2010 News Archive.

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21/12/2010 - Merry Christmas everyone! I've uploaded my Egyptian report as well as some railway photo's which can be found here and some touristy photo's which can be found here although I've not finsihed adding the captions yet. June and I also enjoyed our Christmas market trip to Germany which included visits to Hamburg, Bremen, Hannover, Erfurt, Dortmund and Aachen! I've put the report on hold while we put the decorations up and get ready for Christmas but hopefully I'll get the report and photos sorted by new year.

Other news includes the usual travel woes whenever we get a bit of snow (it's getting to the stage when driving tests should included compulsory bad weather testing in my opinion!) and the creation of a new brewery in our county. Saxon City Ales has been set up as an off shoot of Hereford Casks Ltd on a farm industrial estate in Stoke Edith near Hereford. The 6 barrel plant has so far produced just the one beer (Strange Brew 3.8%) which I'm looking forward to tasting in the near future!

07/12/2010 - After a week in the Egyptian sun it was a bit of a shock to return to Europe and all of the snow! I ended up having 24 hours in Amsterdam as Schiphol airport was closed during the day on Saturday but for once I was using a scheduled airline rather than a cheapo so I had a night in a hotel courtesy of KLM. I've just about finished my report but I'm off to Germany tomorrow with June for our annual Christmas market trip so it'll be next week before it's uploaded along with the photos.

05/11/2010 - I've missed all the fun this week while working nights. Two trains slipped to a stand near Cwmbran in the space of 24 hours!. The first offfender was 6X52 on Tuesday evening with 67025 in charge (itself quite unusual) and this was followed by 70005 on a late running 6M61 the following afternoon. It's definitely been the worst week for slipping with rain and wind bringing down a large proportion of the leaves.

If I wasn't working nights, I'd be quite tempted to pay a visit to Cardiff on Saturday as Arriva are running an additional service for the Rugby (chase the egg as I call it!), using top and tail 57's (313 & 315 sandwiching 7 coaches). Although they are regular through Hereford, someone in ATW decided in their wisdom that their regular trains would run non stop through Hereford so Saturday is a rare opportunity to actually get on and off them at Hereford!

01/11/2010 - Last Saturday saw June and I meet up with friends from work for the retirement meal of one of our drivers. Paul has finished with ill health but he's made of pretty stern stuff and his love of railways will still continue as he's one of the co-owners of our two shunt loco's. All the best for the future Paul, whatever it may hold for you! One thing said during the evening that hit a note is that Paul's enjoyment of the job had dwindled in the last few years and it wasn't the job that it used to be.....

I spent Sunday afternoon out at Moreton, my first visit to the loco shed for several months! Work is concentrating on the shed at the moment as it's older than our two loco's! I also gave my Shark the once over to check for any possible problems during the winter but hopefully next year I'll have more time to spend on it, in particular replanking around the duckets.

29/10/2010 - I'm now getting further behind with my reports as October has been incredibly busy. I've recently been on a CAMRA minibus trip to the Clun Valley beer festival with June as well as two trips to Germany and a trip to Slovakia!! In the short term, I've just given the highlights below but if you have any queries or want any more information then e-mail me.

I'm not normally one for bus travel as I have a tendancy to get travel sick (never seems to affect me on trains planes or in cars though!) but the best way to visit the Clun Valley beer festival on 2nd October was by road transort as the festival is spread over ten miles and five pubs! The nearest station is on the Central Wales line and is only really walkable from one of the pubs so when we found out that the local CAMRA branch were running a mini bus we managed to squeeze into the last two seats. During the day we visited the White Horse Inn, the Crown at Newcastle, the Sun at Clun, the Crown at Clunton, the Hundred House and the Kangeroo Inn, sampling 15 brews in total! As well as visiting all of the pubs, we also stopped off at the Sun at Leintwardine where the pub was opened early especially for us. It's a fascinating place, feeling more like someones house than a pub but rather surprisingly for a special opening, we were joined by several other visitors!

After failing to get a day of work for the Mercia Charters tour in Germany on 9th October, I had to decide whether to bother going or not. It was only our second tour in Germany and following a previous postponement, bookings were slow coming in so I was keen to support the tour if possible as well as offering to steward. In the end, I decided to go as the tour was featuring a V200 but a second member of the class was also working a charter the following day making it a worthwhile effort. The journey wasn't easy though, as we had to drive to Hayes & Harlington for the first train to Heathrow on the Saturday morning and a flight to Dusseldorf the catch up with the tour. The bonus of basing ourselves in Dusseldorf was (in my opinion) the superior beer compared to the Kolsch in Cologne and we had a very enjoyable evening out with the Campbell clan although the long day caught up with me in the end! The Sunday should have been an easier day but unfortunately the second charter was halted by an incident on the line near Bonn so most of the Brits on board baled early and headed back to Cologne. June and I did end up on a bit of a Kolsch crawl in the evening with Duncan Jennings which was actually better than I expected and the difference between some of the brews was a bit surprising. Our journey home was via Eurostar on Monday (hence leaving the car somewhere accessible) and was our first experience of the "new" FIP first class service. To be honest, except for cold food instead of hot there was very little difference in service and the table opposite still managed to get through three lots of wine (although they did have to ask).

Slovakia is a country that I hadn't visited for a few years so the chance of a two day railtour (16th & 17th October) in parts of the country that I'd never visited before was too good to miss. Being a railtour, there were plenty of familiar faces around before and after the tour which also made for a good social trip, helped by visiting a couple of brewpubs. The tour was based around Prievidza as there is a local preservation group who provided the stock for the tour. Although Prievidza does see some loco hauled services, all trains are powered by classes 736 or 750 so it had been arranged for the tour to utilise a couple of unsilenced 751's, normally found working heavy freights often in pairs. For anyone who has never encountered these small Bo-Bo's, despite having no known connection with BR loco's they manage to produce a range of noises similar to some of our old loco's, ranging from class 25 through to 37 and 50 with a bit of class 20 turbo whistle thrown in for good measure! The second day also featured a museum loco in the shape of a Russian built "Sergei" 781.

Being a railtour, I hadn't put June through the agony of two solid days of train travel in Slovakia so to make up for it we headed over to Munich for a two night stay (26th to 28th October). The plan was to give June a bit of shopping time in one of our favourite German cities while also allowing a bit of travel including several brewpubs. Things got off to a bad start when trying to visit two brewpubs on the S-bahn to Markt Schwaben - they were both shut! Luckily our fortunes improved and we had a good time including a trips to Freising, Maisach, Sonthofen and Oberstdorf, with the latter currently two seeing the ALEX trains worked by an ex OBB 2143! The worst part of the trip was the late evening flight home as it was 95 minutes late so our eventual arrival home was at the rather unpleasant time of 04:00!

29/09/2010 - Having been away a couple of times I've got a bit behind with writing up my reports so I'll have to knuckle down - especially as I've got another couple of trips coming up soon. I've also taken on the role of BLO (Brewery Liaison Officer) for the Hereford Brewery, a CAMRA role which helps brewers keep in touch with the local branch. This new "job" gave me the chance to spend a day at the brewery which started with an 05:15 alarm call ready for a mornings brewing! It turned into a long day for me as I also offered to lend a hand in the afternoon when I found out that Jim Kenyon, the owner, was running an outside bar at a charity event - quite an experience!

I've also updated my beer page with links to the Herefordshire breweries. When I get a chance I will also include other local breweries that are just over the county border.

11/08/2010 - I've finished the delayed Czech report and made a start on tidying up a few of my Fotopics collections as several had photo's without descriptions. The one thing I've forgotten is to type up a report from a day that June and I spent in Leominster on a pub crawl, visiting all of the pubs that currently serve real ale. I'd only ever been to about half of them before so it was quite an enjoyable wander around the town but the report will have to wait until next week now due to us disappearing to Croatia for a few days - Split here we come!

06/08/2010 - After a pretty chaotic month I'm finally catching up on my reports an Fotopics, just in time to get ready for a trip to Croatia! I've uploaded reports for my trips to Tunisia & Belgium although I've still got to finish the report from our trip to the Czech Republic.

A couple of people have told me that they've had problems downloading the reports. I've noticed the same problem when using Mozilla Firefox web browser so I'm trying to find out what the problem is but in the meantime I suggest trying another browser (Internet Explorer and Google Chrome both seem to work okay) and if you have problems using a browser other than Firefox can you please let me know.

13/07/2010 - The Spinning Dog Brewery in Hereford has been relaunched as the Hereford Brewery. Jim Kenyon, owner and brewer explains:-

The Spinning Dog came about ten years ago, I had a dog called Cassie who chased her tail and was a little daft (hence the name). She has since passed away. I am a proud Herefordian and have decided after ten years of brewing in the city I have earned the right to call my brewery The Hereford Brewery. I am laying down my roots and I look forward to continuing brewing where we are for the foreseeable future. I believe localism is a major factor when people are given a choice and Hereford is a proud name to be associated with.

12/07/2010 - Well, after an enjoyable long weekend in the Czech Republic and Austria I only had a few days back at work before the start of the Hereford Beer Festival "Beer on the Wye 6" where I was volunteeering for the first time. I was in at the deep end though as my frequent travels abroad had helped to land me the job of managing the Foreign Beer Bar! Over the five sessions, we sold an amazing 1250 bottles of beer which worked out at approximately 830 pints at an average of one bottle every 80 seconds! It was very hard work and so I'd like to say a big thank you to June, Duncan and Johann as without their assistance life would have been very difficult in particular Duncan who was also a first time volunteer and worked all five sessions on the bar with very few breaks. Also, a big well done to the organisers and other volunteers I now know exactly how hard it is to run an event like BOTW! Id also like to thank everyone who visited the Foreign Beer bar over the weekend, helping us to serve our record total during the festival! Added to this, the Cask Ale Bar sold over 11,000 pints and the Cider Bar got through over 4000 pints!

It's a case of no rest for the wicked as I'm stewarding on the Mercia tour in Belgium on Saturday but hopefully June and I will have a nice relaxed day for her birthday on Friday. I'm hoping to get through my backlog of things to do by the time I'm back home, including finishing off my reports from Tunisia & the Czech Republic as well as sorting through a load of photographs.

29/06/2010 - The last month has been very intersting, including a week in the sun in Tunisia, a day trip to Penzance on a railtour (celebrating a friends 40th) and having my phone cable cut off by E-on contractors Enterprise! The latter has caused me no end of trouble as it took BT almost two weeks to get it sorted, luckily before I head over to the Czech Republic this weekend!

Major updates will have to wait until next week (including Fotopics and trip reports) but I wanted to get in a free plug for "Beer on the Wye 6" The Hereford Beer & Cider Festival that's running from Friday 9th July to Sunday 11th July. I'm running the Foreign beer bar and have put together 40 varieties from 13 different countries. In addition we have over 120 UK cask ales so the provisional list looks like this (apologies for the poor formatting at the moment!)

25/05/2010 - Until it gets pulled by the Ryanair legal eagles, an amusing spoof website has appeared called Crynair.

23/05/2010 - I've received a reply from the "Business Development Manager"at Greene King (first a phone call and now a follow up letter) regarding my experiences in the Three Elms which mentions the following:- "Thank you for drawing my attention to your recent experience at the Three Elms. Please be aware that the manager is only licenced to trade the Three elms until 11.30pm and at the time of asking customers to leave it was gone midnight. [the landlord] was therefore within his rights to ask all customers to leave as trading beyond risks his license. I also understand that this is an ongoing problem and that in the past the manager has tried to deal with this civilly but due to the customers refusing to leave he unfortunately did have to be stern. As discussed I accept this could have been dealt with in a different matter. With reference to the other issues, (cask ale availability, team training on cask ale) I will be discussing these with [the landlord]"

Strangely, the quoted closing time of 23:30 is at odds with the ringing of last orders at 23:50 so either Greene King or the Landlord do not know when their own pub is supposed to close and as there are no signs neither do the customers!! Sadly they don't appear to be addressing all the points that I raised so I will be replying with a follow up letter suggesting that they contact the organiser of the party and apologise for spoiling an event that he had financed and also suggesting that if they have an ongoing problem with after hours drinkers, Greene King send in a mystery customer. This would allow them to see how the staff are running the place and how the customers are reacting. Sadly it seems as though the days of guest ales in the Three Elms are now a thing of the past :-(

17/05/2010 - After three weeks of earlies I decided on a night out so I booked a surprise trip to the Lake District, something that we tried to do last year but had to cancel due to bad weather. I've written a report for what was a very enjoyable weekend except for the ending which involved a very heated incident in my local, the Three Elms. It led me to write an e-mail to Greene King and I've included the text in my report. It will be very interesting to see what I get back as a response.

04/05/2010 - I was lucky enough to make it to Reading Beer Festival over the weekend although I must mention that the festival is almost a victim of its own success - the queues were horrendous so if you're planning on going next year I strongly suggest that you get there early or be prepared to queue for at least an hour. Once the festival was full in the afternoon, it was a one out, one in system and there was talk of a two to three hour wait! That said, the festival itself was excellent with a huge choice of beers / styles. There were enough dark beers on the "Locale" bar alone to keep me busy so I'd certainly go again.

I've also been asked to run the foreign beer bar at this years "Beer on the Wye" Hereford Beer Festival (9-11 July) so I've been busy putting together a list of beers. I've only ever been on the drinkers side of the bar before so it's certainly going to be something new for me although I'm looking forward to it. All I need to do now is rope someone in as my assistant!

25/04/2010 - June and I have just had a very enjoyable day out in Shrewsbury, courtesy of a Hereford CAMRA social. I started to write a small review but ended up with two pages so I've uploaded a report instead!

23/04/2010 - It's been confirmed that Deutsche Bahn are taking over Arriva, who operate buses and trains across Europe. As an employee of DB Schenker it will be very interesting to see how the business pans out, whether they leave everything as it is or whether they start to conbine the UK TOC's under one banner. Similarly, it will be interesting to see how they deal with Arriva rail operations in Germany. Some DB Schenker employees felt as though DB did very little to boost traffic or staff morale when taking over EWS although the timing of the recession could be responsible for a lot. I'm just hoping that DB go one step further and start looking at running ICE's through the Channel Tunnel to link up their two networks as it's about time that Eurostar got a kick up the backside in the shape of some serious competition!

19/04/2010 - Hard on the heels of our Easter break in Germany, I retraced my steps back east to join Dave Craik and Denzil Morgan on the Harzkamel special. This was followed by a few days in Germany and Switzerland using my FIP coupons that I'd originally planned on using in february. To round off the trip, I headed into France for a ru nbehind big electric 6570 on a tour from Avignon to Lyon but I hadn't planned on the double whammy of an SNCF strike and an Icelandic volcano blowing its top! Luckily I didn't suffer too many problems and managed to make it home safely and on time - unlike many! I've added a trip report and uploaded some photographs to my Fotopics site although I've not indexed them all yet!

07/04/2010 - I've added a trip report from a weekend in Germany and I'm continuing my Fotopics update but this will take a back seat next week when I have a week off to visit Germany, Switzerland and France.

One item of news that is always disappointing to see is the end of a railway company. Following on from the demise of Advenza, Jarvis Fastline have now also ceased trading leaving their 5 class 66's and their traincrew looking for new homes. Good luck to you lads and I hope you manage to find jbs somewhere else.

19/03/2010 - June had a night out to see a film with friends last night and when I picked her up I suggested popping into Wetherspoons to use up a couple of CAMRA vouchers. I was very glad that I did as they had on a beer from Hilden in Lisburn, Northern Ireland that had been brewed especially for St. Patricks day. Despite being called Irish Red, the beer was a big surprise as it tasted more like a German rauchbier than an Irish ale and was possibly the best example that I'd sampled outside of Bamberg.

One development in the railway world that caught my eye was the news of a possible takeover of Arriva (who operate the Cardiff - Manchester service through my home town as well as many other train & bus opertions around Europe). After a failed attempt by French owned Keolis, it now seems that the German national carrier, Deutsche Bahn are looking at them. This is interesting for me as EWS has already been taken over by DB Schenker and DB also have interests in Chiltern and Wrexham & Shropshire. In addition, rumours about DB wanting to run trains through the channel tunnel would turn this national company into a truly international one but whether UK rail operations would benefit would have to be seen. Interestingly, DB had lost several rail contracts to Arriva in Germany so they would get them back if they bought Arriva!

14/03/2010 - As I'm quite local to the Dean Forest Railway, I decided to pop down for their diesel gala on Saturday. June came with me as it was going to be a nice sunny day in the forest and we also planned to return home via the Wye Valley. Loco's working at the gala were an immaculately turned out 08238, a slightly rough but authentic looking 27066, EWS liveried 31466 (once the flat batteries had been topped up) and E6001 (73001). I also had a chance to check up on the restoration progress of 37263 at Lydney Jcn which by all accounts may be back in action by the end of the year. After a few runs along the line I met up with June at Norchard and we headed off to Whitecroft for a pint in the Miners Arms pub, just down from the DFR level crossing but currently without a station. After a pint and a couple of lineside photos we headed across country to Redbrook in the Wye Valley and crossed into Wales via the old railway bridge over the river Wye to visit the Boat Inn, a cracking little pub with three ales and about 16 ciders & perries! After that we headed home as June was running out of steam and I was starting to flag after a week of nights at work.

08/03/2010 - June and I have just had a very enjoyable weekend away featuring a Saturday afternoon session at the Coventry beer festival (joined by Denzil and Kim in the evening) followed by a trip on Sunday to the Nene Valley Railway which was hosting a diesel gala featuring D9516, D9523, 20048, 31128+31108, D306, 46045 (complete with a working boiler) and visiting 66720. Lunch was taken at the nearby Charters pub, a floating Dutch barge which is well worth a visit for its selection of real ales (which I couldn't take advantage of due to having to drive home!). I'd deliberatley booked us into a B&B near to the festival venue to make life easier for June on her first outing following her operation but she still found the weekend quite hard going and enjoyed relaxing in the car in Sunday while I was at the NVR!

24/02/2010 - Having been stuck in the house for two weeks recuperating from my injuries in addition to nurse maiding June after an operation, I was in need of a break! June suggested that I use my last two days annual leave to head off somewhere for the weekend so I booked flights with Easyjet and went to Germany for a few days. I've just finished a trip report and will hopefully have some photos uploaded in a few days. Prior to going away I dropped for a job down to Newport docks and as it was my first visit for quite a while I took the camera with me and managed to get a few photographs of my train being loaded and also the transporter bridge.

04/02/2010 - Our photo's from Sri Lanka can be found using the following links:- Holiday photo's, Railway photo's, Beer photo's.

03/02/2010 - Well, our holiday to Sri Lanka was certainly eventful. We both really enjoyed ourselves until I managed to fall down some rocks! I ended up with a nasty gash on my elbow, several deep grazes and both my camera and phone ended up in sea water. Needless to say neither want to work again! I've written a trip report which can be found here. If anyone is planning a trip in the near future and wants to get in touch, I compiled a fleet list and an excel timetable prior to our trip which may be of use.

01/01/2010 - After the usual Christmas excess of food & drink (and a railtour in the UK - rare for me!), work is now back to normal but I'm looking forward to our holiday in Sri Lanka. Unlike our trip to India early in 2009, we don't need to arrange visa's in advance and all our jabs are up to date so the planning has been a lot less painful (especially where the jabs were concerned!). I'm still plugging away at updating my website and Fotopics sites although I did manage to finish a report from our annual German Xmas market trip

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