They’re skin and craters like the moon

Allotment, Model Railway


So we begin another year, a year which started out with such promise, I mean, nothing could be worse than 2020 could it? Within a couple of weeks we were headlong into an undeterminable lockdown, there are a lot of naysayers who believe this is all made up and part of some dark plan by the government. And you can’t blame people, the numbers do not add up, the number of people who died last year are not much different to any other year. For me the main issue is that large numbers are hospitalised by the virus, more than with the normal Flu and this is where I think the devil is in the detail. I think the main reason for the lockdown is so as not to overwhelm the NHS, the reason the NHS won’t be able to cope is due to decades (Both Labour and Tory) underfunding and mis-management. That for me is the reason for the lockdown, unfortunately they have totally tanked the economy in process, it just doesn’t make sense. The projected unemployment total next year will be around 4 million people!! The effect on the economy will be massive, 4,000,000 workers on the dole not paying tax, not helping the local economy by buying produce, not forgetting that we have been paying for many of these people to stay at home on furlough as well as giving their employers handouts to keep the businesses afloat. I’m not trying to be big when I say WE, I mean the taxpayer. I dislike the word government handout, remember the government has no money, it’s income comes from taxes, simple as that. Less industry mean less income for the government, and less services for Joe Public. We are in for some lean years, and our children and grand children will be paying for this for another 50-60 years.

Galleon’s Reach

The model railway is coming along nicely, it runs and I have way too many loco’s which I am in the process of converting to DCC. The station is fictional and an end of the line small, two platform station and goods yard. Galleons Reach is a point on the river Thames, an area which is mainly new development now and even has a DLR railway station. The area remained barren up until recent years and the spread of the docklands development. 

The Layout is set in the mid 50’s to mid 60’s, so its mostly BR green as well as some LMS loco’s


Above a class 29 getting ready to leave with a mixed rake of wagons, a class 110 DMU next to it waiting to leave

A view showing the goods shed




Took my first trip to the allotment today, the first this year anyway. Luckily I had covered most of it in the autumn, some of the other plots on the site didn’t look too good. Don’t get me wrong, I still have a lot of work to do, this will be hindered by the high rainfall in the area and probably most of Britain. The sub-soil in my area is mostly London clay which really holds any surface water making the plot unworkable, I have onions to go in but they will only rot due to the water.
I am now the site manager for some reason, and now have some large branches to clear which have fallen and are now blocking the back pathway, this is now down to me to clear. So I spent the best part of the day with a saw cutting branches for a mostly dead tree. It was good to be working on the outside again although there is a lot to do on the plot to get it back to shape.


That’ll do for now———————————————————————————————————————————-va


The man who can make a sentence out of swearwords


The Corona madness took another turn today. Lesley is working Christmas and Boxing Day nights and because the relaxation planned to end on midnight of the 27th, we had planned to have our Christmas lunch and celebrate Lesley’s birthday on the 27th with the kids. As of midnight tonight London and the south east are moving from Tier 2 to a newly invented Tier 4. I’m not sure what this involves but one thing I do know is that our meal on the 27th is now cancelled as Toni and her boyfriend can’t come round due to the new visitor rules, Patrick can still come round as he is in our bubble. Over the past week or so we have been inundated with stories and pictures of celebrities and ignoring lockdown rules, Kay Birley, Dua Lipa to name but a couple. So now London and SE are so bad we must be punished. No one in authority will admit they don’t have a clue what to do, one thing is for sure is that lockdowns do not work. Wales had a “circuit breaker” lockdown before the rest of us went into lockdown two. The whole of Wales came out of a five week lockdown and put the whole country into tier three, that worked didn’t it. For the last couple of months masks have been compulsory in shops and enclosed spaces and in the main this has been adhered to yet we still find ourselves in Tier 4! I’m not sure the Government and health experts have a clue about how to control the spread of this virus. If those in charge were serious about this the airports would have been closed in March. I’m not sure how this Tier 4 will be received in London, the 2nd Lockdown didn’t see much difference to traffic etc, I can’t see this going down too well.

IT has been raining for about seven days constant now which means I have had to curtail my hiking of late. The area around Harlow mostly consists of London clay. This means the ground does not drain very well, so after a period of rain the ground stays boggy for ages. This isn’t good for walking and I don’t fancy breaking my leg again, so I have had to cut back my activity of late. Me and Alf did venture out today for a five mile walk but it was really hard going, it was so bad Alfie had to sit in the back of the Land Rover on the way home, he was covered in mud.

We went to drop the in-laws presents off yesterday, I have hardly seen them this year and have noticed a distinct decline in their health, it’s such a shame to watch their decline.

Lockdown or not it will be difficult to keep away from them next year, I may do some rule/law breaking next year.

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Come again

Alf, Buses, Photography

I took a trip to Inkpen beacon and Coombe Gibbet on Sunday with my daughter. She hasn’t been before and I had worked out a circular 10 mile route with some good climbs on it. We set out early as it takes around two hours door to door. As we went farther west it seemed to be getting foggier and foggier, the last ten miles from the motorway more and more rural until the last mile or so is on single track roads. As went headed toward Coombe Gibbet I noticed the fog was getting more and more dense, with the visibility down to 20 metres in places. It was hard to find the car park, you can normally see the gibbet from about five miles away but I couldn’t see it due to the fog. I eventually found the track and could vaguely see the car park through the gloom, I realised then we had passed this spot half an hour ago. I was that bad, you couldn’t see the gibbet from the car park. We set of along the Wayfarers walk past Walbury Hillfort, there was little point in going onto the site, which normally has great views, due to the fog. We had a great walk but it was very disorientating and my ordnance survey map and compass got a lot of use. We had a great walk and met some good people and I can’t wait to get back there when the weather is better,

Lost and bewildered in Berkshire

The new job is starting to make sense now and I am getting my teeth into it. The management style is much different to my old firm, much more open. It is much more accessible, a three hour drive away and there isn’t an issue if I want to visit the factory. It is a much smaller set up than my last place and change has taken some time for me to get used to. I don’t miss the old firm now and it feels like I left a year ago, I think the time was right for me to move on and I definitely made the right decision. I had got to the point where I was getting really frustrated with the lack of direction and inaction, it was like it was the same company that was poorly managed and ran out of money the year before. It had the same senior management team as were running the company went it sunk, and I felt the same problems were being put into place as before. I’m glad I went back, but glad I left.

I received a letter from TfL a couple of weeks ago and I am now allegedly entitled to my pension. The good thing is, it goes up for every year I leave it in, so I’ll have to wait and see. If all goes well, I have five years left to work and I can’t wait. I really enjoy me weekends and time off now so I think I am about ready to retire.

Alfie and his new mate

I have trying to get Alf used to horses and I think I’ve cracked it. Alfie can bark when he is scared or stressed and it always worries me that he will bark at someone riding a horse and end up spooking the poor thing. Luckily we have a lot of horses on the common ground around Harlow and I have been taking Alfie on my hikes and I always make a point of feeding them. Alfie has now got used to walking around the horses while I am feeding them and doesn’t really pay them any attention other than to smell their hooves.

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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



I won’t be sorry to see the back of 2020, I’m sure I’m not alone.

Things are returning back to normal(ish). I’m not entirely happy with this, I have enjoyed the peace and quiet, being able to hear the birds singing and empty streets. All the numpties seem to be out and about and I am waiting for the next wave.

I have booked a cottage in October for all the family for my birthday, I am just hoping we don’t end up in an April style lockdown and have to cancel. I will be 60 this year so it is a milestone for me, I never thought I’d last this long. We will be stopping near Whitby, the cottage is a five minute walk from the beach, which will be handy as we will have three dogs, I’m not so worried about my daughters French bulldog but my Lab and my father in law’s springer take a fair bit of wearing out.

Last week would have been my father’s 89th birthday, talking to my daughter we got on the subject of my Mother. My mother cut me off in 2008, I made contact with her in 2013 and although we had a long chat it was clear to me that she didn’t want to re-connect, so that was that, I returned the following week and put my Father’s PSV badge through the letterbox for my brother who had asked for it a while ago. Anyway we were pondering whether or not she was still alive, Toni believed she was dead due to a box of photo’s I received from my brother a couple of years ago. The photo’s arrived without a note. On the Monday I did a search through the GRO and low and behold it turns out my mother died in April 2018. It was a strange feeling, she could be a funny old bird, she could be the kindest most generous person there was, but she was very quick to be the complete opposite. She had a very hard upbringing growing up during the war, I remember she told me that she never wanted to go back home after being evacuated. Over the years there were many fallouts with her family and they all seemed to be broken into different factions and many of the issues were down to he said she said type scenarios. While talking to Toni I remembered situation back in 1978 when her mother died. Her and her sister didn’t tell the rest of the family what had happened, which of course caused an unrepairable rift. It was that bad that when I took Chris and Sheila to meet with their sister Claire in 2000 it ended up in a bitchfest about the funeral 22 years ago. They left not speaking to each, I don’t know if this was ever repaired.

They talk about history repeating itself, and this is a fine example, I’m not fussed, I mourned my loss when she cut me off, and moved on. The news was a bit like when you hear of an old friend you lost contact with had died, it stings a bit then you move on.

I don’t know where you ended up Chris, but I hope you find peace.

Christina Joan Still 11/8/1933 – 3/4/2018

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.


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


Never say Never



It has now been over three months since Wrights collapsed. I have been working for an engineering company who were kind enough to offer me a lifeline and give me a job. It was a mutual arrangement as I brought a couple of revenue streams along which weren’t there before, and also got the company in front of some people they wouldn’t have without me. However over the Christmas break I had to face the truth and admit that the boredom was driving me up the wall. I left the company in the new year and will be returning to Wrights/Bamford on the 13th Jan. My initial dealings with Wrights tell me that there has been a big change in the way the company now works, I am looking forward to getting started again.


This year was a completely different Christmas to last year. Lesley was off both days this year and we had family around and it was really good. I think I learned a lesson from last year. I even had a dry December right up until the 25th.

What I Learned Last Year

The biggest impact on me last year was obviously being made redundant, this has never happened to me before and it was devastating, at first. However some good came out of it. I managed to spend some time sorting out my finances and have cleared up all my outstanding debt, I have done this by paying things off not taking out loans, consolidation solves nothing, it just transfers the debt somewhere else.

Don’t let the weeds run away on the allotment: I let the allotment run away a bit last year and spent most of the summer trying to catch up. I did turn it around and covered the whole plot over for the winter so I am not expecting the same issue this year. With that said I did have a good harvest. I had the biggest butternut squashes I have ever grown. The tomatoes never turned out as well as normal. Another couple of weeks and the cycle begins again.

Make more of your free time: I never made as much of my free time as I should have, this was mostly due to the chaos going on at work, which to be honest exhausted me.


Last year I sold a lot of radio equipment as my radio activity (and interest) dwindled. I have now made the decision to pack away my radio equipment for the foreseeable future. I haven’t decided whether or not to sell my equipment. I will box it up and make a decision on store or sell in the next month or so.

That’ll do for now

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Come live with me

Allotment, Buses, Work


On the 25th September Wrightbus finally went into administration. As usual the media were well in front any info coming from the company. I found out the night before from one of my contacts inside the factory, that the company would be going into administration in the morning. I was told to gather my staff and expect a call in the morning to receive the news officially. Sadly my staff came to Orpington and we all hung around waiting for the call, we watched a covert feed from the factory as production staff were all told it was over. We waited till 14:00 and still hadn’t heard anything official so I sent the lads home and told them to not drive their vans tomorrow until we had heard something. We received the official notice at 16:50 after a hastily organised conference call, it was as if they had forgotten they had staff on the mainland.

I was devastated by the news, I had worked for Wrights for nine and a half years and had built the team myself, it was like a bereavement. After 42 years of continuous employment I was now looking at the prospect of signing on, I was advised to do this straight away by the administrator. I wasn’t really up to doing this and quickly found myself a new job. I am still connected with the bus industry.


The plot is now more or less finished for the year and I am in the process of covering it up. I left it too late to cover last year and really regretted it. The plot really ran away from me, in part, due to not covering it up. So I am not going to make the same mistake again. I am going to leave a little part of the plot open so that I can plant my garlic and some winter onions. I haven’t produced as much as I like to this year, but everything grown got eaten.

Mostly cleared but still a bit to do

Photo Archives

I was having a rummage around through my old photographs and came across this one. It was from one of two holidays I had with my parents and was taken in the south of France. We went away in an old 1961 Vauxhall Victor Estate, my dads sister and her family came with us in a different car. We went as far as Lourdes, my fathers family were big Catholics. The little girl next to me is my cousin Margret, I am still in touch with her today. I was about five years old when this was taken.

Paul and Margret C1965

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Under your thumb forever

Allotment, Buses, Uncategorized


We had a call on Friday updating us on the current situation, which hasn’t told us much more than we already know. We are expecting it to reach a conclusion in the next week or so. I’m not sure what Wrights will look like after this is over, I have my own views. I’ll share them when its all settled.


I have more or less got my plot cleared! It has been really hard work, a big lump of the plot has really gotten away from me this year. I think the effort needed to clear the plot has really taken my mind off of the shenanigans in Ballymena. I have some big plans next year and in the four years I have had the plot I don’t think I’ve ever got all of it back to dirt. Over the next few weeks I will be rotavating and covering most of the plot in order to get a good start next spring. Lesley has already started covering her plot as most of her veg is up and stored now. Lesley has had a good year, with a bumper crop of spuds, carrots and butternut squashes. I did really well with onions and shallots, and I have three strings of onions hanging in the shed, I reckon they will see us through to December/January. I had a ropey year for Apples, Tomatoes and Beetroots. I had plenty of gooseberries, redcurrants and plums. So I still have much to do but should be fully closed up by November, the only thing will grow over the winter will be garlic.

The plot looking less grassy

Ham Radio

Although I haven’t done much radio lately and have no intentions of attending the club, I did find out that that one of the guys I liked up there has died. Steve M6SBQ was a fair bit older than me but came from the same part of London as me. We instantly had a connection that many of the other members of the club didn’t get. Even though Harlow is only about 20 miles from where I grew up, if you weren’t from there you couldn’t understand. I don’t know where you ended up Steve, but all the best mate until we talk further down the log.

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Fate, up against your will


Wrights is still rumbling on and is a very sad place to work in London. There are still a few interested parties but no one is coming to the front. I understand the need to keep this under wraps until it is all signed and sealed, but the buyer/investor will probably influence my decision to stay or go. So for me, there is quite a bit riding on this and the uncertainty is driving me potty.


Quite a few birthday’s this month the most important (for me) is my Daughter’s 30th. She and her boyfriend have taken themselves off to Florence for the weekend, a bit of a nostalgic trip for her as she used to work there. My dear Father in-law is 80 next week so my Son and wife are travelling up on Monday to be with him. They have quite a week planned, I am disappointed that I can’t be there, because despite the popular jokes, I actually love my in-laws. My goddaughter/niece also turns 41 this week, time really does fly.


I have been working really hard this week on the plot. I have made quite a bit of progress on the top half of my plot which has got ahead of my this year. It is clearing quite well and I will be covering it again with builders membrane to keep the weeds down next year. The plan for the bottom half next year is to put a nature pond in and some wild flowers around it. We have quite a bit of wildlife around the allotment and it will be nice to give it a hand. My wife has a small pond on her plot and every year it is filled with frogspawn. I would like to see hedgehogs on the site but the rescue people won’t allow us any (rightly so) because of the use of slug pellets. The good thing is that the use of metaldehydes in slug pellets will be banned in 2020, which will mean that once the old supplies of pellets dry up we should be ok. I don’t use pellets and don’t really have any problems, the guy with the plot next to me must go through five tubs per season, ridiculous!


I haven’t been feeling myself lately, I have been having some really dark moods. This is unusual for me because I normally shake these things off quite easily, but I think with all that’s going on in work, it is starting to effect me. I don’t believe in depression, I have seen a family member manipulate other members of the family to get an easy ride so don’t believe one bit of it in most cases. My mother carried a baby full term and due to medical negligence, lost the baby during birth, she suffered badly and did have a hard time getting over it. I fully get depression in cases like this, but I have nothing to be depressed over, unlike many of the people (self) diagnosed with depression today. Unless you have had some traumatic experience (war, child loss, abuse etc) I just don’t get it.

Enough waffle for today

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