Thursday, 29 October 2009


If anyone stumbled upon my blog at the moment they might think it was about comedy with many of the recent posts! But it all goes together to make a rather pleasent time. Time, however, seems in rather short supply mostly though!

This evening we saw Mitch Benn & The Distractions at the new Hull Truck Theatre, which is a superb venue; the tickets were a present from my in-laws! I've listened to Mitch Benn for years on The Now Show so it was good to finally see him live! Being a musical act it was quite different from most comedians I've seen! Mitch Benn exudes a real warmth from the stage, no doubt helped by the smaller venue. If you fancy a slightly different eveing's entertainment, you should try to see him live!

Industrial Inspiration

The photo above is shamelessly taken from Bing maps 'Bird's Eye view' - click on the photo to take yourself to full map. If you look you can see a kick back just above/north of the loco works yard. We were on 'point care' (as S&C maintenance is known on the works) yesterday in this area and we were checking this little used part of the system. Down at track level it's quite different. There are years' worth of weeds and the kind of shrubbery which chooses to grow by all kinds of railway lines and the area feels a little removed from the busy works which surrounds it. It could easily provide the inspiration for a whole selection of industrial layout schemes.

As you can probably tell, I'm still very much enjoying my time at the Steelworks, despite having to be up this early for work!

Monday, 26 October 2009

Cake or death?

Sometimes, someone can take you somewhere else entirely away from the stresses and worries of everyday life. Eddie Izzard is one of these people. In a couple of hours he takes you into his world and talks about things you experience all the time, such as Wikipedia and computers to strange surreal moment such as french speaking badgers arguing with God about food on the third day of creation!

We saw Eddie Izzard at Sheffield Arena last night! I've waited years to see him and it was certainly worth the wait! He is a comedian of the highest calibre who can effortlessly captivate 11,000 in a venue for two hours. It was an amazing experience!

As you may have seen, I love live comedy! I think those who never go and see live comedy are really missing out in life! It can make you feel so good especially if you see some one like Eddie Izzard who is right at the top of his profession. And in these depressing times hearing of a badger on the moon is just what you need!

And the title 'Cake or Death'? Well this may explain...

And if you like that, click here - enjoy!

Sunday, 18 October 2009

Michael McIntyre

Last night we went to Sheffield Arena (which is a horrible venue!) to see Micheal McIntyre - he was very good! One big appeal he has is that he is never nasty about other people, which is quite a contrast with some of the 'edgier' comedians who I used to see performing at University.

Perhaps this light relief is something we all need during times like we currently have - news of economic problems for the world, MPs claiming too much for their duck houses and all the other depressing headlines can really get you down. You should never take life too seriously - we are fortunate enough to live in a society which, on the whole, isn't too bad. Live comedy is perhaps one of the best ways to remind us that life can be pretty good!

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Developments with Milk Bottles

Just a little update today on a very long term project - a more detailed description of it has appeared previously, along with an explanation of my use of the term 'Milk Bottles'! Click here to read it.

I mentioned that we'd be sorting out a couple of bits from Dave Bradwell for the boiler fittings. Mould 15 provides a lovely chimney which captures the look much better than Bachmann's does. I also changed the dome, not that it really needs doing but I thought I might as well as the same set of castings provided it and Dave Bradwell's castings are superb!

So it edges a little closer towards completion!

Monday, 12 October 2009

A Modern Day Branchline

For years many modellers have chosen branch lines as a subject for their layouts and modelling - British houses have never been particularly big on the whole and many would struggle to accommodate a main line style layout unless you are lucky enough to have a decently proportioned loft! So the branch line has been often promoted as the way ahead, despite King's Cross station actually taking up less space than many branchline termini! Cyril Freezer produced designs very early on for branchline which could fit in an average British house.

However, these were steam era designs and the 'modern' modeller is faced with the fact that the stereotypical branchline disappeared many, many years ago on the whole. However there is the odd exception I have found such a line on my way to and from the hustle and bustle of Scunthorpe Steelworks.

From the main line between Scunthorpe and Immingham there's a branch which winds its way to Barton on Humber. Previously the branch had been a key part of cross Humber traffic as ferries docked at New Holland Pier. When the bridge opened in the early eighties the need for the Pier station ceased. The connection on to the Pier can still be seen but it looks like it has been some time since it was used. Grain was transshipped on the Pier and even coal imported via it during the Miners Strike.

The station at New Holland is a simple affair - a single short platform suffices here. This isn't the original station but does show a good example of the rationalised railway. The semaphore signals really do add to the atmosphere of the location.

As you approach Barrow Haven station you are met with a rarity on the mainline, a level crossing with no barriers or even lights! The line speed is so low at the station that it's not really an issue!

The Class 153 is a typical train for the branch now; it seems to provide adequate capcity for the line's need for the most part. I saw one solitary passenger disembark from the train at Barrow Haven.

To the west of the station the line crosses a bridge which would make a lovely model; the area has, of course, provided inspiration for a couple of Hull MRS layouts, notably Barrowfleet. Despite large settlements being very close by (Hull is just over the river) the area has a very remote feel to it.

A final look at Barrow; the station is again a simple affair, built of sleepers. It really doesn't need much more than this! It has a wonderful atmosphere.

Finally the line reaches Barton - as you might expect the current station is a small and simple one! The line did continue beyond the station to a factory but now this is very much the end of the line.

If you're in the area the line is worth exploring - it has a timeless quality and you do wonder how on earth it manages to survive. Maybe we should be pleased that our railway has these little gems - from the enthusiast point of view they're wonderful but I suspect from the railway's point of view it represent a small millstone! Either way I think it is very satisfying searching out lines like this.

And another Year is gone...

As October brings my birthday every year it's customary to do something 'nice' with the weekend! So Suzi and I went up to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway with my mum and dad for a ride between Goathland and Grosmont.

Despite the fair between the two stations being half the whole line fair, the ride is quite pleasant. Though I do wonder if the old Mark 1 carriages (ours had suspension which bounced far too much) are really a good thing for the average visitor? Do they convey the right impression? Either way they are still comfortable and I do like opening windows!

Grosmont has a wonderful 'country junction' feel to it since the regular service to Whitby was introduced. With trains seeming to appear from different directions (including off the main line), engine changes and various platforms in use this must be quite unique within railway preservation.

The highlight of the ride back to Goathland was undoubtedly Repton slipping to a near standstill on the 1 in 49 bank! Despite one of the on train staff claiming they'd had a nice steady run it was obvious what had happened - shame he saw the need to lie to passengers when the enthusiasts on board would probably have paid extra for the privilege!

Tuesday, 6 October 2009


Seeing trams running through narrow streets, mingling with cars and buses sounds like something from years gone by but I’ve spent a little while observing just this tonight.

I’m with work in Nottingham at the moment, helping promote the ‘Rail Industry’ at a large careers fair – in case anyone was wondering, I’d definitely recommend it! Unlike previous experience with light rail systems, such as Manchester Metrolink, where on street sections tend to be segregated from other vehicles and run on reserved track elsewhere, it was interesting to see trams right in among the traffic. Looking at many of the streets I drove down (I learned that being in the dark in heavy rain was not the best time to experience Nottingham’s one way system!) it was clear that having trams and traffic going along together was the only way as many of the streets are not particularly wide. There’s something very traditional about this. I must say having a pint as trams made their way past was very civilised and had quite a European feeling to it! A decent pint of Grolsch perhaps adding to this feeling of ‘europeaness’!

As many regular readers will know, I’m happiest being outside on railway lines and in wide open spaces but I do quite like the urban environment. Not suburbia so much, but right in the middle of cities where grand buildings capped with stone preside over streets which bustle with human activity. I’ve often thought living right in the centre of somewhere like York would be rather pleasant but Suzi assures me that I would be sick of the enclosure within a month! However in the meantime, I can happily enjoy sites and sounds the civility which Nottingham’s trams seem to exude.