Monday 25 December 2023

Victorian Values

Barry Bullhead, the hard nosed utterly charmless man from The Ministry of Misery doesn’t have any true friends. That’s him standing by the crossing gates watching the local service trundle past. He’s always struggled with relationships, most likely not helped by a harsh upbringing due to his parent’s Victorian values which revolved around lack of empathy and any kind of love. For that’s the way his parents were raised as well. 

Beryl hops out of her supercharged Austin 7 and ponders on whether she should ask Barry if he’d like to have Christmas at hers, nothing saucy mind, I know what you smutty lot are thinking. But then thinks better of things, hops back into her car and drives off as soon as the gates open, the narrow wheels of her tiny car making light work cutting through the wet snow.

Meanwhile, Barry wanders back to his large cold empty house on the hill and opens the single malt… 🥃

Sunday 24 December 2023

Christmas Eve

Back in the olden days, fans of railways on the brink of closure copied The Titfield Thunderbolt film to save their line, but soon discovered just how impractical high maintenance open cabbed ancient museum locomotives could be outside the summer months. Getting parts was also an issue with demand outstripping an almost nonexistent supply, so dubious bodges were frequently used to keep things operational. 

With the British Railways Modernisation Plan of the mid-1950s, there suddenly became a surplus of more modern locomotives available, most with enclosed cabs and that all important plentiful supply of parts, many almost brand new in many cases. 

Waving Willy has managed to cop himself a bargain for the price of a round of drinks from his local secondhand railway dealer who just so happens to be Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe. So now now he’s the proud owner of his very own Titfield Thunderbolt inspired train. 

Hopefully he’ll be able to keep it running, because it will almost certainly be a money pit, for running and maintaining vintage locos and trains is rather like running a classic car, for you need deep pockets, skills and unlimited hours to work on them (known from first hand experience of having a couple of vintage MG cars back in the day). 


Vintage train maintenance fund…

Saturday 23 December 2023

A Sporting Night With Wasps & Hedgehogs

Lit by un unusually bright waxing gibbous, here we are around ‘closing time’ at The Royal Oak. Being the last Saturday night before Christmas, it’s been an unusually busy night with the final ladies’ wasp chewing competition of the year. Always a popular event with the more rowdy types off the local estate competing against the local landowning toffs who learned wasp chewing skills at Swiss finishing school.

The extension to the right of the pub is the skittle alley, and again it’s been a busy night with young farming types apparently using hedgehogs instead of balls and beer bottles for skittles. Youth eh? 

And in contrast in the lounge bar, it’s been the annual get-together of the local railway nerds. They’ve been sharing sticky photographs of their trainspotting exploits over the last year or so. They also brought toy trains and thermos flasks to show off to their fellow like-minded souls. Very little beer is drunk, just tea, milk, warm flat lemonade and the occasional half pint of shandy for the more rebellious. 

The Morris 8 Series E, the local taxi, has arrived to collect Beryl, our favourite geriatric reveller. She will have spent most of her time egging on the wasp chewers shouting “go girl, fight fight!”. But with the impending lock-in, the taxi might be better to pick Beryl up at 6am when the landlord throws everyone out.


Go on, you know you want to…

Friday 22 December 2023

‘20 Foot Deep Arctic Storm of Doom’

The 22nd of December in the land of the inch high, and there’s been a light dusting of snow overnight, the miniature media reporting it as a 20ft deep arctic storm of doom laced with plague spores and that we should never go outside ever again. Ever. 

Beryl looks over at the simmering locomotive, the fake snow not melting on the hot and sweaty engine, because fake snow is rather like that, especially when it’s something sourced from the pantry and probably more at home in a pastry or used for indigestion. 

A Christmas tree has appeared as well, the local pipe cleaning factory donating a suitable specimen which has been expertly decorated by my wife using what looks like chopped up shiny sweet wrappers. She has more patience than me. 


Go on, you know you want to…

Thursday 21 December 2023

Bugger Bognor

It’s the winter solstice at Polbrook Gurney Colliery, though this year it’s actually 3.27am tomorrow in the UK, but we won’t let that spoil the yarn for the sake of a few hours. 

It’s another damp dull morning as Ted prepares to change the point. He’s from Newcastle by the way, that’s why he’s not wearing a coat. Nobody in the North East wears a coat because they’ve not yet been invented, and anyway, they’re tough up there. It’s the Viking blood by all accounts. 

Colin and Deliberation Dave over in the distance are discussing the fact that today is the shortest day (almost), and that from now on the nights will be getting shorter. But Dave is still apprehensive as to whether the days will ever get longer, for they didn’t last year. 

Ted might to travel to Bognor after Christmas for a short break at Butlins, for it’s apparently quite nice this time of year, but then mutters “bugger Bognor, I’ll go to Saltburn on the Sea, money saved on a poxey namby pamby coat worn only by southerners can be spent on brown ale instead”. 


Enjoyed this post? Go on, you know you want to…

Tuesday 19 December 2023

Copper Slip & Cream Cheese

From the warmth of his cab, Peter Peckett gazes over at Milky Malcolm’s delivery van which appears to be stranded on the crossing after stalling it and failing to get it going again. Luckily it’s only a siding, but still never the less a hazard. 

Milky has dashed into the pub to get some help, for this old van is quite heavy with a several gallons of milk, truckles of cheese and quite likely jars of illicit booze. 

Malcolm should know better than to use the heater the van, it was an optional extra, but in cold weather the dynamo struggles to keep up, especially if the windscreen wipers are on as well as the heater (but of course the heater is just hot air off the engine, but never lets facts get in the way of a good yarn). He’s also installed a refrigerator unit, though quite why he needs it this time of year I’ve no idea. 

Hopefully a jump start will get it going, as well as a checking and cleaning of the battery terminals. For Malcolm really should have used copper slip grease instead of cream cheese to stop them oxidising.


Enjoyed this post? Go on, you know you want to…

Saturday 16 December 2023

Fish Guts and Moonshine

Saturday morning on the wharf at Combwich and it’s the first day of the new tourist passenger service on the narrow gauge line which is usually used for transporting fish and winkles between the boats and gutting sheds before heading for that there London by train. 

But the fishermen who curiously look rather like Waving Wayne and Gaylord Grip and other regulars (it’s the inbreeding don’t you know) aren’t too impressed, for the passenger train will almost certainly get in the way of the fishy operations. 

However a crate of moonshine has appeared next to the engine, so it’s likely some deal will be struck, and most likely a compromise which will allow the fish and winkles to be transported and sold on the train in addition of going to market. Though in the summertime, the fishy aroma might put off any potential tourist trade. But of course we must remember that in olden times, people only bathed once year and didn’t use deodorant, so it probably won’t be an issue. 

To this day, many toy train and bus fanciers still abide with this hygiene regime, the money being saved on such allowing the purchase of more DCC sound fitted Class 37s. 


Enjoyed this post? Go on, you know you want to…

Monday 11 December 2023

Big Brother is Watching You

In Little England, much like the full sized one, they’re obsessed with camera surveillance and enforcement, mostly as a means of making money. The set up here being used to recorded trespassing on the railway. The inch high, whilst they’ve been able to shrink most things down have struggled to do this with a camera. Another problem is getting the film processed in that they have to use a swimming pool after dark to develop the negatives in. 

Clive and Deliberation Dave standing up on the roof, and Peter Peckett in the cab of the loco to the right, look on in amusement as PCs Mouldy & Scullery try and direct the camera in the direction of Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe who in standing in the ‘4 foot’, or more accurately, the ‘16.5mm’. 

And of course, our favourite waver, Waving Wayne, is assisting with a good wave, for that’s what he does best. 


Help design a fully working tiny camera the inch high can use …

Tuesday 5 December 2023

Seized Brake Shoes & The Vegetarian Option

 A murky November morning at the colliery. High-Vis Harold and Harry the Hammer are investigating a wagon with seized wheels which is straddling a point on the entry to the siding which serves the loading screen. 

A quick tap of Harry’s hammer will sort things out for sure. It will only take a second of two, it most likely being a frozen brake shoe and easily sorted with his hammer. And of course it’s almost the end of Harry’s shift, it always is. 

Over at the Miners Arms in the distance, breakfast is underway for the guests. The pub speciality, ‘The Full Forest of Dean’ will consist of anything that can be made from wild boar, and only limited by imagination. The vegetarian option will be porridge oats soaked in boar’s blood and fried in lard. Things were simpler in the olden days. 


These posts are helped with lubrication …

Monday 4 December 2023

A Digital 1950s Zeiss Nettar!

On Mondays (and all other days as well), Driver Double Denim Dancing Dando, known to his pals as ‘DDDDD’ loves to have a shimmy. And being Mid-Somerset Tap Dancing Championships winner 1956-1964, he definitely knows his stuff. 

‘DDDDD’ has discovered that the roof of former NCB loco ‘Radstock’ makes a most wonderful clattering sound with his tap-dancing shoes on the tin roof. But he’s finding it hard going today, not because of his tender 78 years, but because his fireman magnetised the metal soles of his shoes when he was having a mid-morning snooze between shunting turns. 

But the bonus now is that ‘DDDDD’ can climb up the side of the engine onto the roof like Spider-Man does the Empire State Building. And of course Bob Geeza Cat is most impressed, thinking that ‘DDDDD’ has real ‘rizz’ as the da kidz say. 

Today’s pic was taken with my 1950s Zeiss Nettar folding bellows camera. I locked the shutter open, and held my mirrorless Nikon (without a lens) up against the rear of the Zeiss with the back open, it effectively becoming a digital back. It probably won’t be a regular set up, I usually load the Zeiss with film, but it’s fun to experiment. 


An experimental mind requires constant lubrication, please help…


Friday 1 December 2023

Angry Hubert

Hubert the conversational Latin speaking shunting horse is normally a placid soul. But today he’s more than a little upset due to the dockland authorities wanting to pension him off and replace him with a diesel engine, and a smug blue one at that. Never trust a smug blue engine, but at least this one doesn’t have a face. But there is a rumour he wears one at weekends to scare children and also adults.

A few of you have missed Bob Geeza Cat, who is reputed to be half fox, and even he is rather taken back, but fully understands Hubert’s angst. And of course Bob is perfectly positioned to aid the composition of the photo here, because that’s what he does best. 

Local ‘businessman’ Terry Tuttle-Thomas-Smythe standing in his usual ‘look no hands’ pose quite likely has something to do with the engine’s appearance. However, I have a feeling that the Signalling & Telecommunications Department workshops in Reading where the locomotive is based are unaware that they are missing their loco. 

And Wayne, he’s just waving as usual for no apparent reason.


Enjoyed this post? …