Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Review of 2014 : A-Z of music

To complete the review of 2014 here is a A-Z playlist of bands i liked in 2014, there are a few letters missing but 21 out of 26 isn't bad. That concludes the 2014 review, see you in 2015!

Review of 2014 : December

And so the year comes to an end. December was a fairly quiet month though i did slip in a trip to Leamington Spa just before the end. I also rediscovered the joy of Lego and built various impractical spaceships. Christmas is a time for family and friends of course and saw trips up North to see my Auntie and cousins and my best friend made one of his occasional trips back over the Atlantic to the streets we both grew up on (and i never escaped!)

Reviewing this year i have to reflect it hasn't been a bad one but regrets i have a few. The fact i haven't moved on much with my history "career" is disappointing so i must start doing something about that. I have been sitting on a blog article on a canal scheme for some time as i need to go to the National Archives to look something up on it, unfortunately this year unlike last year i have a lot less free time to do something like that.

Maybe in 2015? We will see. Artist of the month was The Ice Choir which is kind of neat and tidy as they were my favourite artist throughout all of 2013. Right into the middle part of the 2010s we go.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Leamington Spa

There was time for one more trip this year and it was to Leamington Spa for the first time in ages. I had a walk along the canal and the town but mostly the station. Its a great place to see freight trains and i finally photographed a mighty class 70 and also a class 37 hauled departmental train - no doubt doing some track analysis with its specialised sensors.

My canal and town photos are here and my railway ones here. It was rather cold as you will be able to see but the clear skies also mean clearer air.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Review of 2014 : November

A lot was fitted into November. The month started with my first trip to Nottingham, the canal and its railways of course. The middle part of the month saw a return to Hatton and its canal and railways (a pattern may be emerging here). At the end of the month i visited London and did some London Overground trash and got very wet taking photographs of boats. So for a change not a canal but the river Thames and railways.

All trips were hugely enjoyable. Nottingham is great and i shall surely return in 2015, i must take a trip on the trams too.

I also started a new blog, similar to my railway photo blog but on boats. Artist of the month was Shura.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Review of 2014 : October

October saw me go to the Severn Valley Railway again, this time for the Diesel Enthusiasts Gala! In a year where my enthusiasm for trains was largely reborn it was fitting to finally attend a proper event and great fun i had travelling behind the likes of a class 20 and 40. I am definitely going to attend the next gala next year.

I also went to Liverpool for the first time in some years. I am half-Scouse so i always like visiting the old town, which is on the up and up too these days. Mind you most of the times i have been to Liverpool in the past its been to the likes of Wavertree and Toxteth during the troubled 80s... so the city centre now scene is rather different.

Artist of the month was The Pierces.

Review of 2014 : Model making

I only managed to complete 9 model kits this year, down on last year's 10 (mind you i should have made quite a lot more than i actually did in 2013 considering the time i had on my hands!) Of the 9 models i did make 4 were buildings for my model railway project which has gradually taken more and more of my time and attention. I did manage 4 decent plane projects though.
The Nieuport was my favourite of the year though the Douglas Dauntless also turned out pretty well. The most unusual model has to be the Shell patrol garage though, i need some HO scale cars now to give the gas station some custom.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Review of 2014 : September

The end of the Summer but no let up in the train spotting. I went up to the Severn Valley Railway again this time to see the visit of a Chiltern class 67 and its train of Mark 3 coaches. Now this train is one i travel on quite a bit when i go to London so it was very novel seeing it roll into Bridgnorth. It was also really novel travelling back down the SVR on it to Kidderminster.

I also visited Coventry again, this time going to Coventry Basin the terminus of the Coventry Canal. Somewhere else i visited (and the first time since the late 90s) was the NEC when i went to a work-related trade show.

Artist of the month was Jessica Mauboy.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

I am the Walrus

The 2014 model making season was not as productive as i would have liked though there were a couple of really nice completed projects (and a couple which were not that good to be honest). The season ended with a refurbishment however. Project #019 from way back in 2011 suffered a mishap which detached its top wing. As i repaired it i though i would give it a fresh coat of varnish, giving it the glossier look i prefer these days rather than its original matt varnish finish. The Walrus looks pretty good, i might refurbish a few more old projects next year.

10 years of blogging

The exact first blog post i wrote has long been lost but i've been blogging regularly since 2005 so i guess we can mark 10 years of blogging next year. Most of my blogs have been on the Blogger platform like this one though for a time i had a habit of changing my mind about blogs frequently,  continually creating new ones and deleting the old. These days though i just leave the old ones to gather digital dust. A couple of examples are A Meta Blog which dates from 2008-9 and Daily Wild Flower from 2009.

My oldest living blog is my canal blog which began in 2009, it is still updated 3 times a week. When i began blogging it was pretty niche, then became mainstream and everyone and their dog had a blog, now blogging is seen as rather passé as the kool kids have moved onto Instagram or whatever is cool nowadays but i am ploughing gamely on and blogging on. I tend to use blogging platforms as a poor man's CMS in any event and seldom talk about what i have had for dinner.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Review of 2014 : August

The Summer rolled on, and the Commonwealth Games came and went sparking some happy memories for me of London 2012. One thing i did not do this year though was watch any live sport for the first time in a number of years, everything was on the TV.

A trip to Banbury was made this month, i like the place and Oxfordshire in particular as my ancestry there can be traced back to the 17th century! I also made my second visit of the year to the Severn Valley Railway, this time just going as far as Bewdley. I also took my Mum to London for her birthday, i had long promised to take her there and she took to the tube very quickly, using her Oystercard like she had been born there.

Artist of the month was Bob Dylan.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Review of 2014 : July

So July was a new start work wise, now in Solihull not Worcester. The job was similar but seemed a much nicer place and so far (fingers crossed of course) that has proven to be the case! Working at a business park and not in a city centre means there is a lot less to do at lunchtime, though it also means that are far fewer temptations to part me from my cash.

In a change from my usual photography practice where photos of trains were incidental and taken while (usually) going to a canal i began to do some dedicated railway photoshoots starting at Barnt Green. I also returned to Stratford for the river festival and made my long overdue visit to Coventry Transport Museum. I also returned to Perry Barr for the first time in over a year. I couldn't return or go anywhere near BCU for a long time but the pain has healed by now and i visited my old canal haunt and drove past my old workplace. Interestingly my ex-colleagues have now moved to the city centre at long last.

Artist of the month was Phil Reynolds And The Dearly Departed.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Review of 2014 : June

As we reached the Summer this Summer was very different to last year's which i spent mostly at home sweating while watching the Ashes on TV. I finished working in Worcester, the last 6 months had overall been good. I like Worcester a lot though the company i was working for not so much, though the people i worked with were great and i miss them.

As i had a week off before my new job started i decided to visit the Severn Valley Railway, i had been once before when i was a boy but never since and as my nightly commute through Kidderminster meant that i passed the SVR every day i thought it was high time i returned. Well i fitted 3 more visits to the great preserved line later in the year but thats a story for another day. I also went to the Plantbrook Nature Reserve, somewhere within walking distance of where i live but also somewhere nearby i really should visit more than i actually do.

In the middle of the month i had my graduation for my Masters which finally bought to an end 9 years of Open University study for me. I might do another course in future perhaps but have no plans at the moment. Artist of the month was Ane Brun for her haunting song that played during the final series of Wallander. The final episode was the first TV show to make me cry since... well the last episode of Wallander series 1 when Stefan died.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Review of 2014 : May

May saw me visit London again and do another long canal and waterway walk in East London, starting at Blackwall and ending with a trip aboard some visiting German Navy warships! The month ended with a second interview for a job in Solihull and this one was successful. However i didn't leave my Worcester job until the end of June.

One notable event towards the end of the month was being evacuated from my home because of a bomb scare! I did start gardening this month at last though did not do a lot, my usual meagre pea crop. I grew some chilli pepper plants indoors and they did quite well and lasted until the end of the year when they were killed off by the cold. I used quite a few of the chilli peppers from the plants, mostly on pizza.

Artist of the month was the wonderful When Nalda Became Punk.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Review of 2014 : April

I made a decision at the end of March that commuting to Worcester every day wasn't for me, and i didn't really like the company i was working for anyway so decided to re-enter the "job market". By a coincidence i was contacted by a potential employer almost immediately. I did think at the time this was fate but it wasn't to be, though i did enjoy the interview as the company's offices were canal side!

At Fradley Junction in fact so of course i did a photoshoot as well. A more notable canal walk also took place this month when i completed the Regent's Canal walking from Kings Cross to Little Venice. Its always nice to walk the entirety of a canal and the Regent's is a great one to visit as it crosses London from Paddington to Limehouse. Back in Worcester there was also my first railway focussed photoshoot for some time when i spent some time at Shrub Hill.

My model railway had a boost with the arrival of a third locomotive and was starting to feel like a proper layout. Artist of the month was Real Estate.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Back to back to Lego

I rediscovered Lego a couple of years ago, buying a Star Wars advent calendar and also getting some Lego City sets. I've been away from the Lego scene for awhile, however after reading criticisms online of Lego nowadays that it is rather restrictive and keeps people locked into pre-defined plans and designs (not that i agree with this point of view, you can still customise and subvert the plans - though my nephew hates it when i "customise" his lego cars) i decided to buy a set of mixed bricks and make some spaceships!

Tremendous fun too, my new set has 650 bricks so i could build an armada. 

Review of 2014 : March

Since i had submitted my dissertation at the end of 2013 i had been eagerly awaiting the result and to see if i was going to have a Masters in History. The wait was not too long thankfully and in early March i was able to celebrate my successful course result... and plan my graduation ceremony. I still haven't found something to do next though.

The weather improved in March though the Winter had been pretty mild throughout. I visited Hereford for the first time and very nice it was too, i also went to London a couple of times and Banbury. Artist of the month was the peerless Mary Chapin Carpenter, someone who has been one of my favourite singers since i was 18...

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Review of 2014 : February

With a little more time available to me in February i headed up to Stratford, a place i had visited umpteen times during my dissertation writing in 2013 of course. Oddly though my visit there is still the one of only two to the town this year so far, but maybe i needed a bit of a rest from the place! My new workplace Worcester is another town served by a canal and river of course and i did some exploring of the canal in the town.

I created a new blog in February to reflect my returned interest in the railways. Kris' Railway Photos is a blog of my railway photos (natch).

One notable event in February was the final revenue earning passenger flights of the DC-10, which were centred on Birmingham Airport too and i was able to see the great old plane fly over my house as it headed into BHX on its final passenger trip before retirement.

Artist of the month was The Rileys with their sweet jingle jangle pop.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Review of 2014 : January

After spending most of 2013 as a full-time student (my Masters dissertation was submitted right at the end of the year) 2014 would be very different. Straight into a new job at the start of the year, a new-ish career path (e-learning developer instead of web - though they are pretty similar) and in a new city : Worcester.  A daily commute soon left me pretty tired and personal circumstances meant i soon had to go to London at weekends too. Traveling on the train every day did rekindle my interest in the railways however and i began to take a lot of railway photographs.

As January was not that cold i started my first model project of the year, like quite a few of the projects of 2014 it was to be used on my model railway which developed well in the year.

Postcode were artist of the month, enlivening the cold damp gloom of the month with their noise rock.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

St Katharine Docks

It was wet in London on Sunday, heavy rain all day in fact but that of course was not enough to stop me standing out in the rain and take photographs of boats. Yes i probably am mad but you can see the photos here, some are a bit murky despite some post-processing in Photoshop but it was that kind of day and i was only using the iPhone anyway. Most photos were taken around the lovely St Katharine Docks.

Monday, November 24, 2014

London rails

Going down to London this last weekend i decided to indulge my love of rail travel and take advantage of my Oyster card with an orgy of local rail travel around the capital. Including tube, DLR, Overground and the trip down to London in the first place i managed 12 separate rail journeys in 1 day which wasn't bad going. I took a lot of photos of course. Highlights were the unexpected amount of freight i was able to see too, and Queen's Park depot which is unique on the London Underground in that in-service trains actually traval through the depot.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

A different angle on things

Recently i moved my model railway project Eskalon so i would have easier access to both sides of the layout. A happy by-product of this move was that it has made photography easier too. I took advantage of the pretty decent camera in the iPhone 5c to take this close in shot. Luckily the train is stationary otherwise my HO scale photographer could have been in danger! A full set of photos from Eskalon from the start of the project can be seen here.

Sunday, November 16, 2014


The 2014 model making season draws to a close with the completion of Project #059 a Hawker Hurricane Ia. In truth model making has been a bit of a struggle this year with other things taking up my time however there have been a couple of good kits completed including this one, and a couple of ones that are not quite so good too.

Back to the Grand Union

Its been a while since i've visited the Grand Union Canal at Hatton, which is strange as its so easy to get to and there is a lot to see. I went up the towpath as far as Shrewley tunnel, so ground covered before but somewhat haunting in the mist and fog that was plaguing Warwickshire yesterday. You can see my photos here.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Back to Hatton station

Hatton in Warwickshire is somewhere i have visited a number of times basically because of where the station is. To get onto the canal i literally cross the road from the station. I took a lot of photos (to be uploaded later) along the Grand Union Canal as far as Shrewley Tunnel but also took these photos at the station itself. Unfortunately there were no Freightliner trains or unusual workings but a solid Chiltern fest. You can see my photos here.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Rails in Nottingham and Derby

As well as canal photography i'm into my railway photography these days too, and took a lot of photos on my visit to Nottingham at the weekend, and as the train passed through Derby i was also to take quite a few of the depot there. The photos were taken from a train so arn't brilliant (not that i think my photos are brilliant any time) though the interesting subject makes up for that in most cases including photos of a class 73, never seen one before! You can see all of my photographs here.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Nottingham Canal

Its always nice to visit a canal i haven't been to before and indeed a town too. Today it was the Nottingham Canal, a short canal which is part of the River Trent navigation these days and flows through the town. Now it is just over a mile long and links the Trent to the Lenton Chain though originally the canal went up to the Cromford Canal at Langley Mill. You can see my photos here.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Our new blog

Fresh from the success of the canal (or waterways in general now) and railway photo blogs here is a third. Kris' Boat Photos includes photos of... well you can guess. Every day a different photo of a boat, usually on a canal or river but occasionally at sea or in harbour. Because i now have 3 photo blogs i've decided to stop running the "photo of the day" feature on this blog as there has been a bit too much overlap.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Upgrading the towpath

The canal towpath in Erdington is being upgraded. Hopefully the new tarmac will be more pleasant to walk on after heavy rain than the old track!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Monday, October 27, 2014


Bilingual sign on the beach at Aberystwyth (though the English version could do with replacing).

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Monty's Humber Super Snipe

Seen in the Coventry Transport Museum this Humber Super Snipe was Montgomery's "victory car" which the Field Marshal used from D-Day onwards to the end of the war.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral

Liverpool's catholic cathedral, the Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral (or Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King) built in the 1960s.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Dockyard cranes

Dockyard cranes in the East End of London. Quite a few cranes survive in the old dockland area though most seem purely decorative these days.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


I'm half Scouse though i don't go up North that much, yesterday though i went up to my Dad's home town. Liverpool has changed a lot from when i used to see my Nan back in the 80s and early 90s, it seems very hip and gentrified in the city centre now with the Albert Dock development and so on, of course the suburbs could be a different story as it is with Birmingham. It was so nice to visit and it bought back plenty of memories, i took quite a few photos too of course.