For one short day yesterday, sunshine returned to the Calder Valley. Sadly, for most of it I was stuck indoors working in the office, but I did manage to escape for an all to brief period just before sunset and managed to capture this image looking across the valley from where we live to Norland, high up on the other side.
For the photographers amongst you, this was taken on manual and under exposed to bring out the depth of colour in the skies. I used my Nikon D5 with an 80-400mm lens on 200mm. ISO1250, 1/200th at F8.
When we woke up this morning not only had the temperature dropped well below freezing, leaving the valley covered in frost but the clouds had returned to half-hide the valley bottom and bring back the gloomy half-light we’ve lived under for the past few weeks. But we’re not letting it get to us as we’re having an evening out with friends, so expect a few pictures later. Right now we’re off to do some chores before getting in a Saturday stroll along the canal into Sowerby Bridge to meet up with the gang…
Sorry, this rolling blog never got updated because I was too busy having a fantastic time with friends. 16 of us went to the Engine in Sowerby Bridge tonight and had an excellent meal, then a few drinks afterwards. I’ll add more tomorrow, right now it’s time to relax at home…
As promised, here’s a few pictures from last night.
Yesterday the Green party and StopHs2 held a joint demonstration outside the Department of Transport in London. To say it was a bit of a flop is an understatement. The event was widely advertised on social media by anti Hs2 groups and the Green party – for all the good it did. Here’s an example.
Notice that 27 people claim to have attended? This is a piss-poor number when you consider the number of people who supposedly oppose HS2. As is my habit, let’s crunch some numbers to get a bit of perspective.
Over 6.5 million people live in the 63 Parliamentary constituencies HS2 will pass through.
The Green Party are estimated to have a membership of 48,500.
StopHs2 have 11,849 Facebook followers. Many of whom will have seen this leaflet.
Now, allowing for the fact there’s clearly crossover between these different groups, you’d expect a reasonable turn-out, wouldn’t you? Especially as the demonstration was taking place in Central London, thus within easy reach of many of those supposedly up in arms about HS2, No?
No. Here’s a few pictures from the event, which was timed to take place between 3-4pm. The first one is the sort of tightly-cropped pictures that you’ll see the media use, making it look like there’s actually something going on.
Here’s what the media won’t show you. This is a view of the full event, which shows you just how pathetically small is was! I count a total of 15 people, including 3 members of the media. Even the police didn’t bother showing up! The only security is a couple of DfT staff stood discretely in the background.
Here’s another shot, after the media had left but including one innocent passer-by on her phone. This is the best both the ‘combined might’ of the Green party and StopHs2 can do – in Central London! Quite where the others out of the 27 who claimed to have gone were is a mystery. But then it’s like the social media ‘keyboard warriors’ who spend all their time ranting about Hs2 on Twitter or Facebook – but never get out of their armchairs when it comes to doing anything else.
Here’s a short video, just in case stills aren’t convincing enough!
I’ve not seen any media coverage of this as I’m assuming it wasn’t considered newsworthy, which is hardly surprising. Bartley gave a speech to camera in which he trotted out the usual scaremongering nonsense about ‘ecocide’ and ‘concreting over’ the countryside. mark Keir also spoke to the camera. What he said was more interesting because of what he let slip. He appealed for more people to turn up to the Uxbridge protests because they’re desperately short of bodies on the ground. If you follow his and the other protesters farcical antics on Facebook it’s easy to see why!
The whole protest reveals something about the UK green party, which is that they’ve very little credibility as anything more than a protest group – which is clearly what they’re happiest being. They have several credibility issues, one of which is the calibre of their candidates and Mark Kier is a good example of this. I’ve no doubt of his commitment, but there are serious questions about his fitness to be a candidate. OK, it’s fair to say that the whole Brexitshambles has exposed the fact Parliament has more than it’s fair share of people with the intellect of an amoeba on both sides of the floor, but the Greens are meant to be offering something better. Here’s an earlier blog of Kier giving an interview. Does this sound like someone you’d like representing you in Parliament? remember, he stood in Uxbridge in 2017 and managed to reduce the size of the Green vote!
I’ve no idea how the Green Party chooses its candidates, but I have to say they really need to up their game if they expect to be taken seriously. That said, their ridiculous ‘co-leader’ policy doesn’t help either. It may play well to the membership, but out in the real world? Oh, please…
The tragedy of all this is the UK desperately needs a credible Green party, but this lot ain’t it. When I see the impact their German counterparts have on politics I do go green – but only with envy! The German party manages to grapple with national and international issues whilst the UK party is obsessed with localism and can’t actually see the woods for the trees, hence their mad opposition to HS2, because the hard truth is without HS2 we simply don’t have the rail capacity for the future to get people and freight off roads and cut transport Co2 emissions to tackle Climate Change. Stopping HS2 isn’t ‘green’, it’s exactly the opposite.
Having walked to Halifax station after a later than usual start due to the dank and dismal weather I was greeted by news of an equally dismal rail service! Here’s the PIS screen..
So here I am waiting for a train to Leeds, wondering which late-running one will turn up first. So far we’ve had services delayed or cancelled due to no traincrew, a late-running freight train, the train being late off the depot and a train with an onboard fault! What next, pestilence or the pox, or a plague of frogs?
It’s not difficult to see why long-suffering Northern travellers have such a poor opinion of Northern services. There’s not a day that goes by without delays or cancellations. Mind you, I should be thankful I can travel today. Yesterday both East and West Coast main lines were blocked by different incidents. The truth is that our railways simply aren’t resilient enough in the face of disruption and running ever more services on a crowded network isn’t helping.
I’m finally on the move as a Huddersfield – Leeds train has turned up. To add insult to Northern sensibilities, it’s a 2-car Pacer! These should have been reduced to just a handful of trains with only a month left in service. Instead, they’ll still be running in 2020. Here’s the scene as I boarded.
Our Pacer’s now struggling manfully up the bank out of Bradford Interchange full and standing. It was busy on the way in from Halifax but this is a different order of magnitude!
At least I’ve got a seat and the heating’s keeping me toasty, so I’m not complaining. I’m just glad I’m not stood at New Pudsey, hoping to catch this train!
We bounced and rocked our way to Leeds, managing to squeeze just a handful more passengers on from the dozens waiting at our next stops. Our apologetic Conductor telling those left behind that there was another train just behind us.
As we pulled into Leeds I noticed that a large gaggle of yellow painted MEWPs were being assembled in the land between the triangle of tracks. These road/rail Mobile Elevated Work Platforms (hence MEWP) are used for maintaining and renewing overhead lines and their presence suggests Leeds will have a heavy ‘orange army’ presence this weekend.
I didn’t have much time in Leeds as shortly after I arrived the stock for LNER’s 10:15 to Kings Cross arrived from London formed of one of the remaining Mk4 coach sets worked by 91109, named “Bobby Robson” after the famous football manager. This being an off-peak service and because of yesterday’s problems the train’s rammed. I’ve managed to find an airline seat in the quiet coach, but my plan to get a load of work done has suffered a blow as the adjacent power socket’s kaput.! I’ll see how things are after wwe leave Doncaster…
I’m now on an LNER ‘Azuma’, havng abandoned the mark 4 set at Doncaster in favour of 1E09, the Glasgow – Kings Cross that was running 10 mins behind. It’s a busy 9 car but I was lucky and found a free table in coach K right up against the 1st Class portion of the vehicle. The socket works, so I’m up and running!
Even the weather’s decided to play ball and brighten up. I’ve just glimpsed something I’ve not seen for days – a patch of blue sky! OK, admittedly it was a fleeting glimpse, and there’s plenty of tough looking stormclouds keeping it company but even so…
We’re in North London now and the weather’s like it was back in the Calder Valley, just a little more mixed, with thinner cloud. Good job the only backgrounds I’m expected to get in today’s photos are office blocks!
On arrival in London I made a quick detour to Euston to drop something off with an old friend, have a quick chat and get this shot to show progress on demolishing the former Railtrack HQ to make way for HS2.
Job No 1 done I’m taking a few minutes to enjoy old haunts and admire the changes…
Now I can admit what the second part of the job was! The Green Party and StopHs2 had arranged a ‘big’ protest outside the Department of Transport between 3-4pm today, so I thought I’d pop along and show you what the media (with their close cropped shots of the main speakers) don’t show you! The event was a miserable flop with less than 2 dozen people – including the media – turning up. Needless to say, none of the stophs2 keyboard warriors were there, it was just the same few faces. Green ‘Co-leader’ Bartley turned up, as did Harvil Rd protester Sarah Green. The Green’s candidate in Uxbridge, Mark Keir, was also there. He gave a barely coherent interview to the couple of cameras who’d bothered to attend. Remember, this is the man who stood in Uxbridge in 2017 and reduced the Green party’s share of the vote! The only thing of interest (but not to his advantage) that he did say was by constantly appealing for people to turn up to their ‘direct action’ protests such as Harvil Road. What’s painfully obvious when you see the tedious phone videos they post to their Facebook page is just how few of them there are. They’re completely outnumbered by HS2 staff, security and (when needed) the police.
StopHs2’s Joe Rukin was also there, getting his money’s worth out of his ridiculous tree costume. After that there were half a dozen people holding up banners and, err, that was it. It was excruciatingly embarassing when you think of all the bluster we hear about the country being up in arms about HS2! It also shows just how badly the Green party have misjudged this issue. Fracking or roadbuilding it ain’t and their desperate attempts to spin just how much environmental damage HS2 is meant to be causing are backfiring. Here’s a couple of pictures of the debacle. These are phone shots. I’ll add better ones later.
Here’s a little video too…
I’m now heading North on yet another Azuma. Just in case folk think it’s only travel in the north that stuffs up, let me relate a couple of today’s experiences in the capital. On arrival, my first trip was via Thameslink, a network that suffers delays and cancellations on a regular basis and yes, my first train was cancelled, leaving me hanging around for an extra 10 minutes for the next Southbound service across central London. Afterwards I abandoned public transport and opted to walk from Blackfriars to the DfT as I was in no rush and a walk along the South bank of the Thames brings back lots of lovely memories of my days as a Londoner. On the way back I chose to get the Victoria line from Victoria to Kings Cross. Joining the crowds on the platform we waited and waited. Normally you can expect Vicky line trains to be one after the other but due to a ‘passenger incident’ at Vauxhall we were left waiting for a good 10-15 mins. Not a huge amount of time in the scheme of things, but an absolute age on the London Underground!
The penultimate leg! I swapped from the 17:16 ‘Azuma’ Kings Cross – Hull onto the 17:31 Kings Cross – Leeds at Doncaster. Both are 9-car trains and with their loadings on leaving London you can see why! I must admit, these trains are growing on me and the onky thing I’ll miss compared to the Mk3 and Mk4 coaches they’ll replace is the ambience you could get in the buffet cars, especially on a Thursday/Friday. The cramped offering on all the Hitachi sets is far too functional, but I can understand why (from a comnercial perspective) that is.
Last train of of the day folks – and it’s another Pacer. This time one of the Andrew Barclay bodied Class 144s, so a little more up-market! In these days of electronic communications and real-time information it’s frustrating when you see your train described as ‘arrived’ when you’re stood on a nice warm concourse only to find on the platform PIS it’s announced as running late when you’ve made the trip early…
To misquote Kings Henry II on Thomas a Becket – ‘Who will rid me of this turbulent weather’? It’s been another bleedin’ awful day in the Calder Valley. For the umpteenth in a row we’ve had rain, fog, low cloud and the sort of depressing weather that make you want to reach for a travel brochure that features white sand beaches and palm trees. Not that there’s much chance of that at the moment, unfortunately.
To add to the general merriment we’re also slogging our way through a turgid general election campaign where you wish an option on the ballot paper would be ‘non of the above’. I received my postal ballot today and found that we have a choice of Holly Lynch, the incumbent Labour MP – whom I respect, even if I can’t stand ‘Magic Grandad’, her party leader, or some of the lacklustre people he’s put on the Shadow Front bench. Then there’s the Lib-Dems, the Tories (whose candidate lives in Lancashire!), the Greens and the Brexit party. The woman who’s paid Farage her £100 to stand for the Brexit party lives way over East in Batley and Spen, the constituency where their Labour MP, Jo Cox, was brutally murdered by a far-right extremist.
The Brexit party candidate’s name’s Sarah Wood and all I know about this young woman is that I’m getting well pissed-off with her clogging my Facebook page with adverts like this! She admits she never voted until 2015, now she expects to be elected as an MP, but I’ll be damned if even she knows what she stands for. One of her videos filmed in the local market claims the Brexit Party will scrap local business rates and replace them with a ‘small’ tax on online retailers. It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to spot the flaw in that plan! This is populist politics at its basest.
Well, that and the fact her replies to some of the comments on her FB adverts don’t exactly make you think she’s a political titan who’s got much of a grasp of things. You know, like reality…
I’m hoping that Wood will split the brexity vote and allow Holly Lynch to retain the seat in order to help deprive Boris Johnson of a majority. Plus, we get to keep a decent local MP, so a win all round!
How the election’s going to play out is anyone’s guess, but I’ve been heartened to see how many young people (ie, under 35) have registered to vote before the deadline closed. The potential impact this could have can’t be underestimated, because they’re the one’s who have most to lose from Brexit, and it’s clear that Conservative Party Central Office are acutely aware of this as Johnson’s lead in the polls starts to disappear. I don’t believe for a minute that Corbyn is going to sweep to power. I suspect we’ll end up with another hung Parliament, but I am hopeful that tactical voting will produce more than a few ‘Portillo moments’ (when he lost his seat in a shock result in the 1997 general election). I came across this on Twitter earlier and hope it has relevance to Halifax too…
Politics and weather aside, I’m back on the rails again tomorrow, so expect the first rolling blog for a while. I’m heading back to London to get some pictures for a magazine, then pop over to an event that I don’t want to spill the beans about just yet. The reasons for that will become clear tomorrow! Typically, the weather forecast isn’t looking great wherever I am, North or South, the only difference is that the rain will be warmer in London!
I’ve spent so much time at home recently due to the foul weather and my determination to catch up on paperwork and scanning old slides that I think our cat’s getting fed up of me getting under his feet (isn’t that normally the other way around? Ed). Thankfully, there’s a number of events on the horizon that’ll see me out and about a lot more over the next couple of weeks including a few jaunts back South to London and the South-East for both work and social reasons . I must admit that I’m starting to yearn for sunnier climes but I can’t see any chance of getting away until next year now – there’s simply too much to do. Once the dust has settled on the results of the general election I’ll have a better idea of my options. Such as – will it be planning for a holiday, or looking to seek political asylum away from Brexit Britain? It’s a good job I’ve been concentrating on scanning old rail slides at the moment rather than the 1000s of travel pictures I have, otherwise I’d really be feeling sick. Images of places like Wigan create little in the way of itchy feet compared to some of the exotic stuff I’ve got in the queue like Brazil, Indonesia or Tanzania. Here’s a good example why. Now, this is no dig at Wigan per-se (Honestly Sheila!) as I have exactly the same sort of shot of Clapham Junction in London, but this is what a shit-tip our railways looked like in 2002.
Thankfully thinks have changed dramatically. It’s not that folk don’t still sometimes throw rubbish onto the tracks, it’s the fact Network Rail continually clean them and TOC staff no longer sweep crap off the platforms onto the rails as if it’s no longer their problem. Images like this remind me more of Indian railway stations than UK ones nowadays.
Expect one last update of 2002 slides tomorrow, then I’m firmly back in the present day…
The weather here in West Yorkshire has continued the miserable run that we’ve had for several days now. Most of the day the other side of the Calder valley’s been half-hidden in the murk or had the valley tops disappear completely in low cloud. This gloomy weather does nothing to lift the spirits, nor does the persistent rain encourage one to venture out. Luckily, I’ve not had to. Jet (our cat) and I have stayed warm and dry at home, him in his basket and I in the office from 06:30 this morning, clearing up paperwork and scanning dozens of old rail slides from 2002. If there’s one silver lining about the weather, this is it – I’m making steady progress getting the old pictures (many of which have never been seen by anyone but me) onto my Zenfolio website after 17 years sitting around in albums. Here’s a small selection of the ones that have been added in the past 24 hours.
The weather forecast for tomorrow’s looking even worse than today, although I’m not sure If I’ll have time to scan anymore old slides as I’ve other things that need my attention. That said, you never know. I’ve just 50 left to scan from the present album, so maybe by tomorrow night…
In the meantime, if you want to have look at the full selection that I’ve added to my Zenfolio website, follow this link, which will take you to the ‘recent’ section and show you which galleries they’ve been added to as there’s quite a mixture.
Expect some modern pictures as I get out and about on my travels later in the week.
Well- known TV presenter and environmentalist Chris Packham has continually made the statement that HS2 is causing the biggest deforestation programme since World War 1. Here’s one of his tweets from today, making exactly that claim.
There’s only one problem with it, which is this…
I’ve been doing something Packham clearly hasn’t bothered to do and researched the evidence for his claim. I started off with this website from the Conservation Volunteers which contains a history of British woodland. They have a handy section on the 20th Century, which reveals this:
“The strategic danger of this situation became obvious in the First World War (1914-1918), when enemy action prevented imports getting through. Over the four years, about 180,000 hectares (450,000 acres) were felled to meet the demands“.
180,000 hectares eh? Any more offers? Well, actually – yes. This is from the Countryfile website.
“There were 182 government-run sawmills by the end of 1917, supplemented by a further 40 mills run by groups such as the Canadian Forestry Corps and Women’s Forestry Corps. By 1918, 182,000 hectares of woodland had been felled – an area larger than modern-day Greater London”. Let’s split the difference and say 181,000 hectares shall we? Oh, and that’s without The conservation volunteers pointing out that more woodland was felled in WW 2 than WW1.
“By the time of the Second World War (1939-1945), the Commission forests were still too young to provide much timber, and about 212,000 hectares (524,000 acres) of private woodland were felled to meet the demand“.
Then how much woodland is going to be felled (note, felled, not just affected) by HS2? Because, if Packham’s claim is right, it’s got to be way over 180,000 ha, or even 212,000ha. Now, 212,000 hectares is 210 square kilometres. What do HS2 say’s is affected in this document? Note, this is not just felled, but indirectly affected too. Oh…
Up to 3.8km in total will be affected by HS2. That’s just 380 hectares! Oh, and that’s without talking into account the fact HS2 will be planting MORE woodland than they affect, in fact, they’ll be planting more than double the amount, 136% more in fact. Some ‘deforestation’!
WW1 = 181,000 Ha felled
WW2 = 212,000 Ha felled
HS2 = 380 Ha (includes woodland affected but not felled).
Plus, if we take up Packham on his claim about ancient woodlands, we can see the numbers are even smaller, as this blog using the (Woodland Trusts own figures) exposed.
Oh, there’ also this handy little graphic from @greensforhs2 which adds more context. Did you know far more woodland’s been felled in Scotland to make way for windfarms?
Someone pass Packham a fire extinguisher as his pants are clearly ablaze!
This wasn’t quite the Saturday that I had planned but sometimes life has a habit of not being what you hope for. I won’t go into details but I found myself stuck at home today in absolutely miserable weather. For most of the day the valley’s been hidden behind a bank of low cloud, rain or fog or combinations thereof. The sun stood no chance!
So, whilst Dawn was out with friends and family, I spent the day holed up in the office scanning old rail slides from 2002 and managed to get 80 done in a marathon effort. As I was a resident of London in those days the current batch of slides are very focussed on the capital as I was always nipping out and about.
You can find the rest of the pictures on my Zenfolio website by following this link. It’ll take you to the ‘recent’ section which will allow you to see which galleries the pictures have been added to.
So far, I’ve pretty much stayed away from the fray and restrained myself from commenting on the forthcoming general election and what ‘delights’ are on offer, but the time’s arrived when I need to vent my spleen at the political shit-show that’s being proffered.
There’s an old saying that a country gets the politicians it deserves. In which case the current crop must be fate getting its revenge for years of British colonialism and imperialism. Fate also seems to have a sense of humour, hence two of the ‘stars’ of Johnson’s Cabinet (Savid Javid and Priti Patel), the offspring of immigrants, helping make the country so unwelcome to anyone who came afterwards. The perma-smirking Patel being the classic example. You do wonder if she has an ounce of empathy for anyone. She positively revels in the idea that she’s helping deprive people of the right of freedom of movement, seeing this as something to boast about and completely ignoring the fact this isn’t really foreigners she’s depriving it of. After all, it will only be one country EU citizens will be restricted from (the UK), whilst Britons will be deprived of the same rights in 27 EU nations. Fate must be laughing like a drain…
Meanwhile, that walking, talking vanity project and illegitimate baby-factory we’ve learned to call our Prime Minister continues to show just how utterly unsuited to the great state of office he really is. Johnson spews lies like a someone born to it – which he was. His whole life has been founded on his ability to lie without thinking (or morality), despite him having been sacked twice for it by people with more honour than he has. Scandals swarm around him like flies around shit. The tragic thing? No-one seems to care. He knows he’s lying, the media knows he’s lying, most of the public knows he’s lying – but it makes not the slightest bit of difference as we’ve become so blasé about lies after three and a half years of the Brexit shambles. This is confirmation bias on a weapons grade scale and why the country’s on the verge of a breakdown – and a break-up.
Like most tragi-comedies, there are two sides, and the other is the inability of Her Majesty’s opposition to be a credible opposition. We’ve the worst Tory Government in living memory, but we’ve also the worst opposition too. Any opposition worth its salt should be streets ahead in the polls right now. Instead, ‘Magic Grandad’s’ Labour party is trailing – badly – but his acolytes just don’t care. They’re more concerned about the ‘purity’ of the party rather than the country they think they can/should lead. It’s the ultimate political clusterfuck as with our First Past The Post (FPTP) system it’s almost impossible for anyone else to break the two-party system.
The best we can hope for is for people to vote tactically, to deprive the Tories of a majority and prevent the hard Brexit that’s clearly their goal. This means we’ve all got to hold our noses and vote with our heads, not our hearts. Will it happen? I don’t know, all I can do is encourage people to do exactly that. If we do, the future could look very different. If we don’t – then the future looks bleak. A new Conservative Government with a workable majority and with Johnson at the helm will ruin this country. I doubt the union will survive, but then as a few polls have pointed out, the hardline Brexiters care more about delivering Brexit and would be happy to see the break-up of the UK as a consequence. The fact most of them can’t agree what Brexit actually means matters not. This is a cult…
The December election is going to be the most important one since World War 2, but it seems clear many people are bored with it already, despite what it could mean for their future, or their children’s future. We’re an old, complacent democracy with a population who’re more interested in what’s on TV than who governs them. Whatever happens, I fear this is not going to end well…
Actually, I don’t think it was just the North that was suffering from plummeting temperatures in the past 24 hours, but the mercury’s certainly dropped here in the Calder Valley! The pair of us has another early start and I was in the office before sunrise – glad of the fact the heating and associated electronics were generating some warmth as I slaved away over some more old slides. I didn’t think I’d have had time but I’m keen to get as many done as possible at the moment as I don’t know when I’ll get the time again and the ones I’ve been adding are relevant to some of the rail franchise and fleet changes we have coming up shortly. Looking back at them I realise how time has flown.
Here’s a example. This was one of the first passenger runs of a Virgin Pendolino, On the 30th April 2002 Virgin ran a press trip from Euston to Manchester Piccadilly to highlight the trains would be used on trips from London to the Commonwealth Games in July. It was a high-profile event that included Richard Branson, Brian Souter, John Armitt and many others. You can find the rest of the pictures in this gallery. In those days Pendolinos were only 8 cars, hence them fitting into photographs with the trains they were replacing.
The day wasn’t entirely devoted to nostalgia as I had to nip into Halifax to do some chores so I took a slight detour up to Bradford Interchange in order to be able to add a couple of modern shots to the archive, such as this. Here’s one of the new CAF built Class 195s pulling out of Bradford Interchange en-route to Manchester Victoria.
This evening the weather’s dropped back to miserable temperatures, so the pair of us are having a quiet night in. Despite the temptation, I’ve resisted watching the political ‘Leaders debate’ on ITV tonight. There’s several reasons. Neither of them look remotely like ‘Leaders’. I won’t learn anything new that I’ve not heard before and I can follow each camp putting their own gloss on things via social media – as well as see the honest commentary from those with no party – political axe to grind. The idea that these two jokers are the best the English political establishment can offer up is too depressing for words. My only hope is that by the time it comes to voting, enough people say “a pox on both your houses”…