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Another start to the working week begins…

It actually began rather well as the weather forecast was excellent and the reality lived up to expectations. We had bright sunny weather almost all day. It would have been ideal for going for a wander with the camera, but for one teeny little problem…

In truth, I can’t think when I last laid off taking pictures for as long as I have. It’s not that I don’t have things I could exercise my lenses on but my focus (sorry, bad pun time) has been on getting all my old slides scanned. This meant that for much of the day I did my best troglodyte impression despite the glorious weather, and spent my time hunched over a lightbox, computer and scanner in a time-consuming process that means it’s easy to lose track of the hours.

With Dawn occupied downstairs the two of us at least try and start the day united by doing a morning meditation together in the living room before putting our noses to our respective grindstones. We both slave away most of the day, bumping into each other in the kitchen occasionally or when Dee needs to use our printer which is located in my office. Otherwise we try not to disturb each other until we can both break off and go for our daily exercise.

Despite the isolation I do try and keep track of the world through various news outlets and social media. I also keep half an eye on the ‘Extinction Rebellion’ antics on the HS2 worksites in Warwickshire. Problem is, they churn out such a volume of social media where someone’s talking utter nonsense over a video of nothing happening it’s easy to lose the will to live/miss something. If only they did an ‘edited highlights’. Most days that wouldn’t take up more than a minute of people’s time!

The big news in the real world was of the Prime Minister going into intensive care with Covid-19. I can’t stand the man but I wish him no ill, merely a long and happy life somewhere where he can do no more damage. How and when this pandemic is going to end is anyone’s guess – and we still have the real consequences of Brexit to look ‘forward’ to by the end of the year. The only good news is that some countries look to have Coronavirus deaths and infections under control, although it’s still early days. However, there is cause for cautious optimism. How things will pan out here is too early to say as the picture’s far less clear because of our lack of testing and because the UK’s death statistics are less than reliable. As for the economic picture – that’s another guess. The financial markets appear to be recovering but they’ve been up and down like a Brides nightie and the news of more receiverships such as Debenhams doesn’t help to reassure. There’s going to be more familiar names falling yet and no-one knows how much spare cash people will have (if any) when we come out of lockdown and businesses resume operations.

Today there was no need to get any shopping so our walk was very much for exercise and nothing else. We’re so lucky that where we live we have plenty of open spaces and woodland to walk to and through. We’ve developed a regular circuit which takes us through Scarr woods reserve with its steep paths leading to the Albert Promenade. They’re always good for getting the heart racing and the blood pumping. A stroll in the sunshine along the prom offers great views across the Calder valley and allows the pulse to return to normal before we hit Savile Park for a circuit along its tree-lined edges before retracing our steps and returning home. To people’s credit, most of those we encounter abide by the social distancing rules. There’s only one or two who clearly struggle to conceptualise what 2 metres looks like in reality, but you can normally spot them a mile off. It’s the bloody joggers who brush past as they overtake you from behind that you want to Tazer!

Oh, I mentioned the slides I’ve been scanning. Looking through the database and my records it looks like I’m well on my way to completing my railway archive, which is an enormous relief. At this rate I’ll have them all done in the next month or two. When you consider that I’m currently scanning pictures from October 1989 that have never been seen since I took them, so that’s something I’m quite chuffed about. If you look at it in years, it’s only taken me half a lifetime! Here’s a couple of samples that are a little different to ones I normally add.

0065. Aughton Rd signalbox. Southport. 31.09.1989.+crop

I’ve always had an interest in railway architecture and signalboxes in particular – although hundreds have disappeared in the past 30 odd years, including this one. This is one of a series of boxes that guarded level crossings in Southport, my old home town. They all disappeared in the early 1990s.

Another interest was BR’s departmental fleet. Old coaches and wagons that had been taken out of revenue use and converted to service vehicles. BR had hundreds of them, some dating back to before the grouping in 1923.

0102. ADB 975705. Bedford. 04.10.1989.+crop

On the 4th October 1989 I photographed ADB975705 at Bedford. It was a former BR Mk1 Brake Second Composite (BSK) which had been converted to an Overhead Line Maintenance Train vehicle by stripping out the interior and fitting a flat roof with a walkway so that engineers could work on the overhead wires. This one went for scrap in 2000 as they’ve now been replaced by road-rail vehicles, which are more flexible, just not as interesting!