Sunday, 15 September 2019

Tenth anniversary

The counter is clearly not going to tick it off before the day's out, but today is the tenth anniversary of my purchase of Chertsey. On one hand it seems extraordinary that ten years could have passed so quickly (but that's what happend when you get old); on the other, so much has happened within that time. For just one example - when I signed the papers for Chertsey I had never set foot in the city that is now my home.
So here's a photo of Chertsey back in 2009, nine days after the purchase was finalised, when we moved her for the first time.

And here's my post from this day ten years ago.

Sunday, 1 September 2019

Where did it go?

I was walking down the road earlier today, and it felt chilly. I went out to water my geraniums, and noticed how long the shadows were. And I thought: it's September.
But how can it be? Where was the summer? And I don't just mean that the weather wasn't very nice - I know there were a couple of weeks when it was cool and wet, but I think there were plenty of hot sunny days too. But it still didn't feel like I'd had a summer; a defineable period, the season I so look forward to every year.

And I think I know why that is. It's because I haven't done anything to define the summer. With hardly any boating, no big trips or projects, one day was much like another, and one summer's day much like one at any other time of year (except with better weather). And if you don't do something distinctive, you don't make memories, and if you don't make memories, you don't remember, and if you don't remember, it effectively didn't happen.

A day might seem to drag when you have nothing to do, but it's the action-packed ones that seem longest when you look back on them. There's a lesson there, and I shall try to learn it well and make the most of next summer, and all the summers after.

I did get my dissertation finished though.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

The age of the train


I unexpectedly had an exciting little travel adventure on Sunday. When I'd arrived on Thursday evening, I'd been intrigued to see this train at Brighton station, and when I left Newhaven on Sunday, it was the 1438, so I got to ride on it.
This is the oldest train in regular service on the British mainland network. It's a class 313, which is the oldest class of train still in regular service, and it's 313201, the first of that class to have been built. It was built in 1976 making it forty-three years old.
What first caught my eye of course is that's painted in facsimile BR livery. This was done a couple of years ago in honour of its status as the first 313, and when it finally is retired, it's off to the National Railway Museum at York. Southern bought up a number of these trains in 2010 to run on the lines along the coast east and west of Brighton, freeing up their newer rolling stock for longer-distance routes. I recall it being quite controversial at the time, as the 313s were seen as old and tatty, and (shock horror) have no toilets. I've probably ridden on 313201 many times when I lived in Newhaven, but never previously knowingly.

Once I got to Brighton, I changed onto the Thameslink. Now Thameslink used to have really scungy trains, but now they have shiny new and very swish class 700 Siemens Desiro City trains, which they introduced between 2015 and 2018, so I reckon they must be among the newest on the network. And I'm pretty sure Brighton is the only place they'd intersect.

I was a bit disappointed to find that my train to Sheffield from St Pancras wasn't one of the slam door and sea toilet HSTs that often seem(ed) to run on a Sunday. They have such comfy (if somewhat saggy) seats. Also, it's amusing watching the young people not knowing how to get out.

I am horribly afraid that I have started down the road track that leads to being a trainspotter. I have nothing against trainspotters; indeed, I am in awe of them. But it must be so time-consuming. And I haven't even spotted all the Grand Union large motor boats yet.

Sunday, 18 August 2019

Old and new

This afternoon I travelled on the oldest train in regular service on the British mainland rail network, and then on one of the newest. Where did I change?

(And no, you can't answer if I've already told you!)
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Blogging every day week in 2019 - see what nonsense I've written lately here

Tuesday, 13 August 2019

Eyes down

Sorry I've gone seriously quiet. I'm writing up my MEd dissertation - strange as it may seem, the biggest bit of empirical research I've ever done. I hope to surface in time for the Alvecote weekend, when I shall be celebrating my first ten years with Chertsey. See you then!

Thursday, 1 August 2019

Books I read in July

Normally I write this post as the month progresses, but I haven't this time. Instead, I have a pile of books I've read, with the Kindle squashed between them half way down. So although this is a long list (too long to go into detail about every one) it may yet not be complete. And the reason it's longer than usual - I had some holiday in July, plus I was laid up with a nasty cold for a few days, which piled them on, and finally, many of them are fairly lightweight, easy, comforting reads. Not all though. So - not in chronological order - here are (some of) the books I read in July.

Alexander McCall Smith:
The Sunday Philosophy Club
The Forgotten Affairs of Youth
The Charming Quirks of Others
The Lost Art of Gratitude
The Comfort of Saturdays
Friends, Lovers, Chocolate
A half dozen Isabel Dalhousie novels - comfort reading at its finest, and you learn about a very different Edinburgh from Ian Rankin's. I am counting this as acclimatisation for my new External Examining job there.

Graham Masterton Ghost Music
Tiresome and repetitive ghost story, which I picked up because I thought it was by someone else entirely. It's American, but enlivened by a scene in a London pub in which there is waitress service. Research, Graham.

Ann Grainger A Particular Eye for Villainy
The first of the Ben and Lizzie Ross Victorian detective series. Again, undemanding, comforting stuff.

All the above were from the local library. Then while I was in Lewes at the beginning of the month, I picked up three in the Oxfam shop:

Tessa Hadley The Past
Quite pleased that I picked up the - presumably deliberate - reference to The Go-Between - because this is very much a novel about how the past is another country. One of those books about family relationships and secrets - the biggest of which we are left to work out for ourselves - with engaging characters.

Michele Hanson What the Grown Ups Were Doing
Memoir of growing up in a comfortably off, non-observant Jewish family in Ruislip. I found it rather dull, and thought it skirted round the big or interesting issues, but Jim is currently finding it hilariuous, so there you are. 

Charles Loft Last Trains: Dr Beeching and the Death of Rural England
Rather a sensational title for a sober, but very readable, account of government policy on the railways from the end of the second world war to privatisation, which is to a degree an exculpation of the maligned doctor. What leapt out at me was the fact that when lines like the Bluebell were closed, many of those campaigning for and working on their subsequent preservation were teenagers - just as they were on the canals. Somehow that seems a very important thing to bear in mind.

And then there were the emergency and/or impulse Kindle purchases:
Laura James Odd Girl Out
Memoir of growing up autistic and female. After the shock of recognition it's almost strangely dull, because it was 90% like reading about myself. It's good to be reminded though that I'm not alone, and it's not all my fault.

Lisa Jewell
The Truth About Melody Browne
I Found You
The Third Wife
The Girls
Jewell is quite good at suspense and weirdish chick-thrillers (which I think may be her later work); less enjoyable on the family stuff which tends towards the mawkish. The Girls was particularly good.

D.S. Butler Bring Them Home
Police thing about missing children. I haven't bothered reading any more by them.

Damian Boyd Dead Lock
Only bought it because it had a picture of a lock. Not very good. 

Joanne Harris Different Class
Fabulous, sinister, funny and very sad book with some marvellous characters.