Posted in Updates on Wednesday 28th April 2004 at 10:46pm

I'd sort of decided not to blog about this, but the weird mixture of awe, impatience, fear and love I'm experiencing has to come out somewhere. This evening, I met my nephew Vinnie for the first time. He was born late on Monday evening, and has not had the easiest start to life so far. I'm so incredibly proud of my Sister and her husband, who are both showing unbelievable strength and patience. I was also really impressed by the staff at Musgrove Park Hospital who have, it seems, been frank, honest and caring - and have done everything possible to help two very scared parents.

Managed also to get trapped in Taunton following signalling trouble in Teignmouth and a cancelled inbound service. Wessex Trains staff showed great kindness in sorting things out, getting people moving and me into a taxi home!

In the meantime, unbelievably and rather surreally life continues. Work has had some blips and niggles today, perhaps partly down to my reduced reistance to bullshit at present. In any case, got little useful work done and managed to get myself offended by something pointless and innocuous. It will blow over, naturally. People are being great, actually.

Saw Canada's finest, Barenaked Ladies too - they were really, really good. Very rock and roll - more so than when they supported the (frankly apalling) Beautiful South in Exeter some years back. Lots of silliness and great songs.

Booked my Summer break - a Literary London conference at the University of London School of Advanced Studies, Belle and Sebastian at Somerset House and a few days of topographical tumbling through the capital. July seems a long way off...

Trying to look forward to the near future, steam trains in Bristol and more rambling around. Trying hard just to look ahead.

Movebook Link

Posted in Railways on Saturday 24th April 2004 at 9:15pm

Up late last night, trying to decide what to do today. Not much inspiration on offer. Finally decided to travel to Horsham, via Epsom - a previously elusive new bit of track for me. This route would take me via Box Hill where Gissing visited Meredith, and Dorking where Gissing lived for a time. I needed to do a bit more research before wandering Dorking, but a quick pass through would be interesting.

Despite the late night, and a rude awakening when some neighbours had a vehicle returned by a breakdown truck at 1:30am, managed to get up for the 0640. For reasons of economy, travelled on a Cheap Day Return to Reading and rebooked - something I recommend to anyone visiting somewhere in the South East for a day. Shaping up to be a very pleasant day as we zipped along through misty fields towards Reading. Once there, changed for the next Paddington service arriving in London only 15 minutes later than the through service. Found the Underground in disarray, with no Circle to Victoria and queues everywhere. Hopped on the District, originally planning to go to Wimbledon, but decided to change at West Brompton for the West London Line. This seems a very different place from my last visit, eight years ago. Now, the regular Willesden to Clapham Junction service is supplemented by Rugby to Brighton trains, and Silverlink services from Watford Junction. Spent a pleasant few minutes on the tidy, refurbished platform in warm, bright sunshine.

My longer than planned interchange meant a bit of time at Clapham Junction. Arrived on Platform 17 - which only serves the West London Line through trains, a new one on me. Explored the station a bit, enjoying the atmosphere of "Britains' busiest railway station". Finally caught the 10:39, which made a slow start, crawling along to Sutton, then picking up pace into the countryside to Dorking and Horsham.

Changed platforms at Horsham - was tempted by a London Bridge service, but its calling points didn't betray much detail about its route, so played safe and headed for East Croydon on a very comfortable pair of Victoria bound 377s. Since the weather was pleasant and time not pressing, waiting awhile at East Croydon for a London Bridge (via Crystal Palace) stopper was no great hardship. Again, a crawl to Norwood Junction, then a pleasant trundle through South London, which always seems so benign and interesting in good weather, but takes on a wholly different character in less clement periods!

I find London Bridge a strange, magnetic, rather mysterious place for some reason and want to spend more time exploring - perhaps an exploration of the South Eastern suburban services will give me the chance soon? Realised I'd just made the same journey in reverse that the newlyweds make in the "Io Saturnalia" chapter of Gissing's "The Nether World" (London Bridge to Crystal Palace).

Quick change onto a pair of 465s to Waterloo East, and the long trudge onto the main station concourse. Grabbed some refreshments, and just about made the late running 1452 to Reading. It was a pair of slammers - 423s to be exact, which was a pleasant change - this trip has always been 455s or 458s for me. A long, slow journey punctuated by signal checks.

While waiting for the 1610 to Bristol at Reading, noticed a London bound service which had just left had stopped, fouling the points. Lots of orange jackets running around on the track. The 1600 Penzance slipped omionously from 'Expected 1603' to 'Delayed'. More people ran around. The 1610 also became 'Delayed'. An announcement spoke of 'Operating difficulties'. Finally the orange jackets climbed back onto the departing service, and things started moving. Later discovered it was a lineside fire - perhaps the secrecy was down to some residual twitchiness after last weeks serious bomb alert?

Finally got home, still in blazing sunshine, on a packed 143 from Temple Meads. A long and rather warm, but very pleasant day.

Movebook Link


Posted in Packages on Friday 23rd April 2004 at 7:26pm

gnome-pkgview is a tool for inspecting the versions of GNOME libraries installed on your system. The information is often useful when submitting bug reports or diagnosing system problems.

Version 1.0.6 (Vintry) fixes a couple of long-standing build irritations, and adds Punjabi and Croatian translations. It is intended that this will be the last 1.0.x release, and now I hope to look at some of the feature requests I've received over the past year or so.


A gentoo ebuild is available here courtesy of Matt Schick.

gnome-pkgview project page


Posted in SHOFT on Monday 19th April 2004 at 11:59pm

Out of work unusually early, after a weirdly elating day where a meeting goes less painfully than expected, I get a message to say two of tomorrow's appeal cases are withdrawn, and the school which went over number last week is magically back down to its Admission Level because a child is emigrating to Australia!

Set off for Bath on the slow stopping train in rather warm sunshine. Amusing fare-dodging incident on board, which I must say the Wessex guard handled professionally and calmly. On arriving, wandered up Manvers Street and decided to try the 'Wife of Bath' restaurant. I've passed this little semi-underground place many many times, and always liked the 'homegrown' look of its signs outside. Turned out to be a friendly, reasonable and very tasty option. Steaks were very good indeed. I'll be going back for sure!

And so to the Pavillion for Lambchop... Arrived to find the huge dancefloor seated for a lecture! In my last 'review' of a Lambchop show I commented on the diversity of the audience, and that was even more in evidence tonight. The usual stubbly young alt-country guys rubbing shoulders with the respectable 'fifty-quid' men.

Support act, The Clientele were treated respectfully. I like their records, which are lush and moody, but in a big hall they were a bit lost and very sparse sounding. Some nice moments (including a cover of 'Tracy had a hard day Sunday').

The ever-increasing orchestra which is Lambchop wasted no time in taking the stage, starting with a quiet and fragile 'My Blue Wave'. One thing that always strikes me is that this huge group of multi-instrumentalists manages to make producing a wonderful noise look so effortless. A few songs from the new records, a few old favourites, even some rock-outs! Deanna played the saxophone a little, and Kurt was in fine voice condsidering this is the tail-end of a longish tour.

Noticed a churchlike reverence in the audience, which felt rather odd. Particularly towards the end, when the bulk of the audience spontaneously left their seats and crowded around the stage - which clearly surprised the band into commenting. An odd gig in that respect. A very much truncated but much requested encore of 'Up With People' and a couple of others, and it was regretably all over.

Weird set-changing shenanigans at Temple Meads on the way home, on the variably timed and always late 1C92! Overall, a rather magical day.

Movebook Link


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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