31 August 2006

Another week passes by with very little to report. Well, not too much anyway!

Last weekend was, of course, the last Bank Holiday weekend before Christmas and, as I was off work on the Saturday, Lynda and I took the opportunity to visit her Aunt and Uncle in Hampshire. We travelled down straight after work on the Thursday evening and stayed until early afternoon on Monday.

On the Friday we all took a trip into London - quite an outing for a 40 year old “country boy” I can tell you! This was only the second time I’d ever stepped foot in the capital, the first being a good few years ago when Lynda and I had to catch a coach from London to take us to the Le Mans 24hr race in France! On that occasion, I saw little or nothing of the sights.

After Friday's trip… I want to go back! The main part of the day was a look behind the scenes at The Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. I thought this would be just a guided tour of the theatre that explained some of its history and how the place ran. It turned out to be a mini play in itself with our guides being some of the old characters from the theatres past.

The whole day was one new treat after another for me but other highlights included a trip on the London Eye, which I would recommend, seeing Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament for the first time, St. Paul’s cathedral, the fountains at Somerset House, walking over the Millennium Bridge, Covent Garden and the walk along the Embankment with all of its street entertainers.

The London Eye.

After such a busy day on Friday the rest of the weekend was spent relaxing with family. Luckily, the weather was most unlike a Bank Holiday and was actually sunny and rather hot for most of the time! This meant that we could sit out in the garden either reading, catching up on news or just generally chatting.

The only problem with a great weekend away like that is that all too soon it was time to face the holiday traffic and head for home. Apart from the usual heavy traffic on the A34 we made good time on the way back with the 150 mile trip taking just under 2½ hours - I think the weather must have made people delay their journeys until later in the day.

So, this week. Nothing to report at all! Work has been, well, work. I’ve managed to use the mountain bike twice to get there this week, the bad weather stopped me today and tomorrow I’ll need to be back home as soon as possible so it will be the car again!

The reason for the rush tomorrow evening? It’s the start of the Off The Tracks music festival near Castle Donington! I’ve been looking forward to this for some while now and the forecast of rain on and off for the weekend certainly isn’t going to dampen my enthusiasm for it!

Click for London photos!

20 August 2006

Still very little going on here - apart from it being my birthday earlier in the week. The big 40! Must say though that it doesn’t feel any different to any other birthday, which must mean that either I’ve felt like a 40 year old for sometime now or, that I’m still not acting my age! I will leave that for you to work out!

Although I was at work for my birthday, it was a relatively easy day; work was very quiet, possibly the quietest day this year, with no problems at all. The only thing that I did have to deal with was the constant joking from work mates about my age and also the A4 posters that had been placed all around the building telling me, and everyone else, that I was in fact 50! I still bought everyone Muffins and Danish Pastries though!

The best bit of getting old is that I will be able to take a train ride I’ve wanted to do for years, the Settle and Carlisle railway, one of Europe’s greatest railway journeys. Lynda has treated me, and herself, to tickets on The Cumbrian Mountain Express on 21 October.

We will leave Worcester early on the Saturday morning for a diesel hauled journey up the West Coast main line to Hellifield. There, the diesel will be replaced by 71000 The Duke of Gloucester, the last steam express passenger loco built for British Railways. From there we will continue on through Settle, over the Ribblehead Viaduct, Kirkby Stephen and Appleby to the city of Carlisle.

After a break in Carlisle, our steam hauled journey will continue onto the famous Shap Summit before heading to Preston via the Lune Valley, Oxenholme and Lancaster. The return from Preston will again be diesel hauled, behind a Class 47, Brush Sulzer Type 4 locomotive. The whole day will be in the comfort of “Premier Dining” class - a table for two with window seats, full English breakfast, lunch and then a four course, silver service, dinner!

A couple of photos of 71000 - taken from 71000 Trust web site.

08 August 2006

Time to catch up...

First of all, where is the summer going? I can't believe its August already! I had so much planned for this year but so much has already been missed!

So far, I've only been to two Autograss meetings, at one we didn't get the car to run and at the other, we managed OK results but nothing stunning. The gigs have been few and far between so far, something that I will be looking at putting right over the next week or so, and my bird watching has ground to a halt again. It always becomes "too much trouble" once the hot weather arrives but this year has been worse than most!

So, what have we been up to? Well, we went up to Scotland for the Callander Highland Games just over a week ago and had a great time. The only let down was that in the end we didn't get to see either of the two bands we went to see. Due to a rather large mess up on the organiser's behalf Clann an Drumma and Albannach did not play.

Apart from the lack of music, the games were very good - we'll be going to more that is for sure! Best event in our opinion has to be the "56lb for Height" throw. Quite how they manage to throw that thing so high is beyond me! The best throw, on both days, was 17 and a half feet.

Tossing the Caber was good to see live, there is a lot more skill involved with this than I had thought. Whenever I've seen this on TV, it looked like a case of pure strength and a bit of luck, that is far from it! To get a perfect, 12 o'clock, throw is very hard indeed and wasn't managed too often over the weekend. When it did happen, the crowd certainly got behind the competitor throwing at the time.

The town of Callander was very nice; it is a place that I will certainly be visiting again soon. The Bridgend House Hotel, where we stayed, is also to be recommended - just be aware that they have live music at the weekends and it can go on until late! The Scottish breakfast MUST be tried! I did, every morning! The whisky is pretty good too - each night!

There's not much other news really. I'm still using the mountain bike to get to work, and still enjoying it. I did have a slight problem last week when one of my tyres decided to "blow out" whilst the bike was parked up at work. I think that there must have been a flaw in the inner tube. The problem was soon solved - a quick stop off at a cycle shop on the way home, in the car, to pick up two new inner tubes and all was as good as new. Hopefully I'll not be caught out again as the new tubes are filled with a self-sealing fluid that will take care of any small punctures, we will see!

OK, just found an extra bit of news... even after deleting a load of old photos from here, I still can't post any new pics into the blog! So, some pictures from the Scotland trip are on Shutterfly!

Click here for Scotland photos!