East Lancs Railway Autumn Steam Gala 2010

Originally uploaded by fred pipes
What a fantastic line-up of big locos for the East Lancs Railway Autumn Steam Gala: 71000 Duke of Gloucester, jub 5690 Leander, micky 45337, Standard 73129 - and guest star 60163 Tornado! I arrived at Bury Bolton Street on Saturday 23 October and bought an £8.20 round ticket just in time to catch the Tornado-hauled 12.05 to Rawtenstall. At Ramsbottom the Duke was coming back the other way. I jumped off when the train returned to Rammy for a wander round, a £1 tub of black peas and a paper. It was wet and drizzly! I caught the double-header of 73129 and Black 5 45337 back to Bury, had a pint of Black Abbott in the Trackside (where there are always nine real ales on at less than £2.60 a pint), and caught the Leander-hauled train to Heywood and back.

Sunday was much sunnier. This time I was determined to catch the awesome double-header of Tornado and the Duke, leaving for Heywood at 13.40, so had a quick walk round town to see the scary new shopping/apartment area cheekily called The Rock, after Bury's one-time main street, now populated by pound and charity shops. At Heywood, Tornado changed ends to lead the double-header (the Duke had been a banker at the back until here) and off we went - all the way to Rawtenstall and all the way back again to Bury (with the Duke at the back again). Had an Eccles cake on the train - they'd run out of sandwiches! Back at Bury I had a pint of Greenfield's Black Five (4% £2.35) and watched the other locos go by then it was back to my nephew's to relax and watch TV!

Nine ales

There's a video of the double-header on Saturday here, and one of Tornado changing ends at Rawtenstall on the Sunday here (listen to the bloke next to me moaning about other people getting in the way of his snapping!).

Previous visits to the ELR:

Magical Moominvalley

Up in my home town of Bury last week for the East Lancs Railway Autumn Steam Gala and to visit relatives, I always make a point of visiting the excellent Art Gallery and Museum to check out the magnificent Turner, the Royal Lancastrian pottery and all the other Victorian treasures. It pleased me too that the Museum downstairs was at last celebrating the town's industrial heritage of cotton, paper and engineering. On my first visit, the main gallery was closed for rehanging - for a major Tove Jansson exhibition - so I popped back in the week to take a proper look.

It's a big exhibition, with three galleries showing Tove Jansson's mainly pen and ink work from early illustrations for the satirical Swedish magazine Gar, though the Moomins, to illustrations for Alice in Wonderland and The Hobbit. One room aims to capture the magic of The Moominvalley of the Tampere Art Museum: dimly lit with pools of dappled light with Moomin boats and islands of stepping-stones.

Author and illustrator Tove Jansson (1914-2001) was born in Helsinki, Finland, the daughter of artist Signe Hammarsten (known as Ham) and sculptor Viktor Jansson. Her mother designed many of Garm's covers with its eponymous dog, and Tove carried on the tradition, and it was in these 1930s illustrations that the philosophical Moomins first appeared. The first Moomin book 'The Moomins and the Great Flood' appeared in 1945, in Swedish, and was not a great success but the following two 'Comet in Moominland' (1946) and 'Finn Family Moomintroll' (1948) made her famous worldwide. She produced eight books in total that have been translated into 34 languages. In 1954, after the second Moomin book had been translated into English, the Evening News, a newspaper for the London area (no longer in business) published a strip called Moomintroll until 1959, when her brother Lars Jansson took over the strip until 1975 (there are no examples of the strips in this exhibition). She also illustrated The Hobbit in 1962 and Alice in Wonderland in 1966, with some of the illustrations coloured with watercolour. The pen and ink drawings in the exhibition are tiny - they must have been drawn same size - and it is a delight to see such lovely work, along with the pencil marks and touches of process white! The exhibition continues until 15 January 2011.

Some more photos on http://brightonillustrators.co.uk/blog/detail/magical_moominvalley/.

Incidentally, the guard who told me off for taking snaps turned out to be the son of an old Mod friend of mine from the 1960s, Steph Minta!

If you fancy it, I got to Manchester from Euston for £7.25 from the Virgin website; and Brighton to London for £2.50 from Southern. Bury is at the end of the Manchester tram line.

Magical Moomin Valley

More info:


Internet veteran? moi?

Just been going through some old files, to try and find camera invoices, when I came across one for my first modem. I bought a US Robotics Sportster 14k (the Stylophone) from Dabs Direct for £129 on 4 August 1994. Can anyone beat that? I also have bills from my first ISP: Soft Solution (MCR1 Manchester Host) of Dewsbury - NUJ Net special offer £12 subs for three months - my charges for August 1994 totalled £46.23. NUJNet (Sam called it nudge-net) was set up by Mike Holderness and was text-only - and you had to dial in to Manchester. I mainly joined because Sam was at college and was keeping in touch with all his school chums by email. And I thought, if you can't beat them, join them! I also joined some dial-up bulletin boards. Soon after I got online, Pavilion started up in Brighton and I joined them - and started to see graphics in my browser.

My first computer in Brighton was a Mac Plus and I remember you had to buy a particular book to get the floppy disc with the right software on it to get connected. Simon Thornton also helped me out. At the time there were only about five people in Brighton on the net. The Brighton internet pioneers met at the Greys to chat: Tom Hadfield (of Soccernet fame) was about 12 and Tom Shepherd was only 16, so we had to sit outside! Other trailblazers included Matt Planet and Simon and Neil Turner of Virtual Brighton who very kindly gave me a brighton.co.uk address. Later, Mistral started up and they were cheaper, so I switched. Then Freeserve started up and that was free, so I jumped ship again. These were all dial-up services. I subscribed to the always connected ISDN Home Highway with BT for a while, but when Broadband arrived there was no upgrade path so I told BT to go away and went cable broadband with Virgin.

Before all this, whilst working at EMAP, I had on loan a Spectrum set-up with an acoustic coupler that connected to something called MicroNet, a Teletext/Prestel type service. After experiencing that I never imagined that the internet would take off as it did.


My cameras

Me and Benji in Sunny Bank
Originally uploaded by fred pipes
It's that photo again! It was such a find amongst my Dad's old things and proves I was into photography at a young age. Not sure if that Kodak Brownie 127 was really mine, though. Cameras have always been a big part of my life, though I've never been geeky about them - just wanted them to do the job. The first real camera I owned was a metal Boots camera, that looked like a camera ought to, though it had few controls. It must have taken 127 film, though it looked like a 35mm one. I used to take it with me trainspotting and I'd love to see those negatives now, but alas they have gone.
Kodak Brownie 127
When I went to college in 1965 I bought an Exa IIb 35mm camera and a separate light meter. I think I was copying my friend Jorj Malinowski, who had a more up-market Exakta. It was a single-lens reflex made in Dresden, with an instant-return mirror and served me well for many years. It had a Tessar 50mm f2.8 lens. I used to develop and print my own photos, but the fashion then was for high-contrast (blame David Bailey), so most of my negs are pretty useless now. I also had movie cameras: first a Bell and Howell Standard 8mm with zoom lens, later a Standard 8 Russian Quarz camera with loads of accessories, that looked more like a Bolex.
Exa IIb
In the mid-1970s, when I was better off, I bought a Pentax MX, mainly because it was so compact, with a stubby 40mm f2.8 lens. It had been a toss-up between this and an Olympus OM-1, but I prefered the Pentax's traffic-light metering (just set the speed and twiddle the aperture until it shows green for go) over the Olympus's needle meter. It was totally manual; the battery only controlled the light meter. I also bought a 135mm lens for portrait work.
Pentax MX
Around this time I bought a whole load of darkroom equipment and a Yashica-Mat 120 camera from a friend at work, whose dad was selling up. I think I paid £25 for it. I didn't take many 2 1/4 x 2 1/4 photos with it as you only got 12 per film, but what I did take were of superb quality.
I was introduced to the Lomo LC-A in 1998 by Simon Williams, who I was working with at Time Team. In those days you had to buy them off the Lomo Ambassador in London and needed a personal recommendation! You also had to make a pledge to carry them about with you at all times! It's a 35mm camera with a plastic lens that somehow makes everything you snap more garish, especially at night using automatic exposure.
My Pentax and accessories - flash unit, other lens - was too much to cart around everywhere, so in 1998, I bought a Canon Ixus APS camera. These were tiny - the film was smaller than 35mm and came in an automatically loading cassette. One feature was that you could set it to take panoramic views, tho I soon twigged that all it did was crop the regular shape. This got stolen in 2005 from my cycle bag and I replaced it with a similar model bought off eBay for £10! But I never ever used it - when I saw the price of film I decided to go... digital!
Canon Ixus APS
More to follow...