Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Hunslet Week Day 5: One More Day...

Hi everyone. Well, here it is - the final day of our early summer excursion to Bala Lake. Three days after our arrival and countless cups of tea on top, we awoke this morning to prep the loco for our third day on the footplate. The usual morning antics took place as we prepped the loco in the sun. Though the weather was unsettled again, that little bit of warm sun made all the difference whilst on shed.
Cleaning The Rods
Being a Wednesday morning and relatively fine weather, the infamous Wednesday gang were arriving one after the other. With the gang assembled and a plan set to work on the track for the day, the trusty P-Way truck was pressed into action. This truck was built by Bruce (the P-Way man) with help from Rob and a few others, on site at Bala Lake. Resembling a Wickham trolley, this petrol-engined 4-wheeler has been worth its weight in gold since its been finished and does exactly what Bruce wants it to. It can seat 4 workers and can be removed from the track by human hand alone. It has working horns, a headlamp and of course the essential brakes, not to mention a hob with gas for the kettle! With its trusty tow-hook it can pull a trolley loaded with tools quite happily down the line and back again. I must admit, it does look pretty cool. With everything loaded, 4 of the gang set off on it at 10:30am, with the remainder of the crew heading by road to the work site. This was the first time I'd met Bruce in particular: another nice guy.
Back with me and Ed, we'd prepared "Maid Marian" and soon left for the far headshunt for the usual watering and coaling. With the bank holiday now over, the fighter jets were out for their flying sessions again. They often fly low over Bala Lake, loudly but gracefully. Of course, those jets are something that I work with during my day job, indirectly of course. Down on the ground, "Maid Marian" simmered quietly whilst having a drink
Me Shovelling Coal Into "Marian"s Bunker
Soon enough we were ran round and on the train
Todays trains were also pretty well-filled. "Maid Marian" was in fine form once again and chugged happily along her home line alongside the lake. The sun shined brightly in between the odd shower and patches of cloud whilst the little red engine took her daily 40 miles in her stride.
Beautiful View
As usual, the views over the lake were stunning
Llyn Tegid is at its best in the sun
One thing that was definately different for us today was having somebody on the line in front of us. The track gang were down on the lakeside, right on the waters edge. They were moving and repacking sleepers to provide a better ride. As we approached in either direction we would whistle loudly before being shown a yellow flag (in order to slow up). We would then be given a green flag when the line was clear of workmen and tools, though we would still continue over the section at a reduced speed for safety reasons. I must admit, we noticed a real difference in that section of track as the day went on. Bruce worked for BR in a similar capacity and therefore has a wealth of knowledge for dealing with the permanent way. Good luck to them - it was much better.
"Maid Marian" Edges Through The Slack Where The Track Gang Were Working. I Am On The Firemans Side (Photograph By Bob Shell - BLR Driver/Wednesday Gang)
After another very enjoyable day we returned to the shed before disposing of "Marian" one more time. The P-Way truck and trolley soon returned before we all made our way up to the station for a cuppa'. It had been three very enjoyable days on the Bala Lake again. I must thank everyone for making me (and Eddie of course) so welcome once again. Its not like working on a railway, its like being on holiday. We haven't had a bad day yet which, in my mind, is something to be proud of. At 7pm we were back in Eddie's car and waving goodbye to the station. Rolling along the quiet welsh lanes (over Knockin and beyond) we talked of our next return visit, for the gala in August. Look forward to posts on that as it happens. Thanks guys. Sam.


Anonymous said...

Hi Sam
I see very few people posting comments, but I thought I would just drop you a note of encouragement. I very much enjoy reading your blog and check it quite regularly. Its a great record of your activities and something I'm sure you will relish looking back on in the future. I only wish I'd done the same for all the turns I did in my teens and twenties.
Keep up the good work.
Phil, in windy Northern Ireland.

Sam Brandist said...

Thank you Phil. Alot of the people who read either send me an email or see me in person for some reason, rather than comment! However, I am always grateful for comments and feedback. Thank you very much. I tell you what Phil, taking about keeping accounts, this blog is invaluable as a diary. I forget alot of dates and activities but this tends to remind me if I need it! Take care. Sam.