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Phew, what a scorcher! – as the tabloid newspapers are prone to saying. It’s absolutely roasting here in the front garden where I’m sat typing this on my phone.

The forecast predicted this and the day didn’t disappoint. Dawn was up by 06:00 to hit the exercise trail and I rose at the same time. The view across the valley that time of morning was ckear and cloudless, so we knew what to expect. I was happy to be up early as I wanted to get a solid few hours work in before 09:00 as yesterday had felt like a wasted opportunity. Relishing a coffee whilst I edited pictures and waited for Dawn to finish her calisthenics I also kept one eye on the cat who’s still struggling with sneezing and mucus. That said, Dawn gave him a full hit of his medication this morning, so he wasn’t feeling any pain – literally or metaphorically!

After breakfast we meditated together to get us in the right frame of mind for the day, then it was back to the grindstone. The series of pictures I was scanning and editing today dated from the summer of 1999, only a few weeks after Lynn and I returned from our 18 month trip around the world. They show a very different side to the UKs railways compared to the batch I’ve just finished scanning, which were taken 6 years earlier. By 1999 rail privatisation was well-established. OK, ‘well’ is possibly not the right word here! It was the days of the late (unlamented) Railtrack as owner of the network, plus one or two train operating companies also best forgotten (Connex anyone?). My point is that BR was already becoming a memory. Ironically, looking back now, all the original franchises are memories too! All have changed hands. Some several times. Even the freight operators. I’ll add some pictures and continue this blog later. Right now its almost 18:00 and time for the ‘Big 6’ Zoom quiz…


Right I’m back from the quiz and various chores so I can sit down, iron out the typo’s from writing this on a phone and try and put the rest of the day together. Whilst it’s lovely being able to sit in the garden and blog from the phone the spelling errors I’ve made when I read it back on a large screen are horrendous! I blame squinting in the sun and small keyboards – honest!

The quiz went really well but it flew by. All but two of the nine participants were joining in from their gardens. This time the majority included me as I didn’t want to waste the sunshine and set the laptop up atop the cats cage to save my neck. Mel did a great job reading out the brain teasers and the whole event is a lovely start to what would normally be a weekend without work. Only this is still a form of lockdown – I think – the mixed messages are still very confusing. If we’re starting to come out of it right now, why do we still have one of the highest number of new cases in Europe? To be honest, as Dawn and I have her parents to consider, we’re not going to be availing ourselves of our newly granted ‘freedoms’. Instead we’re going to see how the next couple of weeks pan out. There’s plenty for us both to do at home. Plus, from my perspective, it’s unlikely the rail industry is going to be rushing to organise many press events just yet, so all the work I had booked may take a while to rematerialize. So many events have been cancelled or moved to next year I’m going to have a lot of blank spaces in the diary this year whatever happens post-lockdown, so I’m playing a long game. As long as the markets continue to recover (albeit fitfully) I’m in a better place than many.

Let’s face it, none of us know what the future will bring. Despite the relaxation of some restrictions we’re not out of the woods yet and this chart from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control makes sobering reading.


Still, according to Johnson, we’ll have a ‘world beating’ track and trace system soon, one day (ish, possibly). So, that’s alright then, panic over. Quite how it’s meant to be ‘world beating’ is a mystery. Personally, I’d be happy with one that actually works, but that’s probably being defeatist in the government’s eyes. But then, haven’t they stopped providing comparisons like this?  

Meanwhile, back on a more nostalgic note here’s a look at some of the pictures that I’ve been scanning. As they’re post-privatisation of the railways they’re spread over several galleries, so you’ll need to click on this link to find where they all are. 

Here’s yet another view that’s changed out of all recognition.

07094. 319004. 18.23 to Gatwick Airport. Rugby. 09.08.1999crop

On the 9th August 1999, Connex South Central unit number 319004 sits under the skeletal roof of Rugby station whilst working the 18:23 service to Gatwick Airport. This platform still exits, but little else does! A few years later the station underwent a massive rebuilding programme whilst the tracks were realigned for 125mph non-stop running as part of the West Coast Route Modernisation. Little did I know when I took this shot that I’d be spending Xmas and Boxing day trackside here, documenting the rebuilding for Network Rail (but that’s another story). Nowadays the Gatwick service has been cut back to Milton Keynes. Connex was stripped of both franchises (South-Eastern and South-Central) by the Strategic Rail Authority due to the companies poor performance.

07110. 33103. 3TC No 417. 14.08 Barking - Gospel Oak. Harringay Green Lanes. 18.08.1999crop

OK, I’ll add caption details to this shot on Saturday morning. Can anyone guess where and what this working was? A clue. This was a stop-gap hire-in by a TOC as the old diesel units it were using on this line had sure dire reliability….