Welcome to blog number 12, which is the second blog running that I've been able to write on the laptop whilst sat in the garden. Does that mean summer is coming? Certainly lighter evenings are on their way with the clocks going forward this weekend! We just need this nice weather to continue.
I've had quite a busy week, indeed as mentioned in the last blog I was hoping to write this one sooner as I expected to have some trips to report on. It turned out though that I've been out somewhere every day so actually haven't had the time until now to sit down and write anything. I wouldn't exactly say I've got lots of pictures but one or two of those I have taken have been worth the effort.
Monday, with the forecast good for most of the day, I set out early with the intention of getting beyond Oxenholme for the northbound Tesco train. Yet again it didn't provide the red DB 92 I was hoping for so I'll have to keep trying for a picture of one of those. Fortunately though it did manage to turn up in the last of the sunshine before the clouds moved in for the day.
I managed though to miss 185108 heading south whilst I was waiting. This unit still carrys its Liverpool '08 decals on the roofline which it gained to celebrate the city being the Capital of Culture that year. Like the red 92's it has still eluded me getting a picture of this livery variation. I had a drive along the A65 afterwards to Hellifield for the Clitheroe Cement, which seems to run in its old later time on a Monday for some reason. With it being so dull I gave up afterwards and went home for dinner, and more importantly beer. 66111 was in charge of the cement and after a shot as it approached Hellifield I just, but only just, made it to Newsholme ahead of it for a second picture. There was much huffing and puffing as I ran over the hill between the car and the bridge.
Tuesday involved visiting some Wetherspoons in the West Manchester area, mainly by bus, though I did get two unit pictures, one at Daisy Hill and the other at Urmston. Highlights of the day were the Wetherspoons outside Chill Factor E at The Trafford Centre, where they had a choice of 4 Greenfield beers all for 99p a pint. I could quite happily have stayed there some time. It's a shame it's so hard to get to there from Preston by public transport! The other was the excellent pub, The Steamhouse, that occupies the former station building at Urmston. A good selection of beer, the food is recommended, plus if you get the right seat you can watch the trains go by the window.
The following day was a tram day (yes Blackpool again I hear you yawn). With only just over a week to the grand reopening I was expecting pretty much a full shadow timetable to be operating to train the drivers. It looked promising as I saw three trams between Squires Gate and North Pier, however with one line still being dug up by the Metropole meaning single line working in operation, I only saw two more beyond there. The road is also being dug up in Fleetwood itself so they are unable to go down Lord Street to the Ferry Terminal. Still, the 'Fishermans Friend' factory behind the tram in this shot proves they are at least reaching the outskirts of Fleetwood now.
They now have 11 of the 16 new trams delivered to Squires Gate depot. Apparently number 12 is due on April 5th, though I wonder if anyone has worked out how they are going to get it off the lorry with the planned 20 minute tram service trying to use the adjacent track?
On to Thursday which was car MOT day. This was annoying as it was forecast as probably the best day of the week. Of course having no car meant I was stuck where to go to get some decent pictures as I had to travel by Public Transport, and in addition be back for 3pm to pick the car up. I settled on Warrington, or more precisely a location on the 'bottom' line that I hadn't done before. It was only a 25 minute walk to Sankey Valley Park from Bank Quay station and I thought I would just get there just in time before 60099 had run round its train twice at Warrington. It turned out I still had almost an hour to wait as the driver obviously wasn't in too much of a rush despite being 80 minutes late.
And spend some time I did. Normally trains take about 90 minutes to unload at Fiddlers Ferry Power Station, but this one took over 3 hours to return meaning I was out of position for 70003 on the Ellesmere Port coal working. It turned out to be a reasonable shot though, especially as the loco was clagging for Britain. Yes they are ugly, but they look powerful, sound good and if they all produce this much gunk out the top as they get older I'm sure they will develop a loyal following.
Finally, after about 4 and a half hours waiting, and only 5 minutes before I had to leave to walk back to the station, 60099 returned. Of course the sun had moved round too far by now but still a nice shot, and worth including Monks Sidings distant signal behind as the line is due to be resignalled soon.
Well, I think that is probably enough for this edition. I'll cover Fridays wanderings around Ayrshire in the next blog as I haven't processed the pictures yet. Needless to say it was centred on a tour of Wetherspoons, but now the light is getting brighter I am forcing myself to allow more time in the schedule to photography. Thanks for reading, please check back in a few days for further updates.