Monday, 30 December 2019

Happy New Year 2019 / 20


Well hello from my local village green in between Christmas and New Year. I'm still active on here although only just and wondering how many other people are still in the blogosphere. I thought I'd try and squeeze one post in for 2019 and a give a very brief resume of the year !!

It's been a hectic one with lots of things that seem to take up more of my time. In the meantime, you can probably notice from the sidebar widget at the top that  I've been using Instagram to keep my photo interest going.

For most of the year I have been annoyingly trying to sort out my on line photo storage as I lost some albums accidentally from Google whilst trying to systematically watermark everything from the beginning of this blog experience.  Despite playing around with Flickr and pasting the images onto these pages, they changed their pricing rules and rather than pay for two systems, I simplified my storage. It's probably taken about six months on and off to do that, so I am serious about continuing.


The big news of the year was I gave up working for the NHS at the end of November after 38 years due to an imminent transfer into a pension scheme that wasn't as good for me. I was hoping to leave in the next year or two but the pension pot would only be better after about five years or so. Someone took this photo of me with laser glasses on and I had no idea that it was going to be used for the cover of a memory book that was given to me during my last week of work.
I have lots of things to get my teeth into including preparing a relatives house for rent and subsequent management to pay for her care home fees.
I also intend to have an activity day doing either walking, cycling or golf once the house is out to rent. It may be at that point, I'll do some more posting on here.


The Mighty Oaks Gateshead Charity coffee van that I told you about last year now takes on average about 1 day a week although not all in the same day. We have had some sadness by losing a volunteer to serious illness but gained another along the way. The above photo was taken prior to one of our most busiest events of the year in the middle of Gateshead Town Centre.


The annual trip to see relatives in Kent during May was a scorcher with some of the best weather of the Year. On arriving at Folkstone for the day, this was the view on closing the car door at the seafront.


On a different day, the colourful beach huts on the North Kent coast near Whitstable.


A large family holiday was arranged on the border of South Cumbria / North Lancashire and this was Eric Morecambe "bringing me sunshine" at his adopted namesake town.


There were several trips up to the Lake District and a first visit for me to Wray Castle on the shores of North West Windermere. A National Trust property with a varied background still in the process of evolving with its use.


We always look forward to our September break and this year we decided to do some boat trips with Molly around the coast of Kintyre in South West Scotland. The impressive ferry MV Finlaggan took us to The Isle of Islay.


On another occasion there was an opportunity to sail on the oldest Calmac ferry across Loch Fyne and then a drive all the way around the Loch.


As the weather was disappointing on the day of the previous photo, we returned to Tarbert in better weather later in the week. This building used to be a weigh house and has now been converted into a shop.


As is customary now with this annual post, I thought I would share my rail extravaganza trips this year behind class 37 diesels. There were only three I could do this year, the first being a poor weather day from Carlisle to Gourock (at Gourock on the River Clyde),


The second trip during May was a nostalgic trip from Newcastle to Oban. This particular locomotive seen here running around at Oban last worked regular passenger services from here between 1985 and 1989.


 Lastly, a trip from Crewe to Portsmouth outward via Northampton and the outskirts of West London, returning via Guidford and Oxford. The Charter company raised over £10,000 for the work of the RNLI on a series of trips that weekend. This scene is a very early morning start from Crewe.


Here's a few more local photos with a colour splash / pop theme, one for Armistace day....


 .... and the other on a routine dog walk. Molly doesn't have the patience to wait for the photographer in me !!! Strangely enough the owner of this former school house painted the door red the following week in preparation for putting up their Christmas Wreath.

 Lastly I wish you a Happy New Year with a scene from Loch Venachar in the Trossachs taken back in late March. I hope there are some good things in store for you all in 2020.


Thursday, 20 December 2018

2018 ...and Happy Christmas !


Well Hello. It's been a year since I posted on here and what a busy year it's been. I"m still trying to keep this page active although there have been some difficulties in doing it. On a side note, the e-mail address I originally signed up with on here is no longer valid due to other problem issues so I'm using recovery addresses. It's difficult to know which system I'm on for comments and old images. I'll get around to commenting in the next week or so and it'll be interesting to see who's still blogging. I've essentially had a year out on Instagram.

The most relaxing part of the year was a week away to  a cottage on the shores of Loch Long in Scotland during September.


One of the things I mentioned in the last blog post was the distractions of real life and the inability to purchase a new computer to replace the old one. The white one on the right lasted a bit longer than the staff at the apple shop thought it would. Although it was purchased in early 2010 and had several upgrades including a non standard device with holding 650GB, one of the staff commented at a maintenance session that it was "vintage" !!!  As you can see it is not working with the current operating system and is now two systems behind, consequently it is very slow and crashed my 2016 images file which I had to unfortunately reload unedited. It was recommended because of it's age and obsolete battery that I didn't upgrade it as they couldn't guarantee it would work in the way I wished it to. It now has to work only with the mains lead and the battery level in more recent weeks reads consistently 0%.
Last year I sought advice on which one I should purchase to replace it but only got around to doing that in August this year. Back ups had to be transferred manually as my external drive had too much content on it. Thankfully I stored photos and important files on another external drive in a way I could find them from folders. After transferring my documents, folders and 82GB of iTunes, I had an e-mail to say that there was a re-call on all laptops of that model built between June 2017 and June 2018.  Some had a problem linking the hardware and software and it turned out at the subsequent service in November that mine was one of them. I was asked to back up all the data on it prior to this visit and when I got home I had to start again as it was like a brand new laptop with everything wiped from it.
I decided a few years ago to give a Flickr a try as the website delivered good quality images and 1 TB away free for storage. It seems according to a recent e-mail, they've changed their mind and want all those people like me to subscribe. Not sure what to do about that yet as Ive converted 75% of my blog images onto Flickr which would mean them dropping off the old blog posts. Is nothing ever simple with computers ?? !! Not sure where to go with this yet.


After the installation of the new kitchen in November last year, the other end of the kitchen diner was extended in the early part of this year. this is the completed unpainted version showing the length from the ceiling join. I have just finished the room today in time for the family coming for Christmas.


For some time I have been involved with an organisation loosely linked to as group of churches called Mighty Oaks giving out free quality hot drinks to those worse for wear or otherwise late on a Friday night (A kind of street pastors role but more about the coffee and if anyone wants to chat about anything at all). It is a commitment that can be time consuming, cold but very rewarding.  We have been borrowing a trailer cart from Morpeth for two years who do their work on a Saturday night. Unfortunately the cart that had to be towed was not as young and reliable as it used to be so we spent a lot of time sourcing a vehicle for our own purposes.


Our discussions with the local coffee van conversion (Coffee Latino) firm took my wife and myself to a 2nd hand garage near Saltaire to test drive a van at the end of April.


The DFSK pick-up seemed suitable and potentially affordable but there were lots of administration issues to sort out such as fund raising, Van Insurance, Public liability insurance, where the van was going to be stored and the current ongoing Charity status application. This last point seems to be taking forever after the first application submitted wasn't good enough and they wanted a safeguarding policy, DBS checks etc etc.


In the meantime we carry on in a part of Gateshead where we make all kinds of quality coffee, hot chocolate, tea and have supplies on board of bottled water, flip flops for post party goers, dog biscuits and umbrellas.
My wife sorts out the rota out and we seem to do 1 in 2 or 1 in 3 Friday nights.
In addition to the holiday mentioned in the first image, we took a much needed short notice week away to the village of Ashford Bowdler on the outskirts of Ludlow in July, it was an opportunity to explore Shropshire, North Herefordshire and the Welsh Border. This was all new territory for me. The collage of images above is Ashford Bowdler and the pictures were taken on my daily morning dog walks.


We visited relatives in Kent during May and saw new places such as Ramsgate.


 We always try to fit in a short break or two to Keswick or the Lake District. This was the view from near the hotel looking north over Derwentwater.


Molly usually comes with us and as you can see is now becoming a well travelled dog ... Speaking of trains ... apologies for four 2018 images here but just in case I use Flickr for the class 37 fans ....












I did four extensive class 37 diesel rail tours this year, Crewe to Carlisle, Crewe to Bognor, a Routes and Branches tour of Central Scotland and a Shrewsbury to Penzance trip. The four locations depicted are Hellifield, Guildford, Helensburgh Central and Plymouth.


We had new births this year out in the back field behind the garden fence and also a new arrival in the family that has enjoyably taken a bit of time up.


This year I decided to print some Christmas cards using one of last years photos. Optimal Print did a great job and printed 60 of these, that leaves me to say Happy Christmas to you all and I'll see if I can do better next year ....


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