... feminist, atheist, autistic academic and historic narrowboater ...
Likes snooker, beer, tea, rivets and solitude, and is strangely fascinated by the cinema organ.
And there might be something about railways.

Tuesday 31 January 2023

Back on the rails

I've just spent a most enjoyable long weekend down in Newhaven, and I'm very pleased to say that the train journey, both ways, went without a hitch (and for only £36.50 each way as well).

Every train left on time, and if a couple of them arrived a few minutes later than scheduled, that just meant a bit less time to wait, but not so much as to cause panic. The longest wait I had was half an hour, and most of that was spent on the (stationary) train.

At Brighton I finally remembered that I wanted to be in the middle of the Thameslink train, not at the front. The Thameslink was less crowded in the middle of a weekday than it is at weekends.

No one sat next to me on any train, either way. On the way back there were three separate reservations (St Pancras to Leicester, Leicester to Derby, and Derby to Sheffield) for the window seat and not one of them was used.

It was slightly unnerving that the Seaford train (313208) left Brighton from Platform 7, but the correct order of the universe was restored when 313210 disgorged me onto Platform 8 on the way back.

I took a few 313 interior photos, because who knows how much longer they'll be around?

When I got back to Sheffield, I got the tram from the station. I waited five minutes and it cost me £2, and saved me a long and hilly walk (although there's still a hill at the end).

There is just one, very tiny, irritant. Why is it that despite it being a perfectly valid route (and indeed, one suggested by and pre-booked via the National Rail website) my tickets never work in the Thameslink barriers at St Pancras, in either direction?

Friday 6 January 2023

Surprise success

Sebastian has introduced me to Metrodle.

This is sort of like Wordle, but with tube lines. Basically you get a tiny snapshot of the tube map, with all station names and line colours removed, and you have to identify a highlighted station. As you submit incorrect attempts, it gives you successive clues - for example, it tells you how many stops away you are, and whether you're on the right line.

The extraordinary thing is that I have attempted it four times, and successfully completed it twice, using only memory and guesswork.

This was my second attempt. More extraordinary than the fact that Theydon Bois was correct, I checked after and my other two guesses are both also the penultimate stops on their respective lines. Where did I dredge that up from?

Today's first guess (and it was a guess) owes something to Diamond Geezer putting it in my head this morning, but I'm taking full credit for Stratford being the only other station in the vicinity that I could even think of.

Now I know that there are people out there who will get it right first time, every time, but given how long it is since I used the tube, and how appalling my sense of direction is, I'm bloody impressed with myself.

Better not post this till midnight, in case you haven't done today's yet.

Wednesday 4 January 2023

Tuesday 3 January 2023

Is it *that* cold?

There's no accounting for cats, is there.

Sunday 1 January 2023

Clinging on

This post would, had I posted it yesterday, have taken the total for 2022 to exactly one quarter of the previous lowest total, in 2015. As it is, I didn't even manage that.

Poor show.

Not for the first time, I was seriously considering drawing a line under it, and bringing nearly seventeen years of blogging to an end. The number of people who blog, and who interact with blogs, is shrinking year by year. My inclination to share my life with the world - albeit in a more controlled and considered way than via Twitter (tried it; didn't like it), Facebook (never have, never will) or any even more new-fangled social media interfaces (ditto) - is likewise declining as the novelty wears off and the downsides become more apparent.

Most obviously, of course, there has been no boating. Not in 2020 or 2021, but not in 2019 or 2022 either. Chertsey's current sorry and neglected state is nothing to write proudly or joyfully about - and I don't want to write a moanfest.

Life has not been dull though as work has flooded in to fill the gaps and has been all-consuming.  It's no secret where I work or what I do so I don't like to write about it too much.  (I don't mind telling you though that after four years of trying I have just been promoted :-)

And yet, and yet .... I can't quite bring myself to bow out. And I probably never will, so at some point this will fade out with a whimper (you probably thought it already had) but most likely not with the bang (in an empty forest) of a deliberate last post. 

In the meantime, here is a photo of Ricky and Geoffrey at Brinklow.

Happy 2023 everyone ...   ... if there's anyone still looking ....

Friday 23 September 2022

Cheat's oatcakes

A freshly made Staffordshire oatcake, with bacon and cheese, the morning after a night in the Star at Stone, is a wonderful thing.

When I was looking for recipes, I found a number of comments wondering why, when we can buy flatbreads from all over the world, we can't buy oatcakes in the supermarket outside of Staffordshire.

I think the residents of that county, and lovers of the delicacy, are very sensible not to export them more widely. Because they do not travel. If the only oatcake you had ever known was one out of a supermarket packet - as was the case for me for many years - then you would dismiss them (as I did) as having all the appeal of wet cardboard. Fresh, they are a delight; packaged, they are not something anyone would want to be associated with.

I was looking for a recipe because I fancied one, in part as a change from the white-flour pancakes I'd got into the habit of eating as a Sunday treat. When I found the recipe, I discovered that a true Staffordshire oatcake uses a yeast-based batter, which sadly I didn't have the patience to make (and it's hard to make in small quantities).

So I invented a substitute version: it's shamelessly inauthentic, somewhere between a pancake and a pikelet, an oatcake and an omelette, but not having had the real think for years I thought it worked quite well.

Veggies look away now.

For a couple of moderately hungry people, or one very hungry one, you'll need:

  • Two and a half ounces of fine oatmeal (I whizz up oats in the liquidiser)
  • Pinch of salt
  • A half teaspoon of baking powder
  • Scant quarter pint of milk
  • An egg

Which you whizz up into a batter, and leave to rest for a while, while you fry your favoured quantity of bacon and grate a pile of strong cheddar.

Whn the bacon's (nearly) done, take it out and keep it warm. In the pan which is now well greased with bacon fat and melted lard, pour enough batter to make a thickness of about 3mm.

The egg helps hold it together but it won't work much thinner, hence the pikelet comparison. When it's set on top, loosen the edges and flip it over with a big spatula.

Put the cheese on one half, then the bacon, and when the bottom's golden, flip it in half and serve (top photo).

Tuesday 20 September 2022

Thwarted walk

And nary even a picture to show for it (I've got so out of the blogging habit it didn't occur to me to take one).

Whilst we were chugging along on Otley last week, Pete asked after Naburn, and I had to admit I hadn't been near nor by since covid (the inaugural and final AGM of the Friends of Naburn was held in March 2020 - we struggled on for a while, until both the Chair and Treasurer resigned).

So yesterday I thought I would take a stroll down to see what I could see. From my house to the Basin is 1.8 miles, and from there it's another two and a half to Tinsley so I thought I'd walk there and get the tram back.

Unfortunately, I got as far as Greenland Road Bridge, where the towpath changes sides - and which is nearly at Tinsley - to find the towpath closed. A sign said that it was due to re-open in April. April 2022, that is. Going up onto the bridge, the path down was barricaded with temporary fencing panels, and looking down at the towpath, that appeared to have been fenced off in a much more substantial and permanent-looking way (and still no photos; what was I thinking!)

I can't get any sense out of the CRT stoppages website, but local press accounts suggest this was for railway works.

So I had no choice but to turn round and walk all the way back home, making a brisk stroll of nearly eight miles in all, and none the wiser about Naburn. Next time I'll get the tram there. And back.

Still, on the bright side, my Garmin watch told me I'd set a new personal best for 10 km. I will never, ever, beat my record for 5 km, because I actually ran three miles once, and that will never happen again. But walking fast for six and a quarter miles - there has to be room for improvement there.