Posted in Railways on Monday 31st May 2004 at 7:33pm
Really wasn't sure if the Class 31s would be out and about today, since Bank Holidays seem to play havoc with their diagramming. Reasonably assured from some mailing list posts, so set out at 0745 for Bristol. As we crawled through Bedminster awaiting a platform at Temple Meads, noted 31454 and 31128 sitting outside the station - a good sign, but a shame it wasn't the freshly painted Wessex Trains liveried set - which I think looks pretty good, whatever others might say!
Just time to grab a coffee before heading for the train which hadn't been cleaned. Aside from that, both locomotives sounded in good form. As ever the first coach was full of cranks - with a subtle alteration from the norm - it seems some cranks "other halves" had demanded a day at the seaside today!. Took my usual seat half way along the coach - close enough to hear the locomotive, and far enough back to see it on the curves.
Ran to time all the way down, with some stretches of very good running indeed. Noted how the Mark 2 coaches seemed to load and unload much quicker than a DMU. Quite busy as we progressed toward Weymouth too. Very pleasant Wessex countryside views too.
Weather had deteriorated on arrival. Had the choice of staying for a few hours and getting the service on its second trip of the day, or returning on the 1100. Decided that I'd see how the weather was later, and hopped back abord behind 31128. Wise move, as the 31s returned to Barton Hill after arriving at Bristol and didn't work the afternoon trip at all - I'm guessing availability of suitable drivers isn't great on Bank Holidays.
Over to Cardiff to see if anything interesting was happening around the Third Division Playoff. Arrived a few minutes before kick-off to find Cardiff City Centre in disarray. The walk along the Bus Station to the shops is never pleasant - a sort of beggars alley with greasy pavements and a drab look about it. The main streets were a really dreadful mess - can only imagine what the two more major games produced. Eerily deserted except for clumps of Heddlu Trafnidiaeth Prydeinig near the station and in the streets, with more security guards than shoppers on what is normally a busy day I'd imagine. Strangely, as three'o'clock passed, the people of Cardiff appeared slowly, blinking into the devastation of their city centre. Must be awful to have to endure this several times each year.
After a brief farce with the 15:30 Portsmouth Harbour service being delayed whilst a very sick looking 143611 was tacked on the front, headed back to Bristol. 143611 formed the Taunton service too, so stayed in my seat back to Weston, wondering if the ailing unit would make it home. It did, just...
Posted in Railways on Saturday 29th May 2004 at 7:52pm
Didn't seem to hang around for more than a few minutes anywhere today. This means, in effect almost ten hours of continuous rail travel. Pretty exhausting, even for me! Out on the 0809 from Weston, and a quick change to the 0905 to Cardiff which was awaiting departure in the Platform 1 bay. The presence of a large number of West Ham shirts persuaded me of the wisdom of getting a seat on this one, and I'm glad I did. We left a few minutes early, packed to the gills. They were a good natured bunch of fans though, and their singing was actually pretty tuneful. Given the result I don't imagine there was singing on the return journey.
Prepared myself for the journey with food and drinks, since I wasn't entirely sure what facilities were at Fishguard Harbour. Waited patiently for the 1016 - which duly arrived. A two-car Class 150 in place of the expected locomotive and coaches! It seems that short-formations on the Valley Lines along with the additional pressure of the football gave the loco hauled stock work elsewhere. Almost despaired, but couldn't really afford not to use the ticket, so hopped aboard for nearly three hours of DMU travel. Luckily the 150 was refurbished, and careful seat selection provided reasonable legroom. Not the journey I'd planned however. The service became very crowded from Llanelli onwards too with passengers for Ireland.
Some confusion over the routing of this service too. South Wales Mainline to Briton Ferry, thence via the Swansea District Line to Morlais Junction. On the return leg we were booked nearly an hour to do the 22-minute average journey from Bridgend to Cardiff. Chatting to the (always friendly and forthcoming) Arriva Trains staff revealed more confusion. The loco hauled service was supposed to go via the Vale of Glamorgan (hence the timings), but this replacement DMU was booked via Leckwith Junction and Ninian Park into Central. All very weird. Still, this meant an earlier than expected arrival - and a chance to get well away from Cardiff before the match ended.
The journey itself was pleasant enough - some quite striking scenery in West Wales, and from what I saw, Fishguard seemed like a pleasant little town. On the return leg, the tide was in south of Carmarthen, which made for some nice views too. Despite the disappointments and confusion, a fine day out with plenty of new track.
Posted in Updates on Friday 28th May 2004 at 10:29pm
This week has flown by. Work has been hectic, but largely positive. I'm seeing progress on almost all sides right now, and generally the newly reconstituted team seems to be working well together. As appeal season approaches, I think we're doing pretty well in terms of staying on top of things too - a major improvement on last year, when chaos reigned!
After some minor drama and rather unusual (for me) sunburn at the start of the week, I settled into trying get stuff done. Another fruitful and encouraging meeting with colleagues from our software suppliers, and a really positive talk with someone who has pretty much taken back control of some aspects of life on Thursday, which made me feel happier about my lot too as a side-effect!
Today I noted that the programme for the Literary London Conference in July has been published. Lots of interest there. Lots to get through before that of course! So, for this Bank Holiday I'm planning some haulage, and hopefully a chance to see my nephew.
Posted in Updates on Sunday 23rd May 2004 at 11:01pm
Strange, hot and tense afternoon and evening. There was definitely a Tenessee Williams quality to today. Things turn, unexpectedly on a sixpence. My friends amaze and astound me. My own frankness and honesty surprises me. The weather reflects the oppressive weight of events.
Sometimes, its possible to forget you're in Weston.
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.