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Not a bad day here in Bigland Towers even if I didn’t get through 3/4 of the things I’d hoped to – as is often the case as life just seems to keep getting in the way! At least the weather’s improved, which lifts the mood. I managed to tear Dawn away from her computer at lunchtime and the two of us had an amble through the local woods which was lovely. The recent rains have encouraged a real growth spurt in some plants so it looks like we’ll be having a bumper crop of Blackberries this year. The only downside is the brambles are throwing out so many tendrils they’re making some of the woodland walks awkward to navigate – especially if you’re wearing shorts! If the brambles don’t get you, the Nettles will!

Back at home I’ve been ploughing through various work projects and organising the diary which (thankfully) is looking a lot fuller than this time last year. Admittedly, there’s no plans for getting abroad right now, but I’ll be ‘on tour’ in the UK again for the next couple of days, so expect a rolling blog or two. Tomorrow I make my way to Carlisle to meet up with an old friend from London who’s on a business trip to the area. Having company on one of these jaunts will be fun as Covid’s meant I’ve normally been flying solo. We’ll be taking a photographic trip down the Cumbrian coast. I’m I’m hoping the weather Gods will smile upon us. I’ve not had the opportunity to visit the area for a couple of years so I’m looking forward to it. I’ll be making my way back to Yorkshire on Thursday and I’ve a couple of places I could do to visit to get shots for a client so I’ll be watching the weather forecast and hoping it performs to expectations. But hey, this is Britain after all, I could end up with floods or blizzards!

Whilst I’ve been slaving away back in the office I discovered a stash of old slides from my 1991-92 world trip that I’d never got around to cataloguing as the emulsion on some of them had been attacked by fungus before I could post them back to the UK. Now, with the wonders of modern technology – and a lot of patience in Photoshop, most of them can be restored, so here’s the picture of the day…

I took this shot in the old loco shed at the Amberawa Railway museum in Java, Indonesia on the 11th July 1992.

I was staying in nearby Yogyakarta in Central Java and was determined to fit in a visit, even though it meant catching a packed local bus to get there as the operational railway between the two towns had closed back in the 1970s. It was well worth the trip as the museum houses a fascinating collection of old Indonesian steam locomotives of all shapes and sizes, including a few British built examples. This one was (and is) still operational. B2503 was built by Esslingen of Germany (Works number 3244 of 1902). It’s a rack and adhesion type of engine, which means that on the steep gradients around Amberawa the locomotive gripped a rack rail between the two conventional rails, pulling itself and its train along on the rack via a powered cog-wheel rather than relying on simple adhesion. This 0-4-2 wheel arrangement tank locomotive looks small, but it weighs in at 31 tons! Sadly, on the day I visited, none of the engines were in steam. Nowadays the museum’s and its locomotives are a lot better kept so I’m determined to get back there again once the present pandemic has subsided. I really enjoyed travelling in Java, both then and during my last visit in 2017. It’s a beautiful island rich in history and with some great food too. Oh, and the odd railway gem like this!

I’ll eventually get around to restoring all these old pictures when time permits. Maybe that’s a job for those long dark winter nights. Right now there’s too many contemporary shots on my list to keep me occupied.

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