First, I apologise for it being 8 months since the last witterings on my blog. I guess I need to get my act together and move the blog more into my eye line so I actually think about it occasionally.
Actually the last post was about my experiences with the National Health Service and the comedy of errors that was my stay in hospital. The aftermath of that stay actually went on through until Christmas which created a massive back log in the workings of EDM Models which I am still working to clear now. Luckily my health is pretty much improved and were back to normal.
In a previous post called, “getting a life” I rued the way the job had taken over full time and we never went out anywhere. Still guilty of that to some extent but last weekend we had a cracking day out to the seaside.
We were very fortunate to be offered a family and friends ticket from Northern Rail which allows one days unlimited travel for two on Northern Rail (only) trains for six quid each.
Our day started in York on the 07:19 to Leeds, this was a Blackpool train and was a 158. A pit stop and a coffee in Leeds and the next train was the 08:19 to Morecambe. Checking the timings on-line revealed it was timed for a 142 Pacer so finding it to be a 150 was considered an upgrade. Searching for a bin to dump the coffee cups the guard made us smile with the comment that when the trains was built in 1985 the bins were bigger than the coffee cups.
Arrival in Morecambe was at 10:30 and we set off for a mooch round the town and the shops. Shops- Yuk, Browsing pointlessly – Yuk! I did the bloke thing, got a book, found a coffee shop and announced “I’ll be here when you’re done”.
With the pointless browsing out of the way we went for a walk along the sea front towards our goal, The Midland Hotel, originally built by the Midland Railway just over the road from the railway station in the Art Deco style. It fell into disrepair and was close to derelict but its been beautifully restored and is now a superb four star hotel.
Annie’s family used to holiday in Morecambe when she was a kid but The Midland was out of their price range and then by the time they could afford it the hotel was closed and decaying so when its restoration started Annie and her mum watched it with interest and then booked themselves in for three days in the opening week. They visited again five years ago as one of the last trips they made before Mum passed away. By this weekend, being the only one where we were both free, just happened to be one day short of the fifth anniversary of her passing which caused a pause for thought more than once.
Enough of that, We were there for lunch this time and dined in the The Sun Terrace Restaurant with this view out to sea. Lunch was excellent
- Starter – Annie, Morecambe Bay Potted Shrimp, Me , Pressings of Pork
- Main Course – We both had the roast chicken
- To finish – (can’t call it pud-too posh) sticky toffee pudding
I could get used to this quiet easily as long as you don’t show me the bill
Back to railways for a bit now and a pet hate. Stations that are no longer stations! Usually its stations that the railway has decided are no longer fit for purpose, to0 big, wasted space, of no use and all the other excuses they come up with to justify doing away with them. Whereupon someone else comes along and makes a liar out of them by renovating the buildings, finding a use for the space and making it pay.
I mean this building is clearly a railway station and now its beautifully done up the only thing it lacks is trains. You can see from the map below where the line used to run.
What was the platform space is now a tatty market, Kentucky Fried Cat and a car park and part of the route is new roads south of which are naff amusements and a supermarket.
I suppose the argument was that the new station was easier to maintain, nearer the population centre, sized more in keeping with the train service now there aren’t the holiday trains all of which hides behind the fact that the land was probably flogged off at a profit.
The new station is at least one up from the abandoned platform with a bus shelter (although it does have one) with a modern station building at the end of a single platform giving two platform faces.
One is a dead end and seems to be used by the class 153 single unit that shuttles back and forth to Lancaster (this based on about 20 minutes of observation) whilst the longer platform has a run round loop so it could accommodate loco hauled passenger trains but is more likely there so that the loco nuclear waste traffic to/from Heysham can run round its train.
The 20 minutes observation mentioned above was the time we waited for our train home. Our luck didn’t hold although there
Class 142’s were instrumental in my taking voluntary redundancy from BREL when it was offered way back in 1988. Having just spent nearly two years working on a technically advanced prototype train for London Underground the next job was building seven of these contraptions a week and they were clearly built down to a price. I was doing the wiring on the underframes and every aspect of it was cheap and nasty. I thought, `if this is the future I want out’.
My feelings were confirmed by the journey home. It started out not too bad and on a journey of half an hour it would have been fine but this unit was on a 75 mile meander through the wilds of Lancashire and Yorkshire lasting 2 hours 20 minutes and after about an hour you start to realise how uncomfortable the seats are, by about two hours standing up is starting to appeal and by the time it arrives in Leeds you want to stand up but everything has gone numb and you can’t stand up.
This day then took a very nice twist and a lovely ending to the day. With our Northern only tickets we should have been waiting from 18:36 to 19:20 at Leeds for the next Northern service to York (just 1 an hour) which takes 40 minutes as it stops at all the intermediate stations. Now normally the thrift of our cheap tickets would have seen us refusing to pay for something we could have for free but more than two hours on a Pacer saw us both lose reason. As our Pacer stopped in Platform 9 at 18:36 Platform 10 had the 18:38 to Newcastle Cross Country service waiting to depart. The train manager was standing in the rear door just by where we got off the Pacer. As one we asked, “how much is a single to York?” he looked at us a bit odd until we pointed and said, “we’ve just had 2 1/2 hours in that!” pointing at the Pacer. He took pity on us and ushered us in to first class for a 20 minute sprint to York with coffee a biscuit and free WiFi. We were back in York 20 minutes before the train we should have got was due in Leeds.
Final sport of the day was commiserating with the TM as his train filled up with very inebriated Geordies making their way home from York Races and watching the girls in silly shoes and dresses trying to run for the train.
I started this by saying, “Nothing for ages and then loads come along all at once”. This is instalment one, there is already a second being doodled and ideas for another forming. The next two are likely to be more model railway related.