Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Nutkin and Twinkleberry

Rosa 'American Pillar' was an addition to the garden a couple of years back, and is rambling away!

If I have a favourite annual, it has to be the snapdragon!

In the twelve years I've been at Skip, the garden has grown somewhat. Some would say that it has become rather 'overgrown'. But that seems to have brought an advantage this year.

This is the first red squirrel I saw in the garden back in May.

The house has become the 'hide' this past couple of months and the new camera given a good workout.

In homage to Beatrix Potter, I had to name it 'Nutkin'.

When I encountered Nutkin outside, he (she?) didn't seem too frightened of me.

Nutkin showing off!

And taking the applause!

It soom became apparent that Nutkin had a friend. I had two red squirrels visiting the garden! Privileged, indeed. You can tell them apart by the colour of their tails.

So this is Twinkleberry admiring the perennials.

I don't have the patience to be a wildlife photographer, but Twinkleberry does like to investigate the peanut feeder, and lets me take photos like this one.

When I first came to Wamphray there were red squirrels in the plantation near the old school, but they haven't been there for a while. I hope that my seeing them in my garden means that they are re-establishing themselves in the area.

Pix © Skip Cottage

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Manchester Transport

The final day of my 'rail roving' for this year took me to Manchester, for the opportunity to ride more of the Metrolink light rail.

Manchester Victoria, now with its new roof and seamless interchange with the trams, is so much improved since my last visit.
This unprepossessing building, an old bus and tram garage, was my destination yesterday. It is Manchester's transport museum, see here.

It was well worth the visit. This is the place for a bus enthusiast!

And more! The list of all the vehicles in the collection is here.

If I had to pick just one? It would have to be this single decker, because of the Scottish connection. This Leyland Tiger PS1was built by W Alexander and Sons, and entered service in 1950. It is here in the Manchester museum to represent the thousands of buses and coaches which visited Greater Manchester from other parts of the country on express services and tours. CWG 206 was retired in 1971.

In this old coach body, there was a fascinating video of Manchester's transport during WW2. Sobering to watch.

This chassis reminded me that my father, as an apprentice with Albion Motors, used to drive such in all weathers.

Looks like a bus, but it is in fact a trolleybus, one of two in the collection. It is a Crossley which entered service in 1950 with Ashton Corporation. Withdrawn 1966.

I was privileged to get a preview of the work being done to restore the inside of the other trolleybus in the collection.

This is JVU 755, Manchester Corporation Transport No 1250, a Crossley Dominion trolleybus, from 1951. And George, one of the friendly and helpful volunteers I met yesterday.

No 1250 has a double axle at the rear, presumably because it is so long.

Yet another great day out!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Saturday, July 09, 2016

A Tram Day

I was looking forward to a ride on Bolton 66 at Blackpool. The tram dates from 1901, and you can read about it here and here.

Unfortunately, by the time I reached Blackpool, it had developed a fault, and was despatched back to the depot.

However, next heritage tram to arrive was Boat 227, and I enjoyed several trips thereon! Great fun.

I armed myself with this ticket, which cost a tenner. But I was back and forward on a number of trips along the Golden Mile on heritage trams, then along the whole length of the tramway from Starr Gate to Fleetwood Ferry. Good value for the enthusiast! And lots of blue sky to enjoy. Wonderful.

Read all about the Blackpool Tramway here.

Tim, our driver on no 227, checks behind. Those operating the heritage services are volunteers, and Tim, with conductor Bradley on the boat tram, along with the other volunteers I met yesterday, could not have been more friendly and helpful. Full marks to them.

Boat 227 waits at North Pier as one of the new Flexity 2 trams heads past towards Fleetwood. I visited three years ago to check out the new trams, see here, and six years ago I experienced some of the older ones, here.

Many of these now comprise Blackpool's 'Heritage Fleet'. Last year the heritage trams operated on special days. In 2016, as well as the 'enhanced running' weekends with six different trams to ride on, most weekdays see two of the heritage fleet operating. Most trips are between Pleasure Beach and North Pier, with the occasional run further to Cabin.

Our conductor Bradley turning the trolley pole.

Heading off back towards Pleasure Beach.

'Balloon' car No 717 was brought out to replace no 66 yesterday. Here it is beside the Pleasure Beach. It dates from 1934, see here.

On the top deck. The car is in lovely condition.

Always up for a bit of culture, I found myself investigating the strange noises coming from one of the many modern art installations along Blackpool's promenade. This is the High Tide Organ designed by the Liam Curtin and John Gooding. Read about it here.

Photos © Skip Cottage

Thursday, July 07, 2016

To Another Place

My exploration of the UK's railway network found me on Merseyrail's Northern Line yesterday.

I was headed for the delightfully named Blundellsands and Crosby station.

The beach hereabouts is very nice, but many visitors don't come for the sand.

Nor do they come to see the flora on the dunes, interesting though it may be.

High tide is probably not the best time to visit 'Another Place', Antony Gormley's installation of 100 cast-iron, life-size figures spread out along three kilometres of the foreshore, see here.

But with time to spare one can watch the figures gradually being covered by the incoming tide, and being revealed as the water recedes.

And there is the added attraction of watching the ships arriving and leaving Liverpool docks.

I can vouch for the coffee and friendly welcome in the nearby leisure centre, and after a good exploration of the promenade, I was able to get close to a couple of the figures nearest the shore.

The elements are beginning to take their toll.

Each figure weighs 650 kilos and all were made from casts of the artist's own body. The following is from the original proposal in 1997, here: "The sculptures are made from 17 body-casts taken from my body (protected by a thin layer of wrapping plastic) between the 19th of May and the 10th of July. The sculptures are all standing in a similar way, with the lungs more or less inflated and their postures carrying different degrees of tension or relaxation."

Of course, not everyone is a fan, for all sorts of reasons, see here, especially when it was proposed to site the figures permanently at Crosby, after they had been displayed at beaches at Cuxhaven, Germany, at Stavanger in Norway, and De Panne in Belgium.

But I enjoyed seeing the installation, watching the effect of the tides, and attempting to understand what was in the artist's mind.

And I was pleased to see the RNLI patrolling the beach, or indeed the promenade, as it was high tide.

A great day out!

Photos © Skip Cottage

Sunday, July 03, 2016

Bertie and the Flying Scotsman

I haven't had a 'steam fix' for a while so that was why I was at Carlisle's Citadel Station yesterday to see LNER A3 Class 4-6-2 no 60103 Flying Scotsman!

The locomotive was hauling the Railway Touring Company's 'The Hadrian' day tour.

The security was in place and cameras were there.

But the fuss was because they were filming for a future episode of the Antiques Roadshow. Presenter Fiona Bruce got to visit the cab! Jealous, me? Never.

I was standing beside Bertie, a six month old Westie - Bichon Frise cross, whose owners had brought him along to experience the famous steam locomotive, when the puppy was noticed by Fiona, and she came over to say hello. Big day for a wee dog!

Expect these framed railway posters to feature on the forthcoming 'Golden Age of Travel' Antiques Roadshow episode.

The locomotive's support coach.

It was a wet, cold day at Carlisle yesterday. Here flying Scotsman sets off to park the carriages in a siding just over from platform 1.

It is an amazing locomotive.

Time to take on water and get pointed the other way by going around the Upperby triangle.

The real enthusiasts were out trackside yesterday to capture the Flying Scotsman tackling Shap, and elsewhere, see, for example, here, here, here and here.

Photos © Skip Cottage