Sunday, June 11, 2017

Saturday 10 June - Return to Ottawa

I couldn't resist taking a picture of the GWR crest at the entrancento Paddington station 
It was bright and sunny this morning.  The flight to Ottawa was not due to leave until mid-afternoon so we took the Hammersmith and City underground to St. Pancras for breakfast. The sun was shining brightly through the great roof and turned everything alive.
Sir John Betjeman
From St. Pancras we went to Regents Park where the many water birds were lounging around on the walkways and the grass enjoying the sun.
The herons were out in force
The ride back to Paddington did not go smoothly as a passenger had been found under a train and we were forced to change to the Bakerloo line.
At Paddington I took a picture of these ancient HSTs which pollute the air badly and hope that this will be the last time - when electrification finally arrives.
We took a crowded Heathrow Express past all my familiar haunts.  Heathrow was not crowded and our flight was boarded in a leisurely fashion.  We arrived home a little early

Friday, June 9, 2017

Friday 9 June - Portsmouth, HMS Victory and Marie Rose

It was bright and sunny today, yet the people in the underground were quiet and dull - either they got up early to hear about the general election fiasco or it was the beginning of Friday.

The train from Waterloo to Portsmouth Harbour was pleasant and pretty fast.  The naval dockyard is very close to the station and we had a good visit to HMS Victory.  Headroom was very low and I found myself almost crawling in places.  There were a number of school groups who were receiving very good teaching from the professional guides.

Officers' Hammocks

Seamen's Hammocks

Nelson's bunk

Medical instruments

The Marie Rose was one of Henry VIII's ships and had been sunk in the Solent for 437 years before it was raised in the 1980s.  Much of the superstructure has been lost but the divers found a great deal of interest and were able to find out about the diets and habits of the people concerned. I found this exhibit interesting but was overwhelmed by the great amount of detail about their finds whereas the Victory was something solid to walk around.

Click here to see all pictures taken at Portsmouth

Back in Paddington we had a drink after some haddock and chips and wandered out on to the Lawn to find an HST which had been painted in early colours and with a GWR crest while the Paddington GWR Military Band tried to play a selection of tunes.  Sadly it was drowned out by thediersel trains and platform announcements.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Thursday 8 June - Travel to London with a visit to the Swindon Museum

It was still raining this morning and we were glad to get away from wet Wales. We changed trains at Swansea and arrived at Swindon where we walked the mile or so to the Steam Museum.

This is in one of the  buildings of the Swindon works where GWR locomotives were built and much more.

The role played by women during the war was emphasized

I rode on this locomotive on a trip to Worcester.  7037 was the last Castle cless locomotive built

Caerphilly Castle was placed so that we could get far enough away to appreciate it.

Brunel with North Star

King George V.  I polished the bell while I was at Reading

City of Truro was the first locomotive to be timed at more than 100 mph

We caught an HST to Paddington stopping only at Reading

Click here to see pictures taken at Swindon

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Wednesday June 7 - Pembroke Dock, Pembroke and Tenby

We caught the one coach train to Pembroke Dock first thing.  Not a great deal to see although the old station is now used by a restaurant/bar.  We took a look along the long closed branch which went down to the dockyard, looked at Milford Haven across the sound and had a cup of coffee. I remember visiting the dockyard to inform them that the railway was cancelling their siding agreement.
Pembroke Dock is literally the end of the line
Coming back to Pembroke we had two hours to walk around to the castle and then follow a pleasant footpath around a large pond with many water birds, swans, ducks, herons etc. before getting a drink at a bar close to the station,

We caught a two coach train back to Tenby and explored the eastern beach and the Lifeboat station before the rain came down.  The tide was out but came in very quickly to obscure a sand image which could be viewed from the upper road.

Sand Painting

We had a coffee in the Tenby market.  There was a sign "I kiss better than I cook".  One of the ladies said "I cook pretty well, but don't ask for samples".
The rain came in again early afternoon.  About the only person who was not affected was a swimmer who was training lengths in the bay.

Click here to see pictures taken this day

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Tuesday June 6 - Travel from Porthmadog to Tenby

It was miserable and blustery today when we set out to catch to bus to Aberystwyth.  The further south we went, the more sun we saw although the wind was still very strong.

The first bus was from Bangor and took us to Aberystwyth via Dolgellau and Machynlleth. Part of the route was through a wide glacial valley.  I saw Corris for the first time.

The bus was right on time even though the driver explained to everyone that there was a diversion "I don't want anyone to think I don't know my way." We passed a field of sheep where a farmer was working two sheep dogs.

At Aberystwyth there was a four minute connection with the bus to Carmarthen which was standing just across the road.   The ride took us through Aberayon, Llanbedr and Pencadr - all new territory.  The land gradually changed from sheep to cattle farming.

At Carmarthen we encountered a stupid and very unhelpful ticket clerk at the railway station who eventually sold us the wrong ticket to get to Tenby. We had over an hour to wait  for our train and spent the time at a coffee shop and trying to find something worth looking at in the town.  Glad to leave Carmarthen.

The guest house is close to the station which has seen better days.  There are not many people in town.  The evening light across the harbour was excellent and we had a good walk down to the beach before having supper at a restaurant with views over the sea,

Monday, June 5, 2017

Monday 5 June - Special Train, Minffordd, Rhiw Coch and Blaenau Ffestiniog

The weather was terrible all day today with rain all day, frequently heavy.  The good news was that our train was to be hauled by Ffestinog Railway No. 2 Prince which is the oldest continuously operating locomotive in the world.
Prince at Minffordd
A Fairlie and a Garratt getting ready for the first two trains of the day at Porthmadog
In spite of the weather we had a great day.  Our first stop was Minffordd yard where we examined the various sheds in process of reconstruction.
The gravity slate wagons at Minffordd showing the cushions used by passengers

Some cars loaded with slate
From there we went on to Rhiw Coch which is a signal box that can be switched into the section between Minffordd and Tan y Bwlch to pass trains at peak times.  There is a small lever frame interlocking although the switches are operated electrically.
Rhiw Coch

Prince at Rhiw Coch

Tablet exchange at Rhiw Coch
We took it in turns to ride the footplate of Prince and my section was between Rhiw Coch and Tan y Bwlch.  The crew were very friendly and it was great.  I put on a few shovelsful of coal in the very small firebox.  The engine was driven hard on almost full regulator and it rode quite lively at times.  I started off standing in the tender but moved to the fireman's position when he wanted to ply his shovel.  A memorable experience.
In the cab of Prince

Paul climbing into Prince at Dduallt
We stopped at Dduallt where the hardy members of the group got out to watch two run pasts around the loop in the heavy rain.  I stayed behind with many others in the warm dry train.

At Blaenau Ffestinog we went up the Dinas branch and looked in a couple of the sheds which are used mainly to house the passenger stock in winter.  The Alco "Mountaineer" was being held in there.
The Rhododendrons are taking over large parts of Blaenau Ffestiniof

Prince taking water at Blaenau Ffestiniog
We came back in the rain with a stop at Tan y Bwlch.  The train was very comfortable with good chairs, drinks service and some heat from a diesel generator.  We had an amazing cream tea at Tan y Bwlch.
Cream tea at Dduallt
In spite of the weather we had a great day.