Friday 29 September 2023

Front End Friday

It’s front end Friday again, aka #FEF for hashtag fanatics and collectors. 

Here we are at Catcott, and it looks like Bob Geeza Cat is about to leap onto locomotive footplates again after his successful attempt a month or two ago. 

Bob has many fans, here in the land of the inch high and that fangled internet thingamajig, so a good turnout is ensured especially from the pointers and wavers. Though I’d expect to see smarmy ladies’ man Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe trying to run some betting scam, I’m sure he’s here out of frame - such a bounder and a cad. 

We’ve not seen our moonshiners with Sentinel steam lorry for a while, so here it is, its hot still no doubt in full flow brewing illicit liquor whilst on the move (or stationary in this case because of the crossing). 

Go Bob! But remember to get off at the next scheduled stop at Glastonbury, for last time you had a snooze in the warm cab and ended up in Poole goods yard and had to spend the night with Nasal Nigel in an old plate-layer’s hut with only his throbbing TT gauge ‘Flying Scotsman’ for warmth. 


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Thursday 28 September 2023

Storm Agnes

Storm Agnes (twin sister Storm Daniels) has wreaked havoc overnight, blowing down a tree that wasn’t nearby yesterday. Named storms tend to do this, often depositing fallen trees in areas that maybe don’t have any trees at all like the windswept prairies of the Mid West or the boggy Fens of East Anglia. 

Many of the inch high have appeared to assist, or more likely advise on some kind of procedure to remove the offending fallen tree. But it’s highly unlikely that anything will happen until the nearby pub opens, then Hubert the conversational Latin speaking horse will be able to chair a strategy meeting in the lounge bar of The Miners Arms. Such a clever horse, or as Hubert would say ”Ego tam callidus equus”. 


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Wednesday 27 September 2023

Analogue Photography

It’s a bit of a dull Wednesday around Polbrook Gurney Colliery as old sad eyes D6313 trundles though with an unfitted good from Frome to Shepton Mallet. I can imagine the more studious tweed clad here scrabbling for their old railway atlases muttering……. but fear not, for in this parallel universe of Little England the railway runs along the Nettlebridge Valley from Vobster up to Chilcompton serving collieries and other mineral deposits. Polbrook Gurney Colliery is the only one surviving now though, the likes of Newbury, Mells, Coleford and Nettlebridge closing decades ago. 

The canal basin is part of the truncated Dorset and Somerset canal - give it a Google, it is a thing. 

The Pedant and Armchair has yet to open, for it is only 7.30 am, but I’m sure once it opens the regular inch high will come out of overnight hibernation. But I hope you’ll agree it is quite nice to observe a scene without the usual nefarious chaos that they often bring. 

The more observant will note that chimney of the pub really needs a little work, for it looks like a potential for falling masonry which has mostly been caused by the landlord chucking moonshine on the fire to get it going, often with a bang. 

And finally, this photo was taken on film, Ilford XP2 processed at the local lab on their C41 line and scanned from the neg by me yesterday. The camera used was my trusty Nikkormat FT2 with a 28mm Nikkor lens. 


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Tuesday 26 September 2023

Roger Sprocket

Tuesday morning on Combwich shed, and Roger Sprocket has been out polishing number 5 with his snotty and now greasy rag overnight. Roger is a very particular man and can think of nothing better than polishing things with his rag. That’s his Morris Minor, and as we can see it is in beautiful condition, Roger most treasuring the wipe-clean leatherette seats and curved green dashboard. The central large speedometer dial receiving the most attention because he can wipe his rag round and round in a circular motion for hours on end whilst making all sorts of steam engine noises to himself. Huff, puff, chuffetty chuff tooty toot he goes…

Roger’s day job is working for the Ministry of Defence Film Unit, where he counts the sprocket holes along either side of 35mm motion picture film. He also checks the size and shape of the holes to be sure that they match the cameras used. Additionally he checks the number of sprocket holes on the high speed 16mm film used for covert surveillance work, with the 400 foot rolls bringing him the most joy and pleasure. All this of course has to done in total darkness to avoid fogging the film, but Roger is an expert feeling things in the dark, he being brought up in a locked cellar between the age of 4 and 33. Despite this, he still loves ‘mother’, she now living in the cellar instead of him. 

When he's not polishing engines or counting sprocket holes, he regularly meets up with Nasal Nigel to hang about at bus stations taking numbers. And as if this isn’t enough joy, next weekend Nigel will be taking Roger along to the local outfitters to help him choose a new mackintosh, you know, the one with the special pocket. 


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Monday 25 September 2023

Not Monochrome Monday

Not monochrome Monday. A couple of colour tokens were found under the cushions on the settee in the living room last night, so todays post is unusually in colour. 

In Little England with fuel prices going up yet again, Hubert the conversational Latin speaking the horse & shunter Sid have hidden a full petrochemical wagon next to the pub, for it’s unlikely the greedy petrochemical company will notice. 

Over to the right, it looks like Dave & Den the diesel men have just spotted it having inconveniently run out of fuel next to the pub. But topping up their tank could be tricky without a pump and long hose, so they’ll need to have a strategy meeting over a couple of pints. 

Meanwhile Malcolm enjoys his super sized Mars Bar and a crate of cider on his dinghy. Be more like Malcolm, for he appears to have everything sorted. 


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Saturday 23 September 2023

Fried Porridge in Lard

The days around the Autumn Equinox when the nights are as long as the days and the days are as long as the nights, former ballet dancers, now turned geezer railway blokes Bob & Vic are surveying the colliery sidings to see what needs moving from here to there and from there to here (and sometimes in the reverse order). 

In the distance, at The Miners Arms, breakfast is being served to the overnight guests. Landlady Edna ‘Knuckles’ Landscapeartistoftheyear-Smith always serves a good spread of anything that can be fried. Apart from the full English, which includes knuckles from whatever roadkill she’s managed to find during the course of the week, she also does fried porridge in lard for her vegetarian guests. 

And finally, Driver Colin up on the footplate, takes in the damp and cool morning air to help clear his head after excesses of local cider last night after celebrating his wife’s win at the monthly wasp chewing competition down the local Legion Club.

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Friday 22 September 2023

Unveiling the Mysterious Exchange: Highbridge Shed's Pannier Tank for Shrewsbury Shed's 'Coal Tank'

 It’s #FEF or #frontendfriday again. We’ve not done one of these for at least 6 days. 

Shrewsbury shed’s ’Coal Tank’ is back in deepest most remote Somerset again after being un officially poached by Highbridge Shed in exchange for one one of their ex GWR pannier tanks forced on them by the Western Region of British Railways who have recently taken control. 

The WR hate the former SDJR and are keen to make their mark, but the inch high will always do their best to disrupt their new masters, even though they know that ultimately the WR will win and most likely close the line in due course. 

Regular Roger and Deliberation Dave are chatting about the ‘borrowed’ engine having never crewed a ‘Coal Tank’ before, but Roger does his best to assure Dave that it’s just another kettle on wheels that goes chuffetty-chuff-chuff-toot-toot, but not necessarily in that order. 

And finally, Bob Geeza Cat, for those that read yesterday’s post will be relieved to see that the stray pet catchers didn’t achieve their evil goal. And here he is doing what he does best by helping to balance the composition of yet another photo. He’s also balancing on top of the rail, though for a cat that’s quite natural. Such a clever cat 🐾

And finally finally, the title of today's post was generated by Ai - I fear such still has a little way to go  


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Thursday 21 September 2023

Stray Pet Catcher Train

The stray pet collection train has arrived to round up the waifs and strays. But Bob Geeza Cat isn’t going to give former slimy estate agents Ben & Jerry - now turned pet-catchers an easy time. 

They’ve spent the last 45 mins or so trying the close the sliding cover, but every time they almost succeed our Bob jumps off. They’ll probably have to give up shortly, otherwise the train will lose its path on the mainline. Hurrah for Bob! You’re such a geeza of a cat!

And if you’re wondering who is in the right hand wagon, that will be Nasal Nigel who was mistaken for a monkey that is believed to have escaped from the local zoo. Nigel was naked in the bushes playing with his new yellow Network Rail liveried class 37 loco which was mistaken for a banana. So at least some good has come out of this. 


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Tuesday 19 September 2023

High Speed 1.5 / HS1.5

Today is the launch of the new HS1.5 slightly faster than normal rail service running from nowhere in particular to somewhere else that is nowhere in particular. To try to entice potential travellers to take what is a rather expensive service, the locomotives have been given animated faces controlled by Ai to try to attract the Thomas the Smug Blue Engine generation. 

The first passengers are Dizzy Lizzie who is desperate to get back in to the limelight and awkward Teresa who doesn’t have any friends. 

However due to cost savings on what is an already vastly over budget project, the designer of the train decided to get rid of all the doors, knowing that nobody will want to travel on the train. However fans of the new railway will be able to operate the trains remotely like a giant trainset via a smartphone app for a monthly fee of £14.99. They expect the app uptake to be popular with trainsim fanatics and those familiar with DCC control bringing the new railway into profit by 2030 even though it won’t have carried a single passenger. 

Meanwhile Lizzy and Teresa have gone to the pub for a gin and to download the app via the pub wifi. 


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Monday 18 September 2023

Stormy Monday

Monochrome Monday again, and because the pre-payment colour meter isn’t topped up until Tuesday morning, today as with most Mondays will be black and white. 

Here in Little England it looks like the summer might be over. For those in the southern UK last night might have heard the thunderstorms ratting the windows and shaking your false teeth in the cup next to the bed. 

Here we are at Catcott, and Ivan Locksmith & Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe have posed briefly for a snap in front of the 9.15am Highbridge to Evercreech goods. Though with those stormy looking clouds, I hope that Terry’s folding canvas roof is quick to put up, for it looks like they’re in for a little more than an absolute shower.


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Saturday 16 September 2023

“You’re an Absolute Shower!”

Saturday morning mayhem down at the docks. On the left Waving Willy, twin half-brother of Waving Wayne is passing in his narrowboat. Derek and Barry Bullhead from The Ministry of Misery are trying to work out why there are so many LMS 5 plank wagons (and a 3 plank) everywhere, but Derek loves taking wagon numbers, so he’s in his element. 

Local smooth talking business and ladies’ man Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe is flogging jars of his ‘craft liquor’, whilst average gentleman photographer Ivan Locksmith is eyeing up photo possibilities whilst puffing something from his greenhouse in his pipe. Meanwhile Freddy Flag is trying to keep some level of safety and control, good luck there. 

Rufus hound, Oh My Gawd Oliver and Hubert the conversational Latin speaking horse are simply taking everything in, for there’s a lot going on. Meanwhile Deliberation Dave up there on the loco is wondering how the hell he got trapped in the siding surrounded by so many wagons. I’ve a feeling Hubert might have to sort things out. Such a clever horse. 

And finally 95 year old Beryl is checking out all the men, for she loves ‘a man who can’, though I fear she might struggle to find one here. ”You’re an absolute shower” as Terry would say. 

And finally, Bob Geeza Cat is posing on the right to balance any vague element composition that might be found in this chaotic photo. 


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Friday 15 September 2023

Mendip Hills Light Railway

Here we are up on the 2ft 3 inch gauge Mendip Hills Light Railway which snakes from nowhere in particular to nowhere in particular. It was primarily built to serve lead mines, quarries and industry often of dubious nature. 

Keen fans of industrial history and heritage will struggle to find the route of the line on the likes of the excellent National Library of Scotland Side by Side Mapping website (Google them). This is mostly due to the transient nature of the line with its many branches and spurs, some of which only last a few months before being re-routed. Some of the lesser know branches and spurs, especially the ones serving business of dubious nature can be cleverly disguised with roll up tall grass matting and dead leaves to made them less than obvious to the casual observer. 

Here we have our merry band of ‘craft distillers’ somewhere near The village of Priddy high up in the hills with their bespoke ‘Moonshine Express’ which has been built from a repurposed garden shed, an ex military bogie wagon for the moonshine still and an old school bus. 

Sadly the train appears to have broken down, the constant bouncing around on the rough track has caused mechanical failure with the motorised garden shed conversion nearest. But all will I’m sure will be okay, for Harry the Hammer is on hand, and as we know he can fix almost anything with his precision tool. 

And finally, up there on the left, Nasal Nigel has risen out of the tall grass like Nosferatu to see what’s going on after being disturbed fiddling with his new TT gauge ‘Flying Scotsman’ locomotive. 


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Wednesday 13 September 2023

Nut Zero

Here in Little England from 2030 any remaining diesel routes unless electrified in time will have to be horse-drawn. In the land of the inch high to reduce train lengths, double stacked container train test are currently underway, but it would appear that little thought has been given to railway bridges. However some bright spark at the ministry with fingers in the pie of a construction company has suggested than all railway bridges in Little England be rebuilt to allow double stacked container trains. 


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Tuesday 12 September 2023

Warming Their Cockles

It’s an overcast September Tuesday morning, and because Derek and Clive are interesting fellows, they’re taking advantage of the quiet morning to pontificate over wheel flange depth and tread width. Though really they should be more worried about the missing fishplate. 

In complete contrast, Comical Ned (with the funny shaped head) and Wilfred Wetsuit are balancing on the rim of the engine’s chimney with one leg enjoying the blast of hot air up their trousers to warm and dry their sweaty cockles. 

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Monday 11 September 2023

Stolen Goods

Monochrome Monday again, and because the pre-payment colour meter isn’t topped up until Tuesday morning, today as with most Mondays will be black and white. 

The unpopular Barry Bullhead from The Ministry of Misery has his grubby little fingers in many pies in addition to his current day job of instigating misery for those less fortunate in the land of the inch high. 

Today at his sideline ‘cottage craft distillery’ we see him overseeing the arrival of wooden sherry casks which will be used for ageing the latest batch of illicit spirit made from carrots, turnips and potatoes. The cattle wagon provides an excellent camouflage for the casks within which were stolen from a warehouse at Sharpness Docks over the weekend. You can’t hear it, but Barry’s submissive snivelling little tick Neil has travelled with the casks making the sounds of mooing cows to help the illusion. 

And finally, for I know there is much speculation about the contents of the large elevated tank - yes it is used for storage of illicit spirit. 


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Friday 8 September 2023

The Pines Express.

61 years ago on the 8th of September 1962 the last Pines Express between Manchester and Bournemouth ran over the Somerset and Dorset line. The service ran for a few more years, but went via Oxford, Reading and Southampton. 

The final ‘Pines’ over the S&DJR was hauled by 92220 ‘Evening Star, the last steam locomotive built for British Railways. But I don’t possess such a fine stead, so here is the train on a different date battling though a brief summer storm double-headed (two-times headed for sports fanatics), due to the steep gradients as the line wound it’s way through the Mendip Hills over wet rails. 

During the summer months, due to the volume of holiday traffic, almost any loco that could steam was used, with even the S&DJR 2-8-0 goods train locomotives being utilised to assist less powerful engines like Bath shed’s elegant LMS 4-4-0 number 40564. If you look closely you can see Arthritic Arthur in his element in the cab of the leading locomotive, looking smug knowing that he has the help of such a powerful beast up his rear. 


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Thursday 7 September 2023

Water Delivery

On the Highbridge Branch of the former Somerset & Dorset Joint Railway which took its lonely journey across the Somerset Levels, few if any crossing keeper cottages had running water. This situation lasted right up until closure of the line in 1966. So for this reason, water was supplied in milk churns by the locomotive crews.

Old Arthur, the keeper's husband, has a somewhat bad back, and is wondering how he's going to swap the empty churn for the full one on the footplate of the locomotive. Reg, who is also getting on a bit, is wondering the same thing as he looks down, 'maybe we should do this on the platform rather than injure ourselves trying to look like tough railwaymen' posing for the camera goes through his mind.


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Sunday 3 September 2023

Glastonbury Tor Railway

100 years ago today the final construction train departed from Glastonbury Tor. And here we have our little narrow gauge train being saluted by the little people on its final run down from the Tor after dropping of its final load of spoil. 

It’s not common knowledge, but the clump that is now known as The Tor started life as a spoil heap for all the iron, lead and pagan crystal mining in the nearby Mendip Hills. In later years it also became the town rubbish tip and was deemed a bit of an eyesore with nothing growing on it, so local wealthy landowner Lord Arthur Heldegard-Evis-Dando the Thirteenth ordered a layer of limestone rich topsoil to be applied to the clump. It was hoped that a forest would grow, but in the event only grass, brambles and thistles would ever take hold due to rabbits, sheep, sightseers, roll up cigarette butts and mountain goats constantly damaging the surface. 

To add a final embellishment, a Folly was built on top called St Michael’s Tower after a sizeable investment was made from a Leeds based clothing and more recently food retailer. It was originally designed as an ornate rain shelter so Lord Arthur Heldegard-Evis-Dando the Thirteenth and his rich pals could keep dry whilst enjoying the magnificent views on rainy days. But near the end of construction the building fell foul of planning regulations and would need to be demolished if ever finished. For this reason the folly doesn’t have a roof because it is still technically under construction. 

Sadly all trace of the railway has gone now including the spiralling circular route up to the top of Tor, which is a shame, because it would be a popular way or the more infirm and elderly hippies, goddesses and wizards to avoid what is rather a steep walk.  

So this my chums is the true story of Glastonbury Tor, well according to a colourfully dressed chap I met in the beer and smoking garden of The King Arthur pub in Glastonbury on a recent trip there, so it might just be pure nonsense, for we had imbibed rather a lot of rough farmhouse cider. 


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Saturday 2 September 2023

Security Team of Ex-Estate Agents in Hot Pursuit of Bob Geeza's Feline

These days I’m a little vague about what era my layouts are based in. With usually something like ‘the olden days’ or similar usually sufficing. When I started this hobby (and now in latter times my business) more years ago than I wish to recall, I was very specific about the time frame. I recall one of my first layouts being 12 September 1960, with everything having to be completely correct, though why that specific date I’ve no idea now. 

Here we are in more ‘recent times’ which could possibly pass as anytime within the last 30 years (as one gets older, 30 years is yesterday). Former estate agents, now ‘security’ Ben & Jerry are pursuing Bob Geeza Cat for eating Ben’s tuna mayonnaise sandwiches. Bob looks a little cornered with Nasal Nigel and his odd friend Adenoidal Andrew blocking his only escape route short of jumping into the canal. Water and cats not really being a thing. 

However just in the nick of time, Waving Willy rumbles through on the veranda of the diesel shunting loco and waves Bob up. Bob Geeza Cat as some of you my readers will know is quite a champion at jumping onto moving trains so all ends well 🐾

And finally, today's snappy blog title was generated by AI aka artificial intelligence, mmmm, don’t call us, we’ll call you  


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