Having fallen into a pattern of getting up at 06:00 to make the most of my time here today was no different apart from the weather. The wall to wall sunshine we’ve had these past few days had been rudely interrupted by clouds this morning, leaving the looking decidely mixed. Even so, there should be plenty of photographic opportunities. I’m already on the move, heading to Norwich for a meeting with an old friend who’s recently changed jobs. Having worked with Richard Clinnick on RAIL magazine for 15 years (we were on his first job together) I’m keen to hear about his new role on another magazine I’ve worked for – the International Railway Journal.
Right now I’m sat on another of Anglia’s Class 745 12 car units. I really like these trains but I noticed that one of the Stansted Express variants was working a Norwich – Liverpool St diagram earlier. They seem rather inferior, with no tables and what looks like reduced legroom in the airline seats. Hopefully, I’ll get to sample one later today. Here’s how the priority seating/wheelchair area looks on my train.
My meeting with Richard had to be cancelled at the last moment due to him receiving a text from the Covid ‘Track & Trace” system telling him to self-isolate for 24 hours. Talk about timing! Instead I hung around Norwich long enough to get some pictures before catching the 09:27 to Stansted Airport to head along another old familiar route, the line via Wymondham to Ely. I’ve written about my trips on this line several times over the years. It used to be very “old railway” with mechanical signalling, jointed track and even telegraph poles festooned with dozens of wires. All of those are gone now. Instead the Stadler 755s zip along the line at an impressive pace. The old signalboxes still remain, but they’re all boarded up and derelict.
Sadly, cloud cover is 100% around here, blue skies are a memory again.
My sojourn in Ely coincided with the heaviest cloudcover of the whole trip – aided and abetted by a partial eclipse! To cap it all, the photo location I walked to was now so overgrown it was pointless for what I was after. That’s the danger when you don’t visit a place for 25 years I suppose! Just before I left the cloud cover cleared so I did manage a few useful shots. Next up – Cambridge…
Sorry about the lack of updates – I got sidetracked! In Cambridge I took a couple of hours off to meet an old friend. An old girlfriend actually. Margot and I were an ‘item’ back in the 1970s but haven’t seen each other for well over 35 years, but through the magic of Facebook we regained touch with each other a couple of years ago. Margot’s happily married with two grown-up sons but as I was in the area and we still share common interests like travel and photography, we decided to have a light lunch, a G&T and remember old times whilst sat in her garden. It was lovely to see her after all these years and realise just how much time has passed.
Back on the road again retraced my steps to Ely but the weather was still playing silly buggers, and as memory lane was in vogue today I headed up to a place I’ve not visited since the early 2000s. Kings Lynn. I didn’t linger, I just wanted to refresh my memory. Nowaday’s the line’s worked by Great Northern Class 387s rather than the old WAGN Class 365s (a train I miss). What surprised me was just how rough riding the 387s were on that line. OK, I was sat over a bogie, but every time we passed over a road crossing the violent hunting and crashing make me fear we were going to end up in the dirt. This happened at several crossings which was rather disconcerting when you realise it’s not just a one-off.
On the way back I stopped off at the lovely old station of Downham Market which retains its original buildings and a working signalbox, which surprised me as I thought this section of line from Ely to Kings Lynn had been resignalled, but obvioulsy not. The place was a pean to the vanished BR region of ‘Network South-East’ as nearly all the signs carried the branding of a company that vanished in the 1990s.
I’m now relaxing back at the hotel after a long day’s exploring, albeit with mixed photographic results due to the weather but that hasn’t detracted from the sheer joy of being out and about again, rediscovering some old haunts whilst realising just how much has changed in the intervening years. There’s still lots to try and capture so I’ve decided to extend my stay here in Ipswich by another night in order to try and maximise my time away. Plus, let’s face it – it’s not like I’m going to be jetting off abroad next week…
Hopefully the extra time will also allow me to spend more time catching up with some of the places I’ve missed so far. The forecast isn’t brilliant tomorrow but harsh sun isn’t always the best for some pictures. If the weather’s not so condusive I can always retreat somewhere to catch up on photo editing and bide my time. Let’s see what happens – and where I get to…
I’ve a favour to ask…
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