Monday, June 27, 2016

Monday 27 June - Return to Ottawa

The Air Canada flight to Ottawa now leaves at 1520 so there was plenty of time to have a leisurely breakfast and make our way over to Paddington.  The overall roof has been cleaned and the whole station is a lot brighter now.  Trouble is that the polluting diesels are going to be using the station for a couple more years so it will start to become dingy again..
Heathrow Express was fast and we had plenty of time before the flight was called - an hour ahead of departure.
The plane was not very full and the flight was relaxed in spite of one of the cabin crew who received her training in the gestapo.
The 97 bus described an even larger loop through Hurdman now.
Walking over the bridge between the Rideau Centre and The Bay we were disappointed that the sink hole has been filled in so we missed it completely.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Sunday 26 June - A walk in the park

The weather turned out sunny and we walked along to Kensington Gardens then into Hyde Park and Green Park to St. James's Park.  From there we took the Underground to Tower Hill (the Circle line is completely shut down this weekend and the District line is only operating as far east as Tower Hill - more "planned disruptions") and fought the crowds across Tower Bridge to the Anchor and Tap for a pint and a glass of rose.  The flowers were at their peak and we spent some time watching the waterbirds carefully looking after their young.
These unusual plants were growing very high.  There were small white flowers
This squirrel was on the lookout for food.  He jumped down and climbed up my pant leg.  His claws were sharp
This goose family wanted to get the goslings across the footpath where lots of people were passing.  The one in the rear just hissed at people and they made way.
The geese kept the young under very close control

We came across a large flock of parrots which were nearly invisible against the green leaves of the trees

This can only be described as a riot of color.
The tufted ducks were very much in evidence
View from St. James's Park bridge
Coots had built several nests in the lake.

The three pelicans were out very close to the tourists.
Walking back to the Tower Hill station we stopped for an ice cream then noticed that Tower Bridge was being raised to let a vessel into the pool of London.

This is the MV Balmoral, a heritage vessel which was an Isle of Wight ferry at one time.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Saturday 25 June - Great Western Railway Museum Swindon

Today, for me, was a day of pure nostalgia.  I took an HST to Swindon.  The train was bound for Cheltenham and was not very full so I could enjoy the run down the Thames Valley.  The forecast was for unsettled weather and we ran through two heavy showers in the 59 minute journey.  Although I have been through Swindon many times and changed trains there, the last time I set foot outside the station was on Friday 29 June 1962 when I took a medical and litteracy test, as well as visiting the museum.

Since then the museum has changed enormously.  It is in one of the surviving works buildings but it now demonstrates that Swindon works produced everything for the railway and, in effect, created the town.  Everything is complete and the artifacts are brought to life by a series of well built figures in appropriate clothing. Many locations had short videos which explained and amplified.  These used old footage with interviews from people who had gone through the mill, also some wives explained how they brought up families under such work practices.  Perhaps the most poignant comment was from a fireman talking about the change from steam to diesel, "I had an apprenticeship of eighteen years to work up to a driver only to find I had no job qualifications for other work".   There were a number of volunteers who were only too pleased to chat about the various jobs.

Pictures can do a better job than I at describing the visit.
Taking a break
Women played an important role during the war
Beautiful Caerphilly Castle
Broad Gauge Replica
This was true in my day as a trainee when I was told by management not to get married because I should devote all my time to the railway.  I ignored this instruction and ultimately resigned.
Unloading freight.

The copper capped double chimney on King George V - No. 6000

The bell on King George V
I actually polished this bell

City of Truro, No. 3717.  In the 60s it was restored and put into regular service at Didcot.

7821, a Manor.  They did wonders on the Cambrian Coast line but they had a small firebox.  We had a couple at Reading.
The name and number plate from the last Castle built.
I rode and fired this locomotive and these plates brought back many memories:

The museum is extremely well conceived and set out and I thoroughly enjoyed the visit.

Back at the station the next train to London, Paddington was the return working from Cheltenham which, again, was not full and I enjoyed a pleasant return to town.

While I was wallowing in nostalgia Mary visited the Victoria and Albert museum and went to an afternoon movie.

For dinner this evening we went back to the Hereford Arms where the salmon and the Bressingham duck breast were very well cooked and prepared.

Click here to see all pictures taken at the Swindon museum

Friday, June 24, 2016

Friday 24 June - Travel to London

Arriva Trains Wales  managed to be late into Birmingham Snow Hill and the train was very full with many standing.  However, our train to London was waiting at the next platform over and we found our reserved seats in plenty of time.  It turned out to be a happy journey as a hen party of girls (at least a dozen) had the seats in front of ours.  Each one had a small bottle of champagne and the corks were popping before we had left Birmingham International.
Some decorations had been put up along the baggage rack
Most of the party got on at Birmingham but the bride did not appear until Coventry.
The train arrived on time at Euston and there was a quick Underground trip to Gloucester Road.

Sea Trout.
We had a late lunch at the Hereford Arms just down the street.  Both the fish and the lamb were well cooked.
I had a pint of the Hydes brewery Lowry beer which uses pictures by L.S. Lowry who painted scenes from Lancashire.  His "stick people" are well known.
We went for a walk in the area after lunch and came across this surprising Michelin building.  It has now been converted into some restaurants, bars and home furnishings shops but the restoration has been very well done both inside and out.

A history and description of the building can be found here:

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Thursday 23 June - Deep Fried Mars Bar

Today is our last day in Shrewsbury.  Spent a little time packing but there is not much to do.  It was a beautiful sunny day and we walked down to the Boathouse for lunch.
The fuchsia are in bloom.
The rhododendron are now finished but the island in the Quarry gardens is still attractive
Dessert was deep fried battered Mars bar.
To walk off lunch was went around the outside of the Severn, past the two boathouses and crossed the Coleham bridge. Several kids were rowing on the river including a couple of races.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Wednesday 22 June - Cwmyoy and Llanthony

We took the train to Abergavenny this morning and met John and Valerie for a quick visit.

The first stop was at the Skirrid Arms which bills itself as the oldest pub in Wales.  Of particular note was the gallows where at least 180 people were hung, many for sheep stealing.

Valerie kindly volunteered to demonstrate the gallows.
Both Valerie and Mary survived the visit to the gallows.  Photo by John Palmer.
We then went on to look at the church at Cwmvoy which was struck by a landslide many years ago but has remained in use even though it is badly buckled now and there is hardly a level or vertical part in it.

Many walls have been strengthened.
A notice on the door asks visitors to keep the door closed to prevent the swallows flying in.  There were two nests in the entrance.
Llanthony Abbey is in a wonderful valley in the Brecon Beacons National Park.  No power lines are allowed and a 360 degree view is fantastic.  It is completely unspoiled and the only sounds are from the sheep and birds..

A "modern" cottage has been added into the ruins of the abbey

We were watched by a number of horses while we had a picnic, Welsh cakes, Battemburg cake.  We were also observed by chaffinches, wagtails and rooks who were looking for any crumbs 
After lunch we walked through a field of sheep to get a view of the abbey.  I think this lamb was politely saying "P--- off."
Photo by John Palmer

The train back was shown as on time but ran 3 minutes late and we were checked badly on the run into Shrewsbury.  Network Rail and Arriva Trains Wales do a poor job in this area.

Click here to see all pictures taken this day