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08:15.

Today’s an easy day. All I’ve really got to do is get home, however, there’s some places on a clients list of pictures in this neck of the woods that make it worth my while to visit, so my route isn’t going to be direct. The weather’s not as good as it was yesterday as we have low cloud, but as the original forecast was for rain I can’t complain! Feel free to keep popping in to see where I am and what I get up to…

09:10.

I wasn’t very complimentary about Aylesbury architecture in an earlier blog, but once you pierce the ring roads and wall of mediocrity that surrounds the centre, there are some interesting buildings. Here’s the old county hall which was built in 1740. It was originally intended to be a new county gaol and was fitted with courtrooms.

In 1805 the first floor window of the central buildings were fitted with a balcony which was used for public executions. The last person was hanged here in 1845 when John Tawall was put to death for murder.

Aylesbury seems to have a penchant for statues of old dead blokes. There are several in the centre including this one of Benjamin Disraeli, who was an MP for the area (as well as being Prime Minister).

09:35.

Here we go, the first train of the day, one of Chiltern Railways fleet of old BR built ‘Thames Turbos’ as they were named when first introduced. Unlike other DMUs of the era, these units have slightly wider bodyshells to take advantage of the former GWRs legacy of a wider loading gauge.

11:15.

I dunno, if it’s not one thing it’s another. My little train trundle along the single-track branch to Princes Risborough was brought to an unexpected halt just outside the latter town. Initially the driver apologised for the fact we were held at a red signal, but a few minutes later he emerged from his cab (as he changed ends) to explain we were being sent back to Aylesbury because a passenger had been taken ill at Risborough. After a quick look at Google maps I asked him to stop and drop me off at Monks Risborough which was only half an hours walk from my goal.

It turned out to be an enjoyable walk as it took me through the centre of this little market town. I’ve been coming here for years. Lynn and I would often catch the train out here to go walking from Saunderton to Chinnor and back via Princes Risborough, but in all that time I’d never ventured into town as it was a walk from the station. Today I put that right. It was market day too so I was pleasantly surprised by what I found.

When I finally got to the station I could understand what the problem was.

An Aylesbury bound service was still blocking the platform when I arrived and lots of people trying to get to London were milling around. Thankful I wasn’t one of them I relaxed on the opposite platform and watched the Red Kites performing acrobatics in the sky above me. The reintroduction of Red Kites to the UK must be one of the most successful schemes ever. The birds territory has grown over the years and you can find them all over the Thames valley now. They also put the lie to the idea that humans disturb wildlife (a common complaint from HS2 antis). The birds are unfazed by people and will swoop down in towns and villages throughout their empire. They remind me of the raptors I see in India, who’ve colonised cities like Delhi as they find an easy food supply.

I3:00.

I’m slowly making my way North, the Oxfordshire skies are very overcast now which has changed my plans somewhat, Right now I’m heading towards Birmingham, where I’ll decide what do next. Maybe it’s an early day for once…

14:45.

The weather in Birmingham was dry but low cloud made for gloomy skies and flat light so I decided to continue to head North rather than hang around. Right now I’m bound for Crew but plans may change yet again when I see what the weather’s like. I’ve had a profitable couple of days and there’s plenty of pictures in the can so I don’t mind too much.

16:10.

The weather changed my plans yet again. I abandoned the idea of a visit to Crewe and changed trains at Stoke to continue North up to Manchester. The station boats a fine overall roof as well as other interesting architectural features which make it a pleasant place to while away time.

My choice was a wise one. I’m currently passing through the South Manchester suburbs in the sunshine!

18:15.

My next stopover was in Stockport where I basked in the sun for a while whilst shooting pictures of trains coming off the famous viaduct. Something else caught my attention too – the number of palnes passing overhead on final approach to Manchester Airport. It’s a sight and sound that’s very much been missing over the past year and I’m not quite sure how I feel about it.

The sun dallied but didn’t stay long as high cloud eventually won the day so I moved on once more into Manchester, happy that I’d bagged a couple more useful shots but content to head home. The stroll between the stations across the city centre was the busiest I’ve known it for quite some time as a mix of commuters heading home vied for pavement space with shoppers and those just out for a good time. Plus of course the usual quota of itinerents, homeless and general naer-do-wells who always hang around Piccadilly Gardens.

Over at Victoria I walked straight on a Leeds service consisting of the 3-car Class 195. It was busy, very busy. People are sharing tables or standing in the vestibules if they feel too uncomfortable to sit. There’s a definite feeling of normality resuming – apart from the fact we’re all still wearing masks! Despite the train being busy it didn’t feel unsafe. All those around me were being respectful of each other. Clearly, we’re getting back towards normal and trains will be increasingly busy. Hopefully soon the rules can be relaxed but I think I’ll be carrying masks and hand sanitizer for some time yet…

21:10.

Having walked back from the station I’m knackered! That camera bag doesn’t get any lighter, add another few kilos for my overnight rucsac and there’s a fair bit of weight to carry around all day, especially as I’ve covered over 37 miles these past 3 days! No doubt I’ll still go out walking tomorrow, just sans camera bag, which should put a spring in my step. I’ll bring this blog to a close now with a whimsical picture taken earlier. When I was walking through Princes Risborough I happened to spot this gate…

I’ve a favour to ask…
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