Friday, September 29, 2017

Thursday September 28 - Travel Home London to Ottawa

We had a very leisurely trip out to Heathrow. I always like to use Heathrow Express, not because it is so very fast but because I can relive 50 year old memories of working on the Great Western main line - firing a Castle steam engine, Old Oak Common, Acton Yard, Hanwell Viaduct.
The flight home was long and uneventful.

We were delighted to see how our orchids had enjoyed their vacation staying with out neighbor Pat who also kept an eye on the apartment.  The flowers are amazing - thank you Pat for looking after them so well.

It was a good trip with so many good memories.
-St. Cattwg's church at Llangattock, near Crickhowell - listening to the congregation singing Canol lan at a funeral.
- the Jacques Tatiesque fun and games at Abergavenny station
- the Magic Flute and Midsummer Night's Dream at the Theatre Severn
- visits to the Welshpool and Llanfair and the Vale of Rheidol Railways
- visiting with cousin Hilary in Newport.
- meeting up with old school friends in London
But above all we have enjoyed living in Shrewsbury with its many simple delights from coracle racing to country dancing.
Shrewsbury here we come, again - next May.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Wednesday 27 September - Orpington

I had intended to look at he Docklands Light Railway today and my day started off like this.  I stopped off at Shadwell which is close to Fenchurch Street to watch the C2C trains on the main line down to Tilbury, Southend and Shoeburyness.  The electrics were going pretty well - a little bit different from when I was working these trains.
DLR at Poplar

Poplar is an amazing interchange station on the DLR.  There are trains coming at you from all directions and it would take a little time to sorth things out.

I went on to Lewisham and was strolling around outside the man railway station and happened to see the next departure in four minutes was for Orpington.  I changed my plans  straight away and caught the stopping train to Orpington via Hither Green and Grove Park.
Orpington train arriving at Lewisham
I walked down the High Street w=and was surprised to see a number of new restaurants and coffee shops.  The council has even put out a large number of flower arrangements.

I walked through All Saints churchyard.  The original church structure was being restored.
There used to be a hardware store and blacksmiths here (called Stapley's"  I well remember the smell of the burning smell as the hot shoes were nailed onto the horses hooves

This is the old Barcvlays bank building at the corner of High Street and Church Hill. I well remember being taken by my mother to an interview with the bank manager to open up my first bank account.  I was in my Sunday best and just about to go to university.

All Saints church Lytch Gate

Grave of my grand parents - Foster
The Orpington pond seems to be drying up.  The grass around the pond was swamped with Canada Geese and I saw a couple of rats.

I caught a bus back to the station and took a train to Beckenhan Junction to ride the Croydon Tramlink.  This time I changed at Sandilands and rode out to New Addington a steely grades and sharply curved line through pleasant countryside. From there I took a tram supposedly right through to Wimbledon but it was turned back a couple of stops before Wimbledon so we had to catch the next tram.
New Addington

The tram which abandoned us

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Tuesday 26 September - Virginia Water

We had breakfast in Garfunkels which uses Black Treacle tins.  Tate and Lyle were one of the first companies to mine and refine treacle ore
Virginia Water is about 45 minutes out from London Waterloo on the electric train to Reading.  It wasn't a straightforward journey however because there had been a serious track circuit failure at Clapham Junction, the busiest station in the country and it was taking a long time to catch up on the interruptions.  Our train was shown as being delayed but it eventually left on time and ran to time throughout. We used the new platform 20, the first of the former Eurostar International platforms to be put into service.
A Reading train in the new platform at London Waterloo.
Having arrived at Virginia Water we had a walk of about 45 minutes to get there from the station. There was a sidewalk all the way but this area has some of the highest prices houses in the country and there were not a lot of pedestrians.

Virginia Water is an amazing stretch of forest set in an enormous lake. The views were wonderful and there were a lot of water birds - swans, mallards, tufted ducks, gulls, grebes etc. Many of the walkways were paved and it was well used by locals with their dogs and visitors alike.
There were a lot of sweet chestnut trees and we could hear the fruit falling to the ground. The crows were having a fine time prying the nuts out of the casing with their beaks. An Asian woman was collecting the better nuts but most of them were going to waste

Coming back into London it was evident that the trains were still disrupted but our train arrived right on time.

Monday, September 25, 2017

Monday 25 September - Travel Conwy to London

Arriva Trains Wales train at Conwy on the track towards Holyhead
Our journey today was on a midget Arriva Trains Wales train to Chester then a diesel powered Virgin train to London, Euston. Conwy is a request stop and the instructions were to make your intention to board the train clear to the driver.  I had visions of waving to the driver who would wave back and go roaring through at top speed. As our train came around the curve I was trying to remember the UK railway hand signal but the driver stopped in good order.  By the time we had got our bags to the luggage rack and found our seats we had gone through the Stephenson bridge.

The north Wales coast is pretty dreary with miles and miles of caravan sites, on the horizon now are a great number of windmills way out to sea.  Suffice to say we arrived in Chester in time.  We had a twenty minute connection with the London train but it started out from the adjacent platform and was in 15 minutes ahead of time.  The trip to London was the normal boring run up the LMS main line stopping only at Crewe and Milton Keynes Central.  Arrival in London was a couple of minutes early.

We were quickly able to get out of Euston, which is one of the worst in London, and walked down the road, past the British Library and St. Pancras to Kings Cross, past past platform 9 3/4 and into the Parcel Yard for a pint of London Pride, a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc and a chicken, ham and leek pie each. The journey on the Piccadilly line to Gloucester Road was easy in mid afternoon and we were able to check into the Gloucester Millennium Hotel quickly.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Sunday 24 September - Conwy

Being a Sunday we thought it best to explore Conwy rather than go further afield.  I wanted to get a look at George Stephenson's Famous tubular bridge and to do this we went outside the town and down to the river bank where two families of swans were gliding around.

There were some good views of the town and the bridge from a sheep pasture up a pretty steep hill.  The sheep were not too bothered but just sauntered out of the way and kept a wary eye on us.

Back in the center there was quite a bit of activity on the quay where several small kids were trying to catch the small crabs that live in the mud.  I had a plate of Conwy mussels steamed in wine. They were pretty meaty and very good in the wine sauce.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Saturday 23 September - Betws-y-Coed

We took the bus to Betws-y-Coed this morning.  As soon as we got there it became evident that it was a mistake as far as we are concerned.  The whole place resembles a very large parking lot bringing in lots of people with screaming kids and yapping dogs and coachloads of old people with walkers to spend their money at a bunch of Welsh "craft" stores, the Welsh Love Spoons Center etc. (The Welsh equivalent of an outlet center) Mary waited half an hour in line while 8 people were served at a coffee shop only to find out that the coffee machine had inexplicably stopped working.  Typical of many places in Wales, slow service, no organization, don't give a f---.

The railway museum, right next to the station, has a small collection of good exhibits, tickets, signal apparatus etc but the model dioramas were old and tired.

An Edmondson ticket dater. I caught my thumb in one of these several times while at Oxford 

Do it youerself

A walk through the "town" which is strung out along the main road was not very encouraging although we did find a bar that had good beer.

We came back as soon as we could.  The Conwy bus took us as far as Llanrwst which looks to be a much more interesting place with a narrow bridge over the river.  The bus driver then told us we were going to have to get into another bus.  Mass confusion until the errant bus turned up.

The valley of the River Conwy is beautiful and we enjoyed the journey. It is a pity that Betws-y-Coed is such a nasty place.
Click here to see all pictures taken at Betws-y-Coed

Back at Conwy we found an excellent Fish and Chip shop which provided a real;y good meal.
The batter was light and the chips were crispy.  All in all a very good meal
I really wonder at some of the people who come here.  An American tourist arrived in Heathrow and called the hotel here late afternoon and asked how to get there as he had a reservation that evening.  It is quite a long journey and complicated to explain.  As a coach party were checking in two men were pondering over a map of north Wales trying to figure out where they were. Another lady was heard to say "I think I have picked up the wrong case".

Friday, September 22, 2017

Friday 22 September - Bodnant Gardens

The weather forecast was not too encouraging today but we decided to take the bus from Llandudno Junction to Bodnant.  The walk across the bridge from Conwy was leisurely and we watched a mussel fisherman shoveling his catch into baskets on the pontoon where the mussels are purified.
Mussel cleaning pontoon

It started fine but gradually there was on and off again misty rain which provided different views of the magnificent gardens which have been in National Trust hands since 1949.  The variety of trees and plants is amazing and the small patches of different colors and forms is wonderful.  We walked through the more formal parts and had a drink at the mill close to the stream in the valley.  From there we walked up the valley and made our way back to the entrance area, in easy stages.  We had a little time to wait for the next bus back and had soup and a door step wedge of bread.

We were fascinated by the layers of this tree

Red hot poker

Natural green roof

THis cat was on the lookout for food at the small cafe

This robin was also on the lookout for food

The bus goes on to Eglwysbach a few miles down the road.  We took it on its way out to Eglwysbach and stayed on for the return to Llandidno Junction.  A man got on with an enormous Newfoundland dog.  He put on a bib to take care of the slobber and the dog laid down with all four legs stretched out. The bus stopped quickly and the dog rolled along a few feet.