29th March picture of the day…

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It’s late, I’ve had a busy day and I’m off on my travels to another job tomorrow so this is a short blog. I’ve currently got a backlog of old slides scanned and ready for editing but some of them require a fair bit of touching up in Photoshop due to their age and the conditions they were taken in. They were also developed in a lab in Kathmandu, Nepal, which did a pretty good job but might have added a few scratches to some of them Even so, it’s a delight to finally get them scanned after nearly 30 years as there’s some amazing memories – especially when I cross-reference them with my old diaries.

Memories aside, I’m looking forward to making new ones and taking plenty of new pictures now that lockdown is slowly easing. So much has changed on the UK railway scene in the past 12 months that I’ve a lot of catching up to do. Tomorrow should give me chance as I’m heading up to Ribblehead on the famous Settle and Carlisle railway to carry out a commission for RAIL magazine. So, for the first time this year you can expect a rolling blog of my travels!

But, for now, here’s the picture of the day.

I took this shot of the Rama temple in Janakpur in Nepal on the 9th March 1992. I was only in Janakpur for a day as it was an overnight stop on a rather epic overland Journey from Darjeeling in West Bengal, India, to Kathmandu. The trip would make a great blog in itself as it involved an ad-hoc group of us Westerners being delayed getting to the India-Nepal border by a protest, then a jeep where the horn broke (a disaster in India!) – we were so late that by the time we got out of India the Nepalese border post was closed and we had to ‘sneak’ in to the country! Getting from the border to Janakpur took another 11 hours sat on the roof of a bus so we were glad of bed and a shower at the end of a long dusty trip. The next day our bus for Kathmandu didn’t leave until 5pm as it was an overnight trip), so hanging around the Rama temple was a great way to see the sights and kill some time.

The temple’s an important Hindi religious site as legend has it that it’s the birthplace of the Hindu goddess Sita as well as being the site where she was married to Lord Rama. The building itself is quite spectacular and well worth a visit, even if it’s hard to get to – and it certainly was back in 1992! Expect many more pictures to come from Nepal. Revisiting them I realise what a sociable time it was as a group of us hooked up together and kept meeting throughout our time in Nepal. Leaving the country was almost as much fun as arriving as the day I flew out to Thailand there was a general strike due to several people having been shot dead in protests in the capital, so there was only one way to get from Kathmandu to the airport – walk!

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28th March picture of the day…

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Sunday’s allegedly the ‘day of rest’, isn’t it? Fat chance….

I had been hoping for a lie-in today after being up at silly o’ clock yesterday but two clocks conspired against me. One was my own internal body-clock whilst the other was the advent of British Summer Time, which meant the clocks went forward an hour. I was wide awake by 7 AM so thought ‘bugger it’ and got up to start pottering around. As I did so the Pennine weather was throwing a strop with heavy winds and rain which made me realise how lucky we’d been with yesterday’s job in Bradford. The temperatures may have been positively Baltic due to freezing winds that completely took the edge of the sun – but the weather stayed dry.

In contrast, today was warm and wet with no incentive to venture out so I spent the vast part of the day pottering around indoors on various chores whilst trying to catch up on some work. Well, it’s not as if there’s much else to do! Some of the lockdown regulations on meeting up will be relaxed next week, but right now it’s not as if we’re all part of a hectic social whirl with diaries full of restaurant, theatre or holiday bookings! One of the great things about my commission yesterday was that it added variety and a change of scenery – plus the chance to catch up with an old friend – and interact with strangers (even if it was at a social distance). How we used to take these things for granted…

Everything that’s happened has left me in an introspective mood, one which has been compounded by two other events. The latest batch of old slides I’m scanning were taken in Nepal in 1992 and to pin down the dates for some of them I’m having to read through old diaries written at the time. God, talking about taking you back…

Re-reading the diaries and looking at the pictures has made me realise how much the world’s changed in the past 30 years. But then it’s not just the world, it’s my life too. So much has happened in the intervening time. When I finally finish scanning the pictures and have more opportunity I’m determined to write about those times at length. Right now I just can’t do them justice. As if the diaries and scanning weren’t enough, Facebook has thrown me a curved-ball too…

I have a love-hate relationship with social-media, including Facebook, but I do find it incredibly useful for keeping in contact with friends (old and new) who’re scattered around the globe. What threw me today was Facebook reminding me what I was doing today, 10 years ago. So, instead of the usual picture of the day plucked from one of my old slide scans – here’s ‘on this day in history’…

On the 28th March 2011 I was travelling solo around India. I’d been in Asia since the previous December for business/pleasure (long story – for another time) but returned to India to explore places new and old. I was particularly interested in the dwindling metre and narrow gauge railway systems, so I ended up touring the state of Gujarat in the North of India. This day 10 years ago I’d taken a day trip from Vadodara (formerly Baroda) to a place called Miyagam Karjan Junction which was served by one of the extensive network of narrow-gauge railways. It was a brilliant day out that kept my camera busy. On the way home I’d decided not to book a reserved seat on a train but pitch up in 3rd Class and see what happened. After all, it was only three hours (ish) back to Vadodara, which is nothing to what I was used to on Indian railways! So, here’s how it went…

I took this picture from the luggage rack above the seats that was the most spacious place to wedge myself as the train was packed with a mixture of long distance passengers from Mumbai as well as local commuters. This is exactly the same problem Intercity services suffer from in the UK – and one of the reasons we need HS2! But I digress..

Despite the crowding, it was a memorable journey as people really weren’t used to a lone Westerner pitching up on this trip – especially one who seemed at home and wielded a camera. It wasn’t long before we all became friends and had some great chats – as is often the case in India – how I miss these interactions…

If you want to see the full selection of pictures from that 2010-11 trip, you can find them in this gallery on my Zenfolio website.

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Old trains find new uses.

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Today, one of the old British Rail built ‘Pacer’ trains that were retired last year was donated to and installed at its new home this morning.

Vehicle 55808 from Class 144 No 144008 was built in Derby in 1986 and spent its entire working life based at Neville Hill depot in Leeds. During its career, the carriage had covered 3,227,769 miles in passenger service.

Its final resting place is at Fagley Primary School in Bradford (a town where these trains were regular visitors). The train’s to be used as a science lab for students to promote science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) learning. Fagley won the Pacer carriage in the Department for Transport (DfT) sponsored ‘Transform a Pacer’ competition, being selected for their creativity and their potential to engage with and serve the local community.

Fagley Primary School is the first of three winners of the DfT ‘Transform a Pacer’ competition to receive their carriage. The other winners are Airedale NHS Trust and Platform 1 – a Huddersfield mental health charity. They will receive their carriages in coming months.

144008 at Huddersfield in April 2017 when in service with Northern Trains. The lead vehicle of the 2-car unit is the one which arrived at Fragley school today.

Owned by Porterbrook Leasing who have generously donated the car – and paid for it to be moved to the school. The vehicle had been in store at the Harry Needle Railroad Company site at Worksop where HNRC staff donated their services to strip the vehicle of several tonnes of weight in the form of engine and drive shaft, fuel tank, coupler and assorted pipework. The train was moved to its new home on a low-loader by Reid Freight Heavy Haulage. Needless to say, maneuvering a train car through the streets of Bradford and installing it in position at a school isn’t the simplest of tasks but it was handled with aplomb by the experts from Reid who carry out jobs like this all the time.

Waiting to greet the new arrival were staff and pupils from the school, along with staff from Porterbrook who supervised the formal handover. Here’s a selection of pictures from the event.

Train ahoy! The low-loader carrying the Pacer is slowly reversed down the residential street that leads to the school.
What could have been a ‘Suez canal moment’ in the narrow street outside the school was averted due to the expertise of the team from Reid. The trailers rear wheels are steerable which makes these operations much simpler.
Once the low-loader was in the right place the cab unit was detached and the trailer lowered. The next stop was for Reid staff to construct a rail ramp to allow the Pacer to be lowered by winch – and gravity.
When ready, the Pacer was slowly run off the trailer with its descent controlled by the winch on the back of the cab unit via a pulley wheel attached to the low-loader.
A cunning plan…As the vehicle needed to be turned nearly 90 degrees to fit on the concrete plinth built for it Reid staff laid steel plates, then greased them with washing up liquid. The Pacer’s front wheels were then placed on two of these circular plates which could be slid across the plates thanks to the washing up liquid!
Almost there! The low-loader and rails have been removed to allow a lorry equipped with a HIAB crane to come in and swing the cab end of the Pacer around to the right so that it fits on the plinth where it will rest on sleepers and rails donated by Network Rail.
It’s thumbs up for their new Science classroom from teachers at Fradley school.

So, it’s one down, two more to go – and one of those is going to make this installation look easy peasy! I’ll be blogging about that particular event when it happens, so watch this space.

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Thank you!

26th March picture of the day…

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After the past couple of days being out and about normal service was resumed today as I’ve spent most of it chained to a desk at home. Mind you, the weather made a volte face too as we had heavy rain this morning and intermittent hailstorms this afternoon so I’m not really complaining. Plus, I was able to edit all the new pictures I’ve taken, plus a few more old slides – and pin down details of the next couple of commissions – so not a bad day at all really.

For those with an interest in railways you can find most of yesterdays pictures here – or here.

Tomorrow I’m back on the road as I have a rather unusual job to do. The old British Rail built ‘Pacer’ trains may have been retired, but some of the vehicles are finding new uses. Tomorrow, one of these Porterbrook owned vehicles is being donated to a school in Bradford where it will become a science lab and I’ll be there to cover the event. It means being there at 08:00 so I’m not going to be writing much tonight! However, I will be blogging about the delivery and installation (which has the potential to be rather challenging) so watch this space.

Instead, here’s the picture of the day which is also transport related. It’s from my latest batch of slide scans. I took this picture in Calcutta (now renamed Kolkata), West Bengal, India on the 28th February 1992. This is one of the venerable, but battered Calcutta trams which still ply their trade today, although the routes have diminished hugely in the past 3 years. Only 5 routes survive. This shot was taken at Esplanade terminus in the heart of Calcutta during a layover – hence the Conductor’s foot hanging out of the rear window!

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Thank you!

25th March picture of the day…

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For the past couple of days we’ve had lovely weather here in the Pennines so I’ve said ‘sod it’ when it comes to being chained to a desk and escaped out into the countryside to take the camera out of storage, breathe fresh air and stretch my legs. Yesterday I took a wander locally in the Calder valley to update my library shots of the local rail network. Sadly, things didn’t quite go to plan due to me leaving later than intended so by the time I’d arrived at my intended location the sun had already moved around! Even so, I had a lovely walk along the canal. The feeling that we’re finally coming out of hibernation was compounded by the confirmation of two photographic commissions over the next week, the first I’ve had since last November – which is a wonderful feeling as I know more are in the pipeline. As much as I enjoy writing, there’s nothing like the challenge of being on site in a strange location for testing your photographic skills. The two jobs are very different and one involves an iconic railway structure, but more about them nearer the time.

Today Dawn had to visit her office in Huddersfield so I accompanied her to take the camera for a ‘test run’ as it were. The combination of sunshine and the opportunity to document stretches of the Trans-Pennine railway via the Colne Valley before electrification work starts was too good to miss. Plus, it involved a lot of walking, so my exercise levels benefitted too!

Of course spending two days away from my desk means that there’s a backlog of scanned slides to edit, but they can wait. This is West Yorkshire after all – so it won’t be long before I’m trapped indoors by the rain again…

Now, the question is – what should today’s picture be, one of the old slides from my travels – or one of the new tranche of shots? I’ve plumped for one of today’s – purely for a change. After all, I’ve waited 30 years to get some of my slides into the public arena so another day or two’s hardly going to make a difference!

I took this shot at an area West of Huddersfield called Paddock. There’s a whole series of bridges over the railway at this point so there’s lots of photographic opportunities especially as the line passes through a deep cutting in the rock. Once four tracks, the line was reduced to two back in the 1970s. At the moment Network Rail are planning the upgrade of this section of line, which may (or may not) be electrified.

Taken with a telephoto lens, train 1K68, the 10:31 Scarborough to Liverpool Lime St accelerates to the linespeed of 75mph in the deep cutting at Paddock, West of Huddersfield. The train’s worked by a pair of Siemens Class 185 diesel multiple units. In the background is the spire of the ruined St Thomas’ church. Oh, and thank you to the driver of the train for giving me a cheery wave as he passed!

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If you enjoy reading this blog, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course (although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab!), but the revenue from them helps to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site – and right now (because of Covid), us freelances need all the help that we can get. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Thank you!

Lockdown 1 year on

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*warning, blog under construction. This is going to take a couple of days to complete and it’ll undergo a couple of incarnations as I revise it to add more thoughts of a tumultuous year. After all, it’s a slice of history…*

When we started this lockdown malarky 12 months ago how many of us would have thought we’d still be at it 12 months later and who would have thought so many people would have died, or that our lives would have changed (possibly permanently) in the many ways they have? No me for a start, but then neither did our incompetent Government. Anyone remember how long it took Johnson to agree to a lockdown in the first place? Many of us could see that it had to happen just by looking at the infection rates and what was going on in the rest of the world. The financial markets had already crashed, which made pretty grim reading for people like me with investments but no salary. The world was starting to turn in on itself. It was an anxious time.

I managed to squeeze a couple of jobs in just before the country shut up shop. These made me realise how unprepared we really were for what was happening. The first job was back in London where hardly anyone but Asian tourists and a few cautious people wore masks whilst folk ate drank and made merry as if nothing much was happening. I travelled on a lot of trains across London that day and outwardly everything looked normal, as this picture of one of the new London Overground trains in Hackney, East London shows.

The next day, on the 12th March I travelled from Halifax to Birmingham for a press visit to the High Speed 2 railway construction site at Curzon St, where HS2 were keen to show us the remains of the London and Birmingham railway steam locomotive roundhouse. I wrote about the day on a rolling blog. The train from Manchester to Birmingham (which was double its normal size) was absolutely heaving with people heading down to the Cheltenham Gold cup horseraces. 10s of 1000s of people from all the UK and elsewhere, converging to mingle during a pandemic when other countries were already in lockdown seemed like madness – which it was. I was actually glad to get home that day.

My final trip out was on the 20th (the day restaurants and pubs were told to close) when I travelled to Leeds and Manchester to get magazine pictures, showing the effect Covid restrictions were already having on the railways as travel began to close down with people staying at home in the face of an announcement to avoid non-essential travel made on the 16th. Three days later, a year ago today, Johnson announced full lockdown and that was that. Despite the fact that as an accredited Journalist I was allowed to travel to cover stories I was more concerned about protecting me and mine, so I heeded to call like everyone else. After all, weren’t we assured that this would only be for a few weeks? Besides, I’d plenty to keep me occupied at home…

That first lockdown felt weird. Planes disappeared from the skies, most cars vanished off the roads and only the trains and buses kept running to get key workers to their jobs. Thankfully we had glorious weather so I could sit outside in the front garden and enjoy the slightly surreal quietness that was only disturbed by cacophonous birdsong as the creatures celebrated the arrival of the nesting season. Once a week we ventured out to Huddersfield to get the shopping for Dawn’s elderly parents which we’d leave on their doorstop before letting them know it was there.

Social activities transferred to the internet and we all learned a new meaning for a old word: Zoom. The Friday quiz that a group of us used to meet up for in our local pub transferred online as it was the only way we got to interact with each other. We’d planned a trip to Berlin in June but that was cancelled along with all the other events. A ‘social calender’ became an anachronism.

But, it wasn’t all bad. Dawn was still working full time (just from home) and wasn’t furloughed. I managed to manage with a bit of help from schemes and whilst the photographic work dried up I had my writing skills to fall bak on, penning several articles for RAIL magazine. I lot of railway memorabilia ended up on eBay, which also helped. Meanwhile, I got stuck into tackling the massive project to scan 30 years of old railway, social issues and travel slides – a mammoth task which is almost coming to an end. We both got into a routine and thanked our lucky stars that we were OK and could come through this.

Stories in the media highlighting the growing death toll made is realise how fortunate we were. Some of the stories were really heartbreaking. Then friends began to contract Covid (and thankfully survive) or die of other causes. That was one of the hardest bits – not being able to meet up and say goodbye to old friends. I did attend one small (socially-distanced) funeral but that was in August when ‘lockdown 1’ rules had begun to be relaxed. When all this come to an end there’s going to be one big wake we get together to toast the memories of and swap stories about the friends who’ve gone…

Over the summer the Covid numbers dropped and the Government relaxed the rules, just as they’d imposed them too late, they relaxed them too early. In the interregnum, I managed to complete a week travelling around the railway network for RAIL magazine. It’s a biannual trip I’ve been writing for them ever since 2004, but 2020 was exceptional because passenger numbers where a shadow of their former selves. Even so, it was a fascinating trip to be able to cover so much of the country at a unique time and see how the rules worked (or in some cases, didn’t work) in England, Scotland and Wales – all of which had their own standards. Sadly, the relaxations weren’t to last. Local lockdowns began to occur again across England, with Liverpool going into the first new lockdown of a city in mid October. It became clear the Government was losing the plot as the ‘plan’ seemed to change depending on which Government minister was being interviewed before Johnson countermanded them.

(to be continued)…

HS2 protesters ‘faulty towers’ strategy fails again!

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Hs2 ‘rebellion’ and the other anti rail protesters are set to have yet another bad week, partly due to their own incompetence and habit of lying. Never was the Extinction Rebellion slogan ‘tell the truth’ more warped than when its used by the XR people who’re opposing HS2.

In the early hours of this morning bailiffs and HS2 staff moved in on the Denham ‘protection’ camp, a squalid site occupied by a handful of protesters on the edge of North-West London near Ruislip. The protesters had gone to a lot of effort to build a couple of towers out of old pallets and scrap timber, claiming these structures would resist being evicted. As usual, it was a hollow boast. Time and time again we’ve seen these structures thrown up at protest camps and not one of them lasts more than a day or two because there’s so few people to occupy them and the bailiffs and contractors have sophisticated equipment and the tactics to negate them. Still, I suppose we should be grateful that the protesters still use the same unimaginative and failed tactics time and time again.

Protesters videoed the first tower being demolished by bailiffs from inside the second tower. As you can see, there’s a lot of damage to the area caused by this camp and its occupants and HS2 contractors will have to clear all this mess away.
Filmed several hours ago, this shows the Bailiffs demolishing the second tower using cherry-pickers. Later, two more bailiffs joined them, suspended from a crane. It didn’t take long to tear the flimsy structure apart. By the way, “Niqabi Hippie” is the pseudonym of the young girl who was the last person to be removed from the useless Euston protest tunnel last month.

The two towers at Denham didn’t survive beyond lunchtime. The first was evicted and demolished before breakfast and the second was emptied of the two people inside it before one o’ clock. All that remains at the time of writing is an unknown number of people in at least one tree. I wouldn’t expect them to last the day if the bailiffs decide to take them down. The whole event has been yet another sorry waste of people’s time and money – and I include in that the mugs who’ve coughed up money to finance the protest camps via numerous appeals and crowdfunders. ‘Stop’ HS2? How, when these people can’t even stop themselves being evicted? Of course, regular readers may well remember Denham as being the site of another of the protesters towering failures! It was here that they put the famous (but useless) ‘Swampy’ up in a bamboo tower to stop National Grid from building a bridge across a stream. That one didn’t last more than a day either! No doubt by the end of the week HS2Rebellion will be spinning like tops to present this latest debacle as a ‘heroic resistance’ and some kind of victory when the reality is that they’re rapidly facing the extinction of their camp network as there’s simply too few of them anywhere to prevent an eviction. Another sign that people are losing interest in their futile campaign is just how few people watch or respond to their livestreams and social media posts now compared to a year ago.

Just two people watching the livestream – and one of them is me!

Not that sending ‘thoughts and prayers’ on Facebook (Or Twitter, Instagram, etc) was ever going to do any good. I’ll be interested to see how the funding tap fares over the next few weeks. Will the mugs who give them money start to realise all they’re doing is throwing it away?

Unsurprisingly, the protesters videos of the eviction featured the same handful of faces. Refugees from numerous other evictions. Some of them have now been evicted at least 3-4 times! These peripatetic protesters are doomed to drift from camp to camp, but their options are shrinking rapidly, which is why so many have given up the fight and drifted away, either by going home or heading off to other non-HS2 events like the Stonehenge road protest. Other have had their wings clipped by bail conditions after being arrested for futile actions like climbing onto contractors lorries or blocking entrances to worksites.

As ‘direct action’ has failed, HS2Rebellion are left with their equally useless social media campaign. Quite how a few people with no influence spouting untruths on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram are meant to stop the largest construction project in Europe is a mystery, but then they’ve spent so much time lying about the project they’ve clearly fallen for their own propaganda. Here’s an example of their latest blatant lies.

As Pete Johnson has pointed out, the photographs are of the East-West rail project which is reinstating the old railway from Oxford to Cambridge – the old ‘Varsity Line’. Ignoring the breathtaking hypocrisy of people who’re always whining that reopening old railways is a viable alternative to HS2 whining about reopening an old railway – this is a good example of the depths HS2Rebellion will sink to as they obviously know these are not photographs of HS2. It’s also a good example of how UK ‘environmentalists’ have completely lost the plot nowadays and are actively opposing the expansion of the rail network and the greenest form of travel. Mad, utterly mad…

In other news another serial failure was back in the Courts last week, but not for long! Joe Rukin, StopHs2’s ‘Campaign Manager’ had yet another application for a Judicial Review thrown out. The Judge ruled that Rukin had nothing new to say and was essentially trying to re-run celebrity environmentalist Chris Packham’s failed legal action. With no prospect of success and with no other avenues open to them, you really have to wonder what’s the point of Rukin and ‘StopHs2’ now?

I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this blog, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course (although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab!), but the revenue from them helps to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site – and right now (because of Covid), us freelances need all the help that we can get. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Thank you!

21st March picture of the day…

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We’ve had a quiet weekend here in Bigland Towers. Dawn went for her first Covid vaccination on Saturday so we didn’t plan anything just in case she had much of a reaction. As it was, Dee’s side-effects have been limited to feeling tired whilst nursing an arm that feels like it’s been punched. Not that there’s much to plan at the moment anyway. It’s not like we’ve got a place to catch, is it? Instead we’ve taken it easy without any pressures to do much other than mooch around at home and catch up on life’s everyday chores. Now that Spring is officially here I’ve spent time tidying up the gardens so that we can sit outside and enjoy the sunshine when it finally arrives on a consistent basis. We may be slowly edging our way out of lockdown, but the opportunities for travelling away from home look like they’re going to be marginal for some time yet – especially when one casts eyes abroad. I’d love to be be able to set foot outside the ‘museum of Brexit’ for a while and remind myself what a less inward looking country looks like, but with the uncertainties over vaccination rates in other parts of the world this could be problematic.

Until the picture becomes clearer I’ll resign myself to being restricted to this septic isle for a while and keep my head down to make the most of my house-arrest by scanning old slides, work on the cottage and downsizing the mountains of physical baggage I’ve accumulated over the years. There’s still some journalistic work to be done too – I’ve articles to write which will help keep the wolf from the door. At least photographic commissions are in the pipeline once more now that people are planning for a post lockdown world (more on that when it happens).

Right now, my photography is revolving around those old slides – which are providing today’s picture. I took this picture in Jaisalmer, India on the 3rd November 1991. This is the Salim Singh ki Haveli, one of the stunning old buildings that dot the town.

Jaisalmer is a city that’s straight out of the Arabian nights. The town itself is built in the lee of the fort which is built high above it on a promontory. Thus sheltered from Thar desert sandstorms its narrow streets and remarkable buildings make it a fantastic place to wander around. You can find many more pictures of Jaisalmer in this gallery on my Zenfolio website. Oh, you might notice that my blog’s header picture has finally changed! The old one was of Seathwaite in the English Lake district, which is officially the wettest place in England. You can find the original full picture here. The new picture is a crop of a shot taken at sunrise from the top of Adam’s Peak in Sri Lanka. It’s one from my 1991-92 travels and I’ll be adding it (and many others) to this gallery shortly. Now that I have so many more travel pictures scanned I’m intending to change the header picture on a monthly basis, just to keep you all entertained!

I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this blog, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course (although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab!), but the revenue from them helps to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site – and right now (because of Covid), us freelances need all the help that we can get. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Thank you!

19th March picture of the day…

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Have I really been away from blogging for two days? Damn…

As usual, it’s not that I’ve had nothing to say, just that there never seems to be enough hours in the day especially as my normal time for writing these blogs is in the evening. Despite ‘lockdown’ that work/life balance thingy is a tricky little bugger and days run away with you. Time is never on my side.

I’d intentions to catch up on several blogs I’ve been wanting to pen but that never happened. Instead I was immersed in the mundanities of life, scanning more old pictures and trying to keep fit despite having my wings clipped by Covid. I sometimes wonder how I managed before lockdown but then I look at how many slides I’ve managed to scan in the past year and the answer becomes obvious! Looking through so many old pictures has brought me both joy and sorrow during lockdown. On one hand it’s made me appreciate how many places I’ve had the fortune to visit over the decades and the people I’ve been lucky enough to meet, but that’s also reinforced the feelings of constriction due to Covid. Funnily enough, those same feelings have been reflected in my daily perambulations. Spring is very much in the air here in West Yorkshire, but I’d normally be seeing the season make its way up the country through my travels – travels I’ve simply not been able to make in the past year. I’ve never been so tied to one place since I was a child – and it’s starting to chafe on me. I can’t wait until the restrictions are lifted and I can start to spread my wings again. Hopefully, that will be soon as jobs are starting to trickle in again as others are scenting the smell of freedom again and the opportunities that brings too…

Tomorrow Dawn gets her first Covid jab which is yet another step on the road to release from our collective confinements. If Dee reacts the same way that most I suspect I’ll be playing Nurse tomorrow, but that’s no bad thing and I’m prepared. Besides, I’ve plenty to keep myself occupied with and my office is within groaning distance of the bedroom!

OK, now I’ve go to choose a picture of the day, which is actually rather difficult as there’s so many old slides that are worthy of the title as the current crop are from India, a country that’s impossibly photogenic for a whole host of reasons. Looking back at my archive I’ve realised how so much of it seems commonplace and familiar to me due to the fact I’ve spent so much time there, whilst to others some of these pictures must seem incredibly exotic – or just plain strange! So let’s try you with this one. As much as we may bitch about our first world problems we are incredibly fortunate compared to the majority of the population of this planet – we just forget that most of the time. Travelling in countries like India (if you leave the comfort of your resort complex) teaches you that.

I took this picture on the 30th October 1991 at the steam locomotive depot in Jaipur, Rajasthan, but it’s not about trains…

These young people are picking through the ashes of fires thrown out of steam locomotives, looking for pieces of unburned coal that they can either sell or use for cooking. And yet – do they look unhappy? I was wandering around taking pictures when I spotted them and realised what they were doing. Despite the fact we didn’t share a common language they were perfectly happy to pose for a picture when I asked if I could take one. One of the wonderful things about India is that most people aren’t camera-shy (exactly the opposite) despite their circumstances which is rather humbling in more ways than one. I often look through old pictures like this and wonder what became of the people whose images I froze in time…

I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this blog, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course (although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab!), but the revenue from them helps to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site – and right now (because of Covid), us freelances need all the help that we can get. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Thank you!

16th March picture of the day…

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Apologies for the lack of a picture of the day these past few days. I’ve been to busy to blog as I’ve been catching up on other stuff – although I have been managing to continue with the slide scans. There’s now a healthy pile ready for editing and adding to my Zenfolio site and a search of Dee’s parents loft at the weekend has revealed that the end really is in sight! I’ve returned home with a few more albums to add to my collection at Bigland towers but after perusing them and doing some calculations I reckon I can have the remaining few thousand slides completed before the end of the year – which is going to feel like a real achievement after 30 plus years! So, without further ado, here’s today’s picture, which is from the latest batch.

I took this image of a Harley-Davidson trishaw taxi in Connaught Place, New Delhi, India on the 24th October 1991.

These weird beasties used to work like buses on a route between Connaught Place and the Red Fort in Old Delhi. They were noisy and polluting but fun at the time as they were great for using as mobile camera platforms. Most of the guys who drove them were Sikhs. Needless to say, as Delhi started to clean up its polluted act they finally went to that great motorcycle scrapyard in the sky. I’m not sure what year it was when they finally disappeared but I’d be surprised if they saw the turn of the century. Maybe a reader of this blog will know?

Soon, you’ll be able to find (and buy) this and many other pictures from my 1991-92 travel odyssey in this gallery on my Zenfolio website.

I’ve a favour to ask…
If you enjoy reading this blog, please click on an advert or two. You don’t have to buy anything you don’t want to of course (although if you did find something that tickled your fancy that would be fab!), but the revenue from them helps to cover some of the cost of maintaining this site – and right now (because of Covid), us freelances need all the help that we can get. Remember, 99% of the pictures used in my blogs can be purchased as prints from my other website –  https://paulbigland.zenfolio.com/

Thank you!