Monday, 29 May 2023

Fully Detailed Interior

A little earlier, the little people from the land of the inch high were very keen to see the inside of that new fangled 6 wheeled SE&CR brakevan from those there snazzy folk at Rapido Trains UK. They’d heard the rumour that it has a fully detailed interior, something you cannot appreciate seeing the roof is glued on. But Double Denim Dando, West of England Cider & Dance Festival Championship runner up 1952-1955 is good at opening up glued joints with the sharp end of his tap dancing shoes. 

Once inside, they were able to fully appreciate the fully detail interior with stove, benches and separately applied bracing. What a winner they came to conclusion, now only if we can get those doors to open. But Double Denim Dando is working on that. 

Beware you’ll most likely invalidate any warranty prying the rood off, but it’s only very lightly attached and is easily popped off with fingernails without having to resort to the sharp end of a tap dancing shoe.  


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Sunday, 28 May 2023

Three Years Ago

Commemorating the toilet roll fights of three years ago much enjoyed in Little England during the Zombie Apocalypse of Doom £ovid era, Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe is exploring yet another business opportunity. Bets can be placed on who manages to end the bout with the most toilet paper. We’re currently in round 3, as masked crusaders Sharon & Tracy, champion toilet roll hoarders of 2020 do their best. 

Many of our favourite little people are here including Liz and Teresa who never miss out on a good flutter. Nasal Nigel is enjoying an elevated position from the top of a beer cask, and already has ideas for a similar competition involving cling film and a TT gauge Flying Scotsman loco. Maybe we won’t go there. 

As always, click, swipe, tap, lick, wiggle or whatever you do to enlarge. Help me to keep these scenes of nonsense going when I really should be doing something more productive or

Saturday, 27 May 2023

New Rapido Trains 6 Wheeled SECR Brake Vans

Saturday morning down at the docks and a train of brake vans has arrived all the way from somewhere in Kent, not far from that there London. 

It’s going to be used for an enthusiasts’ ‘Brake Van Special’, because as we know, railway buffs would always rather travel in such a vehicle as opposed to the comfort of a plush passenger carriage. It’s all about getting soot in the eyes apparently, the sharp sting of that hot clinker getting stuck under the eyelids being a right of passage for the steam enthusiast. Diesel nuts of course will never experience such joys, unless sprayed with pepper spray by a ‘gurl’ who really didn’t want to be shown that OO gauge Triang Hornby English Electric Type 3 with full yellow ends whilst waiting for the final bus home. 

Meanwhile, Hubert the conversational Latin speaking shunting horse is hoping that he’s not expected to ‘pull that lot’. But luckily there appears to be an engine waiting nearby, but sadly for Hubert it’s been blocked in by the train of brake vans which have been dumped there by the mainline locomotive, the mainline locomotive most likely being a diesel. 

And finally the moonshiners a few miles away in the middle of the Bristol Channel on one of the small islands appeared to have suffered another exploding still if that huge cloud is anything to go by. 


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Thursday, 25 May 2023

WTF Thursday

 It’s #WTFthursday, formerly known as #titfieldthunderboltthursday

Ever since the arrival of the smug virtue signalling do-gooder blue engine on the scene, the loco crew have been getting increasingly fed up being reported to control for bending the rules slightly like bricking up irritating engines in tunnels and other such harmless jovial malarkey. 

In revenge for being snuck on, they’ve filled the blue engine’s tanks with moonshine instead of the usual water in an attempt to make the loco fit in better in the naughty mischievous land of the inch high. 

It’s certainly had quite an impact, because the blue engine and its train forgot to stop at all the stations on route to Brew Street before finally running out of puff here right in front of us, for moonshine tends not to last nearly as long as water for powering a steam locomotive. Now the prank is over, the inch high better fill the tanks with water, because inevitable the hangover has definitely begun if those bloodshot eyes are anything to go by. 

*Disclaimer before I get get snitched on and reported to Barry Bullhead from The Ministry of Misery. Please never fill a teetotaller’s water tanks with booze, it’s not a nice thing to do, and could result all sorts of nastiness like glowing eyes and more serious hazards like silly dancing and ‘the wobbles’. 

And finally, I apologise to the many devoted fans of the smug blue engine which brings much joy to the young, old and lonely whilst making the super rich richer.


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Tuesday, 23 May 2023

Repurposed Coal Hopper

Narrow gauge loco ‘Tiddles’ reverses its train of tipper wagons carrying iron ore up to the loading elevator hopper. The little loco and train will require several return runs to fill the standard gauge wagon. 

The loader was bought brand new off British Railways, it being surplus to requirements due to the ‘Modernisation Plan’ of 1955. It was built for loading coal at the larger steam motive power depots, but was easily adapted for the job here. 

It’s believed that Ratio based their well known kit on the prototype here, but of course that might just be nonsense.


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Sunday, 21 May 2023

Just Stop Soil

Bob Geeza Cat is a well known activist in the feline ‘Just Stop Soil’ pressure group, a campaign started a few years ago by posh pedigree cats to stop their owners using garden soil as cat litter. ‘Just Stop Soil’, want only the finest odour reducing high grade absorbent clumping kitty litter to be used, and the use of mucky soil to be banned. 

Today in protest, Bob has glued his paws to the timbers in the middle of the level crossing and has blocked the movement of both rail and road traffic. As with most of these situations there is much faffing about, with a crate of fresh cream being supplied to ensure the wellbeing of our possibly until now popular cat being paramount over everything else. Even snivelling little tick Neil has dropped down to Bob’s height and is reciting some feline inspired poetry to calm his nerves, though to be honest it’s probably having the opposite effect. 

However, Bob is about to discover that when the crossing is flooded with 180 proof moonshine, the adhesive used to glue his paws to the crossing timbers will literally dissolve in seconds. Most conveniently, George and Deidre just so happen to be delivering moonshine, regulars will now doubt have spotted them standing in front of their mobile moonshine production and delivery lorry. 


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Friday, 19 May 2023

Trainspotting Dog

Here we are at Whitby, and the little chap hasn’t seen a steam loco for some time. He’s pretty gung ho about most things, but simply stood mesmerised whilst looking and listening to the hot steamy beast before looking back for confirmation that all was okay. 

The engine, popularly known as ‘Schools’ class, a fleet of 40 locos named after posh schools, in the case ‘Repton’, was built at Eastleigh Works in 1934 for the Southern Railway. The locomotive was withdrawn in 1962 and now lives a long way from its original southern stomping grounds pulling trains of tourists, grockles and railway nerds along the delightful and highly scenic North Yorkshire Moors Railway.

Monday, 15 May 2023

iPhone 14 pro in mono mode

Monochrome Monday again, and because the colour meter isn’t topped up until Tuesday morning at the earliest, and because of colour overuse during the week prior, it usually runs out on Sunday night resulting in Monday’s monochrome post.

Read yesterday’s post for the full story…

This is PC Rob Bank’s angle on yesterday’s events. It turns out that he’s a keen railway photographer, and uses frequently his powers to get photographs that the likes of you and I can’t get, though this photo is taken on public land… 

Nonsense aside, I simply used the monochrome mode on an iPhone 14pro for this snap with just a light tweak in the built in editor to boost the shadows a little after. Imagine going back in time 60 years and telling a person of that time that if they’re still around in 2023 they’ll be able to do this with a telephone which they can keep in their pocket. 

Sunday, 14 May 2023

You Can’t Do That….

On Sundays down by the canal, Doug and Dave love to ride ‘hands free’ on the locomotive veranda and speed past PC Rob Banks. The driver of the loco crouching down to give the impression of a driverless engine. PC Banks has no jurisdiction over the railway, and anyway at a whopping 17 mph they’re hardly speeding, but it doesn’t stop him waving his arms around whilst shouting ‘you can’t do that’. 

They’re having so much fun, this is their fifth run past, and hopefully the over zealous copper will go and do something more worthwhile like apprehend moonshiners or stop Nasal Nigel from messing about in public with sticky objects in his special pocket at the local bus station. 


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Saturday, 13 May 2023

Meet Waving Willy

Down at the docks, and management are keen to get more people to use the train which runs from the middle of nowhere to the edge of nowhere and all points of nowhereness in between. 

Brew Street Halt, in central outer nowhere, just 1/2 a mile from outer-middle nowhere, only ever sees those seeking moonshine, for the huge tank which for years has been thought to carry water for the engines is used to store, mature and dispense illicit booze.

Today, new boy, Waving Willy, loveable half brother of Waving Wayne has been hired with Wayne to attract the attention of passers by in an attempt to get them to use the train. In addition to being paid to wave, something they even do when not being paid, they’ve been given a supply of moonshine hidden in a milk churn as a further incentive to wave really well. 

Waving Willy is getting very much in to the spirit (see what I did there), with his big bear-hug style wave, making him really popular with the ladies (and men) who love a good waving hug, so much so it’s known as a ‘Willy Wave Hug’ in this here part of the land of the inch high. And of course limelight seeking Bob Geeza Cat is getting in on the waving thing as well, but do remember he’s a cat, and not to be trusted.

And finally, it’s thought that Airfix based the fuel tank on their much loved plastic tank wagon kit on the tank here, though that might just be the moonshine talking. 


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Friday, 12 May 2023

Parked Up The Rear

Front End Friday #FEF

Deliberation Dave watches Driver Andrew bring his Barclay built engine down the 1 in 20 grade out of the colliery. With full wagons it can be quite exciting watching the move as the loco and wagons sway and bounce around at ever increasing speed, especially if the rails are wet and greasy. Dave is a brave man, for the chances of being hit by flying coal are quite high. But we were tougher in olden times. 

Beryl’s rebuilt Austin 7.5 can be seen behind The Pedant & Armchair to the left. I’m not sure of the reason, because it’s not a pub she frequents as a rule, its customers being mostly dull old men with adenoidal voices who’d rather pontificate over the width of flangeway clearances than chat to a ‘gurl’. Mother warned them about such creatures. Maybe she’s just dropped by for a pint of milk for her tea, for the pub sells more milk than beer, so it’s aways fresh and it’s conveniently on her way home. But why park at the rear of the pub when she could simply have pulled up at the front? Thoughts….. 

Austin 7.5, what’s that, a typo? No, not at all, for when they rebuilt the engine, they overbored it a little and modified it to run on a 50/50 mix of moonshine and ‘Super’ for extra performance, it increasing the horsepower rating from the factory 7.2 to 7.5 - though unofficially it’s nearer 10 if the moonshine is particularly volatile. 


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Tuesday, 9 May 2023

Telephoto Tuesday

 Telephoto Tuesday

Double Denim Dando as we know loves a shimmy, but today he’s wearing his tap dancing shoes, to make a clicketty clack sound in time with wheels over rail joints as Driver Andrew powers his Barclay built loco and train of coal trucks past the halt.

Apart from the wall of The Pedant & Armchair pub to the left, everything is leaning one way or the other. This is caused by the extensive mining and a network of collapsed tunnels several hundred feet underground. Okay, that’s my excuse for less than perfect model making. But there is a prototype for everything they say. 

Today, I used a 40 year old Tamron 70-210 ‘Adaptall’ zoom lens to make a change from the popular everything in focus style. You can find these lenses for just a few sovs on eBay and can be easily fitted to modern digital cameras with the many adapters available. Minimum focus even in so called ’macro mode’ is around 3 feet, roughly where the loco is, but that’s fine for a shot like this, with the narrow depth of field making a nice change from the norm.  


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Sunday, 7 May 2023

Dodgy Leg

Arthritic Arthur, has never been too organised, always leaving it to the last minute, especially when heading for the train to get to Highbridge Shed. But with age, something that effects all of us, even virtue signalling support-stocking-metallic-beige Toyota Prius owners, we tend to get a little slower. A stroll from Arthur’s house to Catcott Burtle halt used to take 20 minutes, but now it takes 45 minutes, or 42 minutes if there is a good southwesterly breeze. 

Today it would appear that he very much has timed it to the last second, as the Evercreech Junction to Highbridge service rumbles over the crossing. But as soon as the train draws to a halt and the van is clear of the gates, they’ll be reopened. But here in the rural land of the inch high, it doesn’t matter if the train departs a few minutes late because it’s a long way from control, and the Western Region of British Railways have ensured that it’s timetabled arrival at Highbridge misses the Exeter train by 7 minutes, and the Bristol train by 4 minutes. 

But not is all bad, for next week, Arthur has an appointment at the wagon repair works in Radstock so they can replace is dodgy leg with a bespoke wheel, the works not only being known for fixing old wagons, but also able to undertake the fixing of old people. 


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Saturday, 6 May 2023

Saturday Shimmy

Driver ‘Double Denim’ Dando, West of England Cider Festival Dance Champion regular runner up 1948-1955, that’s him with the red neckerchief is having a little shimmy - any excuse for a shimmy. Though he should really be on the loco footplate, but in the land of the inch high we don’t worry about such triviality. And anyway, there isn’t much space on the footplate for a good shimmy. 

The reason for his shimmy today is because on the Highbridge line, control are trialing a former Great Eastern Railway J15 class loco, its light axle loading making it ideal for a line which for much of its route literally floats on a bog. 

Deliberation Dave on the platform, with his acutely trained ear is listening out for wheel flange noise, for he wants to be sure that it’s the right kind of wheel flange noise. Shamus, just so happens to be waiting for the morning passenger service to Glastonbury, and has absolutely nothing to do with the locomotive trial, but he looks kind of cool in his leprechaun coloured attire. 

And to the right, Pointy Pete, station master from the unstaffed Pylle Halt for some reason is still on the payroll. Nobody quite knows why, so these days he pops up at various railway locations to simply point at things, today he’s pointing at something outside the photograph to make you, my loyal viewer think ‘what is he pointing at?’

And finally, Bob Geeza Cat, who in fact is 1/4 fox has positioned himself purely to balance the composition. 


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Friday, 5 May 2023

Front End Friday

 Front End Friday#FEF 

Somewhere high up in the land of troll, hobbits, whippets and foamy bitter ale, the morning goods reaches the crest of the incline. It’s been a long slog, for even a banking engine was required, or at least that’s what I think it is at the rear of the train, unless of course the guard is having a barbecue. Something which is not unknown in the land of the inch high, though burning plastic is likely to taint the food, plastic not being

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Monday, 1 May 2023

Old-Lady Knickers

It’s May Day here in Little England, so rather than the misery and austerity of Monochrome Monday, the colour meter has been topped up to bring you not one, but 2 shots! 

Some of you might recall Beryl’s ancient Austin Seven was taken off for scrapping a week or two ago, well that appears not to haven been the case. In fact the rust heap was taken to the railway wagon works in Radstock, where the clever souls rebuilt it. They can fix everything at the wagon works, they’ve even been known to perform hip, knee and denture replacements. 

Anyway, here is the little car, complete with a turbo charged V7 engine which has somehow or other been squeezed under bonnet being dropped off on the Monday morning goods. They just need to find a harness so as not to scratch they paintwork when they lift the car off the train, but that’s okay, Beryl has bought some old-lady knickers for the job. They’re so good they’re even approved by The Royal Navy for cradling high speed patrol boats in and out of the sea. Proper. 

Driver ‘Double Denim’ Dando, West of England Cider Festival Dance Champion regular runner up 1948-1955 arranged everything, that’s him with the red neckerchief having a little shimmy next to the engine - any excuse for a shimmy. So, not all is bad in the land of the inch high. 


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Saturday, 29 April 2023

Bentley Babe Magnet

It’s a glorious spring evening and Ivan Locksmith is out again accompanied by Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe to witness Wigan shed’s (27D) Stanier 2-6-4 glide past the crossing at Catcott. Regular readers might remember seeing this engine a few weeks ago on the Highbridge to Templecombe service making a rare appearance. A long way from its Lancashire home, the fine steed has reappeared and is rumoured to be around for another week or so, quite why I have no idea, for it is really rather over powered for such a service. But I’m sure you’ll agree it makes a mighty fine sight as day turns to night in this most remote part of the Somerset Levels. 

Ivan Locksmith, like the celebrity railway snapper Ivo Peters also has a midnight blue Bentley, you can see it parked up. It never quite has the same deep shine as Ivo’s though, but it does share an almost identical number plate, it being NHY582. Ivo’s NHY581 being bought from the same dealership. 

It appears that Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe is quite a railway buff, but I think the real reason for him being here is that he wants a spin in Ivan’s Bentley to test it out. Rumour has it that NHY583 might be up for sale shortly from a posh dealership in Bath, and ladies’ man Terry knows that the local flesh-pots will be highly attracted by such a shiny beast with that sumptuous polished walnut dash, and of course those luxurious wipe clean leather seats. Oh, hello ladies…..


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Friday, 28 April 2023

Why I Very Rarely Exhibit

 Front End Friday aka #FEF 

In the land of the inch high, at Brew Street the irregular passenger service is quite frequently horse drawn, or uses leftover props from Titfield themed and other whimsical set ups. But today, they have the pleasure of a GWR steam railmotor. 

As we can see, there is much excitement with several members of inch high naughtiness appearing, including Comical Ned with the funny shaped head. We’ve not seen him for a while, the real reason because I temporarily lost him of one of the several layouts featured here. 

Many think these cameos are dioramas, but they are all fully working layouts. Though I must admit that I don’t power them up very often, unless I’ve a show booked. But with only one show under my belt in the last 3 years due to exhibition apathy and The Zombie Apocalypse of Doom, that’s not a lot of running. I’ll be honest, while I like to visit the occasional show, running trains bores me after more than a couple of hours. But I’m more than happy to chat, so I should probably have ‘staff’ to do the actual playing trains bit. 

With model railways being the day job, my weekends tend be about music, busking or playing in a great pub or festival to a happy audience - it’s important to have time out, even though toy trains are great. Especially during the summer such holds far more appeal than being stuck in a sweaty smelly 28 Celsius exhibition hall trapped by some dull shouty bloke 9 inches away with bad halitosis, toting a rucksack with fishfinger sandwiches that have gone off and their mother’s severed head. But I guess I’m a bad person. That said, in the local music scene I do meet a lot of railway modellers, and when out on layout shoots, usually half of them play some kind of music instrument. What is the connection? Thoughts…..

And the blatant commercial plug, you can find out more the Railmotor featured in today’s photo

Thursday, 27 April 2023

The Return of The Tittyfield Thunderbolt

It’s Titfield Thunderbolt Thursday again. The day when something inspired by the much loved cult colour Ealing Comedy from 70 years ago is posted. 

A few years after the famous whimsical cinema release about a group of bumbling country types trying to save their railway, a saucy sequel was shot called ‘The Return of the Tittyfield Thunderbolt. Produced by The 21st Century Anglo-American Film & Cinema Club Corporation, more known for X rated 16mm films aimed at the adult club circuit, this was their first venture in to a 35mm colour feature targeted at mainstream cinema. 

Alas the budget wasn’t big enough to hire the likes of Peter Sellers, Hattie Jacques, Roger Cooke, Dudley Moore and Joan Sims, so many of the regular inch high people were employed, acting ability not being of too much importance. Local smooth ladies’ man and shady business owner Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe was given the lead male role, he only being required to mutter “hello ladies”, or “I say, ding dong” from time to time. He’s over there on the right btw. 

The utterly charmless Barry Bullhead from The Ministry of Misery played himself as the miserable man who wanted to shut the line down.  I leave you my dear readers to work out the roles of others seen here, but of course Deidre Dinkle was to play the leading lady, who else would be more qualified? 

The whole film was shot over 4 Sundays, mostly around the Catcott & Burtle area, with Glastonbury representing ‘the big city’. It was very much a one take wonder, due to the costly use of 35 colour film in an era when b&w was more the norm for comedy cinema in Little England. But it did result in a speedy production, a process in the trade known as ‘bish bash bosh, job done’. 

The resulting film was heavily edited by the film board censors to make it acceptable to a family audience, but alas the story made no sense whatsoever having been chopped down from 83 minutes to a mere 19 minutes. Sadly it was a complete flop and was pulled within 24 hours of release, but a few 8mm, 16mm prints and VHS copies of the uncut uncensored film still exist in private collections, with Nasal Nigel even having a 35mm cinema print under his bed. 


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Wednesday, 26 April 2023

Shampoo & Set

A recent photo grabbed from the rear of the former Pedant & Armchair pub showing as 66618 ‘Railways Illustrated’ rumbling through on a cement train. Most the colliery was demolished years ago to make way for housing, but just a few buildings remain including the listed steam pumping engine and chimney towering above the forest which now occupies much of the site. 

The old tractor has been disused for years, it’s believed it was owned by identical twin farmers called George and George, who until recently ran a hairdressing salon in Radstock, having given up farming back in the 90s. Having made their fortune, year before last they moved to a retirement complex for hairdressers on Flat Holm in the middle of the Bristol Channel. It’s a very tidy island, all the grass is cut using scissors and clippers. It’s rumoured that some of the lawns even have a weekly a shampoo and set “oh, darling, I could do wonders with this lawn” being frequently heard. 

In the cab, just visible is driver Toby Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe, grandson of Terry. Unlike his grandfather Terry who was a bit of a slippery businessman, Toby chose the path of a railwayman having briefly worked as an estate agent in one of Terry’s many businesses. Though I must admit ‘Toby’ does suit that of being an estate agent far more than that of a railwayman. 


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Tuesday, 25 April 2023

William Morris

William Morris was a keen photographer. And here is a shot or his new car with Templecombe shed’s 4631 picking up a couple of empty wagons from the small yard at Catcott. 

Wagon fanciers will notice the pre war private owner colliery liveries. Not uncommon around this time, for often all British Railways did was to paint a BR number on, and not repaint the wagon, allowing the paintwork to simply fade away.

William Morris was a qualified professional light bulb changer, and always had a folding ladder with him - which in this instance allowed him the pleasure of this slightly elevated view. 

William was really rather ahead of his time though, because in the olden days most could change their own lighbulbs, unlike the younger generations of today who quite often struggle with such unless it’s an app on their phone. Gosh, I’m cynical today. 


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Monday, 24 April 2023

Unknown Location - Can You Help?

Monochrome Monday again, and because the colour meter isn’t topped up until Tuesday morning at the earliest, and because of colour overuse during the week prior, it usually runs out on Sunday night resulting in Monday’s monochrome post. 

Somewhere on the Western Region region on what appears to be a length of quadruple track (‘4 times’ for the BBC, Americans and anyone under 14) old ‘Sad Eyes’ No 6313 passes a shiny almost toy like Class 33 which must have escaped from the Southern Region of BR. 

If anyone recognises the location, or knows the workings,  please comment below. The home processed photo dates from the early 60s if that’s any help. 


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Sunday, 23 April 2023


Deliberation Dave and Jimmy Hootsmaloots introduce a new shunting engine to Hubert the conversational Latin speaking horse. Hubert treating every new engine arrival with suspicion, for when not chatting in Latin he has to earn a crust, or more likely earn a carrot shunting wagons around. 

But with the price of coal these days, Hubert isn’t too worried, because Hubert unlike the engine can also be fuelled on raw turnips, something that is a plenty in Little England according to The Ministry of Misery. 

On that note, today in Little England, we celebrated some chap called Saint George, who I gather was not remotely English. But us English are an odd lot, and anyway it’s a great excuse to go to the pub to quaff fake Australian and German lager whilst shouting “Ingerland” in finest World Cup football fan style. 


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Friday, 21 April 2023

Miniatur Wunderland

A snap from a few years ago when I visited Miniatur Wunderland with the Model Rail magazine team. The loco here is Sentinel Number 1, the original pre-production loco for the popular Model Rail mag release which I’d been allowed to customise and give the name ‘Mendip’. It’s done a huge mileage over the years, the wheel treads even have grooves from the rail contact. Still runs an absolute dream, and of course an occasional visitor on these here pages. 

During our visit to Miniatur Wunderland, and in a mischievous mood I sneakily popped ‘Mendip’ on to the rails for a quick snap, we of course being there officially with a guide. But not everyone knew, and moments later someone flew out of the control room, the operating computer having picked up an ‘alien’ engine. Anyway, no harm done, and now with the alarms temporarily muted the little engine popped up all over the place to pose for several photos, under supervision of course!

And finally, I’m sure a few of you have spotted Waving Wayne’s German cousin (Wolfgang) to the left, he’s been waving since 2001 when this extraordinary experience opened. 

Find out more here 

Thursday, 20 April 2023

Foamer or Fanboy?

Foamer Thursday…

Yesterday I popped in to the Severn Valley Railway at Bridgnorth, Shropshire and spotted this rebuilt ‘West Country’ class pacific loco outshopped in a livery it would never have carried. I think it’s rather smart, but are you a foamer or do you think it’s fab? 

I expect the foamers to win this one. Whatever you think, wipe your computer or other device screen down afterwards. Really angry ones might want to dig out one of those silly blue plague masks you might still have to reduce projectile froth. 

And cue!

Monday, 17 April 2023

Monochrome Monday

Monochrome Monday again, and because the colour meter isn’t topped up until Tuesday morning, and because of colour overuse during the week prior, it usually runs out on Sunday night resulting in Monday’s monochrome post. 

Somewhere in The Valleys, Insideout Eddie and Barry Bullhead are watching one of the many coal trains rumble through...It’s a scene on a colliery layout commission I built during the 2020 Zombie Apocalypse of Doom. 

Sunday, 16 April 2023

Beryl’s New Car

Following on from yesterday’s post, it’s now first thing Sunday morning. There has been little progress after the Ruston Bucyrus crane jammed, resulting in Beryl’s old Austin 7 swinging in the air for almost 12 hours. 

Nasal Nigel and Adenoidal Andrew, after hiding in the bushes overnight near the local bus stop have reappeared to watch the proceedings, or lack of more like. Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe is standing in his usual ‘look no hands’ stance. Let’s hope he’s not going to buy a raincoat with a special pocket, because he is uncomfortably close to Nigel and Andrew. 

Radstock shed’s ‘Pug’ trundles by on its return from the Marcroft wagon works in nearby Radstock with a short train of repaired wagons as Deliberation Dave, Barry Bullhead and Beryl watch the car gently swaying gently in the morning breeze. 

Many of you will be thrilled to see that Beryl’s new shiny car has just been delivered, Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe having just dropped it off. But she wants to be sure that her old Austin 7 is safely on the scrap barge before she takes it for a spin.

And finally, Bob Geeza Cat is back to usual trick of posing in the corner of the photograph, something that he always does so well, especially with the promise of a plate of tinned pilchards in tomato sauce. 


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Saturday, 15 April 2023


Saturday evening at the canal basin. As most Saturdays there is plenty going on, but not often beyond pub opening at 7pm. 

From left to right…

Arthritic Arthur is struggling with a crate of moonshine filled jars as Radstock shed’s Ex L&YR ‘Pug’ rumbles through with some wagons in need of repair. But help is at hand, for Arthur will be able to catch a lift in the brake van, and they might even be able to repair Arthur’s back as well - for they’re a clever lot at the wagon repair works in Radstock. 

Nasal Nigel and Adenoidal Andrew are practicing ‘quick draw’ to see who can get their sticky paw out of their respective special pocket first, the one with the biggest engine being the clear winner, even though extraction might be slower. But as we know, Nigel and Andrew keep their special pockets well lubricated. Meanwhile whilst Freddy Flag is refereeing the sticky antics, a tough job, and not for the faint hearted. 

To the right, a barge is being loaded up with scrap including the remains of a moonshine still which recently exploded. The copper should be worth something, unlike Beryl’s ancient Austin 7 which is 89% rust. It’s rumoured that she has a new car on order, and whilst she’s 96, she has no plans to give up driving just yet, even though she has 9 speeding points on her driving license. How can she have speeded in an Austin 7? It ran on 180 proof liquor of course, a simple modification by all accounts. 

And finally, Bob Geeza Cat is looking at the lack of a mooring rope, and thinks it might be time to jump ship before it goes adrift and heads towards the weir. And finally finally, keep that pick axe away from that red gas cylinder. 


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Thursday, 13 April 2023

Just Before The Big Bang

It’s Titfield Thunderbolt Thursday again. The day of the week when something inspired by the much loved cult colour Ealing Comedy from 70 years ago is posted, which of course features our regular scruffy ex GWR 0-4-2 chuffer and plenty of inch high whimsical naughtiness.

It would appear that our merry band of moonshiners have broken down with their flatbed lorry and blocked the end of the runaround loop. They moved on to the lorry after giving up the narrowboat, its regular route along the canal becoming too predictable to avoid the short arm of the law. 

The crew of the locomotive are preparing to ram the lorry out of the way, but with the gas cylinder which heats the moonshine still, a sizeable quantity of 180% proof liquor, and of course a highly pressured steam loco boiler, the outcome could prove quite explosive. 

If you scroll back to yesterday’s post, you’ll now know the reason for the huge and rather scary cloud seen as far away as Devon. That photo being taken just 38 seconds after this one. 


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Wednesday, 12 April 2023

‘That High Vis Fad’

Seen from the relative safely of Culmstock in Devon looking towards the Independent Tax Free Principality Somerset, it’s either storming or one of the many factory sized moonshine plants have gone bang. 

If it is the latter, we can simply hope that there are no life threatening injuries or fatalities. But if there have been, hopefully any poor souls will have been inebriated enough not to notice of suffer any pain. And of course the 180% proof ‘shine is great for sterilising and cleaning any wounds tragically suffered. 

With the imminent demise of steam on the Hemyock line, ‘High-Vis’ Harry is chatting to posh photographer Ivan Locksmith about the new directive for railway staff who get their hands oily, for they are to wear these new gaudy bright orange ‘high visibility jackets’. 

Ivan glancing at the passing diesel loco on a test run and noticing the yellow warning panel, thinks how these bright colours will spoil the muted rural tranquility of his railway photographs. For this reason, he decides to stay with black & white film until the silly ‘high-vis’ fad passes by, for surely such vulgar nonsense can’t last too long? 


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Tuesday, 11 April 2023

Driverless Cars & Red Flag Willy

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Tram Engine Tuesday. At Windmill Sidings, Red Flag Willy, who’s been waving his flag continuously ever since he was moulded in 1953, warns road traffic users of the arrival of a rather shiny steam tram locomotive with its short trainload of vans. 

But all traffic appears to be stationary, the lack of drivers probably confirming my observation here. But (true story), in Ireland many years ago whilst driving through a small village somewhere near Clonakilty, I recall a driverless car slowly coming towards me in reverse. As I slammed on the brakes, a gentleman flew out of a nearby shop and managed to open the driver’s door and apply the offending vehicle’s handbrake just in time. Though I’m not sure it was his car to be honest, but luckily no harm done. 

Anyway, I digress. The vans behind the engine here will shortly be filled with bags of potatoes and other seasonal veg from this remote part of Cambridgeshire. And of course Red Flag Willy will again be here to warn road users of the return of the passing train. By the way, should anyone ask, Red Flag Willy is a cousin of Waving Wayne, who has been waving nonstop stop since he fell out of the mould. 


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Monday, 10 April 2023

New Kit, Old Kit

In gorgeous evening light, posh photographer Ivan Locksmiths can be seen with Terry Tuttle-Thomas Smythe as he records a Stanier 2-6-4 locomotive on the 7.30pm Highbridge to Templecombe service departing Catcott Burtle Halt. 

From time to time in the 1950s, new engines were trialed as potential replacements for existing locomotives, for the ex Midland 0-4-4 tank and Class 3 ‘Bulldog’ tender locos were sadly nearing the end of their lives on the Highbridge line. 

I’m sure you’ll agree that the graceful Class 4 Stanier 2-6-4 looks completely at home on the short rake of freshly repainted former LMS suburban coaches, but it is rather overkill for such a service, the loco being usually employed on somewhat hastier work around the cities of the northwest. 

As far as we know, this is likely to be only occurrence of such a fine beast on the former S&DJR network, but luckily the light has made for a wonderful sight as it plods its way across the Somerset Levels. 


Decided to dig my 17 year old Nikon D200 out for this photo. After a quick sensor clean, as good as new. The review screen took a bit of getting used to, due to its low res and small size compared to more recent cameras. But it’s what’s recorded that’s important. 


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Sunday, 9 April 2023

Raymond Rabbit

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Raymond Rabbit has just closed the level crossing gates at Culmstock to the road to allow the locomotive through with its short trainload of milk tanks. You’ll have to take my word for that with them being hidden behind the engine, or at least I think they were when I took the photo. 

I’ve never actually seen a rabbit with a human like pose, and certainly not one which is just shy of 6 feet tall, okay, 24mm here in the land of the inch high - just to play with peoples’ OCD by mixing metric and imperial. But he is what he is, even though I think Raymond might be wearing a vacuum formed plastic rabbit head. Each to their own of course, though personally I’d find such attire a tad claustrophobic, though some, many who are friends of Nasal Nigel might pay good money for such especially if tied up like an oven ready turkey. 

And now the tech for those interested, but if not, simply scroll past and go outside and shoot another naked TikTok video making locomotive noises or whatever you do on Sundays…..

I used my old iPhone 7 to take this photo via ‘Camera Pixels’ app which allows RAW/DNG capture as well as taking 20 or so images automatically with focus stepped from closest to infinity. You can then focus stack the results in your chosen stacking software like Combine ZM or Helicon to create a huge depth of field like here. I tried ’Camera Pixels’ on a multi lens iPhone 14 Pro, but it got into a mess not knowing which lens to use, hence the single lens iPhone 7 being used - which is well up to the job especially shooting RAW/DNG. There’s lots online about RAW or DNG if you want to know more from people far more qualified than me. 

Anyway, have a great day, I’m off to have molten moonshine filled Easter eggs on toast. Laters….


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Saturday, 8 April 2023

Mice & Men

Saturday morning at Culmstock, ‘Deliberation’ Dave and ‘over and out, Roger have evacuated the locomotive cab due to a mouse being spotted hopping out of the coal bunker. Dave and Roger, despite being tough locomotive men of the steam era are terrified of mice and other small rodents. 

But luckily Bob Geeza Cat is to hand to see off the mouse, or more than likely just enjoy a mid morning snack after a bit of feline sporting cruelty, something that most cats are experts at. However, Bob is rather more interested in the cabside locomotive number, which rather than being a separate cast plate, it appears to have been stamped into the side of the engine. He ponders on how it was done, was it pressed into the metal plate or is the cabside moulded? 

The set up for today’s photo used a mid-1970s Soviet era 50mm Jupiter 8 lens (39mm screw thread) mounted on a mirrorless camera. These lenses designed for 35mm rangefinder cameras don’t focus very close, so a close up ‘filter’ was attached temporarily using a high tech engineering approach. 


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Friday, 7 April 2023

Not Quite Front End Friday

Not Quite Front End Friday #NQFEF - Harry the Hammer and Shameless Shamus have been waiting at the tiny halt for days camping out in a nearby barn overnight after thinking that the thrice daily passenger service had been cancelled several times. 

What they don’t realise is that the passenger service ended last year. But they can stay there a bit longer because they look good in the photos. I’ll replace them with Bob Geeza Cat in due course when he gets back from posing on Brew Street. 


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Thursday, 6 April 2023

Something’s Afoot?

It’s Titfield Thunderbolt Thursday again. The day when something inspired by that cult colour Ealing Comedy is posted, in this case a scruffy ex GWR 0-4-2 chuffer and of course plenty of whimsical naughtiness. Or is it? 

Where are the moonshiners who frequently dominate the canalside? The supply boat is just arriving, but the resident moonshiners and their mobile still appear have vanished with the boat simply carrying its more usual cargo of custard powder in wooden casks, left handed lock paddle winders, dried water and chocolate teapots. And of course all the usual colourful narrowboat themed tat for day trippers, grockles and gongoozlers 

Even Charlie Cheese is selling pure unadulterated full cream milk, no heavily disguised ‘shine or hollowed out truckles of finest Somerset cheddar filled with spirit laced rough farmhouse cider. Bob Geeza Cat is sceptical as he looks into Charlie’s eyes, but he is secretly thrilled knowing that he’s the cat who got the cream today. Or so he hopes. 

To me, everything here looks rather suspicious, what are your thoughts? 


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Wednesday, 5 April 2023


At the colliery, getting motivated to start the early shift always takes some time in the land of the inch high. As usual there are the recently arrived empty wagons to swap with the full ones loaded up on the night shift. And anyone who enjoys playing with their toy train shunting plank (that’s not a euphemism btw) will know that there can be many possibilities to achieve a suitable result, ideally with the minimum amount of effort. 

As usual there is much discussion as to how the proceed, with this aspect usually taking twice (‘two times’ for the TikTok generation) as long as the actual shunting process. And with all the unnecessary pontification, somebody forget to light the fire in the engine, this will no doubt lead to further delays and a lengthy expensive enquiry. Oops. 


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Tuesday, 4 April 2023

My Most Stolen Photo

 I wasn’t sure what I was going to post today, but this one came up from 2009 shortly after I extended Cement Quay by an extra 3 or 4 feet with an additional baseboard in preparation for Wycrail in High Wycombe. 

Though I must admit, I hadn’t checked whether in its extended form it would fit in to the car until the 11th hour and ended up have to do two round 60 mile return trips to get the layout to the show during the outer London Friday evening rush hour traffic. Lesson learned there! 

A few years ago I sold Cement Quay and the extra bit seen here to the Scottish Diesel Electric Group. They’ve since taken it all over the place including that there Europe. Give them a Google, they’re a fab lot.

This photo is possibly my most stolen, so hence the logo being quite big, but I’m sure some whizz would easily be able to remove it. But I work on the fact that those who poach photography are lazy and probably lack such skills. By the way a quick telephone call to the commercial retailer ‘who found it on Google’ sorted out the problem rather quickly. Picking up the phone is far more effective than email, and actually far more fun, because these days people don’t expect it. By the way, the retailer has since gone bust, shit happens.

And finally, please SHARE these posts of course, but if you want to use one commercially just message me, I don’t bite, unless I’ve skipped breakfast. 


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Sunday, 2 April 2023

The Railway Hotel

Sunday at Culmstock in Devon and rumour has it that the passenger service might be ending in the forthcoming year, so celebrity average posh photographer Ivan Locksmith is on hand to record the arrival of the mid morning Hemyock to Tiverton Junction service. That’s him accompanied by Rufus Hound. 

It’s also rumoured that The Railway Hotel will soon be renamed The Culm Valley Inn, I presume in anticipation of the railway likely losing its passenger service. For any keen researchers living in the present day reading this post, pop the location in to Google Street View, for the pub is still very much a thriving business, though sadly the railway has long gone. 

But going back to the rose-tinted olden times, Pete & Dud waiting on the platform are quite likely the only passengers today as they head for the start of their shift at Tiverton Junction, they’ve just had a swift one of two at the pub. They’ll probably stop by again at the end of their shift too. 

And finally, the van owned by Charlie Cheese is delivering milk, butter and cheese. And if you ask nicely, he’ll do you a drop of over-proof moonshine smuggled in over the border from the tax free Principality of Somerset. 

The same view today 


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Saturday, 1 April 2023

I’m Building a TMD!

I’ve decided after much thought to break up Brew Street. Once the boards have been stripped right back I’m going to build a TMD aka Traction Maintenance Depot in Brew Street’s place to display my extensive collection of DCC sound fitted Class 37s and Class 66s. I’ll also use it to occasionally display my extensive Thomas the Tank Engine collection. 

To make it stand out from the many TMDs out there, I’m installing 10 hidden microphones within the various structures to amplify the sound fitted locos. When exhibiting, something my regular followers know I do most weekends, I’ll place one of my Marshall guitar amps under the layout to ensure that my TMD layout will be the loudest. By the way, the amp will go up to 11. When in Thomas the Tank engine mode, I’ve hired Nasal Nigel and his sticky friend Adenoidal Andrew to provide live voices for the talking engines. Fear not, they’ll have to bring their own vocal microphones. 

The photo here is the result of 5 seconds with a 1 inch wide woodworking chisel. I expect to have completed the stripping task by mid morning. Extensive use of Bachmann ready to plonk buildings and Knightwing kits will ensure the layout stands out from other TMD and Thomas the Tank Engine themed layouts. This will also ensure swift progress, for the layout is booked to make its debut next weekend at The Big Trainset Show at the NEC in Birmingham. 

And finally, I haven’t decided next weekend whether of run mid 2000s diesel era or Thomas the Tank. Maybe I could have different themes in either day? Please let me know what you’d like to see.


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Friday, 31 March 2023

Philosophical Friday

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It’s Friday again, gosh they come around quickly, and as one rapidly heads towards later life the whole week feels like 3 days did when I was 21. Much this is no doubt due to routine and familiarity of course. That’s why those idle 2 week holidays in the sun feel like only 2 days, with most of them being identical apart from possibly the level of hangover and inevitable variations of mild food poisoning. 

A short while ago Bertie hound was thrown outside for his morning ablutions, with the weather and light level not dissimilar to this photo here. With the back door wide open, Bertie looked up at me like most Border Terriers do with that ‘you must be joking’ expression of ‘do really need to go out there, I have a very strong bladder you know’. But he knows that he won’t get breakfast until he’s completed this part of the daily routine, so obliges in anticipation. 

I wonder if animals experience the same apparent shortening of time as they get older? One advantage they have over us is that they don’t fear their ultimate demise, so I guess we should be more like Bertie and live more for the moment. But working for myself, I’m always thinking of my photography and model making business being aware some of my regular customers might go bust, or get a better deal elsewhere, so I’m always looking at the future possibly a little too much. But rather than dwelling on the negative, Bertie hound is now lying next to me snoring like a trooper, I’m so jealous of his ability to switch off just like that. Such a clever dog. 

And the photo, I almost forgot about that. Some of you might recognise it from a few months ago, but here it is again reworked with the glitter of Photoshop to make it look just like today here in the full sized Little England. 


A big shout to those who support me, it helps keeping these posts regular