Category Archives: Random musings

Wasdale. On a Bank Holiday Weekend

So, yesterday, we went to Cumbria to collect the slate threshold for the doors. More of that later.

While up there, we decided to drive round from Honister and have lunch in The Boot Inn, near Eskdale. We stayed there a few years ago and the food is good pub food and the place is welcoming even when it’s busy. We had a sandwich and some juice in the garden and it was a nice lunch.

Afterwards, we went round to Wastwater in Wasdale, fairly remote but very famous and the Lake District’s deepest lake. It’s a lovely spot, most of the time. Yesterday, the bubble burst, for me at least. It was “crowded”. There aren’t many parking spots there, as it’s a long way round to get there and it takes a bit of an effort. But, they were all full yesterday. People were parked on the side of the road and on the grass verges.

People were sunbathing on the lakeside, and there were several inflatable boats on the water. My heart sank. It was such a depressing sight.

As much as they can be, there are some things that should be “sacred”. Just because you can drive your Mercedes 4×4 SUV onto the grass verge, doesn’t mean that you should. Just because you can park 100m from the water and drag your inflatable boat into it, doesn’t mean that you should.

Call me a miserable old git if you like, but there are dozens of waters and lakes in the Lake District where you can paddle your inflatable canoe. Wastwater, beneath England’s highest mountain and on the “difficult” side of the Lake District, shouldn’t be one of them. Yes, I know that it’s a free country. I know that people can go where they want, when they want and do what they want (within reason). And I know that if there is any time that this place is going to be full of people, a sunny Sunday afternoon on the second May Bank Holiday is going to be right up there with the worst of them. More fool me.

I had thought at one time that I would like my ashes scattered on the little island that gets cut off when the lake is full, but is easily reached by a causeway when the lake is low, as it is this weekend. I am so glad that I have changed my mind.

Here is the Wastwater that I know

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and here’s the scene yesterday, early afternoon.

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I don’t think that I’ve been there completely on my own, although I have been close, but there would normally be just two or three cars there.

I blame that ITV programme a couple of years ago which showed “The Best Views in Britain”. This was one of them, if not the best. Well, it certainly wasn’t the best yesterday.

Anyway…

As promised, here’s the slate threshold in its rightful place. I reckon it looks pretty good, with only a little bit of making good decoration to be done when the cement has dried properly.

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After the 9 months, this has suddenly felt like the icing on the cake.

Not The Flying Scotsman and AdBlue and tin-rattling (again)

That most iconic of Britain’s steam locomotives, The Flying Scotsman (4472, when I were a lad, but some other number now) has just had a major overhaul and is back on the track after several years of absence.

She (he? it?) was due to take a train from Manchester Victoria, up to Carlisle on the settle line and then back via the mainline to Manchester on a 12 hour trip yesterday, arriving back at around 19:15. I thought that I would go and have a look at her arrival.

Once I had got to the station, via a tram which was completely full of angry Manchester United fans (always a pleasant experience 🙂 ), I had a look around the newly refurbished station to get a good vantage point. A decent chap on the ticket barrier would let me through with a nod and a wink so as to get to the correct platform, but suspiciously, he hadn’t been told that the train was coming in… Because it wasn’t.

I found out via Twitter that it had a problem with its brakes and was therefore not in a fit state to haul a train all day. It was likely that an alternative loco was to haul, but that’s not quite the same thing, and since it wasn’t very warm, I decided to cut my losses and head home.

As I was leaving the office car park, I remembered that the train was due to be passing Eccles station about 15 minutes before arrival at Victoria, so taking a leap of faith, I parked my car close to Eccles station and waited there.

A darker, wetter, more forlorn station it is hard to imagine. extremely poorly lit, it would be a dangerous and nasty place to stand around at night waiting for a train, especially if you are a lone woman. But last night there was a family and a few others waiting for the special to come through. Chatting to one lady, it turned out that the FS was actually running, but as the second loco in a pair at the front of the train, with an old diesel pushing at the rear. How they coordinate the power output of these three engines I have never been able to work out, but it obviously works and the train was due in at exactly the time I expected.

What I wasn’t expecting, was for it not to stop.

I found myself the best place I could to have the steaming locos slow down and stop right in my frame and waited a few minutes. On cue, the single light of the front loco came around the bend half a mile up the track… it was obvious that this train wasn’t going to stop…

It thundered past the platform, at probably 60 or 70 mph, with full steam, smoke, whistle, the works. The flames from the fire lit up the smoke in the darkness and it was a fantastic sight. The smell of the smoke lingered long after it had gone through.

I got one shot…

 

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I should get out more often taking photographs of these things – they are really interesting and photogenic. We have loads of preserved lines in the NW, so it’s not hard to do.

On the way home, the warning came on the dashboard of the car that the AdBlue tank was once again running dry. This system is the one that clears some 85% of NOx emissions from exhausts and is a good thing. VW are. allegedly, going to retro-fit millions of systems in their diesel cars to get round their emissions problem. Let’s hope that they fit tanks big enough to last between services.

Mercedes lied to me. They said it was a system I didn’t need to worry about and that the additive would last between services. Once again, it hasn’t. There are 2,000 miles to the next service.

Good job I bought a couple of litres and kept it in the boot, just in case.

Right, it’s time to go and rattle a tin at Tesco in Bidston on behalf of Bloodwise. It will be interesting to see what a difference this stupid name change has made. You have already read my feelings on this…

More later.

Road closed

Now, here’s a slightly random entry to this blog, unrelated to lymphoma or photography or anything else really.

The gas company have decided that a large, 12″ main at the top of the village needs to be replaced. This requires the road to be completely dug up so that the new pipe and other gear can be installed. This is likely to take at least a couple of weeks beyond today, judging by what I saw this afternoon.

This road is one of only two ways into the village from the main road that runs up the Wirral. All access currently has to be from the road that comes in from Neston and, in order to warn motorists that the other road is closed, warning signs have been placed at strategic junctions. From Neston, to Parkgate, there must be at least half a dozen “Road Closed Ahead” signs.

This afternoon, curiosity got the better of this cat and we went to see what the gas board were up to and whether the road would be reopened on Monday as they promised. They won’t.

But, what really surprised me was the number of motorists who clearly don’t look at the road signs or choose to ignore them. In the time it took us to walk up to the closure and back, we must have seen about a dozen cars go right to the barrier and have to turn round. These photos show the situation…

A set of signs, typical of those that are all along the road…

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This is the closure itself…

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And here is one of the motorists that chose to ignore all those warning signs… Just incredible…

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Made me chuckle, anyway 🙂