Sunday, 29 April 2012

That's My Loco!

Just fifty-four seconds (less than that, really) conveys several reasons why the Western Class 52 diesel-hydraulics were so popular with enthusiasts. Is it the stylish, elegant design?

Perhaps it's the superb hydraulic transmission, and the two independent engines that allow the loco to keep running even if one engine should fail. Or maybe, it's the wonderful roar! of the engines when pulling away.

Actually, it's all of those, and more besides!

It is little wonder that, back in the 'seventies when these locos were still running, I'd go all the way up to London Paddington, walk to the far end of the platform, just beyond the front of one of these magnificent beasts, and wait to see and hear its departure.

There's nothing quite like being that close to such an event (and it was always an event, however routine!) and I did it several times. One good bet was the 2230 Travelling Post Office (TPO), which was often Western-hauled; and the atmosphere at that time of night, after sundown, was something else again.

Oh, and yes, I too have been on a Western-hauled excursion, and hung out of the window just like those you see in the following video(!)

This short clip by traintelevision features one of the preserved locomotives in which I have shares, D1062 Western Courier (the other is D1013 Western Ranger, both pictured above), and is best watched full screen and played through a high quality audio system...

Saturday, 28 April 2012

A Drive Around Strood

As Strood was mentioned in my last post, here is a drive around part of Strood, from October 2009, uploaded by Joe Blunt. I think the potholes we see in the road at the very end were fixed long ago!

It is notable for three things: (1) Strood isn't very exciting or special, at least not the parts traversed during these eight minutes; (2) Strood Station is flagged up at 1 minute 06 seconds in; and (3) the ride passes (without showing us) the Marlowe Park Medical Centre that I have referred to recently, at 7 min 10 sec. It also goes down a couple of back streets that even I have never walked, though I have looked at them on Google Street View.

Something one might notice is the number of railway bridges. In fact, we see barely half of those in urban Strood, the others being a little north of most of the route taken here...

Pullman Train at Strood

This short video, from one "goonerlewis16", shows the traditional Pullman carriages being hauled through Strood here in Medway, by a Class 67 diesel-electric locomotive at each end – 67 024 at the front, and 67 019 as the so-called banking loco to help push the train up steep inclines. Presumably there must have been at least one such elsewhere on its journey.

Visually, the cyclopean Class 67 isn't a very attractive loco, but it does the job well enough, with the power of a top-end Type 4 diesel, though not as high as a Type 5 (e.g. Deltic) but with a higher top speed.

If it's just extra hauling power that's needed, both locomotives will be joined together at the front, but for climbing long and/or steep inclines, the second loco goes at the back. After all, we all know how much easier it is to push (say) a heavy trolley of shopping or suitcase-on-wheels up a slope from behind than it is to pull on it from in front.

This train has the good fortune to have both...

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

What's That?

Returning home from my GP's surgery, riding upstairs in the Number 101 'bus, I again noticed something I had spotted before and never worked out where it was. This was when travelling down the hill of Chatham Maidstone Road, passing the end of Gladstone Road...

What is that building in the distance, rising up above all around it? I hadn't been able to think of anywhere I knew over in that general direction that stood out from the surrounding street scene, as this seems to do. Here's a closer view...

I had to wait until I returned home, then checked the precise direction via Google Street View, then switched to the aerial view and traced the line – straight to the far end of Gladstone Road, just beyond and a fraction to the right (north). This is what I found...

Yes, it's that wide block at the southern end of Semple Gardens! It's not only high, and at a (relatively) high altitude, it's also very wide – so here is just one side and the middle section of the block...

Well, that's one long-standing mystery finally solved!

Hundred of Hoo Railway

Prompted by an uploaded film made by the same company (Gazelle Films), I discovered these parts of a documentary they made on the Hundred of Hoo Railway. This refers to the branch off the line from Gravesend to Strood that heads off to the Hoo Peninsula, here in Medway. In fact it spends a few minutes at Hoo Junction, which I found really interesting, having whizzed past it on that main line.

It really is fascinating stuff for those who, like me, know many of the places featured but know them only as they are today. Here we also see how they were in years gone by, including lines and stations that no longer exist. It even features the Stoke Crossing which is currently in the local news...

Here are two of what seem to be at least three ten-minute parts of this production, which were filmed in the  'nineties and uploaded in video form just under two years ago. The producers apparently haven't put the last part(s) up, but are working on a DVD release of the whole thing, which could appear soon.

In the meantime, watch and learn, as I have just done...

Monday, 23 April 2012

Odd Fact of the Day – 23 April 2012

From OMGFacts...
"If Barbie were life-size, her measurements would be 39-23-33. She would stand seven feet, two inches tall"
I have never understood the appeal of the ghastly, glitzly, so obviously false Barbie, when much more realistic and nicer dolls were around, years ago. Now I think they've all gone, including our own Sindy, leaving only Barbie, the Bratz and TV characters such as Dora the Explorer on the market.

I realise that most fellas go for the Hollywood glamour type of female, but surely those who form the regular market for dolls are not caught up in the same narrow focus. It is very strange – and not a little sad – that our nation's youngsters aren't more discriminating, and are seemingly as easily pleased as the Americans are with dolls designed in their own kind of image.

This phenomenon runs parallel to all those 'glamour' TV commercials featuring glitzy American actresses and voices, bringing the same fake message from Tinseltown that, just because they are in a (falsiified) glamorous business regarding their primary careers, that means that they bring anything of value to the marketplace where the products they promote are sold.

They do not. All they bring is falsity and fakery in one form or another. It is one of the sadnesses of humanity that there is so much of a market in this gullibility of being sold an image, rather than a form of being. The superficial overrides the substantial, and human society is continually diminished by this. Very little is going on at a higher level than that in this money-based society where so much of the money is concentrated in meaningless pursuits like these.

It is perhaps little wonder that humanity still travels around in carts on wheels (without even inertial damping and force-shielding) and is stuck on just the one planet, even after all this time. That's how 'Barbie' and 'Ken' get around, of course, so is about the total extent of human endeavour. Even the space programme has now ceased...

Tweet of the Day – 23 April 2012

From Nikkita, on Twitter as @PastTheSunset_
"If every kid watched waybuloo, the world would be such a nice place in 20 years time..."
It's a good thought, and so true!

Luncheon 23 April 2012

This was Sainsbury's Salmon en Croute (one of their three-for-£10 offer choices, two per pack) with salad garnish and some mixed veg' on onee side, and spicy potato wedges on the other side.

The foil was simply to ensure it didn't stick to the (supposedly non-stick) baking tin. They are supposed to be cooked in the supplied packaging; but as there are two of them I have to take one out to cook, and the other is done in the packaging a few days later.

The wash-down you can see in the glass was Bonne Nouvelle non-alcoholic Chardonnay.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Reasons to Believe

Interesting-looking conference coming up next month...

I expect there will be videos of some if not all of the sessions, so I plan to put up at least a couple here once they are on-line.

(Hat-tip: His Grace)

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Picture of the Day – 21 April 2012

"The Queen" enjoying the English Festival at Riverside Country Park in Medway's Rainham earlier today, snapped by Rochester People who have a gallery of photos from the event with more still to come.

I'm not sure if I can re-post that photo here, so instead here's one of "Her Majesty" with the Mayor of Medway Cllr Ted Baker, and local (i.e. Rainham) councillor Mike O'Brien at the event, which Ted and Mike obviously won't mind my spreading around a bit...

UPDATE: Here are gallery 2 and gallery 3.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

From "Hi-Hi" to Bye-Bye

The regular CBeebies seasonal re-scheduling is upon us again, and – as happened last year – Waybuloo is being dropped from the Bedtime Hour.

I wonder whether this change will cause a similar outcry to the one that flared up last time this was done, ten months ago...

The programme will still be on at other times, though one will need to be up early to catch the 6.25 am daily showings. There will be another outing for the Piplings at 11.35 am, but only on weekdays, while the current practice of a 1 pm showing at weekends will continue.

Okay, so two out of (at present) three a day really isn't bad; but the choosing of time-slot is crucial and the omission from the Bedtime Hour is bound to cause at least some consternation.

Driver Dan's Story Train comes into that hour instead – something that appears to be an obsession at the BBC, as they tried it before in the ten minutes freed up by the experimental cut-down narrated Waybuloo. When that failed, it was instead butted up against Bedtime Hour in its current slot just beforehand.

Someone seems to have been very determined to get it into this important hour, and has now succeeded – even though it will now mean two story-tellings within those sixty minutes, which seems a bit daft. The remaining ten minutes released by the change will return to Charlie and Lola, who have been there before.

Finally to report on this business, In The Night Garden is (thankfully!) to stay at its present 6.20 pm slot: isn't that a pip!

Monday, 16 April 2012

Pi Day

Raspberry Pi computers have been arriving all over the place today.

After a change of designation that then required them to have emissions testing, causing a moderate delay, the first batch of Pi's has now gone out and some customers have reported receiving theirs this morning.

At least one recipient has already tweeted from it, others have simply announced the arrival of theirs, one with a photo, and here's another pic, oh and this one has a video.

In the video, note the mention of Element 14 on the instructions, which is the name for what was, once upon a time, Acorn Computers, inventor of the ARM chip of which breed a recent version is at the heart of the Pi...

The device will be featured on BBC Look East this evening, also viewable nationwide on Sky channel 981 or Freesat channel 953.

A Year Ago

It seems strange that it was a full year ago that I was in hospital after my near-collapse in the street on 11 April 2011, with eight days spent in the Medway Maritime Hospital. Yes, it feels like quite a few months ago, but not a yeacr!

I still have frequent mental flashbacks to times during that period, much of which was affected by hallucinogenic medication – and to this day clouds my memories to the extent that I still cannot work out exactly what was real and what was merely perceived but was in fact unreal to a greater or lesser degree.

Indeed, I had another of my trying-to-work-it-out sessions only this past Saturday, and still can't get it straightened out in my mind.

Anyway, I do not wish to end up too deeply stuck into all of that today, and merely mark the first anniversary of the (approximate) mid-point of that period.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Where Is The Pinky Ponk Going?

Here's a complete In The Night Garden episode. If you are not familiar with the series, it might not all 'click' on first viewing – but that really doesn't matter. Just go along for the ride, which today is mainly in the Pinky Ponk's rather nice gondola. Oh, and go easy on the Pinky Ponk juice...

Friday, 6 April 2012

From Chatham, Looking Outward

I had a two-hour photographic walkabout today, starting here in Chatham and looking across the town borders into Rochester one way, and Gillingham across and beyond the Great Lines.

On my travels I met an excitable dog on a tether in Silver Hill Gardens, and was able to get close enough so it could sniff and lick me before choking while I was out of reach(!)

Although I took a fair number of photographs, several of which showed this "looking outward", here are just a few of them, reduced in size to speed page loading. Clicking on any image will display it larger than within the page...

Jacksons Fields (Rochester) taken from across the road in Victoria Gardens (Chatham)

St Bart's Hospital

The War Memorial on Victoria Gardens

Passing over Railway Street, along New Road Avenue

Whichever way you're heading, you have to go downhill then up again!

Medway Maritime Hospital viewed from Old Road, Chatham

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Google Glasses

It had to come sooner or later, and it does look very interesting!

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Tweet of the Day – 4 April 2012

From Twitterer @sad19 (Sue)...
"I couldn't remember whether it was Wednesday or Thursday so I checked the calendar. That said it was March."
Now perhaps readers here can see why I have an electronic "master calendar", letting the technology do the work of updating every day!

Of course, I could become lazy and sedentary if I don't still do the old jobs, so I have this little wooden blocks calendar sitting on top of the mixer, and I have to remember to change it at the end of each day.

It's just that I don't have to depend on my having done that in order to know what day/date/month it is(!)

Tuesday, 3 April 2012