Monday, June 17, 2013

The Garden in June

Clematis 'Broughton Star' is at its best now.

The containers eventually got planted up and are now coming away.

I tried this year to keep the cost down by buying plugs or 'small plants' and growing them on myself. Next month's blog should show if this strategy has been successful!

The azaleas were at their best a week or so ago.

I'm not one for subtle colours in the garden, as you can see!

I have these poppies everywhere. And to think they started life as a packet of seeds some years back!

This little white Vinca is a favourite, although it is a bit of a thug, as here it is already scrambling through a Cotoneaster.

These Aquilegia were self seeded. As was the buttercup! Weeds have a way of hiding from me.

My Bishop's Children, which I grow from seed every year, are somewhat behind this time, but should still produce a display.

My collection of Hostas is expanding!

Here's more.

I like the flowers of the Dicentra spectabilis, and planted one in the garden a couple of years ago. It's now just becoming established.

As is this white version.

The colour of this primula is intriguing.

Rhododendron 'Fantastica' always gives a good show.

I planted this Rhododendron 'Vulcan' in memory of a good friend. It's just getting established, and seems to like its position. I visited the garden centre at Glendoick (here) on Saturday, and now have two more Rhoddies to go into the ground today.

Missing from the garden this year are the swallows which gave me so much enjoyment last year, see here, and here. Every time I look at last year's empty nest, above, I wonder how my swallow family fared in their migration. I've not seen many swallows around the village at all this year, presumably the cold, late spring is to blame.

The forecast this week is for some good weather, so I plan to be spending as much time outside as possible!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

1940s at the Great Central Railway

A short holiday down south gave me a chance to visit the Great Central Railway at Loughborough last Sunday. When I chose the date I had not realised that my visit would coincide with a 1940s wartime weekend. What a treat it was... and what sights there were. This couple certainly looked the part!

Of course the stars of the weekend were still the locomotives, and there was ample opportunity to travel the line between Loughborough and Birstall (near Leicester) behind LMS Class 2, 2-6-0 No 46521, built at Swindon in 1953. Read about the locomotive here.

These are fellow heritage rail enthusiasts who had dressed for the occasion. Or is it an advert for 'Uniform Dating'?

There were big crowds of course, requiring the station master at Quorn and Woodhouse to resort to technical aids to get passengers to 'keep clear of the platform edge' for the arriving trains.

Such as that pulled by Great Northern Railway N2 Class 0-6-2T No 1744, built in Glasgow in 1920. Read more about it here.

Quorn and Woodhouse was the main focus for displays, and ceremonies.

There were lots of things to experience at Quorn. From Willys jeeps ...

... to frozen bananas. Chocanana was a new experience for me. Frozen bananas covered in chocolate or strawberry yoghurt with various toppings. Recommended!

Winston Churchill gave a passionate speech at Loughborough Station, here with His Majesty King George VI behind. (I discovered today that the King's speech at the outbreak of WW2 is online here.)

Listening intently!

The smart phones just slightly spoil the effect!

LMS 8F Class 2-8-0 No 8624 awaits at Loughborough. More on this locomotive here.

This DMU was also in use during the day.

The German military was on display at Rothley.

"The pointy end should be at the top."

At Rothley there is a wonderful garden railway!

We were in enemy territory at Birstall, aka Le Birstall for the day. This was a bit too scary!

Curling friends will likely smile at this. No, we're not back in Renfrewshire, but beside Birstall station.

Greenacres was set out as an American encampment. (Alternative caption: "Richard investigates new ways of persuading club members to pay their subscription on time.")

One of the highlights of the day was a display by a spitfire and a hurricane over Quorn.

An iconic profile.

Trying to capture the hurricane overhead presented a new photographic challenge!

What would it be like to sit in the cockpit of a spitfire?

Now I know. OK, so it's a replica, but nonetheless, what a thrill!

I can understand now why the Great Central Railway is rated as one of the best heritage lines in the country. I look forward to returning to focus just on the railway. On the other hand, perhaps I should be looking out for a chance to get dressed up, 1940s style, and join in, see below!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Threlkeld Quarry

Threlkeld Quarry near Keswick was formerly a granite quarry which supplied, amongst other things, some of the ballast for what is now the West Coast Main Line over Shap. The quarry was in operation from the 1870s until 1982.

The Threlkeld Quarry and Mining Museum is quite the visitor attraction these days, especially if you fancy riding on the little narrow guage line that takes visitors up into the quarry itself.

Here the little Hunslett locomotive No 2254, built in Leeds in 1940, runs round at the end of the line.

Driver's assistant! There's more about the railway here. There's even steam on certain days, with Sir Tom!

The museum has the history of the quarry, but also much information about mining and quarrying throughout the Lake District.

Here's the mine entrance.

King Kong?

This is King Kong, aka Ruston Bucyrus 110RB, No 7. Threlkeld is the home to the Vintage Excavators Trust, and all round the site there are old excavators in various states of preservation. Actually, there really needs someone to be in this photo to give a sense of scale.

I had picked the day of my visit recently to coincide with one of the Trust's 'working days', to see these old excavators in action. Fascinating!

In the days before hydraulics, this was the way the countryside was reshaped! This is a Ruston Bucyrus 22RB. Incidentally, as proof you can find anything on YouTube these days, here's a video of this model working in an exotic location on a bright summer's day, complete with sound!

Threlkeld, definitely worth a visit!

Photos © Skip Cottage