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I’m not going to be able to relate the full day’s antics as technology has begun to conspire against me right now – which in this situation is a bit of a bugger. The day started well enough, the weather has been stunning once more – if a little chillier than recently due to the increase in the wind. The amount of sunshine we’ve had recently has been wonderful. If anything has lifted the spirits it’s been the weather. How much more miserable would the whole lockdown experience have been if we’d had the days of persistent rain that we had at the beginning of the year? The ability to be able to get outdoors and top up the vitamin D levels has made a huge difference.

Despite it being a Sunday, our day started much like any other. I was up early to make the tea/coffee before leaving Dawn to doze in bed whilst I sloped off into my office to finish editing the latest bunch of scanned slides, then post my daily Twitter quiz. During the lockdown I’ve been posting a mystery picture of a station somewhere in the UK as a brain-teaser for people. It’s proved quite popular. Here was today’s. Can you work out where it is?


Some are much harder than others. This isn’t the easiest as it only shows a detail of a station rather then  full building. In fact, it’s the platform canopies at York, on platform 4, outside the main station roof. One of my followers wasn’t fooled and got it right! The breadth of knowledge out there never ceases to amaze me. But maybe that’s because we’re all getting a little stir-crazy right now so many people are looking for an opportunity to exercise ‘the little grey cells’ as Hercule Poirot would have said. I enjoy setting these picture quizzes because I’m lucky enough to have thousands of my own pictures to use. I’ve always had an interest in railway architecture and the decades I’ve spent travelling have allowed me to build up a large collection of pictures to use.

As it was supposedly the day of rest I didn’t scan too many more slides as I needed to concentrate on other things othewise they’d never get done. There were household chores that needed to be done, although we’re still living off the batch-cooking that we’ve done and horded in our American style fridge-freezer. It saves us a lot of time during the week as we don’t have to think about cooking, but I must admit I do miss that experience sometime as I enjoy cooking and find it a pleasant diversion from everything else that’s going on arounds us.

Jobs done I headed out to get my daily steps in. There was not time to venture furthers so it was the bog-standard route though the woods along the prom and through the park. The only difference this time was the biting wind that greeted me when I hit the top of the hill! We live in a sheltered, sunny spot just down from the brow of the hill on the valley side, so we’re often unaware what’s going on above us. It’s only when we summit the hilltops and come into contract with the prevailing winds from the North which pass over us that the thought occurs “I may be a little underdressed for this”…

Back at home I retreated into the office to catch up with a few last bits, which is when the evening really turned to ratshit. Through a Facebook post I found that an old friend had just passed away after a long illness due to contracting Covid19.

John Farrow was the mastermind behind the railtour company UK Railtours. He’d originally set up Hertfordshire railtours which he ran successfully for very many years before selling the organisation. He’d also set up another railtour brand, the ‘Blue Pullman’ back in the mid 2000s. I’d first travelled with John’s tours back in the early 1990s and got to know him in later years through my photography work for magazines and the rail industry and I ended up working for him on several occaisions. We got to know each other and would meet up at various events or on his tours whilst I still lived in London. Of course, many of these social events would involve pubs, or imbibing various beverages. John was a passionate supporter of the railways and a mine of information. He was also a lovely man, and his passing will be mourned by a lot of people. His enthusiast railtours and dining trains brought a lot of pleasure to an awful lot of people. They were happy times and I’ve a lot of fond memories form those days. I’m digging through my archives to find some of the pictures as I realise very few of them made their way onto my new website. But here’s one gallery – a trip on John’s ‘Blue Pullman’ dining train back in 2006. RIP John, we’ll all get together to give you the send off you deserve when all this crap is over.

Whilst trying to delve through the archives to find pictures of John I noticed that my laptop wasn’t charging. It’s not the first time as the charger has been a bit skittish in the past. My new Dell machine charges through USB-C sockets. These are good in that I can swap ports to charge, meaning wires aren’t always in the way as the power lead can be moved from side to side, but they’re not exactly what you’d call ‘robust’. They’re much smaller than the original USB ports in order to allow modern laptops to lose some weight. Forget coming with a DVD player or any of that lardbutt technology from the 1990s – 2000s, these modern machines are as thin and lightweight as a book of Boris Johnson’s kept promises!

Despite my tinkering my laptop was losing the electrical will to live and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Quickly Googling the problem suggested the issue wasn’t unknown and it would probably require my machine having a new Motherboard. Oh, deep, deep joy! Just when the country is in lockdown! It being too late to contact Dell I had to let the machine bleed its last whilst hastily resurrecting my old Dell XPS laptop which was gathering dust on a shelf. Its still works, but it’s carrying far too many battle-scars after a four year life travelling the world. The battery’s shot, the screen’s starting to suffer fading and the body’s battered and fractured after dropping out of my camera bag on to too many hard Asian hotel room floors. I curse the day that Lowpro decided to make a camera bag where the laptop compartment zipped up on side – on the outside. Forget to zip it up properly and your laptop rapidly exited the side in freefall! But, it’ll do for now until I can get the new machine fixed – just don’t expect any old slides to be scanned these next few days as my focus is going to be elsewhere.