Posted in Railways on Saturday 19th March 2011 at 12:41pm

It's the second week of my brief run of self-arranged outings. I've grown to look forward to these, as while the round of railtours and Premier Inn's is usually entertaining, there is something of a back-to-basics challenge in the out-and-back-in-a-day trip to somewhere fairly distant. These trips stopped scoring me new track on a regular basis years ago, but they've allowed me to undertake a rolling programme of revisiting bits of the UK I'd otherwise likely not see, spotting the changes and being incredibly nosy. Today's trip repeated one which felt rather recent - but when I checked actually dated back to January 2006, when I used an equally bad pun on the town of Brigg as a title. The plan was to head north and take the Saturdays-only service via Gainsborough Central to Barnetby. I'd mentioned this a couple of weeks back to some friends who were also thinking about doing this on one of the good value "go anywhere on Northern Rail for ten quid" tickets which local papers had been advertising. So, after meeting some locals heading for a Pathfinder-hosted stagger around the Heart of Wales (not again, thanks!) I changed for the 07:30 at Bristol and enjoyed a quiet and pretty uneventful journey north to Sheffield.

The day was clearing and getting warm, which was good. However the trains seemed to have their heating set to 'bleak midwinter' mode, which wasn't so good. I'd also dressed for the 05:30 sea-mist cold I encountered outside my front door, not the oddly balmy north. Dozed quite a bit, and decided to strike out into Sheffield in search of a coffee shop I'd haunted before. Found it and watched people coming and going until the sun went behind the clouds, and I headed back to the station. Shopped a bit and wandered onto the platform for the 12:00 a bit early. Heard my name shouted from a distance and spied Eric and company heading onto the platform. True to his word, he was heading for Barnetby via the unusual route. Had a pleasant chat on the platform before piling onto the single-car unit for the long slow journey via Worksop and onto the rarely used line. The time flew by chatting with this decent group of gents out for the track, and we were soon arriving at Barnetby where they intended to spend some time with their cameras.

66701 rounds the curve into Barnetby station
66701 rounds the curve into Barnetby station

I however had to press on, so after viewing one passing freight and some further conversation I headed off on the 14:11 to Lincoln, travelling via Market Rasen - covered on a busy train during an All-Line Rover some years back. Today was much quieter, but the sun was back out and I was sleepy and hungry. Tried to rectify both on the journey, but soon enough I arrived at Lincoln in bright afternoon sunshine. Since heading out of the ticket gates would have caused a confrontation with the less than polite gateline staff, explored the cafe. It had been refurbished further since my last visit and had far less places to sit. Found a bite to eat and a reasonable coffee and wandered out into the sun, watching the surprisingly busy station at work. Next hop was onto a busy but still remarkably smartly turned out EMT class 158. Settled in for a very drowsy and warm ride to Nottingham - a flat, featureless route anyway. Contented myself with music, and an effort to spot remains of the Great Central Railway as we approached the city. Nottingham was basking in sunshine, and I decided to sit out my short wait on Platform 6, enjoying the warmth and noting how much happier it seemed to make people. Rather too soon the Birmingham-bound unit arrived and I boarded early to make sure of a seat with suitable legroom. Another fairly snoozy ride back to Birmingham where I found things in disarray due to a fire near the Wolverhampton line. Lots of cancellations and frustration - but mercifully not affecting my journey back. Headed for my specially booked Voyager seat and was forced - perhaps against my better judgement - to turf a very attractive young woman out of it. She tutted and wandered off down the carriage, but soon wandered back and harrumphed down in the seat in front, delivering me a withering glance as she did so. I managed a smile I hoped was soothing and pacifying, but I suspect was just gappy and tired.

My circle completed, I had a fairly quiet run back to Bristol where signal failures were delaying things, but only a little in my case. Mr Spinks alighted from his tour to join the same train back with tales of Llandrindod chip shops, and at last the train wasn't too warm. It had been a hot, sunny and successful day. Next week it's back to the charters...

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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.

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