Monday, 13 November 2017

Can anyone tell me where this is, please?

This photograph was taken on a boating holiday in, I think, 1973. The boats are "Elstree" (motor) and "Lyra" (Butty) then operated by T&A Collier as a camping pair.  The cargo was a bunch of students from Salford and Newcastle Universities and what was then Trent Polytechnic.  The route was Leighton Buzzard to Nottingham via the Grand Union Canal.

Details of this trip have yet to appear on my "The Boat Trip Years" blog and when I add them I'd like to include the location of this shot, so over to you dear readers. . . ..

(And while you are at it can anyone tell me when I press the " key on my laptop it types an @ and when I press @ I get an "  ?! )   (I deleted "American English" as a language option and downloaded a "UK English" language pack (!) and that seems to have sorted it out. I still don't know where this lock is though!

Monday, 30 October 2017

Burton upon Trent - 1

I'm just back from a few days in Burton-upon-Trent. My previous visits to the town have been mainly by boat - I called in on a number of journeys along the Trent & Mersey Canal on Starcross - but this one was by train and bus.

My first port-of-call was Derby, where I was meeting up with my fellow traveller for the weekend, Hugh. Our planned schedule went haywire before I'd even set off with my train from Lancaster being fourteen minutes late departing. This made a 10 minute connection at Crewe into a minus-4 one and so, unsurprisingly, despite the driver pulling back a couple of minutes en-route I missed it. But every cloud has a silver lining and I enjoyed my hour at Crewe watching an impressive procession of fast modern trains passing through - or stopping at - the station.

A  Your Bus  Y5 at Long Eaton
My train to Derrby was neither fast nor modern, but it did arrive on time and after a quick lunch in the Brunswick Tavern we were almost back on track for the afternoon's travelling.  The plan was to sample one of the two competing bus services, both of which were operated by modern, high-spec vehicles, to Long Eaton and transfer there to the equally modern and high-spec "Skylink" service to East Midlands Airport, thence by the relatively obscure 155 route to Coalville that is operated by a small, local company and then on to Burton for the evening.  This involved a couple of moderately-tight connections but it quickly became apparent that my planning had failed to take into account the Friday afternoon traffic!  We were a good five minutes down before we'd even left the bus station and congestion on the way meant we were even later at Long Eaton. There we realised from the Real Time bus stop information display that the Skylink was running even later out from Nottingham and that our connection into the 155 at the Airport was in jeopardy.  As with Virgin Trains' driver earlier in the day our man did his best to regain some time but unfortunately our arrival at East Midlands co-incided exactly with the 155's departure!  There was no alternative but to return to Derby, albeit directly on the Leicester - Derby version of the Skylink route network.  This service calls in at Derby railway station where we bailed out and made up some of the time we'd lost by getting a train on to Burton which took 13 minutes instead of the advertised 45 minutes by bus (traffic not included).

Burton is known as the brewing capital of England, although it is nowadays dominated by giant international brewing companies pumping out mass-market lager and keg beers, but its easy enough to avoid these.  We opted for a tour of the pubs just on and off the Derby Road, getting off to a good start with the Derby Inn, a very traditional locals' pub (although the beer came from Keighley). The next couple of pubs were a bit of a let-down but after a quick pit stop for a takeaway pizza we ended the evening in the splendid Coopers Tavern. 
Coopers Tavern
The Coopers Tavern (not during our visit!)
This used to be the Bass brewery tap, but is now oned by Joule's Brewery. Ironically the original Joule's Brewery was bought and closed down by Bass in 1974 and whilst it was resurrected a few years ago with new owners and is now thriving, Bass as a brewing company has disappeared into the maw of one of the multi-nationals (don't ask me which one, I don't reaaly care) and even its best-known brand "Draught Bass"  is now brewed by Marston's in a different part of the town.

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

New Orleans to Nottingham

New Orleans once had a streetcar named Desire. . . .
Image result for a streetcar named desire film

. . . but not to be outdone, Nottingham has

A bus called Arnold!

Which may look futuristic, but it operates from a depot marked by this plaque!

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Signs of the Times in Burnley. . .and it never rains but it pours!

I must confess to being left feeling a little confused on my visit to Burnley yesterday. . .

. . . whilst in nearby Nelson they are still proud of the achievements of over 30 years ago!

But the last laugh was on me when the time came to return home.  Burnley has no fewer than three railway stations although none of them is particularly convenient for the town centre. "Burnley Central", possibly the most badly-misnamed station in the UK, purports to serve the centre of town although reaching it involves finding your way through the back of the shopping precinct, up one of a number of possible side streets, over a dual-carriageway and along another main road until you reach a side-street called "Railway Road", which at least gives you a clue. Proceed up Railway Road until you come to a most un-station like looking building then climb a set of stairs to one side of it to arrive on the single platform from where all trains depart.
The route from central Burnley to "Burnley Central" (note that it takes longer by car than on foot!)
Now I'll be the first to admit that I might have lingered just a little too long in the "Bridge Bier Huis" over a last pint and that that did contribute to my arriving on the platform at exactly 19:34 and 20 seconds (according to the indicator). However, the indicator also said that the first train to arrive would be my 19:34 to Preston, which I took to mean that it was still on its way. However, when it had still not arrived five minutes later it disappeared from the display to be replaced by the 19:57 to Colne.
Real Time Trains, a website that tracks trains throughout the network in "real time", offers a clue:

The train had left Colne and the previous station to Burnley Central one minute early! It had also arrived at Burnley a minute before it was due, but conveniently there was "no report" as to its departure! Given that I neither saw nor heard it as I made my way up Railway Road I suspect it left at least one minute before its due time.

The next train from Central wasn't for another hour and the only alternative was to walk to one of Burnley's other stations - Manchester Road - which is even farther out of town - and in the opposite direction!

This route is uphill all the way, quite steeply on Manchester Road itself, although it does provide a glimpse of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal at the Weavers Triangle (or at least it would have done if it wasn't by now dark and raining.)

The 20:12 from Manchester Road was running six minutes late, a delay that became 8 minutes on arrival in Preston. That reduced my ten minute connection - and chance to grab a sandwich from the buffet - to two minutes, just enough time to dash over the footbridge to Platform 3 for the Lancaster train and a hungry ride home.

This train arrived promptly in Lancaster at 21:15 leaving me with just the final kilometre and a half to go to reach home. During University terms there is a 20 minute bus service along Scotforth Road, which although it doesn't start from the station (of course not, don't be silly) can be caught in the city centre. But term doesn't start until next week, so the next bus was not until 22:00.  There is an alternative service along Bowerham Road, that involves a bit of a walk. This also runs every 20 minutes from the city centre  EXCEPT that there is no bus in the 28 minutes between 2121 and 2149. I arrived at the stop at 2122!

What had been a light shower in Burnley had become a downpour in Lancaster but I was brought up to regard taxis as a luxury to be indulged in only in times of extreme need and the time I spent at work sharing an office with the taxi licensing department and the tales I heard there put me off using them for life, so my day out ended with another twenty minute uphill walk during which time I got well-and-truly soaked!

Public Transport is great when it works, but sometimes - just sometimes - I begin to realise why most people go everywhere by car.