D'y'know, earlier on this week I composed a truly fascinating and thought-provoking opening paragraph for this week's blog, and here I am all set to rock the very foundations of my readers worlds and I simply cannot remember what it was.
Amongst the various comments I received after last week's edition was someone who revealed a secret passion for sinks – apparently ours is a 'Belfast', actually I thought it had probably come out of a signal box much nearer home – and a suggestion that a photo of a mechanics coupling would have been much easier to understand than my convoluted description.
And they were right of course, but strangely I hadn't got around to taking one, remiss I know but sometimes even I forget to bring the camera with me. So for starters I can at least correct that omission -
Gee, hasn't the weather been odd this week? Fog and bloomin' cold most days, and then balmy and sunny at the weekend so that I've had to discard one of my many layers of clothing. Carry on like this and the annual hose-pipe ban will be declared early.
A pile of drawings arrived from an e-bay seller during the week. Ostensibly all of '04' class locos, some of them were relevant to '03s', several were duplicated, and some turned out to refer to the unique Southern 0-6-0DM numbered DS1173 (but inexplicably referred to on the drawings as a diesel electric!) which was mechanically like an 04 but whose jackshaft drove onto the middle axle and had a more simplistic style of bodywork. Ah well, I'm sure it will all come in handy some time.
We used to say that the last weekend of the month was when everything went wrong, but for some time now the last weekends of the months appeared to pass by without anything untoward occurring. Of course, it couldn't last, could it?
Many years ago, when I was committed to n.g., I brought home a 3ton Orenstein & Koppel RL1b (4w Diesel mechanical) back to Briddon Towers with the expectation that having it immediately to hand would mean I'd be happily outside in all weathers getting it restored. Alas, I did not realise that (a) the thrill of lying on your back on a concrete patio awash with rainwater paled quite quickly, (b) I didn't have the tools at home to succeed in freeing seized bolts, etc., and (c) the commitments to a young family and full-time jobs in railway engineering left spare time at a premium. Night work in the open with regard to (a) and (b) did not appeal.
I'll start off with an apology to anyone and everyone who was unable to get on to Weekend Rails (or for that matter www.andrewbriddonlocos.co.uk and www.petebriddon.co.uk) on Wednesday afternoon and evening. At about 2pm the servers where our websites are held had to be shutdown unexpectedly and were off for several hours while checks were made and the systems re-booted. By mid evening one or two of the websites were up and by the early hours of Thursday all was back to normal.
They say that all human life goes through courtrooms. As we sat in the waiting area outside Court 7 of the Chesterfield County Court building on Monday, 1st February, Andrew and I had no reason to question it. A few yards away, a gentleman, dressed in trainers, jogging bottoms and wearing a baseball cap, and who from his demeanour was clearly influenced by what I assumed was excessive alcohol, asked Peak Rail's Jackie Statham if she'd like a coffee. Was he trying to chat her up? A few minutes later we looked over to see that he was now sat, fast asleep face down on a table. Some time passed and there was a crash. Perhaps a restless sleeper, he had slid off the chair and now rested on the floor with the waste bin that had been in the way as his pillow.. Andrew went and informed Irene, the Court Usher, who came over and got on her phone. Two security guards arrived: roused him, raised him and aided him off into the fresh air outside. The man's legal representative now had a problem – in Court the Judge was calling for his attendance, but the security staff wouldn't let him back in.
So, January is over and we move into month number two of 2016. It'll soon be autumn and I'll be wondering where the year went. We've had some more windy weather in the last few days so some more of the fence panels at Briddon Country Pile have blown down and some time before this summer rushes by and the evenings draw in again I must commandeer Andrew for a time to get it renewed.
OK, I think we've had winter for this year. Looking back at my diary, over the years it has always been the second, or sometimes 3rd week in January that snow used to descend on Briddon Towers and Sheffield would become paralysed. Now we're at the Briddon Country Pile in Derbyshire I don't suppose it is really much different, and the one day of snow we've seen this week is probably it for this winter. Not that I particularly relish cold weather or anything - it saves on the gas bill - but if we're going to have mild wet winters henceforward I think we may have to evolve by growing flippers.
In some senses this has been a frustrating week. I was hoping that by now Charlie's torque converter would be back with us, but by mid week the news was the the necessary bits wouldn't be in until early next, so maybe around Thursday next week I'll be able to collect.
I was a little dismayed last week when I came to post the previous edition of the blog – the readership figures had been somewhat down. Could it have been something I'd said? But no, it must have been the Christmas and New Year festivities as last week's figures are back to normal and even the week before's have picked up as presumably readers have logged and caught up. Could it be that many of you log in during breaks at work? Could it be mid-morning coffee, Pete's blog and bickies?
And welcome to a new year, and our best wishes to all of you for it. The gap between Christmas and New Year I always find a bit frustrating – due to years of being either self-employed or running my own business. All your suppliers and customers are shut down and you can't get anything progressed. Those customers who faithfully promised you a cheque – 'must be stuck in the Christmas mail' – are sitting back with their wine and turkey and I cannot tell them what I think of their latest little fib. But on the positive side, we have had the pleasure of having grandson up for the week, culminating in his third birthday last Saturday.