Pembrokeshire coast

The coastal pathways in Pembrokeshire are stunning, as these photographs of mine from 1998 show.

Pembrokeshire coast

Pembrokeshire coast

Beautiful cliff paths, that as you walk along, you can see the waves crash against the rocks below.

Pembrokeshire coast

Pembrokeshire coast

That’s one scary landing…

The big storm in the Netherlands made for some difficult landings at Schipol Airport as you can see with his landing captured on video.

Glad I wasn’t in that plane.

15 Classic Cars in Weston-super-Mare

So let’s be frank about this, I really don’t know that much about classic cars, however I have recently thought it would be nice to own an old classic motor.

These photographs were taken at a recent classic car event in Weston-super-Mare, I can guess what some of them are, but please add a comment if you are more confident than me in what they are.

1. 1931 Austin Seven Swallow

2. An American car of some kind… 1955 Chevrolet Bel Air – 938 XUP

3. Who knows, but nice wheels! Chevrolet  – SV 6473

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4. 1950s car, Armstrong Siddeley Sapphire – 172 CEV

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5. A blue car…

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6. Another classic, 1920s or 1930s?

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7. A Rolls Royce from the 1970s…

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8. Hmmm, 1949 Riley 1.5 Litre – KXN 114

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9. Okay, so I know the sun glare doesn’t help… Riley  – RDV 566

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10. This one I am pretty confident is a Morris Minor 1000 Traveller.

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11. Bodie and Doyle would like this Ford Capri

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12. Another American car, calling Dick Tracey, calling Dick Tracey…

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13. A wedding car…

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14. Willys Jeep

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15. Custom BMW Mini.

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So can you help me out, please add a comment if you know what some of these cars are.

The view from Blackpool Tower

Back in February, we had a holiday in the North-West visiting Manchester, Liverpool and Blackpool. My first time to this seaside resort, and mid-week in February was probably quite a nice time to visit, hardly any crowds and no traffic.

We did go up the Blackpool Tower, which in my opinion isn’t cheap, but we had some tokens from cereal boxes which reduced the overall cost.

The weather was nice, so we had some really nice views from the top.

The view from Blackpool Tower

The view from Blackpool Tower

The view from Blackpool Tower

The view from Blackpool Tower

The view from Blackpool Tower

The view from Blackpool Tower

The view from Blackpool Tower

The view from Blackpool Tower

The view from Blackpool Tower

Click the images to see larger versions on the Flickr.

In the Lake District

Back in 1998 I visited the Lake District and had a very enjoyable few days walking across the hills and valleys. Sadly I’ve not been back since (well I did go in 1999), not really had the chance or the time. Hoping that this year that may change. I think this is around Ennerdale.

Lake District

Lake District

Lake District

Lake District

Lake District

Lake District

Lake District

Lake District

Lake District

Lake District

Lake District

I took these photographs with a Canon EOS 500 camera using film, the images were scanned in from prints.

Commuting with my bike

Today for the first time I took my bike with me when I took the train to work. It seemed to work okay, but I still need to get home.

It’s an old bike. Here’s the proof, a photograph of it at Cheltenham Railway Station

My bike

You have entered the Quiet Zone!

What’s the point of the Quiet Zone Carriage?

What’s the point of the Quiet Zone Carriage?

Twice today I have travelled in the Quiet Zone Carriage, first with First Great Western and secondly with CrossCountry. Both times there were people in there listening to their personal stereos really loudly! Though of course for everyone else in the carriage had to put up with the irritating tinny music.

To be honest I would have been annoyed with it, even if it had been a “normal” carriage. One of the reasons I listen to music or radio on the train is often to drown out the tinny music from others. However with respect to other people I don’t listen when I am in the Quiet Zone Carriage, as I know they don’t like it.

Now I would stand up and ask the person to turn it off, however I have no idea where they are sitting in the carriage and from my seat I can’t actually see who it is. Also the noise I would make asking them to turn it off, potential argument, would annoy people even more I think, well it does when I hear it.

The only reason I am in the Quiet Zone Carriage is that though there was no reservation on the seat I was sitting in, someone did have a reservation. Personally I think they caught the wrong train, but it was easy to move and there were free seats in the Quiet Zone Carriage.

Virgin Trains use to have a weird Quiet Zone policy when they ran the franchise (now run by CrossCountry) you couldn’t even use your laptop in the Quiet Zone Carriage. This was just use it, for reading, writing, not listening to music or watching a film. I remember one woman getting very irate I was using it, even though she made significantly more noise shouting at me then I was using the laptop. She got very hot under the collar, so much so, that the guard made an announcement over the tannoy about not using laptops in the Quiet Zone Carriage.

Talking of announcements I am reminded again of Virgin Trains where the buffet person when we were arriving at Birmingham, where he was getting off, he thanked us for been a lovely audience!

The Quiet Zone Carriage only really works if everyone in it respects the rule that it is the Quiet Zone Carriage. Unlike the First Class Carriage the rules aren’t enforced by the guard or ticket inspector; if you don’t have a first class ticket then you can’t sit in the First Class Carriage. Whereas if you aren’t quiet, you can sit in the Quiet Zone Carriage and be noisy.

I have to admit I don’t really see the point of a Quiet Zone Carriage on a really busy train, mainly as trains are very noisy things anyway, lots of engine noise, and announcements. Those within it, even those been quiet, have conversations, chat, tap away at keyboards, breath, drink noisely, snore and so much more.

The question is, with a small four carriage train, can we really afford to have a Quiet Zone, well one that works as it should?

Travelling stories

I recounted earlier this week the problems affecting my travels to work caused by the weather.

It actually hasn’t got much better.

On Wednesday I checked to see the trains were running and they seemed to be running fine. After changing trains at Bristol Temple Meads I arrived in Gloucester a few minutes late, but nothing too untoward. There were problems on the rest of the network, but it seemed to be restricted to Devon and a few other parts of the UK.

As it got to the time to leave work, I did check the departure board from my phone and it seemed that there were a few alterations, but nothing that would impact on me too much (I hoped).

I arrived at Gloucester station, checked the departure board, saw I had a 30 minute wait for my train, got an espresso from the Pumpkin Cafe and sat down with my laptop and the free wifi. After a minite or so and just as I was checking the e-mail, a CrossCountry Voyager came into the station, this was a bit strange as they generally avoid Gloucester these days. The station announcer came on and said “arriving platform two, an extra train to Bristol Temple Meads” well that was an unexpected opportunity. So I grabbed the coffee, my laptop and bag and got on the (quite) crowded train. Found the last remaining seat in Coach C and sat down.

One of the reasons that CrossCountry trains don’t call at Gloucester is that it isn’t on the main line from the South West to Birmingham. As you come down from Birmingham you swing right into Gloucester. To continue down to Bristol you reverse direction and swing back onto the main line. I recall catching trains from Weston to York and they would call at Gloucester, they would then detach the engine from the front of the train loop the carriages and couple it to the other end. With High Speed Trains (with a cab at each end) the driver needed to switch cabs. This of course would all take time, sometimes enough time to grab a coffee from the cafe – though I did sometimes worry about been left behind.

HST at Gloucester Station

Today though you need to change trains at Cheltenham Spa or Bristol Parkway to get to Gloucester as the mainline trains don’t call there anymore, hence my surprise at the CrossCountry Voyager. So I was expecting the train to leave Gloucester from the same direction it had arrived… it didn’t! It left in the opposite direction to the way it had arrived at Gloucester. That wasn’t the way to Bristol, that took you to Lydney, Chepstow and Wales. I really did think for a while as the train travelled further into Gloucestershire, into Forest of Dean country that I had taken the wrong train, would have to pay a penalty fare and end up in Cardiff!

Eventually the train manager came on the tannoy and said there had been a landslip in Westerleigh. As a result the southbound mainline was closed. The train was going to go around the problem, through Lydney and Chepstow, under the River Severn and arrive in Bristol Temple Meads.

We eventually arrived in Bristol, five minutes later I made the connection home. What was slightly weird was I actually got home thirty minutes earlier than I normally would.

As a result today I decided to drive. This morning the motorway was a lot busier than normal and I suspect the railway problems contributed to that. However checking my National Rail app on the iPhone it was apparent that lots of trains had been cancelled, so train hadn’t been an option even if I wanted to try the train.

This evening though, sadly there was a six vehicle accident on the M5 which closed all three lanes for a time, so it took me over two hours to drive home, twice as long as it should take. There are lots of accidents on the M5, which is one of the reasons I recently swapped to taking the train.

Tomorrow?



Well tomorrow is another day.

Travel Nightmare

Worle Station

What with the bad weather and all that I wasn’t expecting travel to work today to be smooth and easy.

I have recently been catching the train to work, it takes twice as long as driving, but with current fuel costs it is slightly more economical and I can do a lot more work on the train than in the car!

I got into the car to travel to my local station (not got a bike sorted out yet) and my usual trip was disrupted due to excessive flooding on Summer Lane Bridge. It was closed and as a result I got turned around by the police. By the way the bridge, which is a railway bridge, was not flooded, but the approach road was. Getting to the station was a little more difficult, but luckily it was early.

I had checked the trains before I left home, some had been cancelled, but not my usual train, so went straight to the ticket machine and got my train ticket. It was literally seconds after that I found out my train was cancelled. At that point I needed to make a decision. Did I get back in the car and drive to work or wait until the next train. According to the disembodied voice on the platform the next train was an hour later. I wasn’t entirely confident at that point, if I could get a refund if I didn’t use my train ticket. So deciding to wait for the next train, I went to get some coffee. Alas not much choice near Worle station, my first choice, Sainsbury’s wasn’t open, so I went into McDonalds! Not really where I wanted to go, but I got a coffee and they did have free wifi, so got on with some work.

After about forty minutes I ventured back to the station to catch the train. Disappointed to find that this one was marked as delayed with only a few minutes to go. I did wait, but in the end with the train been delayed by about twenty minutes from departing from it’s starting station and the result would mean I would miss the connection at Bristol Temple Meads and so would be even later into work, I decided to give up and work from home. Even then due to traffic chaos (caused by not one by two bridge closures) it still took me nearly thirty minutes to drive the two miles home!

With all the weather we’ve been having, I was also concerned about not just getting to work, but getting home again. It wasn’t really a nightmare, not like some of the stories I have been reading about, in the main as I decided that in the end it was going to be better not to travel.

Tomorrow, it’s a bit more challenging as I will be going to the Forest of Dean, driving as it’s impossible to get there by train. Wish me luck.