|January: Footplate Ride with 30777 "Sir Lamiel" at the GCR|
The year began with an important date: Jan 2nd. This was the date for my 2nd (of 3) firing exams aboard the beautiful GWR 2-8-0 No3803. The rest of our outings went like this:
- A very civilised run on the Elizabethan Dining Train at the GCR
- A day of P-Way at Shackerstone
- A day in the shed at Shackerstone
- A very pleasant visit to the GCR's Winter Gala including a footplate ride on N15 No30777 "Sir Lamiel", driven expertly (and quickly!) by Driver Tom Tighe
An enjoyable January ended at the GCR and we quickly moved on to FEBRUARY. I seem to find that February, traditionally, is probably my quietest month of the year. If I'm not slaving away over a, well, I don't really slave away over anything. So, if I'm not at home or work I'm at Shackerstone. February 2012 also included the LEGO Railway, which made a visit to an exhibition at Solihull, in conjunction with the G Scale Society. My loco "Achilles" even got a very short outing to Ryton Pool in freezing cold conditions.
|February: Fitting Brick Arch Bars To "Sir Gomer" at Shack|
Moving swiftly on to MARCH, I passed a significant milestone in my Battlefield Line career. Following four years training (since I was 16), I passed out as a Fireman following my final firing exam on Sunday March 4th. A total of 8 posts appeared on the blog that month, with the following outings included:
- "Achilles" to RPMR
- Track Work at CMES
- A Look At The Garden Railway
- Welding my College Project at Shack, Whilst 3803 Failed
- A Good Turn on The 38'
- A Day With "Sir Gomer" & The 38' At Shack
- "Sir Gomer" on Loaded Test
As you can see, as the weather gets better (well, I say better) I seem to get busier. The firing turns at Shack seemed to pour in during the first half of the year, with alot of miles being enjoyed on 3803.
|March: Passed As A Fireman, Aboard 3803!|
As well as the above shot regarding March 2012 I've also thrown in a rare shot of the 00 gauge Garden Railway in action, with Small Prairie No4560 heading towards Sutherland from the north, with a freight...
APRIL: The fourth month of 2012 quickly dawned and events & commitments kept on coming. A personal highlight was the double-heading of "Achilles" with CMES's Sweet Pea "John Owen", at the Sunday afternoon public running...
Many other things happened in April, including three firing turns on the Class 3F Jinty No47298, from the Llangollen Railway, over two weekends (as part of Shack's Day Out with Thomas). "Achilles" got two days out running in April, with a 3rd day spent by myself at CMES watching the Easter Sunday run take place. I also had two firing turns on 3803 (see what I mean about them pouring in?!) and enjoyed a day driving a beautiful 7.25" gauge Black 5 at Echills Wood. Finally, we enjoyed an interesting day out on the mainline behind Tyseley's certified Pannier Tanks Nos9600 & 7752, on an amble with a million water stops around the East Midlands. By the way, as I write, please bare in mind that you can read about all of these events by checking back through my 2012 posts...they are all there! MAY soon dawned and the blog enjoyed a further 7 posts being added to its total. The first outing was a first-visit, this time to the 10.25" gauge Stapleford Miniature Railway near Melton Mowbray. I remember it being a very cold day but very enjoyable, riding behind fabulous locomotives, particularly this GWR Saint...
May continued much as you would expect for someone as completely obsessed with railways as I am, with more of a desire to seek out steam engines than the sense to realise how ridiculous I am being by doing so. Other May outings included:
- A pleasant afternoon driving "James" at the GEC
- A wet day firing 3803
- A day on the footplate of "Sir Gomer" at the Chinnor Railway
- A sunnier day on 3803
- "Achilles" went on a mid-week visit to the GEC
- The LEGO Railway attended Shack's "Models Weekend", in warm conditions
I remember the latter half of May being much nicer than the first half in terms of weather. It was much nicer to enjoy the sun rather than worry about the cold and wet. JUNE 2012 was definately the Sammy's World "Hunslet Month". During June I spent a total of four days on the footplate of three different Quarry Hunslets: Jack Lane, Alice and Maid Marian.
|June - Driver Eddie with "Alice" at Bala Lake|
Another first for me came at the start of June when I was kindly invited to fire at the Statfold Barn Railway's brilliant open day. The locomotive was "Jack Lane", driven by John Britt: another Shackerstone man. The day after the open day, when the Royal Pagent for the Jubilee was taking place in the pouring rain in London, myself and Eddie were off to Bala. On the way we called in at Llynclys: the base of one half of the Cambrian Heritage Railway. The next few days were spent with Hunslets again, with an enjoyable day on "Alice" being followed by two days with "Maid Marian". Also in June I enjoyed two days firing 3803, a day on 'Jessie' the Buffet Car at Shack and of course "Achilles" got her monthly outing to RPMR. Finally, I did a driving turn at RPMR as part of one of the Birthday Special's.
|June - Myself & John Romping Along On "Jack Lane" at Statfold (Invercloy)|
Moving on again, to JULY, we are over half way through this huge review. I tell you what, reviewing the year is harder than it sounds! July included the following:
- Another Birthday special at RPMR
- "Achilles" on a sunny evening outing
- Two firing turns on 3803
- A wedding special at Shack, including the Rail Ale festival
- A garden railway afternoon
- A day in Shackerstone's loco shed
As you can see there never really seems to be any breaks in my year...which is, I admit, all my fault - I need to slow down before I fall down sometimes.
|July - Just Another Day At The Office (D Hanks)|
One thing that I will seriously welcome in 2013 is the Rail Ale festival at Shackerstone. Last years event was brilliant, with traction engines & steam rollers being supplemented on both evenings by entertainment from Bawdy singer "Dr Busker". I would seriously recommend this event to you all...if you like bawdy music ;)
Maybe we'll see you at Market Bosworth in July for Busker? He performs all manner of both quirky and well-written songs, passed over to the audience in a comedy manner. But, I must say, he isn't for the faint hearted. One of my favourites (Robin Hood) includes the following chorus:
"Hey, Hey Get On Your Way
Back To Work For Another Day
There Are Many Bills To Pay But Just Don't Ask Me How
Don't Tell The Greater Good
They Would Help You If They Could
Get Word To Robin Hood
Your Country Needs You Now"
That song is brilliantly sang to the tune of a very famous Mary Poppins song, with its name begining with "Super..." and ending with all manner of letters that I won't even attempt to spell. The meanings within the song suggest, well...you work it out...
|August - 4936 "Kinlet Hall" On The P & DSR|
Now to the holiday month: AUGUST. There were many things to enjoy in August: indeed, the blog had 14 entries that month. First we were in Devon, with visits to the South Devon and Paignton & Dartmouth railways. A firing turn on 3803 was then followed the day after by a spirited run on the 'Shakespeare Express' behind 4965 "Rood Ashton Hall". The following Thursday we had a very warm visit to the Welshpool & Llanfair Railway, on route to Bala. Three days on the footplate at Bala included a very nice day on "Alice" and two days with "Holy War", the latter being part of the brilliant 40th Anniversary Bala Gala weekend: that really was one to remember! "Achilles" got two outings in August: one for a steam test at RPMR and a 2nd to do a days running at Rugby MES' very pleasant, but short, 5" gauge track. I also enjoyed another day on the 38' in August, as well as a driving turn for CMES with Sweet Pea "John Owen" - always a pleasure. A visit to a friends private railway was rewarded with a busy day's driving on a 7.25" Shay-type logging locomotive - another memorable day. I do consider myself very lucky to enjoy all of these outings.
August requires three photographs! Above is the Shay I drove on that sunny afternoon, below are the four Hunslets which were the stars of the "Bala Gala". Again, let me emphasise that you can read all about these events on this blog...please have a look back if you wish.
SEPTEMBER was another good month, and busy with stuff going on at Shackerstone. The Steam Gala over the weekend of September 15th/16th saw us doing two days prep in the week and then two days each on the footplate over the actual weekend. I was out with trainee David both days, with a day on the "club foot" (5521) and another on the beautiful Black Five No45379. As well as the gala stuff we had a flying visit to Kingsbury and a day at Shack Fest, not to mention a few shed days and a day firing 3803, alongside driver Eddie.
All too soon OCTOBER was here and the weather was changing back to the way it often is: changeable. For a start, "Achilles" got three outings and I had three firing turns at Shackerstone: two on 3803 and one on the god forsaken 5521. I also did two days driving 7.25" gauge at the GEC and two days at the Midlands Model Engineering Exhibition on the Fosseway.
A chilly NOVEMBER beckoned quickly and outings included a visit to Warley at the NEC, a day out for "Achilles" to RPMR and three days working for the steam department at Shackerstone. Also, myself & Maisie rode on an Elegant Excursion Dining Train at the GWSR - Toddington.
DECEMBER: Christmas time seemed to be here very quickly and December provided another busy month with which to end the year, including:
- Two firing turns on 3803
- Three days stewarding on the train at Shack
- A visit to the NRM
- Spotting an A4
- My 21st Birthday at the GCR
- A Festive Dinner on the Severn Valley
- Firing turn on "Sir Gomer"
- A shed day at Shack
Below, 3803 stands at Shenton with a Santa train on December 22nd...
Right, thank goodness! Thats it! THANK YOU VERY MUCH for reading this blog throughout 2012 and I hope you will continue to do so. I also welcome any comments you have and any questions. Afterall, the blog is meant to be informative for both me and you. Please do not hesitate to contact me - I will help where I can. If anybody wishes to help me in any way then you can do so by telling your friends about MINIATURE TRACTION ENGINE WEEKEND 2013, due to take place at Market Bosworth Station on April 27th/28th...