Posted in Railways on Saturday 31st July 2010 at 10:28pm
It seemed like a long time since I'd been away from home, which is all the stranger given that I spent most of May and June zig-zagging across the country and setting up camp for weekends at a time in various spots. A few weeks of strangely introspective, mostly solo travels had been just the thing in some ways. There is such a lot of change in the air just now that these quiet missions to revisit far off places, sometimes in new ways, have become incredibly valuable, contemplative times for me. So, after a fitful night in a new hotel I found myself trudging the empty centre of Birmingham towards New Street at around 05:30. The hotel was fine - an improvement in fact, but my mind had been whirling around all night and I'd not really got to sleep for any stretch of time. Oddly, yesterday I'd leapt out of bed thinking it was today and I was late! Things are confusing just now it seems... Got to the station to find it almost completely empty. No hope of a coffee to wake me up, and as ever the lack of any advance warning of which platform the trip would use. This was a bigger problem today as no staff were in evidence either. Hedged my bets based on other departures, and spotted some familiar faces on Platform 3, so took a chance and thankfully got it right avoiding a last minute dash. Rewarded by the sound of 37610 thundering out of the tunnel, with 57003 already running on the back. Soon on board, meeting up with some very familiar Coach K faces and learning that 37611 hadn't even made the start of the tour, having failed at Carnforth on the empty stock move. Having spent a weekend in the Highlands with 37610 recently, rather disappointed not to have had 37611 - however, the performance put in by 57003 on the fairly straightforward run to Sheffield via the Old Road made up for this.
Took advantage of a few hours break to wander into town and revisit some favourite spots. No pipe band this time, but while I enjoyed a coffee The Borders Brass Band struck up. Watched the busy town scenes whilst jotting some notes and thinking lazily about work and associated things. Realised I've become rather mentally lazy lately and not considered things too sensibly. Having put myself in some strange scrapes lately - which I'd normally avoid - it was good to take stock, and wander the city in the bright afternoon sun. Revisited the beer shop too and found that the proprietor had stocked up on brews from a few new local breweries too. Chatted for a while and pondered my choices carefully, tending to go for the lighter and hoppier summer ales for our trip home. Back to the station for a snack and another good coffee from the little van just inside the entrance, before joining the vast crowd of enthusiasts watching 6201 'Princess Elizabeth' manoeuvring to rejoin her train. There was a brief time that it seemed the loco wouldn't make the gradient from Upperby to the station - but slowly but surely the stock drew into the station. Around then a further charter arrived, having come from Kings Cross in the charge of 67024 and 67021. This stopped only briefly at Carlisle before returning south. Add a couple of passing freights, and there was something of a gala atmosphere on the platforms today.
Things all ran surprisingly efficiently from here, with us heading onto the line through Mexborough via the Goods curve, then using the 'old' line through Thrybergh Junction to avoid the closed section, then sitting briefly in Brightside Loop outside Sheffield to wait time before calling at the station. Here we were joined by another regular, doing a part fare back to Birmingham. Celebrated with further beer and had a very quick ride back with 37259 performing a little better after some attention during our stop at Brightside. Noted some inexplicable crossover activity at Chesterfield South and Clay Cross too, as we sped south towards home. Soon pulling into New Street, where the train was due to complete a final circle to regain the line to International without a reversal or run round. Headed back to my hotel, having had a strange and rather distracted day - but ultimately a sociable and pleasant one. Good to see a few more trips lined up too, and some from nearer home. However miserable I might sound sometimes, I'm never happier than when I'm travelling...
I've had a home on the web for more years than I care to remember, and a few kind souls persuade me it's worth persisting with keeping it updated. This current incarnation of the site is centred around the blog posts which began back in 1999 as 'the daylog' and continued through my travels and tribulations during the following years.
I don't get out and about nearly as much these days, but I do try to record significant events and trips for posterity. You may also have arrived here by following the trail to my former music blog Songs Heard On Fast Trains. That content is preserved here too.