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11:23

It’s almost time to brave the elements and head to Birmingham for tonight’s Railstaff awards. I’ve spent the morning pottering around and catching up with various bits, including scanning another 20 old rail slides from 1996 which have been added to the Tinsley depot open day gallery here. The weather is worse than predicted in the Pennines as the sunshine’s never really materialised but gales have. I doubt there’s many leaves left on the trees now, most have been blowing past the house in whirlwind pirouettes! Here’s how things look from our bedroom window right now.

DG313470crop

OK, time to walk down to Sowerby Bridge station and try my luck…

12:38.

My departure was delayed by the arrival of a torrential rainstorm the swept in up the valley you can see in the picture. The beauty of living where we do is that you get to see ’em coming so don’t get caught out!

Having dodged between showers I’m now on Northern’s 12:22 to Manchester Victoria which is running to time (unlike others). This is what a supposedly sunny day in the Calder Valley looks like! Talk about it’s grim up North…

Hopefully things will get better the further South I get.

13:46.

I’ve just arrived at Manchester Piccadilly after walking across from Victoria – and those white numbers don’t tell a happy story. They’re delayed trains.

There’s a Cross-country service to Bournemouth here that’s 25 down before starting its journey.

I was going to take the ‘scenic’ route to Birmingham via Crewe but as services are disrupted I’ve opted for a direct train. I’m now on the delayed Cross-country service to Paignton via Brum. We’re held awaiting a driver, with an expected departure of 14:25. Let’s see what happens…

14:47.

We left at on time at our new time and we’re now on our way to Brum. The trains very busy but the crew are doing a sterling job dealing with passengers who’ve been delayed by the weather. One of the problems with heavy winds is the sheer amount of stuff that becomes airborne and gets blown onto the tracks or into the overhead wires. Euston station’s Twitter account’s just posted a picture of a large chunk of sheet metal on the tracks near Leighton Buzzard. You certainly wouldn’t want that slicing through a train’s windscreen, hence the speed restrictions that are in place. I’m just waiting for the picture of the regulation kids trampoline as these always seem to blow away in the slightest breeze.

15:00.

It’s one of those days. My train failed at Macclesfield! One of the doors refused to close again despite the best efforts of the crew and other helpers, so we were told to detrain and catch the Bournemouth XC service that pulled in alongside us! Here’s some pictures of the fun!

Now I’m rammed in the 1st Class vestibule with 14 other people. Two middle-aged women immediately went into a long, outraged whine. One of them’s upset because she’s on her way to an awards ceremony. I felt like saying “so am I love”. Still first world problems eh?

15:58.

I could only stand the whining of entitled people as far as Stoke where I abandoned my train in order to catch the one behind. It gave me less than 30 minutes to wait and the chance to explore something new. The former Virgin 1st Class lounge at Stoke has been taken over by the Titanic brewery! The new pub has only been open 6 weeks and makes a welcome addition to the stock of station bars. Take a look.

Whilst I was there I ended up emailing pictures to a magazine and sorting out a short-notice commission on Monday (don’t you just love Government Ministers diaries?)

I’m now on the 15:45 to Bristol Temple Meads which gets me into Birmigham in time to check into my hotel and head to the Railstaff awards at the NEC. At least there’s plenty of space on this one

Next stop, Birmingham..

17:21.

Having dumped my bag at the hotel, looked for accommodation in Derby for Sunday night and had a little wander through the Xmas sights in central Birmingham, it’s off to the NEC I go!

Next stop, the Railstaff awards…

18:56.

Looks like a fun night!

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