Forward, never Backwards

Alf, Model Railway, Modern Technology

We have now started lockdown 2, which compared to the last one should be called lockdown light. I am now working for another bus manufacturer which is considerably different to the last company I worked for. There doesn’t seem to be the secrecy that prevailed with Wrights, even after the company was taken over the same management style continued. This was mostly down to the fact that the new owners put the same people in place who tanked the company last time, so within no time I was feeling the same frustrations as before. I expected a great deal of change and pain for the first twelve months as the new owners put their mark on the company, but this wasn’t the case, we immediately went back to the old ways and after 9 months I decided to move on. The change will come for Wrights, but I didn’t want the wait. I have started a different role with my new company, this has it’s frustrations but that is to be expected as I get used to different responsibilities and a change of culture.

During the lock down and lately, I have taken to walking, I am lucky where I live as I only have to walk for five minutes and I am in farmers fields off on the many public footpaths and bridleways that cris-cross the area. It’s funny, I have lived here for the best part of 27 years and I am only just finding these places, I only live five miles from the northern tip of Epping Forest but rarely go there. I have decided that me and the dog are going to get better acquainted with the forest. I have done a few walks over the years but the area has so much history I would like to get to know more about it. Since taking up walking I find it does give me an improved sense of well being.

Alfie Posing 7/11/20 Great Monk Wood, Epping

My model railway is going well, The hobby has changed so much since I last dabbled. The biggest change is the electronic control of locos. Basically the controller turns the track into a CAN line, the locos have individual chips fitted and signals on the CAN tell the loco’s what to do. It gives you the ability to have a number of engines on the the same line and the ability to work them individually. In the old days (and some puritan still do this) the controller varied the speed of the loco by increasing or decreasing the voltage on the tracks, the drawback being that any locos on the live track would also respond to the voltage which wasn’t ideal. The DCC system provide 14v AC to the track permanently and the loco waits for a signal to move, this means you can park trains up on the same piece of track as other trains, which adds to the realism, you can also run trains at the same time and even bank them. There are other features including lamps etc which can stay lit due to the permanent voltage. The biggest addition though is now you can have sound, Engine noises, steam, whistles etc. I have a couple of locos I have fitted this to, I will add a video at some stage. The advances in this area can be put on the mobile phone industry and it’s advances, the best speaker is probably the iPhone speaker which is rectangular and fits perfectly in most diesel engines, the sound quality is also very good.

Alfie and me went went for a walk in Epping forest yesterday. We had a great walk and Alfie had a good swim but I did make a cock up. Last week I reset my samsung smart watch to imperial measurements from metric. So me and the pooch were enjoying our walk and I thought at the time distance wise we didn’t seem to be very slow, by the end of the walk we had done 8.5kms by my watch, I worked that out to just over 5 miles, except it was actually 8.5 miles!!! My dog is really suffering this morning so I am making him take it easy today, I do forget how old he is sometimes, he is eight and must not let him overdo it. We had a great walk and met some good people with well behaved dogs, proper dog owners. I even got talking to a chap on a horse, he thanked me for calling Alfie back to heel as he went past, I said to him he is not used to horses and was very wary. With that he turned around on the bridleway came up to us with the horse and we had a chat so that Alf could take a look and have a sniff, I really appreciated that, how do you get a dog to get used to horses if he’s never been around them.

Alfie doing what he was built for, Swimming and Retrieving. Wake Valley Pond, Epping 7/11/20
Labradors: Part Dog, Part Seal

How about that thing eh?

Allotment, Family, Model Railway, Modern Technology

It’s been a while but I thought with everything going on at the moment and the crushing boredom and frustration I’d release some steam.

The whole Covid-19 thing really has caught us all out. Although considered an essential worker I have managed to stay virus free (touching wood). I am on the very fringe of what could be considered an essential worker, I work in public transport and run a team who help keep Southern England’s bus fleet on the road, luckily I spend a fair part of my time working from home. I think it will be a couple of years before the bus industry gets back to being anywhere near what we now consider normal. With the amount of businesses which wont re-open there will be a greatly reduced number of passengers using buses therefore bus services will be reduced. This will effect bus orders for some time, which will have a knock on effect for bus manufacturers. So my last couple of years of employment will be very shaky indeed. London is currently operating a Sunday service which is around 40-50% of a weekday service.

My long suffering wife is a nurse so really is an essential worker as is my son who works in the operating theatre of our local hospital. That are both at a much higher risk of catching the virus than I am. While operations have been postponed he has found himself working on a Covid ward, I am proud of both of them. We have adhered to the guidelines by not having anyone in our house who doesn’t live here which includes my son and daughter.

I am finding the whole situation stressful and frustrating, but remind myself that this will be over in a month or two.

I have found myself hankering to re-visit one of my old hobbies, Model Trains. Despite having two spare rooms my missus has limited me to my small office for this project. I knew I had some old steam engines and a couple of diesels but while looking for them in the garage I found a box full of diesel engine which I had originally given to my younger brother when he was going to set up a set in his parents loft. I have absolutely no idea how I have ended up with these, but they will be put to good use and what I don’t need will end up on eBay. I don’t have enough room to make a loop so it will be more of a working diorama than a full layout

The back end of the station this is where you enter the platform, which will attach between the railings

It has been many years since I dabbled, it’s amazing how the hobby has changed. Everything is so accessible now with the internet, I even managed to get some signs made up with the fictional station name. Watch this space as the layout progresses.

Allotment

So we start another year, the virus thing has hampered progress a little but I am properly under way again. I have some plant growing in the green house and expect to start planting out in the next couple of weeks. I have planted some potatoes, shallots and onions, I know I said I was not going to plant any spuds but what the hell. My shallots have taken and are pushing up shoots. We had a good show last year of onions and shallots, in fact we were still eating them in December. I’m not sure if I am going to open the complete plot this year, this whole Covid-19 thing sheds uncertainty for the future.

I have now found myself the site agent for our site, it seems to be a Honey thing. Both my brothers and Father ended up running clubs or associations we joined and it has been the same with me. We’ll see how this works out.

Some of the rolling stock I ended up with but didn’t realise I had

 

That’s enough for now——————————————————————————————————————–sk