There’s not much of a blog today, as after travelling over to Southport yesterday, Sunday’s been a much quieter day spent at home, pottering around and catching up on various chores whilst keeping one eye on the weather. We’ve had pretty much everything today. Rain (aplenty), sleet, hailstorms and high winds have all combined to keep us entertained. The one bright spot is that the weather’s been mild. In between the showers I managed to tidy up our front garden leaving it in a fit state to survive the winter, although I couldn’t tackle other areas as the cobbles and stonework’s slippy as hell at the moment after all the rain and the leaf fall. Still, there was plenty do inside the house, making it presentable in readiness for Dawn’s return from her weekend with friends in London.
This evening I’ve had time to edit a few pictures for my Zenfolio website, including this shot of the very first of the old BR built Class 142 ‘Pacers’ which was active West of Manchester yesterday.
Sights like this will very soon be a thing of the past.
Today started well. We had one of those beautiful sunrises where the sky lights up with an ethereal glow to bless you with some wonderful colours through wispy clouds, heralding the arrival of a new day. It lasted a scant matter of minutes before the light changed to more mundane hues. I managed to grab my camera just in time. Here’s the view from our bedroom window this morning as it was happening.
The day’s also been noticeably milder than of late, making it ideal walking weather. Sadly, that didn’t last long either and this afternoon another weather front moved in, bringing with it gusting winds and rain. Not that it’s mattered to me as I’ve been working from home, ploughing through paperwork and pictures whilst also planning the weekend. Dawn’s off to London to see friends this weekend, leaving me to my own devices, so I’m planning to catch up with some social obligations solo.
This evening we’re off to the Engine in Sowerby Bridge for our second visit in a week. This time it’s to celebrate my Father-in-Law’s 85th birthday, so expect a few food and other pictures to appear later! We’ll be ordering off the ordinary menu this time, rather than having one chosen for us as we did last weekend, which will allow me to illustrate some different dishes. John’s a coeliac and the Engine does a great job of catering for him – as you’ll see from the pictures…
We’re now at home and there’s lots of food pictures to add after yet another lovely night at the Engine. All I will say at this point is happy 85th birthday John Platt, and thank you to his wife, Norah. Oh, and well done to the restaurant for not trying to stick 85 candles into that dessert!
After yesterday’s fun and games gallivanting up and down the West and East coast main lines I’ve had a far more relaxing day catching up with work at home – with nary a real train in sight! It won’t last of course, but it makes for a pleasant interlude. You can find many of the photos from yesterday on my Zenfolio website. Follow this link to see which galleries they’ve been added to as there’s a variety. Here’s one from the end of last night, when my homeward bound Grand Central service was diverted via Hebden Bridge.
Whilst busy editing pictures I’ve been keeping one eye on events in the wider world and the political shenanigans in the UK where we’ve been graced by the presence of the Tango’d Tw*t. Sorry, the President of the United States of America, who’s been rubbing shoulders with other NATO leaders including our very own bouffant buffoon, Boris Johnson. It seems it’s not just ridiculous hairstyles and a proclivity to misogyny the two men share, it’s also an aversion to press conferences and interviews. Both men either cancelled them or cut them short, whilst Johnson is still running scared of and hiding from a BBC interview with Andrew Neil! When these mean are classed as ‘leaders’ of the free world is it any wonder we’re in such a mess?
With all that in mind I filled in my postal vote today. Regular readers will know that I’m advocating voting tactically. There’s hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of us who see themselves as politically homeless at the moment due to the shit-shower on both the Left and Right of UK politics at present. I’ve talked to just as many Tories who’re in that position as I have Labour supporters. There’s no doubt that Brexit and the parade of the dogmatic, venal or talentless politicians that we see on either front bench right now has caused a shift from the old tribal politics. It’s just that none of us know where it’s going to lead when the dust finally settles. So far the election campaign interviews with various politicians have seen more car crashes than the Indianapolis 500. I especially like this one, with the latest in a (very) long line of UKIP leaders!
As a tactical voter I’ve had to hold my nose and consider who is best placed to keep out Johnson and help block Brexit, rather than whom I might prefer to vote for. of course, the decision’s never easy as you may end up voting against a good local candidate, but many voters are now doing what not enough MPs have – and are putting country before party (if they still feel they have allegiance to one). This went into the post tonight, sans stickers of course…
With the latest polls showing a narrowing of the gap between the Tories and Labour and distinct signs that tactical voting is starting to register it looks like we’re in for a very unpredictable election night that could very well provide some more ‘Portillo moments’. I see the Green party have now stood aside in the Chingford seat of arch Brexiter Iain Duncan Smith, who only has a slim majority in a constituency evenly split between Remain and Leave in the 2016 referendum. It’s also rumoured to be looking dicey for another Brexiter and member of the Cabinet, Dominic Raab, in his staunchly remain constituency of Esher and Walton, which would be a major turn-around. I’m not going to expect too much as one can always be let down, but I suspect many of us can think of certain dogmatic MPs who serve no useful function that we’d love to see lose their seats. I wonder if someone shouldn’t produce a Brexit Bingo card with their names on? It would certainly add to the entertainment.
If the polls continue in this vein I’d certainly recommend getting in the popcorn for the night of December 12th, along with something stronger, just in case it’s needed.
Talking of the election but on a different tangent it’s been amusing to see the dwindling band of StopHs2 Nimbys desperately trying to pretend that they’ve still got a dog in the fight and can actually swing the vote in some constituencies. The fact we’ve empirical evidence from every election since 2010 to prove this is nothing but bluster makes no difference, they’re still maintaining that fiction! Quite who they expect to fall for it – other than themselves – is a good question. here’s a classic example from Peter Deeley.
Seriously? No, it’s bluster, Deeley’s timeline reveals that he’s always been intending to vote for the Brexit party. Shame they’re not standing in his constituency, as I’ve blogged about previously here!
OK, enough of politics, I’m off to edit a few more pictures! Goodnight…
Another varied week’s kicked off with sub-zero temperatures here in West Yorkshire, leaving me glad that much of the day’s been spent working from home in the warmth as it’s perishing out there! I do have to venture out this afternoon as it’s the Friends of Mytholmroyd stations annual Christmas carol concert. Children from the local schools have return outing on the train to the Jubilee refreshment rooms at Sowerby Bridge to sing carols on and meet Santa Claus, whilst yours truly volunteers to take the pictures. Here’s one from last year. It’s always a jolly event and afterwards the adults adjourn to the Shoulder of Mutton pub in Mytholmroyd for pie and peas and something to keep the cold out!
In an entirely different vein I came across this crass bit of election stupidity on Twitter earlier, posted by Jane Smith, who’s standing in Congleton on an animal rights ticket. She also opposes HS2 and decided that hanging around standing on a foot crossing across a busy railway line near Alsager to have her picture taken would be a good way to try and score political points. Instead she scored an own goal…
To say that people in the rail industry get annoyed at these pictures would be an understatement – as Ms Smith found out after I retweeted it with a critical comment and many rail staff took to Twitter to express both their annoyance and disgust. The tweet has now been deleted. I expect her political career will be just as short-lived.
I’ll blog some more and add a few pictures from tonight’s festivities later today, so watch this space…
It’s been a cracking (if freezing) evening. I headed over to Mytholmroyd in good time to rendezvous with the groups at the station before catching the train. What’s lovely to see with these events is the cross-co-operation between different station friends groups. People from Mytholmroyd, Brighouse and Bentham station friends all turned up on the night as well as staff from Northern Rail. Here’s a few photo’s from the evening.
For one short day yesterday, sunshine returned to the Calder Valley. Sadly, for most of it I was stuck indoors working in the office, but I did manage to escape for an all to brief period just before sunset and managed to capture this image looking across the valley from where we live to Norland, high up on the other side.
For the photographers amongst you, this was taken on manual and under exposed to bring out the depth of colour in the skies. I used my Nikon D5 with an 80-400mm lens on 200mm. ISO1250, 1/200th at F8.
When we woke up this morning not only had the temperature dropped well below freezing, leaving the valley covered in frost but the clouds had returned to half-hide the valley bottom and bring back the gloomy half-light we’ve lived under for the past few weeks. But we’re not letting it get to us as we’re having an evening out with friends, so expect a few pictures later. Right now we’re off to do some chores before getting in a Saturday stroll along the canal into Sowerby Bridge to meet up with the gang…
Sorry, this rolling blog never got updated because I was too busy having a fantastic time with friends. 16 of us went to the Engine in Sowerby Bridge tonight and had an excellent meal, then a few drinks afterwards. I’ll add more tomorrow, right now it’s time to relax at home…
As promised, here’s a few pictures from last night.
To misquote Kings Henry II on Thomas a Becket – ‘Who will rid me of this turbulent weather’? It’s been another bleedin’ awful day in the Calder Valley. For the umpteenth in a row we’ve had rain, fog, low cloud and the sort of depressing weather that make you want to reach for a travel brochure that features white sand beaches and palm trees. Not that there’s much chance of that at the moment, unfortunately.
To add to the general merriment we’re also slogging our way through a turgid general election campaign where you wish an option on the ballot paper would be ‘non of the above’. I received my postal ballot today and found that we have a choice of Holly Lynch, the incumbent Labour MP – whom I respect, even if I can’t stand ‘Magic Grandad’, her party leader, or some of the lacklustre people he’s put on the Shadow Front bench. Then there’s the Lib-Dems, the Tories (whose candidate lives in Lancashire!), the Greens and the Brexit party. The woman who’s paid Farage her £100 to stand for the Brexit party lives way over East in Batley and Spen, the constituency where their Labour MP, Jo Cox, was brutally murdered by a far-right extremist.
The Brexit party candidate’s name’s Sarah Wood and all I know about this young woman is that I’m getting well pissed-off with her clogging my Facebook page with adverts like this! She admits she never voted until 2015, now she expects to be elected as an MP, but I’ll be damned if even she knows what she stands for. One of her videos filmed in the local market claims the Brexit Party will scrap local business rates and replace them with a ‘small’ tax on online retailers. It doesn’t take a rocket-scientist to spot the flaw in that plan! This is populist politics at its basest.
Well, that and the fact her replies to some of the comments on her FB adverts don’t exactly make you think she’s a political titan who’s got much of a grasp of things. You know, like reality…
I’m hoping that Wood will split the brexity vote and allow Holly Lynch to retain the seat in order to help deprive Boris Johnson of a majority. Plus, we get to keep a decent local MP, so a win all round!
How the election’s going to play out is anyone’s guess, but I’ve been heartened to see how many young people (ie, under 35) have registered to vote before the deadline closed. The potential impact this could have can’t be underestimated, because they’re the one’s who have most to lose from Brexit, and it’s clear that Conservative Party Central Office are acutely aware of this as Johnson’s lead in the polls starts to disappear. I don’t believe for a minute that Corbyn is going to sweep to power. I suspect we’ll end up with another hung Parliament, but I am hopeful that tactical voting will produce more than a few ‘Portillo moments’ (when he lost his seat in a shock result in the 1997 general election). I came across this on Twitter earlier and hope it has relevance to Halifax too…
Politics and weather aside, I’m back on the rails again tomorrow, so expect the first rolling blog for a while. I’m heading back to London to get some pictures for a magazine, then pop over to an event that I don’t want to spill the beans about just yet. The reasons for that will become clear tomorrow! Typically, the weather forecast isn’t looking great wherever I am, North or South, the only difference is that the rain will be warmer in London!
I’ve spent so much time at home recently due to the foul weather and my determination to catch up on paperwork and scanning old slides that I think our cat’s getting fed up of me getting under his feet (isn’t that normally the other way around? Ed). Thankfully, there’s a number of events on the horizon that’ll see me out and about a lot more over the next couple of weeks including a few jaunts back South to London and the South-East for both work and social reasons . I must admit that I’m starting to yearn for sunnier climes but I can’t see any chance of getting away until next year now – there’s simply too much to do. Once the dust has settled on the results of the general election I’ll have a better idea of my options. Such as – will it be planning for a holiday, or looking to seek political asylum away from Brexit Britain? It’s a good job I’ve been concentrating on scanning old rail slides at the moment rather than the 1000s of travel pictures I have, otherwise I’d really be feeling sick. Images of places like Wigan create little in the way of itchy feet compared to some of the exotic stuff I’ve got in the queue like Brazil, Indonesia or Tanzania. Here’s a good example why. Now, this is no dig at Wigan per-se (Honestly Sheila!) as I have exactly the same sort of shot of Clapham Junction in London, but this is what a shit-tip our railways looked like in 2002.
Thankfully thinks have changed dramatically. It’s not that folk don’t still sometimes throw rubbish onto the tracks, it’s the fact Network Rail continually clean them and TOC staff no longer sweep crap off the platforms onto the rails as if it’s no longer their problem. Images like this remind me more of Indian railway stations than UK ones nowadays.
Expect one last update of 2002 slides tomorrow, then I’m firmly back in the present day…
This wasn’t quite the Saturday that I had planned but sometimes life has a habit of not being what you hope for. I won’t go into details but I found myself stuck at home today in absolutely miserable weather. For most of the day the valley’s been hidden behind a bank of low cloud, rain or fog or combinations thereof. The sun stood no chance!
So, whilst Dawn was out with friends and family, I spent the day holed up in the office scanning old rail slides from 2002 and managed to get 80 done in a marathon effort. As I was a resident of London in those days the current batch of slides are very focussed on the capital as I was always nipping out and about.
You can find the rest of the pictures on my Zenfolio website by following this link. It’ll take you to the ‘recent’ section which will allow you to see which galleries the pictures have been added to.
Actually, I don’t think it was just the North that was suffering from plummeting temperatures in the past 24 hours, but the mercury’s certainly dropped here in the Calder Valley! The pair of us has another early start and I was in the office before sunrise – glad of the fact the heating and associated electronics were generating some warmth as I slaved away over some more old slides. I didn’t think I’d have had time but I’m keen to get as many done as possible at the moment as I don’t know when I’ll get the time again and the ones I’ve been adding are relevant to some of the rail franchise and fleet changes we have coming up shortly. Looking back at them I realise how time has flown.
Here’s a example. This was one of the first passenger runs of a Virgin Pendolino, On the 30th April 2002 Virgin ran a press trip from Euston to Manchester Piccadilly to highlight the trains would be used on trips from London to the Commonwealth Games in July. It was a high-profile event that included Richard Branson, Brian Souter, John Armitt and many others. You can find the rest of the pictures in this gallery. In those days Pendolinos were only 8 cars, hence them fitting into photographs with the trains they were replacing.
The day wasn’t entirely devoted to nostalgia as I had to nip into Halifax to do some chores so I took a slight detour up to Bradford Interchange in order to be able to add a couple of modern shots to the archive, such as this. Here’s one of the new CAF built Class 195s pulling out of Bradford Interchange en-route to Manchester Victoria.
This evening the weather’s dropped back to miserable temperatures, so the pair of us are having a quiet night in. Despite the temptation, I’ve resisted watching the political ‘Leaders debate’ on ITV tonight. There’s several reasons. Neither of them look remotely like ‘Leaders’. I won’t learn anything new that I’ve not heard before and I can follow each camp putting their own gloss on things via social media – as well as see the honest commentary from those with no party – political axe to grind. The idea that these two jokers are the best the English political establishment can offer up is too depressing for words. My only hope is that by the time it comes to voting, enough people say “a pox on both your houses”…
The pair of us have had a quiet weekend at home for a change, mainly because Dawn’s been recovering from a bout of the lurgi and migraines, another two of which struck last night leaving her feeling drained today. Even so, we’ve managed to get some things done – if not everything we intended.
I’ve found myself concentrating on scanning old slides which is good in one way as I’m finally getting the pictures onto my website. I’ve almost finished an album of images from 2003 and it’s been a nostalgic experience as I was a rookie pro photographer who’d suddenly found themselves doing all sorts of unusual stuff with famous people like Richard Branson, Stirling Moss and Prime Minister Tony Blair to name but a few. It was the year before I made the leap from film to digital and looking back, I wish I’d done it sooner, but isn’t hindsight a wonderful thing? 2003 was packed full of really interesting events. Here’s just a small selection from the ones I’ve been scanning over the past few days
On the 27th September 2003 the first section of High Speed 1 from Fawkham Junction to the channel tunnel was officially opened by a press trip from London to Paris on a Eurostar. When passengers arrived we were greeted at Waterloo International by acrobats performing on the concourse.
We were then whisked across to Paris on a Eurostar set specially branded the ‘press express’ and fitted with TV screens which relayed the view from a camera placed in the cab. Here we are passing through Kent on HS1.
Then, in October…
Virgin Trains were maximising the publicity they could get from rolling out their new Pendolino train fleet. On the 20th October their PR people commissioned me to accompany Richard Branson and the Virgin team up to Liverpool where 390031 was to be named “City of Liverpool”. Amongst the VIPs joining in on the event at Liverpool Lime St station was the Lord Mayor of Liverpool, Louise Ellman MP (2nd left) and Miss Merseyside (right).
It’s funny looking back at these pictures now and seeing just how the railways companies starting to regain their confidence after the turbulent Railtrack days and the spate of fatal accidents that helped see the organisations demise. It was still a rocky road as tragedies were still to happen but it was clear that things were improving. How different things look now, when the main problem the railway face is the lack of capacity!
I’ve added over 60 slides to my Zenfolio website this weekend. You can find out which galleries the rest of them are in by following this link. There’s still another 40 slides from this album to add which should be done this next week. After that, it’s time to delve into the storage box and see what comes to hand next…