26.8.15

Shoreham air show disaster

I had no inkling when I met Sev by the i360 to cycle to the Shoreham air show that it would be front-page news tomorrow and at the top of all the news bulletins! It was a lovely day, people were sunbathing on the beaches by Shoreham harbour. We crossed the lock gates and headed into suburbia to cut the corner and avoid the main roads. As we passed the allotments, I could see a jet doing aerobatics, straight ahead. I thought at first it was the Sea Vixen, as it was side on and that was listed to appear just before the Vulcan at 14.05. The aircraft climbed vertically then looped and headed straight for the ground. We didn't see it recover, instead a double ball of black smoke appeared. No sound. Sev switched on his Go-Pro. We stopped to talk to two other cyclists who told us what they saw and we stood for a moment and watched the black cloud with trepidation.

Hunter crash at Shoreham

We then carried on towards the toll bridge - Sev headed off to Worthing - and some bikers confirmed that it was a Hawker Hunter T7 that had crashed. I took this photo (above), somewhat after the event. We saw the Sea Vixen fly home, and in the distance the Vulcan circling. It did just one fly past and was gone. People started to realise that that was it, and began to drift off.

The A27 bridge was gridlocked and the emergency vehicles had trouble getting through. On Facebook they were saying that people had died, including two cyclists. The pilot Andy Hill survived! It'll be a while before we know for sure how many and who. Later, back home,  I discovered that it had crashed onto the west-bound carriageway of the A27 near the traffic lights, outside what used to be the Sussex Pad pub, now part of Lancing College.

It is apparently the worst air show disaster since 1952, at Farnborough, when a DH110 crashed into the crowd. There is plenty of footage of the Shoreham crash on the web, google it. Sunday's display was cancelled.

A few years ago, Simeon, Sue, me and others had sat on the verge outside that former pub, but with no clear view of the airfield, and planes flying low right overhead, I decided it was a bit too close for comfort! I preferred standing near the tollbridge.

Strangely enough, I also witnessed the Hurricane crash in 2007, which came down at a spot just behind where the Hunter crashed!

  Shoreham Hurricane crash

24.8.15

Edinburgh 2015

Someone worked out that this was my 20th Edinburgh festival: 19 staying with Sam and one before that in the 1970s when I was supposed to be at a conference on VLSI. Anyway, every year I seem to do less, and this was a shorter than usual visit thanks to calling in at the Isle of Man on the way up. Here follows just a list of shows:

Kray mugs at the Mound

Saturday 15 August 2015: kipper for breakfast and bus to Mound for the Bailey's Stardust exhibition. David Bailey was a big influence in the 60s, with his grainy 35mm film and cropped heads (tho I believe Bill Brandt invented that). If you like black and white photos and have seen Blow-up, this is the one for you. Got in half price with my art pass. Spent the rest of the day in the Book Festival and at the Pleasance (where they now have a craft beer bar) celeb spotting, including Harry Venning's Hamlet and Millie the champion flyerer. Pakora wrap from Khushi's at George Square.

Modern Art Gallery, Edinburgh

Sunday 16 August: taxi to the Modern Art Museum 2 (the Dean) - there is no Art Bus this year! - for The Amazing World of M C Escher, a fabulous exhibition (no photography!). He too was a big influence on the 60s, tho looked down upon by the art world. He sought to amaze, rather than create beauty. A heady mixture of draughtsmanship, surrealism and maths. Across the road at 1, there's new work by Roy Lichtenstein and the nicer cafe. Taxi to the Stand for Simon Munnery, 'And nothing But', an unplugged set this year, no projections, no props. Then to La Favorita on Leith Walk for a huge pizza I couldn't finish, and the Playhouse for the annual Waverley Care gala, featuring Marcus Brigstocke, Adam Hills and many others, then a pint of Elvis Juice at Jeremiah's Tap Room.

Pizza at La Favorita, Edinburgh

Monday 17 August: bus to Summerhall and Daniel Kitson's Polyphony, a play for him and 19 iPods with speakers handed out to the audience. A bit like Nina Conti putting words into people's mouths. The iPods were arranged in a circle in the middle of the floor and someone tripped over them! One failed to work once they got going and Dan had to cover for it… meta-theatre at its funniest. One for the Danoraks. Bumped into George Egg and Nikki, then a bit of art at Blair Street hub (bought some nice badges), Fruitmarket and Stills (including a poster by kennardphillipps that turned up at Banksy's Dismaland) - not much art at Summerhall this year. Later on Frankie Boyle, yes him, at the Assembly Rooms. Very offensive in a sort of left-wing way.

3007, Riverside Museum, Glasgow

Tuesday 18 August: Trip to Glasgow to see the Riverside Museum. Train to Partick, soup in museum cafe, big South African loco, coffee in tall ship cafe, ferry to Govan and back, 100 bus back to centre, train back to Haymarket, pint in Thomson's Bar, pint in Bennets Bar, sushi at Harajuku Kitchen.

Tall ship, Riverside Museum, Glasgow

Wednesday: home on train sitting next to woman from Deal.

More photos on Flickr.

See last year's Edinburgh blog.

Isle of Man, part 3: buses

Manx Museum, Isle of Man

So far I hadn't used my Go Explore card on a bus! The buses are the one thing on the island that are modern! First though I wanted to visit the Manx Museum. I'd been told I'd have to get there in a lift, behind Iceland! For breakfast I had a boiled egg and toast and was told by Paul to go left at Quids Inn (great name for a pub) and look for the lift. In fact I found the lift before I found Iceland, went up to the 8th floor and across a footbridge. The museum didn't open until 10am so I took a seat outside until it did.

Isle of Man internment poster

I wasn't disappointed, the art collection was rather wonderful and contained work by talented interned Germans, and - a surprise - paintings and objects by Archibald Knox, the Arts and Crafts designer. I also saw my first and only Manx cat (stuffed).

Isle of Man animals

Then it was down the lift and to the harbour to catch a 6 bus to Peel, on the other side of the island. We saw much rested to the TT course and I must say Peel was very pretty, with a castle, harbour and beaches. I'd brought a sandwich but a fish stall was selling flash-fried queenies, so how could I resist - a fiver a tub, but well worth it!

Flash fried queenies at Peel

I had a coffee at the old railway station, discovered that the transport museum was only open on Sundays, and bought a pair of kippers for a couple of quid from the smokery.

Kipper factory, Peel, Isle of Man

Back at Douglas I decided to get a bus to Castletown (the station was a way away from the town centre) and after a wander round the harbour and the Old Grammar school had a pint outside the Glue Pot (The Castle Arms). The bus took me right back to the prom, so I had a look at the Gaiety Theatre, spotted the Norman Wisdom statue, and went for supper at Allesandro's (I'd passed it on the way to the Manx Museum) having been turned away from The Italian Job. I was going to have pizza but queenies carbonara were on the board as the chef's special so I asked for a meatless one, washed down with a bottle of Bushy's beer!

Queenies carbonara

Friday it was up early for my ferry. Lisa had made me a packed breakfast so I crept out and walked along the prom where they were setting up a food market. Onto the Ben My Chree (lifts this time!) for the 8.45 passage to Heysham, where we were greeted by the nuclear power stations, and rain! Then it was a train to Lancaster and on to Edinburgh.

Isle of Man ferry

More photos on Flickr.

Isle of Man, part 2: steam trains

No. 4 Loch

On Wednesday 12 August, after another full veggie breakfast and lots of tea, I walked to the harbour and along the quay to the Steam Railway station. The Isle of man railway is a 3ft gauge railway with all but one of its locos made in Manchester at Beyer, Peacock & Co and all but one 2-4-0T. The odd one out is 0-6-0T No. 15 Caledonia which was built in Glasgow.

No. 4 Loch

The 9.40 was pulled to Port Erin by No. 4 Loch, built in 1874 and still going strong. At Castletown we saw the other loco working the line today, No.12 Hutchinson (built 1908) - spot the difference. The IoMR is a great example of a nationalised railway, successful because it never modernised.

No. 12 Hutchinson at Castletown

The museum at Port Erin houses two locos: No. 6 Peveril (1875) and No. 16 Mannin (1926). I bought some old tickets there - £1 for five. I went to look at the bay, checked out a charity shop and wandered back to the station. After a chat with the guard, I decided to go back to Castletown, cross over and get the other train back, which I did. There was a bit of a delay so I was able to take lots of photos with the sun in the right place. Back at Port Erin, I had a coffee and cheese scone at The Sommers, then travelled back to Douglas, where I spotted No. 10 G H Wood (the green one) outside the sheds.

Douglas sheds, Isle of Man

One thing puzzled me - where do they keep the coal? There doesn't seem to be much room at the back of the loco! I should have paid more attention in the museum. Back at Douglas, I had a wander round, coming across the state of George Formby, went for a pint in The British then to the Little Fish Cafe again.

George Formby

Last night I'd seen someone on the next table with a plateful of queenies (small scallops) and I fancied some. They were on the menu as a starter, with bacon, but I asked the waitress if I could have them without the meat. She said they also did them mains size so I plumped for that, and a bucket of chips! Alas it was too rich and too much and I left most of the sourdough toast.

Queenies at the Little fish cafe, Isle of Man

I went back to The British for another pint, then to the B&B to watch French drama Witnesses on TV.

More photos on Flickr.

Isle of Man, part 1: boats and trams

Isle of Man 1930s

In the 1930s, my dad, an only child, and my grandparents, went on holiday to the Isle of Man, suitably attired for the British weather, probably on a steamer like this below, from Fleetwood. How do I know? Because I inherited the photos. I was determined to follow in their footsteps.

Isle of Man steamers

So, on Monday 10 August I travelled by train up to Liverpool (spotting A4 Union of South Africa at Crewe) and after a walk round the Walker Art Gallery and a pint at the Welkin, I boarded the Seacat Manannan and set sail for Douglas. Tip: don't waste your money reserving a seat, there are better ones available if you get there early. Warning: lots of steps involved! Couldn't get a photo of the catamaran as it was too close, did however get a snap of the dazzle shipped Mersey ferry, designed by Peter Blake.

Dazzle ship in Liverpool

Two and three-quarters of an hour later, we were at the Douglas ferry terminal and it was a short walk along the prom in the dark to my digs Cubbon House, where landlord Paul was hanging around outside ready to carry my case up all those stairs.

Day 1, Tuesday 11 August: trams
After a veggie full breakfast in a full dining room, I stepped outside to the Horse Tram stop and with my 3-day Go Explore card (£32, get one!) hailed a tram being pulled by John. The tram lines are in the middle of the road so the conductor has to stop the traffic to let you get on. On the way to the Electric Railway, we met a horse being trained and another one close behind. At the terminus I asked for a horse bingo card and got it stamped.

Horse tram, Isle of Man

Now, when is a tram not a tram? When it's an Electric Railway! This was a tram pulling a semi open carriage. The first train was full so waited for the next one and sat in the open air bit at the back!

Electric railway, Isle of Man

It was quite a hilly route and a bumpy ride! At Laxey I jumped off and straight onto the waiting Snaefell Mountain Railway, which trundled up past the Wheel, past the TT circuit and round the mountain to the summit cafe at 2036 ft high.

Snaefell tram, Isle of Man

Back down again - it wasn't very scary, no precipitous drops! - and I waited for a tram to Ramsey, the northern end of the line. There wasn't much to see there - it's a working docks - so I bought some stamps at the PO, some postcards at an ice cream shop and a sandwich at the Co-op, and got the tram back to Douglas. I took a horse tram all the way to the ferry terminal (with Amby) and did a recce for the steam railway tomorrow, via the marina/harbour. Had a pint of Okell's Saison golden ale outside The British and ate lobster bisque followed by haddock with seared courgettes at the nearby excellent Little Fish Cafe, washed down with a Pearl Necklace oyster stout.


Haddock and courgettes at the Little Fish Cafe, Douglas

And so to my (single) bed.

More photos on Flickr.

7.8.15

Spa Valley Railway on a Thursday

Feeling in need of a steam fix, I hopped on to a 29 bus to Tunbridge Wells, fortified by a giant samosa from Clyde News. After a pleasant 1.5 hour journey we arrived at Sainsbury's just outside the town and after a walk through the car park, bought myself a round trip to Groombridge for £8 (senior).


The 14.15 was getting ready to go, pulled by Vulcan Austerity No. 72, in National Coal Board livery… and it was a Wedding Belle special! The wedding party got off at High Rocks and after a few photo ops, we carried on to Groombridge. Here I got off to watch the engine run around, but the whole train took off - to Eridge? it's not supposed to go the whole way on a Thursday? No, it was only a single track in the station so the engine had to do a tricky manoeuvre outside the station with the passengers locked in. Good opportunity for photos however. Then it was back to the base, a quick look round the shed, a bit of shopping at Sainsbury's for my tea, and home.

 

29.7.15

National Art Pass - good value?


So far I've used my £40 Art Pass (expires 30/6/2016) three times. First was at the Ravilious exhibition at Dulwich, described in this posting, which saved me £11.50 - £7 = £4.50, the next was at tiny Ditchling Museum of Art + Craft, on Thursday 16 July, where I got in free, saving £5.50. Ditchling isn't easy to get to by public transport so I took my electric bike on the train to Hassocks then rode to Ditchling. The museum is a spanking new barn conversion and quite different from when I last visited, where you had to pass lots of domestic and agricultural items to get at the Eric Gill and Edward Johnson stuff! You enter through the cafe gift shop, which was being re-merchandised that day and pay. Then it's through some glass doors to an ante room containing Eric Gill's garden rollers (and the toilets) before entering the big main room, which houses the bigger Roland Emett machine, the Fairway Birdie MkII golf cart.


Beyond was another room containing the smaller Clockwork Lullabye Machine, and his drawing for the golf cart. Other drawings by Emett, including some for Punch, were on the wall of the larger room, which also contained displays of Gill, Johnston, Frank Brangwyn, Charles Knight and other printmakers and artists (I particularly liked Harry Perry). After a cappuccino in the cafe, I headed back to Hassocks. I've now seen all the Emetts bar the one in Brighton museum, where you now have to pay to get in.


On Saturday 18 July, I took my electric bike to Hastings for the Sea Shanty Festival and a visit to the Jerwood. Here the art pass got me in 'half price' of £4, saving me £1.50 on the concession entry fee of £5.50. The cafe afforded a great view of the Stade and the shanties, but I was disappointed with the Lowry by the Sea exhibition, which in two darkened rooms contained just three or four ones of note. I wasn't too bothered with the Rachel Howard exhibits or the Quentin Blakes, but did manage to pick up a copy of Erica Smith's Hastings & St Leonards Activity Book for £8.99. Then it was a fisherman's roll (containing fried gurnard and plaice) at Tush and Pat's (£2.30) opposite the East Hill Lift and the train home.


So, the Art Pass has saved me £11.50 so far and the next use will be in Edinburgh for the MC Escher and Lichtenstein shows.






29.6.15

Sunday night at the London Palladium


I'd bought a £30 ticket for John Shuttleworth and Friends in aid of MS charities at the London Palladium, so I thought I'd make a day of it by seeing the Eric Ravilious exhibition at Dulwich Picture Gallery too. It was going to be a complicated day. I'd bought a ticket to London in advance, thinking I'd get to Dulwich on my bus pass and avoid that walk, but in the event got the Orpington train from Victoria, paid for with my Oyster card.


First though, I rode my electric bike to Brighton station because I'd be getting a late train home and didn't want to walk. I was pleasantly surprised when the new bike hub opened its doors for me (with my Key card) so I could leave it safe along with lights and helmet, something I wouldn't do outside.

At West Dulwich, it's a bit of a schlep to the gallery and it was a hot day so I was all sweaty when I got there and the air conditioning was a welcome relief. My new National Art Pass got me in half price (£7) and I headed for the Ravilious exhibition.

I love Ravilious and it was great seeing so many works here, also appreciating how many there were yet to see, probably tucked up in the vaults of the Towner, Eastbourne. It started with a room of quirky objects plus a few wood engravings and his designs for the alphabet mug and numbers handkerchief. After that the rooms were themed: interiors, landscapes, and finally his war paintings for aircraft and dazzle ships. Lots of local (to me) scenes too - the Long Man of Wilmington, Beachy Head, Newhaven harbour, etc. They're all big for landscapes and you can see the detail in the pencil overlaid with looser watercolour in his dry brush cross-hatching style.

After a look round the gift shop (where I bought a £25 catalogue) and a coffee plus almond slice at the 'artesan bakery' in the grounds (the cafe was too posh for the likes of me), I went in for a second look and to find the ones on sale as postcards that I'd missed. It was poignant that so many were painted in 1941, the year before he died! No photography allowed!

So, I caught a P4 from right outside, to Brixton, where all the shops were shutting, and a 159 (?) to Oxford Circus where I had a look for a decent pub before settling on the Argyll Arms opposite the Palladium. I managed to find a seat outside when who should come along but John Otway, who gave me a crib sheet for 'House of the rising sun' (which I got signed). I had a pint of Robinson's  Iron Maiden Trooper (at London prices) then a pint of Everard's Tiger, which I preferred.


So, to seat N33 on the left aisle. First up was guitar virtuoso Gordon Giltrap doing some holiday theme tunes, then Jon McClure (Reverend and the Makers) and Martyn Ware of Heaven 17 on a hi-tech organ, Sooty and Sweep (with Sweep in the Royal Box squirting the audience with a hose pipe - Ken Worthington was spotted up there later!) and Toyah (I went to the Gents while she was doing 'Serial cereal eater'). Or did Bill Bailey finish the first half? The running order is a bit hazy now. John broke Bill's guitar by tripping over a lead, but he was hilarious!

At the interval a bloke behind me had collapsed so was stretchered out as everyone tried to get to the bar. Badly Drawn Boy opened the second half (or was it Chas Hodges of Chas and Dave? who did 'Shopkeepers of the North') and was telling a long story about his train journey (that was leading up to 'Can't go back to savoury now') when someone heckled him to get off, so he called him some rude names, sang about the 'Man who lives on the M62' and another, then kicked over his glass of water and threw his guitar down so hard it smashed!


Jon Otway followed, then Jilted John! Lorraine Bowen sang 'Crumble'. Then Leee John (of Imagination) sang a slow version of 'Disaffected youth' and 'Body talk' in a rather show-bizzy set and John finished with a medley of hits ('Y-reg', 'Save the whale' and 'Here comes Midweek' but no 'Pigeons in Flight'!) It finished around 11pm, I made a dash for the gents again, then a 73 bus to Victoria and the 12.32 train home, stopping at every stop. I was so glad to have my trusty bike to take me home! In bed by 1.30am.













8.5.15

Poland: the Wolsztyn Experience part 4

Znin

The last full day Monday 4 May was also an early start and a 2.5 hour coach trip to Znin, to ride a charter on the narrow gauge railway. Two engines in steam greeted us (Px38-805 and a green tank), and a diesel  was on the scheduled runs. The train stopped at various strategic points to allow a bit of line siding of the run pasts. Half way along we stopped at the open-air museum for 600mm locos. There were loads of them, in landscaped areas. Across the rails was a castle and various pieces of siege apparatus.

Znin 600mm railway museum

We skirted a lake and passed an archaeological museum, then it was back on the coach to the Europa again, where I had sautéed cod and veg (best so far). Back at the Motel, the bar was shut so I never got to have a vodka.

Wuppertal lift

We also found out that the German railways were on strike, so we would be travelling to Wuppertal by coach! So, no concrete works and an 8am start to the border, where we picked up a German coach. After several comfort stops (70c for a pee, but a 20c voucher to spend in the shop!) we eventually arrived at the Inter-city Hotel where a stroppy waiter reluctantly gave me a salad! After little sleep in my single room with single thin pillow, the next morning, after breakfast I had a quick ride of the dingle dangle train - the Wuppertal suspension railway (Schwebebahn) - from Kruse station to the next one along and back. Thank goodness for lifts!

Wuppertal Schwebebahn
Then it was through the narrow one-way streets and on to Brussels where we caught the Eurostar home, and Curt's PV / birthday bash!

More photos on Flickr.

 
Wuppertal suspension railway (Schwebebahn) from Alan Fred Pipes on Vimeo.

Poland: the Wolsztyn Experience part 3


Wolsztyn steam parade 2 May 2015 from Alan Fred Pipes on Vimeo.

Saturday 2 May was the day of the Steam Parade. After making some secret cheese and tomato sandwiches at the Montana, we set off to the station where we were to go on a short excursion pulled by a big tank engine 2-10-2 OKz32-2.

Ol49-69

Back at Wolsztyn, the road from the station to the shed was lined with stalls selling souvenirs, beer and sausages. People were climbing all over the static locos to get good views, despite signs telling them not to. The Poles are very happy for people to cross the lines willy nilly, but today barriers were up.

Wolsztyn

We were ushered into a VIP area at the shed, viz an area with some wooden benches but opaque barriers, guarded by security. No VIP bar! We had cheer leaders and a band then the parade proper, which this year comprised just three locos - Ol49-69, OKz32-2 and an 0-6-0 tank TKh49-1 - with TKt48-18 on its way. So they steamed up and down, individually and coupled up until the finale when all three raced up the tracks whistles blowing. Then it was a beer and a walk to the Europa where I had Alaskan white salmon and some 9.5% porter.

Buffet bar

On Sunday 3 May, it was another early start and back to loco Ol49-69, but this time with newer rolling stock with comfy seats, and a buffet bar! It was along the line to Zbaszynek and on to Miedzychod, then Gorzow Wlkp. and Bogdaniec and back with stops along the way to take on water from fire-brigade bowsers. Near Skwierzyna we spotted a scrapyard full of tanks and guided missiles! Some of the party were line siding, jumping out of cars and vans to take passing shots and videos of the train.

Miedzychod

Then it was to the Europa again, where I had a rather leathery piece of hake and spuds.

More photos on Flickr.

Poland: the Wolsztyn Experience part 2


0149-69 near Wolsztyn from Alan Fred Pipes on Vimeo.

First day proper was Thursday 30 April, with three short trips planned. Our loco was Ol49-69. Now, Polish locos have a strange numbering system. The first letter O denotes mixed/stopping train traffic (Polish: osobowa - passenger), the second letter l (lower case L) means it has a 2-6-2 wheel arrangement and a number between 20 and 99 means a Polish-ordered steam engine, the number standing for the last two digits of the year in which the type was approved for production. The final number is the the engine's number in the class, in this case 69. Tank locos have an extra K, thus TKt48-18 is a freight locomotive (Polish: towarowa) with wheel arrangement 2-8-2 designed in 1948, number 18.

Ol49-69

On the way back from the final outing, to Stefanowo, I had the opportunity of riding on the footplate. It cost a tenner and was well worth it; driving cost £70! Back at Wolsztyn, we walked to Howard's guest house where we had a free beer. That evening we had dinner at Locomotiva, by the lake. I had salmon.

Salmon at Locomotiva

Friday 1 May was a very early start - 5am to catch the train to Zagan. It was the same loco and the same ancient carriages with wooden seats. We stopped at Zielona Gora and went to find a plighted loco in a park. It was all very quiet, as it was still early and a bank holiday.

Wolsztyn

At Zagan,  we took a coach to the Stalag Luft 3 museum (another tenner), where the Great Escape happened. Line bashers went on to Lubsko on a freight only line. After a video in the visitor centre, we checked out the exhibits and models, and bought postcards in the gift shop. The coach then took us to see the site of the tunnel Harry, 1km down a lane (and 1k back again). There were many bits of the old camp still visible amongst the trees, including the concede bases of the huts, a reservoir and the hospital. We then went to see a memorial to the chaps who were caught and executed.

Stalag Luft 3 Harry tunnel

Back in Zagan we were treated to a womens' bike race around the streets. We got back to Wolsztym about 8.15 then it was the coach to the Montana for a buffet supper (same as last time) but with big squidgy dumplings, and beer.

Fish, spuds and dumpling at the Montana

More photos on Flickr.

Poland: the Wolsztyn Experience part 1

Berlin station

Based on my last couple of trips and memories of previous years, I can state categorically that coach travel is the most boring - slow traffic jams, nothing to look at on the motorways, comfort stops etc - and train travel the best, with high speeds and stations we pass through or change at in interesting towns and cities. Just saying…  From the train, Poland is tall churches and thin trees, fields of yellow rape and green barley, the odd deer or stork making an appearance, and elaborate allotments. You might even see a 'plinthed' (dead) steam loco or two along the way. Or lots, in the case of Wolsztyn. I'd seen a video on YouTube of the 'parade' - up to 17 locos hitched together passing at high speed, all whistles blowing, and a quick google led me to Railtrail's Poland Steam Explorer.

Driving the Gniezno diesel!

We were to set off on Tuesday 28 April and meet at 10am outside the Eurostar. I was nervous about delays so went up the night before and stayed over at Rob's in Mile End. I met a couple of the other tourists (spotted the luggage labels) and we set off for Brussels at 10.58, where we changed for the Koln train. In the shadow of the cathedral we changed again, for Hanover, and spent the night at the fabulous Andor Hotel Plaza, where I had my first vegetarian meal (pasta) and German beer. After an early start and a splendid breakfast of absolutely everything you could think of, including five types of honey, we set off for Berlin, where we changed for Poznan in Poland, throwing our cases off at Zbaszynek.

Gniezno diesel

The reason for that was that we went on to Gniezno, to ride the narrow gauge line there. Unfortunately the steam loco wasn't available, so we had a diesel… but, I was allowed to drive it for a while, with the driver standing behind shouting instructions! Meanwhile in the first-carriage buffet, a woman was cooking up sausages and cabbage stuff for everyone. We veggies had to wait, but when it came we had fried fish and a stir fry of vegetables, all cooked from scratch in pots and pans. After the half trip, we travelled back to Poznan thence to Wolsztyn, to be greeted by dead locos on either side, then to the Motel Montana and a buffet supper, including what I discovered was more fried fish amongst the meat. My room was 31, in the end block.

Fish and stir fry on the Gniezno train

More photos on Flickr.