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Sunday, 29 June 2014

Gaffe Forgiven

click to enlarge the gaffe

Driving along in Gladys Emanuel this afternoon, approaching Langcliffe I spotted Pat Harding (see previous entry about my gaffe).   I stopped out of shame and offered her a lift by way of atonement.   Turned out she was headed for Langcliffe Village Institute to have a genteel afternoon tea.   That was my intended destination too.  Langcliffe does these splendid teas throughout the summer and raises a lot of money for local good things and I had thought I would give it a try.

To my relief Pat leapt at the opportunity and we went and had tea together - no doubt setting tongues wagging in Langcliffe (where it doesn't take much, they say).   Gladys Emmanuel is hardly the car for a quite bit of how's-yer-father.

We had a good laugh about my lack of enthusiasm for tying fish flies.   She even paid for our teas and life threateningly good cakes so delighted was she with the ride and its potential for rumour-mongering.   I am forgiven - not that I was in deep bother really.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Langcliffe Hall Open Gardens, Gladys and a Gaffe

Took Gladys Emmanuel to local seriously posh house Langcliffe Hall whose gardens and grounds were open to the public.  Gladys behaved, not backfiring once and dropping very little oil on the crunchy gravel:
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Right good do; a very English occasion, tea, cakes, vicars and ending in rain.

The gaffe?   The raffle table was being manned (personed?) by Mike Harding's wife Pat.   Among the prizes was a trip out in Gladys Emmanuel - just my luck to win that one!  

Another raffle prize was a book entitled 'A Guide to North Country Flies and How to Tie Them'.   Looking no further than the title I told Pat Harding I hoped I didn't win that one.   'I know the author very well' she replied frostily.

Let me introduce you to 'A Guide to North Country Flies and How to Tie Them
 - by Mike Harding

Thursday, 26 June 2014

The Moon IS Made of Wensleydale Cheese

Went to Carlisle today giving commentaries to two groups of 50 each.   The northbound group were from the West Midlands and posed few problems though there were some language difficulties.

The southbound group were from Cheshire - the U3A group of Alsager.  As we passed Wensleydale I quipped that this was the home of Wensleydale cheese and, as everybody knows, the moon is made of the stuff.   There was a collective howl of protest.   "No!" they protested.  " The moon is made of Cheshire Cheese".

Please see the above picture clearly showing Wallace and Gromit having a picnic on the moon from which it can be seen quite clearly that the moon is made of cheese which they, as expert witnesses, have clearly declared to be Wensleydale.   It was tested in situ:

Let us have no more of this heretical nonsense about Cheshire cheese.   It is Wensleydale.

Game set and match I think.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

A Ride on the S&C for Ted Higham

Ted Higham is 91 years young but last year he had the misfortune to trip on a step at Settle station and fall.
He suffered a fractured wrist and cuts to the head which required stitching - expertly done at Settle surgery by Dr Clare Littlejohn before he was taken to Airedale Hospital.   Settle's remoteness means that its GP surgery acts as quite a casualty clearing station.   Poor Ted was unable to fulfil a lifetime ambition to ride on the S&C.

Northern, on hearing of this had no hesitation in offering Ted a free trip on the line when he was fit enough to do so.

Today was the day and Ted got the VIP treatment - free tickets for himself and his carer-for-the-day / son-in-law Peter Booth and as much tea or coffeee as they could drink from the refreshment trolley.   I accompanied them for part of their journey to point out the sights Ted missed when he fell.

Here, after a treat of a lifetime are, from the left, Ted, Pat, Peter and his wife, Ted's daughter Julia.   Peter incidentally was a professional cricketer - a pace bowler for Leicestershire and England in his time and later a teacher.

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Ted MBE used to be chairman of the Magistrates bench in Mansfield.   He well remembers the Miners Strike times in Nottinghamshire.   I was in charge of the West Yorkshire contingent of police at Mansfield colliery when Ted was sitting into the small hours dealing with cases.   Small world.

Altogether a joyful day.   Well done Ted, well done Northern and the Dev Co's trolley staff.

Ted Higham is one of those people it is a privilege to know.

Lunch from the Naked Man

Ever since the train company DRS so generously provided our anniversary train Settle station has hosted any number of DRS freight trains and light engines either stopping or slowing down for whatever reason.   DRS provide route learning for Virgin Trains west coast main line drivers so that they know the S&C when diversions come our way.

Today an entire train stopped at Settle station, the driver of which was Michael Wylie - the driver of our anniversary train.  

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His Settle business finished, here is Michael boarding his mighty Class 66 locomotive heading south.   Settle business?   That paper bag Michael is carrying is from Settle's Naked Man cafe.   Train drivers need to eat.

Monday, 23 June 2014

A Picnic on a Summer's Day

Gladys Emmanuel got fired up today and took us for a picnic on the road from Giggleswick to Lawkland with Peter and Liz Day
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We are soo lucky to have miles and miles of all but deserted country lanes around Settle to enjoy whenever we like.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Where's the 1259 to Carlisle?

Coach party of 50 or so turned up at Settle station for the 1259 to Carlisle.   Coach driver left them with a cheery 'see you in Carlisle'.

Just one problem.   There ISN'T a 1259 from Settle on a Sunday - or any other day for that matter.   There IS a 1259 from Carlisle to Settle.   Next train from Settle to Carlisle was 1450.  

Paul Brown, Northern's man at Settle station did what he could to entertain a none too pleased group of passengers for two hours.   He opened up the signal box for people to pull the levers and ring the bells and we opened up the water tower grounds for people to explore.   Settle eateries will have done well too.

If anybody wants a job as a coach driver I think I know where there may be a vacancy.

Round the Back of the Telephone Exchange

One of my regular dog walking routes is along by Settle's telephone exchange.   Not far from the water tower it presumably serves a large slice of the Dales and maybe will one day enable us to have super fast broadband.

Normally on these expeditions I do not see a soul but today's 0830 poo-bag perambulation was unusual.   As we got to the far end of the building Bess and I were surprised by two cyclists appearing from behind the telephone exchange.   My mind raced to constabulary days and several explanations crossed my mind.

Both rode posh bikes and wore the full Lycra kit plus streamlined sunglasses and Martian hats.   He was in front and she followed, looking as embarrassed as anybody in Lycra and sunglasses can look.   I challenged them fearlessly.

"Hello (hello, hello).   Are you two into telephone exchanges then?"

Mental cogs whirred almost audibly.

She answered first.   "He works in there" she offered with a nervous laugh.

You need to know that judging by the number of times the pavement outside the exchange is dug up, there are problems.  "Yes" he confirmed with an air of melancholy, "I'm the gaffer".

Explanations accepted they went on their way and Bess filled her bag.

I bet they are entertaining their Lycra buddies with a version of this tale right now at some watering hole on a summers day.

GCHQ - please forward as considered necessary.

Friday, 20 June 2014

Restoration Man Sound Man on the Train

Today I was commentating to a group of coach passengers on the 1348 to Carlisle.   We did not occupy the whole carriage so there were other passengers with us.   My normal tactic, before delivering my amplifiied commentary, is to say to everybody that I do not want to disturb anybody's sleep / Sudoku / or generally spoil their day.

To my delight, among the passengers was David Ferguson - one of the Restoration Man sound men.   David is a lovely chap, as were all of the RM team, and it was a real pleasure to meet him again.   He still works on Restoration Man and promised to give my best wishes to his colleagues.

When you are being filmed and sound recorded over such a long period your guard drops.   You do and say some daft things, hoping that it will work out for the best and the rubbish will end up on the cutting room floor.   Happily for us, it did - thanks to very professional, compassionate and thoroughly nice people like David.

It was such a thrill that he was sufficiently taken with the S&C to come and se it for himself at leisure.   And it was a glorious summers day too.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014


I am perhaps half way through painting the outsides of the cast iron window frames - an awesome job about which I have been procrastinating.   Each window has 40 panes and there are five of them.   So, 200 panes of glass, each with four sides = 800 sides.   Oh, yes, then there's the insides.  Ye Gods, that's 1600.

Here I am hard at it applying aluminium primer:
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Since Ken Philcox took this picture common sense has kicked in and I wear a harness connected to a rope from the top of the tower.   I saw a TV programme recently where the London air ambulance people were saying that any fall from more than 12 feet is treated as potentially fatal.   The windows themselves are ten feet tall.

Saturday, 14 June 2014

Don't Mention The War

FoSCL aim to put a guide on all the trains with booked groups travelling on them.   On yesterday's 0950 from Settle to Carlisle there was a group accompanied by our most senior On-Train-Guide Geoff Hall.   Geoff is 89 years of age and is of laconic disposition.

The ever helpful Group Travel Office had warned us that this was a 'group of foreigners'.   It would indeed have been helpful to have known what language they spoke but never mind.

Turned out they were Germans.   Geoff's German is limited.

As they waited for the train at Settle an RAF Tucano, probably from Linton-on-Ouse flew over.   These RAF trainer aircraft are frequent visitors to the Dales.   They handle like jets, are good for hill-hopping and have the look and sound of a Spitfire.   Visitors ofter think they are Spitfires.

Geoff, on seeing the aircraft went onto auto-pilot, as it were.   "Don't worry" he said, "it's one of ours".

Further information about Tucanos:

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Here is a soundless video of a pair of Tucanos taking off from Linton and enjoying themselves over the Lake District, Derbyshire and the Yorkshire Dales.   Definitely one to be watched in HD, but not on a full stomach.    Look out for the Ribblehead Viaduct.

Friday, 13 June 2014

Gladys Emmanuel and Albert

Here is Gladys flaunting herself in front of Albert the coal truck before setting off to a steam and vintage rally at Slaidburn:
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Both vehicles are about the same age.   We know how old Gladys is - born Detroit February 1914 and therefore one of the first off then new Ford moving production line.

For an old lady of 100 she is running well after slight adjustments.   With luck she will get much more use this year, now that the tower is more or less finished and Albert the coal truck too.

Monday, 9 June 2014

The Weather Comes to Us

Had a surprise visit this morning from ITV weatherman Jon Mitchell and his wife Elaine.   Jon is a great supporter of the Settle-Carlisle line - in fact he was at Settle Station for a photo-call receiving a donation to the Yorkshire Air Ambulance - money raised on the special train on 11th April celebrating the line's reprieve.
They had seen our Restoration Man programme last week and grasped the opportunity to see the place for themselves.

Jon was particularly interested in our weather station on the roof - one of a dozen or so weather stations cared for by John Livesley, founder of MyLocalWeather.   He confessed that he occasionally looked on-line at the identical weather station at Ribblehead.   Settle might also get a mention now.

Throughout the Mitchells' visit it absolutely hissed it down

Saturday, 7 June 2014

On The Telly Again

Just noticed that our revisited TV programme is on Channel 4 at 7 pm this evening - and again on Channel 4+1 at 8pm and AGAIN on Wednesday 7pm Channel Four Seven

You lucky people.

Thursday, 5 June 2014

We're on the Timetable

Renown comes in also sorts of guises but I am quite chuffed with this example.   The water tower is on the front cover of Northern's current Leeds-Settle-Carlisle pocket timetable:
These credit card sized timetables have proved to be popular with travellers.   The drawing is by the S&C's artist in residence Sarah Hutton.   There is no mention of the drawing's subject so we must be getting pretty well known, iconic maybe.

A Lesson in Engineering

We get quite a few visits from people with academic interests.

Here is a group of Civil Engineers from Bradford University.   They had been to the Ribblehead Viaduct and the next stop was our water tower.
click to enlarge

Here they are with lecturer Dr Rob Pheasant, right.   I can report that today's civil engineers showed enormous respect and admiration for the Victorian engineers who built the viaduct and the water tower.