Elsewhere - www.andrewbriddonlocos.co.uk - you can see the "official" face of the locomotive collection my son has built up. Here on "Weekend Rails" you can read a blow-by-blow account of our work in restoring and improving them.
I suppose this must go down as one of the most unusual Christmases I can recall. Steph having gone up to our daughter's the previous Friday, had then transferred to her sister's in Barnard Castle and I was supposed to join them on Christmas Eve, but in the event wasn't feeling well so left departing Briddon Towers until first thing Christmas morning. The roads were quite quiet, indeed, in the 130 miles I counted 13 goods vehicles actually on the road (including two AA recovery trucks and 3 milk tankers) and reached Barnard Castle at 10.30. Knowing that my brother in law is a keen walker, I had brought my work boots which served me well as by early afternoon we were out tramping, crossing the Tees and gaining the trackbed of the former Stainmore line at its junction with the branch to Middleton-on-Tees, and following the main line for half a mile or so before turning back.
There are times when the wide range of people now reading this blog comes home to me. Like when one day this week, Andrew popped down to Darley to recover something from the container, and as he left and was locking the gate, was engaged in conversation by a man walking his dog. After revealing that he (the dog-walker) is a lapsed Peak Rail member and asking after the site clearance taking place (sidings, it seems he helped lay) he suddenly declared “oh, you must be Andrew Briddon” - and that he regularly reads this blog.
Having had not one but two minor migraine's this week, it would appear that I am feeling a little stressed. I have had 3 on-site meetings, two with potential contractors and one with the CDM co-ordinator (and if you don't read this blog every week, I suggest you drop back and read last week's or you won't be able to keep up).
The phone line between the Briddon Country Pile and the Structural Engineers got warm at the beginning of the week. Far from picking up an old drawing, as I had thought, the burying of the foundation pads below ground level in fact had a very important and insurmountable reason - the damp-proof membrane.
Some twenty or so years ago, when we lived back in Sheffield, I was sufficiently interested in a meeting of the Matlock Railway Club to drive the 25 miles over one evening when they met at a pub somewhere (as I recall) up near the council offices. What the meeting was about, other than I think it was a slide show, I do not now remember, but it was clearly not of sufficient interest for me to repeat the exercise.
I see from the site stats that as usual a number of people logged on last night and earlier today. Sorry, but I did say last week that this edition would be late, but failed to explain why as even my wife has been known to read this blog and as it was all to do with a surprise for her birthday last week I could hardly say more.
Christmas is on the horizon. One of the satellite TV channels we get has been showing “Christmas movies” for weeks and now even the usual commercial channels are beginning to show adverts to convince us of all the things we simply must buy if our Christmas is going to be fulfilling. Quite why a 47” TV is absolutely essential for this Christmas when we have had perfectly acceptable Christmas's before without one, I know not. Is it my imagination or did the “Christmas season” not begin until December 1st when I was a lad? No, OK, so you weren't born then, don't rub it in.
The Briddon Country Pile is far too posh to have a house number. Our house has a name, and is said to be on a road, but if you arrive by Satnav, it takes you up the road and you have already passed the side turn where we are before the voice announces you have reached, etc. This week the new fan for Libby was delivered – by a neighbour. It seems that Tuffnells, having taken the consignment correctly addressed to the house name, decided to allocate it a house number on their consignment notes, and better still, a number that is at the other end of the road. The (not-so-near) neighbour accepted delivery, but then asked the postman where this house was – Bill, our postie, directed him to us!
First thing Monday morning Andrew and I zipped down to Darley, arriving on the dot of 07.30 and finding a tractor, trailer and a small 360 degree Kubota excavator sat outside, and Paul on the phone wondering where we were. We got him in on Darley yard and set up, then left him to it.
27th October 2013
Right then, I've battened the hatches over the windows, guy-roped the tv aerial and covered the cars in bubble-wrap secured with 15 metres of gaffer tape. Do you think I'm ready for this hurricane?
Well now, this weeks instalment may be a disappointment. It has been a quiet time. Amongst other things, I've been down to the Eurostar depot at Temple Mills. (That's Temple Mills on the East side of Borisville: I gather there was some sort of sporting event held near there last year.) I've been in to lots of rail depots over the years, but never before have I had to empty my pockets, and pass through a metal detector whilst my personal particulars are X-ray'd, not to mention a nice (but not English) lady searching my car. Of course, were I to work at a Heathrow I daresay all this would be commonplace and not raise an eyebrow, but it just seemed so unnecessary just to get into a rail depot.
6th October 2013
As I was saying, Andrew had the day off on Monday and so we were to spend it at Rowsley. In a surprisingly generous mood, he invited me to nominate what I would like to do (aside from heading back home, sleeping, resting, etc) and on reflection I decided I would like to start on “Ashdown”'s new windows.