Monday, 19 May 2008

She's Back

As an aside I want to comment on the picture I had in the last post. I know it was some time ago now, but the family crisis I talk about below meant my energies have been directed elsewhere recently. I have now watched a Harry Potter film and am sure that the house I posted is not the genuine article. In the film there were steps up to the front door, which the one in my picture clearly does not have.
The important news though is that little sister Martyne is out hospital.
I have been very worried. I even went down to the West Midlands to visit her last week. She was going to have her operation the next day and was clearly anxious. Despite this, she put on a brave face. I am very proud of her.
I am sure she will tell you all about her experiences when she is feeling a bit stronger.
Finally I would like to say a big public thank you to Hester. I have always admired her and am so glad she has stood by Martyne in her time of trouble. She's been a brick.

Tuesday, 1 April 2008

Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

Little sister Martyne seems to have become something of a traveller lately, despite her current lack of mobility. Hester drove her up to Edinburgh last week, so that she could catch up with her paperwork. I was lucky enough to see the pair of them before they returned down south.
I finally seem to be able to attach pictures and Martyne sent me the one below after she returned to Hester's.

This building is situated near Lanark in the Scottish borders and the girls passed it on their way back down south. Those of you familiar with the Harry Potter novels will recognise the name written on the wall. Hester's brother says this is the actual location used in the films but I am not sure. I have got hold of "Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone" so I will let you know once I have watched it again.

I believe Martyne is planning to publish pictures involving another famous series of novels but I am sworn to secrecy. She may be a bit incapacitated but she can probably still muster a nasty slap if provoked. I value my safety too much so you will just have to watch and wait.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

More Grief

Further technical problems. Still unable to upload any pictures so I am afraid you will have to wait a bit longer for more train names and pillar boxes. With Martyne still out of action I am low on source material anyway. I had trouble logging on today and kept getting sent to an e-mail programme. Isn't technology wonderful; when it works!

Martyne is still staying with Hester but the pair of them hope to head north later in the week. She (Martyne) is still having mobility problems, but is able to walk short distances with the aid of sticks. Hopefully with the aid of a wheeled trolley she will be able to cope on her own when Hester goes home again next week. It looks like it is going to be a good few weeks before she can propel herself unaided.

I am a bit concerned about her taking up Newcastle Brown. I voiced this during our last telephone conversation. She has assured me she will only be drinking in moderation from now and will not be touching spirits for a long time to come.

I think she has finally learned her lesson and I am looking forward to her coming home soon.

Friday, 7 March 2008

Get Well Soon

Martyne and I might have our differences, and I have been upset at some of the tricks she and Hester have played on me, but I am deeply concerned about her recent fall. She is a silly old sausage at times, even though she is younger than me.

She likes to push herself to the limit, but it means if she oversteps the mark she ends up in trouble. I am glad the lovely Hester is nursing her and has imposed a sherry ban. It could be Martyne's redemption. I spoke to little sister on the phone earlier and it seem she can now get about a bit with a couple of walking sticks. I hope she will be fit enough to do the journey home to Edinburgh soon.

I had expected to include some pictures with this post but my computer is playing up again and won't let me attach any. I still have some pillar boxes and train names to share with you. Lets hope I can get the problem fixed soon.

Tuesday, 19 February 2008

Dynamic or What?

Taking a slightly different tack today. I notice that Martyne has been a bit sluggish with her posts recently. No doubt she has been paying more attention to the lovely Hester than she has to her blog. Whatever the reason, I am going to scoop her.

About ten days ago Martyne and Hester visited the Royal Scottish Museum. It is the largest one in Edinburgh and would take you days to see all the exhibits. They spent an afternoon there and only saw a small fraction of them.

My main interest in their visit was the trains. When I was a small boy father used to take me to the "Hall of Power". There were lots of locomotives in glass cases and when you pressed a button they were set in motion. I still love that today. Haven't been to the museum for a long time but the girl's (I use the word loosely) visit has prompted me to consider going there sometime soon.

The above beauty poses a couple of questions (thanks for the pictures sis). She must weigh 50 tons or more. How did they move her a floor above ground level in the middle of a building, and how did she get through the doors in the first place?

Back to my usual fare. This box is Victorian, and as you can see, it has the crenalated top which is common to a few monarchs.

Martyne has emptied this one before and it can be full of postcards in the summer because there is a large hotel nearby.

Because Martyne has to spend a couple of hours at Wolverhampton station on Monday morning waiting for a train she has bought cheap tickets for, she can take lots of pictures of train names for me. She protests, but I think she is secretly happy to have something to do to while away the time.

Marco Polo is a new train to her, but Willem Barents is almost a nemesis. She has tried to take pictures twice but the camera has been mucking her about.

Sunday, 10 February 2008

Outside the Box

Martyne sent me some exciting new pictures late yesterday so I am up early, for a Sunday, to knock together this post. Two interesting things about the above box. Firstly you can see from the initials at the top that it is Victorian, and secondly there is a set of keys hanging in the lock. Martyne was just about to open it when she took this "before" picture. You can probably tell what is coming next.

How often do you get to see inside a pillar box (or a wall box to be strictly accurate)? Unfortunately the lack of light means that you can't actually see anything. Perhaps this might have been a good time to use the flash!

This last picture is very exciting. If you look at the top of this one it says E R. Clearly there were no boxes around at the time of Elizabeth I (1533 to 1603). A closer inspection revealed that there are the letters VII inbetween the E and R. My very first Edwardian box! You may have to blow up the picture, if you can, to see them clearly.

I may well take up little sister's idea about a series on squint buildings but I still have a few boxes I want to share with you as well.

Thursday, 7 February 2008

Finally Got It

It has taken Hester a few attempts to send me this one for some reason. Glad it has worked. Obviously yet another explorer. An Italian who worked for the English, rather than the Spanish, like Columbus. I love history, it is such fun.

Monday, 4 February 2008


The title does not refer to the popular American TV western series which ran from 1959 to 1973, but the fact that Martyne and Hester have come up with a lot of interesting stuff thanks to their meeting this weekend. Sadly I am not currently in possession of any new "pics", as I believe the young persons call them, but I hope to procure some soon. Also sadly, one name has slipped through my sister's fingers.
As Martyne mentioned in "Fond Farewell" she is now travelling back home on a Monday morning when she goes down south to visit Hester. I think she also said that economically it is better for her to wait a couple of hours at the station because the later train is much cheaper.
Whilst she was sipping a mocha in the tearoom "Willem Barents", him of Barents Sea fame, pulled into the station. She was so engrossed in her chocalate and coffee based beverage that he was pulling out again before she noticed, heading South, so she didn't manage to take a picture.
Half an hour later when she went to board her train to the North she discovered it was the same one! Even more sadly, when she got off it, her camera played up and the train was gone before she could take a picture.
I have another "double take" on another train but I will save it until I have a "pic" from Hester.
I have got pictures of the Voyager and Super Voyager trains, Class 220 and 221 respectively, but have none of the Class 390 Pendolinos whose naming seem to have no obvious logic at all.
To round off, most people are familliar with the name of the man pictured. He did many firsts, but the one that impresses me the most is that he is the first person to cross all the world's meridians. Not in the same voyage, but he is still truly a great explorer.

Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Another Post (Box)

This is a pretty familiar style of pillar box. Like a lot of others it is difficult to date. I am sure it is either George V, Edward VIII (unlikely) or George VI. The GPO of the time were a bit remiss at dating their boxes. I still have at least one Victorian one to share with you. There are some more modern ones I want to show but that can wait until a later date. I believe Hester is responsible for this image but I am going to take more of my own now that I have a camera. I am sure Martyne will also be taking more of her own stuff now that she has one as well. I hope I will get more informed comment and less girly talk than I did on my last post.

Sunday, 27 January 2008

Boxing Clever

I have been out and about with my new camera. I am happy to say I now have more pictures for my "Pillar Boxes I Have Known" feature.

This one is technically not a pillar box (PB) but a wall box (WB). Hester, however, took this one when she and Martyne were visiting "The Steading" public house for lunch this afternoon. I trust they drank sensibly. Martyne is a bit too fond of her sherry for her own good so I am sure the driving would be done by Hester.

The first box I posted was Victorian and I have been looking around for an Edwardian one. I thought It would be nice to do them in chronological order. But I have yet to find one despite the fact he (Edward VII) was on the throne for nine years between 1901 and 1910.

You can see the featured box says "GR". I am sure this refers to George V who ruled from 1910 to 1936. Then there was Edward VIII for a short time, and all the scandal that went with it. I doubt the "GPO" as I am sure it was called then, had time to erect boxes.

Of course there is still George VI and our own dear queen to go but Royal Mail and their predecessors are a bit remiss at times when it comes to putting monarchs initials on their boxes.

Sorry about the changes in typeface, or fonts as I am told they are called these days. The computer seems to have a mind of it's own today.

Thursday, 24 January 2008

Train of Thought

Hester has come up trumps again. What a scalp she has got this time. An Italian who sailed for Spain. He was looking for a route to Asia and stumbled across the Americas. And the rest is history, as they say. It is a subject of conjecture who got there first but he generally gets the press. Dead Mariners is definitely a series. I still can't see where "Penny the Pendolino" fits in though.

Martyne is talking about getting a digital camera as well. If she is going to spend a couple of hours at Wolverhampton station on Monday mornings I am sure she can photo a few trains for me.

I am still working on my "Pillar Boxes I Have Known" feature but trains seem to have been at the forefront recently.

Monday, 21 January 2008

Thought Train

Good old (I hope she doesn't think I am refering to her age) Hester has come up with the goods again. On her visit to my sister at the weekend she took this picture.

Yet another deceased mariner. It has to be part of a series. Like William Baffin, a part of the world is named after him. I am sure this is a part of the theme of names.

Hester teased me by text on her way home yesterday about the name of the train she was on. I have to say I got her clues very quickly and named the person involved. When she sends me the picture I will share it with you.

I am glad Martyne has found Hester, and I am very happy for them. Sometimes, I just wish I could find such a spiffing woman as Hester for myself.

Monday, 14 January 2008

Even More Trains

The more alert amongst you will have noticed that I made a spelling mistake in my last post. Most embarrassing. The forename of the Swiss scientist should have read Auguste and not "August " as I said. I apologise. I am a stickler for accuracy and I have let myself down.

On the plus side I got the photo on the right from Hester earlier today. It is the name of the train she boarded yesterday to return home from her visit to Martyne. I was a bit miffed with the girls for winding me up last week but they are both really good eggs, if truth be told.

Sir Martin Frobisher was a 16th century sailor who visited Canada three times. There seems to be an explorer and Canada theme going on with these names, but it is a bit tenuous. Thanks Hester, I always love to hear from you, especially if you are sending me exciting photos.

The other train name I have got from the pair of them is "Penny the Pendolino". This doesn't fit any pattern I have noticed. Pendolino comes from the Italian for pendulum. It refers to the fact that these trains tilt when they go round high speed corners. Much in the same way that motorcyclists do. The history is quite interesting. Although the company that builds them is now a division of the French company Alstom, it originally belonged to Fiat. So you could say that Fiat have built "Planes, Trains and Automobiles". I love the film of the same name. The girls might question my sense of humour but I find John Candy (sadly no longer with us) and Steve Martin very funny.

Sunday, 13 January 2008

Trains and More Trains

No pictures this time although I hope to add one in a later post. Because little sister and her "friend" Hester have been doing a lot of train travel recently I have asked them to note their names, the trains that is. As far as I know all Virgin trains are named in the same way that locomotives were in the old days.

Normally these names follow a theme but I can't see much of a trend in the ones I have got so far.

The first was Yuri Gagarin. He was the first astronaut/cosmonaut to encircle the earth.

The next is William Baffin. He gave his name to Baffin Island in Canada.

The next one I was told was August Babbin. I spent half an hour checking out Wikipedia before I was told that I had been given a made up surname.

I am sure the girls found it funny but I was a bit upset.

It was actually August Piccard, a Swiss man of science.

Friday, 11 January 2008

Bridge Too Far II

There are not many people in the world who will not recognise this bridge. It is so iconic. Sadly she is not looking her best. The centre section is undergoing maintenance, hence the white cladding which you can just about make out.

If you want to know the whole history you can visit Wikipedia. I just about live there. I suppose that is why Marteen calls me a "nerdy git" at times.

In brief, the original bridge was designed by Thomas Bouch, but only got to the foundation stage. After the collapse of the Tay Rail Bridge (also designed by him) in 1879 the design of this bridge was handed to Sir John Fowler and Sir Benjamin Baker. They played it safe and the structure is reputedly twice as strong as it needs to be. It has stood the test of time. It has lasted for nearly 120 years and is reputedly good for another 100.

The nearby road bridge (featured in my last post) has only been around for slightly over 40 years and is nearing the end of it's useful life. A replacement has been recently commissioned.

I have been intrigued by the names of the Virgin trains Marteen has been travelling on recently. I might comment on them next.

Wednesday, 9 January 2008

A Bridge Too Far

Have decided to do beauty before age in terms of the two bridges in the pillar box picture. I have always loved suspension bridges for their elegance. They have been superceded by the even more graceful cable-stayed ones that are popular nowadays. Every time I see pictures of the Millau Viaduct in Southern France I shed a tear.

Usually it is Martyne who does the waterworks in our family. She has to buy Kleenex in industrial sized packs to keep the cost down.

The Forth Road Bridge was opened by our dear queen and her husband on the 4th of September 1964. Mother, father, Martyne and I crossed it on the first weekend it opened. Dad had a Hillman Minx, which was a relatively new car in those days. There were countless thousands of others doing the same thing and we spent hours in traffic jams, but it was worth it. I still have some 8mm footage of it, and I mean Standard 8, not the fangled new Super 8.

I bought myself a digital camera a couple of days ago so I will be able to provide my own pictures without having to trouble Martyne in future. It is quite complicated but a "nerdy git" (Martyne's words) like me should be able to figure it out.

As far as I know Martyne's "friend" Hester took this picture, so I am more than happy to give her the credit. I think she is good for my sister and seems to have a moderating influence on her. Lord knows she needs it.

Sunday, 6 January 2008

Gone and Done It

Hi, and welcome to my new blog. After months of pestering by Martyne (not sure why she feels the need to spell it Marteen these days. Mater and Pater are not best pleased) I have set this thing up.

I have been trying to reintroduce my sister to the concept of paragraphs, but it is an uphill struggle. She just seems to ramble on with no obvious structure to her writing.

My first regular feature is "Pillar Boxes I have Known". I am hoping Martyne will take lots of pictures for me at her work, and I say thank you to her for the one featured here.

This a fine example of a Victorian box so it must date between 1837 and 1901. Sorry I can't be more precise. It is located in South Queensferry, near Edinburgh. You may recognise the two bridges in the background. Unfortunately I have to go out soon so they will have to wait for another time. Also, more pillar boxes in the near future. It's so exciting, isn't it.