June 29, 2011

In bright unbroken beams

Saturday, June 25, 2011

12.06. I've been on the ECML lots of times, on Class 91 electrics, HSTs and Voyagers, and today takes the biscuit. It's cramped here in coach B for anyone with long legs and the ride is stiffly sprung and harshly damped, which means my handwriting is all over the place. Mind you, this is the Edinburgh to Newcastle section, which is always slow and bumpy and twisting. I even had to change seat because my booked seat was so tight as to wedge my kneecaps hard up against the one in front. It's also very stuffy in here, in the quiet coach, and not all that quiet. Just passing Morpeth now. My GPS has recorded an average speed of 95.1mph over 107 miles, and 123mph top speed.

I still feel sure I've forgotten to bring something, but I never did make a 'going away' list. I checked with next door for feeding the wee ones, so that's ok at least. The Brompton is wedged into a luggage bay, not as much space as on a Voyager, but it's ok. I slung the lock around it to be safer, but I'm at the power car end so it's less populous on the station platform. I did scout around the back-to-back seats but they're full of bulkheads or too narrow or have boxes marked "Danger" and "Risk of Electrocution" taking up the space. Man, it's really stuffy in here.

Dave says he'll come to this evening ride if he's there in time, so I might at least have some company, though I think everyone probably knows him. It should be fun, though, as I haven't seen Peter since the last time I was at the show. I'm not really sure why I keep going -- I'm not unaware of new bikes, but I also don't need another one (yet), and I don't need more clothes or more tools.

12.25 and Newcastle. At least this time there seems to be a fairly strong forum presence planned, if they hang around for Sunday; I've booked Monday off for travelling home, so I'll be doing that fairly early. It's interesting how you hear the 'whoosh' of the power car as it energises itself before the train moves off. Ok, another 80 miles to go and maybe time for some proper speed! I'm obviously in too deep already, noticing where goods yards used to be, sidings, old embankments ... it's all ever so slightly ridiculous. But it also reminds me of how much our railways have gone to the dogs, and the roads. We'll be into York about 13.30 so there should be plenty of time to get to my hostel and dump some stuff before visiting the museum. I might -- ooh, this train really jerks as it changes gear -- spend a bit of time seeing York more, and maybe see if I can buy a decent case for my telephoto lens.

Heh. There's a Dad in the seat near me who's just been told off by his seven year-old daughter for letting his iPhone start playing music far too loudly. Twice. Lots of disapproving looks, not just from me! 12.38 and Durham, and we still haven't gone more than 123mph. Driver must be conservative today.

Just gone 13.00 and speeding out of Darlington to Northallerton. I've just noticed that the old train shed at Darlington South Junction still has its little turntable.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

14.16. Well then, I had a nice wander around the National Railway Museum yesterday afternoon, once I was installed in the hostel, which took a while. It was really quite busy. I took lots of probably not very good photos, and then walked back to the hostel to get my bike and collect my bikey stuff. I pottered over to the show, and rode up and down, before eventually finding Peter and a bunch of Velovisioners, and then the yACF contingent arrived as well -- all doing the pub ride! I saw Tony and Joan and TJ, and it was good to see them again. Once at the pub I bumped into Charlotte and Julian who somehow hadn't spotted me earlier (I must've been on the wrong bike), plus Kim and Adam and others. Dinner, which was a big veggie burger with chips and coleslaw, took ages as they had so many orders but it was excellent food. I chatted with Peter, Sue, Mr Sue, Dylan, and Dave who'd just arrived. It was beginning to get dark about 21.45 but we didn't set off until gone 22.00, though no problem as I'd brought lights anyway, and rode back into town along the cycle path through Bishopthorpe and over to the racecourse.

It was good catching up with people. I chatted longer with Dylan before creeping back into the hostel without turning on the light. It was a very hot night and I eventually slept only on and off, plus I needed my earplugs which I'd also thoughtfully brought with me. The man in the top bunk was snoring like a trooper, poor guy.

I was up again at 8.15 and had a lovely breakfast of cornflakes, a croissant with peanut butter and some orange juice. I ambled into town for the show and then over to Charlotte and Julian's tent to say hello and have a cup of tea. I never had tea with milk that came out of a squeezy tube before. So it was about 9.30 and already t-shirt and shorts weather, but I'd brought layers with me just in case, because it always rains at York during the show (except the very first time when I went with Liz, and when it tried to thunder and ended up being roasting hot). And so far, it's roasting hot here! I wandered around the trade tents afterwards with Tony who was camped nearby, and we had a long and interesting conversation about everything under the sun. I did buy a second headlight in the end, although the shoes and socks were all in 'common' sizes so there was very little to fit me. After that I was kind of done by about 11.00, but I wandered around some more anyway.

I chatted to Tony, Joan, TJ and Kim in the food tent and then bought a big hotdog for lunch. It came out of a caravan but actually it was very good. Gosh, it's so warm today! They left and I finished my hotdog, then I went back to Tony's tent and met Adam again. While we were chatting there a guy from Edinburgh came over to us -- he wasn't from yACF or any other forum I knew of, but he was interested in my bike because he was tall too. So then I had a longish chat with him! I didn't bring any sunglasses or a hat and the sun is intense. But so far I'm not burned so that's ok. Dave just called so maybe I'll catch up later on. I can see a huge queue for the ice cream van that's parked up a little way from here. I cannot believe the weather -- it was trying to rain when I cycled down to Waverley. Actually I'm feeling a bit heady right now, and I'm not sure what's best to do, but some riding might be better than sitting like a sea lion on the the rocks.

There are lots of Bromptons around, I saw an Easy Racers Ti-Rush, Lee's brought his Fujin, and there's a Greenspeed tandem; then there are Dawes Galaxies, the odd Litespeed and all kinds of tourers. I also met Nick Lobnitz from Carry Freedom, so I spoke to him for a while about the Paper Bicycle. Decent guy, and a good simple bike.

Hmm, it's interesting how it's now mid-afternoon and I've defaulted to writing and sitting by myself. It's not unpleasant, mind you, except for the heat. It's only a shame that the silence is broken by so many little petrol generators for the burger vans.

16.23. Well I wanted good weather and I got it. This afternoon I think the sun's got to me -- the sweat is pouring off me (mmm, nice!) and I'm feeling headachey and wobbly. I took myself to the supermarket down the road to buy bananas and chocolate milk because I remember what A told me two years ago when I was in the same condition ("eat this, and drink a ton of water"). So I've had one and a half bananas -- they're a good size too -- and I've drunk everything in my water bottle, so fingers crossed. The shop was closing at 16.00, which I couldn't believe, so there was no time or presence of mind to buy paracetamol or a towel or a hat. If I'd only brought my Buff I could have soaked it in cold water. And I'm too cheap to buy another Buff, because goodness knows there's enough choice of them here today. I really need a lie down, to be honest. Dave is off somewhere, Tony's in his tent for a siesta and a plunk, and I wish I didn't get so affected by things like this. The chocolate milk is very good, even though it's Tesco and therefore I don't like it.

It's been a mixed day, really, it started nice and people gradually dispersed. I could have wandered around York but I didn't.

17.03 and I'm feeling a bit better, as long as the sun doesn't get too much. I seem to have acquired rather red legs and arms, in a rather typical cyclist manner. It's still so warm! The show is mostly tidying up now. There are rumours abound that this show is going to be the last one, even more so than the one before, and the one before that.

22.00. I spent the early evening with Tony, Kim, Marj and her family at their caravan and was fed cake. Dave came along later on. I talked to them for a while before the family left for town to get a meal; the rest of us talked a bit longer and footered around in the sun ... but I had to get into the shade because I was cooking and I felt pretty rubbish. Tony came over to chat and I suddenly felt ready to cry from the heat and exhaustion. Fortunately I got over it. We finally left about 18.30; Tony and Kim left for their tents and Dave and I went to find something for dinner. I had a quick change into more normal clothes, and thought I was looking a bit red. Just down the road was a take away, so we ordered pizzas (nice and safe, ham and pineapple for me and about the right size). We eventually ate them at the river side, sitting on the wall with my feet dangling. I would've liked to have my feet in the water but it was a bit manky, plus there were lots of ducks and geese to peck at me. We had a long conversation about cycling and trains and stuff.

I'm sitting here on my bed with my Buff finally soaked in cold water and draped over my forehead. Ahhh! So, an interesting day, not the best for heat and health, but ok. At least I can do more night riding now. When I got back to the hostel the others weren't around yet so I put the light on. I am BRIGHT RED. It was never meant to be so sunny or warm -- I had my cotton 3/4s, my long sleeved HH top and my Goretex jacket with me in my bag because I was sure it was going to rain or be cold. Nothing of the sort, just heatstroke. Mmm, I'm trying to finish my chocolate milk before going to bed; feeling hot and full, and my Buff is dripping cold water on me! So to tomorrow, and an easy start.

Monday, June 27, 2011

11.23. I've just caught my train home. The coach is lovely, the weather is lovely, the temperature in here is lovely, everything's lovely. I was expecting a Class 91 electric at 10.32, and I'm actually onboard a Voyager at 11.18 -- running just a touch late. I'm in the quiet coach on this formation, right at the back, with loads and loads of leg room and little Henrietta Brompton is living on the not-busy-at-all rearmost luggage rack.

I went for a wander over to York Minster to get some photographs and to generally enjoy the place. I set off from there for the station about 10.00, and fairly whizzed along the road. I bumped into Tony on the station concourse so we had another long chat! At that point an Australian cyclist turned up, all sunburned nose and scalp, with a Revolution touring bike and a bike bag for his flight. We talked to him for a bit, he left for his airport train, and then we resumed our own, to talk about wildlife photography. It was a nice, final, chance meeting.

I also had a long chat at breakfast time with a couple from Dunoon who'd been at the show as well. He, a teacher, immediately recognised my engineering interests, and they went so far as to offer me a cup of tea and a bed if I was ever over that way and drookit! Otherwise, the hostel itself was quite businessy, in a way, not as homely or bohemian as Oban was, or indeed mad Carole's place. I took some pics of the grand insides before I left and some of the outside. Apart from dying from the heat, it's been not too bad a trip -- but then adventures always suck when you're having them. What I am looking forward to is seeing the wee ones again.

12.33. The train is still running about 45 minutes late. They said it was to do with problems with lineside equipment near Tamworth, and they hinted at further problems. Great! The quiet coach filled up at Newcastle with the Ibiza bunch, all suntans and overly-blonde hair and mobile phones not set to silent. Mind you, there is precious little reception here and the coach (or DVT I suppose) is completely GPS-proof, so I have no idea how fast we're going. The train guard did acknowledge this fact, with a knowing yet weary smile, when I asked him earlier.

Postscript. The journey back to Edinburgh was as quick as it was uneventful, and true to expectations it was raining when I pedalled out of Waverley Station. But after a mile of Princes St and a stop to buy a birthday card the drizzle was no match for my sunburned arms and legs, as I peeled off Goretex for Helly Hansen and then just my t-shirt for the hilly ride homewards. Through the door and after a quick change of clothes I was out again to buy a present for my next door neighbour, then I was lifting kitchen floor tiles to clear up a little reminder that I wasn't the only one who'd felt unwell during the weekend. With the tiles disinfected and hosed down I then set to repairing the bag of cat food which had been sliced open and cut to ribbons by claws unknown, and then retired to the garage to drill holes in Velma the VFR's windscreen to fit a spoiler.

And then with a dinner of huge slabs of lasagne inside me, I had very long, very enjoyable, hot shower. Maps were put away, batteries were recharged and photographs were pored over. And so, happily, to bed.