Sunday 31 December 2017

Making models

I did have a blog dedicated to model making (railways and kits) but have decided to stop updating it. Instead i've created a dedicated blog for the model railway and will move posts about making model kits to here. You can see a list of kits made to date here.

The latest kit, Project #080, is a Grumman Martlet. There have been some delays with it due to building difficulties (i'll be honest - i haven't been on vintage form this year with the old glue) and delays in getting the right paint but it should be finished in early 2018.

Back to analogue

I've bought a new watch, and after about twenty years of digital watches (Casio F-91W and variants all the way) i have returned to analogue timepieces. A Swatch to be exact. In the late 1990s i did go through a phase of wearing Swatches but then when i was on holiday in Indonesia in 1999 i had cause to need to go to digital...

The hotel room in Malang i had was a bit strange. The window looked out on a sheer concrete wall, the window was locked i could not see the sky. The wall was also well lit when i arrived in the daytime. So on my first night there, and jet lagged of course, i went to sleep and woke up at 3. But was it 3am or 3pm? It could have been either, i thought maybe it was 3am but i honestly couldn't tell by looking at that wall, it looked exactly the same as it had earlier!

It was 3am but i decided then i needed a digital watch with 24 hour time display so i would not have this problem again. Now nearly twenty years later and with my current Casio watch showing its age (it was going orange) i decided it was time to get a new one... and return to Swatch. With mobile phones now there is no need to worry about the exact time so your watch can be more decorative. I chose the Tetris Swatch. I used to have the Space Invader one which lit up all green, i wished i still had that one too!

Review of 2017 : December

December brings the year to a close, dark days and poor weather curtailing some activities but i still managed a few trips around. I visited some old haunts: Stratford-upon-Avon and Leamington Spa. I also made another of my new style short trips to Blakedown and saw the new West Midlands Trains branding at Snow Hill.

One final big trip of the year was to London for some more rail adventures, including the Croydon Tramlink for the first time and ten new stations visited for my blog. That is it for 2017, well except that i also saw the new Star Wars film and thought it was excellent.

Song of the month was "My mistake" by Nina. Now tomorrow we can start all over again.

Leamington Spa


Mitcham Junction, South London

Saturday 30 December 2017

Review of 2017 : Music A-Z

As is traditional now i create an end-of-year review playlist of some of the best songs of the ending year. I do them as an A-Z of artists though some letters do not have artists so i've added a few duplicates to fill it out.

Friday 29 December 2017

Trams and drains... a final London adventure for 2017

The last couple of days i have been in London having a final rail adventure for the year. As is usual recently i have been aiming to visit as many new stations as i can to gather content for my stations blog - well i now have eleven more potential posts. I also finally saw the new 707 EMU after a couple of near misses earlier in the year.

A highlight though was travelling on London's tram network, the Croydon Tramlink. The final part of Transport for London's mighty empire for me to explore (well ignoring the cable car anyway). I also travelled on the Waterloo & City Line again (aka "The Drain") which is also fun. Earlier today i visited the Northern terminus of the Bakerloo Line and a few other stations, i just have three left to visit before i can "clear" that (and my favourite of course) line. An objective for 2018! You can see my photos here.

Review of 2017 : November

I've always found November is a bit of a nothing month like February, it just exists to space out the year with nothing much exciting happening. Well November was still a fairly busy month for my travels. I tried a new model this month in visiting a single station in a short visit and not trying to fit so much into one morning. The model was trialed with a trip to Danzey and again for a trip to Wood End later in the month. In both cases the station was more or less all there was to see and needed to be visited for my stations blog. I've used this short trip model again in December and will again in the Winter months in 2018.

A longer trip was made to the North West, including the North West Museum of Motor Transport and the Sankey Canal - both in St Helens. I paid my first trip to the LT Museum Depot in Acton this year and also did some rail exploring around West London. I also had time at the end of the month to visit Stafford station.

Song of the month was "home again" by Let Em Riot.

North West Museum of Motor Transport

Sankey Canal

LT Museum Depot

Wednesday 27 December 2017

West Midlands Railway

When i went to Stratford-upon-Avon i said it would be my last trip on London Midland as they changed to West Midlands Railway and London North Western the next day (the old franchise has been split into two new brands). Today i finally got to travel on a "West Midlands Railway" train - though in reality it was largely the same as a London Midland one just sans logos. I did see the only (so far) re-liveried WMR train though and Birmingham Snow Hill has been thoroughly rebranded.

In the new year more trains will receive the new purple and orange livery though judging by other train company changeovers (such as FGW to GWR)  it will probably be a few years before the old LM green and black livery is gone.


Time for a little rail trip after the Christmas break. I headed up to Blakedown in Worcestershire, a station near Kidderminster. Getting there was not easy though, overnight bad weather had thrown the railway into a bit of a confusion. Earlier trains were cancelled and the one i finally got terminated early at Stourbridge.

Well i got there in the end, i just stayed long enough to take a few photos of the rather lovely little church and the station of course (which has a rather nice signal box). You can see my Blakedown photos here.

Tuesday 26 December 2017

Review of 2017 : October

Compared to the Summer months October was maybe a little bit quieter, but not by much. It started with a trip to Hemel Hempstead to explore more of the Grand Union Canal. There was also a return to Duffield, this time exploring the village itself (instead of just taking a train elsewhere) and the castle.

Later in the month i returned to London for my third and final Hidden London tour, this time of the TFL headquarters 55 Broadway - a stunning building. There was also time for some rail adventures in London of course. Finally at the end of the month i went up to Langley Mill to do some canal walking including the final stub of the Cromford Canal which eluded me. I've now walked all of that canal which is still extant and publicly accessible.

Song of the month was "nowhere" by Wallflower.
View from the roof garden of 55 Broadway

Remains of Duffield Castle

Canal bridge near Hemel Hempstead

Langley Mill railway station

Monday 25 December 2017

Christmas morning

It was Christmas morning and thus time for my traditional stroll around the local environs. Usually a busy industrial estate and a traffic filled main road but on this morning silent and almost lifeless.

Saturday 23 December 2017

Review of 2017 : September

September was another busy month, well they are all busy months now. It started with a return to the Peak Rail up in Rowsley South to attend the Heritage Shunter Trust's gala. Later in the month came trips to Bermuda Park near Nuneaton (including a canal walk) and Smethwick Rolfe Street for part of the Heritage Open Weekend.

Mid-month i went to Stone to walk the Trent & Mersey Canal. Later in the month came my second Hidden London tour of the year, this time to the now-disused Jubilee Line platforms at Charing Cross (and some other London rail adventures too). Finally at the end of the month was a return to the Cromford Canal to walk the remaining bits between Whatstandwell and Ambergate i had yet to do. That meant i had walked all of the extant Cromford except for the little stub at Langley Mill (see next month).

Song of the month was "lofticries" by Purity Ring.
HST Gala at Rowsley South

Coventry Canal near Bermuda Park

Trent & Mersey Canal at Stone

Charing Cross tube station

Derwent Valley line seen from a bridge near Ambergate

Friday 22 December 2017

Leamington in the fog

I headed up to Leamington Spa today and took some photos for a few hours at the station. There wasn't anything that out of the ordinary on view today but it was interesting to take some photos in what was quite thick fog early on. The trains emerging from the fog like metal monster snakes. You can see my photographs here.

Wednesday 20 December 2017

Review of 2017 : August

August continued the trend for new locations and new discoveries. It started with my first of 3 Hidden London tours this year with a visit to the former Highgate station in North London. While i was in London i travelled around on rail a lot of course and also ventured out to Sevenoaks in Kent.

Oxford is somewhere i have been to before of course but i took my Mum there for her birthday and i took a number of photos in the fine city and the railway station. I also returned to the EVR for its diesel locomotive weekend.

Then later in the month over to Oakham in Rutland, including its castle. Finally up to Staffordshire to visit the lovely Foxfield Railway for the first time. Song of the month was "resigned" by Lycia.


Oakham castle

Foxfield Railway

Tuesday 19 December 2017

More from Essex... and Aden

Some more photographs from the 1920s and 30s photograph album which may have belonged to a family who lived near Clacton-on-Sea. As i mentioned last time i suspected there was a farming connection with the album's once owners due to the number of photographs of farm animals. Such as this one.

This one is entitled "Our hens 1921".
Now for something different. Later in the album are three photographs which have been taken in the Middle East, luckily these photographs have inscriptions on the back which have been reproduced below.
"New roads at Aden, March 1932. Work office on right at back. ME just behind camel in white". Is that M.E. or "me"?
"Works of buildings coolies making new roads at Aden, March 1932"

Sunday 17 December 2017

Water Orton

I didn't travel on any trains this weekend, however i did take my Mum to see her friend - who lives very close to Water Orton station so i took the opportunity to take a few photos! To be honest by car is probably the best way to visit this station as it doesn't have a very good service (especially on a Sunday). It was a wet dull day though this did show off the station building brickwork to good effect i think.

Saturday 16 December 2017

Review of 2017 : July

July was a month of travelling to new places and revisiting my very earliest haunts (not that i remembered them). It started with a trip up to Merseyside and tracking down the first house i lived in when i was a toddler. There was also a return to the Stratford Canal.

Mid month i headed to Berkhamstead to visit the castle, and also to walk the canal there. In doing so i also visited Milton Keynes for the first time in years. I explored around Birmingham's railways including visiting Marston Green station, the first time i've been to the station in the place i was born (though to be honest i work a mile away these days so its not exactly a lost world).

Finally at the end of the month a visit to Cheltenham and Gloucester and especially Gloucester Docks. I shall be exploring more of the South West in 2017. Song of the month was "precision" by The New Division.

 Berkhamstead station

Berkhamstead castle

Canal in Berkhamstead

Gloucester docks