Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday 28 May - Oxford to Cosford and Shrewsbury

We were up early and out of the hotel to have a breakfast snack at the station where we watched some very poor station work which managed to turn an early arrival of a train to Great Malvern into a sadly late departure.
The early morning light in Oxford was good for photography.
Our train to Birmingham International was on time as was the onward train to Cosford.
We were greeted by this Hawker Hunter

There were tanks and other vehicles as well as aircraft

A Hooded Crow was searching for something edible

The aircraft were being given some TLC

The RAF Museum at Cosford was very well set out.  There are three main halls or hangers as well as a number of larger aircraft outside.  There were several areas where kids could play and the whole exhibit was very well conceived and carried out.  I  was disappointed that there was no Lancaster on display and the Spitfire was a full sized Airfix kit, impressive in its own right.  We spent a good time going over the exhibits then had a drink, a snack and an ice cream before taking our time back to the station to catch the one car puddle jumper on to Shrewsbury.

Mary and I spent a month at the Prince Rupert hotel on Butcher Row and we checked in in good time to take in some of the cycle racing which is on a larger circuit this year.  It was pleasantly warm and we walked along by the river, through the Dingle Gardens and along to the English Bridge, up Wyle Cop to St. Alkmunds and dropped into the Three Fishes for a pint of Timothy Taylor's Landlord. I was greeted warmly by Danny and Wendy who were pleased to see me.
It is unusual to see cattle in the river close to the boathouses.

The river was calm and beautiful.

We munched a pork sandwich while watching the end of the racing and came back for an early night.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Friday/Saturday 26-27 May Travel to London then Didcot and Oxford.

Air Canada sucked us in and blew us out as promised.  The flight was was nowhere near full. Lack of integration at Heathrow Bus Station meant they could only sell us a ticket on the bus to Reading and we had to buy separate train tickets.

The Didcot Railway Centre was very good indeed.  The weather was iffy when we arrived but improved to sunny during the afternoon.  There were several old friends such as Hinderton Hall which was a Didcot engine and Cookham Manor which I seem to remember as a Reading engine at one time. The blue King was well maintained but I don't really like the color.

We traveled on to Oxford where the booking clerk spent a lot of time getting the best price for our trip tomorrow to Shrewsbury via Cosford.

Oxford is pretty warm and the hotel is so so - alright for one night.  I will try and post pictures later.

Didcot  GWRS 2017

Friday, February 3, 2017

Friday 3 February - London to Ottawa

It had rained heavily in the night but there was a cloudless blue sky when we set out for London Airport.  I think we saw more rain in London in a week than we saw in ten weeks in Paris. The Circle line train came quickly and the Heathrow Express was good.  We went out at line speed on the down main line and didn't slow at all until the junction for the airport. The airport formalities were easy and I even found a bottle of Craigellachie single malt scotch at the specialty whisky store.

Boarding Air Canada was very relaxed indeed and the flight was very smooth. We arrived in Ottawa 50 minutes early.  I wish all transatlantic flights could be this easy.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Thursday 2 February - Eltham College Class of 1960 Reunion

We had a great turn out at the Skinners Arms on Judd Street near Kings Cross, St. Pancras. This time I decided to to take individual pictures so that new comers could readily identify us - we have changed a little in the last 55 years or so.

John Bingham

Colin Bishop
John Boyd
Julian Hale

Colin Churcher

Dai Bamford

Charles Smith

Rob Carter

John Palmer

Derek Browne

Allan Collins

Dai Rhys-Tyler (Treasurer)

Mike Fulford

Peter Gregory
We raised our glasses to Clive Grenyer, Ian Cunningham, Ray Godfrey, Gethyn Timothy and Roy Bennet who sent their regrets.

Lunch was excellent and we managed to put the affairs of the world in good order.  It was agreed that the next meeting of the group would be on Thursday September 14 2017 at 1200 at the same location. We were pleased to see Alan Collins for the first time and hope to see additional first timers in future. I have made the reservation.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Wednesday 1 February - Borough Market

It has been wet today,, very much like in Ireland - it is either just about tio start raining or has just stopped.  We walked out as far as Earls Court, didn't like the area and took the underground to Southwark and walked to Borough Market.  This is the first time we have seen it in full swing at lunch time on a weekday.  The place was popping and everybody seemed to be eating something from the amazing variety of foods available. It was fun just walking around watching people.

After a Notting Hill Pale Ale (cask) we walked along by the river, past Tower Bridge as far as Butlers Wharf.

This plaque commemorates that the Austrian GeneralHaynau was run out of Southwark on September 4, 1850.

We returned via Tower Bridge to Tower Hill and the District Line.

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Tuesday 31 January - Wallace Collection.

WE had to wait at least 15 minutes fir a Circle line train to Edgware Road. I was surprised to see that bullhead rail was still in use on the Circle line at Gloucester Road.  It must have been rolled many years ago.

We visited the Wallace Collection last year but it made such an impression on us that we decided to go again.  It comprises the collection of some five generations of Wallaces and it is now owned by the state.  It is housed in a beautiful large house and admission is free. The rooms are all beautifully decorated and the collection is well exhibited.  It is noteworthy not only for the depth and quality of the paintings, furniture, porcelain, armor etc. but every piece is properly restored and shown to the best advantage.  The rooms have been recently restored and the wall coverings blend very well with the exhibits.

This large room is very impressive, it stretches the width of the house

An old soldier returns home and has his nose tweaked bu a young child

There was a roomfull of Canalettos

The furnishings and colors here are spectacular

We found after a couple of hours that we needed a break and went first to a pub then to dim sum at a place on Baker Street. It was good and fresh but we had to order from the menu.

After this we wandered around and eventually finished up at Piccadilly circus.  Lots of expensive stores with well known brand names.  All with a man in a dark suit on guard at the door.

Some of the buildings were exquisite

Royal Arcade

Monday, January 30, 2017

Monday 30 January - Oxford

On the table at breakfast - I wonder which treacle mine this came from

The weather forecast was for rain later today but although it was cloudy we saw no rain and had a good walk around Oxford.  I wanted to try out the new train service from London Marylebone to Oxford which has only been open for just over a month.  Getting to Marylebone on the Picadilly then Bakerloo lines in the rush hour was an experience. When the Picadilly train doors opened at Gloucester Road they revealed a solid mass of humanity. We hd no option than to put our heads down and charge in. There were not many hand holds available but these were not necessary because we were jammed in so tightly.  I cannot imagine having to do this on the commute every day.

At Marylebone the three car train to Oxford was badly overcrowded with Asian and Far Eastern tourists. There were with at least 20 people standing in each of the three cars.  At Bicester Village the train practically emptied out.  It seems that Bicester has one of the biggest discount malls in the country.

Once we were clear of the London suburbs the ride was through pleasant country although most people ignored this making full use of the on board wi-fi.  The last time I went over this line would have been on the footplate of Clun Castle.on 1 June 1965.

Chiltern trains at Oxford

The arrival in Oxford was unremarkable and we obtained a city map and started our walk.  Oxford has a lot of beautiful architecture, mostly in stone and demonstrating the stone masons' skills.  One needs to stop frequently to admire the features.  We went into the center then turned south an walked past Christ Church cathedral and along the meadows, coming back into town along the High Street.


Magdalen College from the Cherwell

We had a pause for refreshment at this pub.

The bottle glass windows gave some interesting images.
Waiting for the train to Paddington this container train came through on full throttle - it has just got a green signal.
We came back to London on the traditional route via Reading, passing Cholsey and Moulsford where I was Area Manager filling in for two weeks.  Back in London we took a bus ride across town to the Strand to do some shopping. Central London is almost devoid of private cars but the buses, taxis and delivery vehicles manage to create traffic chaos.  The sidewalks were jammed.  Not a pleasant place to visit.