2011 News Archive.

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29/12/2011 - This will probably be my last posting of the year as I'm back at work having had a very relaxed and enjoyable Christmas, unlike the previous two weeks which were pretty manic! I've uploaded several reports, including our annual Christmas market trip to Germany. June and I also had a day out in the Black Country, joining the annual Hereford CAMRA trip along with a few friends and I was then looking forward to a week off in the run up to Christmas itself. Instead I was a bit under the weather but I did manage to get down to Cardiff for a long overdue visit to see an old friend of mine, Gary Parkins who sadly now suffers from MS. It was great to see him and reminisce and I promise not to leave it so long next time mate!

The Christmas index page photo is an atmospheric shot of 99.222 storming up the Harz mountain to Brocken, taken on Wednesday 03/05/11 at Goetheweg (train 8933 09:42 Wernigerode Brocken).

14/11/2011 - June and I are back home after a weekend in Bruxelles/Brussels. Most of the time was spent on the "Mercia Charters" railtours but we enjoyed a couple of great evenings in Moeder Lambic Fontainas, an excellent Belgian beer bar not too far from the Bourse. With over 40 beers on tap it's hard not to find something you'll enjoy, just a shame that they don't do food.

This months index page photo was taken during Saturday's railtour "The Mortal Coil" at Oostende, 12/11/2011. Preserved 5941 is on the rear of the train while 5511 takes the lead, a loco that's normally found acting as a "Thunderbird" to rescue failed Eurostars or TGV's.

04/11/2011 - My website should be down for a couple of hours today but as it's a booked outage by my webhost I'm hoping that it'll be back up again a damn site qicker than the last time it went down!!

02/11/2011 - Bonfire night is fast approaching and June and I are looking at spending it in Bristol as there's a Hereford CAMRA outing. Bristol has some great pubs so it should be a good day.

I've uploaded a few reports which had been sitting waiting in the wings and these can be found here.

28/10/2011 - I'm back! After a rather frustrating three weeks of downtime my website is finally back up and running - now all I need to do is catch up with a few things!! The problem was caused due to an "oversight" with my subscription - I paid my webhost (Webmania / Yorhost) but they forgot to renew my domain with the registrar (OnlineNIC in the US as I use a dotcom domain) so they "parked" my website. It's taken me three weeks to get a response from Webmania / Yorhost but hopefully everything is sorted now. While the website was down, June and I enjoyed a long weekend in Pomerania (the Baltic border region between Poland and Germany) and I also had a week away with Daffy and Henders on a rail trip to Slovenia and Croatia. Hopefully I'll have the trip reports uploaded in a few days when I've caught up with everything.

This months photo (rather belatedly!) was taken at Broome Farm, home of the Ross-on-Wye Cider & Perry Company on 1st October during a vist by the local CAMRA branch. It shows a "cheese" being constructed using layers of hessian matting seperating the layers of apple pulp (also known as pomace or pommage). We had a chance to sample the freshly pressed apple juice followed by a fascinating and educational tasting session of the finished product - very enjoyable!

21/09/2011 - June and I have recently returned from the second part of our honeymoon - an unusual holiday as it was part organised and part "go it alone". It was made all the more more different by the organised part being an excursion to the Ukraine, somewhere that neither of us had been before. We had good company though as despite it being a cultural visit by train, the front coach had been reserved for enthusiasts as a vintage M61 "Nohab" was the main train engine. I've written a fairly lengthy trip report which I've managed to finish just before our next trip - a second attempt at visiting the North East corner of Germany which was postponed earlier in the year when we ran into a rail strike.

22/08/2011 - After a fluke conversion with Duncan Jennings about pub crawls I discovered that some of the Gloucester roadshow had a day out planned to the Avon Valley on Saturday the 21st. I didn't finish work until the early hours but June and I both liked the sound of it so after checking the weather forecast we set off for Bradford on Avon. Typically, Arriva Trains Wales had other ideas as our train was a late start from Manchester and then got later once we'd joined at Hereford due to loads of Welsh rugby supporters trying to squeeze on at every stop - what do you expect when you run 2 car units on Rugby international days!!

Needless to say our connection was long gone when we arrived at Newport and to make matters worse there was a yucky drizzle falling over Newport (so what's new I hear you ask!!). In the end we did manage to meet up with the others although the Bradford on Avon pubs will have to wait for next time. Instead, we enjoyed a visit to "The Cross Guns" at Avoncliff followed by a riverside walk to the "The Inn" at Freshford once the sun had come out (both serving the range of Box Steam beers). We then saw the day out at "The Royal Oak" on the outskirts of Bath (just down the road from Oldfield Park station and the tap for Art Brew) before saying farewell to the gang at Bristol. We had to leave earlier than hoped as the line was closing between Newport and Hereford after the 19:52 train and neither of us fancied an 80 minute bus journey! The only bonus was that the early finish meant that we were up early enough on Sunday to make use of the second day of our free passes so we had a day trip to Shrewsbury for a mooch round the shops and a pint of Salopian "Black Ops" in the Three Fishes.

08/08/2011 - June and I had a short honeymoon in the Czech Republic, splitting the trip between Praha and Ceske Budejovice. It was a relaxed trip and probably involved too many beers (and not many trains) but I've written a trip report which can be found here. The index photo for August is the classic shot of Prague castle and Charles Bridge taken just before we headed off for a river cruise.

18/07/2011 - With all the excitement I realised that I'd forgotten to upload this update so better late than never!!

It was June's birthday at the weekend but I had a little surprise in store for her. Unknown to everyone, I had proposed while we were in Wien so June though that we were going to plan a surprise engagement party as well as a birthday party when we took over the back half of the Victory. However, what she didn't know was that I had a special birthday surprise in the shape of a hot air balloon followed by an appointment at Hereford registry office so at 14:00 on Saturday afternoon I pulled off the surprise of a lifetime and we were married! Once June had got over the shock she was over the moon and as for when we made the announcement at the party, well you could have heard a pin drop!! Many thanks to Nige and Helen, the only people in on the plan, for their assistance over the weekend. Without their help I probably couldn't have achieved it without June sussing it out. We'd always said that when we got married we would rather have a quiet ceremony followed by a good knees up with our mates so that's what I planned!

As a follow up, we had our very own "just married" transport the following day but with a difference - a private charter with our two loco's at Moreton Park and despite being a dry train (probably just as well after the previous night) everyone had a good time.

13/07/2011 - Beer on the Wye 7 was a huge success and the rain managed to stay away for almost all of the festival. It was hard work at times as we had our biggest attendance ever with over 6000 visitors and the best part of 20,000 pints of beer & cider consumed. On my Foreign beer bar we managed to sell over 1400 bottles of beer so a big thank you to June, Duncan and Steve for their assistance as well as everyone else involved in the festival. Next year's festival should be held between Friday 6th July and Sunday 8th July and will hopefully go as well!! I've put one the photo's from the festival that I took of my willing assistants before we opened on this months index page. I'd also like to thank the volunteers and workers of our festival charity "HOPE" who did a brilliant job for a worthy cause.

01/07/2011 - There's one week to go until the Hereford Beer & Cider festival "Beer on the Wye 7" so I've uploaded the provisional list for the cask ales, the real ciders & perries and the bottled foreign beers. As a reminder, a flyer for the event can be found here and I hope to see some of you down by the riverside next weekend. I'm running the foreign beer bar again this year and after last years manic activity when we sold 1250 bottles I've been given an extra member of staff so hopefully this year I'll have time to sample a few beers myself!

22/06/2011 - I've just realised that I didn't do an update at the beginning of the month so never got round to changing the photo on the index page so better late than never!

The last few weeks saw me visit a few preserved railways (although the weather was nothing to write home about!) as well as a couple of beer trips - to Bob's Brewery (to award the Beer of the festival award from last years Beer on the Wye) and to Chester for a branch social "crawl" around town. Both were enjoyable but without the staff travel discount neither trip would've been cheap!

June and I are just back from a relaxing weekend in Vienna, our favourite city. After meeting up with our friend Andreas, we had a couple of sociable nights out (spoilt for choice with 12 brewpubs and a brewery in the city!). On Sunday I took June to the Tiergarten (Vienna zoo) and the Schonbrunn palace and its romantic folly on the hillside which offers a superb view - an excellent setting for a beer! We also had a trip to Oberwart as the branch is scheduled to close in about 6 weeks (unless action from the locals prevents it) as well as a run off 2143.040 on the "NostalgieExpress Leiser Berge" and 1044.064 on the "RadExpress Donau" before a few hours in wandering around Linz (including a visit to Josef Stadtbrauerei for lunch) before flying home.

19/05/2011 - I was a bit disappointed not to get over to Slovakia at the weekend for the SSA railtour as the previous trip in October had been very enjoyable. Instead, June and I paid a short visit to Stourbridge beer festival on the Saturday (stopping off in Worcester on the way home for quick pint in the Dragon). As both my nephews have their birthdays in May, June and I decided that they might enjoy a trip to The International Centre for Birds of Prey so we made a "research trip" on Sunday to buy their tickets. The centre is slightly awkward to find but it's close to home and well worth the visit for the flying displays. Unfortunately the weather was pretty poor for most of the day, hampering photography so I'll have to go back on a nicer day!

I've finally got round to finishing and uploading the trip report from our recent visit to Germany and it can be found here.

09/05/2011 - June and I visited the Ludlow Spring Food Festival over the weekend, originally just on the Saturday but as the weather was poor we paid another visit on the Sunday for some sunshine! It was the first time that either of us had been to the festival and I have to say that I was very impressed. Located in the castle grounds, the festival included a vintage car display, a beer festival featuring 140 beers, an excellent selection of food stalls as well as some talks on food and beers (the latter conducted by Buster Grant from Breconshire Brewery). I managed to catch our CAMRA branch secretary in action too, working hard behind the bar.

06/05/2011 - June and I have just returned from a very enjoyable holiday in Germany. As we quite often do, we travelled around a bit although we did have three nights in the Harz mountains (a first visit for June) which included trips to the picturesque towns of Wernigerode and Quedlinburg and a steam hauled trip to Brocken (twice as the first one was in snow and fog!). The week had started with a trip with friends on a railtour hauled by a couple of former Danish MY class "Nohabs" and ended with a day in Potsdam visiting the three brewpubs there before flying back from Berlin. All in all an excellent trip although the snow caught us out a bit as we didn't have any coats with us!

18/04/2011 - It was another busy weekend in the sunshine for me, this time as a steward on the Mercia Charters railtour from Brussels to Luxembourg on Saturday. It was a pretty long day as it started with an 06:30 taxi ride to Schaerbeek depot to help get the stock ready followed by the lengthy run to Luxembourg (made worse by the 80km/h top speed of the museum stock and a lot of engineering work en route!). Our train was formed of three AK coaches and was hauled by a couple of museum AFB "roundnoses", 5404 in Belgium and 1604 in Luxembourg. Once in Luxembourg we paid a visit to the AMTF "Train 1900" preserved railway at Fond-de-Gras, utilising their own loco's, ex SNCB 7309 and ex CFL 2001. It was a very enjoyable day but fairly hard work so it was good to get back to Brussels at 20:50, dump the kit and head out for a meal and a few beers!

I spent Friday & Saturday evenings in "Chez Moerder Lambic Fontainas" with some of the other tour passengers and stewards, somewhere I'd never heard of before although I knew of the original Moeder Lambic in Bruxelles St Gilles. I thought that the place was new but later discovered that it's actually been open for 18 months now but despite being busy we were able to get tables on both nights. The beer selection includes about 40 on tap (with some changing monthly) and 300 on the bottle menu so I'd definitely recommend it as a venue for enjoying some excellent Belgian beers including draught Lambic although sadly they don't serve food except for a couple of bar snacks.

10/04/2011 - Well, it's been a very interesting week! It started off with me having no internet (8 days in total to report it, get it faulted and repaired followed by a Virgin text two days later to say it was fixed!).

I was then very lucky to spot a Sparrowhawk (feel free to correct me if I've got it wrong) in my small suburban garden patio! Not my best photos in the world as the camera was on "auto" and kept focusing on the bloody hedge but by the time I'd changed it he'd flown off.

Friday involved drinking far too much beer in Hereford, Leominster and Ludlow! The main reason for the outing was a trip organised by Hfd CAMRA to the new Ludlow Brewery, located in the old railway goods shed close to the station. They've carried out an excellent refurb on the building, keeping almost all of the original structure and fitting it out with a state of the art brewery.

And finally, I've been busy driving one of the two loco's that I part own out at Moreton on Lugg for a group visit to the site. We were blessed with some excellent weather and June got sunburnt signing people in despite having the cover of a gazebo!

25/03/2011 - June and I enjoyed a trip to Burton Beer Festival last week and I was impressed by the large number of my favourite dark beers on offer. Thanks to Tim and John for the company and a big thank you to John for putting us up for the night.

The Fotopics outage seems to be permanent this time so I will have to start looking around for another picture gallery. This is a shame as many people used Fotopics and had URL's on websites and in documents linked to their photos which are now useless. Luckily I only ever uploaded low resolution copies of my photos to the free basic gallery and I still have my original high resolution photos. Sadly, not everyone is in my postiion with some people using Fotopics as there storage system and others paying for the premium service - good luck getting your money backs chaps!

09/03/2011 - The Fotopic website seems to have gone down again like it did about 18 months ago. Last time it was down for a couple of days and just when everyone thought that it was terminal the site came back online so hopefully it'll re-appear shortly.

05/03/2011 - A day trip to Liverpool with the Hereford CAMRA branch turned into an overnight stop when my job Saturday morning was changed for one with a later finish and to make matters worse we got caught up behind a failed Freightliner coal train at Ludlow (70002 with 6M07). However, luckily for us we'd already discussed using our free passes and having a leisurely return on Sunday when Denzil told me about the DRS 20's working the "Norfolk Broadsman" railtour so I booked us a night in the Waverley at Crewe.

We finally met up with the CAMRA gang much later than planned in Rigby's and the first couple of pints (Moorhouses "Black Cat Mild" and Wentworth "Early Fruits") barely touched the sides! The final pub for the group was the Hole in the Wall, just round the corner from Rigby's and much quieter so we were able to relax with our pints. June went for Robinsons "Hannibal's Nectar" while I went for Wells "Banana Bread Beer". We said farewell to most of the group and headed to the Lion with Mark (the only member of the group on free passes like us instead of the cheap London Midland fares) where we enjoyed a very nice pint of George Wright "Roman Black".

Mark then headed back to the station but June and I called in at the Ship & Mitre where we tried Conway "Telford Port" and Art "Blackcurrent Stout", both very enjoyable and a mere drop in the ocean of the excellent choice of cask ales. As we'd managed to check into our hotel on the way to Liverpool, we caught a train straight through to Wolverhampton and passed the time waiting for the railtour with a pint of St Austell "Tribute" in the Pasada. The 20's arrived on time and we joined friends in the front coach for a lively run to Crewe with the loco's working flat out almost all the way.

The following morning we had a lie in followed by breakfast in the Gaffers Row (Crewe Wetherspoons) before heading to Stafford. Dave Craik joined us for a couple of beers in The Picture House (Stafford Wetherspoons and a cracking building) and Joxer Brady's before making our way to Birmingham. Our final port of call before heading home was The Anchor where we discovered that they were holding a "Church End" weekend with all beers from the Nuneaton brewer.

03/03/2011 - A short trip to Graz with June turned into a long weekend when Ryanair caped our flight home! Despite this, it was an enjoyable but eventful trip and I'm just putting the finishign touches to a trip report which should be finished in a few days.

March photo - Taken on 01/03/2011 and featuring 218.485 pictured at Memmingen after arrival with train RE57414 from Munchen Hbf. We were originally expecting to be home by now but with our flight home cancelled and no other Ryanair flights available the following day we had an unexpected day travelling through Bavaria in glorious sunshine.

21/02/2011 - June and I have just returned from a weekend in Chester for a friends wedding. Congratulations to Nigel & Helen and I hope you enjoy your married life together!

As we travelled by road instead of rail (too much hassle carrying our stuff and the service home on Sunday is rubbish!) we took advantage and visited a few breweries. In addition, we had a group night out in Chester (helped by the local CAMRA pub guide) and the wedding reception featured a new beer from Peerless Brewery, specially rebadged for the weekend. I'm writing a short trip report about the beers which should be uploaded in a couple of days and although there were no trains involved we did have a ride through Chester on a vintage Routemaster double decker bus!

Next on my calender is a short trip to Graz at the end of the month for a trip on the GKB system including the new route to Wies-Eibiswald via Werndorf while it is temporarily worked by loco hauled services.

I've archived the 2010 news page but a link for it can be found at the bottom of this page.

15/02/2011 - The new year didn't get off to a good start for June and me as we were both laid low with flu! We'd originally planned a holiday away in the sun so it was just as well that we hadn't booked anywhere. Instead, we ended up with a few days in Germany (mainly around Dresden) which was followed by a spur of the moment trip to Belgium (hunting my last 23 for haulage) and a mates stag do in Berlin and Poznan at the end of January.

I've finally managed to get on top of my report backlog and some recent ones have been uploaded (although a couple are still pending) including a day spent at Hereford Brewery (I recently took on the role of their CAMRA BLO). There's no rest for the wicked though as work is taking up a fair bit of time due to the current line closure between Shrewsbury and Wrexham (our steel trains are suffering a lengthy diversion via Crewe and Chester) and I'm away for the next two weekends - Daffy's wedding in Chester (which will hopefully include a couple of brewery visits en route) and a trip to Graz.

February photo - Taken on 12/02/2011 (testing my new Canon EOS 60D!) and featuring 66092 inside the Moreton Park industrial complex (near Moreton on Lugg) having just weighed 6Z35 loaded with stone from Tarmac.

15/01/2011 - Apologies for recent news, hopefully I'll have an update shortly. In the meantime, I'm hoping to change the photo on the opening page every month and to set the ball rolling, this months photo is detailed below.

January photo - Taken on 11/01/2011 and featuring 232.904 arriving at Goschwitz with RE3625 11:48 Erfurt Hbf - Altenburg, covering for an unavailble unit.

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