A visit by a Duchess.

Kerri and I have had a hectic morning this morning. Up at the crack of dawn, showered, dressed, we hadn’t time for a lavish breakfast, a small bowl of Fruit and Fibre for me with a glass of orange juice, and a breakfast bar and orange juice for her, backpack added and following a quick wash of the dishes, my bag complete with camera for me.  We were out of the door for 09.00am precisely and as the sky was a gorgeous unbroken blue, we bravely had only our thin raincoats with us.  Setting off down to town at a fairly brisk walking pace, we made good time.

“We won’t get a good spot to see her if we aren’t fairly early.” I reasoned with her as she grumbled to herself walking down, trailing behind me some several paces at least. As is usual, I ended up nearly breaking my arm by having to hold her hand and gently ease her along at a more steady pace than she takes under her own steam.  Finally we are through town and walking up to the station. As I thought! There are already plenty of others with exactly the same idea as us!  Ahh!  Two are stood in a very well chosen spot at the very end of platform 2.  I shout out to them from the walkway.

“ Which platform is she arriving on?”

“ Platform 1 but you won’t be able to budge on there as it’ll be packed, and you won’t get a good shot, that’s why were over here!”

Good thinking, so we continue on around the road and join the other platform on the other side. Kerri plonks herself down immediately on a seat whereas I saunter up to the two men in the advantageous position at the edge of the platform, and as is usual in these situations, we swop stories of our journeys, sightings, love of all things steam etc. Apparently they have been coming down here to get shots of the Duchess every week for the last three weeks. Not only on a morning such as today, but also at night when she returns. In fact, they are planning on returning tonight at 21.30pm. Of course it will be coming dark by then, but they both have expensive SLR’s that put my little point and shoot to shame, so I would imagine that they will still get some good shots.

The platform opposite where the Duchess is to pull in is now packed with people, not only the photo enthusiasts, but also all those who are boarding the ‘Scarborough Flyer’ for it is this excursion train that the Duchess is so ably pulling.  Some of you may remember Kerri and I also going on this excursion ourselves a few years ago, setting off from Huddersfield.

“Why is she coming through Brighouse anyway?” I ask my two new friends. (Kerri is still sitting on the bench fiddling about with something, probably texting on her phone.)

“ Because They’ve been doing work to the line and so she’s been diverted through here instead.”  Hmm. Wish I’d have known all of this. Kerri and I had planned to do this excursion again to Scarborough and we could have boarded here in our little home town!  And what a wonderful day weather-wise for a trip to the seaside!  As its turned out, I’m feeling fine following my chemo yesterday.  Isn’t hindsight wonderful!  I would have been fine for a day trip today to lift my spirits!

At last we see her coming round the bend in the far distance, a thin  plume of steam issuing straight up into the blue air from her chimney.  Camera’s begin to snap, people lean forward at angles to try and get a better shot or glimpse of her as she arrives, now decked in green livery, which personally I am not all that keen on, I preferred her in that gorgeous maroon when we road behind her a few years back.  She zooms past me and I forget to move my camera at the same speed as I take the shot, so its all blurry.  Sigh. As is usual with these excursions, she’s pulling behind her some nine to ten carriages, the middle one’s are Pullman dining carriages for those who are travelling first class and will have had a cooked breakfast since boarding and will also be getting a three course dinner on the return journey.

Note here she is decked in Maroon livery which I think suits her better.

We dash up to the other end of the platform in order to get some close ups as she waits for all the passengers to board and gets some steam up for the off. In the cab, a young lad is looking out of our side. It gladdens my heart to see the youngsters getting involved with steam train driving, or the mechanical side of it all, we need to keep all of our old skills alive or who will carry it all on when the drivers and engineers who have worked so tirelessly on keeping this part of our heritage going, are no longer around? 

She begins to pull away, a short whistle and she’s off! How I wish we were on board!  We wave to all those lucky enough  to be peering at us from their comfortable seats in the carriages and I silently wish them luck with the weather when they land in Scarborough for their day out.  We all begin to disperse, in our particular case, now off to do some shopping whilst we’re in town, others to wherever. It’s not often our small station see’s the sight of a steam engine, its a big event and one that I am so glad I didn’t miss.

Here’s a photo album for you to see the shots we took, as always, Kerri has managed to pull of a much better shot of the Duchess as she passed under the bridge than I could muster, despite getting my arm in it. I could crop it out of course, but hey! Its part and parcel of our natural amateur photos!

Enjoy.

Technogran

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Throwing caution to the winds.

Is anyone else diving out the door at the first opportunity whenever the sun peers through the clouds or is it just me? Following the lousy summer we’ve had so far, I simply can’t bear to waste a moment of it. Throwing caution to the winds and not caring if I looked like mutton dressed as lamb, I even went as far as donning my pedal pusher trousers and my open toed sandals. Even the raincoat and umbrella were left at home!  Foolhardy? Tempting fate? Once again my destination was the doctors and I had allowed a good half hour for my walk down. I can walk a lot faster when K is not with me. She is going swimming this morning with Day Care and I confess that I really envied her as she set off. 

For once I had remembered to grab my watch but a quick glance reminded me that I hadn’t made allowances for the frequent stops along the way I was tend to make these days taking snaps with my phone. I had to adjust my walking speed accordingly and although my doctor is always running late, the one time that I risk it and arrive late will probably be the one time that she is running to time. It’s a gorgeous day. Everyone I pass seem so cheerful.

Good morning! Isn’t it lovely to be out in the sunshine?”

Yes, and not before time!” I reply.

Following my stint at the doctors, I pick up my prescription and saunter down to town, no longer having to rush. Nearly every person I encounter is dressed either in shorts or cool summer clothes. Its so colourful after the dingy sight we’ve all become used to of raincoats, umbrellas and the like. I linger outside Websters furniture shop, peering in the windows at their recliner suites and chairs. I ponder for what must be the hundredth time on how they manage to be about the only shop in Brighouse that has survived. I have yet to see any customers in the shop purchasing anything. Most of their stock is very expensive and yes, okay, the best quality, but this is hardly what I would consider an affluent area. Yet I reason to myself, someone must be buying it for whilst other shops have died a death in our town, Websters marches on.

Merrie England scrumptious home made apple pie.

I enter Merrie England and stand at the ‘take away’ part of the counter to order a Turkey Salad on Gluten free bread. As usual, its quite full and there are probably as many customers sat outside in the back area enjoying the sunshine.  I was tempted to linger myself and have one of their delicious decaff cappuccino’s but had second thoughts, seeing as I intend to walk home and not waste any of this glorious sunshine. Trouble is, I am stood directly opposite the display of their fantastic home made apple pies, which are sorely testing my willpower. At last she hands me my sandwich, I pay and saunter on to Hartley’s bread shop for K’s order of a Chicken Tikka and onion sandwich with salad cream on white bread. (Yes, she has strange tastes, my daughter.)  I also purchase a side salad for my lunch and a piece of Quiche.

My walk home is very enjoyable, I’m in no hurry and anyway, its slightly uphill with some steep bits, so I take my time, greeting people who are busy in their gardens as I pass. We’re all mostly a friendly bunch, its one of the reason’s I like living here, practically everyone knows everyone else and that’s the way I like it. By the time I arrive back home, I’m lathered and have to open most of the windows to compensate. I’d much rather be too hot than cold though, and I quickly set too making my Quiche and salad lunch. It’s been so enjoyable, being able to throw caution to the winds for once and leave that blasted umbrella at home!

Technogran

Incognito.

I set off from the safety and privacy of my home.  With a furtive glance around as I lock the door, I step outside and walk swiftly along the estate paths with my hands tucked inside the pockets of my warm coat. Its chilly and despite the presence of the sun in a clear sky, it affords no warmth.  My face and cheeks quickly become chilled and my feet quicken on the ground as I walk past ‘the house that should have been mine if I’d won the lottery’. Someone is braving the cold conditions and hammering away nearby, the sound echoing eerily in the cold air. So far I have seen no one that knows me. So far so good.

Keeping up the pace, I quickly arrive at the narrow path that runs alongside the junior school. A lady is walking down in front of me, and in exactly the same way that I detest someone walking behind me, she keeps turning round to look at me as if to reassure herself that I am no threat to her.  I step up my speed with the intentions of passing her but as I draw alongside, she begins a conversation with me about the weather which moves onto how we both detest walking in the rain and then ends in the subject of people we both know who make the mistake of buying houses out in the middle of nowhere and the problems that can cause in winter. We part company in town and I continue on to my selected destination, the Merrie England Coffee shop. Before entering, I have to visit the cashpoint for some money as I find that my purse doesn’t actually contain  all that much in the way of coinage, and cups of cappuccino and sandwiches are unfortunately not free.

I enter the cafe and quickly glance around the tables that I am able to view from the doorway. Thankfully I don’t see any familiar faces, but from that viewpoint the whole seating area is not visible. However the seat where I had planned to sit in order to remain inconspicuous is occupied by a lady wearing  a red coat. The assistant, who is obviously a new girl as one of the older assistants is stood at her side showing her how to input items into the till, takes my order.

A large decaffeinated Cappuccino please and a Turkey and salad sandwich on Gluten free bread.’

None  of the assistants behind the counter seem to be giving me strange glances despite the fact that they know me by sight.  Nor do they seem particularly surprised by my unfamiliar appearance. My confidence grows. Still, I wish the lady in the corner seat at the far end would kindly get up and leave.  After receiving my coffee I am forced to sit down at a middle table as all the others are occupied.  I see someone I used to live near to sat at one of the far tables. She recognises me instantly and says hello with a smile. My nerves are on edge. In order to appear calm and collected I drink some of the coffee whilst waiting for my sandwich to arrive.  When it does, I enjoy it despite the fact that its really too early for lunch.  Another lady arrives that I am acquainted with and smiles a greeting. The lady in red sat in the far corner folds up her magazine that she was reading and leaves by the back door. I quickly pick up my half eaten sandwich and coffee and make my way to the corner bench seat.

Tucking myself right into the corner as if vainly trying to melt into the walls, I can now observe everyone whilst remaining fairly inconspicuous.  Or so I hope.  I’m feeling much more confident now. Those people who know me by sight have not stared or looked strangely at me, or worse looked shocked or burst into howls of laughter.  I finish eating my sandwich and spend the next few minutes scrutinizing the other occupants. At the opposite corner from me sits an elderly gentleman who rather reminds me of a cow chewing its cud seeing as his mouth is constantly making chewing movements, yet strangely I do not see any food on the table in front of him.  Perhaps this is some habit he has, perhaps he is always making chewing movements. I drink some more coffee which has by now gone cold. At the table directly next to me are three people, a man and two ladies. The ladies are sat on the bench seat next to the wall, whilst the man is seated opposite on a chair.  I don’t take in their conversation at all, despite the fact that I can hear it clearly as my mind is occupied elsewhere, mainly toying with the decision on whether or not to take full advantage of the sunshine and walk home rather than catch a bus.

Another lady who is familiar to me has sat down at a table directly in front of me and smiles as she does so.  My confidence is building with every single smile of recognition.  I check the time on my phone and leave the cafe with my usual ‘goodbye girls’ parting to the staff as I walk out of the door into the cold winter sunshine.  Having decided that I will walk home using an entirely different route I set off.  This route takes me along the main road but strangely I don’t see anyone I know.  It ends in a rather steep walk up a hill where I find myself beginning to flag a little and my aching back isn’t helping.  At last I arrive back home feeling really pleased with myself.  It has all gone far better than I had imagined!  What on earth had possessed me anyway? I have never considered myself to be vain at all, and to be so concerned about my appearance to others and what others would think, especially at my age, was in hindsight a complete mystery to me. I feel confident enough now to do the same tomorrow for our journey down to exercise class.

Having the confidence to face the world outside and let them see the new me, that’s all that was needed, so I’m so proud that today I plucked up the courage to go out without wearing my wig!

TG

Walking on the frosty side.

We went on a walk yesterday along our local canal.  As in other parts of the country, our canal has become a haven for walkers, joggers and also cyclists. Yesterday was one of those days when your not quite sure how to dress, it was bitterly cold and there had been a sharp frost during the night, causing the pavements to glitter with a thousand tiny stars as the sun shone down on them. We were all dressed in warm coats scarves and the like, and in my case gloves as well. Determined to get some really good shots of both the canal and also try to capture the frosty conditions, I also toted my camera with me. As soon as we set off, daughter ‘hooked’ herself up with the tallest member of our walk that she could find who is well over six foot, which looked rather comical as they both strolled along seeing as she is only five feet tall.

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A most unwelcome visitor

 

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 Following the last few days of constant rain and gale force winds, which have caused me personally to be confined indoors as I simply refuse to go out in the rain, we were able to venture out this morning and enjoy some glorious sunshine and blue skies at last.  ‘Hurray’ I thought as we walked down to town, enjoying the rare glimpsed winter sun in the sky, ‘let’s hope that’s the last of the rain!’ only to have my hopes instantly dashed as we landed home and found the dreaded card laying on our doormat.  Yes, you’ve guessed it! He’s been! The best rainmaker in the whole wide world has called whilst we were out! So sorry everyone, it will be rain as usual from today, my blasted window cleaners been!

TG Steaming mad

A Canal walk in the October sunshine.

Yesterday we enjoyed a wonderful walk alongside the canal in the gorgeous sunshine that we are all currently enjoying in the UK.  In a way, it’s not the best weather to walk in, simply because you do tend to get rather hot, but we were all armed with plenty of bottles of water to drink in order to avoid getting dehydrated.  After all meeting up in the bus station where we all distributed ourselves into various cars for the journey to the start of the walk, we set off at about 11.15am. It wasn’t too warm at this stage, and the side of the canal that we were on was well shaded by the trees.  We have both missed going on the walks of late, and therefore K was having a real problem keeping up with the others. She has never been too good at walking on uneven surfaces, and this part of the canal does not have a very wide ‘walkway’, its  just a narrow path with lot’s of uneven grass at either side.

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Better than any tonic!

It’s amazing isn’t it? Battling through the last few weeks, struggling with my body seeming to pack in, throw a strop and have a complete post op breakdown, I have to confess to feeling rather down and low of late. However, today my spirits are lifted and not only by the glorious sunshine and warm temperatures we have been enjoying of late! What has brought about this magical transformation? Well, the answer to that question can be found below in photo form!

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