Wednesday, June 29, 2016

On the beach

Monday saw me on the other side of the country, on the beach near Scoughall, south of North Berwick. A picnic lunch, with this view of the Bass Rock.

Peffer Sands is a beautiful beach, flanked by high dunes.

Amazingly, I had the whole beach to myself!


Where the Peffer Burn reaches the sea.

This is what remains of a WW2 observation post, built of brick and concrete. I'm thinking that at one point it would have been atop the dunes.

It was a perfect place to be, and a lovely day to be here.

These concrete blocks were WW2 anti-tank coastal defences, which were put in place on sandy beaches all along the east coast of the country, with the prospect of a German invasion. The blocks in this photo are no-longer in situ, having been moved and piled up here, near Scoughall Rocks, presumably to be a barrier to the erosion of the small headland behind.

One can see how these were constructed, on examining this one which is lying on its side. On the right is the base which would have been buried in the sand. Above ground the concrete cube measured approx 6 feet on each side. The striations show how the concrete would have been poured in layers. Considering how many of these things were built, it must have been a huge effort.

A little further down the coast, south of the Peffer Burn, these anti-tank blocks are still in place.

I was last here at Scoughall in the early 1960s. I have no photos of that time, only rather vague memories. I do recall campfires on the beach!

In my early teens I attended a Scripture Union camp here at Scoughall. This could have been the very field, which would have had canvas bell tents and marquees. It was a wonderful experience for this city youngster.

The Scripture Union still runs camps on the site, see here. There are more permanent facilities now, so not all need to be under canvas, and there are opportunities for indoor activities should the weather be unpleasant.

I had a pleasant chat with two students who will be working all summer here, and who were getting things ready for the first campers arriving in July.

I hope that campers in 2016 will have a similar enjoyable, challenging and enriching experience as I had as a fourteen year old.
Photos © Skip Cottage

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Classics at Moffat

Last weekend saw the staging of the 19th Moffat Classic Car Rally. On the Saturday, some of the cars take part in what is described as a 'scenic fun run', up the A708 to St Mary's Loch then over by Talla to Tweedsmuir and back to Moffat via the Devil's Beef Tub. It's a great test for these classics.

I always try and support the event when I can. So I was at the start on Saturday, to see the participants setting off from Moffat's High Street.

There's a big nostalgia element for me too. I always look out for cars similar to those I've owned in the past. This Sunbeam Talbot Mark 3 was my wheels in my final year as a university undergraduate in 1968-69. Happy memories!

More recently, in the 1990s, I had a Reliant Scimitar for a while. So whenever I see one, memories of my time with that car jump back to mind.

As a student, I worked one summer as a sales representative. The 'firm's car' was this Vauxhall 101 Estate. I did lots of miles in it, and had lots of experiences.
I would have loved to have owned one of these.

Just one of the many photo opportunities last Saturday!

On the Sunday, all the cars assemble at the Moffat Show Ground. With more than 500 cars on display, plus car clubs and trade stands, there's lots to see. On Sunday morning the weather was fine and it was wonderful to see so many enthusiasts with so much passion for their old cars!

Needing wheels in a hurry when I came back from the USA in 1974, I bought a second hand Triumph 1300. It turned out to be something of a dud, and certainly made me very wary of buying used in the years that followed. This one on display last Sunday looked to be in wonderful condition, but the model itself has nothing but painful memories for me!

A colourful lineup of Stags!

I look in vain every year at Moffat for the first 'old banger' I ever owned - a Triumph Mayflower. Fond, fond memories. I expect I'll have to travel to classic car shows further afield to find one. Those remaining are much loved, see here.

Pix © Skip Cottage

Friday, June 24, 2016

The Garden in June

The new Clematis montana 'Alba' only went in last year, but it is showing promise already.

There was only the one bloom on this new Rhododendron, planted in 2015, but I think I made a good choice. Hopefully it will grow on well. In general though it wasn't a good year for the rhoddies this year at Skip.

These Himalayan poppies seem to like the conditions!

I left it late in planting up the containers this year, but these two are coming away nicely now.

I've made another attempt at a Dahlia bed this year (in the background of this pic), for colour later in the year. I have all sorts of other things in containers, especially hostas.

I tried to get rid of these poppies early in the year, but, as you can see, I wasn't really successful!

These day lillies were originally grown from seed and do add a splash of colour.

Geranium Johnson's Blue is always reliable.

I encountered Strawflowers for the first time last year in a friend's garden, and was fascinated by them. I failed to get seeds in time, but found a couple of plants when browsing the Rouken Glen garden centre in early June. Xerochrysum bracteatum is native to Australia.

This red squirrel has been a regular, welcome visitor to the garden, first thing of a morning for a nibble at the peanut feeder.

I should probably give him a name! I hope he stays around.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

The Pacers

Of all the passenger trains on the network, these Class 142 DMUs are probably the least loved! Here 142091 and 142017 sit in Darlington station.

And here, in the background, is a third set pulling out of the station heading for Saltburn. 'Pacers' are diesel multiple units which date from the early 1980s, see here. Successors to Class 140s and 141s, Class 142s were built by Leyland and British Rail Engineering in 1985. The body was based on a Leyland National bus, as here. The class has a capacity of 120 passengers per two-car set.

The Pacers were built inexpensively and running costs were to be low. They feature a modified bus body, and other bus components such as the seating. Each carriage has four wheels on a fixed wheelbase, rather than the more usual eight wheels on bogies.

Most of the Pacers still in use are in service with Northern, that franchise, a division of Arriva, beginning in April this year. The company has made a commitment to replace the Pacers by 2019, see here.

The Bishop Line, which runs between Darlington and Bishop Auckland, is important to Britain's railway heritage, see here, as it formed part of the original Stockton and Darlington Railway. The Stockton to Darlington railway opened on September 27, 1825.

I have been a passenger on the line on a number of occasions, and recently experienced the Pacers again on my way to Shildon. Here Pacer set 142086 arrives at Shildon.

The wooden ladder comprises part of the onboard safety equipment, and really illustrates just how old these vehicles are!

Shildon is of course home to part of the National Railway Museum, see here. I'm rather fond of the place! Here I am getting up close to the wheels of LMS Stanier Class 5, no 5000, built at Crewe in 1935.

I wonder if some of the Pacers will be preserved and run on heritage lines in the future. Or perhaps displayed alongside the locomotives at Shildon!

Pics © Skip Cottage