Posts Tagged ‘2009’

Devil’s Dyke

July 30, 2016


On our way to a holiday in Suffolk we chanced upon Devil’s Dyke, which to most – certainly to me –  would be on the South Downs, near Brighton.


This Devil’s Dyke is a 12 kilometre long defensive barrier – separating the Saxons in the east from Britons and other folks (Romano British) further west. It is a massive man-made ditch. It is in Cambridgeshire. Explanation boards told us something about it.

 image002  image003


Here’s a first view on the east side where only the dyke or spoil heap, and not the ditch can be seen. – and an aerial one from the sign board. This shows the long line of the dyke.



It really is a massive earthwork.




A couple of walkers pose on the Devil’s Dyke


Cowslips grew on the dyke.


There was a view back under the pylon lines to the two windmills at Swaffham Prior.


A third mill, as well as a big church, could be seen in the opposite direction at Burwell.

Visit Old World Cornwall

July 16, 2016

That’s what my railway poster calendar is suggesting for this month – July.


This poster was made for the Great Western Railway and was in use from 1924 to 47. The art work was by S I Veale.

The actual location is not given but it looks typical Cornwall with a steep narrow street leading down to a bay. It isn’t Charlestown but that’s the place to go if you hope to see tall ships around the place – even in thick sea mist!




This was 20th February 2009 – a lovelyplace.


Ifield – Then and Now

April 5, 2016

This was the street on which I was brought up. My family moved to a house well down this street when I was less than a year old. It was still the 1940s!

This postcard has been seen before on this blog. It was posted in 1921 and I believe changes had been made between then and my earliest memories.


Most notably, the left hand side of the road as we look at it had a pavement. But other than that this was the street I knew from my earliest times. The road is called Ifield Green. The one heading off to the right is called Langley Lane. I’d have known most of the people who lived in any house that can be seen in that photo.

Now I still have relatives who live along that street so I still visit it. They live in a house that wasn’t built in my early memories. I remember it being built. On one of my visits (actually back in 2009 I took this photo.

image003There often seems to be much more in the way of greenery – trees and shrubs these days. Houses that used to be visible are now hidden. There are now pavements on both sides. There’s an ugly concrete street lamp.

The large house on the left is clearly the same and there is still a hedge on the left around allotments.  Speed humps have been put in the road and whilst it might still look quite quiet it is actually a busy road. Down at the far end of the picture there is still the village shop. There is also a pub not far past the big house. What was open land, just past Langley Lane, now has a row of large detached houses. They are set back a little and are hidden by hedge and trees.

I can just make out the bus stop shelter which I recall being built. It is near the white van.

As a child I could play in the street but that changed in the mid 1950s when the New Town of Crawley was being built and particularly when Gatwick Airport was under construction. That major project led to what seemed like an endless stream of lorries carrying spoil away from the site trundling along our little road.

You can see more of my village street by clicking here.

The Seaton Tramway

December 6, 2015

Once upon a time a proper branch line railway linked the Devon seaside town of Seaton with the mainline between Exeter and Salisbury at the aptly named Seaton Junction Station. The whole line fell a victim to Doctor Beeching’s plan in 1966 (But blame politicians. Dr Beeching just did the job he was asked to do).

Part of the line reopened as a narrow gauge electric tramway in 1970. It now runs from Seaton to Colyton a length of about 3 miles.

Back in 2009 I was able to redeem a lovely birthday present when my wife and I stayed near Seaton and spent a day enjoying the trams.


Here’s tram 11 at the Seaton terminus. I think this tram was just a couple of years old at the time.

Much of the journey is by the River Exe


After a walk at Colyford we continued to Colyton, finding seats upstairs on tram number 9



On our return we passed tram 12. That’s a 1966 tram and now has the general shape, at 50% scale, of a 1930s Feltham tram.


The trams advertise themselves as mobile bird hides.

Back at Seaton we encountered tram 2 – a 1964 model.


We rode this tram back to Colyton and got a front seat – magic.


At Colyton we enjoyed a tramway cream tea – well, it was a treat day.


Riding the tram is a grand way to see the local scenery. And of course it is a real experience as well.



A seal at Mallaig

May 31, 2015

Life has taken us to Mallaig a couple of times. We were at this west of Scotland fishing harbour and ferry terminal in 2009 having travelled up from Fort William on the regular steam train that operates throughout the summer.

But we won’t look at that, this time. Instead, let’s take a look at the harbour seal. Clearly this beast had got used to sharing its life with the humans.


A head appeared in the calm and clear water of the harbour. A fishing boat had returned with its catch.




The seal hoped for a share and made its way nearer the boat.


What sleek animals they are when in the water. They are perfectly adapted to their life style, although this one chose to hunt for scraps from fishing boats which, no doubt, is a fairly modern and innovative scheme.

He provided a fine sight for us tourists who had come off the Jacobite Express.


I love that view with those enormous paddle feet at the back, controlling speed and direction through the water.

I may also love my steam trains but you can’t beat a bit of wildlife!

To Tyndrum

March 10, 2015

It was back in 2001 that we were able to complete a gap in my coverage of the Scottish rail network. We had never taken the line to Oban. Our nearest point had been Tyndrum on the West Highland Line. But in 2001 we had the opportunity to travel from Oban to Tyndrum Lower and back. In truth I’d have liked to have gone one stop further, to where the trains crossed at Crianlarich but common sense told me that it was quite possible the train back to Oban might already be sealed and ready for departure and we’d have a very, very long wait for the next one.  It does mean there’s a length from Tyndrum Lower to Crianlarich I haven’t actually travelled for the West Highland line goes to Tyndrum Upper. The two lines are never far apart, on opposite sides of the River Fillan.

So we boarded a train at Oban. The trains on the line were ‘sprinters’.


That’s McCague’s tower above the train (and the town). It’s a nineteenth century structure with no actual purpose. It was built to provide employment for masons and builders – a charitable enterprise.

You soon start to see the really lovely countryside the line offers. Of course, the modern (well quite modern) trains have all sorts of advantages over their predecessors. They are faster, smoother, have ergonomically designed seats and they are air conditioned which makes for a comfortable temperature as you travel. But for me that air conditioning is a bugbear for windows can’t be opened and photos have to be taken through the double glazed windows which, despite good efforts, get dirty. But of course, I try photos.



Isn’t that stunning?


We pass quite close by Kilchurn Castle.

On another visit to the area in 2009 I was able to reverse this picture and take one of a train from the castle.


But on we go to Tyndrum.


There’s my wife by the station name – in English and Gaelic.

There are good views here too.


I can just make out the West Highland Line, curving around that hill as it heads off to Fort William.


But there’s our train to take us back to Oban.

image018 I don’t recall picking up this souvenir of the line but I certainly wouldn’t have taken it off a carriage window where it would have helped passengers from Glasgow to know if they were in the Oban or Fort William part of the train.


Great journey – not because of the very ordinary train but because of the stunning scenery.


Thoroughly recommended


Now actually, there’s another bit I haven’t travelled – from Helensburgh to Arrochar and Tarbet. Perhaps I could fill that bit in sometime.



Swan attack

March 1, 2015

Like most people, I love swans but am just a bit wary of them. They are big and brave and stories abound about how a swan’s wing can break human bones. And when nesting or with young cygnets, they can put up unlikely challenges.

Back in 2009 I was given a birthday present of a family day out, hiring a day boat on the Long Pound of the Kennet and Avon Canal. We came under a swan attack as we passed close by a nest, actually close to a bridge I have featured on this blog called Ladies Bridge. Our boat wasn’t huge, but it had six adults on board and however plucky a swan might be it wasn’t going to stop us.


He probably thinks he won the battle, for we cruised on and didn’t disturb his mate on the nest.

A game that gets called ‘Trains’ in this family has also featured before on this blog in a post I called ‘trains in a tent’. This picture could be captioned ‘Trains in a Boat’.


Hmm, my bet is that the blues went on to be the winners. As per usual, there has been a brew up.

Thanks to my children and their other halves for a grand day out. And what a lot has happened since then. Other halves have become spouses and we now have three grandchildren. We of the senior generation have retired and seem to be busy as ever. What a wonderful life it is.

A French Portable

September 17, 2014

Ah! A portable what?

Sorry folks, it’s an engine. It’s a portable steam engine something like the one on this blog at Calbourne Mill on the Isle of Wight.

Portable engines were used to power machinery. They were, essentially, steam engines on unpowered wheels. They could be towed from place to place, set up and used.

The one I saw in France, in less than perfect condition was by the wayside near a place called Fougerolles-du-Plessis. This was back in the autumn of 2009 when we spent a holiday in a little gite in Normandy.

Here’s what I wrote at the time.

We picked on a place to go, more or less at random and decided it would be the little town of Fougerolles-du-Plessis. As we approached the outskirts I screeched to a halt. My eye had been taken by something. Oh dear. It had to be a steam engine. But this was no railway locomotive, nor even a traction engine. This was the sad, rusting hulk of an agricultural portable engine – portable in that it could be hauled from place to place where it could provide power for machinery. These not only interest me because they are old steam powered devices, but they also have an interest because engines like this were made in my home village in the 1840s.

And here’s the rusty engine we found.


Now this, clearly, is a nerd’s delight! Belts placed on those big wheels could be used to drive whatever was needed.

Here’s the cylinder, mounted on top of the boiler so it stayed hot.


This idea was first hit upon in my home village and definitely saved on coal.

I do love these random finds!

What’s the Story? Tobermory?

July 14, 2014

Let’s get the pun out of the way first. This will give you something to mull over. Yes, it’s a brief visit to the Isle of Mull and its pretty little seaside town of Tobermory. This little town was recreated as Balamory for a BBC children’s TV series.

We were camping near Oban, back in 2009, and took a day trip using the ferry to Craignure and a bus to Tobermory.

The brightly painted dwellings along the seafront became popular with children.


A great view across the bay.



Lifeboat s look a bit primitive on the island? Not so, of course. Tobermory was having a bit of a lifeboat festival to include raft racing. The lifeboats were open for the public.



Along the front.

The jetty.


But finally, a word of warning. Let sleeping cats lie.


They get angry if disturbed!


And once again, I jest, it was a very friendly beast.


Yes, a lovely little place.

Le Moulin de Moidrey

July 8, 2014

It was autumn 2009. We had booked a week in the dinkiest of cottages in Normandy. This is the tale of one early morning and a chance discovery which fascinated me.

The plan had been hatched the night before. We would go to Le Mont-Saint-Michel. We had tried to go there two years previously and had got refused entry. A huge civil defence exercise was going on. It meant we parked for free but when we tried to enter the village, a gendarme held up his hand and said, ‘non!’ But we really were quite close and we both decided it would be good to go so off we went, via Avranches and then via a slightly inland route.

We were approaching the fairy tale looking island when we saw a windmill on a hill.


Some of the windmill – the tower, looked typically Gallic. But those sails looked very odd – almost like doors hung on the mill.


The sweeps were clearly angled to be driven by the wind. The long pole out of the back of the mill enables a miller to push the cap round so that the sails face into the wind.

The sails were actually slatted.


A notice explained the mechanism – for those who read French.


Basically Berton’s system allowed the slats to be adjusted according to the force of the wind. And here’s the mechanism.


Former mills dotted the landscape here.


As ever, for me, a mill is a lovely mill.


The mists cleared and we moved on.