Sunday 28 February 2010

MWM hates me....................

because I did something he really wanted to do and probably won't get the chance to do ever again!

Let me set the scene.

Last Sunday there was a Steam Event on the East Lancs Railway so of course MWM wanted to go to take photographs of the two special steam engines that were visiting.  - Oliver Cromwell and Sir Lamiel which were both on loan from the National Railway Museum, together with two steam engines that are resident at The East Lancs Railway, Duke of Gloucester and Black Five 44871.

We boarded the train at our local station and were pulled by Oliver Cromwell and Duke of Gloucester to Bury Bolton Street Station.   Oliver Cromwell has been in storage in Bressingham, Norfolk, for the best part of forty years so it's appearance here 'oop north was something quite unique. The Duke of Gloucester is unique in that it was the only one of it's type built by British Railways in 1954.

Oliver Cromwell

Duke of Gloucester

When we arrived I stood about in the snowy, freezing temperatures, holding the camera bag whilst MWM took photographs - not exactly thrilling I know but I love him and would do anything for him.

MWM asked me to take his photo standing next to Oliver Cromwell, of course I obliged.

What he really wanted to do was sit in the cab and I told him "ask the driver" but he and a chap standing next to me agreed that "you can tell without asking whether they will let you in the cab".    "Rubbish" I said handing the camera over.     That was when I made MWM insanely jealous.    I CABBED OLIVER CROMWELL!

MWM and the chap standing with him on the platform stood gaping whilst the engine driver vacated his seat to let me sit in the cab.  Like I told them "If you don't ask, you don't get!" so I did it again and CABBED SIR LAMIEL!

Spurred on by my 'cheek' MWM cabbed Sir Lamiel too.

Sir Lamiel would have spent all it's working life in the south of England and would never have come north of London.   There were 49 of this type of engine built from 1925.    MWM also asked if he could get into the cab of Oliver Cromwell but they were busy stoking the boiler, so it wasn't a good time.  

Here's The Black Five which is owned by Ian Riley and has just been restored.   It has the distinction of being the last steam engine to pull a train on the last day of steam in 1968 before British Railways banned steam on the network. MWM tells me it was known as the 15 Guinea Special because that's how much the tickets were.  842 Black Fives were built from 1934 onwards and all but 18 have been scrapped. Oliver Cromwell was one of the other steam engines to pull the 15 Guinea Special, there were 55 of this type of engine built from 1951.

Two of the original coaches from the 15 Guinea Special reside at Bury Bolton Street, Station and are used regularly on the East Lancs Railway.   Just recently the original Coat of Arms for the East Lancs Railway, which has been missing for many years, was discovered and restored.  Once again it now takes pride of place in the ticket hall of the station.

It was time for the engines to carry on their round trip, we had about an hour before they came back to the station so we went in the station buffet/bar and had some lunch, then when Sir Lamiel returned we rode it back to our local station.

So there you have it.   That's the reason MWM hates me. LOL

For any Steam Train fans here's a little slide show of some of the hundreds many photos he took.

Friday 26 February 2010

Friday 55 Flash Fiction # 108 After Dinner.....

After dinner, back at his apartment,

her hand caressed it's hardness.

It was smooth, cool to touch, it felt shiny.

She would show him what she could do.

Manipulating it into the right position, her hand closed round it.

Her grip was firm as she gently pulled

the gun from her bag and shot him.


Friday 55 Flash Fiction is brought to you by G-man (Mr Knowitall). The idea is you write a story in exactly 55 words. If you want to take part pop over and let G-man know when you've posted your 55.

Wednesday 24 February 2010

Cruise - Barbados #8

Arriving in Bridgetown, Barbados, we found The Arcadia already docked and once again the sun was shining so all was well with my world!

After breakfast we decided a trip round the island was a great idea and proceeded to the quayside where we picked a tour bus up with no problem at at.

One of the first places of interest we saw was Kensington Oval, Barbados' Cricket Ground which recently underwent massive expansion and renovations for the World Cup. The venue was officially reopened on February 17th 2007.


Kensington Oval

As you enter Kensington Oval, you will see a statue of Sir Garfield Sobers, one of the finest cricketers of all time. Sir Gary, as he is called locally, is recognized as one of the National Heroes of Barbados.

Our tour bus took us to Sandy Lane where all the really posh residences are in Barbados.  The houses are amazing and I got a quick shot of one to show you.

Our next stop was St. James Parish Church, the oldest Anglican church on the island.  The original wooden structure was built in 1628 near the landing site of the first English settlers to Barbados, who arrived on February 17, 1627. After a hurricane on August 31, 1675 which devastated most of the island, a stone structure replaced the former wooden building in the early 1690's.  I've put a link in the Church name so you can read more about it.

Our next stop was Sugar Hill, a gated community with a security controlled entrance and 24 hour security, this where the rich and famous stay when they visit Barbados, Sir Cliff Richard has a house there. 

The Royal Westmorland Beach Club, Sugar Hill, Barbados.

When you compare these properties with the Chattel Houses that people still live in you see the prosperity and poverty that exists in Barbados.

Chattel Houses were originally the design of the plantation workers home. They were modest wooden buildings set on blocks so that they could be easily moved from one leaseholding to another. In early settlement days, home owners were not necessarily landowners, but part of a tenantry system of the plantations.

The oldest inhabited Chattel House in Barbados.

We continued on our journey round the island passing through Apes Hill, which is where most of the island's repatriated people live, to Mount Hillaby situated in St.Andrew, this is the highest point of the island - at 1,115 ft. or 343 metres above sea level.    As you can imagine the views from here are amazing!

Our last stop on the trip was the Mount Gay Rum Distillery where Rum has been produced since 1703.   We had a tour of the distillery before sampling the oldest Rum on the island.   Mount Gay have their own website, do take a look here it's very impressive and informative and very colourful!   We walked back to the ship where we had a late lunch and relaxed for the rest of the afternoon.

After dinner that evening we were entertained in the Marquee by 'The Barbados Caribbean Orchestra' before retiring to bed.     The next morning we had a treat booked and Michelle, who looked after our cabin delivered it at 8.30 prompt.

A luxury Continental breakfast with champagne and chocolate dipped strawberries, which we ate at leisure as today was sea day and there was nothing to do but to relax and that's exactly what we did.    We spent the day sunbathing on deck, reading and eating delicious ice-cream before retiring to our cabin for a nap before we showered and changed for dinner at The Bistro again that evening.

Here's what we enjoyed from the Bistro menu that evening.

Me:Tempura of vegetables with homemade aioli and romesco dipping sauces/Roast Breast of Corn-fed chicken with creamed leeks and pancetta/Iced Caramel Parfai with peppermint crisp.

MWM: Sliced Parma ham, pecorino cheese and Savpu cabbage salad with truffle oil/Pan-fried Barramundi in a coriander and mint crust with tomato and coconut salad/Vanilla cheesecake with warm balsamic strawberries.


After a day and night at sea our next stop was Tobago, I hope you'll join me.

Monday 22 February 2010

Cruise - Dominica # 7....

We arrived at Roseau, Dominica, to bright sunshine and another band to welcome us.

To get ashore at Dominica we had to use a tender (small boat), for which the ship used four of the lifeboats, ferrying people backwards and forwards all day long - a brilliant service, very quick, very well organised, no hanging around.  Not having a trip booked for Dominca we set off exploring on foot.  

Off exploring!

Roseau, the capital of Dominica, is packed with an interesting mix of old Georgian buildings and colourful wooden houses. 

We even saw a restaurant named after me!  

Eventually we came to the Botanical Gardens and decided to explore them too.  They were beautiful and we got some really good photographs from which I've made a little slide show for you.

We walked up the very steep and exhausting 35 steps to Jack's Walk and took a photo from the top, then continued round the gardens.  

We left the Gardens and made our way back through the streets, we were quite thirsty so we stopped at 'The Old Ruins Bar' (which was literally a bar in a ruined buildings), for a soft drink and a rest before completing our walk back to the boat.

By the time we got back to the boat it was gone lunchtime so we had some food.  We then retired to our balcony to do some sunbathing, as it was in full sun we thought we may as well take advantage of it.  Of course we had a little nap - after all we had walked a long way!  We did rouse ourselves to go to Connexions for the quiz at 5 p.m., where we scored a commendable 160/200, bearing in mind there was only two of us and the other teams consisted of four upwards!

The show in the Marquee that evening was a jam packed variety show featuring all the artists that had been showcased that week, which was a great ending to the day.

Next time we are in Barbados, where some people left the cruise and some joined it.  We had another week to do so we were pleased!   Join me next time for a tour of Barbados.

Friday 19 February 2010

Friday 55 Flash Fiction # 107 Groaner and Tribute...

A play on words, cleverly executed each week.

A complicated, interesting story,

kept the readers guessing.

They wondered what would happen,

Unable to second guess,

until the very last line,

when their response was usually

“Oh no, another groaner!” being the collective reply.

But comments confirmed the readers absolutely loved

Dr. John’s Flash Fiction 55’s.

This is a tribute to Dr John (Dr. John's Fortress & Dragon's Lair) and his wonderful Flash 55s.   Dr. John passed away on Monday February 15th 2010 and I for one will miss him so much.  I was so honoured when he said I had inspired him to start writing 55s.   He was a wonderful writer but don't take my word for it, if you haven't already, go and check out his blogs.   My thoughts are with his wife Betty and the family.  

Goodbye Dr. John you'll be missed more than you know. xxxx

If you were a reader of Dr. John's work and would like to sign a memorial guest book for him please go here where Thom (Thom's Place 4 Well Whatever) has one set up.

Friday 55 Flash Fiction is brought to you by G-man (Mr Knowitall). The idea is you write a story in exactly 55 words. If you want to take part pop over and let G-man know when you've posted your 55.

Wednesday 17 February 2010

Cruise - Antigua #6

Look what greeted us on the dockside when we arrived in Antigua, the 'island with a beach in the middle'!   What's more it was SUNNY!!!!!

We berthed in St. John's Harbour and after breakfast we disembarked and went to the taxi dispatch centre on the quay, where we joined one of the many tour buses for a trip round the island.

Our bus headed to Antigua's National Park and Shirley Heights.   This military complex, within a short distance of the Dockyard, is not named after the fairer sex, but after Sir Thomas Shirley, Governor of the Leeward Islands, who strengthened Antigua's defences in 1781.  Britain had lost all her West Indian colonies (including North America) at the time, except for Antigua and Barbados.  Much effort, therefore, was put into Antigua's defences, mainly because of the island's great sugar producing value and the important Dockyard.  Shirley Heights may be divided into three sections:

1. The Ridge and Artillery Quarters, which we saw but did not stop.

2. Blockhouse, our first stop.  This is the easternmost part of the military complex of Nelson's Dockyard, with the most magnificent views looking over the south-east coast, which you can see in the slide show below.  It was designed as a place of last refuge, which is the meaning of the word.  A moat opposing the vertical cliffs was originally planned but was never started.  The Officer's Quarters is in ruin as are the out buildings, servants quarters, married quarters and stables.

3. The Lookout with views of English and Falmouth Harbours - this was our second stop.

Here's a little slide show of the views from Blockhouse.

Our guide pointed out two houses on the headland - Eric Clapton's and Whitney Houston's!

You will notice how Eric's house blends into it's surroundings, that's because he had it built that way.  The guide also told us that Eric has built two drug rehabilitation centres on the island, for which celebrities pay a small fortune to use whereas the facility is free for native Antiguans - how comendable is that?

Our next stop was The Lookout from where we had excellent views of Nelson's Dockyard.

Nelson's Dockyard is the only remaining naval dockyard in the world designed to maintain wooden sailing warships of olden times.   It was started as early as 1725, though it had been used as shelter from the mid 17th century.  The first recorded ship at English Harbour, anchored to survive a hurricane, was a yacht.  It was a naval ship chartered to the King for the use of his Governor of the Leeward Islands.

Nelson - the famous British hero of Trafalgar (1805), was here as Senior Captain (27 years old) in 1784.  As a zealous Naval Officer, he enforced the Navigation Act, which stated only British ships could trade with British Islands.  America had become independent, so Nelson severely upset the Antiguan merchants by suppressing their long standing trade with the former British American colonies.  At one time, if he had left his ship ('Boreas'), he would have been arrested because the merchants were attempting to sue him.  The Dockyard's main function was to maintain ships, thus saving the long voyage to America for docking.   The yard was abandoned in 1889, then in 1930 restoration was half-heartedly started and it 1951 it went full ahead.  The National Parks Authority took over from the Friends of English Harbour in 1984.   It is a beautiful place with lots to see and plenty of private yachts moored there.   I've put together a little slide show for you below.

We followed the coast road back to the boat and, although we didn't have time to stop at any, we saw some of the most beautiful beaches imaginable.   On the way back our guide pointed out Antigua's highest point - Boggy Peak, which had been renamed Mount Obama  for President Obama's birthday on 4th August 2009 - a much nicer name than Boggy Peak don't you think?

We'd had a wonderful day, especially as it was sunny, and had time to sunbathe on the balcony and a little snooze before getting ready for dinner.    We didn't watch the show that evening but we did go to Connexions to watch the comedian Rudi Lickwood twice that evening he was just so funny.  If you click on his name it will take you to Youtube where you can watch some clips.  It was a bit annoying because in the ship's newspaper his act was billed as being aimed at an adult audience, but that didn't stop some irresponsible parents bringing their young children to watch, which meant he really had to tone it down.

Join me for our next stop - Dominica.