Wednesday 30 January 2019

The biggest spreadsheet software collection

Some time ago I blogged about Visicalc the first spreadsheet program. I'm sure Ariel Fischman, who has won a Guinness World Record for the largest collection of spreadsheet software, has plenty of copies of Visicalc! Its a very unusual thing to collect for sure but very cool I think. Ariel has over eight hundred separate programs in his collection including over forty different versions of Microsoft Multiplan alone (their first spreadsheet before Excel - which interestingly began life as a Macintosh application).

These days I use Apple Numbers and Google's web spreadsheet program. I've always been a heavy user of the application, years ago I bought Borland Quattro Pro and still have the install floppy disks. Though it's been a long time since I've owned a PC and especially one with a floppy disk drive! My first spreadsheet program I used was (I think) a version of Supercalc which came with the Amstrad PC1640. We may have had a spreadsheet program for the BBC Micro though I can't recall. The mid-1980s is a long time ago now...

Tuesday 29 January 2019

Walking the waterways (20) : Stroudwater Navigation

The Stroudwater Canal linked Stroud to the River Severn. The canal was opened in 1779 and ran for thirteen kilometres from Stroud to connect to the Severn at Framilode in Gloucestershire. The Stroudwater Navigation tracks the river Frome, a tributary of the Severn, which had been long desired to be made navigable up to Stroud.

The major cargo of the Stroudwater Navigation was coal and the canal was very profitable especially when the Thames & Severn Canal was opened ten years later - this created a route from London to Bristol (and beyond). However the opening of the Kennet & Avon Canal in 1810 provided a more direct route cutting traffic on the Stroudwater. The coming railways also cut into the Stroudwater Navigation's profitability however it did continue to provide a dividend to shareholders until 1922 but then entered a period of terminal decline.

The canal finally closed in 1952 and much of it became unnavigable. However in recent years there have been numerous projects to restore the canal and it is now navigable from Stroud to Stonehouse. The eventual aim is to restore the entirety of the Stroudwater Navigation.

Monday 28 January 2019

BGLR : Rotation policy

As mentioned in last week's post on the Birches Green Light Railway (my model layout). The layout is rather small and the fleet of locomotives is steadily increasing. Only about four or five locomotives can be comfortably be accommodated on the layout at any one time but the fleet now numbers twelve! Therefore a rotation policy is applied with a pool of locos in the active fleet and the rest in safe storage (the reserve fleet).

Currently each loco in the active pool has around eight months service before it is replaced by a loco in the reserve fleet. However there are some complications. New locos mean the schedule has to be amended of course. Only one shunter at any one time is needed, plus there is a six month term for the engineering trolly which shares departmental duties with a shunter. One of the shunters is also out of action due to a bad motor... so the scheduling requires a bit of work! Naturally I've created a spreadsheet to keep track.

It would be great to have a layout big enough to accommodate the entire fleet but at least this helps preserve the locos. Falcon indeed has been with us six years now. Last Saturday (the twenty sixth) was the anniversary of Falcon arriving and heralding the restart of my model railway hobby after over twenty years absence. In those six years Falcon has done plenty of circuits of the layout...
Black Beauty has just gone into the reserve fleet, it should return later in the year

Saturday 26 January 2019

Belper and it's many churches

Today I visited Belper in Derbyshire, one of the few stops on the Derwent Valley Line between Derby and Matlock I had yet to visit. I had held off on Belper until now as it didn't have a preserved railway or a canal unlike the other stops so there apparently was less of interest. Actually Belper is a great place with a number of interesting churches, old mills and many old houses and shops. Well worth the wait.

So there you go, you don't need preserved railways or canals to make for a good day out. You can see my photos from Belper here.

Thursday 24 January 2019

Tuesday 22 January 2019

Walking the Waterways (19) : Leeds & Liverpool

The Leeds & Liverpool Canal stretches across the Pennines (as the name suggests) linking the two great Northern cities. Work began on the canal in 1770 with the aim of linking Yorkshire industrial towns like Leeds and Bradford with a port in the West. The first part of the canal opened in 1773 but work continued for nearly fifty years until the full two hundred kilometre route was open. The canal ran from the centre of Leeds to Liverpool via places like Wigan, Shipley, Keighley and Burnley.

Coal was the most important cargo carried on the canal, from mines inland to Liverpool. Coal continued to be carried on the canal as late as 1972 with other cargoes continuing until the early 1980s. The canal is used for leisure these days of course. A new link to Liverpool's docks was opened in 2009 allowing boats to go as far as the Albert Dock in Liverpool.

Monday 21 January 2019

The Birches Green Light Railway

I have maintained a blog for my model railway, which is known as Birches Green (even though it is supposed to depict somewhere in Austria) but have decided to stop updating the blog as the volume of posts is too low. Instead I will post a weekly update here. The old BGLR blog will remain available though if you want some background.

The latest big news is the arrival of a new locomotive, 2095 which we have named Maggie. It is a lovely model and a very smooth runner already. The layout flagship loco D16 Falcon has made way for Maggie as the layout is too small to have all of the locomotives on it at once. As per the rotation policy Falcon will be back in around eight months.

Saturday 19 January 2019

Claverdon for the first time again

I visited Claverdon in Warwickshire today. It was the first time to travel there by train and visit the village though last Summer I did briefly visit the station when I was on my way to my friend's wedding in Ettington. That time was just a brief flavour of the place though, today was the first proper visit. Claverdon is a nice little village, though would be even nicer if it wasn't cold and drizzly!

I took some photos of the church and some other old buildings in the village as well as the station. Plus a couple of interesting road signs, I wonder how Wheelbarrow Lane got it's name? You can see my photos here.

Tuesday 15 January 2019

Walking the Waterways (18) : Birmingham & Fazeley

The Birmingham & Fazeley Canal stretches from Fazeley in Tamworth (where it connects to the Coventry Canal) to the centre of Birmingham and the rest of the Birmingham Canal Navigations. It was an important link in the canal network in the Midlands giving coal mines and manufacturers in Birmingham and Walsall access to London via the Coventry and Oxford Canals.

Work on the canal began in 1786 after several years of legal wrangling by rival canal schemes and changing of plans. The canal was fully opened in 1790 and was an immediate success, too much of a success in fact as soon there were barge bottlenecks at the lock flights in Aston and Central Birmingham!

The canal passes through a variety of landscape, from the fields of Curdworth and Bodymoor Heath to the urban landscape in Birmingham. The latter winds through the Snow Hill area of the city before terminating near Broad Street but from there the rest of the Birmingham Canal Navigations is your oyster.
Bodymoor Heath


Through the city centre

In central Birmingham

In Erdington, very near to where i live!

Saturday 12 January 2019

Along the canal at Atherstone

Today I visited Atherstone and walked the Coventry Canal there. The light wasn't very good today so the photos could have been better but it's an interesting stretch of waterway up there in North Warwickshire, you can see the canal photos here.

It was my first time to Atherstone, I now have just one Warwickshire railway station left to visit. Though as that is Polesworth which barely has any service I think that will have to be visited in the car sometime in the Summer.

Thursday 10 January 2019

Crossing the canal

A West Midlands Railway service crosses the Stratford Canal near Whitlock's End.

Tuesday 8 January 2019

Walking the Waterways (17) : Wyrley and Essington

The Wyrley and Essington runs between Wolverhampton and Brownhills. Originally it nearly reached Lichfield but that section was lost in the 1950s. It is currently being restored and hopefully one day will reach Brownhills and the rest of the canal at Ogley Junction again. The canal was built in the 1790s, opening in 1797 to take coal and other goods from Wyrley and Essington into Wolverhampton and Walsall.

The canal had few locks (and most of those on the now closed section to Lichfield or other lost branches). The canal instead twisting around contours to avoid the need for locks. This gave the canal it's nickname the Curly Wyrley. The canal continued to transport coal until 1967.

Sunday 6 January 2019

Starting the year in Honeybourne

The new year of travels began yesterday in Honeybourne in Worcestershire (and close to the Gloucestershire border). Like 2018 I began my travels in the Cotswolds which is a lovely part of the world of course. Honeybourne has a lovely thirteenth century church and a thatched tavern that also dates from those times. You can see my photos here.

Tuesday 1 January 2019

Rupert the Bear

When I was a youngster my Mum always used to buy me a Rupert the Bear annual for Christmas. I never used to read them though as I was more into spaceships and robots rather than the adventure of a little bear, fairies and elves. Later on she continued to buy me a Beano annual but eventually I asked her to stop a few years ago. But because I knew I was always going to be her little boy and she wanted to get me an annual for Christmas I asked her to get me a Rupert the Bear annual instead.

So now I have quite a few, from recent years and also a few from my childhood which have been kept. I have finally started to read them! They are indeed lovely stories, tales of innocent adventure and also nostalgia. I'm glad I never threw away any of these annuals. The nostalgia and wonder of the stories, plus the folklorish elements appear to me now as didn't so much in the late 1970s.

Rupert has been around since 1920 and continues to appear in the Daily Express. Over eighty annuals have now been released.