As the old Chinese curse goes, “May you live in interesting times” – and we certainly do. So far today the Scottish Court of Session has ruled that Johnson’s proroguing of Parliament was unlawful, Meanwhile, the government is refusing to publish details of communications between No 10 aides about Parliament’s suspension, despite MPs voting for their release.
Now remind me, what was the Brexiters slogan? Oh yes – “take back control”. I wonder how many of the mugs who fell for that now feel that they’re remotely in control, never mind Her Majesty’s Government! In the space of a few short weeks we’ve go gone from a Brexitshambles to an complete clusterfuck. Johnson’s proved how utterly incompetent he is and the whole edifice of Parliamentary democracy has crumbled and fallen. And all for what?
In other news I’ve been working from home today but I managed to brave the gales in order to nip out and get some shopping whilst traversing the scenic woodland route to the supermarket to get my exercise steps in. What I didn’t do (for once) was get any pictures, so this blog is presented to you in glorious black and white text. Sorry about that folks!
I’m hoping to renew normal service over the next few days as there’s lots of exciting trips and events lined up right now. Right now I’m busy juggling the work/life balance, so this is all you’ll hear from me tonight. Cheers folks!
The weather that is! It’s hardly stopped raining all day here in the Calder Valley. I don’t think I’ve seen the top of the opposite side of the valley as it’s been hidden behind low cloud that’s haunted us all day. I’ve been grateful that I’ve been busy at home as the occasional foray’s I’ve made into the murk have been damp and dismal experiences even though the effort’s been worth it to keep my exercise regime up. That said, the views from the promenade were actually worth seeing today as they were so different.
What wasn’t different was following the news of our political implosion and descent into chaos. Johnson was in Ireland today where he made another of his meaningless speeches. Lite, trite and shite, it didn’t address a single serious issue. Instead it was full of references to ‘hard work’ and ‘opportunities’ – real Unicorn Stuff. His attention seeking antics at the podium also made him the butt of some hilarious memes.
Johnson’s prorogued Parliament today, but not before it’s caused him some more headaches.
Where does this leave the UK? Up shit creek without the proverbial paddle. Our EU friends are running out of patience. They’re far more prepared for a ‘no-deal’ Brexit than we are, because they’ve never lied about the consequences, have prepared in a meaningful way, and they’ll share the pain. Us? Pfft! Many in the UK are still believing in Unicorns and they idea none of this will really happen to us because, somehow, we’re ‘special’. I still overhear pub conversations where folk talk of the ‘will of the people’, completely ignoring the fact we’re three and a half years from the referendum where Leave promises have turned to rat-shit and the demographic’s changed as people have changed their minds – not to mention the way the names on the electoral register have. As someone put it “you mean we’re meant to leave now because that’s what a lot of dead people voted for in 2016?”
Such hubris isn’t going to turn out well. What’s painfully obvious is the complete lack of any plan from Leavers, other than to crash out of the EU whilst blaming the EU. This is going to get messy.
Away from politics, I’ve finished uploading all my Sowerby Bridge rush-bearing pictures to this gallery. There’s a couple of hundred pictures from this last weekend in there now along with rush-bearing pictures going back to 2010 when I first moved up here from London.
I’ve also been busy on the cooking front and tried something different tonight – a Goan Pork Vindaloo. I’m leaving it to steep and fester overnight as these things are like cheese – they need time to mature!
Today’s been one where I’ve been going nowhere fast. It’s not involved a single train – unless you count editing pictures of them. Instead I’ve been able to enjoy being at home, listening to the wind howling outside which has blown many of my pot plants over whilst I’ve sat inside and edited pictures, sorted out paperwork and caught up on all those bits and bobs you can’t always do when you’re never in one place for more than a couple of hours. The pictures I’ve taken over the past few days mean that my Zenfolio website’s now passed the 60,000 pictures mark. You can view them here. You can also buy prints, which start at a very reasonable £1.28. Here’s a couple of examples.
Our cat (Jet) has taken my continual presence as confirmation that he’s got food and attention on tap. You think kids have ‘pester power’? That’s nothing compared to a black cat. As soon as he knew I wasn’t sloping off out of the front door he thought ‘gotcha’ and treated me as his personal Butler, but I don’t mind as it’s lovely to still have the old boy (he’s 18) around.
By the end of the day I was getting a little bog-eyed and stir crazy so I ended up in our local pub, the Big 6, to partake of the Friday quiz and catch up with friends that we haven’t seen for a while because we’ve been so busy and haven’t been around as we were in Ireland. Dawn joined me after work and we had a lovely couple of hours relaxing, joking and answering daft questions. We also had the opportunity to plan some new adventures for the ‘Big 6 on tour’. We’ve got Belgium coming up soon, but there’s more fun and games in the pipeline…
Now it’s time to kick back and enjoy the weekend. Social media can be left to itself whilst the pair of us enjoy some escapism from the real world and enjoy a film. The same shit will still be there in the morning.
I’m out and about on the Trans-Pennine trail for a couple of reasons today. First is to have a look at some locations on the Huddersfield to Dewsbury section of the route which is due to have its original four tracks reinstated in a couple of years time. The other is that I’m hoping to catch one of the new Nova 3 trainsets in action.
Right now I’m basking in the sunshine on a footbridge West of Mirfield where the old London and North Western and Lancashire & Yorkshire lines converge. The line to the right is the LNWR route from Huddersfield which I assume will be doubled once more. The bridge in the background still has the empty arch. Until recently the whole area was buried beneath shrubs and trees but Network Rail have chopped it all back.
I’ve moved on again after a pleasant (if slightly sweaty) stroll along the River Calder back to Mirfield station. When you see it now it’s hard to imagine that it once possessed an overall roof and a substantial station building where the flowerbed is sited.
I plumped for the Pacer coupled to the 156 to bounce my way to Dewsbury and connect with a Huddersfield service. Thanks to friends on Twitter I now know that one Nova 3 set is on a Liverpool to Scarborough diagram this afternoon. With luck, I’ll be able to catch it!
I’m now on the 13:10 to Huddersfield which is worked by a 100 mph Class 185 that stops at Ravensthorpe, Mirfield and Deighton. It’s an utter waste of an Intercity train, but the national shortage of diesel units and the vagaries of Dept for Transport policies mean that’s what it’s being used for!
Having crossed the Pennines I’m now in Manchester, which is cooler (and cloudier) than the East. All being well, the Nova 3 set is due in 10 mins…
Success! This being a TPE service it was late of course, which meant I didn’t risk the shot I’d intended to get, but I’m now travelling in it to Leeds after having had a wander through the train from end to end. First impressions are good. There’s certainly a lot more space than on a 3-car 185. Doors are at the car ends rather than 1/3 & 2/3 along the body as per 185s. They’re single-leaf doors, so narrower but they have their own vestibules separated from the passenger saloon by double doors. There are more table bays of four than on a 185 too. One thing some enthusiasts will hate (and ordinary pax ignore) – seating bays don’t line up with windows! Each pair of seats shares one power socket and a USB.
First Class passengers will appreciate the fact they have the coach behind the locomotive to themselves rather than being sandwiched in the middle of a Standard Class coach as on the 185s. This gives them more privacy and the 2 by 1 seating and table bays look very good.
We had another late departure from Huddersfield for no apparent reason. There’s obviously still teething problems with the sets. I’ve noticed the PIS TV screens clock is an hour fast and it’s saying our next stop is York, not Leeds!
We’re now 19 mins late after leaving Leeds. The Train Manager has announced this is due to an unspecified “train fault” which is par for the course with new train fleets until they bed down, so I’m not going to be critical.
We’ve left York still 20 mins late despite a spirited run from Leeds. The sets ride well despite the absence of the underfloor ballast a diesel engine and fuel tank give a 185. The train’s packed now so the extra capacity’s welcome, as is the air-conditioning! Air’s blown up from the cills under the windows, which may disturb some people.
Waiting for the return at 17:44.
I’m now on my way back from Scarborough on the Nova 3 set with the loco pushing a very busy holiday train that’s carrying the “bucket and spade brigade” back from the seaside, so it’s a raucous service with lots of noisy kinds in (aural) evidence. This time I’ve taken up residence in the leading car. First impressions are that this is a step-change from older push-pull BR era stock like the Class 90s and Mark 3s used on Greater Anglia services where there’s constant snatching between the loco and stock dur to the TDM control equipment. I’ve not felt anything on here that would give away the fact the loco’s pushing.
I abandoned the Nova 3 set at York in order to get a picture and followed behind on a ‘bog-standard’ TPE 185. It’s been an interesting day that’s added plenty of pictures to the library. They’ll appear on my Zenfolio website over the next couple of days.
I’m on the final train of the day, Northern’s 19:39 Leeds to Chester which left it’s starting point 15 mins late due to some faffing around with the ex-Scotrail Class 158 that’s formed it and the single car 153 that was detached from it at Leeds. Right now I’m looking forward to getting home, having a shower and relaxing. It’s been a busy day…
After baking on the hottest night of the year that was accompanied by a heck of the thunderstorm overnight I’m getting ready to head off for two more days of judging for the ACoRP awards. I’d have loved to have got out of bed, watched the lightning and tried to get pictures but I needed to sleep as it’s a long day today. It’s also a good job it’s today, not yesterday as the East Coast Main Line (ECML) suffered yet another de-wirement that left services in chaos. I’ve been checking services this morning and luckily, none of the trains I need have been cancelled. Let’s see how the day goes as the pair of us will end up in Exeter tonight…
After last night’s storms and rainfall the weather was fresh and crisp this morning. Much of the valley was obscured by low cloud and most, so the walk to Halifax station was very pleasant. I’d given myself plenty of time so may oacd was quite relaxed too.I’m now on Northern’s 07:17 to Leeds which started in Huddersfield. It’s made up of a 142/144 Pacer combo. Northern have finally bitten the bullet and publically admitted that some Pacers will stay in service until 2020 due to delays in introducing the new trains, which are 6 months late. The 144 fleet is the one granted a reprieve, so the 142 I’m travelling on should be gone by year end.As we squeal around the curve and up the bank out of Bradford the weather’s looking very gloomy with uniformly dull skies, even so, it’s warm and humid. I wonder if there’s more thunderstorms in the offing?08:03.I’m in-between trains here in Leeds, which has given me time to grab a couple of shots like this. One of Northern’s Class 331 EMU’s arrived carrying passengers. It’s seen here before scurrying off to Neville Hill depot as empty stock.I’m catching LNER’s 08:15 to Kings Cross as far as Stevenage. It’s still worked by one of their old HSTs as it originates in Harrogate. No doubt it’ll go over to Azuma’s soon, but now I’ve an increasingly rare chance to travel ‘old style’
We’re currently bowling along the ECML near Retford at 123mph, a few minutes down due to weather damage to the signalling around Wakefield. After our Doncaster stop I wandered right down the train from my seat in Coach B to the buffet. There’s no trolley service today but I didn’t mind as it gave me chance to stretch my legs and also see how busy the train is. I’d estimate it’s about 75% full, with an impressive amount of people busy on laptops, trying to get work done. Just by the clothes alone I can tell there’s a lot of business travellers aboard.10:02.We’re running 6 late, which means I now have a -1m connection at Stevenage with a late running Thameslink service. This could be close.
– too close! I missed it by a minute. I’m now on Great Northern’s 10:40 to Kings Cross which is running 5 down. Luckily, Mark is already at Welwyn Garden City as he came down the WCML and arrived ahead of me.
Having done the first visit and met up with Mark we’ve made our way from Welwyn Garden City across London via Thameslink to East Croydon where we changed onto the Southern network. We’re currently enjoying the air-conditioned comfort of a Bombardier built Class 377 which is carrying us to Angmering. The weather in the South-East is hot, hot, hot! A few wispy clouds filter the sun occasionally, but do nothing to cool the temperature which is showing as 29 degrees in these parts!
After Angmering we headed West to Fratton, travelling past many little stations that had cafes and kiosks open all day, which tells you something about the size of the footfall in Southern stations. Sadly the only one we got to sample was at Fratton which is my least favourite station in this neck of the woods as it’s dirty, rundown and unkempt. Although there’s a cafe, Mark reckoned it served the worst cup of coffee he’d had since we started judging. From Fratton we’ve caught a GWR Class 158/9 heading for Salisbury. The air-conditioning is struggling in the heat and none of the power sockets work, but it’ll get us there.
At Salisbury we had a quick change and swapped our GWR 158/9 for a SWR 159 which has no air-conditioning working at all. Instead the Conductor’s opened all the (normally locked) windows and been through doling out bottles of water to everyone.As I was curious to establish the units identity I wandered through the train and soon realised there wasn’t a single vehicle that displayed a coach number – unlike Northern or Scotrail. They have prominent stickers telling to people to tweet them in if they find a fault. There’s no chance of that here!
The pair of us have had a long day & we’ve now retired to our hotel in Exeter. There’s so much that I could blog about but I’ve simply run out of time. Tomorrow we’ll be off again, so watch out for the next rolling blog…
The new Northern Rail trains have been in a long time in the pipeline and their introduction’s been delayed by six months, but this weekend the new CAF built Class 195s have actually arrived – even if it is on text runs. On Saturday and Sunday the trains are on test between Bradford Interchange and Todmorden, where they reverse to head back East. If you want to see them on Sunday, here’s a link to the times they should be running at.
I managed to catch a couple of the runs today as Dawn and I were enjoying a leisurely day in the valley so nipped out to Sowerby Bridge. Here’s 195110 returning to Bradford Interchange after a run out to Todmordon.
I’m really looking forward to these units entering service on the Calder Valley route in the next couple of months as they’re a step-change to anything we’ve had before. Here’s a look at the interiors.
So, if you have time to nip out tomorrow, enjoy the sight of our new trains!
05:30.I wasn’t planning to be up this early but the cat had run out of food, spotted me moving so decided to sit at my side of the bedroom and mew me out of bed! The little sod know I’ll get up and feed him just to prevent him waking up Dawn. Pavlov’s dogs eat your heart out! So, I’m now sipping coffee in the office, checking the weather forecast (it’s worsened overnight), catching up on the news and waiting for Dawn’s alarm to go off. I might as well have an earlier start than planned…Today we have three stations around the Greater Manchester area to judge and all have confirmed that they’re ready for us, so it’s not too onerous a day. I’ll update the blog as and when throughout the day.
I’m currently stood on an absolutely jam-packed Pacer working 1D71, the 07:24 from Sowerby Bridge to Chester which was already full and standing after leaving Halifax. It’s short formed as there should be a single car Class 153 attached. I’m lucky, I managed to get on, many others at Hebden Bridge, Todmorden and Rochdale weren’t so lucky!
All through the trip our Conductor has maintained her smile. She’s abandoned her ticket machine in the back cab to stand in the rear door well so she can get to operate them.To add to the fun, we’re now 9 minutes late leaving Rochdale.
We’re now on our way to our second visit. After arriving at Victoria I hotfooted it over to Piccadilly for the train out to the first station (Glossop). We were so busy I didn’t have time to take any phone pictures. Now we’re chugging along through South Manchester to our second.
We’re now on our way to the third station of the day. This was taken at our second one. Any guesses where we were? This is ‘Joe’, who was being given a spruce-up by the local station friends group as we visited
With our last visit of the day done Mark and I are heading off to our respective abodes. It’s been a delight to meet the volunteers at the three (very different) stations and see and hear about the work they’re doing. Here’s a clue about which station was the last one on today’s list. Can anyone tell me where this is?
Today’s been one of those ‘catching up with myself’ days. After spending the past three on the road I’ve had to spend a Saturday working just to try and keep on top of things. There’s a mountain of pictures to edit as well as new jobs to fit into the calendar, plus working out the logistics of getting round all the stations I’m helping to judge for this years ACoRP awards. That’s a real challenge!The weather’s been stunning this afternoon so I did take a break from staring at a computer screen to tidy up the front garden and soak up a bit of sun. Now it’s time to indulge in a bit of culinary therapy. After living off sandwiches and wraps for the past few days I’d decided to indulge in some cooking. Tonight I’m making a Red Goan Chicken curry, which I’ve not tried before but it sounds delicious. As it’s the first time I’m sticking to the recipe, but I suspect that (if it’s any good) the chilli quotient will be boosted next time…- it’s coming along nicely!
We’re spending a few days wandering around Pembrokeshire, an area I’ve never explored before. The mixed weather’s not managed to detract from the beauty of the area, as some of these pictures will show.
Here’s a bleary eyed good morning from the West Highlands! After a fitful night’s sleep we were woken up by the train crew volunteers who served tea, coffee and croissants along with hot bacon rolls. We’re due into Fort William at 04:19, when the fun begins. I’ll keep you posted…
All the teams are on the mountain, the base camp is established and the banners and finishing line is being set up. Here’s some scenes at departure.
The Rail Delivery Group team in good spirits as they begin their climb. From L-R Robert Nisbet, Jac Starr, Naomi Rial and Paul Plummer
The weather’s wet but the rain’s light and it’s forecast to cease later on. Now it’s just a question of waiting for anyone returning injured until the first teams make it back, which is normally around 10:00. That’s when my work starts as we get individual team photos one they’ve crossed the finish line, registered their time & checked in their kit.Here’s how the mountain looks right now.
Rather than hang around and be midge bait I’m going to walk into Fort William for a few hours.
I’m now sat at Fort William station (which has just opened), using their free wifi to update the blog after having had a wander around the town. It’s not exactly the most exciting place at the best of times, but at 06:30 it’s deserted. I did find one thing of interest. A statue dedicated to the name whom, in 1911 drove a model-T Ford to the top of Ben Nevis!
Once the station opened I had chance for a mooch around with the camera and caught one of the two Class 37s that are hauling our 3 peaks train. As there’s too many coaches to fit on the platform one of the loco’s is detached to create a bit of extra space.
I’ve moved on to the local McDonalds, which is where we take the walking wounded. There’s four of them from various teams, all somewhat dispirited, but not wanting to spoil their team-mates chance of succeeding. I’m sipping a much-needed caffeine (I got very little sleep last night) whilst I download a few more pictures to the blog. My time will be cut short as I’ve just had a call from Katie Mason, the Railway Children’s events organiser. The first team is expected down off the mountain by 09:30, so I need to head back in an hour.
The first team (from DRS) crossed the finish line at 09:26.
Sorry for the gap in blogging, but it’s been a day full of challenges for us all – not least physical one of the teams who’ve climbed the three peaks, but also the mental ones of the folk who’ve organised all the logistics. Either way, everyone’s knackered due to the level of commitment- and the lack of sleep!
We’ve had a fantastic day and we’ve got everyone off the mountain off safe – and raises a huge amount of money for the Railway Children. The different skill groups involved in such a complex event have worked brilliantly – and not for the first time