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Welcome to November folks! Apologies for the sparseness of blogging during October. That was due to two things. The first was our fortnight long holiday in Greece where I made the conscious decision to step back from social media and have a bit of a detox. However, the last few days absence has been due to the fact that I’ve been down with some sort of lurgi. It wasn’t Covid (I did a test) but some of the symptoms were similar and I felt like death warmed up! I’ve been confined to bed since Sunday and now seem to be making a recovery. The aches, pains, sore throat have eased but my energy levels still aren’t back to normal, so I’ll be taking it easy at home for the rest of the week. Not that that’s a problem as I’ve plenty to do at Bigland Towers. Whilst I’ve spent most of my time sleeping, I have been editing pictures during some of my waking hours in an effort to clear the massive backlog of images I have going back as far as September. Tonight, I managed to get all the shots from our Greek trip onto my Zenfolio website. You can find those ones here. I’ve also been wading my way through images of my visit to the HS2 construction sites at West Ruislip, Denham and Calvert on Thursday. I’ve added them to this gallery. Now all I’ve got to do is complete editing pictures from September’s trip to Germany, which are beginning to appear here. The other major bit of work I have to do is finish writing the 3rd part of my round Britain trip for RAIL magazine. I’d hoped to have had it done by now but being ill has rather got in the way. Once that’s done I’m free to start thinking about other things – and catch up with writing some blogs on my various HS2 site visits.

November promises to be another busy month with various jobs in the pipeline and places to visit, but I’m determined to get back to blogging too. I’ve missed it – and I hope some of you have done too!

In the meantime, here’s a return of the picture of the day. This one’s from Thursday’s trip to attend the launch of the 2nd HS2 Tunnel Boring Machine (TBM) to begin its journey under London – and the 5th HS2 TBM all told. That makes 5 of the 10 machines launched now. It was quite a privilege to be aboard ‘Caroline’ when the button was pressed to start her up – and to have a tour of the machine whilst she was running. Here’s what she looks like from just behind the cutting head.

Mike Lyons, HS2’s Civils Director (left) and Michael Greiner, Head of Tunnelling for Skanksa JV discuss the intricacies of ‘Caroline’ as she begins her 5 mile long journey under London. The pistons you see above them push the TBM forward off the first ring of segments. The plate in the foreground lifts the 8 tonne segments into place after they’re delivered into the bowels of the machine. This happens every 2 meters. Individual pistons are retracted to create space for a segment, then pushed back into place before the next segment is added. Seven segments make up each ring.

If you want to learn more about how a TBM works HS2 Ltd have produced this excellent video graphic.

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Thank you!