch line – essentially it’s a long siding. It has two single platform intermediate stations at Belmont and Banstead before reaching Epsom Downs, another basic station. But it wasn’t always like this. In its heyday it was a double-track railway and Epsom Downs was a station with nine platforms, most of which were only used on race days! Here’s a great article and old pictures taken over the years on the ‘disused stations’ website (link). Having been reduced in size over decades the old station finally closed in 1989 and this is what’s replaced it.

Units 377458 and 377211 sit at Epsom Downs before working 2B79, the 1508 Epsom Downs to Selhurst. Normally Epsom trains run to Victoria but the lines from Balham to Victoria have been closed since Christmas Eve as the route is being resignalled. To ease congestion Epsom services shuttle between the town and Selhurst in South London.
This is Belmont, one of the intermediate stations on the line. As you can see, much of the old station land has been taken over by new housing. Here’s 377207 and 377215 calling with 2B72, the 1459 Selhurst to Epsom Downs. The remains of the stations second platform can be seen by the rear of the train.

Time and the light ran out before I could explore more, so I had to retrace my steps home, stopping to get a few more shots on the way. You can find them in these different galleries on my website, one dedicated to the Southern franchise, this one to SWR and this one to Thameslink.

Tomorrow we head home to Yorkshire once more. Weather permitting we’ll be taking a slight detour to have a look at some more of the High-Speed 2 railway construction work in Northamptonshire so keep an eye out for a rolling blog…

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 appreciate all the help that we can get to aid us in bouncing back from lockdowns. 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. More travels and travails…

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09:45.

We’re putting the finishing touches to packing before loading the car ready for Dee to drive down to Farnham. Just to make it ‘interesting’ the Gods decided to dump some snow on us overnight! Here’s the view from the house right now.

Thankfully, it’s not heavy, although the leaden skies keep teasing us with more flurries. The forecast is crap across most of the Western side of the country this weekend, including the ‘sunny’ South so I many have to be inventive with the camera as I was hoping to have a day out tomorrow. We shall see…

I’ll blog about our journey down as it happens, so feel free to pop back and see what we get up to…

11:30.

We’re on the M1 and heading South now after avoiding the M62 by cutting across country along the A637. It’s a country road that takes us from Elland to Junction 38. The roads windy and narrow but it traverses the hills South of Wakefied and affords some wonderful views of Castle Hill at Huddersfield to the South. To the North you have views as far as the power stations such as Drax. We dipped in and out of the snowline which gradually petered out the further East we got – all in glorious sunshine. En-route we passed this interesting new house. Imagine the 360 degree views this affords you!

The weather here on the M1 is awful. It’s a combination of rain and sleet. The spray’s making visibility difficult so I’m going to finish for now to give Dee (who’s doing the driving) an extra pair of eyes…

14:30.

We’re off the M1 now which is a relief. Although the traffic wasn’t too heavy the changeable weather certainly made driving challenging.

One oddity was that we discovered a humbug shortage. Neither of us are great sweet eaters – except on long car journeys when we do enjoy boiled sweets with humbugs being a favourite. Normally motorway services and petrol stations are stuffed with ’em, but not today despite us trying several outlets. Oh, the irony, England suffering from a humbug shortage in this day and age…

We’re currently cutting across country via several A roads including the A43. We had a brief pitstop at Brackley to top up with fuel and allow me to have a look at early work on building the HS2 rail line which will pass under a diverted section of the A43, building the new dual carriageway has only recently started.

The Brackley roundabout. The new A43 will come off this roundabout in the centre of the picture. The ‘old’ road behind the HGV will be closed. HS2 will cross the picture from Left to Right in a cutting a few hundred meters North.

15:30.

We’re on the last leg nowhaving left the M4 at a humongous and complex roundabout by Reading to head South on the A33.

The roads have been surprisingly quiet for a Friday. Even the A34 which is normally congested around Oxford. Even the M4 was pleasant – not a word I’d normally use to describe the Thames Valley racetrack! I’m assuming a combination of folk isolating or working from home are the culprits. But it’s been to our advantage.

Sadly, the weather’s still crap, consisting of dull skies, rain and sleet. For the benefit of my many overseas readers who may find my seeming obsession with the weather odd – I’ll explain in another chapter of this blog after we’ve arrived…

18:55.

And relax! We’re now sitting by a wood fire here in Tilford, relaxing after the journey down. The weather deteriorated after my last post, the sleet turned into proper snow just before we hit Farnham but the ground was far too wet for it to stick even if it had persisted. Instead we’re in a very soggy Surrey, which isn’t what we’re normally used to, although there’s a certain feeling of festive deja vu as this is just how it was when we were here at Christmas.

But right now the weather’s behind us as we’ve a quite night in. Dawn’s planning on cooking so soon the house will be filled with the delicious aromas of chicken Korma and Bakewell tart to compliment the whiff of wood-smoke from the fire. Me? I’ve some picture editing to do…

I mentioned earlier about why the British seem to always be talking about the weather. For me that’s partly because it can have such a major impact of my job. I’m an outdoor, not a studio photographer so I’m often at the mercy of the elements. Sure, I do indoor jobs too, but the outdoors is a huge part of my work so I’m always keeping one eye on the weather map. I also live in the Pennines which is renowned for its micro-climates. We can have glorious weather in the Calder Valley whilst it could be blowing a blizzard in the Colne valley next door.

The British Isles benefit from the warm waters of the Gulf Stream, but this – and the islands location means that our weather patterns are unpredictable to say the least – and even more so now that the climate’s changing. It’s getting warmer, and wetter. I sometimes envy countries with more stable seasons, which is why I always love travelling in tropical SE Asia where there’s not the same variations and you don’t need to pack to cope with extremes. In the UK we can have snow in Summer! I shouldn’t really complain too much as the variety we experience can make for some dramatic skies and pictures – if you happen to be in the right place at the right time. Sadly, the law of Sod means that often, the opposite happens to me! However, it does teach you patience (and a certain amount of fatalism) to be stood out in the landscape in beautiful sunshine waiting for a certain train to arrive only for the event to coincide with a large, dark cloud muscling in to block the sun at exactly the wrong moment, then to clear just as the bloody train’s passed! Not a problem I encounter in Asia. I sometime joke that in the UK we don’t have climate, we have weather. Whether it’s snowing, rainy or sunny, it’s always whether! So this is why you may notice my keenness in noting the conditions outside.

Talking of the weather (sorry!) my plans for heading out tomorrow are looking dicey as nowhere seems to escape from the band of rain that’s due to sweep across the country which is making deciding where to go rather a challenge. Scenic shots are looking like they’re going to be out of the question, so I may have to decide my plans first thing tomorrow. Maybe a day indoors beckons…

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 appreciate all the help that we can get to aid us in bouncing back from lockdowns. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Thank you!

6th January picture of the day…

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After all yesterday’s glorious sunshine the weather’s reverted back to type here in the Pennines. We’ve had gloomy skies, persistent rain and sleet throughout most of the day. Even so, I managed to keep up my new exercise regime and hit all my targets by nipping down into Sowerby Bridge with food shopping as the excuse. But then carrying a rucsac full of heavy shopping back up the valley is a pretty good workout!

I’d intended to be busy at home the next few days but plans have changed all of a sudden as now I find myself heading back down to Surrey tomorrow due to a last-minute request from Dawn who wants me down there for her own nefarious purposes! Who am I to say no? After all, have laptop, will travel, and besides, there’s a little photographic project that I have in mind if the weather’s up to it…

As another short Surrey sojourn beckons there’s not much of a blog from me tonight – I’ve other things to sort out. I’d planned to write about two social media dishonest disasters from two very different sources (the Dept of Transport, and Greenpeace) but that’ll have to wait until the weekend). Instead there’ll be a rolling blog of travels tomorrow whilst tonight I’m leaving you with another old picture from Denmark with a similar light-hearted theme as the last one. Well, unless you’re an irresponsible dog owner that is!

I found this sign on the side of the block where our friend lived in Copenhagen. Clearly, someone had got fed up with dog-shit being left outside their apartment door and decided to make a point!

I can sympathise. Our local woods can sometimes be a mine-field thanks to dog owners who can’t be arsed to clean up after their pooches. Then there’s the one’s who really get my goat. The one’s who bag it up – and then hang the bag on the nearest available tree branch, as if a poo-fairy will magically carry it away! A bullet’s too good for them…

See you tomorrow!

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 appreciate all the help that we can get to aid us in bouncing back from lockdowns. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Thank you!

5th January picture(s) of the day…

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Finally! The pair of us escaped the confines of the house and the Calder Valley on a day when we were blessed with glorious sunshine – although that did dictate where we ended up. Originally, we’d planned to drive over to the East coast and visit Robin Hood’s bay in North Yorkshire as Dawn was keen for some fresh sea air, but on checking the forecast this morning we found the area was covered in cloud which led to a rethink. The Met Office website showed parts of the West coast were graced with clear blue skies so we changed our plans at the last minute and headed to somewhere I’ve not visited for Donkey’s years – Formby Point between Liverpool and Southport.

Despite the round trip involving a triumvirate of motorways (M62, M57 and M6) it wasn’t a bad journey as traffic was mercifully light which meant we arrived at the National Trust car-park at Formby point just in time for high-tide which left a narrow strip of sand available to walk along if you didn’t fancy the strenuous trudge up and down the sandhills. With the wind whipping up muddy waves and ships slipping out of the Mersey estuary past wind turbines it was quite a sight.

Try as I might by flicking through various websites and lists I can’t identify this ship leaving the Mersey today…

Walking Northwards we headed up the beach as far as Freshfield, which is famous for its pinewoods which are a refuge for the Red Squirrel. Last time I was here the woods were full of the critters but they’ve suffered from the devastating impact of the squirrel pox virus. An outbreak in 2008 saw 80% of the population wiped out. Apparently, the population has now increased to almost 90% of the pre-pox numbers but the little buggers must have been having a day off today as we didn’t see a single one – which means I’m having to use an old picture I took on my last visit in 1994 to show you what you *could* see…

By the time we got fought our way up and down the sandhills back to the beach the tide had receded at a pace. The beach is shallow so it doesn’t take long for large patches of sand to be exposed – as you can see from this picture.

The pair of us really enjoyed being back at the seaside, getting the cobwebs blown away. Lovely as it is living up in the Pennines there’s something about beaches – even when they’re bloody freezing!

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 appreciate all the help that we can get to aid us in bouncing back from lockdowns. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Thank you!

4th January picture of the day…

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No blog from me yesterday I’m afraid. One of my new year resolutions is to reboot my exercise levels which took a dive in December. In order to do that something has to give sometime and yesterday that was blogging.

The reboot’s going well. I covered over 10 miles in 21,000 steps yesterday and hit all my targets except one as I was well below my calorie count – which will help burn off some of the Christmas excess! It’s not that I’m overweight, it’s just that I’m near the top end of the scale at which I’m comfortable with and I want to get back to where I feel happiest. After all, I’m not getting any younger and I’d prefer to be an active pensioner rather than a sedentary one!

As if to offer me encouragement the weather’s changed. We’ve lost the rain – and the mild temperatures. They’ve been replaced with colder, sunnier days. In fact, when I opened the bedroom blinds this morning I found there was snow right across the valley tops. It didn’t last long as the sun soon disposed of it, although it was amusing this evening watching cars go past that were still covered in snow. It was almost a weather vane to show how high up the valley side these people lived.

As well as my physical activity I have managed to get some work done, although I’m easing myself back into the swing of things as Dawn’s still on holiday as she’s a mountain of untaken leave to use up. As well as getting some pictures off to a couple of clients and wading through paperwork I managed to finish off scanning yet another album of old slides and begin the next in the series, which will be the final images from 1995-96 but they won’t start to arrive on my Zenfolio website until the weekend. In the queue are shots from Denmark, various points around the UK compass and India, so there should be something of interest for most people and a ready source of pictures of the day. Today’s is one of the series from Denmark.

Lynn and I used to visit Copenhagen on a regular basis as we’d met a Danish woman and her daughter out in Bali a year earlier. ‘Didi’ was a 60s ‘wild child’ who’d mellowed but still had her character. Her daughter, Amalie was a young teenager and quite a famous TV and film star in Denmark. We used to have some fantastic times when we visited them in Christianshavn in Copenhagen or they came over to stay with us in London. Sadly, neither Didi or Lynn are still with us and Amalie now has her own family and lives in Sweden, so I’ve not been back for many years. But, I still have some fabulous memories of those times. The picture I’m using is a great example of how what sounds great in one language doesn’t always translate well. This was a Chinese restaurant in Copenhagen city centre. I had to do a double-take when I saw the name…

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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 appreciate all the help that we can get to aid us in bouncing back from lockdowns. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Thank you!

 

2nd January picture of the day…

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2022 has started in a relaxed fashion here in Bigland Towers, mainly because the weather’s been so wet neither of us have ventured out since New Year’s Eve! On the plus side – it’s been unseasonably mild, which has worrying long-term implications, but as there’s nothing I can do to change that right now I may as well enjoy it.

This lack of activity (although not idleness) means there’s not much of a blog from me today. I’ve kept myself occupied by writing and tidying up my picture filing by clearing away stuff from 2021 in readiness for opening 2022’s photographic account just as soon the weather improves.

Whatever the weather I’ll be sallying forth tomorrow if for no other reason than getting some exercise and working off some of the Christmas largesse. Neither of us really over-indulged, but we certainly ate more than we would normally – and multiple courses too so I’m looking forward to cooking some simpler but no less tasty food this month and cutting back on the meat dishes.

Right, I’m off to watch a film with Dawn so here’s the picture of the day. Another of today’s tasks was to polish off editing the scanned slides I’d amassed before Christmas. The last of the shots from Indonesia in 1994-95 have been added to this gallery and the British travel pictures have been added here. Next in the queue are travel shots from Anglesey, like this view of Red Wharf Bay which was taken on the 6th May 1995…

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 appreciate all the help that we can get to aid us in bouncing back from lockdowns. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Thank you!