Posted in Updates on Thursday 16th September 2004 at 9:11pm


Central Ward Town Council by-election day. Since the local parties have only one ward to fight we have suffered a weight of leaflets in the past few weeks. Several independents standing, but on reasonably typical single issues - rights for senior citizens (and the Town Council can influence this how?), hunting (in Weston?), asylum seekers and Weston's drug-treatment centre overload. Much as I'd like to vote Independent in a local contest, they all filled me with a weird empty dread which made me want to renounce democracy once and for all! Fun surprise of the day was the chance to vote for one Richard Whittington - now if only we elected a Lord Mayor here in Weston!

I spoke to a visiting Tory (the prospective parliamentary candidate for Bristol South no less) who was out knocking up on my way home. He mentioned a very poor turnout - perhaps 18-19%. The Town Council was unpopular in some quarters when it was proposed, and the tiny non-event of a single ward electing barely registers on most people's radar. I wonder whether the results will get posted anywhere?

Spent much of the day at work trying desperately to tie-up loose ends in anticipation of some much needed leave next week. Managed quite a bit of useful work in some ways, and banged my head against the system for a while too. Fear the worst for the next few months. I can't help feeling people seem to have stopped thinking in favour of a sort of random running-about behaviour! Also spent quite a bit of the morning chasing lost train tickets, which were apparently mailed out in early August but have never shown up. Local station came through with replacements, luckily

Then it all started to add up. I'd reported a replacement credit card undelivered a couple of weeks back, which had apparently been posted around the same time. Today I discovered some very strange transactions on my account which fell on the very day I reported the card not received. Bank were fantastic, helpful, understanding and efficient. Decided once and for all to report my suspicions regarding the post here to the Police. They were however a little less easy to deal with. Only when I misheard a question and gave a patently absurd answer did the woman at the other end of the phone start laughing and become more human. All-in-all a very strange and rather awkward process to report the problem.

Off to London tomorrow for the Open House weekend among other things.

 


Posted in Railways on Sunday 12th September 2004 at 8:09pm


Another pretty bad night of sleep, in part due to some worrying family news. Uncertain whether I might need to travel to the Midlands this morning. Things a bit more positive today, so instead set off late for Bristol to see the Midland Mainline 'Project Rio' HST sets being dragged to Laira Depot in Plymouth by Freightliner Class 47 locomotives. Initially, I was alone on the platform, rather miserable and chilly, and under leaden skies. A couple of other brave souls finally turned up and we waited for 5Z16, reported 30 minutes late.

 Freightliner liveried 47150 on 5Z16 at Bristol Temple Meads
Freightliner liveried 47150 on 5Z16 at Bristol Temple Meads

5Z17 - the second working caught me by surprise, running a little early and hot on the heels of 47150. Just about got a picture of 47812, but it was pretty poor. Every day I seem to learn more about this new camera. Perhaps it will soon start paying off?

A long, long wait for the next service. The weather changed rather bizarrely from heavy rain and strong wind, to warm sunshine and back again. Reports of late running southbound services, which were probably the cause. Finally got some news, on 5Z18 at Lawrence Hill and 5Z19 at Standish Junction. Got ready for 47805's imminent arrival.

47805 on 5Z18 at Bristol Temple Meads under stormy skies
47805 on 5Z18 at Bristol Temple Meads under stormy skies

Pretty chilly now, so dived off for a comfort break and a cup of tea before heading back to the platform. 5Z19 arrived surprisingly quickly, resulting in a slight tea spillage and another rather hurried shot of 47197, still looking rather filthy and neglected - especially in comparison to the clean, recently refurbished Rio sets.

43162 'Project Rio' being dragged through Bristol Temple Meads
43162 'Project Rio' being dragged through Bristol Temple Meads

During a dash down the platform, noted a 'retimed' Penzance bound service arriving. Lots of passengers waiting, but managed to grab a seat as the rear doors luckily ended up next to me. An ill-tempered crowd on board with some heated inter-passenger arguing about reservations and luggage space, which threatened to turn a little physical at one point. Glad to alight at Weston, despite more rain! Pleasant afternoon doing just what I tell people I don't do - hanging around at the end of the platform!

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Posted in Railways on Saturday 11th September 2004 at 9:14pm


Up early to perform cat-feeding duties after a fitful night of sleep. Decided that I needed to go in search of some haulage today, since I'll be in London next weekend. Opted for another attempt on the Fishguard trip, with a cautious option of Rhymney if all else failed.

So, started with a ticket as far as Cardiff Central. A bit of an extended wait at Weston for the 0809 due to my bad planning. Onto an ex-CrossCountry 158747 at Bristol - myself and some fellow enthusiasts being ensconced in the declassified First Class section. Made it to Newport, where the brake wouldn't release. After some valiant efforts, the driver sent us over to get the Arriva service signalled into platform 1 and waiting to depart. Considered waiting for the 0944 Swansea HST, but wasn't convinced I'd make the Fishguard service if I stalled.

Into Cardiff in good time. Turned out our crew were going onto the Fishguard, and since it was off platform 7 it was clearly loco hauled. Quick dash to ticket office, shop and back to platform in time to see 37422 on the Rhymney, and then a surprise - our rescuer from last Saturday 37425 on the Fishguard!

Perhaps it was a little too soon to do this trip again, or maybe just a lack of sleep resulted in me dozing quite often during the outbound journey. Passed through variations of weather from fine late summer sun, to decidedly autumnal wind and rain storms. Quick, timely run - with a few of the annoying slowings and stops associated with the odd timings on this train.

Alighted to watch 37425 run around the stock at Fishguard Harbour. Got some rather better shots than last time.

37425 runs around at Fishguard Harbour
Prior to working 1R38, 37425 runs around at Fishguard Harbour

Again, an unremarkable journey back despite a false start, sudden stop and wonderfully noisy standing restart. All this drama taking place with the train half way over the level crossing! 37425 performed faultlessly throughout the journey once again. Our arrival at Bridgend, and my time to alight coincided with a truly huge rainstorm!

A couple of short hops back to Bristol, via a change at Cardiff onto 158817 and 158867. These units divided at Bristol, with our front half heading on as the 1725 to Weston, and the rear heading for Westbury. Both units wedged solid after splitting, with plenty of passengers milling about wondering what to do on the platform! Absolute chaos with people utterly failing to understand simple instructions. Quite a large rugby crowd to confuse things further. By the time we reached Weston I spotted seven people in one coach alone who were anxiously looking to head back to Bristol having caught the wrong part of the train. In fairness to Wessex, the split was announced before we arrived in Bristol, after the units divided and again before the off! How would these people cope in the South East?

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Posted in Updates on Sunday 5th September 2004 at 9:46pm


Well, now summer really is over! Just watched the final 'Torbay Express' of the year depart behind 5051 'Earl Bathurst'. Noisy and smoky start from Weston, with none of the wheel slip and fuss of 'Union of South Africa'. Good to see a Great Western locomotive back on duty.

Briefly headed out this morning, not much of note. A Voyager trip to Cheltenham where the unfortunate guard seemed to have more passengers refusing to pay than genuine ticketholders! Then to Gloucester, and a worrying lack of inspiration in the bookshop. Back to Bristol on what appeared to be a diverted Cardiff-Salisbury service - hadn't noted a planned tunnel closure.

The equinoctial feeling brought on by the railway timetable changes got me thinking about the next few months - plans include a weekend in London for the Open House Weekend, the Delgados show and the LAMAS conference on the history of St. Paul's Cathedral. I've also planned a week off for what could be an 'All-Line Rover' jaunt. Its important to have things to look forward to, I suppose.

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Lost::MikeGTN

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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