Posted in Railways on Saturday 19th June 2004 at 9:07pm

With next week looming in something of a 'Sword of Damocles' manner after the last week of frustration and work-related awfulness, decided I had to get out and about this weekend. Spent yesterday trying to decide what to do, and finally settled on some more aimless local wandering.

Purchased a Wessex Rover which I have little chance of completely using, but was determined to get value from its slightly higher 'Summer Season' price. Off to Bristol, then decided to hang around for the 0828 Weymouth train. It was 31601 and 31452, so went with it as far as Westbury. I could have gone further, but didn't fancy another long hot trawl back from Weymouth today. Onto a Cardiff bound and very wedged 158 at Westbury. Finally got a seat at Bath, and enjoyed a rather quicker than last time spin around the Filton diversion to Newport.

From Newport to Cheltenham. Engineering works near Birmingham meant some disruption which was being complained about extremely loudly by a family near me. Only effect on my journey was that Central Trains were using a filthy 158 instead of the (sadly, for their age equally shabby) 170s.

A short stay at Cheltenham, where the rain started, and onto a Virgin service for Paignton. I seriously considered remaining on this to Weston, but rallied when I thought of the extra six quid I'd paid for my ticket! So, around the diversion in the other direction in a ten-car Super Voyager. Back at Bristol, noted a Southampton bound service across the platform, so grabbed refreshments and hopped on. A quick consultation of the timetable showed if I was careful, I could get a service via Melksham to Swindon, a rare enough event. Could probably have changed at Westbury, but to be sure, got off at Trowbridge.

Had a really quite unpleasant wait for the 1645 service, surrounded by Trowbridge kids in the rain. Arrived just a couple of minutes late, and off we went. As we pulled away, someone began shouting about not being able to get off. Seems an unfortunate passenger had been slow in unloading their luggage and had managed to get carried away having left some of her bags on the platform. Felt quite sorry for her, and that perhaps I could have done something to help - then however when discussing the situation with the guard she revealed she'd "left three more down at Westbury when I changed there!". Have people forgotten the concept of a timetable? Having checked later, it seems all her bags were safe, and she turned around with the train at Swindon and got back to Trowbridge a little late!

Sun out at Swindon, so waited for a direct service to Weston and wandered, watching people and trains. Turned out to be a pleasant if uneventful day in Wessex!

Movebook Link

Posted in Computers on Friday 18th June 2004 at 10:16pm

Lots of new toys means lots of learning, and too little time. Despite some concerns people have expressed about Linux being "ready for the desktop", thankfully, things seem a lot simpler than they have been in the past. You have to wonder if another rather more popular operating system is "ready for the desktop", despite being on almost everyone's!

So, first off the new Olympus C-160 camera arrived. gphoto2 didn't seem to like it, so fell back on USB Mass Storage, which immediately enabled me to mount the camera via Nautilus and drag pictures around. Wonderfully simple, and much quicker than my old Kodak over a serial connection. Need to get out and test it properly now.

The long awaited mobile phone upgrade (a Sony Ericsson T630) also arrived yesterday. I also got a USB Bluetooth dongle, and have spent today playing with it. A little research and configuration has paid off. So far, progress is good. Have got two-way file sharing going. The gnome-bluetooth subsystem seems interesting, but I confess I've yet to get the phonemgr application working, but its been a long day!

Next step is more USB ports to accommodate the soon-to-be-delivered printer!


Posted in Railways on Saturday 12th June 2004 at 10:06pm

Its been an unlucky week in lots of ways, today sort of summed it up.

Since next week the Filton Abbey Wood diversions begin again making an early connection Cardiff tricky, I decided today I'd have another crack at the Fishguard Harbour haulage. I'd managed to determine that it was 37 hauled last week, and that no-one had posted anything to the contrary for today on the various gen lists. So, feeling relaxed I boarded the 0809 from Weston, absent-mindedly changing at Bristol for a Cardiff service. Figured I'd wake up with the racket of a 37 soon enough.

Stocked up with provisions once again at Cardiff Central and patiently waited for 1016 to tick around on Platform 7. Then, bad stuff began to happen. First, a platform change to 4, then a pretty grimy looking 158826 arrived at the Swansea end of Platform 4. Wandered over, and waited - still prepared to believe this wasn't what I dreaded. The guard stepped off the 158 and asked if I wanted the Fishguard. Confirmed, and he explained - no loco today because there was no shunter available to travel to Fishguard with them to run the locomotive around the stock. He bemoaned the shunters he'd seen offered early retirement or voluntary redundancy by Arriva and its predecessors before wandering off to break the bad news to more waiting cranks.

Now, a 158 in theory is preferable to the farce with a 150 a few weeks back. Sadly however, 158826 was filthy. The air-conditioning had failed, and the set was already warm from sitting in the sun outside Canton all morning. Despite the guard opening the few available hopper ventilators, we had a long, hot and drowsy ride to Fishguard. The threat of a huge storm rolling in from the Irish Sea didn't materialise, and the ride back was, if possible, even hotter as the train was a little more crowded. The rather bizarre timing on this service meant lots of standing at signals too. Not a fun journey.

158826 at Fishguard Harbour
158826 languishes at Fishguard Harbour

Stepping onto a pair of Portsmouth-bound Wessex 158s at Cardiff I remembered what the 158s air-con should feel like - a comfortably icy blast as recalled from summer trips to Bristol back in the early 1990s! Wrote mental letters of complaint to Arriva as we passed back into England, and a jammed 153 back to Weston. The third 153 in the last two weeks with a lack of air pressure to open the doors... more Wessex units heading for failure? A frustrating day, serving only to give me the chance to correct my Welsh - it should have be Portladd Abergwaun all along.

Movebook Link

Posted in Updates on Friday 11th June 2004 at 9:21pm

Once again, work confounds and unsettles me. I had another bout of the 'you don't do much' or 'you're not as stressed as your colleagues' commentary today. As I later mentioned to a colleague - I'd be less bothered if these people had an inkling of the things I'm involved with alongside the day-to-day workings of the department. It doesn't usually get to me, but in the context of today, it took on a new significance.

We had a meeting of Senior staff, at which plans most secret and only previously hinted at were given a (premature?) public airing. With my own discussions and piecing together bits gleaned and inferred I'd got to much the same conclusions, but this adds a difficult and challenging dynamic to the team right now. The timing of this remains somewhat questionable.

So, the future is exposed rather prematurely, the team are already taking their corners and I'm left wondering if this is worthwhile. People tell me it most definitely is. Time will tell.



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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