Well, in spite of the lack of musical content on this blog it seemed like a suitable opening gambit for the first real post on here in a good while and it’s actually a pretty good album anyway!
That aside, after a pretty frantic few months in which I have been navigating my way through massive changes in my own life ‘Transition’ pretty much nails the kind of processes that have been going on.
The biggest change has been that after 22 years I decided to retire early from a career in the police service.
Having reached the age of 50, I came to the conclusion that I was getting too damn old for wrestling with tanked-up blokes half my age on trains and station platforms. Besides, the shifts and ever increasing levels of responsibility had taken most of my energy and enjoyment from the job.
Fortunately, I joined at a time when there was still a good occupational pension attached to the job and I had accumulated enough to clear the mortgage and a couple of other things. I have a modest payment each month and a new part time job to top it up now and while I’m far from rolling in it, this provides enough that I can have a reasonable life now. I could have done another five years but for the extra it would have given me, it would have probably cost more in terms of well being. My continued health is worth more than a new car!
Anyhow, my new job involves only limited hours each week and being generally a late morning or noon start means I wake up when I’m ready and can have a nice long walk with Abi before I go out. I’m always home by late afternoon and she gets another walk. We both do about 6 miles a day now and three weeks into the new arrangement I feel like I’ve already lost several pounds!
One thing’s for sure; there’s a happy man and dog under this (wholly-owned!) roof now!
There are a lot of nice prospects for someone who had spent over two decades on anti social shifts and weekend working. For a start, it’s great to get up, eat and go to bed at regular times again with attendant health benefits. The other thing is that you can enjoy normal social activities at weekends again.
This has meant I can go out and enjoy the steam activity around the Border City again, including the Cumbrian Mountain Express and as shown here, the recent ‘Scottish Lowlander’ railtour; a tribute to the September 1964 tour which saw the last ‘Duchess’ in service, 46256, ‘Sir William Stanier FRS’ run from Crewe to Carlisle where 60007 ‘Sir Nigel Gresley’ took over for the Scottish leg of the tour.
Fifty years later, 46256 no longer exists, having immediately been withdrawn for scrap at the end of the ’64 tour. For the purposes of the re-run, the two original protagonists were represented by 46233 ‘Duchess of Sutherland’ and 60009 ‘Union of South Africa. Even the route differed as in ’64, the tour went to Edinburgh up the Waverley Route then down the Caley to Carlisle. In ’14 it went up the Caley and came back down the Sou’West.
After the southbound engine change, I was lucky enough to capture 46233 at Southwaite though if the train had passed my spot five minutes earlier, the light would have been perfect!
I now have a considerable soft spot for this machine having marked my retirement with a trip behind her from Crewe to Polmont.
That truly was a never to be forgotten experience, riding the Caley behind one of the former Queens of the route with some pretty precise running and spectacular night time fireworks too.
One spin off from downshifting is that potentially there is more time for modelling although a complete facelift for the house and possibly a bit more cycling are going to offer a fair bit of competition.
Nevertheless, I’ve made an effort to finish the Black Five I started at the back end of last year. I finally got the loco running the way I wanted after converting it to EM and I have augmented it with a Brassmasters detailing set. At the same time I made an effort to replace the visually jarring undersides of the Hornby tender with a Comet outer chassis and Lanarkshire Model Supplies Stanier internal chassis with CSB suspension.
The rear axle is still lively but I’m going to try packing it to calm down the hunting that the odd springing arrangement generates. LMS replacement rods are also fitted.
The loco is portraying 44903 of Carlisle Kingmoor as she would have appeared in late summer/autumn 1956.
Still she needs a crew and some other small refinements but she’s essentially complete and ready for action on both Culreoch and Wharfeside.
You may remember the 35 ton tank I was building in the summer. You know, the one with the tank ‘wrong way round’?
Well I did finally get her finished and here’s the proof!
The wagon is weighted to a pretty brutal 45 g and has sprung suspension.
How successful this arrangement is remains to be seen.
Whether it was worth all the effort is something for another day!
Anyway, that’s you basically up to speed with the major events.