Dodging the raindrops

This week has been a real mixed bunch of weather.

Bank Holiday Monday lived up to its reputation of raining almost all day, so when Tuesday arrived with a promise of a dry day, even though the sky was grey and threatening, we decided we’d give the bikes an airing.

Well T’s bike doesn’t really need airing, it regularly gets a blast down the country lanes around home. Mine on the other hand needed a few cobwebs blown off it.

Just a short ride he says, nothing as strenuous as last time!!

Huh!, I’m sure he has some ulterior motive on these so called ‘short‘ bike rides.

When I got home, and recovered enough to actually switch my computer on, I checked the route on Anquet Maps………..


Thirteen miles AGAIN!!!!!!!   The photo is of a local ford, with one of the three newly installed, rather hard not to miss depth signs. Do you think we’re expecting some deep floods soon.

Wednesday saw more rain, so it was another day of either watching raindrops race each other down the window, or channel hopping on the TV, I ended up watching a channel showing La Vuelta, the Spanish cycle race.

The camera shots of the blues skies and golden beaches, as they skirted the Atlantic coast and suddenly I was there, parked up in our motorhome, basking in the warm sun, until the rumble of distant thunder drew my eyes back to the window and the raindrops that were still racing down, even faster now.

Depression was setting in fast this week, but the one thing that always lifts my spirits, is getting up high on a hill somewhere.

Thursday, and only showers forecast.

Where could we go, that wasn’t too far away, that was high up, and where Jasp would be able to cope with a walk.

Broadway Tower, Worcestershire.

A short drive from home, and we were parked by the cafe in the Tower grounds, the sky looked threatening again, and there were a couple of short showers, but after the short walk to the Tower, and seeing the views from the top,  the rain is forgotten.

T with Sal and Jasp, walking towards Broadway Tower. A Folly, built in 1798, it is said to have views over a sixty two mile radius over sixteen counties.

Just to my left from where I took the above photo is this plaque:

in remembrance of the crew of a Whitley Bomber, that crashed during training in 1943.

We wandered past the Tower and along to the Cotswold Way footpath, that leads down to the town of Broadway.

Too far and steep for Jasp to cope with, though once he saw the sheep, his pace quickened.

View looking towards Bredon Hill in the distance.

Making our way back to the motor, we had a cuppa and some crisps, helped by S&J (see slideshow below).

As the tower isn’t far from the Snowshill lavender fields, we decided to drive there to see if any flowers remained, though sadly just the odd bloom here and there.

In all honesty I hadn’t expected to find any though, as other years I’d visited earlier, and also Sat Nav and Cider had captured some lovely lavender pics here at the beginning of August.

We drove straight past, and down through the village of Snowshill, discussing ‘where next?’

“Aha!, I know”, I said, “how about the steam railway (Gloucestershire and Warwickshire Railway) at Toddington”. This has been a favourite haunt of mine for many years, and where a few of the photos here were taken.

The GWR is a beautifully preserved steam railway, running between Laverton and Cheltenham racecourse. In the years I’ve been visiting, I’ve seen the track extend north, from Toddington, over Stanway viaduct to Laverton.

They have been hit hard by a couple of landslips in recent years though, in 2010 the Gotherington Slip and in 2011 the disastrous Chicken curve collapse that severed the line just north of Winchcombe.

The restoration appeal is ongoing, and hopefully one day trains will be able to travel the full length again, but at present they run a diesel rail north of the collapse, and a steam engine to the south.

Arriving at Toddington station, the car park was full of TV film vehicles, there were a couple of old motors parked up, and many men dressed in what I would term as ‘Dixon of Dock Green’ police uniforms.

Wandering around the car park, curiosity got the better of us, so I pushed T forward to enquire what was being filmed, as I went to check on S & J, who we’d left in the motor.


The two vehicles, which were being used in the filming of a new series of Father Brown, due to be screened early 2013.

As there was only a diesel running at Toddington, and  I’d been hoping to get some photos of the steam engines, we decided to drive over to the Winchcombe station at Greet.

Checking the timetable, there was one due in forty minutes, so we wandered onto the platform, purchased a couple of pieces of homemade walnut cake from the ‘olde worlde’ cafe and plonked ourselves down to wait (it’s nice being time rich ;-))

T with S & J. I guess he must look rather odd, sitting on the floor, between two benches, but an earlier downpour had left them both still covered in beads of raindrops.

I was rewarded with this image of 7903 Foremarke Hall, as it moves to the front of the carriages for its return journey to Cheltenham.

Travelling home, we noticed the roads getting wetter, and on arriving home, I found my washing that I’d hoped would be dry, was wetter than when I’d put it out.

We’d certainly dodged the raindrops on this day out 🙂

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A week in Whitby – day five


This holiday week was going far too quick for me!

Thursday morning, I’m lying in bed wondering what the weather will be like when I open the blinds today. The cab area only has curtains around the screen, so we are not in total darkness, but the chinks of light coming in don’t give any indication of what to expect.

Sitting up, and with the excitement of a child opening a present, I unclip the rear window blind and lower it down………….

“Oh no!! The ancient mariners are back” I announced to a very puzzled T

“Huh!, what are you going on about”

Now bearing in mind he’s never seen ‘The Fog’ and I hadn’t explained how my imagination had gone into overload yesterday, I guess it must have seemed a very odd thing to say.

Five minutes of trying to explain who the ancient mariners were, and him with a ‘jeez, she’s away with the fairies’ look on his face, I gave up, and said “we’ve got a sea fret again”

We followed the routine of the previous days, bedding away, dogs fed, then over breakfast we discussed the plans for the day. It looked like another inland trip, so we prepared the motorhome to move off again.

Driving through the swirling mist on the campsite, we joined the road heading towards the Abbey, rounded a bend to see….

The Abbey bathed in sunshine with blue skies all around. Looking back in the wing mirrors, the campsite was still shrouded in the grey mist.

Today we’d decided we’d visit Grosmont, a small village in the Esk Valley, situated on the North Yorkshire Moors railway line.

Driving into the bustling village and over the railway crossing, we followed the signs to the car park and paid our fee. Checking the angle of the sun, that by this time was getting quite hot, we found a sheltered place to park up under the trees.

First thing first, the dogs needed at bit of a walk, so heading off into the surrounding wooded area, we followed the narrow tracks, hoping one of them might lead down to the nearby River Esk.

No such luck, the nearest we got to the river was a fenced off footpath, with a fifteen foot drop.

We did come across this bridge though, which looked like it might have carried some old rail track at some time or other.

Heading back to the van, we grabbed a bite to eat, watered the dogs, and decided to wander up into the town and have a look at the old rail station.

What an interesting history this station has. In 1839, the line between Whitby and Grosmont ran the first railway excursion in the world, a plaque at the station, tells a brief history, more detailed information can be read here.

Looking down the platform at Grosmont station, a very picturesque view towards the moors in the distance.

Just over the rail lines, was a very inviting looking pub, where we decided refreshments were required. The Station Tavern, perfectly positioned to watch any passing steam engines, we plonked our bodies down, to watch the world go by.

It wasn’t long before we were rewarded with The Green Knight passing by, and my mind drifted to how this scene must have looked over a hundred years ago, and how many people had sat in this very spot where I was.

Just opposite where we were sitting, was a sign ‘to the engine sheds’, so suitably refreshed, we crossed over to have a look.

Walking down the footpath, it led to Grosmont Tunnel, which was built as part of George Stephenson’s horse-drawn railway. Another possible first? The sign at the entrance suggested, Britains’ first railway tunnel, as well as the worlds first passenger tunnel. Continuing through the tunnel, there was free entry to view the engine sheds and although dogs were not permitted, there was a special shaded area to tie them up, with water bowls. I decided against leaving Sal and Jasp alone, so waited outside, while T went to have a look.

Heading back towards the rail crossing, down through the town, and past the car park, we went in search of the river again, staying on the road this time.

We found a ford, with extremely slippery cobbles and at almost a foot deep, not something we’d have wanted to drive through with the motorhome (if only I had my land rover). S&J enjoyed another cooling drink.

Driving back to the site, we both agreed, this had been another excellent day.

Dinner that night? Lasagne for T, and I was looking forward to my tortellini I thought I’d bought the day before, but I couldn’t find anywhere in the motorhome. After searching the whole van, I was getting really annoyed, that we’d paid for it, and left it at the supermarket, until I found the receipt for that days’ shopping, NO tortellini 😦 so it was beans on toast for me.

Sal enjoyed some toast too.

I later wandered along the cliff path to get some shots of Whitby abbey, as the mist started to come down again. Then the shower block, and back to my ready made bed 🙂

If at 1st you don’t succeed …….

Bus pass time again!!

Operation ‘First to Kiddy’, that failed miserably on our last mission, was on again. After waiting patiently at our local bus stop for the 13.14hrs (one whole hour earlier than our previous attempt), the number 56 bus arrived 11 minutes late, leaving us 10 minutes to get the X3 to Kidderminster. There was a distinct feeling of deja vu as the bus trundled down to the bus station, we discussed what we would do if our 2nd attempt failed. Another spaghetti spoon perhaps?

We planned our escape off the bus like a military operation. On nearing the bus station, time 13.33hrs we would stay on the bus all the way into the station, to hopefully catch the 13.35hrs X3 before it departed. Any later than this, we would jump off at the last stop before the station, run down the road and round the corner to the first stop for the X3.

I’m sat, eyes glued to my phone, watching the minutes tick by, just as we are approaching the final stop, the time ticks over to 13.34hrs, ‘QUICK, GET UP, WE’VE GOT TO GET OFF,!!!’, I shouted at T, acting like a couple of naughty school kids, we ran to the door and jumped off. What the passengers must have though, I dread to think, I just hope they weren’t the same ones on the bus as last time otherwise I can see the headlines now, ‘bus pass loonies seen in the town centre again’

Five minutes later, the X3, which ironically was late leaving the station, pulls up and we sedately step on. 40 minutes later we’re in Kidderminster.

Kiddy is not a town I’ve visited before, I was hoping it would be full of history from the carpet industry for which it is famous, but I was very disappointed to find it pedestrianised with a miss match of shops. In my mind a town with its heart and soul removed. We didn’t stay long.

Just out of the town centre is the well known Severn Valley Steam Railway which runs from Kidderminster to Bridgnorth, I’ve been here many times, and never tire of it, so this seemed a far better option to have a meander round, so off we set.

The entrance to the steam railway station. Just to the left in this photo, is the entrance to the modern railway station, where intercity express trains speed past.

Walk in through the main entrance and it’s like stepping back in time.

Brintons carpet samples, bound for Brisbane. The Brinton family first started making carpets in Kidderminster in the late 18th century.

There is a small railway museum which is filled with hundreds of amazing relics from days gone by.

This engine has recently been restored, dating from 1918, I overheard someone say it’s the oldest engine running on the Severn Valley Railway.

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A few more images from the station. The interior of the carriage, brings back memories of my childhood journeys.

This step back in time really made the day, and homeward bound on the X3, we both agreed the trip to Kiddy was worth it in the end.

A touch of colour from a B&W era

I am lucky enough to have a couple of Steam Engine Heritage Railways nearby, The Severn Valley Railway & The Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Railway, I’m not too hot on the workings of the engines, but I think they are stunningly beautiful to look at, and the memories they trigger certainly make them worth a photograph.

My earliest memories of steam engines was the journey to visit my grandparents, well before my parents had their own transport. We’d leave Leeds station for the journey to Hornsea, it was always an exciting time, to go on a journey to the coast, and visiting these heritage railways with the smell of the coal burning and the noise of the steam hissing, transports me back to those halcyon days of my childhood.

It always amazes me how our senses can do this.

Winchcombe Station on the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire Heritage line.

Black Prince at Toddington, another station on the Gloucestershire & Warwickshire line

Raveningham Hall, another photographed at Toddington. This is my favourite of all the engines I’ve got photos of.

Kinlet Hall at Toddington Station

Earl Bathurst at Didcot Station.

The Flying Scotsman at Didcot, probably the most well know engine of all.

Goathland Station in North Yorkshire. Some will know it better as Heartbeats’ Aidensfield or more recently Hogsmeade from Harry Potter.

Mallard at York Railway Museum. This engine holds the official world speed record for steam locomotives at 126 mph.