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Blog : Posts tagged with 'summer' : Page 1

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Summer railway

In which we have a trip out by train


Never mind “Spring Bank Holiday”: it’s June, and it feels like it’s summer already: last weekend, we had a day at the beach, and both ended up horribly sunburned. As shorts aren’t an option for work, I winced every time I moved my legs. Yesterday: a bank holiday weekend, and beautiful sunshine again, so we went off for a cream tea and a steam train ride.

The footplate of a steam locomotive on a summer’s day is a horribly hot and airless place to be. Nevertheless, riding behind a steam engine seems like such a naturally summery thing to do. So we travelled down to the South Devon Railway,* for a day’s relaxation sitting in railway carriages and watching trains go past.

The South Devon Railway is, as steam railways go, an unusually scenic one. Being in Devon it’s surrounded by lush, verdant countryside; it follows the River Dart down from Buckfastleigh, past rough, rocky rapids; weirs and once-busy mill-races; finally alongside the more placid deeper, lower stretches of the river, down to its tidal weir just by Totnes station. It doesn’t take much effort for a train to trundle downriver; as we sat in the front carriage with the windows open, we could hear the locomotive clanking its way down the valley with barely any steam on, the vacuum pump making a light chiff noise for each revolution of the wheels. Every so often, a gentle touch of speed was needed, and we heard the deeper huffhuffhuffhuff of the cylinders, four huffs to each vacuum pump chiff. We passed sleepy red cattle, wading fishermen, and groups of wading photographers standing on mid-river rocks to take photos of the passing train.

Country trains often ramble a little, and pause unexpectedly. Midway along the line, we halted in a loop, and waited quietly for another train to pass. Other passengers, not used to this sort of thing, looked around and wondered what the problem was. We were too far away from the signalbox to hear the block bells chiming; but we could hear the rattle of the signal wires as the signals for the down train were pulled off, then we watched it slowly chuff past us before we started on our way again.

This is not Photo Post Of The Week, incidentally. That’s because the photos below aren’t ones I took yesterday; as usual, my photo uploads are far too backlogged for that. These, though, are from the last time I visited the South Devon Railway, about three years ago. The fixed stop signal has been repainted since, but not much else has changed.

Buckfastleigh station, South Devon Railway, down end Watering an engine whilst rounding the train, Buckfastleigh, South Devon Railway GWR tablet catcher, Buckfastleigh, South Devon Railway

* Things it is important not to confuse pt. 373: the South Devon Railway, the line from Exeter to Plymouth designed by Brunel, opened in the 1840s, and bought out by the Great Western Railway in the 1870s; with the South Devon Railway, the heritage railway formed in the early 1990s to take over the Dart Valley Railway’s tourist line from Totnes to Buckfastleigh and turn it from a business-oriented tourist attraction into a more charitably-run steam railway. You may spot a problem of similarity with the names there.

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Weather Ever Changing

In which things get sweaty


I had hoped that a thunderstorm would clear the air, get rid of some of the humidity, cool things down a bit. Unfortunately, nothing changed. We had the thunderstorm, and half an hour later the ground was dry and the weather was still hot, muggy, and sticky to the touch. Oh well. Summer isn’t nice when it’s too hot to think.

Things I was going to blog about recently but haven’t: the rather silly “let’s bring the World Cup to Bristol” proposals, which seem like nothing more than a plan to blackmail the council planning department into letting Tesco build a new Ashton store, two minutes down the street from the Sainsbury’s that’s already there. Plus, the Easton Arts Trail, a rather enjoyable wander round which, already, was nearly a fortnight ago. Not to mention pictures of old trains from the weekend before that, and all the other things we’ve been getting up to lately apart from the strange foreign dirty movies. If it’s too hot to leave the sofa, it’s definitely too hot to blog

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Glad To Be British

In which FP does not like the weather


No, really. I never thought I’d say that, and the regular readers all probably thought they’d never hear it too. But, yes, the past couple of days have made me glad to be British?

Why? Because I can’t bear the weather at the moment. I stepped outside my doorstep today, and felt myself starting to wilt at the corners. Ten seconds of bright sun and warmth was enough to make me want to scurry away into the shade. One weekend of summer heat is enough to make me glad I live in a country where the weather, normally, consists of drips, wind and fog.

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The changing of the seasons

In which we pass a milestone


It’s nearly six months, now, since we moved house, and we seem to have made it through the winter. By next week the days will be longer than the nights; and this morning, when we left the house, the sky was blue and the sun shone down on us. Astronomically we might be at the start of spring; outside, it feels as if spring is already verging on summer.

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Photo post of the week

In which we visit Cornwall


This week, still from my summer holiday uploads: castles and derelict mineshafts.

Walls, Restormel Castle Gateway, Restormel Castle Archway, Restormel Castle
Cornish country lane at dusk Cornish oak tree at dusk Passage, Restormel Castle
Abandoned mineshaft near St Agnes Towanreath Engine House, St Agnes Graffiti near St Agnes Head, Cornwall

The engine house in the bottom row is the well-known Towanroath engine house near St Agnes. The name probably isn’t that well-known, but as it’s perched halfway up a cliffside over the Atlantic, it’s a stock location for Cornish landscape shoots; so much so that it was on the cover of one of the guide books we took with us.* I remember it appearing in the 1980s children’s horror film Haunters Of The Deep, which starts with two of the characters looking down the grated-over mineshaft next to the engine house and listening to the sound of the sea coming up it.

* the Rough Guide to Devon and Cornwall, 2007 edition.

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Photo post of the week

In which it’s still summer


As it’s Friday again, some more summer photos

Sleepy dog, St Ives "Arthur" communications dish, Goonhilly earth station St Ives harbour
Foghorns, Lizard lighthouse Lizard lighthouse Tourists, Lizard Point
Fishing boats, Polpeor Cove, The Lizard Old lifeboat station, Polpeor Cove, Lizard Fishing boat, Polpeor Cove, The Lizard

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Photo post of the week

In which we photograph the deep blue sea


I grew up not far from the sea. I didn’t go down to the beach or the seafront very often, but I was close enough that you could see out to sea from the top deck of my school bus. I’ve always felt good by the sea.*

On the other hand, I grew up in an area where the sea is the colour of weak milky tea. So it’s always nice to go somewhere and find that the sea can, actually, sometimes be storybook blue.**

Mouth of the Carrick Roads, Falmouth Gyllyngvase Beach, Falmouth Porthminster beach, St Ives
Boat, St Ives St Ives harbour Boats, St Ives

In other sea-related (or, at least, tidal) news: the mystery words on the shore of the Avon, which we spotted last weekend and posted about, have been identified: an artwork to highlight litter in the sea, by an artist called Pete Dolby. Thanks to Liz for writing and letting me know.

* You could argue some sort of genetic memory, because my mum’s family’s descended from a bunch of 19th-century Cornish fishermen (and smugglers, no doubt), from Looe and Polperro. On the other hand, my dad’s family’s from Derby, which is as unsealike as you can get.

** Pure water is, as a matter of fact, very very slightly a pale blue colour. You can see it, just about, if you run a bathful of water in a white bath. That’s not the main reason the sea can look blue, though. And different cultures have seen it different ways; the Homeric adjective for it is “wine-dark”, and you know how dark Greek wine can be. I’ve heard that the ancient Greeks didn’t quite distinguish between blue and green in the same way as we do; but I don’t know enough Greek to tell you how true that is.

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Photo post of the week

In which we go to Cornwall


Not only have I been behind on updating this site, I’ve been getting behind on posting photos online. I generally stick to posting 6 to 8 photos per day, partly because uploading them is such a slow and tedious job that I can’t be bothered doing any more. This, however, means that I’m still only at the start of posting photos of our summer camping trip, down to Cornwall. That was: August. It’s now: November. That’s some delay. Here, though, are some examples, of hot, sunny, summer Cornish weather.

Derelict picnic bench, Falmouth Falmouth Docks Falmouth Harbour
Sign on pier, Falmouth Harbour Truro Cathedral Derelict hotel, Falmouth

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For when you have something to say

In which FP gets hot and sticky


Was I saying how nice summer is? I’m regretting it. It’s hot, sticky, damp and humid, with a constant light drizzle which isn’t at all refreshing. Every so often there’s a flash of summer lightning in the sky, so far away the thunder can’t even be heard. The world is quiet, and I have the desire to do something creative but not the energy to do it. I can picture any number of opening scenes in my head, but lack the power to describe. Time for the third cold shower of the day. I can picture a closing scene, but don’t know how to reach it.

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Quietude

In which we relax


Yes, things have been a little quiet recently. This is because things are happening. Not necessarily good things, not necessarily bad things, not necessarily either. For that matter, not everything is by any means one or the other.

Besides: the other evening, when the day had cooled off a little, we sat on a park bench on Brandon Hill and watched. Hot air balloons drifting across in front of us, kites either side of us, and smoke wafting up from barbecues dotted around the park. Why would I want to spend my evenings sitting at a writing-desk when we could laze in the summer sunshine instead? It’s time to stop worrying so much about the day-to-day, to relax against whatever we’re faced with, and turn the other cheek to anything bad that might happen.

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