Yet more engines. My friend also has this one. When I was a boy I liked sitting on the ‘carriages’ of trains like this. Last weekend I got quite a kick out of driving one – this one, Waldenburg (the original is here). It can be seen at the Stafford Showground and it is steam, of course. Real steam, with the sounds and the smells.
Not me in the photo. I didn’t have a hat, remember?
Must get back to my writing… too many engines lately. Or perhaps not. We all need a break.
*if you really, really don’t know, click here
Was Toy Story 3 released last week? I saw these characters as I walked past the Bartlett stand at the Royal Highland Show on Saturday. Despite ‘Woody’ being about eight feet tall, the kids visiting the stand didn’t seem to be as scared as I was.
The three year old has a new den in his garden, build by his dad and equipped by his mum – I am told she has a piece of carpet that will do for the floor. The den is a work of art. It even has roofing felt. There are shelves and things, and steps so he can reach them. A door will be fitted soon… though according to the three year old, there is one thing missing. ‘I need to chose some wallpaper,’ he said.
See my earlier post here. This little beauty looks a lot better than the pedal car version. Not much use on motorways, but if you are speeding up the side of Snowdon or Ben Nevis then you had better watch out. Click on pic for bigger.
I am always gobsmacked by the agricultural vehicles at the Royal Highland Show in Edinburgh. Today I photographed a couple of stunners (you probably won’t think so, but I did say I was into engines). The first is this:
Are there really fields in the UK big enough for these? I suppose there must be, because here is the second monster of the day:
Note the size of the child.
What would The Wurzels have made of this, I wonder? Would they really have handed over the key to this one?
The vid that made strong men cry.
Never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly…
I have been away. My friend owns a railway locomotive (yes, owns). It is more Titfield Thunderbolt* than Hogwarts Express. It isn’t that big, but if you own a steam loco then you don’t really want it big, do you? You need something manageable. Something maneuverable. Something that doesn’t consume coal by the cartload. ‘Jennie’ uses so little coal that you can hand-pick each piece from the stack. My arms still ache from polishing the paintwork. Video of Jennie here
Over the weekend I learned more about steam engines than I ever did as a boy. I now know how a regulator works and what to if your clack valve gets stuck. Also it’s just as well I don’t mind getting my hands dirty – though dirty is hardly the word for it (I’m well-used to dirty and oily, I’m rebuilding an old motorbike). Nor was it just my hands. I had been wondering why everyone at Amerton wore flat caps like Fred Dibnah. When I showered afterwards and smelt the smuts and black muck as it washed out of my hair, I knew.
*for those that don’t know, click here
The piece of cardboard that adheres to the base of a Costa Chocolate Brownie and might remain there unnoticed after unwrapping the brownie is definitely not edible.
My fault for reading a book while I was eating.
There is a wartime Willys Jeep at the Museum of Flight at East Fortune, tucked away behind a Spitfire fighter and some other, more recent and more scary-looking, warplanes. I told the 10-year-old that I used to have one (the jeep, not the Spitfire). I was expecting a turned-up nose, but instead I got ‘What? Really? One of those? Wow! Coooool!‘ ‘It wasn’t brown like that one,’ I said. ‘It was green, the colour of olives’. ‘Cool, really cool! Where is it? What did you do with it…?‘
I sold it, years ago, as you do with things that years later you wish you had kept. Shame in a way, both for me and for her. Not sure I would want to run it now though. On a good day I managed twenty miles to the gallon, despite having rebuilt the engine. On a bad day, in the lowest of low gears and driving cross-country, it did between five and ten. So… not the greenest of vehicles, despite its colour. I have found an old photo of it. The picture really is black and white (there is nothing wrong with your monitor).
If you want to know how these things got the name ‘Jeep’, they were designed for the US military as a ‘General Purpose Wagon’. My parts manual had MB/GPW on the cover. I’ve no idea what the MB stood for. But the GP bit stuck… jeep. Not a lot of people know that.
I have a new bicycle!
By new, I mean new to me. And by bicycle I mean push-bike, not motorbike. My new bike is about five years old but it is much, much better than the one I had before. My new one used to be my son’s. We agreed on a mutual trade-in. Well, kind-of… his birthday was coming up, and you know how it is. Anyway, I needed a new bike. A better bike. A different bike. The one I have now is a Dawes. The one I used to have (and still have, but more of that later) is an unbranded mountain bike, purchased from Halfords in Bracknell years ago when I lived ‘down south’. It is called a mountain bike because it weighs as much as a small mountain (or even a large one*) because unlike modern bikes it is made from thick steel. When I got it home after buying it I discovered that the tyres had been slashed. An over-enthusiastic Halfords employee had removed the cardboard wrapping from the bikes using a very sharp Stanley knife. No doubt the manager took him aside and had words with him.
I will take this ancient, heavy slab of steel to the Bike Station in Edinburgh. I have been there before. Beneath Waverley Station is a subterranian bicycle workshop where elves wielding spanners (metric) receive donated bikes and restore them. Once-upon-a-time, unwanted bikes were dumped in ditches. Now they are recycled. Bloody brilliant!
*Though not as heavy as Schiehallion, my favourite mountain. For me it is the most stunningly beautiful mountain in the British Isles. I have even been up it (I don’t mean that I climbed it, because I was a caver, not a climber. You don’t ‘climb’ Schiehallion, you take an ‘interesting’ path to the top). Schiehallion has a unique history. Nevil Maskelyne, used the mountain to attempt to find the weight of the Earth.