Sunday, September 27, 2015

September Steam

Skip garden has had limited success this year. No one to blame but myself. However, one thing that has made me smile this September was the old vegetable patch which I planted up early with spray dahlias and helichrysums, raised from seed, to give some late season colour.

Mission accomplished!

Another success this year has been this clematis, just left to ramble. Best it has ever been.

And the weeds have done well!

Talking of weeds, Buddleja davidii came originally from China. It likes dry stony areas, and seems to be very happy in poor ground around railways. But it is classed as an invasive species (see here), and can do considerable damage when the seeds germinate in old mortar on walls and embankments, as here at Carlisle's Citadel Station.
My contemplation on the tenacity of weed seeds came to an end with the arrival of this beautiful locomotive, No 45699 Galatea, at the head of 'The Waverley' steam charter on September 6. This Railway Touring Company charter was ex-York behind a diesel, with Galatea taking over at Hellifield for the drive to Carlisle, and return, over the Settle line.

Concerned looks, but safely parked at platform 3.

Built in 1936. I was interested to read, here, that in 1953, the locomotive ended on its side after an accident!

We're off to park the carriages!

I was back at Carlisle on September 19 to see the arrival of the Vintage Trains 'The Coastal Explorer' railtour.

GWR Castle Class 4-6-0 No 5043 Earl of Mount Edgcumbe is another beautiful locomotive.

The locomotive had brought its rake of coaches from Carnforth, and was due to return via the Cumbrian Coast line. But it was very apparent on arrival that something was up, the Earl surrounded by lots of concerned support crew in hi-vis vests.

A hot axle box was the concern, and this led to the locomotive being failed at Carlisle, the coast return trip being diesel hauled. But not before 5043 huffed and puffed its way around to park the carriages.

Parking accomplished, the locomotive disappeared, and to everyone's disappointment, did not appear for the return leg of the tour. The passengers had to wait awhile for a replacement locomotive to arrive.

You can find YouTube videos here and here, showing the Earl in action over Shap and at Carlisle.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Tuesday, September 01, 2015

In the Box

I guess this is one way to see Edinburgh!

Well, that's now September 1, and the city begins to return to normality after the various festivals. My 'let's have a day out and see a couple of Fringe shows' turned into rather more than that - some seven days were spent on outings to the big city last month. I had great fun, and quite different from the rather sedate existence I usually have in my retirement here at Skip.

Wandering the streets with my camera was interesting. I might well have gone to this show being promoted on the Royal Mile, but it clashed with a slot in my day that was already taken!

And that's the problem, of course. There's just so much going on.
The variety of shows on offer is huge. It's all very well to be selective, but if one only goes to things that one likes, then there's no opportunity for different experiences. For most of my days, I picked one show that I was pretty sure I would enjoy. Then I would look for something a bit different, and then another, picked pretty much at random. Three shows a day was just about right for me, with often a gallery or exhibition added as well.

I've mentioned the flyers already (see here), and this 'notice board' for leaflets had become more of a modern artwork by the time I found it with my camera!

Of course, everyone likes a free show.

Be-dom (Drums + Interactive + Fun) were very persuasive in their free fifteen minutes of so, but for me, nothing beats the drums of Japan. And the four taiko performances I saw were all first class (here).

Now, I'm not really in the business of doing reviews. On Skip Cottage, as you know, I usually just blog about things that I like. But, after paying to attend some 22 performances, how would I rate my Edinburgh days?

Well, some experiences were not very good. One such was being unable to attend an exhibition (Photography: A Victorian Sensation) put on by the National Museums of Scotland, cancelled because of 'industrial action', see here. What a great advert for Scotland. (Calm down, Bob, watch that blood pressure!)

I saw a couple of musical theatre productions that were pretty poor - I'll not say which ones they were as those involved did try hard.

In the International Festival, I saw the Zurich Ballet at the Playhouse. Very good, glad I went. I've been a big dance fan over the years, but it takes something a bit special for me to rave about it these days, and the production didn't quite get my top marks. Enthusiastic audience though on the final night.

Took the car up for that, otherwise the First TransPennine Express did the hard work - the only downside is that the last train for Lockerbie leaves Waverley at 20.15. Still, at my age, early nights are probably a good thing.

I enjoyed a couple of a cappella performances.

In the 'really enjoyed' category were Siro-A, a Japanese group 'exploding the barriers between dance, technology and music'. ZIK'R was flamenco with a big twist, just fabulous. 'Itara' by Danza del Caribe, Cuba's top modern dance company, was quite different, and a great finish to my various perambulations around the town.

In the category of 'unexpectedly brilliant', I would have to put Gandini Juggling's '4x4 Ephemeral Architectures' as my surprise of the month. Four ballet dancers, four jugglers and a string quintet. My initial thoughts when I bought my ticket was that this would be just a bit of fun, but I found myself in a full theatre. I should have read the reviews! You can get a taster here. Wonderful, wonderful.

So good, this show even pushed Dolly into third place on my list. 'Towards Dolly: A Century of Animal Genetics in Edinburgh' was a free exhibition in the University Library. Not for everyone, I admit.

So what's in first place on my list?

The Assembly Box was an 'interesting' venue. Simple, intimate. I've already explained why I went to see 'One Day When We Were Young', see here, and how much I enjoyed the experience. Nothing topped this show in the days that followed.

I thought it would be fun to go and see the final performance yesterday. And indeed it was. They do say some things are even better second time around!

So 'One Day When We Were Young' gets the Skip Cottage award for providing old Bob with a life-enhancing experience. Top of the list.

Well done to those involved. L-R Louisa Proske (Director), Jamie Sims (Technical Director), Stacy Lynn Gould (Assistant Director), Valorie Curry (Best Actress in a Leading Role), Sam Underwood (Best Actor in a Leading Role). Lovely people. Talented all, for sure. I wish them well in their future careers.

(PS If you liked Valorie and Sam in 'One Day When We Were Young', check them out in a short film by Jamie Sims, who's in the photo above, called 'Bus Stop', here.)  

Haven't had a caption competition for some time. How about:
"Spot the actors."
"Are you happy 'One Day' has come to the end of its run?"
Other captions are available.

I have a feeling that September is going to be somewhat mundane after all my Fringe adventures.

Still, I see the curling season is already underway!

Photos © Skip Cottage