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.
Welcome once again to this, the last entry in Weekend Rails before Christmas. I see even last year I was muttering about the Humbug of Christmas so I had better be all light-hearted and looking forward to the festive fracas. So imagine yourself stood outside the door of the Geoffrey Briddon building, a holly-wreath welded to the middle, whereupon it opens to reveal a cherubic father and son, smiling sweetly and wishing you all a Merry Christmas.
December is upon us, and all around houses are lit up with garish lights, a large Christmas tree has appeared at the crossroads by Station Road, and tinsel and twee models of Santa and reindeer will shortly be taking over shop windows. It's not just that at my age Christmas has lost its freshness – I just have to tell myself it's for the kiddiewinkles anyway – but heavens, on our Freesat service there's been a channel broadcasting 100% Christmas tosh since... well it seems like forever now but it was probably about the beginning of November.
You don't hear much about the Pipeline Industries Guild. Well I certainly hadn't, and still wonder why they stick with the name when its initials cannot be seen as being entirely complementary. But I got to hear a bit about it this week as Steph and I ventured north to Edinburgh.
After the abundance of pictures last week, I fear a dearth this week as there was little that really was worth photographing, or what was worth recording found me without a camera (and my phone, well it takes pictures, but I bought it as a phone and never thought about it at the time).
It is appreciated, but certainly not obligatory, that the occasional visitor comes bearing gifts. What with Roger W arriving with fire extinguishers and such a couple of weeks ago, this time our favourite ex RR service engineer, Neil W popped in during the week and presented me with a box full of R-R genuine oil filters and a few old lift pumps that seemingly had been cluttering up his loft. I was quite happy to show him around the progress – or lack of it – on the building at Darley Dale.
E-bay has been a recurring topic for the week. As you know, we keep pour eyes peeled (well Andrew does) for bits-n-bobs, tools and the like, which will be of use at prices we can afford. Sometimes they have gone through without hiccup, others have been thwarted by people who refuse to honour the price the auction closes at. I have had the seller who simply refuses to answer e-mails or calls (and whose item, a 7.25” gauge loco, promptly turns up listed again by someone else) or the one who declared that “it had been stolen the previous day” (and yes, that too was re-listed a few days later by someone who was “doing it for a friend”). This week a new seller (rating 0) who had listed some material at a starting bid of £0.99, when no-one else bid, told Andrew that there was £2000-worth and he wasn't selling at £0.99, ring him and we could strike a deal. Now, I was under the impression that if an auction was completed then a contract existed, but all the so-called FAQs and help pages are strangely quiet on that. We haven't rung the guy, but we will probably give him a negative rating.
So, first thing Monday morning I started ringing around bearing suppliers in Derby and Sheffield, getting a range of prices and availabilities on the needle roller bearings we needed to restore our forklift to action. But the fifth supplier not only had two in stock, but gave the best price too, so I abandoned the search and set off for Sheffield.
It has always been a British tradition not just to talk about “the weather” (“Britain has no climate, only Weather. Discuss” was an exam question that my old geography master used to trot out about once a week) but to mock the efforts of those whose job it is to forecast it. Meteorology (which surely ought to be the study of meteors, not weather) in the UK probably reached its nadir when Mr Fish declared that there would be no hurricane, but over the last few years I have come to the conclusion that they doing it pretty well.
I picked the title this week and wondered whether to start off with a “hell fire and brimstone” sermon. You know the sort of thing, you can find it on obscure satellite and cable channels, with some smartly-suited guy sat behind a desk, pronouncing how Man has lost his way and only by following the word of the Lord (or his interpretation of it) in the 'good book' (pick title of yours or his choices) can we redeem ourselves and gain ever-lasting salvation. (And there's a thought, we all know what is meant by the “good book”, but what would we understand to be meant by a “bad book”?) But then sermons aren't really my style. Meandering reminiscences, technical dissertations, maybe, but sermonising on Weekend Rails? Hardly.