Amsterdam – Day 7

We weren’t sure just when daughters Holly and Annalise would arrive so we stayed close to “home” until they arrived mid afternoon from Iceland. Annalise declared on arrival that her next vacation was going to be hiking in Iceland and that she had the best yogurt she had ever had at Iceland’s airport.

We did venture out after we’d had a cuppa and caught up on all the family news. Our apartment is right next to a canal:

The canal outside our  apartment

The canal outside our apartment

Round the corner isn’t the biggest aspidistra in the world but certainly the tallest wisteria I have seen.

Wisteria growing uo four storeys

Wisteria growing up four storeys

The different designs of bike fascinate me. This one, chained up two houses up the street, boasts a childs seat cum luggage rack on the front, a panier on the back, a built in lock on the frame below the handle bars, a dynamo for the lights (required by law) in the front wheel hub and a six speed gear in the rear hub.

Sit up and beg style bike

Sit up and beg style bike

We decided on a canal boat trip and to get to the ticket shop we passed this very mundane kiosk kiosk.

Kiosk near Ann Frank house

Kiosk near Ann Frank house

Now look at the sign on the top of the kiosk:

Sign on top of the kiosk

Sign on top of the kiosk

We chose the blue route for our canal tour:

Map of the canal tours

Map of the canal tours

Waiting for the canal boat ride - a little cihilly

Waiting for the canal boat ride – a little cihilly

We finished up the day walking along one of the many streets lined with shops:

Chocolate Shoes

Chocolate Shoes

Flowers in a coffee shop window

Flowers in a coffee shop window

Shot of about one tenth of the cheeses on sale in this corner store

Shot of about one tenth of the cheeses on sale in this corner store

Posted in Miscellaneous | Leave a comment

Hols 2015 – Day 6 – To Amsterdam

This is it – top of the bucket list going down.

To make the 8:55 Eurostar we had to get up at 5 am – not nice. The morning was cold but no rain (South-east England only got 11mm of rain in April vs normal 55 mm).

6 am - waiting for the train to take us to St Pancras

T6 am – waiting for the train to take us to St Pancras

The little station shop where we had a fantatic bacon butty the day before, alas, was shut. The train was bang on time and we lumbered aboard with one heavy bag.

Here comes our train

The trip across London to St Pancras took an hour and a bit. The train was clean and quick. It was only at the end of the journey that the City bound commuters piled on. St Pancras International was sleek and clean, all polished aluminium, steel and glass. We had superb coffee and fresh toasted breads at one of the several cafes.

St Pancras Station

St Pancras Station

Getting through Customs, English out and France/Belgium in, was a nightmare. The only good bit was they didn’t want you to take off your shoes. Once through boarding the Eurostar was simple. The train had 20 coaches plus a double electric unit at both ends. Seats were allotted so there were no handbags getting a seat. Seats were aeroplane style but much roomier. The jourrey to Brussels was smooth and bang on time. You can’t see too much ‘cos the train hurtles along.

In Brussels we switched to the Thalys inter-city train which seemed to go as fast as the Eurostar. Assigned seats. Bang on time we arrived at Amsterdam Centraal.The Thalys was another 20 coaches long and like the Eurostar every seat was taken. We travelled over 400 miles in comfort in four and a half hours.

A very quick taxi ride and we were at our apartment. The apartment is a large studio with sleeping for four. As daughters Holly and Annalise weren’t arriving till the next day we sorted ourselves out and set off to explore and have coffee.

The apartment is in the Jordaan district – it’s an area where locals live. The long street just half a block from the apartment provided an abundance of treasures including super coffee.

Owl in shop window

Owl in shop window

Shoes I liked that sarah refused to try on

Shoes I liked that sarah refused to try on

And of course there were cheese shops ……

Cheese please Louise

Cheese please Louise

I always thought that green cheese was well ….. you know …..like off. Not this green cheese – the sample was salty, four years old and intense flavour.

Green cheese

Green cheese

There are gazillions of bikes in Amsterdam and virtually no cars. A totally different way of living. The bikes whiz along. The bike style is completely different – you sit upright on the saddle.

A common style of bike

A common style of bike

One of the millions of bikes here in Amsterdam

One of the millions of bikes here in Amsterdam

The bike bells really ring – we liked this one so much we went and bought two in a local store.

Bike bell - we've bought two - be ye ready

Bike bell – we’ve bought two – be ye ready

The flowers are totally amazing. Like the food they are cheap and very plentiful. Sarah couldn’t resist and bought an armful of tulips.

Five bucks of tulips

Five bucks of tulips

For supper we had went to an Indonesian Pho restaurent where we had a fab meal at a very reasonable price. We follwed it up with an ice cream each. Sarah had a very dark chocalate one the likes of which I have never had and I had VERY creamy VERY vanilla. Delish. At the end of all this we tottered off to bed.

Posted in Miscellaneous | 1 Comment

Hols 2015 – Days 1 through 5

I am sitting in our great studio apartment in Amsterdam. Wife Sarah is outside on our street mini mini patio awaiting the arrival of daughters Holly and Annalise from Iceland. Iceland? Yup. They flew here from JFK via Iceland. Don’t ask!!!

The flight from San Francisco to London was diabolical. I am forbidden by Sarah from allowing you to see my detailed description. So be it. The weather on arrival and since we have been here has been benign. Fort Braggish temps day and night. No rain to speak of – a few drops on Wednesday and that’s it.

Arrival day on Sunday we visited Sister Karen in Chertsey – which is close to Heathrow. We ate in the local pub, the Crown. Of the meals we had Sunday evening my lamb burger was second best. Sarah’s Haddock Smokey (haddock cooked in a creamy cheese sauce with a poached egg on top with thick toasted fingers of bread) was voted tops.

Chertsey is next door to Runnyemeade where the Magna Carta was signed. The river which runs past Runnymeade and through Chertsey has swans in it – all of England’s swans belong to the queen. It’s that of time year …..

Chertsey swan sitting on ten eggs

Chertsey swan sitting on ten eggs

Dinner anyone

On Monday, recovery day, we had brekkers so big I was full for the rest of the day:

Monday brekkers

Monday brekkers

On the way back to the hotel we passed this sign which I hurried past:

Fat Al's Gym

Fat Al’s Gym

Tuesday we ventured south to Brighton to visit with my step mum, Mavis. Cold as the wind was we (I?) persuaded her that a trip on Volks Railway was the tonic she needed. Vols railway runs for about a mile along Brighton’s esplanade.

Volks railway emblem

Volks railway emblem

Volks railway train coach

Volks railway train coach

Volks railway car waiting for us to board

Volks railway car waiting for us to board

Volks train interior

Volks train interior

Volks railway - useless steering wheel - car is controlled from foot pedal on left

Volks railway – useless steering wheel – car is controlled from foot pedal on left

Wife Sarah and step mum Mavis looking toward Brighton pier from Black Rock the end of Volks railway line

Wife Sarah and step mum Mavis looking toward Brighton pier from Black Rock the end of Volks railway line

Wednesday we spent mooching getting ready for the very early start to catch the Eurostar to Amsterdam the next day, I was caught loitering looking at instant waist line enhancers:

Cake for all Minion lovers

Cake for all Minion lovers

Fishy Cookies

Fishy Cookies

Dissected Eccles cake

Dissected Eccles cake

We liked the flowepot man in the local flower shop!

Flowerpot man

Flowerpot man

Next blog – the trip to Amsterdam.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

3,000 plus dead under London’s Liverpool Street Station

This IS true. Let me give you the griff piece by piece.

First Liverpool Street Station.Liverpool Street is a central London railway terminus connected to London’s Underground station situated in the in the north-eastern corner of the City of London. It is the terminus of the West Anglia Main Line to Cambridge, the busier Great Eastern Main Line to Norwich, local and regional commuter trains serving east London and destinations in the East of England, and the Stansted Express to London Stansted Airport. It was opened in 1874 as a replacement for the Great Eastern Railway’s main London terminus, Bishopsgate, which was subsequently converted into a goods (freight) yard. Liverpool Street was built as a dual-level station with an underground station opened in 1875 for the Metropolitan Railway, named Bishopsgate until 1909 when it was renamed Liverpool Street.

Plan of Liverpool Street Station when it opened

Liverpool Street Station today

The_Engineer_1894_(8_June)_Liverpool_Street_Station_extension_(plan)

Plan of Liverpool Street when it opened in 1894

Okay – now we know  a bit about Liverpool Street station. Liverpool Street is to be a stop on the under construction  Crossrail line. Yes, believe it or not, London is getting a new 73-mile railway line. It should begin full operation in 2018 with a new east-west route across Greater London. Work began in 2009 on the central part of the line—a tunnel through central London. Crossrail is one of Europe’s largest railway and infrastructure construction projects. Where does it go? Check the map below ….

Crossrail Route Map

Crossrail Route Map

The bit in red is the Underground bit. One of the underground stations is Liverpool Street.

So what’s this rubbish about 3,000 bodies?

Beneath Liverpool Street

Beneath Liverpool Street

Well, as you can see, to dig out the new underground station you have to through Bedlam Burial Ground – and that’s where the bodies are buried.

Hold on a mo – there’s more to the story  ……. Bedlam? The current definition is, “a scene of uproar and confusion (there was bedlam in the courtroom). The old definition is very different, “an institution for the care of mentally ill people.” Bedlam was the first London hospital to specialise in the mentally ill and is the origin of the word “bedlam” describing chaos or madness. So some of the bodies may be related to Bedlam but not all by a long chalk.

The burial ground was in use from 1569 through at least 1738 and is considered the most archaeologically valuable site in London, according to Museum of London Archaeology, which is overseeing the project. “This excavation presents a unique opportunity to understand the lives and deaths of 16th and 17th century Londoners,” Jay Carver, one of the archaeologists involved in the dig, said in a written statement. “The Bedlam burial ground spans a fascinating phase of London’s history, including the transition from the Tudor-period City into cosmopolitan early-modern London.”

The old bones may shed new light on the diet and lifestyle of the people who once lived in the area. The bones of plague victims buried at the site may yield fresh insights into the evolution of the bacteria that cause plague. England’s last great outbreak of bubonic plague occurred in 1665. It killed an estimated 100,000 people, or almost one in four Londoners. The skeletons will be reburied at a cemetery near London.

Now for the proof (just in case you think I am making this all up).

A skeleton being exhumed

A skeleton being exhumed

Names of people who were buried at Bedlam

Names of people who were buried at Bedlam

Gravestone found at the site

Gravestone found at the site

Just imagine where you would be without me to dig up all this rhubarb!!!! NO, DON’T tell me.

Posted in Train Visits - Steam Era Railways | Comments Off on 3,000 plus dead under London’s Liverpool Street Station

Diamond D Mill at Northwestern, now known as the town of Brooktrails near Willits in Northern California

Brooktrails is the modern name for a place known as Northwestern at the beginning of the 20th century. Northwestern in its heyday was an important place. It was a designated stop on the Northwestern Pacific railroad, had a post office and the only hospital in northern Mendocino County. It also had a lumber mill – the Diamond D. Our web site page on the history of Northwestern was mostly supplied by club member Mike Aplet who lives there.

Photographs of places that have “come and gone” aren’t easy to find. So, I was most happy to find this picture of an old coloured postcard of the Diamond D Mill which we can add to our gallery of Northwestern pictures.

Diamond D Mill Willits

Diamond D Mill Willits

Posted in Mendocino Coast, CA , Local History | Comments Off on Diamond D Mill at Northwestern, now known as the town of Brooktrails near Willits in Northern California

G-scale 3 Truck Shay

A short while back I managed to buy a G-scale Three Truck Shay at the Train Show in Sacremento. It remained box-bound till Sunday last when club member Frank Davis loosed it. Kyle Stockman (from the CWR/Skunk Train enginehouse) was on hand when the lady was first put on the tracks and he helped Frank lube her per the DVD of instructions that was in the box. Frank has had her running and here is a great shot of her taken on the west side of the Barn that holds our layout.

Three Truck Shay

Three Truck Shay

The background to Frank’s great shot is a forest built by club member Joe Green. The fence in the foreground is made of pieces from a venetian type blind. The fence surrounds an under construction hop field. Great photo Frank.

Posted in Our Layout | 1 Comment

Devil’s Dyke Railways

Sister Karen recently sent me a pic of her and my step-mother Mavis visiting the Devil’s Dyke. Wife Sarah and I visited too last year when we were in England.

Sister Karen and Stepmother Mavis at the Top of the Devil's Dyke

Sister Karen and Stepmother Mavis at the Top of the Devil’s Dyke

The Devil’s Dyke is a 100m deep V-shaped valley on the South Downs in southern England, near Brighton. Devil’s Dyke was a major local tourist attraction in the late 19th and early 20th century. Local folklore explains the valley as the work of the devil. The legend holds that the devil was digging a trench to allow the sea to flood the many churches in the Weald. The Weald is the valley between the North and South Downs. The digging disturbed an old woman who lit a candle, or angered a rooster causing it to crow, making the devil believe that the morning was fast approaching. The devil then fled, leaving his trench unfinished. The last shovel of earth he threw over his shoulder fell into the sea, forming the Isle of Wight.

The view from the top is spectacular as you can see in Sister Karen’s photo:

View from the top of the Dyke

View from the top of the Dyke

When I was a boy scout I used to hike up to the top of the Devil’s Dyke and then down to Poynings to our campsite. The path up to the top was, in part, along the disused track of the Devil’s Dyke Railway. My grandma (Phillips) used to regale me with the trips that she and grandad took using the railway when they were courting.

The standard gauge railway line ran from Dyke Junction Station (now known as Aldrington railway station) to 200 feet below the summit of the 700 foot high Devil’s Dyke. The line was opened by the Brighton and Dyke Railway Company to serve what was at the time a very popular tourist destination, boasting two bandstands, an observatory, a camera obscura and fairground rides. The station itself was equipped with basic facilities to accommodate tourists and postcards of the station buildings reveal a converted railway carriage with shack attached bearing the sign “Tea and Cakes”; the facilities were said to be operated by a retired railway guard.

The 1893 August Bank Holiday saw around 30,000 people flock to the Dyke, many of them brought by the railway. Operations continued until 1917 when, in the midst of the First World War, the line was closed as a wartime economy measure. Services recommenced in 1920 but lasted only a further eighteen years; the line closing in the face of increased competition from motor buses.

Devil's Dyke Station

Devil’s Dyke Station

Grandma told me that there were railways at the Devil’s Dyke prior to the standard gauge railway whose track bed I had walked on. I didn’t believe her. There was no information sign to indicate any history at all. BUT, she was right. Thanks to the internet I’ve found photos of a a Steep Grade Railway, a switchback railway and an aerial cableway railway across the valley. Old postcards of the 1900s also show a huge wooden cannon which seemed to serve no purpose whatsoever!

Devil's Dyke Steep Grade Railway

Devil’s Dyke Steep Grade Railway

Devil's Dyke Steep Grade Railway and Aerial Cableway

Devil’s Dyke Steep Grade Railway and Aerial Cableway

The aerial tramway

The aerial tramway

Britain's first cable car took passengers across the valley at Devil's Dyke

Britain’s first cable car took passengers across the valley at Devil’s Dyke

No way would I have gone on that contraption!!!!!!

Could that be grandma in this photo

Could that be grandma in this photo

Th wooden cannon at the Devil's Dyke

Th wooden cannon at the Devil’s Dyke

Posted in Train Visits - Steam Era Railways | 1 Comment

Visit to the Great Train Show in Sacremento February 28th and March 1st 2015 – Part 2

Six club members mounted up and trolled from Fort Bragg over to Sacremento last weekend to visit The Great Train show being held at Cal Expo in Sacremento. Here’s a few more photos from our excursion:

Very busy Lego Train layout

Very busy Lego Train layout

Small trackside lumber mill diorama

Small trackside lumber mill diorama

Model of a Pile Driver

Model of a Pile Driver

Very detailed Hanging Rock diorama

Very detailed Hanging Rock diorama

Shot showing size of the Del Oro layout

Shot showing size of the Del Oro layout

Live Steam 2-4-2 with admirer

Live Steam 2-4-2 with admirer

Next show please.

Posted in Steam ups, Exhibitions | Comments Off on Visit to the Great Train Show in Sacremento February 28th and March 1st 2015 – Part 2