Friday, July 1, 2016

A new direction?

With regret (though to be honest probably with as much regret as Lord Sugar when he sacks one of his Apprentices) i have stopped updating Trip-TV my music and movie blog. Truthfully it had been a bit of a chore now for a few years but i kept updating it hoping the enjoyment i got from it would return but have decided it is time to shelve it.

At the same time i am thinking about this blog which has stagnated a bit with just a trickle of updates a month now the norm. I think there is scope to take some aspects i still enjoyed from Trip-TV and post them here too. Maybe it can revitalise this blog. Keep tuned.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Tyseley Locomotive Works Open Day

Tyseley Locomotive Works in South Birmingham held a couple of of their open days at the weekend which included an impressive display of locomotives (including some good diesels) and some running steam. Its always interesting to visit their sheds and see the progress of the various new build locomotives as well as enjoy a bit of live steam. You can see my photos here.

Friday, June 24, 2016

A trip to Crewe

While the world was being destroyed (or the EU referendum result was being announced anyway) and my car was in for it's service i headed up to Crewe to take some photographs. I got some good ones too including a triple-header light engine movement which included some impressive diesel thrash. You can see my photos here.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Peak Rail / Heritage Shunter Trust

Well last month i was disappointed by a trip to Matlock to find Peak Rail was out of service, but i gave them a second chance last weekend and i'm very glad i did. I travelled on their line up to Rowsley South through the Derbyshire Dales. Then i had a look around their base and had a great tour of the Heritage Shunter Trust's sheds seeing a lot of rare diesel shunter classes for the first time. A great heritage line for sure and always enjoyable to travel behind a Class 14 (of which they have a few on the line). You can see my photos here.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

66 Gala

Last weekend the lovely Chinnor & Princes Risborough Railway held a special gala with a DB Cargo Class 66 as special guest. It was enjoyable being hauled up the line by the 66, the first time i have been on a train hauled by the freight locomotive. Also novel was the fact the train i was on and being hauled was the CPPR's 3-CEP EMU. This is a train i love (and indeed own one myself... albeit in model form!)

Galas are always fun to visit as you get these unusual combinations and also a lot more trains than on a usual service day. You can see my photos here.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Hidden Euston

At the weekend i went on another Hidden London tour of the Underground's secrets, unlike Aldwych in January this new tour was of an operating (and busy) tube station and included obligatory wearing of hi-viz! The tour was of Euston underground station and involved exploring parts of the station now restricted normally to the general public. The tour was wonderful and included walking along a ventilation tunnel where you could see the platforms (and some passengers) through the grills below! You can see my photos here.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Leamington stop

After a week of railway photography, and hanging about on platforms waiting for something to happen, where better to end it than at Leamington Spa which is probably my favourite station to visit for a number of reasons. One of the main ones being that there is a seat at the end of platform 2 where you are far enough away from the tannoy that you can't hear the endless announcements about unattended baggage and light refreshments! You can see my photos here.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Severn Valley Railway Spring Diesel Festival

The highlight of my calendar for the last few years has been the Diesel Gala on the Severn Valley Railway, this year they have moved it to May (its usually been in early October) and called it a Spring Festival. The reason they moved the date, they say, is because it is more difficult to get guest locos in October compared to the (late) Spring...

They certainly pulled out all the stops this year, there was a huge line-up of guest locos. I spent most of my time at Kidderminster yesterday and at times i didn't know where to look! On one side you had a Class 31 idling, going past at a Class 46 Peak and the other side a Network Rail Class 73. I haven't seen this variety of diesel locomotive all operating in the same place since the 1980s. The SVR must be congratulated for the amazing event they have pulled off (and continues until Saturday), moving it to May certainly has worked. You can see my photographs from Day 1 of the festival here.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Derby ultrasonic

I did plan to go on a canal walk today but the rain put paid to that, no instead i needed to do something outdoors but under shelter so went to Derby instead to take some photographs. Derby is the home of the railway's research and test division so i saw 2 test trains, both ultrasonic test trains though nothing else out of the ordinary. The lighting wasn't that good but some of the photos arn't bad. You can see my photos here and judge for yourself!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Stafford spotting

Well lets start a week off with a bout of trainspotting at Stafford, though strictly speaking i don't "trainspot" as i don't write down the numbers but i do photograph the trains of course (and this proves handy to elderly spotters who ask me if i saw the number of the train that just passed and i can look it up on the camera!)

I've been to Stafford twice before but not on a week day until now. I was especially keen to come on a week day as i wanted to see one of the Royal Mail liveried units and also the new Gatwick Express units on test and these are generally only to be seen on a week day (the latter only on Mondays along this line apparently). Happily i was able to see both as well as a lot of freight (something else much more common on a weekday). You can see my photos here.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Multiple Memories

Yesterday I had a very enjoyable visit to the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway again for their "Multiple Memories" event though this was not my original intention for Saturday. I had gone to Matlock to travel on the Peak Rail Line though their services were all cancelled due to a locomotive failure (seems a bit odd they couldn't organise alternatives and instead lose 50% of an entire week's running but hey ho!)

Luckily i was able to head back down the line to Duffield and go on the EVR instead which is always worth a visit anyway and as i have said before probably my favourite preserved line these days. You can see my photos here.

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Taking the CEP

The Class 411 4-CEP was one of many electric multiple units that were the backbone of British Rail services in the South until the early 2000s. I don't think i ever travelled on one, well until yesterday. A preserved set is on the Chinnor & Prince Risborough Railway and yesterday a special Blue Electric Day was held with the EMU running services up and down the small preserved line.

The EMU was hauled by a diesel locomotive of course as the line didn't have electrified third rail but that did not matter as it was great to finally see and ride on a 4-CEP which i've always had a soft spot for and indeed when i started my N gauge BR model railway layout a 4-CEP was the first model i bought! You can see my photos here.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Back to Lapworth

I really enjoyed my first visit to Lapworth last year, a lovely Warwickshire village where the Stratford and Grand Union Canals meet. I returned yesterday this time to walk the Stratford Canal back up in the Birmingham direction (i went the other direction last time).

My walk took in Lapworth Wharf, the Lapworth Lock Flight and made it as far as the cricket club. You can see my photos here. I plan to return to Lapworth later in the year and explore more of the Grand Union which i only briefly visited last time.

Solar lights

Over the last few weeks i've been buying solar powered lights for the garden, especially the herb garden. The only reason was so when i looked out of my window at night i might see something and not endless blackness. I'm quite enjoying how the lights slightly illuminate the herbs, when they have grown more in a couple of months it might be quite a nice effect. As for the herbs they seem to have survived the winter well, the mint is growing like crazy in new plants right across the vegetable plot.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Electric Railway Museum

The Electric Railway Museum is fairly close (Coventry) to where i live but i haven't been to it until now mostly because it does not open that often. Yesterday though was its first open day of the year and i visited and viewed the great selection of electric trains, mostly EMUs.

Most of their collection is unique and it is a shame that EMUs and the like tend to be neglected by most of the railway preservation movement. Still as long as one survives is all that matters i suppose, its not like we need breeding pairs, though there is safety in numbers. You can see my photographs here, check out their website for the next open day, they are very worth a visit.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

A new generation

The great thing about spider plants is that they reproduce by growing plantlets on the end of a long stem so if you get one plant then you can (unless it dies of course) have generations of new plants every year to spread around the house. My Nan had spider plants for over 30 years all from one original plant. As for me well i can claim a mere 10 years or so with various generations of spider plants from a couple of plantlets i took from the plant in my boss' (at the time) office.

Once i had over a dozen plants but that dropped to 2 over time, but now i have taken 4 of the plantlets for a new generation. I don't think the 2 "parents" are my original spider plants, to be honest i should have kept track which were the originals! But never mind the spider plants live on for a new generation!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Royal Navy Historic Dockyard

The RN's Historic Dockyard at Portsmouth is where the famous HMS Victory and HMS Warrior are  on display and of course visiting this was a major part of my holiday in Portsmouth!

I was able to go aboard Victory (which personally i didn't like so much as everything was so low i had to stoop down everywhere!), Warrior and the WW1 monitor M33 which was my favourite. I was also able to see the current RN in the form of HMS Diamond which was easily visible from the dockyard. You can see my photos here, the dockyard is a great place to visit.

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Isle of Wight Steam Railway

As i mentioned in the blog post on the Island Line only one stretch of the once extensive Isle of Wight railway system now remains in use. There is another line though which runs from Smallbrook Junction to Wootton which is operated by the Isle of Wight Steam Railway. I had an enjoyable ride along the line hauled by British Railways and later Southern steam locomotives. They have a nice museum too at Havenstreet, well worth a visit. A nice friendly line like the EVR. You can see my photos here.

The Island Line

When i was a small boy i had a holiday on the Isle of Wight though can barely remember anything about it. I thought it was high time i returned to the island and have a trip along the unique Island Line which is the last remnant of what was once an extensive National railway system before Beeching. What makes the line between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin unique is that it is operated by ex-London Underground tube stock from the 1930s.

Visiting Portsmouth for Easter i headed over to the Isle of Wight and caught the Class 483 EMU at the pier head. Then headed down to Shanklin before coming back to Smallbrook Junction to catch the Isle of Wight Steam Railway (which will be covered later) and the steam loco hauling the preserved line train was younger than the Island Line electric train stock! You can see my photos from the Island Line here.

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Back to the EVR

Although the Severn Valley Railway remains my favourite there is something about the Ecclesbourne Valley Railway (EVR) in Derbyshire that also has great appeal. Its on a lot smaller scale than the SVR (though has a decent line length at 14.5 km) and doesn't have the multi-million pound investments in infrastructure. Everything is a lot more simple and friendlier and a bit more approachable. Anyway yesterday i returned to the EVR for their Mixed Traction Event which involved their usual DMUs being hauled by 2 preserved diesel locomotives.

Both locos are proud products of the Midlands in Derby's Class 25 and Birmingham's Class 33. I also had a trip on a short steam line up to the EVR's spur line up to Ravenstor, my first trip in a brake van! That can be crossed off the bucket list. You can see my photos here.

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Westland Sea King (Haynes Manual)

To mark its final year of service in the forefront of UK Search & Rescue (SAR) Haynes bought out this manual on the Westland Sea King last year and its a very good edition in the Haynes line. The Sea King is iconic of course, originally a US designed and built helicopter, the UK version built by Westland has served in the Falklands, Gulf Wars, Afghanistan though this book concentrates on the HU5 version used for SAR duties.

The book starts with a short general history of the use of helicopters in rescue operations and then the development of the Westland Sea King. Much of the book is taken up with the Sea King's innards and how to maintain it (as you would expect from a Haynes manual!) What is most interesting here is the more specialised equipment unique to a SAR helicopter and role. The book ends with a few examples of the many rescues and recovery operations the Sea King was involved with during its career.

The end of the Sea King also means the end of Royal Navy involvement in SAR as the role passes to a civilian contractor working for the Maritime & Coastguard Agency, in a way the passing of the Sea King HU5 from service is sad but the new SAR fleet is much more up-to-date and modern which will be welcomed by anyone in trouble! One wonders though if the new service and it's equipment will get immortalised in a Haynes manual one day?

Monday, February 29, 2016

Mersey rails

Being half-Scouse i've always enjoy visiting Liverpool though in recent years have not been as much as i'd like... and should. Last Saturday i headed up there again though instead of Liverpool itself i spent most of my time on the Wirral visiting places like New Brighton. The main reason was to travel on Merseyrail's third-rail DC network and their fleet of BR era Class 507 and 508 EMUs. Planning for their replacement has begun so i thought it was time i took some photos of them (though they probably won't be replaced for a good few years yet).

New Brighton was enjoyable too, a great seaside resort though of course a bit bleak in February, a return in the Summer would be a good idea. You can see my Mersey rails photos here.

Monday, February 22, 2016

'D' For Diesels : 8 (Booklaw)

As with other titles in this series this book presents a good and varied collection of black & white photos from the early days of British Rail "modern traction", specifically the days before TOPS numbers and the diesels were largely (but not always) green. The photos are accompanied by captions written in a conversational style, often pithy (though sometimes it does fall a bit flat).

This volume mainly features the photos of Gavin Morrison and covers the whole range of BR diesels from lowly shunters to huge main line locomotives. The photos are mainly taken in the 1960s and show a rail network and indeed a Britain before the ravages of standardisation and corporate identities.

Maybe everything was all a bit simpler and more innocent back then but nostalgia, like everything else, is not like it used to be.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Back to Stratford (at last!)

There was a time, when i was doing my masters dissertation, i was visiting Stratford-upon-Avon nearly every week but since then my visits have become much less frequent in fact last year i only went to the town once. That was just over a year ago so it was high time i returned to the town as i did today.

I really should visit more often though it is getting harder to see things and do things i haven't done (many) times before. Today though i did cross the Avon using the road bridge which gave me a good view of the boatyard, oddly never been that way before. You can see my photos here.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The London Underground Electric Train (Crowood)

There are many books on the development of the tube trains of London Underground, quite a few of them really good too and this is another one to add to that list.

This excellent book approaches the subject from a novel direction: instead of a standard history of the LU network and its rolling stock this book instead describes the development of the many technologies that went into the LU train as we know now and how they all fit together. So starting with the earliest electric traction in the first tubes we see how electric motors and control systems, bogies, bodywork, brakes et cetera developed over the decades.

The book is well illustrated throughout, with a number of diagrams that explain how the various systems work. The London Underground was the first deep-level underground system in the world but it owes so much to early developments in the US as well as decades of evolution and different paths (not all of which worked). Much development work is ongoing and the book is very up-to-date with the latest details of the New Tube for London which will finally replace my beloved 1972 Stock in the next decade (perhaps).

Bogies at the LT Museum Depot

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Sopwith F.1/2F.1 Camel (Haynes Manual)

Once Haynes just did car manuals but sensibly have opened their horizons much further these days as less people are willing/able to maintain their own ever more advanced automobiles. Here is a Haynes manual therefore for the Sopwith Camel, the first truly famous British aeroplane. It could, of course, be of use for owners of the WW1 icon but the vast majority of readers will never own the plane, so is the book worth having?

Haynes manuals are very good value for the money, very readable and very well presented. These manuals for historic vehicles usually include a potted history of the type in question and then go on to technical details as to how it was built and how it can be maintained. The Camel book is no exception. The history of the Camel also includes a brief history of the origins of the RAF. Its a good read but maybe should have been gone in to a little more depth.

The technical portion of the manual does goes into depth on how the Camel was built. I find with these manuals there tend to be sections of interest and others which i skip over. The section on starting the engine for example is very good.

So yet again a good Haynes manual, and if ever i manage to get myself a Sopwith Camel (which isn't in 1:72 scale) i'll know how keep it all together!
N6812 at the Imperial War Museum