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Rolling blog: A night out in Liverpool…

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15:51.

It’s slightly later than planned due to circumstances beyond my control, but I’m leaving a wet and miserable Calder Valley behind for a night out with friends in Liverpool. Dawn, plus Fran and Aubrey are already there and I’m catching up. Due to timings it’s not the speediest of journeys as it involves several changes of train, which is why I’m typing this now on the platform of Hebden Bridge station after arriving from Sowerby Bridge on a Blackpool service. Still, it could be worse. In the background I can hear a band playing. I’m assuming there’s an open air gig in the nearby park, which must be well soggy! I’m glad I’m not there – even tho’ the forecast for Liverpool’s no better. I’m off to see some bands too – but in a drier place. Our friends love Liverpool and have persuaded us to join them in seeing a Beatles tribute act in the resurrected ‘Cavern Club’. I’ve fond memories of the area in the 1970s when a club across the road called ‘Eric’s’ was in business. You’d get a real mix of bands in those days, from punk to old hippy bands like ‘Gong’.

We’ve booked a hotel just round the corner as we’re making the most of the weekend. All I need now is for this train to turn up…

16:33.

A single Northern Class 156 turned up (almost) on time at 16:07 to ferry me across the Pennines, we’re just about to arrive in Victoria now. My fellow passengers consist of families returning home after a day out and younger folk heading out for a night in the cities clubs and pubs – although there’s not that many of them as it’s too early!

17:07.

Victoria was an even more surreal experience than on a normal Saturday due to the number of young women and girls dressed as cats or book and film characters. I spotted ‘Wonder Woman’ and Rapunzel, amongst others. I’m assuming that some event’son rather than this being some bizarre co-incidence!Whilst I was waiting for the liverpool service a pair of ex-West Midlands trains Class 150s put in an appearance on a StalyVegas – sorry, Stalybridge service.

I’m currently on a TPE 185 to Lime St. It’s another train carrying a mix of families and revellers enjoying different Saturday experiences.

20:08.

No time for blogging right now, there’s too much going on! Our night out has coincided with Liverpool gay pride and the city is absolutely buzzing!

Postscript.

We had a fab night listening to songs from the ‘fab 4’ which brought back a huge amount of happy memories as well as one or two sad ones. The Cavern was far better than I expected. It could have been touristy and tacky but it was anything but. Yes, there were plenty of tourists but they were there because they loved the Beatles music. It made for a great atmosphere.

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Not a (real) train in sight…

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After the past few days gallivanting around the country today’s been a time for consolidation at home. I even treated myself to a lie-in and didn’t switch on the computer until 07:30! Mind you, it had been a hot and humid night – hardly the best for getting a good night’s sleep. The really hot weather had departed by the morning, leaving us with an assorted bag of cloud cover and the occasional bit of sunshine to help dry out the effects of the overnight showers.┬áMuch of the day has been spent editing pictures of railways rather than travelling on them, but that will change again tomorrow. I’ve added over 100 pictures to my Zenfolio website, which you can find if you follow this link to the ‘recent’ section of the website as it’ll show you which galleries they’ve been added to. Here’s a couple of samples just to whet your appetite.

These are the beautifully restored station waiting rooms at Worcester Shrub Hill. They’re unique and are constructed out of cast iron and tiles, having been built around 1864 by local companies.

DG329521. Restored waiting rooms. Worcester Foregate St. 25.7.19.crop

A plaque nearby lists the details of these extraordinary structures.

DG329525. Restored waiting rooms. Worcester Foregate St. 25.7.19.cropWorcester Shrub Hill is an anachronism in several ways. Not only does it have these waiting rooms, it also has some of the finest surviving examples of Great Western Railway lower-quadrant semaphore signals. The fact these control the very latest generation of high-speed trains built by Hitachi is quite something, as you can see from this picture. In the foreground is a two car Class 172 which has recently been transferred from the Gospel Oak-Barking line in London to become part of the West Midlands Train fleet. In the background is 800322, a 9-car Hitachi built Class 800 operated by GWR. The variety of GWR signals is evident.

DG329539. 172003. 800311. Worcester Shrub Hill. 25.7.19.crop

Having loaded up the pictures the rest of the day’s been spent catching up on less exciting matters – paperwork. My desk seems to be awash with ACoRP marking forms receipts and bits and bobs. So much for the ‘paperless office’! At least it’s not like the old days when it would’ve been piled high in slides, negatives and prints too…

Finally, late in the day I managed to get out for a stroll and get some exercise away from a screen. As the weather has cooled down I didn’t need to head straight for a shower either, which was a relief. This evening will probably consist of much of the same as we’re off to Liverpool for a weekend in the city with some friends. If I’m lucky I might be able to do some scribbling whilst I’m there. One thing I will be doing is taking a break from watching the unfolding political disaster that’s Boris Johnson’s new Government. It’s truly depressing to see the people he’s actively courting. It’s the most right-wing and dangerous bunch of any Tory Government I can remember. There’s a toxic mix of former Leave campaign members, the right wing-press and lobby groups like the Taxpayers Alliance. My one hope is that there’s so many big egos there with dodgy pasts and flexible morals that it can’t be long before the whole thing starts to fall apart when it become painfully obvious they can’t deliver on the lies they’ve told over the years. But what damage will they do in the meantime?

 

Rolling blog: Another judgement day…

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08:06.Mark and I are getting ready to set off from Exeter for another day’s judging. We’ve only two stations to visit but they’re spread out and we’ve also got to get home afterwards. Plus, the weather forecast suggests that today will be the hottest day of the year so far and several rail companies have already announced service cancellations and speed restrictions. Stay with me and see how we fare…08:47.We’re on our first train of the day, GWR’s 08:31 from Exeter to Barnstaple as far as Copplestone on the Tarka line which is made up of a pair of Class 150s. They were busy earlier as they worked Exeter to Exemouth beforehand, now it’s a bit overkill, but will probably be very busy on the way back.

11:26.We’re now enjoying the air-conditioned comfort of a Hitachi class 800 en-route to Reading after visiting the single platform station at Copplestone and talking to the small band of women who’ve made it such an attractive station.

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To say the weather’s hotting up is an understatement. We’re keeping one eye on Real-Time Trains, making sure the speed restrictions due to hot weather aren’t going to get in our way. At the moment a broken-down train outside Paddington’s actually done us a favour as it’s giving us a few more minutes to make a tight connection at Reading. That said, we’re now running late too!12:08.We made it! Our train was 5 late into Reading, but the one we were hoping to catch was 10 down. They arrived almost simultaneously at platforms 11 and 9 which meant a mad dash up the stairs to cross the tracks. We made it with seconds to spare. The pair of us are now sat in coach A of a 5-car 800.Now, I know it’s the hottest day of the year and all that, but even so – I’m surprised at how steamy it’s been on both the 800s we’ve travelled on today. I walked through both sets just to check and some of them were like saunas. The car we’re in at the moment is the only one at levels I’d say are actually cool. It’s disappointing for brand-new trains.That said, it’s not a bad environment. Most folk bailed out at Oxford which allowed the pair of us to purloin a table and stretch out in comfort to enjoy the trip to our next destination: Evesham, where we’ll now arrive an hour earlier than planned – no mean feat on a day like today!16:02.It’s been an eventful few hours! After being on a cool train for a couple of hours the heat really hit us at Evesham. Having done what we came to there was just enough time for a celebratory pint before we started to make our way home via Worcester. This is when things started to go a bit “Pete Tong”! Our West Midlands trains service to Birmingham was stuck behind another DMU in platform 2 which had overheated. A shunt move and reversal got it out of trouble and into platform 1 where it picked us up before leaving 20 mins late. All was fine until we hit the outskirts of Birmingham where we got caught up in signal failures and more overheating trains. Mark decided to change at Smethwick Galton Bridge and try for a train to Cheshire. I opted to head into Birmingham, get a few pictures then weigh up my options. If the West Coast was up the spout I can always head back via Derby…Ironically, the train that carried us from Worcester was an old friend. It was one of the ex- London Overground Class 172s used on my old stamping ground – the Gospel Oak – Barking line, although they look a little different nowadays!

16:58.

Talk about serendipity! Here I am, sitting in central Birmingham, considering my options when I get a phone call about a commission from someone who’s having to get driven back to London from Derby ‘cos the Midland Main Line’s in chaos! Well, that’s me going via Derby ruled out then!

The weather’s starting to cool a bit here so I might just wait for the rush to subside for the next hour before I look at getting home. I’m used to packed trains but packed into a hot and sweaty Voyager for 90 mins isn’t my idea of fun if it can be avoided…

19:06.

After getting a few photos at Birmingham and having let some of the rush crush subside I decided to begin heading North and the first opportunity was a Class 350 working an all stopper shuttle to Wolverhampton. Needless to say, it was packed, but the air-conditioning worked and it wasn’t that far to stand. The Conductor was excellent as he stayed away from the script and came across as human and just trying to do his best in trying circumstances.

A few minutes down the line and out of the blue I got a tap on the shoulder from a chap in Virgin trains uniform who was ‘on the cushions’, well as much as you can be stood in a vestibule – who said “I follow you on Twitter, we have a mutual (rail) friend”.

We ended up having a really good natter about the railways and today’s events.

19:57.

“Penny the Pendolino” (for it was she) arrived at Crewe 90 mins late. Also late was a Transport for Wales service to Manchester Piccadilly, which I managed to jump on a couple of minutes before it left. Like most trains I’ve been on today, it’s packed – but it’s getting me closer to home…

21:16.

I’m on the final leg now. The TfW train to Manchester was fine. What wasn’t was looking at some of the utter crap people have been posting on social media about railways and the hot weather. Anyone would think the #RailwayFamily were deliberately trying to ruin peoples day just for the shots and giggles rather than trying to keep them safe and get them home, whilst suffering stress themselves. My opinions of my fellow country-folk continue to decline. At what point did we become so stupid that we almost revel in the fact – and also so intolerant?

Having arrived in Manchester I made my way on foot between Picc and Vic. The wind got up and we actually had a few blessed drops of rain that teased but little else. Now I’m on the (slightly) late running 20:58 to Leeds, a Class 156/153 lash-up using a former GWR “dogbox” (railway slang for a single car Class 153) which I’m relaxing in as the train’s pretty empty. Hot, but empty!

Rolling blog: 2 more days of ACoRP judging…

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06:13.

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…

07:34.

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’

09:11.

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.

10:45

– 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.

12:39.

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!

16:09.

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.

17:05.

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!

22:00.

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…

 

 

 

Forget the USA, the UK now has its own ‘clown prince’…

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Today, it happened. The Tory party faithful elected serial liar Boris Johnson as their new Leader and next Prime Minister. Teresa May stands down tomorrow and Johnson takes over. Britain’s 3 year journey into farce continues. Yet again, we’ve proved to the rest of the world just how insular and inward we’re becoming, as well as how irrelevant. Having humiliated the UK in front of the world as a feckless Foreign Secretary, Johnson’s been handed a bigger stage for his incompetence and room for his ego. It will not go well.

His acceptance speech was classic Johnson. It was a lesson in banality and vacuous soundbites. One where we were told Britain will thrive under him and Brexit if we just “believe”. He’s like a backwoods preacher selling the afterlife to the credulous. But then Brexit is akin to a religion to some. Logic and facts are nothing when you have faith.

It’ll all unravel of course. The EU’s already pissed on his chips by immediately announcing that there will be no renegotiation of the deal stuck between them and Teresa May. So whose head is he going to hold a gun to, other than his own? It’s like that surreal moment from Mel Brooks classic film ‘Blazing Saddles’

Meanwhile, various Tories are giving up their portfolios and making it very clear they won’t serve in a Johnson Government. Other Tories are fawning on Twitter, praising Johnson for his ‘achievements’ and ability to “get things done” in the hope of a junior job. On Thursday we’ll start to see what appointments he makes. It’s unlikely to be a pretty sight. No doubt swivel-eyed loons will feature highly as nobody else will be dumb enough to take the poisoned chalice. His cabinet will be more MFI than Chippendale. I doubt it’ll take long before it starts to fall apart…

I wonder how long it’ll take for the Brexit fanatics to twig that Johnson is no more capable of delivering Brexit than anyone else? Parliament is likely to be a pretty rancorous and raucous place over the next few months as different groups of MPs try to block any no deal Brexit. Johnson will be thrust into the national spotlight in a way he’s never been before and his bombast and bluster won’t save him now.

Let’s remember something. Johnson didn’t get into politics through ANY notion of public service. Throughout his life and career he’s proved he only cares about one thing. His overwhelming sense of entitlement and ambition. Then look at what his employers & co-workers say about him. Lazy, disorganised, no attention to detail and no loyalty to anyone other than himself. This character is now our Prime Minister.

I predict that this is going to get messy…

The political chaos gathers momentum…

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In a move that will surprise few, Alan Duncan MP has resigned from the Foreign Office. Having suffered the incompetence of Boris Johnson as Foreign Minister it’s clear he’s no intention of serving under him as Prime Minister!

To say this comes at an awkward time is an understatement. The FO still hasn’t recovered from the damage Johnson caused and already has one Minister suspended. Just what we need with the Iranian’s saber-rattling in the Gulf!

Of course Duncan is merely the first one out of the traps and at least he’s stayed in the party. Who’ll be next? Chancellor Philip Hammond has already announced he’ll resign on Wednesday if Johnson wins tomorrow. Plus, there’s newspaper reports that up to six Tory MPs are in discussions with the Liberal Democrats about joining the party.

This really could prove interesting as it would leave Johnson without any majority in Parliament and facing some politically savvy opposition from his own back-benches. Johnson’s not a clever politician. Devious and blustering, yes, but not clever. The cracks are already starting to show and he’s not even taken office yet! The chances of a serious split in the Tory party are becoming more likely, especially if Johnson surrounds himself with ideological Brexit headbangers in his Cabinet. You wouldn’t trust most of them to run a whelk stall, never mind a country.

If only we had an opposition party and Leader worth the name. At this rate, it looks like the Lib-Dems will assume that role. Since I wrote this it’s been announced that Jo Swinson MP has been voted in as the new Lib-Dem leader, making the Labour party the only one of the triumvirate (Labour, Tory & Lib-Dem) to never have elected a woman.

The first LNER ‘Racehorse’ heads for retirement.

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LNER’s twitter feed has announced the final trains that locomotive 91108 will work today before being taken off-lease, the locomotive is due for a ‘G’ Exam, the cost of which can’t be justified, so it will be retired at Bounds Green depot in North London tonight. This is the first of the 125 mph Class 91s to be withdrawn. Introduced between 1988-91, the 32 strong fleet have been the backbone of East Coast services ever since. Now they’re being displaced by the new Hitachi built ‘Azuma’ trains which already operate the London – Leeds route before entering services on Anglo-Scottish services from the 1st August. Here’s 91108 in Virgin Livery at Kings Cross in November 2015.

DG234345. 91108. Kings Cross. 15.11.15.crop

This is LNER’s tweet with details of the 3 services 91108 will work today.

LNER tweet

The first train (1E01) is due into Kings Cross at 0938. Here’s timings for the other two services, starting with 1S23, the 11:00 to Edinburgh which stops at York, Darlington, Newcastle and Berwick on Tweed. The final train is 1E23, the 16:30 from Edinburgh, which stops at Berwick, Newcastle, Darlington, York and Stevenage, before arriving at Kings Cross at 20:51. So, if you want to have one final run behind this loco, these are the places to go to. I’m hoping to be out to record the event myself later today.

The gradual withdrawal of the Class 91s is yet another sign of how much UK railways are changing over the next few years. Thousands of new vehicles have been introduced, with thousands more to come. The East Coast will look very different as LNERs fleet is being completely replaced and strengthened, whilst their HSTs and Class 91s will disappear. It’s not just LNER. Trans-Pennine express are introducing two new fleets and Hull Trains is also replacing all their Class 180s with Hitachi Class 802s. Meanwhile, Northern’s new Class 195s and 331s will be gracing sections of the ECML too. Over the years the Class 91s have carried several different liveries as the TOCs running them have changed. Today, 91119 has been repainted in the original BR ‘Intercity swallow’ colours the locos carried when new.

00648. 91011. Pboro. 12.3.90.crop

Here’s brand new 91011 on test at Peterborough on the 11th March 1990.

Some Class 91s may yet re-appear. Whilst the future of the HSTs is uncertain, some Mk4 coaches will transfer to Transport for Wales and open-access operator is still expected to take some Class 91s and short Mk4 sets to operate its new Blackpool-Euston service from 2020.

Update.

Due to an incident in the Huntingdon area, 1S23 is running 23 minutes late and isn’t due into York until 13:17.

13:57.

I’m now racing up the ECML behind 91108 for a last run behind the old girl – unless she appears in another incarnation in the future. At the moment that’s uncertain as her next appointment after today is at Wabtec, Doncaster, where she’ll be used as a “Christmas tree”, being stripped of spares to allow other Class 91s (several are out of use) to be returned to service. We hit the maximum 125 mph between York and Northallerton.

Here’s a couple of pictures of 91108 arriving at York and sitting at Darlington earlier.

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As much as nostalgia kicks in at this point, I’m not sad to see these trains go. They’ve done their job but the world’s changing. On the way back I bumped into fellow RAIL magazine contributor Gareth Dennis on a Southbound HST. We swapped stories about the old and new trains when Gareth made a very good point when we were discussing the “sh*t off a shovel” acceleration of the new Azumas.

On a post Hs2 railway the new trains will allow greater connectivity on the ECML through extra stops without a huge sacrifice in end to end journey times. That said, end to end will be less important to most passengers because if you’re going to do Leeds -London you’d do it on HS2, not the ECML but in-between it’s a different matter. The connectivity HS2 will allow on the existing network is a major selling point.

The lull before the (political) storm…

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It’s been a quiet Sunday for the pair of us, although we did pop out for lunch with Dawn’s parents and Jo Cullinane, the mother of Dawn’s late sister-in-law, Joanne. We ate at 315 restaurant, just outside Huddersfield where we had an enjoyable Sunday lunch and a catch-up as we hadn’t seen Jo since the wedding.

I even indulged in something I only eat once in a blue moon, Cheese! I don’t have it at home as Dawn’s allergic to it.

In contrast, this evening’s been spent pottering around at home, whilst I’ve been pondering the coming political storm that will break next week.

Barring a miracle, it looks like serial liar Boris Johnson will be anointed the next Tory leader and Prime Minister. Before he takes office on Thursday there will be a series of Ministerial resignations, including the Chancellor, Philip Hammond. How many others is open to question. There’ll also be a series of high profile members announcing that they’re leaving the Tory Party.

Expect the pound to take a beating on the currency markets and don’t be in the least surprised if the stock market takes a hit too. This is just the start of a long decline in the country’s future, as well as the Tory party. Of course, some Brexiters will be cock-a-hoop at the idea one of theirs is now Prime Minister. But that’s where their problems start. Brexiters have long used the excuse that Brexit has never happened because there’s been a Remainer in charge. It was always a feeble excuse as May appointed Arch Brexiters David Davis and Liam Fox to her Cabinet – as well as Boris Johnson (amongst others). But with May replaced by Johnson, their excuse will have evaporated. So who are they going to blame now? Because it doesn’t matter who’s PM, they can’t make Unicorns real. The lies will remain lies. There is no Brexit alchemist who can turn lies into truth, especially that blond buffoon Johnson, who’s about to discover that you might be able to bullshit and bluster as a part-time Mayor of London but this is the big time now. To my mind, the only question is how long he can hang on to office before even the most die-hard Brexiter realises it’s not going to the (non-existent) plan, everything turns to ratshit and we end up with a general election.

Sadly for the country, there’s no dynamic Labour party waiting in the wings to stride in and right the mess the Tories are about to inflict on us as their civil war is re-ignited and taken to new levels. ‘Magic Grandad’ Jeremy Corbyn is too weak, too embroiled in anti-Semitism and too tied up in his own dogmatic refusal to oppose Brexit. We’re about to enter a shit-storm of potentially epic proportions. The journalist Jonathan Lis has summed up the situation in this excellent article.

The country is being failed by its two main political parties, neither of whom is fit to govern. meanwhile, the fascists are on the rise with their simplistic populism and list people to blame for the mess were in. Not on that list are the real culprits, themselves and the billionaires, media moguls and spivs who fund and back them. We are living in very dangerous times and next week will start to show just how dangerous it could get. meanwhile, the rest of us will suffer the consequences of a country whose economy is being ruined by dogma and whose friends abroad are looking on with growing incredulity, incomprehension and concern.

I’m afraid the old Chinese curse ‘may you live in interesting times’ has been invoked.

Sowerby sojourn.

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Well, the apocalyptic weather forecasts of heavy rain were rather wide of the mark. Apart from a morning of drizzle, we’ve had a dry day. The skies are still threatening and from our bedroom window I’ve seen the odd shower across the valley but the wind’s so strong that nothing hangs around for very long. Because of this I’ve been able to take breaks from editing pictures and staring at screens to enjoy a couple of long walks through our local woods to get some exercise, burning off some calories before we go out for a meal with friends tonight.

Right now I’m taking a break on the promenade high above the valley to enjoy the views and watch the clouds roll by. I do enjoy coming up here because you can see for miles, as you can see from this picture looking down over Sowerby Bridge.

I can understand why the painter Ashley Jackson likes Yorkshire so much, the weather and the light’s constantly changing. Here’s the view nearby yesterday.

As I sit here now I can see sunlight and shadows constantly scudding across the fields, creating a myriad of patterns, most of which are gone in an instant.

It’s a glorious escape from the political insanity that’s engulfed us. But, like all escapes, it’s only temporary…

16:15.

I can’t believe it’s the same day! Right now I’m sunning myself in the front garden and getting a tan! The weather’s changed completely – as it so often does in this part of the world.

The wind’s still playing havoc with the plants, so I’ve had to repot a couple of the sunflowers to stop them blowing over, but it’s glorious to bask like a lizard for a little while before getting dressed up for dinner.

StopHs2 and ‘don’t mention the war’…

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You have to laugh! StopHs2, the only ‘group’ left opposing Hs2 have come up with a cunning wheeze to explain the fact that the Hs2 Phase 2a hybrid bill sailed through Parliament with a majority of 246 last week. Their plan? Don’t even mention that it ever took place – just ignore the fact! So, there’s no mention of it on their website, or their Facebook, or in tweets. It’s as if it never happened!

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You can understand why it’s an embarrassment to them as it underlines their complete irrelevance nowadays and the fact that what little political support they had has collapsed. I blogged about the result here.

How long Stophs2 are going to maintain this pretence is a good question. It’s certainly made a mockery of their claim that they’re ‘the’ place to go to, to learn about Hs2! But it is very funny! I’s yet more signs of the irrelevance of Stophs2 nowadays. Unlike the Phase 1 petitions, they weren’t even involved in the Phase 2a process at any level. No-one invited them along, so they rarely mentioned it. But then they’ve always been a campaign (and I use that term in its loosest sense) that’s been firmly based on Phase 1 of Hs2. Mind you, as their Chair, Penny Gaines actually lives in Bournemouth nowadays (no, really!) they’re even more isolated. Of course, quite what Penny chairs is open to question, as Stophs2 is little more than her and Kenilworth based Joe Rukin!

Meanwhile, some lone soul has decided to arrange another anti Hs2 demonstration in London via Facebook and Twitter! If it ever happens (which is extremely doubtful) It’s meant to take place on the 7th September.

woolf

Unsurprisingly, Hemel Hempstead based Woolf is also a Brexit fanatic. Oh, I wouldn’t bother with his Facebook page either as there’s little of interest, unless you like looking at someone posting lots of ‘selfies’ all about bodybuilding! His attitude to people on Twitter (where he uses the appellation @drophs2) doesn’t exactly inspire much confidence in his rhetorical or intellectual capacities either…

Drop hs2

You have to wonder. There’s 6.5 million people living on the route of Hs2, yet there’s never been a credible anti Hs2 campaign. The best they came up with was the Hs2 Action Alliance – which at least had some educated people involved, even if they were only Chiltern Nimbys! Now it’s reduced to the likes of Rukin and Gaines, a couple of dozen ‘Walter Mitty’ types who still think ranting on Twitter will stop Hs2, few self publicists like young Woolf plus a handful of misguided Greens who can’t see further than the ends of their noses. Hardly what you’d call a ‘winning team’ is it? I popped in to have a look at the progress of StopHs2’s latest petition on the Government website this morning. It’s taken them 10 days to get another hundred signatures!

petition. 20 jul

The petition doesn’t stand a hope in hell as to be on target they should have had 58,000 by now. It now needs over 800 every single day until October! I see no-one in Camden has signed it for almost 6 weeks now, leaving it stuck on a miserable 247.

I suspect StopHs2 are in for even more disappointment when (as is looking increasingly likely) the blond buffoon Boris Johnson becomes Prime Minister. The chances of Johnson cancelling HS2 are minimal (see link). They’ve previously been sold a pup by another Brexiter, Jacob Rees Mogg, who’s another one who says one thing and then does another. Having been quoted saying he’d cancel Hs2 he then goes and votes for it – several times in fact! You can read about that here. Their poster boys do have a habit of letting them down! I await Boris Johnson’s premiership with interest!