Meeting Nicola

An enjoyable read from a fellow Scot.
Do follow his blog.

Grouse Beater

800Nicola Sturgeon – First Minister of Scotland

Readers hoping for gossip will be sorely disappointed. I’m about to describe the events that took place before and after meeting our admired First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, (for the second time) but for those not yet had that pleasure I’ll convey what many  have perceived of her. She’s highly attentive, in control and absolutely focussed. She exudes authority, but not the disengaged aloofness of the moneyed classes, or the verbal correctness of a high court judge. It’s that old fashioned thing called unassailable integrity.

Two further observations: She practises the caution of those who learn a first meeting is what people are selling her, a built-in defence needed by any public person who receives praise and abuse from those it is her sworn duty to protect, and the society they live in. And secondly, she reads Grouse Beater. How often she read it I didn’t ask.

Doon…

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Good things come to he who waits…

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As previously mentioned I attended the Perth Model Railway Show today; arguably the best show in Scotland today and always worth the trip.

I had a particular reason for looking forward to this year’s show as a long-anticipated book had its premiere at the show.

‘The Port Road – Dumfries to Stranraer, Portpatrick, Kirkcudbright and Whithorn’ has been a title long in preparation as its author, Andy Swan will testify as the idea for this book first germinated over 20 years ago.

Coincidentally, this was around the period in 1996 when my interest in this Railway first flowered during a camping and walking trip with a mate which took in the section of the line from Gatehouse to Skerrow and New Galloway to Loch Ken.

This was the second week of a holiday which had also introduced me to the joys of the Waverley Route and also set in my mind the idea of a move within my then work to Carlisle.

In retrospect that holiday was actually a pivotal point in my life, leading directly to where I stand today but I digress; this piece is primarily about this book, a true Labour of love by its author, Andy Swan, like me a member of both the Caledonian and Glasgow and South Western Railway Associations. Both societies have actively supported the production of this book and if you wish to purchase a copy, I recommend you enquiry of either association and better still join them, then you will be entitled to a member discount and a CD of extra material, such was the depth of information uncovered by the extensive research.

The book, published by Lightmoor Press, already well established as the ‘go-to’ publisher of the CRA’s titles is beautifully presented and bound in the same highly attractive style as such titles as ‘Caledonian Railway Livery’ by Jim MacIntosh and ‘Branch Lines to Strathearn’ by John Young.

The book comprises of 300 pages comprising fourteen extensive chapters , three appendices and index/bibliography sections.

There is history, anecdote and travelogue within the pages and some of the most wonderful colour drawings along with a host of excellent photographs, the overwhelming majority of which this reader has never seen in print previously.

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The above photos aren’t of the highest quality but I hope they give a little taster that will encourage you to support this title by purchasing, especially via the aforementioned societies.

There’s much information about operations, construction, background history and politics, the latter having had great influence in the development of the Railways in this part of Scotland due to its status as a gateway to Ireland.

A very interesting section also concerns the creation of Cairnryan Military Port, familiar today to travellers and countless wagon drivers as the point of arrival/departure for the Irish ferries and fast Catamarans.

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This can’t be considered a true review of the book since I’ve only read chapter one and two so far, but a brief inspection of the title confirms to my mind that it will be generally regarded as the definitive work on its subject and it deserves also to be considered Andy’s personal magnum opus; he’s certainly put a Herculean effort into its creation.

 

‘The Port Road; Dumfries to Stranraer, Portpatrick, Kirkcudbright and Whithorn’ by Andrew F. Swan.

Lightmoor Press with the Caledonian Railway Association and the Glasgow & South Western Railway Association, 2017.

ISBN 9781911038214.

Please follow my site links for the above two associations and consider supporting them by becoming a member; their custodianship of the memory of these two great Scottish railway companies deserves continued support.

Thanks.

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Vintage Pair

 

Finally! Some modelling interest!

 

It’s long been a plan of mine to fill one of my display cases with examples of Scotland’s once extensive railway equipment output.

Above are two recently arrived models, both of great significance.

The blue locomotive is an example of the Caley’s ‘903’ or Cardean Class, generally regarded as that company’s flagship locomotive type.

The green locomotive is an example of the N***h B*****h Railway’s equivalent; the Reid ‘Atlantic’.

Both models were built from Cast kits, produced by GEM in the 1970s and now pretty hard to find.

Dimensionally they are a little compromised due to the limitations of 1960s/70s casting technology and also in the case of the 903, the fact that the kit was designed, as many of that era were, to fit on an off the shelf Triang/Hornby chassis.

No problem, I’m sure it will be possible to adapt them to modern finescale requirements but meantime, my priority is to finish Cardean in the correct lined blue livery; that shown is the earlier dark blue which isn’t correct for the 903s.

The Atlantic will be returned to the original NB lined olive livery and may well end up carrying the name Waverley if I can find suitable decals.

I’m off to Perth tomorrow so hopefully I will find the correct shade of blue for 903. It appears that Royal Air Force PRU blue corresponds the Correct BSC reference for Caley light blue so I’ll be keeping my eyes peeled at the Phoenix stand for a tin!

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Emergency appeal: malicious attack on pro-JC campaigner

The SKWAWKBOX

r_swindPro-Corbyn blogger @Rachael_Swindon is one of the most tireless campaigners for Labour, Corbyn and a fairer society that you’ll ever find.

As well as blogging and creating some of the strongest memes to support Labour’s message, she is a full-time mother of two kids who also cares full-time for her disabled husband, who recently took a turn for the worse. As a result, she and her family are in the support group of ESA and PIP, which allowed them – just about – to scrape by, except when the DWP screwed up.

Until now.

Because of her effectiveness, Rachael has angered right-wingers both inside and outside the Labour party. Because she has a ‘donate’ button on her blog, in case the occasional donation comes in to help eke out meagre benefits, someone made a malicious report to the DWP, triggering an investigation.

Let’s be clear, Rachael has done nothing wrong –…

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My New Career

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Well, a year ago I could never have guessed what I’d be doing today.

Last year I was still bumping along the bottom from a very tough period where my semi-retirement post police didn’t quite go to plan.

Another unexpected and very large expense, coupled with the need to repair the exterior coating of the gable end, which my insurers (Nationwide, as it happens) washed their hands of, meant I was pretty much skint and had to dispose of a lot of models I’d rather have kept.

Now, whilst my little job, doing deliveries on the Solway Plain was enjoyable and was exactly the right thing for me after the police, the pay was poor and there was little chance at that point of more hours so it became evident I was going to need to look for other work. By chance I mentioned this to my neighbours who both drive buses. It turns out that the local operator was looking for more drivers so after briefly mulling it over, I got an application form and gave it a shot.

Some months later, having passed all the selection, medical and background checks, I got a start and after two gruelling initial weeks I’d passed both the theory and practical PCV tests.

So, having passed the bus test, I then embarked upon learning how to actually be a bus driver! After a few initial weeks route learning under the wing of a mentor who initially shared the driving but gradually receded into the background as my skills and confidence developed, I now find myself driving independently and four weeks into that, it’s all becoming second nature.

The first four hours of my first shift were pretty tough as I had a few adverse situations with equipment and traffic conditions to contend with. It was a real baptism of fire and having had all that thrown at me in short order has made me pretty much ready for anything since!

I suppose it’s early days yet but my feelings about this job are far more positive at this stage than anything I’ve previously done. It certainly isn’t a physically hard job but it requires a degree of concentration and multi-tasking that takes some time to come together and makes you quite tired  mentally by the end of the day.

The shifts are quite odd and you can do a whole run of shifts with different start times on each but I’m pretty much taken these in my stride which was a pleasant surprise. There are no night shifts which I believe is the significant difference from my previous career and which I believe caused damage to my physical and mental health. True, there are some early starts; the earliest on my roster is 05:50, but the latest you’re generally done is midnight so that’s all within a range I feel comfortable with.

I have found as I settle into the job and the routine normalises, I’m less tired than in the early days where your brain is continually being crammed with new knowledge every day and headspace and energy are once again free for creative activities.

I’m surprised that I’ve taken to the role so well and it appears that every job I’ve done over the past 37 years has contributed an element to the overall skillset that bus driving requires from roadcraft and dealing with the public to a sense of local geographical awareness and cash handling/arithmetic skills. It’s like I’ve sent my entire life in training for this job!

Not bad for a guy who failed his O level arithmetic back in the day when many bus companies still ran Miners’ special services and Trident was a nice looking airliner!

I really am enjoying this new role and though there are occasional frustrations like losing time due to traffic congestion and the odd grumpy customer it’s (here at least) far from a stressful job, particularly in comparison with life in the police and it doesn’t really feel like work. You leave the job parked up with the bus in the depot at night and there’s none of the ‘Sunday Night Doom’ that used to dog me back in the old days.

Yes indeed, this feels like just the right job at just the right time and I’m well happy with it. 😊

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Radio Silence

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Well, I’m very aware that this blog has been awfully quiet of late.

Conversely, life has been anything but quiet as you’ll learn.

It’s probably going to be better to get you up to speed over a few posts so this one is basically a notification of further to come.

One thing there is a bit less of as a result of the biggest change is time but I will put stuff out there as frequently as I can. Those of you who follow the blog have been patient and deserve some reward.

The scope will be a bit wider than just the modelling now, such are the (ahem) interesting times we live in but I will always endeavour to deliver an interesting read.

Cheers for now, back soon!

 

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Colonialism is a Crime

Yes, politics I know folks but this is very, very important.
Some modelling will be back soon; I’m very busy decorating before I return to full-time work.
More later!

Grouse Beater

703Molto grazie! An Italian newspaper devotes its front page to Scotland as “Europe’s Hope”

  • International law does not recognise the construct “Once in a generation”.
  • The British government, represented by their prime Minister Theresa May, her lickspittle lackey David Mundell, only Tory MP in Scotland, and Ruth Davidson, leader of the Scottish wing, tried to frustrate the mandate of the people of Scotland.
  • Having rejected proposals from the Scottish Government for Scotland to remain in the single market, refused joint negotiations with Brussels – Scotland supposedly in a ‘Union’ with England – Scotland is now told to take a hike.
  • There is a name for ruling over people while preventing them from being part of the political process that governs their lives. It’s called colonialism.
  • In international law, it is a crime against humanity.
  • Describing a constitutional debate as “divisive” – the most recent propaganda ploy to silence the debate – has…

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