Saturday, 4 February 2023

Weather Balloon

At first it looks just like any other normal day, but in the land of the inch high, we know that there is no such thing. 

Looking up to the roof on the left, Barry Bullhead oversees his merry band of moonshiners up on the roof of the cooperage. They’re testing out the new cooperage hot and cold water supply tanks apparently, so all is well there. They’ve have been back several times over the last few days to check that it’s all working correctly, such dedication. Highly recommended! 

The ex LNWR ’Webb Coal Tank’ still has yet to return to Shrewsbury engine shed, but it’s unlikely they’ll miss it too much, for as mentioned a week or so ago, 58926 is a bit of a roamer. 

Driver Reg is chatting to Deliberation Dave about things they could do on their rest days, but as we know, Dave hates a break from the norm. Rufus Hound appears to have adopted Dave for company today, for he’s a friendly hound, far too friendly in fact, for as we know he’s Deidre’s dog. 

Deidre and Farmer George (he being one of 2 identical brothers both named George) still appear to be an item, but she still hasn’t worked out that she’s dating identical twins who share the same name. She’s simply impressed with his amazing stamina and ability to keep going, which she simply puts down to his skills maintaining his throbbing farm tractor which keeps him fit. 

Twitchers Cider, the big mass factory cider producer of the area, are testing out their new ‘weather balloon’. It’s quite sophisticated by all accounts, it having the ability to change altitude quickly to take advantage of different wind patterns. Apparently its purpose is to help them to monitor the weather and plan where to plant new apple orchards and such. It even carries a big camera to help identify suitable locations. The smaller bespoke cider producers don’t consider it to be a threat, but they will keep an eye on it. 

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Friday, 3 February 2023

Doom Bar and Ukuleles

Yesterday evening we had a rather delicious beef stew, but we had it a little too late, and despite having an early night I woke up at 3am completely ‘wired’, so got I up a feasted on the wormhole of YouTube for a couple of hours.  

The last time I felt like this was when I worked in TV for a well known megalomaniac on their news channel. I recall that same 3am adrenaline fuelled buzz trying to stay awake and not take the broadcast off air by hitting the wrong button on the mixing desk just as breaking news from The White House or such was announced. 

I finally got back to sleep around 5am, and had an odd dream. I found myself and a couple of my band members (I’m a weekend muso) in a rather dull chain pub in Southeast London trying to find something worthwhile to drink. You know then sort of pub that thinks that by having a pump selling stale Doom Bar Bitter, it will entice the Christmas-only pub goer to experience the delights of cask ale. And in their boiled-in-the-bag and deep-fried defence, it probably does. I had an ersatz mainstream lager by the way, for that was definitely the lesser of two evils, even though the gas cylinder adding fizz to the bland liquor was almost depleted. 

Just as we were about to leave to find a more worthwhile beer experience, several smiley souls, mostly in later life appeared with silly hats covered with badges and what looked like violin cases. Yep, it was a meeting of the local ukulele group. The demographic is rather like that of toy train nuts, certainly the age group and the need to wear matching monogrammed polo shirts displaying their allegiance to their chosen uke-troupe, which in this case was the Lewisham & Blackheath Ukulele Strummers (apologies to any ukuleleists if this is a real group). 

As I took our glasses back to the bar, a rather jovial jolly hockey sticks Women’s Institute type, probably one of the inner clique of the troupe, said to me “we have some ukuleles here if you’d like to join in”. My fellow muso friends thought why not, after all, a ukulele is just the top 4 strings of a guitar at capo 5 for those who give a toss. We rummaged through a rather battered collection of ukuleles, most of which had broken strings or missing tuning pegs and finally managed to put three together with a little cannibalisation. 

And then I woke up….

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Thursday, 2 February 2023

Missed the Boat

At Combwich harbour Skinny Jim and Lanky Les have just missed the monthly boat to the tiny island of Flat Holm in the middle of the Bristol Channel. Which is a shame because they’ve just rolled 3 casks of oak aged cider 5 miles along the country lanes from their remote farm up in the hills. So it looks like the booze starved residents of the tiny island will again have to hope for another booze carrying ship to run aground in the style of the classic film, Whisky Galore. 

Jim & Les had planned to use the old Austin 7, bit really is too small to carry any kind of cargo, and anyway is extremely unreliable. The nearby island of Steep Holm (which is frequently confused with Flat Holm) specialises in moonshine production, so the islanders of Flat Holm should consider setting up something similar, after all, a little competition is always good. 

In the meantime the mid morning service from Templecombe via Highbridge arrives. It’s a longer train than usual, because it’s the annual West of England Woodlouse Chewing Extravaganza, which this year is being hosted at the nearby The Star Inn. This pub as we know has weekly ladies’ wasp chewing competitions, so running this prestigious event should be a doddle. Mmm, crunchy. 

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Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Scrumpy & Western

Another demolition train arrives at Combwich in September 1967 a year and a half after closure, and as we can see track is starting to look rather overgrown, the last weed killing train running well over two years before. It doesn’t take long for nature to take over, as any not-so-keen gardeners like me will know all too well.  

In recent weeks, a private contractor has taken over much the the demolition work. Working back to the mainline, the rails are broken up in to short sections and loaded in to the old wagons, which in turn will also be scrapped. 

After the station was fully cleared by the following spring, the land lay vacant until the mid 1970s when a rather unimaginative council owned semi prefabricated pebbledash housing estate was built on the site. Allegedly in recent years, residents have been complaining of water ingress and resulting mould, but supposedly the local council, who still own some of the properties are slow at doing anything about it, but of course this is only local gossip. But we do all know all too well this is a nationwide issue in Little Britain, especially with regional media outlets on ‘quiet news days’ when they need to fill airtime or column space with stock library news written by ‘media studies’ students on work experience. 

But on a positive note, the ‘Planet’ diesel mechanical locomotive here lives on in preservation at the nearby highly regarded Avalon Railway and Cider Farm. The popular tourist attraction was set up a few years ago by a wealthy former member of ‘The Scumpyheads’ the well known 1970’s West Country ‘scrumpy and western’ folk rock band bought to fame by cider swilling drinking hits like ‘There’s a Dead Rat in my Cider’, ‘I’ve Got and Brand New Cider Press’ and the minor keyed traditional folk ballad ‘Wassail My Old Dear’. 

By the way, do check the farm out, the railway takes a picturesque 2 mile circular route around the apple orchards, and of course there is a cider bar and stage for regular live music events. Google for more details, but beware that when I checked their website earlier it appeared to be down for some reason.  

And finally, Ratio based their well known plastic kit on the yard crane seen to the right. Also, Roxey Mouldings do a cracking little white metal kit very similar to the locomotive here. 

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Sunday, 29 January 2023

Demolition!

Today’s post is from an old Agfachrome CT18 slide taken in September 1967, 18 months after closure of the railway to Combwich. I recall the photographer saying that he used an 85mm short telephoto lens on his trusty Nikkormatt, a good solid no nonsense camera, I still use mine from time to time. 

Anyway, back to the subject, and we can see that work has started on  dismantling the railway, with the removal of anything that can be recycled or possibly used elsewhere. Few recorded the railways being dismantled, with enthusiasts too busy chasing what little was left of steam at this time. Others simply put their cameras away and took up stamp collecting or started to build a model railway to remind them of the halcyon days of steam. 

Class 22 diesel hydraulic locomotives were regulars on the demolition trains over many of the recently West Country closed lines, of which there were many of course. Third party demolition contractors also cleared lines, occasional with their own locomotive or simply tractors, old lorries and brute force. 

The engine shed, which supposedly Airfix based their well known kit on, makes a sad sight with its doors open and general detritus dumped in front of it. Somebody would love to have had that old parcels trolly, but it most likely was just added to a huge bonfire along with anything else that would burn. Alas, by December the rails were all gone and the engine shed flattened.

And finally, the crossing keeper’s cottage in the far distance is still there to this day, but heavily extended over the former trackbed. The building is difficult to recognise as ‘railway’, but the owners do have a semaphore signal in the garden, albeit with a GWR signal arm mounted on the post upside down painted in rainbow colours with ‘Thank you NHS’ applied rather badly from sticky backed plastic letters.

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Saturday, 28 January 2023

Industrial Action

Saturday down at the canal coal wharf. As usual plenty is going on, starting with the obligatory bidding on a crate of moonshine between Henry High Vis, Boatman Brian, Doug and his brother Douglas (who’s left his shovel at home). Colin today is overseeing the bidding war. 

Meanwhile Derek is chatting to Bob Geeza Cat in meow speak about tinned fish and finding the warmest place for an afternoon nap. Derek has no interest in moonshine, he’s more of a Horlicks or Ovaltine kind of chap having recently joined the O Gauge Guild as a lifetime member. 

Up on the bridge, PC Mouldy has been trying to spy on the moonshine bidding, but has been distracted by Nasal Nigel’s antics just visible in front of the WW2 concrete pillbox. Nigel as usual is fiddling with his greasy TT gauge ‘Flying Scotsman’ locomotive inside the special pocket of his bus spotter’s green flasher-mac. He really must stop doing that in public at least, but to Nigel that’s probably half the thrill. 

And finally, PC Moudy’s sidekick PC Scullery is nowhere to been seen, but we all know that she has a severe cat fur allergy, and that even the sight of Bob Geeza Cat at 75 yards will set her off. The Moonshiners are fully aware of this, so Bob is bribed with tinned sardines to follow them around. 

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Friday, 27 January 2023

Striking The Pose


It’s Front End Friday again #FEF

The little ex London & North Western Railway ‘Web Coal Tank’ has remained at Combwich shed for the Highbridge service for almost 2 weeks now. Usually this service is very quiet outside commuter hours, but since the locomotive’s arrival in this remote part of Somerset, passenger levels have increased tenfold with up to 10 passengers on a good day, with some riding the cushions for several trips. 

The little locomotive has been attracting a lot of railway enthusiasts and photographers keen to enjoy the engine so far from home. The loco is officially based many miles away at 84G Shrewsbury shed, but because its had quite a history of regular engine shed hopping often after only a few weeks, they probably haven’t noticed its disappearance in far off Shropshire. 

As with my post from a week or two, the loco crews are expected to pose for photographers prior to each departure, with Derek and Deliberation Dave now striking the perfect stance for the clicking shutters. 

And finally, of course attention loving Bob Geeza Cat is in on the act, hoping that he’ll be offered a little tinned spam or cheese from the many enthusiasts’ packed lunches made by ‘mother’. 

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Thursday, 26 January 2023

Rapido Trains 16 inch Hunslet

A shiny red 16 inch Hunslet locomotive has recently arrived at the colliery, the 0-6-0 wheel arrangement having plenty power to push and pull wagons up and down the steep 1 in 20 grade into the colliery. 

Freddy the flag, sees no reason to wave his warning flag, Freddy’s thought being that if you can’t see or hear such a large lump of hot throbbing steamy shiny red metal coming for you, that you should be left to the powers of natural selection anyway. 

Dudley, notices the lack of a three link hanging from the coupling hook, but he’ll easily be able to address that by borrowing the one off the wagon behind him. Nobody will notice with so many wagons everywhere, many of which are due to be scrapped soon. 

Barry Bullhead, from The Ministry of Misery as usual is overseeing things. He oversees many things in addition to his government job of instigating misery wherever he can, especially if he can make a few bob on the side. 

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And finally, thank you to Rapido Trains UK https://rapidotrains.co.uk/ who kindly supplied the locomotive for this post.

Wednesday, 25 January 2023

Stuffed Tiger

Every Wednesday, retired loco fireman Noddy Smoulder drives over the hills from Watchet to pretend to drive the disused narrow gauge locomotive on the quay at Combwich. That’s his faded blue Morris Eight Series E parked up. He chose the colour to match his faded British Railways loco crew attire, to which he adds a dashing snippet of colour with a bright red cotton neckerchief bought from bric-à-brac shop Minehead last year.

Sadly Noddy never achieved driver status during his long railway career due to his inability to see the colour green, so makes up for it every Wednesday. He even makes a realistic chuffing and tooting sounds just like a working living locomotive. 

Noddy doesn’t yet know it, but the locomotive will soon be heading to a new Holiday camp near Minehead, there it will be painted bright pink and mounted on a plinth like a stuffed tiger in a musty old museum. This means that Noddy won’t have to drive over the hills anymore to get his weekly fix, for his old car does struggle with the steep windy roads though the Quantock Hills. 

And finally, let’s hope that Noddy won’t scare the holiday makers, especially the children with those locomotive sounds he’s so good at. Toot toot, here comes the train!

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Tuesday, 24 January 2023

Thomas the Smug Engine Blue

Pete, Dave and Harry examine the arrival of the new battery powered express freight service. The new loco, resplendent in ‘Thomas the Smug Engine Blue’ livery with matching wagon even sports a built in crane which can rotate 360 degrees to allow loading and unloading almost anywhere. 

I know a few of you get rather nasal about loading gauges, which likely dates back to childhood when you had one of those wooden toys with different shaped bricks you had to put through the correct hole but were rubbish at. Fear not, the whole caboodle slides down inside the engine and wagon as smoothly as Nasal Nigel’s sticky hand does back in to the special pocket of his sticky green flasher-mac. It even makes a squeaky slurping sound like Nigel’s hand does. 

Deliberation Dave has quite rightly noticed, that unless you’re an acrobatic ninja, climbing up and getting through the cab door could be tricky due to the lack of proper handrails and steps. But Harry the Hammer has read that the crew are craned up and then dropped in through the cab roof, the door being purely cosmetic to save money. Pete replies, quite rightly, that someone still has to get in to the engine in the first place to operate the crane, and what if the battery is flat? 

And finally, Clive looks on from the comfort his new narrowboat which looks a little too big for him. Clive will trim the tiller later when he gets his saw out, should any boaters here start to get a little twitchy. 

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Monday, 23 January 2023

Before Colour Was Invented

Monochrome Monday (almost). In the UK before colour was invented in 1954 at the end of wartime food rationing, unless you were American or an abstract artist, you could most likely only see in monochrome. For this reason locomotives were painted in black and white, and of course all the shades of grey in between. If ‘colour’ did appear, it was thought to be an anomaly most likely caused by some kind of chemical reaction with the inside of the paint tin.

Despite this, in Little Britain a few could actually see in colour before 1954, but the good old British ’Stiff Upper Lip’, ensured that we had the power to ignore such nonsense as ‘colour’, for as I’ve already said, was only for those pesky Americans, flamboyant bohemian artist types and regulars of the Soho jazz club scene. 

From the mid 1950s, colour slowly started to appear, but was treated by suspicion by the establishment and tweed wearing types. It actually took ultra finescale railway modelling types another 40 or 50 or so years until they accepted colour, with the Model Railway Journal being the last bastion of the model railway press to embrace that ‘colour fad’ when it moved over from hand scribed slate to paper to save with postage costs. 

And finally, that’s Arthritic Arthur sat on the bench made of sleepers, as he takes in the wonderful locomotive lining job he’s just completed - in black and white of course!

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Sunday, 22 January 2023

Supersized Silly Sunday

It’s that loco again, which somehow or other has crossed the Atlantic and appeared deep in The Forest of Dean at the sidings of a little known colliery. 

Many of our regulars have left the comfort of the Miners Arms pub to take in the incredible sight. It’s thought that the management have been on that fangled ’interweb thing’ splashing the cash on yet another unsuitable but never the less magnificent shunting loco. 

From left to right… Waving Wayne waves the loco through, he always gets the waving job, ‘cos that’s what he does best. Deliberation Dave is counting the wheels, but he’s struggling after his 7 pints at the pub, so will shortly give up counting and record the number as ‘probably more than 10’. 

Pete’s standing on the loco being photographed by Dud with his back to us. He wants the photograph for an advert in the lonely hearts section of The Freeminer & Tree Hugger’s Gazette - a popular periodical with nature loving lonely single late middle aged men with coal under their fingernails in the Forest. The resulting photograph will indicate to any possible suitors that he has a ‘big one’, though of course as we know with big car drivers, it’s usually quite the opposite. 

Freddy the Flag, clutches his red warning flag, but has decided not to bother waving it in this instance, because it’s pretty obvious that while the engine is a potential hazard, if you didn’t see it coming you’re probably best left to the powers of natural selection anyway. 

Everyone’s favourite, Hubert the conversational Latin speaking horse is struggling to find suitable Latin to describe such a magnificent steamy beast, for the Romans didn’t have steam locomotives as far as I’m aware. Though I’m sure one or two of the many fluent Latin conversationalists here will be able to smugly advise Hubert. 

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Saturday, 21 January 2023

Lamps, Flies & Trouser Snakes

Saturday at Combwich. Dud and Deliberation Dave prior to hopping back on their loco, confirm that their flies (zipper for my colonial followers) are done up before then checking out each other’s attire. After all, they don’t want to be scaring any passengers with a rogue one-eyed trouser snake, that’s more Nasal Nigel’s thing.

Through the cab of the loco, Waving Wayne spots Harry the Hammer who as usual is at the end of his shift, along with Hubert the conversational Latin speaking horse standing in the yard. Wayne is always waving, he even waves in his sleep we are told by his mother Semaphore Sarah. 

Not noticing Wayne, Harry and Hubert, before heading to The Star, watch the departure of the 12pm to Bridgwater. Today it’s formed of an elderly Johnson 1P 0-4-4 tank locomotive, a parcels van and an ex Southern Railway Maunsell brake composite coach in crimson and cream. Normally the coach on this service is an ancient ex Midland suburban carriage from the Victorian era smelling of urine and fungus, so todays passengers are in for a marginally better experience. 

The streetlamp fanatics here, will no doubt be excited by the concrete lamp post of Southern Railway origin and its Art Deco inspired ceramic lanterns. The station is mostly lit by gas, however electric lighting is slowly being introduced, but at the current rate of progress gas will be around for a lot longer yet, this lamp being installed almost 20 years ago. 

Bus spotters, I’m sure will have noticed the Bedford OB lurking on the far left. It’s very similar to the one seen a week of two ago being used for ‘Murder on the Rail Replacement Bus Service’ events. Actually it might even be the same bus. Today it’s forming the 12pm Combwich to Bridgwater bus service, duplicating the rail service here. All very ‘Titfield Thunderbolt’ I must say! Sensing foul play here, I’ve a hunch Barry Bullhead and Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe are involved. 

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Friday, 20 January 2023

Remote Control


 It’s Front End Friday aka #FEF again. 

Dudley and Deliberation Dave watch the little locomotive potter in and out of the colliery pulling and pushing wagons to and from the canal coal wharf just out of shot to the left. 

And whilst Dudley is normally looking at his darn notebook, today he’s testing a new fangled radio control unit. He finds this easy because he doesn’t have to change his navel gazing pose too much, which is helpful seeing he’s made of 3D printed resin. 

“Radio control” I hear you sniffle, accompanied with by an adenoidal grunt as you spill your cup of tea all down your white shirt mother freshly ironed for you. Well, here’s the story; the engine has been fitted with a complex arrangement of steam powered levers and other paraphernalia which allows it to be driven remotely - Dudley in this case. 

Sadly, for fireman Barclay, he has to remain in the cab moving coal around and tending to the fire. But at least at breakfast time he’ll be able to enjoy the sausages, egg and bacon all to himself that will shortly be simmering on his shovel, also known as a ‘footplate man’s fry-up’. Delicious. 

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Thursday, 19 January 2023

Bish, Bash, Bosh

 

As usual it’s the end of Harry the Hammer’s shift. He’s been working at the Hemyock creamery fixing the winch used to haul the milk tanks wagons across the road into the dairy complex. It was a straightforward job, only needing a few taps here and there with his trusty hammer to loosen things up. 

Harry’s train has just arrived for the journey home, but notices that there is no cast loco number plate on the smokebox door. It might be that it’s fallen off, if so, it will be a simple job for Harry to address with a couple of spare sleeper spikes and a tap here and there with his hammer. But if the missing plate cannot be found, a swift trip down Station Road will find houses with suitable cast numbers on their doors or gates he can borrow. Bish, bash, bosh, loco number 1401 - job done. 

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Wednesday, 18 January 2023

S&DJR 7F in Gloucestershire & North Norfolk

Occasionally former S&DJR 7F 2-8-0 freight locomotives would venture beyond the Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway network. At Cement Quay on the edge Severn in nearby Gloucester, 53809 of Bath shed arrives with empties for the quarry which is accessed via the cement works here. 

This particular turn is more often than not in the hands of a Western Region registered ex LMS 8F 2-8-0 locomotive or BR 9F 2-10-0. But luckily, viewed from the comfort my time machine I had my camera to hand to record this unusual event. 

Hopefully the crew who ‘borrowed’ the locomotive returned the loco un damaged, I imagine they did, because this particular engine is now preserved on the North Norfolk Railway in Norfolk. North Norfolk should anybody be confused, is where the North Norfolk Railway is of course. And for the benefit of my US readers, our North Norfolk has nothing to do with your very own Norfolk & Southern, though you’ve probably worked that out. 

Streetlight fanatics will no doubt by more interested in the early electric lantern and post to the right of the loco of course, I believe it’s known as an ESLA, but I’m probably wrong. 

Regulars to this page, might have noticed the lack of posts for the last day or two, that is because I’ve been travelling the country with my time machine. And whilst I was able record what I saw with a modern digital camera disguised as a wind up alarm clock, sadly I couldn’t post to the internet, because of course it didn’t exist in 1961. 

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Sunday, 15 January 2023

The Rail Tour

It’s a lovely day at Combwich for the annual SLS (Slow Locomotive Society) photographic rail tour of the former Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway network - also fondly referred to as ‘The Slow & Dirty’. 

Sporting ‘express’ lamp head code configuration of a lamp over each buffer, the small train waits for the return of its camera toting passengers. They’re all lined up just out of shot either side of me taking almost identical photographs, because that’s the unwritten law of rail tour and photography charters. However celebrity photographer Ivan Locksmith on the extreme left, does his own thing, that’s why he gets his photography so widely published. 

Derek and Deliberation Dave have been asked to pose stylishly in front of the former LNWR ‘coal tank’, the slow locomotive choice for this trip. On rail tours, especially of the photographic variety, fixed crew poses are hugely important, with Derek and Dave having to keep still for 6 minutes and 45 seconds to allow all the photographers to grab that identical image. 

And finally, Bob Geeza Cat, loves to strut in style, so is in his element in front of the row of amateur photographers trying to outdo each other with who has the most expensive camera. Oh Bob you’re such a tart 🐾

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Saturday, 14 January 2023

Moonshine Express

It’s Saturday morning deep in The Forest of Dean, and the inaugural ‘Moonshine Express’ has arrived at platform 0.5 which unofficially serves the Miners Arms. 

Passengers will be able to watch the distilling process from the comfort of the brakevan veranda as they imbibe. All beverages are free, but you’ll be asked to pay a small donation to travel. And once on the go, drinkers will gain comfort from the fact that the confusing network of lines are almost impossible to follow by road, making it tricky for ‘The Law’ to track them down. 

Historians of the railways of The Forest of Dean will already know that many of the lines don’t appear on any map, with some routes only operating for a few weeks before being moved as if by magic to support the various nefarious businesses and mineral deposits. 

First to appear is Hubert the conversational Latin speaking horse and his twin bother Herbert who is fluent in conversational Mayan. Accompanying them is Colin who is more well known for his love of cider, but to be fair will drink anything. He’ll no doubt be thrilled to know that apples are the major fruit used for the initial fermentation.

Whilst today the moonshine still is heated by overpriced propane from the red cylinder, plans are afoot to harness steam from the coal fired engine to perform the task seeing much The Forest is literally sitting on top of a pile of coal. By the way, that’s one of Hubert’s suggestions - he’s such a clever horse. 

And finally, please remember, what happens in the forest stays in The Forest. Hush hush. 

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Friday, 13 January 2023

Special Blend

Front end Friday again…

The cleaners at the local engine shed appear to have done a wonderful job with those oily rags on Number 5. Photographic royalty ‘Oh dear boy’ Ivan Locksmith, is unusually without his camera (I’m guessing he wasn’t expecting such a fine steed and left his trusty Rolleiflex at home) puffs away on his pipe enjoying the brief moment of the passing train. 

The smug squeaky voiced ‘rules and regulations’ brigade will no doubt point out that he should really be the other side of the fence, but in the land of the inch high, we try not to worry about such trivialities at the expense of a pretty photograph. And anyway the other side of the fence is that of the North Somerset Coal Board, or a stinking pond depending on which side of the line. 

Ivan is always a happy man, especially when smoking his pipe, and being the owner of a wonderful greenhouse on his country estate which could put Kew Gardens to shame, he grows his own ‘special’ smoking blend. Rumour has it was propagated from some unusual seeds he found in the ashtray of the beer garden of pub in Glastonbury many years ago, but of course we’ll never know for sure. 

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Thursday, 12 January 2023

Pub Snacks

Sid Ding, yard foreman and part time exotic takeaway owner, waves off the departure of the morning goods. To the right, as always, it’s the end of Harry The Hammer’s shift. He and Hubert the conversational Latin speaking wagon shunting horse, will shortly be heading to the pub over there on the left in the far distance.

Hubert likes an ale or two, and a few salty knuckle scratchings - a specialty of the pub which is known for its bare knuckle fights on Thursdays. The pub also sells salty deep fried wasps, they also being a much sought after treat after the conclusion of the weekly ladies’ wasp chewing competition. As you can see, nothing goes to waste here in the land of the inch high, with the sweepings of the pub floor after match days being turned in to delicious high protein beer snacks. 

Quite how today’s quinoa and tofu sucking generation would cope if they travelled back in time I’m not sure, but that’s unlikely to happen seeing we have yet to invent a time machine. But I did read the other day that we all might be eating insects one day, so it’s possible that deep fried crispy wasps will be on the menu, but maybe not half chewed ones. 

And finally, hopefully our miniature chums will get to the pub before the heavens open, those clouds do look rather laden. Luckily the pub allows horses in to the public bar.

Tech: iPhone 14 Pro, macro mode, Apple ProRAW. Photoshop glitter.

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Wednesday, 11 January 2023

Retro Wide Angle Wednesday


Retro Wide Angle Wednesday 

Traditional film fits in quite well with the digital age. And indeed in more recent years has started to a make a comeback with the keen hobbyist photographer. Quality film cameras, now hold their value, unlike a few years ago. Possibly the interest in digital mirrorless cameras, which via an adapter allow the use of film era lenses is fuelling this a little as people rediscover their old kit, or find bargain secondhand lenses to mess about with - especially the variety which cannot be used on a DSLR with its mirror box.

This photo on Catcott was taken on Ilford XP2 processed in a high street minilab. The resulting negative was then digitised on the home-scanner, my trusty and now almost 20 year old Epson 4870. The camera is a rather beaten up mid-1970's Nikon FM I bought from a junk shop over 30 years ago in south east London. The lens, the wide end of a slightly more recent Nikkor 18-35mm AFD wide-angle zoom. I have many old cameras, I collect them like Class 37 fanatics do miniature chattering DCC sound fitted ones.

And finally,  inch high people are having a day off, but I’m sure they’ll return once the little green men from the planet Zob drop them back after their abduction. There’s no way they’ll be able to put up with Nasal Nigel for more than a few hours. 

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Tuesday, 10 January 2023

Monday, 9 January 2023

Don’t Look Up!

Might this be the end of Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe’s illicit moonshine business? As we can see, our dashing, but loveable business and ladies’ man has been trapped by former investigators of little green men, UFOs, the occult and things that go ‘boo’ in the middle of the night, Mouldy & Scullery. 

As long as they don’t look up, he’ll probably be okay. For the moonshine still and associated paraphernalia gets moved around lot. Apart from cloud fanatics and plane spotters, people tend to never look up, so in fact its location on top of the pub toilet is ideal. And of course in this era of the smartphone, nobody over looks up above shoulder height, with the younger generation not even looking above knee height, as they giggle at yet more dancing rabbits or nurses on TickTock or whatever it’s called on their tiny screens whilst walking in to lampposts. 

But should they look up, because here in the land of the inch high, the smartphone has yet to be invented, Bob the Geeza Cat will jump off his lofty perch and rub himself around Scullery’s legs, remembering that she has a rather bad cat allergy. As for Mouldy, Terry will report him for not wearing his  police jacket. 

And finally, their Panda car is likely to be taken out at any time by a passing train. 


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Saturday, 7 January 2023

Murder on the Rail Replacement Bus Service

Few know that Barry Bullhead & Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe also run an events business, mostly as another outlet to flog their illicit booze. It also works as a back up business should the less legal side of their empire get busted. 

Before the rail strikes, they were going to hire a special train to run weekly ‘Murder on the Highbridge Express’ events for the more adventurous role playing inch high people. But sadly due to the aforementioned strikes, they’ve bought a tatty old Bedford OB bus and rebranded as ‘Murder on the Rail Replacement Bus Service’.

Many of our usual suspects are here, including Hubert the conversational Latin speak horse, though he might have to trot along behind. And of course, being a horse of course, he’ll always be able to pull the bus after it almost certainly breaks down. But more importantly, where is our favourite sweaty flasher-mac bus spotter Nasal Nigel? He’s at top of a telephone pole behind the camera, and through offering to press the shutter, hopes to be given a 10 by 8 inch colour print of this photograph to lick whilst fiddling with his new TT gauge Flying Scotsman. 

And finally, moggy lovers will note Bob the geezer cat has appeared again, he loves to wind up Rufus hound. Such a naughty cat 🐾

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